5 Kid-Approved Dishes You Can Make in Your Slow Cooker
Summer has a way of uniting families at the dinner table for casual, unhurried meals, but in the fall, family night gets turned on its head. Kids go back to school, creating a flood of errands and to-dos: piano lessons, soccer practice, homework, etc. It can be hard to hold on to those carefree, restorative evenings set aside for catching up — and even harder if the kids have strong opinions about the menu.
Our solution? The slow cooker. Take it down from the dusty cabinet where it’s been hibernating and let it do the hard work for you, starting with these five kid-approved recipes.
If your kids are picky about texture, give this hearty sausage stew a try. The chewiness of the sausage and ditalini pasta make the dish comforting and approachable, while the robust garlicky flavor and fiber-packed beans will appeal to the adults at the table.
Toss juicy turkey thighs into your slow cooker with a medley of red onion, apple cider vinegar and aromatic spices to re-create Food Network Kitchen’s fall-apart-tender turkey sandwiches at home. Serve the turkey meat on soft, squishy hamburger buns and your kids will want to grab them right up. You can use the leftover turkey to fill taco shells or combine with pasta throughout the week.
These creamy chocolate-peanut cups are just the right size to tuck into your child’s lunchbox for a sweet midday surprise. Prepare a batch over the weekend and let the kids get in on the fun; little helpers can drop the peanuts and the chocolate chips into the slow cooker, and bigger helpers can help spoon the melty mixture into the paper liners.
Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved
FNK SLOW COOKER CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP (comfort food) Food Network Kitchen Food Network Carrots, Celery, Onion, Parsley, Thyme, Bay Leaf, Chicken Thighs, Egg Noodles, Lemons
Every parent dreads flu and cold season, so start boosting your little one’s immunity now with wholesome cups of homemade chicken-noodle soup. This slow-cooker version is loaded with tender chicken thigh meat, carrots and celery, plus plenty of earthy thyme and parsley. For a healthier version, skip the egg noodles and stir in your family’s favorite cooked grain at the end. Quinoa or brown rice offers a nice, comforting chew.
This mild combination of cheddar, butter and tender macaroni will appease even the pickiest palates come dinnertime. For the creamiest results, combine the macaroni and cheddar with a blend of whole milk and evaporated milk; evaporated milk has less water than regular milk, so it produces an exceptionally rich, coat-your-spoon cheese sauce.
The slow cooker's ability to cook dinner while you're away at work is only one of its many merits. Breakfast, lunch, dessert, party food and even holiday gifts are made infinitely easier when left to the gentle heat of a slow cooker.