Showing posts with label slow cooker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label slow cooker. Show all posts


Slow Cooker Cuban Pork for Secret Recipe Club

Every once in a while, a convergence of events makes you feel like the heavens are smiling upon you. Such a convergence has happened in the past couple of days and it sprang first from our February Secret Recipe Club assignment: The Savvy Kitchen.

To start, The Savvy Kitchen is written by a woman named Amy whose husband is named Chris. Quite a coincidence! Amy specializes in low-carb, low-calorie and gluten-free recipes, and there are plenty from which to choose. We've spent a few days browsing the blog and were particularly intrigued by the slow cooker section because of the weather.

So let's talk about the weather. You see, the school districts in which the two of us teach took away our beloved, much needed February vacations a couple of years back. But Mother Nature has taken it upon herself, in those couple of years, to give it back to us in the form of Snow Days. In 2012, it was Snowpocalypse in October. The year 2013 brought a blizzard that made our annual Mardi Gras party unforgettable. And this year, it has snowed much and often. We had two Snow Days in a row leading into this long weekend. Yes, we were two happy and relaxed people this weekend, and, just sayin', it's been perfect slow cooker weather. 

While we were lingering on The Savvy Kitchen's slow cooker section, the final element of the convergence of events occurred in the form of a text from neighbors D and J in which they were offering us half of an 11-pound pork shoulder in exchange for our participation with them in a pulled pork showdown. Minds. Blown.

Thus, it all came together. Secret Recipe Club assignment + lazy Snow Days + free pork + Pulled Pork Challenge = The Savvy Kitchen's Slow Cooker Cuban Pork.

The challenge was on and the house smelled delicious. With notes of cumin and citrus, our (literally) falling-off-the-bone pork reminded us that as much as we love Snow Days, we love summer more. D's spicy barbecue pulled pork sandwiches were amazing, so we called it a draw. To Amy of The Savvy Kitchen, thanks for a fabulous (and super easy) recipe that we are sure to make again, even without a convergence of Snow Days, free meat, and/or cooking challenges from the neighbors. And to the neighbors, thanks for the pork!

Slow Cooker Cuban Pork
(recipe from The Savvy Kitchen)


1 onion, sliced
1 5-6 lb. pork shoulder 
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup lime juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried cilantro
4-5 garlic cloves, minced

Cooks' notes: we served ours in warm tortillas with shredded lettuce, cheese, salsa and sour cream, and if we had black beans in the house, probably would have had those on the side. Alas, we made some saffron rice instead. Also, while Amy suggests setting the slow cooker on low, we did ours on high, and doubled the ingredients (besides the onion) because our pork shoulder was larger. And because Chris likes to play with knives, he butchered the pork first.

Place the sliced onions in the bottom of a slow cooker set to high. Top with the pork, fat side up. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the pork. Cover and cook on high heat for 8-10 hours. Remove meat from slow cooker and shred using two forks. Remove all but two cups of liquid and return shredded pork to the slow cooker; cook additional half hour. Serve as desired.

Peruse this week's Secret Recipe Club posts below, including what Our Eating Habits did with our "Chicken, Sweet Onion and Potato Paprika"!


Slightly Smoky Ham and Bean Soup

We attended an Oktoberfest celebration thrown by friends C and L, and indulged in some hearty beer, homemade soft pretzels, spiraled ham, grilled brats and other sausages, and fabulous fall desserts (among other things). And then, C and L were generous enough to let us take home the ham bone along with some of the leftover meat. Chris had his eye on that bone all night, so he was delighted, and started trawling the web for soup recipes the very next morning. He finally chose the recipe for "Northwoods Smoked Ham and Bean Soup by Crock-Pot" from ICookbook, an app on his IPad, and as usual, we fiddled with it, adjusted it, and in an effort to avoid errands, did what we could with what we had. 

This recipe has a lot of wonderful qualities. The best part is that this is a slow cooker recipe. That almost all of the work is done for you by that magical little machine, while you are at work, or wherever it is you go during the day. Which is made even more wonderful by the aroma that greets you when you come back from wherever you were. Plus the fact that you are probably tired from wherever you had been, and now dinner is already done. Oh, the fabulousness! 

