Keto Pizza Casserole


Upon request from a reader, I ventured into the world of Ketogenic, aka "Keto", cuisine to bring you this Keto Pizza Casserole. I happen to be very well versed in nutrition as it is just another hobby of mine. I've done the whole meal planning thing quite a bit and have just been generally obsessed with nutrition and health food for, well, a long time. Let's just call it years and years 😉 So I did feel like I had a bit of an upper hand having all the macro knowledge that I do when I began planning a Keto recipe. I have never personally adhered to a Ketogenic diet for a couple of reasons. I happen to have a very lean build so I've never chosen a diet for the purpose of losing weight. My health goals are typically to gain muscle or, as strange as it sounds, to gain weight overall. I also have a very high metabolism and with all of my macro dieting experimenting I've done, I know that my body produces the results that I look for when I am consuming an OBSCENE amount of carbs. So that being said, the Ketogenic diet has never called to me, per se. Different strokes, different folks. However, I do appreciate the health benefits the research surrounding the Ketogenic diet describes this diet as having for those with epilepsy and diabetes. Alas, I love a challenge and was absolutely going to take up the opportunity to please a reader 🙂

When people think low-carb, the last thing I'm sure that comes to mind is pizza. But I do not believe that anybody should ever have to cut pizza out of their diet, carbs be darned. So I bring all of you Ketogenic diet eatin' folk this Keto Pizza Casserole! Because if I was on the Keto diet, I really wouldn't be because I would still be eating pizza 😉

What does Ketogenic mean?

I'm not going to go into great detail about the Keto diet, I'm just going to give you a quick rundown. A typical Ketogenic diet requires that you eat a maximum of 20 grams of carbs daily. The goal of a Ketogenic diet is to stop feeding your body the carbohydrates that it likes to use to burn as fuel. When you restrict the number of carbs your body has to break down into energy, it will start to break down your stored fat instead creating molecules called ketones to use as a new fuel source. For the sake of this recipe, all you need to know is that I calculated the number of carbohydrates for you and each serving will have only 7.2 grams of carbs.

Brown the meat first.

That's right. This recipe calls for a little bit of combination cooking, it's not all done in the slow cooker. Most of the work is still done in the slow cooker, but we are going to brown the meat first with some butter, seasonings, fresh garlic, and just a tad of diced red onion. The reason we're doing this is to keep the cheese from burning. If we were to build this casserole in the crock pot using raw turkey, by the time the turkey was completely cooked, the cheese would likely be burnt to a crisp. While I don't really have many qualms with the flavor of burnt cheese, or anything cheese flavored really, my goal here is a pizza consistency not that of a Cheez-It.

Parmesan is worth a few extra carbs.

Mozzarella is pretty much carb-free, perfect for Ketogenic recipes. Parmesan is not carb-free. But I love the bite that Parmesan adds to meals so it seemed worth it to me to sacrifice a few carbs and use a mixture of mozzarella AND Parmesan. Had I not done this, I probably would not have needed to water down the pizza sauce like I did (you'll read about this shortly.) If you want to cut out some extra carbs, this is the perfect step for you to alter and still get basically the same results that I got as the final dish. To cut carbs, simply replace the same amount of mozzarella for the Parmesan listed in the recipe (basically double up on mozz and 86 the parm altogether.) 😉

The pizza sauce.

Is what made this recipe a bit challenging. Tomato sauces are stockpiled with carbs. So I cheated a little bit and mixed some water in with pizza sauce to stretch the sauce a ways and still keep the carb count low. But I did not want to sacrifice flavor too much by doing this so it took some trial and error. I landed on a 2:1 ratio of pizza sauce to water. I used 12 ounces of pizza sauce, mixed it with 6 ounces of water, and landed on 18 ounces of the sauce/water combination. I like a lot of sauce on my pizza 🙂

The recipe.

Writing a grocery list? Check here for grocery savings in your area.

Prep time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours and 10 minutes
Makes 8 servings
**Each serving will have 7.2 grams of carbs. Happy Keto-ing!

To brown the meat:
1 lb 93% lean ground turkey meat, thawed
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 cup red onion, diced

For the rest of the casserole:
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
12 oz pizza sauce (mixed with 6 oz water for a total of 18 oz sauce mixture)
Pepperoni slices (I only needed about 11 total slices)
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, finely chopped
2.25 oz can sliced black olives, drained

1) Prepare the vegetables, chopping, dicing, and mincing as needed.

2) Over medium heat, brown the turkey meat with butter, seasonings, garlic, and diced red onion.
3) Spray the crock pot with cooking spray.
4) Cover the bottom of the crockpot with 1/3 of the jalapeno slices, and half of the bell pepper, red onion, and black olives you prepped in step 1.

5) Layer half of the browned turkey meat across the veggies.

6) Pour half of the pizza sauce mixture across the turkey meat.

7) Sprinkle 1/2 cup of each cheese over the sauce layer.

8) Cover the cheese with the 1/3 of the jalapeno slices, and the rest of the bell peppers, red onions, and black olives (I set aside a small amount of olives to put on the very top layer for presentation purposes; feel free to do the same.)
9) Layer the rest of the browned turkey meat across the veggies.
10) Pour the rest of the pizza sauce mixture evenly over the turkey meat.
11) Sprinkle 1/2 cup of each cheese over the sauce.
12) Arrange the pepperoni slices, the rest of the jalapeno slices, and the rest of the black olives across the cheese as the top layer of the casserole.

13) Cook on low for 2 hours and 10 minutes.
14) Cut into eighths, serve. (Yes, it is supposed to be very messy.)

15) Let the puppy help clean up.

What do you think of my first Keto recipe? Tell me in the comments below!
Find out more about me, the author and founder of The Slow Cooker Life, here.

Cuisinart 4-quart Cook Central

Cuisinart MSC-400
Stainless Steel
4 qt 3-in-1 Multicooker

Features. From The Manufacturer.

