Category Archives: Slow Cooker

Copycat Chipotle Barbacoa Beef with Spanish “Rice”

For a long time now, I have been eying all these “rice” recipes that use cauliflower in place of the actual rice grain with skepticism. I mean, really, could cauliflower really taste like rice? So, I have put it off and put it off… even though I have made cauliflower crust pizza (and loved it) and made mashed faux-tatoes (mashed cauliflower, which my 2 year old LOVED and used as dip for the rest of his meal). Why wait any longer to make cauliflower rice! I adapted a recipe I found for Spanish “Rice” and to be honest, no one in my family even knew it wasn’t real rice! My husband was so surprised that it contained no actual rice. And, I loved that our meal was so good for you on so many levels.

The Copycat Chipotle Barbacoa Beef turned out great as well. I have to say that the whole cloves were a little strong for me and I will probably reduce the amount in half next time I make it. They added nice flavor but just a little too much flavor for me. The beef, by the way, was about the easiest thing to make and we have a ton left over so I know I will be eating it, with pleasure, for lunch the rest of the week.

We served the whole meal a few different ways. My 2 and 4 year olds prefer everything separate on their plates: beef, rice, tomatoes, avocados, greens (spinach and kale blend), shredded cheese, olives, and sprouted grain corn tortillas from “Food is Life” brand. That way they could assemble the burritos themselves and with whatever filling they prefer. My husband had his as a bowl a la Chipotle. I did mine as a big salad, pictured below.



Copycat Chipotle Barbacoa Shredded Beef
Recipe adapted from

3 lb. center cut beef rib roast
2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1/4 c. lime juice
1.4 c. tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3-4 tsp. cumin (depending on your taste preferences)
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. sea salt
3/4 c. beef broth
3 bay leaves
1 tsp. whole cloves

In a food processor or blender, combine chili powder, onion, lime juice, tomato paste, garlic, apple cider vinegar, cumin, oregano, and salt. Blend until well combined.

Place roast in the bottom of your slow cooker. Pour tomato mixture over the top. Add broth, bay leaves, and cloves. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours. Remove roast from liquid and shred.

Return to slow cooker and continue cooking another 1-2 hours or until meat is very tender. Serve in tacos, bowls, burritos, or a taco salad.

Spanish “Rice”
Recipe adapted from

1 head of cauliflower, riced (see below)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. grape seed oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 heaping tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1 1/4 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. salsa (I used the mild fresh salsa from Trader Joe’s)
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 – 1/2 c. chopped black olives

To rice the cauliflower, chop cauliflower into florets. Place in a food processor and cover with water. Process until cauliflower is in small bits, rice like consistency. Drain in a fine mesh sieve.

Heat oil in a large skillet, add onion and garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until tender. Add chicken stock,
“rice”, seasonings, and salsa. Bring to a light boil, reduce heat and continue to simmer until most of the liquid is cooked off.

Stir in black olives. Texture should be slightly firmer than regular rice.

Husband Rating: 7 out of 10


Shredded Turkey Tacos

I love the recipe from 100 Days Of Real Food for the Pork Carnitas Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa.  I planned to make that for dinner tonight but when I was at Trader Joe’s this week they did not have the pork shoulder that the recipe called for.  I decided to try making a variation of the recipe that used turkey breasts instead.  The flavor was great but I did overcook them a little too much.

I find it humorous that the boys at their taco fillings actually assembled as tacos using whole wheat tortillas for the first time now that I can no longer eat them!  But, I was pleased that everyone seemed to eat the meal well!

Along with the turkey meat, I sautéed an orange bell pepper in coconut oil and served the whole lot on some kale with avocado, tomatillo salsa, and fresh cherry tomatoes.

Shredded Turkey Tacos

Shredded Turkey Tacos

2 lbs. turkey breasts
3 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. fresh minced garlic
1 onion
1/2-1 c. chicken broth
Optional Toppings:
tomatillo salsa
shredded cheese
cherry tomatoes
orange bell pepper

In a small bowl, combine oregano, pepper, salt, and cumin.  Rub on the outside of the turkey breasts.  Place in a slow cooker. Chop the onion in large chunks and place onions and garlic on top of turkey breasts.

