Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chilly Weather and Warm Meals

Around this time every year I suddenly remember that I own a slow cooker- three of them actually.  We had a bit of a yours, mine, and ours situation with kitchen gadgets when my husband and I got married, with neither one of us willing to get rid of our slow cookers. :-)

You would think I'd remember my small army of Crock Pots during the Summer when I don't want to heat up the house, but no, that would just make too much sense, right?

Instead, when the weather turns chilly and the skies go gray the thought of warm, filling meals entices me to drag the slow cooker(s) out of their warm-weather hibernation and put them to good use.

This month I was asked by Allrecipes to make a couple of slow cooker recipes from the Reynolds recipe collection on their site.  Of course I was happy to help!

A few weeks ago I got a box in the mail loaded with goodies from Reynolds to try, including Slow Cooker liners, Stay Brite® Baking Cups, and Cookie Baking Sheets.

I can honestly say I've never tried- or really even considered buying- any of those products before.  I'm kind of...well...frugal.  I tend to not buy products that I consider "extras."

These aren't extras.  These are now staples in my drawer, right next to my foil, plastic wrap, and wax paper.

I started with the Slow Cooker Liners.  I felt a little silly, honestly, like I was lining my slow cooker with a trash bag.  I mean...why, right?

Well, mostly because they're awesome, that's why.  I've used them twice so far and there was NO scrubbing or soaking of my crock pot when I was done.  No spots of caked on sauce slow-cooked around the top of the pan.  All of that mess was limited to the inside of the bag, which was simply tossed in the trash when I was done cooking.  Score one for Reynolds!

Next up were the baking sheets.  Another product I wouldn't have tried on my own.
Because I'm an idiot.

Not only are these guys time savers when it comes to cleaning the baking sheet, but they are WONDERFULLY non-stick and gave me such better results than just using cooking spray.

I've used them under cookies- of course- but also under broccoli as it roasted and under slices of cheese I was baking into little crisp cheese crackers.  I'm a little obsessed with these baking sheets...thank you Reynolds!  Seriously.  I'm in love.

I haven't had an opportunity to try out the Stay Brite® Baking Cups yet, but they're definitely the product I was most excited about right out of the box.  I have a ridiculous collection of cute little cupcake liners, but it's so disappointing when they come out of the oven looking all washed out not cute at all anymore.  The Baking cups have crisp, pretty designs on the outside and they're lined with foil inside.  They're supposed to keep the design bright and pretty through the baking process.  :-) I see cupcakes in my future...

Anyway, enough about my freebies- I'm here to talk food, right?

The two recipes I made from the Reynolds collection were Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches.  Forgive me guys, I forgot to take a picture of this one.
Totally not like me, I know.  I feel silly.  

It was delicious, though!  Simple slow cooker recipe (I even subbed cheap pork chops for the pork loin it called for.  Remember when I mentioned I was just a wee bit frugal?).  It came together easily and the slaw was a nice change with it's lime juice, jalapeƱo, and honey- though you could really use any slaw you like on these and they would still be yummy.  I enjoyed mine in a wrap with a little shredded cheddar.

The real star of the show in our book was the Slow Cooker Chicken Gumbo with Shrimp- YUMMY!  

You're going to have to forgive the picture on this one, certainly not one of my best, but it is super easy to make and full of flavor too.  Loaded with veggies, chicken, shrimp, and rice plus simple and delicious seasonings.  I stuck to the recipe, for the most part, though I did use cubed chicken breast rather than chicken thighs.  I never keep store-bought seasoning mixes on hand, so I did end up using a recipe for Simple Cajun Seasoning.  Worked out beautifully!

This is a super satisfying soup on a chilly Fall evening- even more satisfying?  Easy cleanup!

2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut up
1 (14.5 ounce) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 green sweet pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound fresh or frozen medium shrimp (thawed if frozen), peeled and deveined
4 cups hot cooked white or brown rice

1. Line a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker with a Reynolds® Slow Cooker Liner.

2. Add tomatoes, chicken, broth, green pepper, onion, celery, Cajun seasoning, garlic, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to prepared slow cooker. Stir gently with wooden spoon or rubber scraper to combine.

3. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

4. Remove lid and stir in shrimp gently with a wooden spoon or rubber scraper. Cover and cook about 3 minutes more, or until shrimp is opaque. Serve over cooked rice.


I am an AllrecipesAllstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position) and I’m not compensated for my work with Allrecipes.com. Products received from advertiser are only used for experienced-based reviews my personal blog.  The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are all my own. 

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