  • 3 programmable cooking functions.
  • Slow Cook on high, low, simmer, or warm for up to 24 hours.
  • Brown/Saute with temperatures up to 400 degrees.
  • Steam for up to 90 minutes,
  • Automatic Keep Warm feature.
  • One touch switches modes when recipe calls for combination cooking,
  • Removable 4-qt nonstick aluminum cooking pot.
  • Extra large blue back lit LCD display with easy-to-read time and temperature settings.
  • Glass lid with cool-touch handle for clear view and comfortable handling.
  • Dishwasher-safe removable parts for effortless cleanup.
  • Steaming rack included.
  • Limited 3-year warranty
  • BPA free.

Description.

The Cuisinart 4-quart Multicooker Cook Central is the center of convenience when it comes to family dinners, hosting, or combination cooking. Its 3 programmable cooking functions allow you to execute multi-step dishes in a flash using minimal dishes, which makes clean up, as well as cooking, a cinch. Need to brown the meat before commencing the slow cooking? Do it in your new Cuisinart 3-in-1 Multicooker! The brown/saute cooking function allows you to skip the frying pans and stove tops and opens you to the world of one stop cooking. Use this feature to quickly brown your ingredients, then instantly switch your Multicooker over to the slow cook function without having to switch pots. The Cook Central offers a steam cooking function as well so you can prepare your veggies, or really anything, perfectly. With its 3 cooking functions, you can cook endless meals, side dishes, and desserts all with one appliance and no extra mess.

For added convenience, this Multicooker is equipped with an automatic Keep Warm function. What this means is you can set a cook time and once the timer is up, the Cook Central kicks the cooking heat off and switches to Keep Warm mode. Still don't get it? You no longer have to be home to turn the slow cooker to Keep Warm manually when your meal is done cooking. For us busy bees, this is a really big deal. Personally, I still rock an old-school all-settings-are-manual slow cooker so I have to very strategically plan when I start the crock pot to ensure that either I, or my SO, will be home in time to switch it to Keep Warm so we don't have to eat burnt pucks for dinner, or worse...fast food 😉

Whether you typically just cook for yourself, yourself and a special someone, a small family, or a big family, the Cook Central will be big enough for the task as it comes in either the featured 4 quart option, a generous 6 quart option, or a whopping 8 quart option for those of you with several mouths to feed and no time to do so 🙂

Pros.

  • Available in 3 different sizes.
  • 3 programmable cooking functions make for fewer dishes and cleanup. If you have kids, though, maybe you don't mind the extra dishes as little Johnny and Tommy are the cleaning crew.
  • Automatically switches to Keep Warm when the cook timer goes off.

Cons.

  • It's a $100-ish slow cooker. Sure, it does other stuff too. But if you're on a budget, the "other stuff" isn't always worth it.
  • The pot is aluminum. Some people believe that an aluminum pot could lead to increased aluminum levels in the food your cook and therefore consume.
  • No probe. If you are a slow cooking meat snob who prefers cooking with a probe to guarantee the medium rares and whatnot, buy a different model that offers the probe feature.

Pricing Options.

Walmart: $98.99
*Walmart gives you the option of adding on a protection plan. Handy if you prefer heartier product warranties 🙂

Specs.

LWH: 10.5" x 16.5" x 8.7"
Weight: 13 lb
Material: Stainless steel
Color: Silver
Pot specs: 4 quart aluminum

Warranty.

Limited 3-year warranty.

The Cuisinart Cook Central comes with a limited 3-year product warranty which is pretty decent. The coverage itself is seemingly standard for similar products. However, the 3-year part is above the standard because many companies will only offer a 1-uear limited warranty with their products.

Basically, Cuisinart promises that if within the first 3 years of ownership from the date of purchase something goes wrong that was not YOUR FAULT, that something just naturally went kapoot on the multicooker, then Cuisinart will fix it or replace it for you at their discretion They do require that you pay a flat $10 shipping fee to facilitate the speed and accuracy of your return. As previously assumed, these appliances are heavy so I doubt Cuisinart wants to foot the bill for shipping these bowling balls to and fro.

Read the full warranty here.

Conclusion.

The Cuisinart 4-quart 3-in-1 Cook Central Multicooker is absolutely the center of cooking convenience and absolutely worth the money. I love that it comes in different sizes so those of you who just have a cat at home can be as pleased with your meals as those of you with a litter of children to feed. I love that it makes combination cooking a breeze with its 3 cooking functions. I love it's chic stainless steel finish.

I do not love the aluminum pot; I prefer ceramic. Alas, you can't win 'em all. If you don't mind the aluminum pot then I really do not have much more nay say for this multicooker. Get it. Cook with it. Tell us how you like it.

What are your thoughts on aluminum pots? Tell me about your experience with them in the comments below.

Find out more about me, the author and founder of The Slow Cooker Life, here.

Ginger Spiced Apple Butter Chicken

apple butter chicken recipe

This recipe has A LOT of flavor. From the rich spice aroma of the ginger to the juicy, decadent flavor of the apple butter glaze, this apple butter chicken recipe is sure to have your taste buds working overtime! And to add savory to the already wonderful mix of sweet and spicy, we are going to top it off with bacon. It will be the cherry to our sundae. No, we're not making ice cream. Maybe one day I will.

I did oddly have a really hard time deciding what to serve this with. Ultimately I went with white rice. And it went very well with the chicken. But I was mulling over the ideas of biscuit and veggies or a cold salad as well. I guess it isn't a bad thing when something is so delicious that it sounds good with everything, right? 😉

Get the chicken off the heat.

I tried something new in an attempt to keep the chicken from getting too dry. I usually just put the chicken in the bottom of the crockpot. Here, I wanted to try to elevate the chicken so that it is not coming in direct contact with the heat source for the crockpot. The idea is that the chicken won't become as dry and the bottom of the chicken maybe won't be too soggy from having slow cooked in its own juices for hours.

Peel an onion and slice about five 1/2 inch thick slices, leaving all the layers of each slices together. These slices, or pucks, will be what separates the chicken from the direct bottom of the crockpot.