The ham was sweet, and we wanted a little smoky flavor, so we added a couple of dashes of liquid smoke. We decided against adding pasta, because we felt it was hearty and chunky enough with the beans, and neither of us need the extra carbs right now. It's definitely our kind of soup, similar to, but different enough from our Tuscan Sausage Soup or our White Bean and Leftover-Easter-Ham Soup.

Slightly Smoky Ham and Bean Soup


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
6 cups chicken stock (we ran out at 5 cups, so used 1 cup water)
1 leftover ham bone (from a large spiraled ham, with meat scraps still on it)
2 cups cubed cooked ham
28 ounces diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon dried parsley
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 bay leaves
5 dashes liquid smoke 
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 15-ounce can canellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can small white beans, drained and rinsed

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Place onion and garlic mixture, stock, ham bone, ham, tomatoes, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, liquid smoke, salt and pepper in slow cooker. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. Stir in beans, and cook for about 15 additional minutes, or until heated through.


Slow-Cooked Lasagna

The other night, Amy was talking to her mom and her mom mentioned that she had made lasagna in the slow cooker. Doesn't that just seem like a brilliant idea? We had to try it, expecially since it's slow cooker season. So we assembled our normal lasagna recipe (below) with no-boil noodles and let it cook in the slow cooker for four hours.

Now, when most people hear "slow cooker recipe," they think of convenience and ease. This is not necessarily true with this recipe. We thought we could explain what we mean via the following list of pros and cons:

Pros: You get to use your slow cooker, which means this can cook without anyone having to be home to make sure the oven (or the lasagna) catches on fire. And you don't have to boil the noodles first (which means you don't have to wrestle with wet cooked noodles).

Cons: You still need to brown the meat and onions separately. You still need to blend together your cheese mixture separately. You still need to assemble each layer of the lasagna; you are just doing this in the slow cooker. The cheesy top doesn't brown. You've made a lasagna, only this lasagna takes 4 hours to cook.

So although this particular recipe was cooked in the slow cooker, it misses the mark when it comes to both convenience and ease (except for using jarred marinara rather than making your own). Nonetheless, the result was what we wished for: a delicious and hearty cheesy layered baked slow-cooked pasta dish that was ready when we got home from work.

Slow-Cooked Lasagna


I tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 pound ground beef
1 jar marinara sauce
1 pound part-skim ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 egg
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 package no-boil lasagna noodles
2 tablespoons water

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Saute the onion, garlic, and Italian seasoning together until the onion begins to soften, then add the ground beef. Brown the beef, stirring often, then add the marinara sauce and cook until heated through; remove from heat. In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella, the egg, salt, pepper and nutmeg until well combined. Place the slow cooker on low heat. Pour in a thin layer of the meat sauce on the bottom of the slow cooker. Top the sauce with two noodles, then spread the cheese mixture over the noodles. Cover the cheese mixture with sauce, then noodles, then cheese mixture. Continue the layering process until you run out of cheese mixture and end with noodles on top. Pour the remaining sauce over the top noodles and cover with the remaining half-cup of mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle the water over the lasagna. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on the lowest setting for four hours, or until noodles are tender. 


Slow-Cooker Pork with Apples and Onions

Another storm. Another snow day. (Not that we're complaining). A perfect day for a slow-cooked meal, so we give you pork with apples and onions. This recipe is almost too simple - layer the ingredients in the slow cooker and leave it alone for 3 hours. Then eat it. Amazing! And it made the house smell like apples! We served it with chunky mashed potatoes. Let it snow!


1 Braeburn apple, peeled and sliced
2 pork sirloin chops, cut in half
salt and pepper to taste
1 Cortland apple, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons Red Monkey Stone Ground Spicy Mustard (you could use plain ground mustard, but this one adds a nice kick)
6 pearl onions, peeled
4 cippolini onions, peeled
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1 sprig fresh rosemary

In a 3-quart slow-cooker, layer the ingredients in the order they are listed. Cook on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, allowing the slow-cooker to do all the work while you browse A Couple in the Kitchen. Enjoy!!!

Pieces of pork layered between apple slices then seasoned

Thrown in some onions

Apple cider adds extra apple flavor

Pork loves rosemary