Cook in slow cooker on high for about 2-3 hours, checking occasionally.  Add the chicken broth as cooking if the turkey seems to be getting too dry.  When fully cooked through, shred the turkey using two forks and serve with whatever topping you prefer.

Husband Rating: 8 out of 10

Food for Thought: I had a ton of turkey leftover.  With that I put about half of it into a large freezer bag and am saving it for another meal.  I plan to heat it up with a little additional chicken broth for moisture.

Shredded BBQ Chicken

Did you know that you can turn tomato sauce into tomato paste?  I got home from the store and realized I had forgotten the tomato paste.  With two little boys at home, running back out to the store for the one missing ingredient is not a reality.  Google to the rescue!!!  I measured out the 1 cup of tomato sauce the recipe called for and then pour the rest of the tomato sauce into a small sauce pan.  I brought the sauce to a rapid simmer over medium heat and continued cooking for about 7 minutes continuously stirring.  After the seven minutes the sauce was reduced by about 2/3 and the correct texture of tomato paste.

But, I digress…  This recipe was super simple to put together and turned out pretty good.  My family ate it on buns with some parsnip and carrot fries and coleslaw.  To make it gluten-free for me, I simply ate mine without the bun, on the coleslaw.  It was almost sugar-free (just a bit of agave in it).  I thought it was satisfying and tasty, something to make again!

Shredded BBQ Chicken

Shredded BBQ Chicken

1 c. tomato sauce
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp. fresh minced garlic
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. agave nectar
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. dry ground mustard
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts

In the slow cooker, combine all ingredients except the chicken. Stir well together and then add the chicken breasts. Cook on low for 3-4 hours or until the chicken is cooked through. Using two forks, shred the chicken and put it back into the crock pot to keep it warm. Serve hot. It can be frozen and reheated.

Husband Rating: 5 out of 10


Balsamic Onion Pot Roast

Tonight I tried a new recipe for pot roast.  It was delicious, super easy, and made quite a bit so we will be able to eat it for leftovers.  Everyone in the house liked it too!  (Even the little boys!)  I served this with Roasted Cauliflower with Red Bell Pepper, Green Olives, and Pinenuts.


Balsamic Onion Pot Roast

Recipe adapted from

3 lb. chuck beef roast
sea salt/pepper to taste
1 strip bacon, crumbled
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
4 c. beef broth

In a large crock pot, combine all ingredients except the beef roast.  Stir well to combine.  Add roast and turn crock pot on to low.  Cook for 8-10 hours until beef is tender (can be cut with a fork).  About 20 minutes before serving, remove 2 c. of the cooking liquid.  Skim as much fat off the top as possible and place liquid in a small pot.  Bring to a boil and simmer 10-15 minutes to reduce to a thicker consistency.  Serve roast with reduced sauce.

Husband Rating: 9 out of 10 (when served with the Roasted Cauliflower with Red Pepper, Green Olives, and Pinenuts.)

Food for Thought: This would be an easy meal to prepare ahead of time and toss in the freezer.  Simply combine all the ingredients and store in a freezer bag.  Thaw in the fridge the night before cooking.

Mexican Meatball Stew

This was one of the recipes from our food swap this month and I decided to add a few ingredients to tailor it to my family’s taste preferences.  I am still a bit undecided on the actual meatballs – they could use a little more oomph in my opinion but the overall effect of the stew was great.  It was warm and filling. The boys liked the meatballs – it was probably their favorite part!  It was easy to make and overall healthy.  We had it with some fresh tomatoes and avocados on the side as well as a few tortilla chips.




Mexican Meatball Stew

2 14.5 oz Mexican style stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 24 oz. package frozen turkey meatballs, thawed
1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 14 oz. can chicken broth with roasted garlic
1 10 oz package frozen corn, thawed
1 c. quick cooking bulgur wheat (I used a Bob’s Red Mill brand)
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder


In a 4-5 qt slow cooker, combine tomatoes, meatballs, beans, broth, and corn, and seasonings.

Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high 3-3 ½ hours.

About 30 minutes before serving, cook the bulgur wheat according to package directions.  Stir into the stew.

Husband Rating: Didn’t get one as he was gone for Bible study!