If you are going to end up shredding the chicken, letting it cook in its own juices is going to be more than fine. However, if your plan was to serve the chicken as whole pieces, I recommend lifting the chicken a bit. I was becoming frustrated that no matter how I adjusted the cook temp or time, the meat kept seeming to dry out. So I did a little research and incorporated my newfound wisdom for you 🙂

Let's talk about apple butter.

The apple butter that I had on deck for this recipe was given to us as a gift and was the first time I had ever tasted apple butter. My initial reaction was that it tasted like apple sauce. But like...POW! APPLE SAUCE! You know? A little bit of that stuff went a very long way. At first, I was using it in small doses on toast. Typically, I am a berry or apricot jam kind of gal. But I got a little crazy with the apple butter a couple of times 😉

Unbeknownst to me, because I had not yet stumbled across apple butter, it is commonly used for baking. So now I know that. Ignorance is bliss at times, however. This time, my ignorance to apple butter allowed for a more unique, unbiased take on how it should be used. I went more of a savory cooking route with this apple butter chicken recipe. Maybe if I had initially been aware of apple butter's standard use, mine would have turned into some sort of apple crumble coffee cake of sorts. But I did not know about the apple butter. So I winged it. And things still went very, very well.

I went heavy on the seasonings.

For a reason. That apple butter was potent and I didn't want the dish to end up tasting like I cooked it in apple sauce. I needed to combat the sweet. My weapon of choice? Spicy, of course. After all, "spiced" and "apple" compliment each other very well. Cinnamon seemed too obvious for the apple. I didn't want to adhere to obvious. So I decided to make ginger my focus for the "spiced" apple inspiration. Cayenne and chili powder had their time to shine too when I found myself wanting a little more flavor and heat.

Your kitchen is going to smell wonderful 🙂

We're adding butter to the butter.

That ought to get your attention. Technically apple butter is not butter. For the sake of simple argument, it's just apples and spices cooked and blended until it has the consistency of butter. But "adding butter to the butter" sounded too good to not say.

I had a couple of reasons for adding regular butter to the apple butter. Surely the apple butter was viscous enough to spread over the chicken as it was. Not only did I want another means to prevent the final dish from tasting like it was cooked in apple sauce. But I also just think that slow cooking meat, especially dry meat like chicken, with butter is ultimately going to add extra flavor and moistness.

And then we're adding bacon to all o' that.

Okay so it's just turkey bacon. But still. I encourage you to use the real deal if you fancy yourself some pork. I have not yet delved back into the land of eating pork (I have particular dietary preferences), however, so I am rolling with the turkey bacon. Still savory and super delicious. Want extra savory? Use real bacon, I won't mind 😉

The recipe.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours
Makes 2 servings

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, frozen
1/3 cup apple butter
3 tbsp butter
4 pieces turkey bacon, halved
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Pepper to taste

Optional to elevate the chicken:
Onion, sliced into 1/2 inch pucks

1) Put small frying pan over medium heat to allow it to begin heating up.
2) Spray the crockpot.
3) Line the bottom of the crockpot with onion pucks.

4) Put the chicken in the crockpot.
5) Add seasonings to the chicken.

6) NOTE: Do this step carefully. Add butter and apple butter to the hot pan on the stove top. As the pan will now be hot, the butter and apple butter may splatter when they hit the pan. I recommend wearing an old long sleeve t-shirt if you want to avoid getting irritatingly burned by splattering butter pellets.

7) Using a rubber spatula, continuously stir the contents of the pan until the butter and apple butter are well blended and the mixture is sizzling.

8) Pour the apple butter butter (mmmm, that sounds so delicious) even over the chicken breasts in the crockpot.

9) Place the bacon strips across the chicken breasts as the very top layer.

10) Cook on high for 3 hours.

Did you make this apple butter chicken?!
What would you serve yours with? Rice? Steamed veggies? Cold salad? Tell me in the comments below! I would love to hear your ideas and why you think they would go well with this meal.

Find out more about me, the author and founder of The Slow Cooker Life, here 🙂

Honey Mustard Chicken Recipe – Traditional


Here we are with another honey mustard chicken recipe. I took a more traditional approach to this honey mustard chicken recipe than I did with my last one. I am really not a huge fan of mayonnaise so my last recipe used Greek yogurt in place of the mayonnaise you find in a traditional honey mustard. This time around, I used mayonnaise to give ole tradition a spin for a bit. That urge made for quite the production in my kitchen while I attempted to make mayonnaise to use in this recipe. That is a song for another time, however. For now though, this honey mustard chicken turned out to be so juicy and tender! And there was enough sauce left to drizzle over the side of broccoli I made for it too.

Honey, mustard, and mayonnaise are things that most people stock in their homes. That is part of why this recipe is so amazing! Not only is this meal delicious, it doesn't require a grocery list full of ingredients you are only going to use for this one recipe. On the contrary, it requires only a handful of items that you most likely have already. All this time you could have been making honey mustard to put on everything 😉

I made my own mayo.

But I do not expect you to have done this. Use your normal mayonnaise. I made my own in an attempt to create a mayo that I enjoyed. I was fairly successful. My next mayo-making attempt will have some tweaks to try to make it a little zestier. That's what I get for using vinegar instead of the highly recommended lemon juice for the recipe. In my defense, I was out of lemons...

I went through a few recipe tweaks before I found one that would work for now for this honey mustard chicken recipe. You have probably wondered a couple of times now why I didn't just buy mayonnaise from the store. Because I don't like it. So I figured I could try to make some that was a little tastier than what I am used to store-bought tasting like. I'm really ambitious like that 😉

Use your usual mayo; there are no extra brownie points for making your own. That being said, if you want to make your own, you have my total support.

I slow cooked the mayo.

The flavor of the chicken was amazing. But the look slow cooked sauce was a bit of a turn off. Not to worry though! I easily whipped up a bit of fresh honey mustard from the leftover honey, mustard, and mayo that I had plenty of to start with, and drizzled the fresh stuff over the cooked chicken. This way I got the best of both worlds. The chicken was super tender and honey mustard-y. And the honey mustard sauce poured over the chicken did not look like curdled milk. The sauce did not curdle, as there was no dairy in the sauce. It was just lumps of hot homemade mayo. Either way, it didn't look great. So I called an audible and used uncooked honey mustard for the plating step.

