It's March 4th, and so concludes the Crockpot Challenge! The challenge, initiated by Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers, was to try 10 new crockpot recipes from mid-January to the end of March. I loved the idea of putting my crockpot to use more often than usual, and had a lot of fun trying out new recipes to get us through the coldest part of the year.
The last few months have been pretty packed with travel, events and celebrations so unfortunately I didn't quite make it to 10 new recipes. With only two adults in the house, crockpot cooking tends to leave us with leftovers for days, so over the 7-ish week period I made 6 slow cooker meals. That's an average of one per week, which is much more often than my usual, so if the goal is to use the crockpot more often and try some new dishes, I still consider it a win. :)
The overall theme of the crockpot recipes was definitely soups & stews, but two of my favorite new trials were the spinach lasagna and the cranberry applesauce. I loved using the crockpot for something other than a soup, and Matt and Riker both loved those two dishes.
So without further ado, here's the Crockpot Challenge Roundup!
Definitely a winner. This doesn't require any precooking and you can basically add any kind of veggie you want. The end result was cheesy pasta goodness without all the hassle of prepping a traditional lasagna. Bonus: A regular lasagna usually yields a huge pan, but in the crockpot, you can downsize to however much you actually want.
Tomato Bean Soup
This was a pretty simple, basic soup. It was easy and I liked using dried beans (a rarity for me!), and while I wouldn't call this a dish for company, it was a filling, no-frills weeknight dinner or lunch for the fam.
Loved this! The recipe came about by accident as I was attempting to crockpot my traditional baked apples, but the end result was fantastic. The cranberries gave the sauce a nice color and flavor, and this is by far the easiest applesauce I've ever made - no food mill required!
Spicy Potato Leek Soup
Potato Leek Soup is already a pretty easy dish to make, but "crockpotting" it was even simpler. I just dumped everything in, let it simmer away while I worked, then pureed everything up with an immersion blender at dinnertime. I liked the addition of hot peppers here since it added extra flavor without extra fat.
Cheesy White Bean & Cauliflower Chili
This chili was a huge hit in my house. It's super cheesy and spicy, and even Riker ate a full bowl. The cauliflower really bulked up the dish so it felt like a chunky chili without any meat and without the need for a lot of beans. It's not the healthiest crockpot meal on the list, but was great for football Sunday.
Spicy Eggplant Potato Stew
The resident Indian meal! I adored this stew. The one major issue I had though, was that it required cooking beforehand. The best thing about crockpot cooking is the fact that you can throw everything in raw and the slow cooker will do the work for you. This recipe was based on an old Slow Cooker Cookbook I had lying around, and I really disliked that every recipe in that cookbook required some kind of sauteing or cooking before the food ended up in the crockpot. That said, if you like curry, this one's worth a try.
And there you have it. A month's worth of crockpotting in the bag. Spring's right around the corner so I probably won't use the old Hamilton Beach for too much longer, so if you have any suggestions for must-try recipes before the cold weather ends, please share them!