Food for thought: As far as the meatballs go, I think that maybe using something like chorizo would be tasty and making meatballs from scratch could be good… though more work.  Just a thought I had…

This was a great freezer meal – we tossed everything into a large freezer bag.  On cooking day, I simply took it out of the freezer, stuck the whole icy block into my crock pot, turned it on, and viola!  Dinner was ready!  Love it!


Chicken and Barley Risotto with Edamame

This meal was a hit with almost the whole family (my three year old is on a bit of a food strike so nothing really gets eaten by him these days!).  But, the rest of us really liked this meal.  It was simple yet filling and perfect for a cold Minnesota day.  I liked how easy it was, being that it was minimal effort in the slow cooker.  We will be making this again!


Chicken and Barley Risotto with Edamame

Recipe from my friend Sarah B.

1 ½ lb. chicken breasts, cut into ¾ inch cubes
1 ½ c. chopped onions
1 ¼ c. uncooked pearl barley
½ c. shredded carrot
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp salt
½ tsp dried thyme
4 c. chicken broth
1 c. frozen edamame
½ c. shredded Parmesan

Spray 4-5 qt. slow cooker with cooking spray.

In cooker, mix chicken, onions, barley, carrot, garlic, salt and thyme.  Add 3 c. of broth. Reserve last cup.
Cover.  Cook on Low 4-5 hours.

In 2 cup microwaveable cup, microwave remaining broth on High 2-3 minutes.  Stir THAWED edamame and boiling broth into mixture in cooker.  Increase to HIGH;  cover and cook 25-30 minutes longer or until edamame is tender.  Stir in cheese.

Season with additional salt/pepper as needed.

Serve immediately.

Food for Thought:

We made this as a freezer meal.  If you would like to do that, simply pack the chicken in one quart or sandwich sized zipper bag.  Pack the edamame in another.  Pack the cheese in it’s own bag as well.  Combine the onion, barley, salt, carrot, garlic, and thyme in another bag.  I kept the broth in the cupboard. Put all of the smaller bags into a larger gallon sized freezer bag, label and freeze.  On the day you are ready to cook, simply thaw and follow the cooking instructions above.

Soy-Ginger Chicken

]This was an easy, delicious chicken in the slow cooker.  Don’t you love recipes that you can toss in the slow cooker and think about it?  One tip though… I cut up the chicken after cooking it to make it easier to serve to the boys.   However, I think that it made it dry out a little too quickly and it would have been better if I had left them as whole breasts to serve.  I would definitely serve it over rice as it will soak up the sauce nicely.


Soy-Ginger Chicken

Recipe adapted from

1/3 c. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
5 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 c. cilantro
2 in. piece ginger, cut into strips
2 scallions, thinly sliced diagonally
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 carrots, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. cornstarch


Stir together first 9 ingredients (from soy sauce through pepper). Add chicken and carrots and toss to coat. Place in a slow cooker and cook on low for 3-4 hours.

When chicken is almost done, whisk the corn starch with 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Ladle 1 c. of the cooking liquid into the cornstarch mixture. Whisk to combine. Pour into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cook until thickened.

Turn off slow cooker and add corn starch mixture. Serve over rice or Asian noodles.

French Dip Sandwiches

I HEART French Dip sandwiches!  I’m not really sure why but I just do.  I love to order them at restaurants/deli’s and love to make this recipe for them even more.  It’s such a simple meal and yet so delicious!  I could eat like 10 of them… Ok, I didn’t eat really 10 tonight but I ate 3 sandwiches.

They are so good that I really don’t even care that we had a poorly timed trip to Costco today (i.e. the kids at a few too many samples right before dinner and thus didn’t eat any of their dinner tonight) because I ended up eating their sandwiches as well as mine!  Yes, I love these French Dip sandwiches!

Oh, and as a bonus… it makes a large quantity so I was able to freeze most of the leftovers which will reheat super easily for another meal in a few weeks!  Love it!


French Dip Sandwiches

3-4 lbs. beef chuck roast, trimmed of fat
1/2 c. soy sauce
2c. beef broth
2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. fresh minced garlic
10 black peppercorns
cheese of choice (I prefer provolone)
8 rolls

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on high 4-5 hours or on low for 8-10 hours. (It’s better if you can do it on low… the meat seems to turn out a little more tender the slower you cook it.)