You will notice that my pictures show that I measured out less honey mustard ingredients than what I call for in the recipe. This is so that you make enough of the sauce at the start to pour over your plated chicken later on like I did 🙂 I'm helping you save time by making the mistakes for you along the way 😉

I added vanilla extract.

Yes. Yes, I did. I added vanilla extract to the honey mustard.

This really added an extra dimension of flavor in the sauce. I like honey mustard to be sweet, not overpoweringly mustard-y. That is just my own preference. Henceforth, I jazzed up my honey mustard recipe with a little bit of vanilla extract. I am very happy with this improvement. I have now made honey mustard a few different times using various recipes each time, and I have never thought to put vanilla extract in it before. But this time I finally had the epiphany. So let's stop living in the past and move on to our vanilla flavored futures 🙂

The mustard.

Since my goal here was to avoid an overpowering mustard flavor, I opted for Dijon mustard for this recipe. It allows to sweetness of the honey to be prevalent while still adding the flavor essence of mustard. If you prefer a heavy mustard flavor, I suggest using yellow mustard. Check out this recipe if you like a super mustard-y honey mustard.

Serve it with greens.

This honey mustard chicken recipe is a little different from my other one. I think it is clear that I did not really have healthy on my brain with this one. This sauce is much richer on account of the homemade mayo I incorporated. Because of that, I decided to serve it with greens.

I am a sucker for honey mustard on my salads as much as I am for it on my chicken. So serving this entree with a nice cold garden salad on the side would be an excellent option. For mine, I went with steamed broccoli. I personally wanted a bit of a heartier green to counterbalance the richness of the sauce. As it turns out, honey mustard drizzled over broccoli is also delightful 😉

The recipe.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, frozen
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup honey
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Salt
Pepper
Cayenne

1) In a small mixing bowl, mix together mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, honey, and vanilla extract until well(ish) blended. (The mayo is bound to leave a lump or two, this is fine.)


2) Spray the crockpot with cooking spray.

3) Put the frozen chicken in the crockpot,

4) Add salt, pepper, and cayenne to the pot.

5) Pour the honey mustard sauce you made in step 1 over the chicken breasts, leaving a little left in the mixing bowl for plating later.

6) Cook on low for 5 1/2 hours.

7) Remove chicken breasts from crockpot. Pour extra honey mustard sauce form step 5 over cooked chicken breast to serve.

Do you prefer your honey mustard sweeter or with a strong mustard flavor? Tell us in the comments below!
Find out more about me, the author and founder of The Slow Cooker Life, here.

Spinach Artichoke Chicken Recipe – Savory and Robust

There are not many instances that I can recall when I was dining at a restaurant with nachos on their appetizer menu and I ordered a different appetizer instead. I do know with utmost certainty that when these rare occasions do arise, spinach and artichoke dip was quite possibly what won that round. The glorious spin-dip that has become a house favorite at many establishments is what inspired this recipe I am going to be showing you here. Basically I decided that chicken would be really good smothered in a spinach artichoke sauce. Turns out, I was right. This spinach artichoke chicken recipe is absolutely going to become a house favorite at your humble abode as well.

This recipe is the total package. It is a reasonable balance between healthy and not. It really is not that hard to execute. The cooked chicken is tender and juicy. The sauce has just enough spice. And your friends and family will not believe that you made it all from scratch. Even though, secretly, you will have done it with ease. But I am not here to judge. So feel free to tell them a stretched version of the truth and let yourself look like the rock star chef this recipe is sure to make you resemble!

Spoiler alert.

This one will not make your house smell awesome while it is slow cooking. Slow cooked spinach is not, nor will it ever be, a candle fragrance for a reason.

I know. Hard to imagine THIS doesn’t smell great.

Do not let the smell of the slow cooking spinach deter you from this recipe though! Crack a window or light a candle (I’m a big fan of hazelnut) because I assure you, your final product does not taste the way that it smells. Plus, slow cooker users are typically not home while their meal is percolating anyway, right? So the horrible smell shouldn’t matter. And my dogs think everything smells good so they were unphased 😉

Creamy, cheesy, deliciousness.

I originally added about half the amount of Parmesan and cream cheese as I ended up using for the recipe when it was all said and done. I am a strong advocate of tasting your food as you go, as explained here. So there I was, adding the cheeses. Tasting, Adding a bit more cream cheese. Taste. Add some parm. Taste. And just a titch more. Taste.

You get the picture. There is some serious cheese happening in this sauce. But it makes for such a robust, savory flavor!

Not just for the chicken.

This recipe makes a bit more than what you will use just for the chicken. I recommend buying some crostinis or French bread to have on hand to dip into the leftover sauce. Something this tasty does not deserve to just get thrown away. Get creative with the leftovers!

What did I do with my leftovers? We used some tortilla chips for dipping. And then I baked some potatoes the next night and poured the spinach artichoke sauce on them instead of using the usual baked potato toppings. If you are a potato lover like I am (I am guilty of living in Idaho), then this is definitely something worth trying out with your leftovers too!

Add some pizzazz.

As if the spinach artichoke sauce isn’t enough to satisfy, I am encouraging you to add just a little extra umph when you plate this one up to serve. I’m a big fan of a little bit of heat in my meals so of course I am adding some spice on top of mine. I added some crushed red pepper for heat this time because it goes so well with the savory flavor you get from Parmesan (hence why you always get crushed red pepper and Parmesan when you order pizza.)

I’m not done yet. Artichokes and sun dried tomatoes go hand in hand. Therefore, I am going to chop up a few of them and sprinkle them on top of my plated chicken. Such a small addition is going to give us, not only flavor, but also texture and color. A little bit of presentation can go a very long way if you are trying to impress someone. Just saying 😉

The recipe.

