Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup

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Fall is finally here! I’ve been waiting! Summer is great and all…but life is so much easier when you don’t have to apply sunblock to your children every single day and then bathe them every single day and clean up sand in shoes, sand in diapers, sand well, everywhere. Fall is beautiful in Minnesota. The trees are turning, the air is crisp, everything smells like apples and cinnamon and pumpkins, and the FOOD…it just gets better and better. Honestly I don’t really know why our slow cookers are kept in storage until the fall and winter…it’s one of my favorite ways to cook and you can literally cook ANYTHING in them, making your life so much easier. Especially if you have little ones running around who LOVE to turn off the oven, reach for the stove flames, etc. My 17 month old snapped off every single one of my stove knob covers. So much for baby proofing…

So I did a little experiment creating one of those fantastic, super quick videos that are plastered all over my Facebook feed. I figured hey, I have an iPhone, I’ll just place it in my cabinet above my counters and voila! Just one thing missing…the recipe ๐Ÿ™‚ So here it is! Also, the entire video is below.

Ingredients

  • 2 large butternut squash (you can do this with any type of squash you like as well)
  • 2 large Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored and sliced (You can also drop in a cup of unsweetened applesauce at the end and get the same effect)
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into large chunks
  • 36-48 ounces of chicken broth (use 48 if you like a thinner consistency of your soup)
  • 3/4 cup Lite Coconut Milk (in the can, not the beverage. Hubby came home with unsweetened vanilla coconut milk thinking it was for my coffee ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese and Chives for garnish

Directions

  • Wash the butternut squash (NO NEED TO PEEL!) and cut in half (or quarters depending on how large your slow cooker is) and remove the seeds
  • Place the squash, sliced apple and onions in the slow cooker and cover with chicken broth.
  • Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8.
  • Now go do something fun, because dinner is basically made.
  • Butternut squash is done once you can pierce it easily with a fork
  • Remove the squash from the slow cooker, and let it cool for awhile or you will absolutely burn your fingers like I almost did.
  • Scoop out the squash from the peel and place it back in the slow cooker with the apples, onion and broth.
  • Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.
  • Add in the coconut milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Blend again.
  • Garnish with lots of Parmesan, chives and a drizzle of coconut milk. It’s so good that way.
  • Tip for those with littles: Reusable pouches and sippy cups work great with this soup!
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Healthy Slow Cooking: Sweet Potato and Shrimp Coconut Curry

Here’s another goodie from my healthy slow cooker cookbook! Literally every single recipe I have tried from this book has been amazing…Except for one minor detail. I’m not a fan of having to prep slow cooker recipe ingredients in separate pans from the slow cooker. Isn’t the point of the slow cooker that you can just throw everything in? I guess it helps develop the flavors…but, it’s quite possible that if I were to just throw everything in from this recipe, it would be just as good. I served this curry with Jasmine rice and fresh Cilantro. I used the shrimp as called for in this recipe, but you could use chicken if you don’t like seafood, or you could leave it out. The sweet potatoes make it a wonderful vegetarian curry.

Coconut Curry with Shrimp and Sweet Potatoes

Recipe courtesy of The Healthy Slow Cooker by Judith Finlayson

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil or coconut oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger root
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cubed into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 tsp Thai green curry paste (I used 4, but we like things a little spicier)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 lb cooked, peeled shrimp
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro leaves

Directions

1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add onions and cook, stirring until softened. Add garlic and ginger root and cook for one more minute. Add vegetable stock. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.

2. Add sweet potatoes and stir well. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or high for 2-3. NOTE: This cooked faster than I thought it would. I did one hour on high, put it on low while I went to Barre class for a couple hours, came back and the potatoes were perfectly done…this may be a slow cooker recipe you keep an eye on.

3. In a small bowl, combine curry paste and lime juice. Add to slow cooker and stir well. Stir in coconut milk and shrimp. Cover andย  cook on high for 20 minutes until the shrimp are hot. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with cilantro. Serve over rice.

Healthy Slow Cooking: Chicken with Cranberry Leek Sauce

I’m first going to start out by saying, that cream of (chicken, mushroom, etc) soups get a really bad reputation for no reason. I’ve seen more blogs and recipes stating that their recipe does NOT include them and how awful they are. Yeah, they are high in sodium, but so are most soups and processed foods you cook with. Moderation, moderation, moderation. I have a few recipes that use them, and I happen to really like them. It’s very down home comfort food cooking. However, using a slow cooker does not mean that you HAVE to use them. There are so many ways to use your slow cooker to create really healthy, homestyle meals. My husband and I do try to eat as healthy as we can, and that’s tough when you’re married to an entrepreneur with a crazy schedule! I have this fantastic cookbook full of healthy slow cooker meals. The following recipe is a new favorite. The recipe calls for a turkey breasts, but, 4 lb whole chickens were BOGO at Lunds (can’t resist) so I swapped the turkey for chicken and it turned out fabulous. The best part about this recipe is that I had almost all the ingredients in my house already.

Recipe adapted from The Healthy Slow Cooker by Judith Finlayson

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 3.5-4 lb whole chicken
  • 3 medium leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 4 tsp dried Thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp cracked black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2.5-3 cups of chicken stock (depending the size of your chicken, you may need to add more broth to the slow cooker)
  • salt
  • 1 cup plain dried cranberries (not Craisins or any juice infused cranberries)
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsely

Directions

  1. In a large slow cooker, place your whole chicken (or turkey breast) skin side up to the slow cooker stoneware.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the leeks. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and peppercorns and cook for another minute.
  3. Add flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock to the pan, stirring until mixture begins to thicken, about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt if using, and add in the cranberries.
  4. Transfer the sauce to the slow cooker, covering the chicken with the sauce. It’s okay if the sauce doesn’t cover the chicken, just make sure there is a few inches of liquid on the bottom. You can add more chicken broth if you need.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high or 3-4 or until chicken is completely cooked through.
  6. To serve, transfer to a platter and serve with sauce. I served with mashed potatoes and green peas.