Remove the meat from cooking juice and shred. Return to juice to keep warm. Serve meat hot on rolls with cheese. Use remaining cooking juice for dipping sauce.

Food For Thought: There are two ways to do this meal as a freezer meal.  One way is to put all of the ingredients in a Ziploc baggie and keep in your freezer until the day you want to cook them.  Then, thaw overnight before cooking and pop into your crock pot.  Another is to cook it up and freeze the meat after cooking.  Be sure to put plenty of the cooking liquid in with the meat before you freeze it so that when you thaw and reheat the meat, it will stay tender. All you have to do to reheat is microwave!

Refried Black Beans for a crowd

My church group is serving a meal at the Ronald McDonald House this coming weekend and we are doing a taco bar. As part of that, I wanted to include a refried bean option but didn’t really want to buy a bunch of cans of refried beans just to reheat. The meal is for about 80 people so I did a good old Google search and came up with a recipe for refried beans for a crowd (link to the original recipe below) and decided to try it with black beans instead.

The results??? I will never again buy a can of refried beans! These were so easy, are so delicious, and make such a large batch that I know I can simply make one batch, freeze it in smaller portions and be set for a while! I love that I know exactly what went into these beans, instead of always wondering a little bit what was in those canned beans (even the organic refried black beans I had been buying recently). Yep, this recipe is a good one!

***Oh, I didn’t take a picture of them because I simply couldn’t figure out how one takes a picture of a big pile of brown refried beans and makes it look attractive… Trust me, picture or not, they are good!

Refried Black Beans for a Crowd (or your freezer!)

Recipe adapted from

1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
3 1/2 c. black beans, rinsed and sorted (but NOT soaked)
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
3 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
6 slices of bacon, crisp and crumbled
1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
10 cups water


Place all ingredients in a large crock pot on high for 8 hours.

Drain beans but reserve cooking liquid. Place beans in a blender or food processor and puree until desired consistency. Add reserved cooking liquid as you puree. I would estimate that I added about 1 c. of liquid to every 5-6 cups of cooked beans. It all depends on your personal preference of how smooth or chunky you prefer your refried beans.

Serve immediately or allow to cool and simply reheat when you are ready to serve.

Makes approximately 12 c. of refried beans.

Shredded Southwest Beef Sandwiches

This recipe started out as one thing and ended as something completely different than I intended… and sometimes that is the best result!  This was originally listed on my menu plan as the Spicy Southwest Beef Torta, a recipe I found in a free cookbook I got from Costco.  What I actually made was not spicy, nor a torta (or a flatbread style entrée).  But, what it was turned out to be a savory Southwest inspired shredded beef sandwich that both my 2 and 3 year old enjoyed and actually ate!  (I wish that it didn’t always surprise me when they both like a meal on the same night, but I guess for a while until they are older it will!) We ate it simply with fresh tomatoes on the side.  It was delicious and simple!


Shredded Southwest Beef Sandwiches

2 1/2 lbs. boneless beef chuck pot roast
1 white onion, thinly sliced
2 c. beef broth
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
salt/pepper to taste
dash lime juice
1 can refried black beans
2 avocadoes
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
6 sandwich rolls


Place roast, onion, and beef broth in crock pot and cook on high for 3-4 hours, until beef is fork-tender. When meat is tender, remove from liquid and shred. Set aside. Remove onions from the crock pot and add to shredded beef. Scoop out about 1/2 c. of the cooking liquid and add to the meat. Add cumin, chili powder, salt/pepper, and lime juice and stir. Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste preferences. Keep warm.

Warm refried beans slightly. Slice each bun in half. Spread a layer of beans on the bottom of each roll. Add a layer of shredded beef. Top with avocadoes and cilantro. Enjoy!

Food for Thought: This would probably also taste good as a shredded beef for tacos or nachos or quesadillas.  Though I haven’t tried it, I imagine that any leftover cooked meat would freeze and reheat well.  I would add additional liquid from the leftover cooking liquid to whatever you plan to freeze or when thawing add additional beef broth to ensure the meat does not get dried out.  If you try this, let me know how it turns out.  If I try it, I will do the same!

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