Check here first for grocery savings.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 6 hours
Makes about 5 servings with chicken, plus extra sauce for snacking later

Ingredients to slow cook:

1.5 lb frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts
7 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 cup water
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp seasoning salt
2 tsp ground pepper

Ingredients to add after it’s done slow cooking:

5 tbsp cream cheese, softened
7 tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese

This is shredded parm. Grated Parmesan is the “shaker cheese”.

2 tbsp grated pamesan
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped


Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Optional for plating:
Sun dried tomatoes, chopped
Crushed red pepper

To slow cook:

1) Spray the pot.
2) Place frozen chicken in crockpot.

3) Add water, seasonings, garlic, and onion to crockpot.

4) Add spinach to crockpot.

5) Cook on low for 6 hours.

When it’s done slow cooking:
6) Remove chicken breasts from crockpot, leaving the spinach sauce.
7) Add artichokes, cream cheese, shredded Parmesan, and grated Parmesan to crockpot.

8) Stir until the cheeses have melted and mixed thoroughly with the sauce. The sauce will become creamier as the cream cheese and Parmesan melt and blend together.


For plating:

9) Place one of your chicken breasts on a plate and spoon some creamy spinach artichoke sauce over the chicken.
10) Add a pinch of crushed red pepper on top for an added flavor element.
11) Sprinkled the chopped sun dried tomatoes across the chicken.
12) Finish your plating with a little bit of shredded Parmesan to make your meal a little prettier (and cheesier).

I know the recipe seems long. But once you get going, it is all rather quick and easy to accomplish. That’s why this spinach artichoke chicken recipe is so wonderful! It is one that really makes it seem like you know what your are doing in the kitchen (even if you have never drained and chopped a can of artichoke hearts before in your life.)

I think the flavor is totally worth the house smelling like boiled spinach for a few hours;)

What would you do with your leftover sauce?! Tell us your ideas below!
Find out more about me, the author and founder of The Slow Cooker Life, here.

 

 


Hamilton Beach 33969A

Hamilton Beach 6 Quart Set And Forget Programmable Slow Cooker
Hamilton Beach 33969A
Stainless steel

Features. From The Manufacturer.

  • Thermometer probe for cooking meats more accurately.
  • Convenient cooking modes including automatic keep warm.
  • 3 program choices: Probe, Program, and Manual.
  • Clip-tight sealing lid for spill-resistant travel.
  • Gripped handles for carrying heavy meals.
  • 6 quart oval crock fits 6 lb chicken or 4 lb roast.
  • Wraparound, even heat cooks food evenly and consistently.
  • Dishwasher safe oval stoneware and lid
  • Power interrupt protection - keeps things cooking during brief power outages.
  • One-year warranty.

Description.

The Hamilton Beach 33969A makes it easy to execute any meal perfectly with its smart cooking technology. It features three cooking choices, each then with their own settings, to give you ultimate control over how your meals are prepared. For added cooking convenience, the slow cooker automatically switches to warm when the food is done cooking. So if your chicken only needs 7 hours to cook, but you won't be home for 9, fret not! Your slow cooker will deliver!

The three cooking choices include Probe, Program, and Manual.

Probe Mode is perfect for cooking meats. This mode is going to speak to all of you meat lovers out there. You no longer have to guesstimate how long you need to cook that steak for before it hits medium-rare. Set the desired temperature you want the meat to reach, let the slow cooker do its thing, and enjoy. The probe temperature will appear on the front digital display of the slow cooker throughout the duration of cooking, which is kind of cool. That way, if you're home and starving you know about how much longer you have to wait 😉 And don't worry if you're not home. The slow cooker will automatically switch to keep warm once the meat reaches the desired temperature. Whoever said cooking was hard did not own the Hamilton Beach Set And Forget Programmable Slow Cooker.

Program Mode allows you to set a specific cook time. Need to cook it for 5 hours? Done. Just program the amount of time you need that stew to percolate for. And, as stated, the slow cooker will automatically switch to keep warm when the time is up to keep your food from overcooking. Mmmm. That stew is going to be amazing.

Manual Mode gives you High, Low, or Warm heat settings. This is the old school cooking mode. Choose a heat setting and let it go. And hopefully remember to turn the heat off later 😉 Don't forget to set a timer! I don't know if I fully understand why this feature is included when the other two features take the guess work out of cooking manually. But if you are one that enjoys life's safety nets but needs the occasional adrenaline rush, this slow cooker is for you 😀

Pros.

  • Dishwasher safe crock and lid makes clean up super easy!
  • Smart technology gives you ultimate, worry-free control over all of your cooking ventures.
  • Features a probe to cook meats to your idea of perfect.
  • Slow cooker automatically switches to keep warm when food is done cooking to prevent overcooking (feature only available while using the Probe or Program features.)
  • Lid locks on for safe travel.
  • 6 qt. crock is a good size for the average sized family.
  • Short power outages won't ruin your meals. Or waste your food. (Hamilton Beach includes a "5 second or less" caveat on their site in regard to the Power Interrupt Protection technology.)

Cons.

  • Short, limited warranty for a lot of moving parts.My biggest qualm with this product is the 1-year limited warranty that comes with the slow cooker from Hamilton Beach. This slow cooker has A LOT of technology and features and moving parts. The more something can do, the more things that can go wrong with it. This bad boy does a lot, which means a lot can potentially go wrong with it. Yet, Hamilton Beach offers only a 1-year LIMITED warranty.It is worth noting that oftentimes retailers offer extended warranties for products. Obviously these come with an added expense. However, if you require a good warranty, you will need to buy one separately.

Pricing Options.

Specs.

LWH: 10.25" x 16.00" x 16.13"
Material: Stainless steel
Color: SIlver
Pot specs: 6 quart ceramic

Warranty.

Limited 1-year product warranty. Hamilton Beach offers the same limited warranty for 5 years if you are in Canada.

The warranty states that your product is warrantied from defect for 1 year from date of purchase. If in the first year your product defects, Hamilton Beach decides whether the appropriate option is to repair your device or replace it. All shipping costs associated with either remedy option is your responsibility to pay.

Conclusion.

Would I use this slow cooker? Yeah, why not. I like the idea of having that much control over all of my meals. My current slow cooker is very basic. Off, Warm, Low, or High. It does not have any automatic features that make my life easier or more convenient. I really like the idea of having a slow cooker that switches to warm after the food is done cooking because I am on the go quite a bit, as we all are these days.

I don't really require a locking lid or a probe at this moment in my life. I don't attend a lot of potlucks. I don't foresee that aspect of my life changing anytime in the near future. However, I can see myself appreciating the probe once I had it.

All in all, I like Hamilton Beach for their affordable options. Don't get caught off guard by their warranty, and I think you will be pretty happy with them as well!

Have you ever used this crockpot? Tell us how you like it below!

Find out more about me, the author and founder of The Slow Cooker Life, here 😉


Cuisinart 6.5 qt Programmable Slow Cooker

Cuisinart PSC-650
Stainless Steel
6.5 qt Programmable Slow Cooker

Features. From The Manufacturer.

  • Touchpad control panel with LCD timer and display.
  • Settings/cooking modes: On/Off, Warm, Simmer, Low/High
  • Automatically turns to "warm" when the cook time ends.
  • Housing is brushed stainless steel. Handles are chrome-plated.
  • Glass lid has a stainless steel rim. Knob is chrome-plated.
  • Dishwasher-safe lid and ceramic pot.
  • Nonslip rubber feet.
  • Includes cooking rack for use with ramekins.
  • Spiral-bound recipe book with 70 recipes ranging from basic to gourmet.
  • BPA free.

Description.

The Cuisinart 6.5 qt Programmable Slow Cooker is one to consider for those of those with many mouths to feed regularly and very busy schedules. It has an impressive 6.5 qt pot which is big enough, typically, for large food items (roasts) and large family meals. You can comfortably feed the family or just fix up a little snack dip! No need to fill the whole pot with food every time you use it though 😉

It is a product of convenience with its three cooking modes, 24-hour timer, and the nifty feature of turning to "warm" automatically when the cook time ends. So you don't even have to be home to turn it off. (My next crockpot purchase will have this feature.) The programmable features truly add even more ease and convenience to slow cooking.

Cleaning up is a breeze as well with its dishwasher safe pot and lid.

Pros.

  • Big pot makes cooking for a large family easy.
  • Dishwasher safe.
  • It comes with a recipe book from Cuisinart with 70 recipes inside!
  • Programming technology makes slow cooking even easier.
  • Turns to "warm" when cook time ends.
  • It's attractive. The brushed stainless steel looks quite nice.

Cons.

  • It's heavy. This is not ideal if you are going to be taking it out and putting it away often.
  • It's big. Necessary for those of you who need to cook a lot of food all at once. Not necessary for those of us without children and who do not entertain often.
  • The warranty isn't awesome. (You can read more about it below.) However, if you are a warranty-type person, keep in mind that whichever retailer you end up buying from may offer an extended warranty for this slow cooker 🙂

Pricing Options.

Specs.

LWH: 16.34" x 12.00" x 11.61"
Weight: 21.2 lb
Material: Stainless steel
Color: Silver
Pot specs: 6.5 quart ceramic

Warranty.

Limited 3-year product warranty.

Basically the warranty says that if something goes wrong within the first 3 years from the date of purchase, and that something that went wrong was not your fault, it was just a naturally occurring wrong-going, then Cuisinart will fix it or replace it for you. Whichever they deem most appropriate. They require you to pay a flat $10 shipping fee to "facilitate the speed and accuracy of your return." I will assume because of how heavy these bad boys are; Cuisinart would start losing a lot of money if they were shipping them all over the place on their own dime.

You can read the warranty in full here. It starts on page 10 of the pdf.

Conclusion.

The Cuisinart 6.5 qt Programmable Slow Cooker is a steal of a deal for everything that you get with it. Sure, it's a little big. But big slow cookers need love too. Plus like I have now stated several times, if you have a big family or if you entertain frequently, bigger really is better in the crockpot world.

If you just cook for yourself or one other person primarily, I suggest you look for something a titch smaller. Unless space is not a concern and then, by all means, ignore me. Personally, I have a small kitchen so I take into consideration very seriously the size of the appliance I am considering purchasing.

Have you used this slow cooker? Or do you suggest a different one? Leave a comment below!
Find out more about me, the author and founder of The Slow Cooker Life, here 🙂

Reviews

It only makes sense that The Slow Cooker Life would offer you some helpful kitchen gadget reviews!

I shop online for just about everything other than groceries. And to be honest, recently I have been considering looking into grocery pickup programs to alleviate the time spent trying to navigate the busy aisles with a huge cart and then waiting in line at the register for another 15 minutes

I digress. A lot. Anyway, shopping online requires a lot of research. Buying something sight-unseen can be nerve-racking. We work hard for our money and we want to make sure that those monies are getting well spent. What is more frustrating than finally receiving that super cute hoodie in the mail that you ordered 10 business days ago (which usually equates to like 3 months real time in our heads because we are so busy and impatient), putting it on for the first time, and realizing that the length was meant for someone who does not have a fully developed torso? Few things is the answer.

We have compiled some reviews here to help you along in that research phase of the online shopping experience. Here are some areas that our reviews try to cover to offer thorough information about the products.

The nitty gritty.

What does THAT do? We’re gonna tell you. Our reviews will provide product descriptions that will take some guess work out of what your are seeing in those fuzzy product pictures that never seem to quite do the product justice.

No malarkey here.

The Slow Cooker Life will provide you with helpful pros AND unbiased cons on products to ensure that you are receiving well-rounded reviews on products.

$$$

To some of us, this is the most important part of the shopping process. Price checking. How much something costs greatly impacts whether we are going to buy it or not. Regardless of how much we want something, whether we have the funds to purchase it matters most. Our reviews will supply you with multiple pricing options for each product.

Warranty information

Warranty and guarantee information are big selling points too. Particularly when you are buying more expensive items, such as kitchen gadgets and appliances, that have the potential of breaking. We will let you know whether we find any warranty information surrounding the spotlighted products.

I wonder if that will fit…

It’s hard to measure things that you are just reading about online. But I don’t want to buy that standing mixer if it isn’t going to fit on my counter top anywhere. Also, is that picture showing that is a super dark navy blue or black? I just cannot tell.

Product specifications play a huge part in my online shopping experiences. I like to look up the sizes of items, what they are made out of, etc. to give me an idea of how big it is and how long it will last, and if it will match the rest of your kitchen stuff. And matching kitchen gadgets matters. It makes your kitchen prettier 😉

Seriously though, I am not here to tell you if I think you should buy something. I am just giving you the necessary information to allow you to make that decision for yourself. The more information I can give you, the better!

What is your two cents?

I strongly encourage you to offer any more information you have about a product in the comments section of the product review.

Have you used it yourself? What do you like about it? What do you not like about it? Do you recommend it or should we keep shopping around? Do you have a specific product that you would recommend that we look into instead?

Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs Recipe – Cheesy and Spicy

This one is a knock out if I do say so myself. This slow cooker turkey meatballs recipe is not only spicy but also has a savory cheesy flavor that will surely have you wishing you made more.

I vaguely remember making homemade meatballs at home with my mother growing up. They would have most likely been made with ground beef. And they would have absolutely not been spicy (for several reasons: a) my mother does not, nor has she ever liked spicy food, b) I was a suuuper picky eater growing up and spicy did not fall within my palatable flavor range at the time, and c) my brother was possibly even pickier than I was.)

I digress. What I remember most about the meatballs we made growing up was how much I loved them. Nowadays, I don't find myself eating a lot of ground beef though. So for this recipe, we are going to use ground turkey. I tend to use 93% lean over any other variety. Also for this recipe, we are going to turn up the heat a little bit with some ground cayenne pepper. My palette's boundaries have significantly broadened since my childhood. I like things to get a little hot sometimes. My food, I mean. I like my food to get a little spicy sometimes*.

😉

This recipe is very bold with flavor. I used jars of pasta sauce instead of making my own. The pasta sauce that I chose to use already had a lot of garlic in it. Had it not, I would have used 2 cloves of minced garlic in the sauce to make sure the garlic was prevalent. I also added fresh diced onion to the sauce. Go bold or go home! These added, fresh flavors do wonders to the overall flavor and aroma of your dish. My house smelled more and more decadent the longer these bad boys percolated.

Thaw the meat.

This may seem like a very obvious step. However, I don't like to assume that any of you would assume that you would have to thaw the meat in order to make the meat into meatballs later. Instead, I am just going to explain that later on we are going to be mushing and mashing the meat in a mixing bowl and doing this is going to be impossible if the meat is frozen solid.

M'kay?

If you don't stock breadcrumbs at your house.

Don't panic. I don't either. Mostly because I make some gluten free choices. I do not have Celiacs. I just have some odd dietary habits 😉

I do always have some sort of plain Chex cereal (I don't like the sugary stuff) stocked at my house though. At the time of this recipe, I had Corn Chex in my cupboard. To turn it into "breadcrumbs", simply take a palm full of Chex, put them in a sandwich bag and seal it, then crush the cereal. Ta-da! You just made breadcrumbs. Making breadcrumbs is more fun than using plain old store bought ones anyway.

Raw ground turkey is gross.

Speaking as a somewhat recently ex-pescatarian, raw ground turkey is so very, very gross. I earned the right to saw this as I mushed it around in a mixing bowl with my bare hands. I used to have latex gloves in my kitchen. They belonged to my roommate at the time, but occasionally I would use them. I never realized how much I missed having gloves in my kitchen until I was wrist deep in ground turkey.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger? Get it? Turkey is protein. Protein makes you strong 😉

(insert noodle here) and meatballs.

The saying goes "spaghetti and meatballs". But here at theslowcookerlife.com, we don't always adhere to tradition. Pick whatever noodle suits your fancy and serve your meatballs with them!

I chose penne for my dinner. More specifically, I used a gluten free penne noodle. Rotini noodles have been my usual go-to recently. I like how they do not get mushy too easily. In fact, the noodle usually tastes a little hard in the very center. Anyway, choose whichever noodle feels right to you. Don't choose spaghetti just because you feel like the meatballs mandate it. Cooking is supposed to be fun, remember?! And cavatappi is pretty fun if you ask me!

The recipe.

Check here before writing your grocery list to make sure you are maximizing your savings!

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 2 1/2 hours
Makes: about 15 meatballs
With pasta: makes about 5 servings

For the meatballs:
1 lb ground turkey, 93% lean
1 egg
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 crushed Corn Chex, you may use breadcrumbs if you'd like, substitute a 1:1 ratio
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste

For the sauce:
2 jars Prego Roasted Garlic Parmesan
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp oregano



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1) Spray the pot.

2) In a separate mixing bowl, add all the ingredients for your meatballs.

Add grated Parmesan and breadcrumbs.

Add egg and minced garlic.

Add seasonings.

3) Mush and mix it all together. No need to do this harshly, just gently make sure the ingredients blend together thoroughly.

4) Form meatballs gently in the palm of your hand. Gently is key here. If you make the meatballs too dense, they may not be as juicy later on!

5) Place the meatballs along the bottom of the pot. (Make a nice even layer. You may stack the meatballs if you have to. You do not want to over crowd the pot.)

6) Pour both jars of sauce over the meatballs.

7) Add the onion and garlic you diced and minced for the sauce.

8) Add oregano.

9) Cook on high for 2 and a half hours.

10) Stir gently to combine ingredients.

11) Instructions for pasta will vary depending on what noodles you use. Read the instructions that come with your noodles and plan the cook time accordingly. For mine, I started boiling my water for my noodles about half an hour before my meatballs were set to be done.

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Penne, rotini, spaghetti, fettuccine, angel hair, macaroni, shells, tortellini? Tell us what your favorite noodle is below!
Find out more about me, the author and founder of The Slow Cooker Life, here.


Easy Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli Recipe – FAIL!!!

The experience I had with this recipe was all around ironic. And a perfect opportunity for growth 😀 Always learn from your failed attempts! So long as you are attempting, that is all that really matters 😉 That is the pep talk I gave myself anyway. Moving forward, anything labeled as “easy” is not assumed to end in disaster. But this easy slow cooker beef and broccoli recipe that I created with too much confidence did end in disaster. Okay, maybe not a disaster. But things did not really go well.

Particularly for the broccoli. But we will get to those details in just a bit.

My vision.

I wanted to create an easy beef dish. I had some sirloin in the freezer that I had been meaning to give a go. The past 11 years or so, I haven’t eaten a lot of red meat let alone cooked with it much. I am a fairly boring person when it comes to food sometimes, as strange as that may seems given that I founded a cooking website and all. Still, I have gone through periods of very, very boring diets consisting of the same foods every day for the sake of easy meal planning and such. I also just did not eat red meat for upwards of 10 years and then only fish for like 6 or 7 or 8 or who knows how many years. The reasons why are not important. The point is, I don’t have as much experience cooking steak.

My SO seemed to be getting bored with my boring diet though. And if I am being honest, I was getting bored with my boring diet too. So I got the urge to start switching it up, and I bought some sirloin! I was very excited to cook this up for him. It was for sure going to be a nice surprise and a nice change from chicken!

Beef and broccoli is a very straightforward recipe. I figured it would be a good one for me to start with to ease myself back into the red meat cooking game. Plus, I have slow cooked chicken in soy sauce plenty of times before and it has been amazing and tender every time, although the soy sauce flavor can be a little overwhelming. To combat the overwhelming flavor, I learned to just mix it with water.

So I decided to take it a slightly different route. I was going to mix in the brown sugar with the soy sauce to cut the saltiness down a notch and maybe add a whisper of teriyaki to the overall flavor. Obviously teriyaki requires more than just soy sauce and brown sugar, but you get where I was going with that idea.

I was going to serve it over a bed of white rice with some sesame seeds sprinkled on top for added crunch.

The meat was really tender.

As I figured it would be, the sirloin was spoon tender after slow cooking in soy sauce for 8 hours. It cooked to a little bit more than a perfect medium. While I have not eaten much steak the past decade, I do know that I prefer my steaks cooked medium rare. But if my other option is a spoon tender medium, I’ll take it. Next time, though, I am going to adjust my cook time to shoot for closer to medium rare.

Soy sauce really does wonders at marinading the meat. I cooked this sirloin from frozen and I could literally slice through it with a spoon. The tenderness of the sirloin is definitely a silver lining to this otherwise unimpressive dish.

I almost forgot about the brown sugar.

I don’t know how I forgot about the brown sugar, but I did. It was the one main thing that I was changing about the soy sauce marinade that I was cooking the meat in. It was the part of the sauce that I was most excited about trying. And I forgot to mix it in with the soy sauce.

I realized that I had forgotten about the brown sugar after I dumped the broccoli into the pot. Usually, if I wanted it to be mixed with the soy sauce, I would have fished out all the broccoli to regain access to said soy sauce. Alas, I also did not give myself a lot of time for mistakes and was in a rush to leave for work on time. Faced with the question of how badly do I want the brown sugar in this recipe?, I grabbed the bag of brown sugar, took the lid off the slow cooker, and just sprinkled it over the top. It still makes it into the recipe, and I will not be late for work.

That poor broccoli.

It didn’t deserve what it got. Broccoli does so much good for people, you know?

Because I forgot about the brown sugar earlier, I sprinkled it over the broccoli towards the end of the process instead. In my head, I guess I figured when I mixed it all together later on, the brown sugar would mix with the soy sauce then and I would reach that desired teriyaki-esque flavor that I was going for.

It didn’t work.

What happened instead was the broccoli absorbed the brown sugar. The soy sauce and steak simmered together happily as the bottom layer of crockpot contents. The broccoli was the last big item that went into the pot. It steamed for hours as the top layer. But, because I had sprinkled the brown sugar across the broccoli, the broccoli was not just steaming for hours; it was steaming in maple sugar water for hours. And hours. Oops. And that is how I made “unphotogenic mush.” A phrase every cook loves to hear about her creations 😉

Thought: maybe I should lightly steam the broccoli by itself with a little bit of salt or lemon pepper right before serving the sirloin instead of incorporating it in with the crockpot contents. Live and learn.

The recipe.

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If after reading this you still decide to make this recipe, you are braver than most. Hopefully you learned from reading some of my mistakes and make this recipe with some tweaks 😉 I am writing the recipe using the correct order for the brown sugar, not the mistaken order in which I added it.

Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 8 hours
Makes: 2 servings

1 lb frozen sirloin
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 lb bag frozen broccoli
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water

Optional:
White rice
Sesame seeds

1) Spray pot with cooking spray.
2) Place frozen sirloin in bottom of crockpot.

3) Add water, soy sauce, and brown sugar.

4) Add frozen broccoli.

It looked so bright and promising BEFORE I got a hold of it.

5) Cook on low for 8 hours.
6) Throw away broccoli if it turned out like mine.
7) Enjoy whatever did turn out delicious.

Obviously, I learned several what-not-to-dos throughout this process. My next attempt is going to be much more successful! The meat was seriously SO tender, so I am not chalking it up to a complete failure. I threw the broccoli away. I admit it. The vision of beef and broccoli over white rice with sesame seeds never came to fruition. We ate the meat to not waste a pound of sirloin. And we moved on.

All in all, we still got to eat pretty well from this recipe even if it wasn’t what I had set out to serve. This easy slow cooker beef and broccoli recipe wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. I’m not going to let this partial failure keep me down though! I am going to abide by my own rule and keep cooking 😀

Have you ever been humbled by such a seemingly easy recipe? Tell me about it below!
Find out more about me, the author and founder of The Slow Cooker Life, here 🙂