We are officially Back to School---it started Monday. I've mentioned before that I am a meal planner, and the fall brings out a plethora of good intentions to eat wholesome family meals together each night, and share highlights of the day.
This year was no different. I had my menu planned out, and a shopping list ready to go.
But. This year I'm pregnant (baby girl #3!), and I have a new kindergartner. Which means that instead of going to the store while both girls were in school, I disinfected the blinds (that's totally normal... right?) and instead of going right after kindergarten let out, we both fell asleep on the couch during Arthur.
I may have even drooled a bit.
And all of a sudden it was time to get my third grader who had "so much homework, mom," and the store couldn't happen. So I made do. This is a variation of the Autumn Sausage Casserole that I made last year, but made with ingredients I had in the house. Other than the spices, the ingredients were all different.
But it still worked. Hopefully, this will provide 1) inspiration to re-purpose leftovers, and 2) encouragement to fool around with recipes/ingredients to suit your own family. If you don't like something listed in a particular recipe or don't have the ingredient in the house, tweak it! Cooking should be fun. When it isn't, that's when the pizza guy stops by, resulting in a tummy full of grease and a $30 bill.
adapted from Slow Cooker Autumn Sausage Casserole
1 pound cooked meat. I used leftover teriyaki chicken and steak from the weekend barbecue, and about 15 meatballs (Coleman Natural, they're gluten free!)
3 cups already-cooked and somewhat crunchy brown rice (from 4 days ago)
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 box Hannah Montana cinnamon apples and raisins
1/2 apple, chopped, leftover from breakfast
2 ears of corn, kernels removed
1 cup frozen peas
1 handful wilted baby spinach
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (decreased from 1/2 tsp because of the seasoned apples and raisins)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
Use at least a 4 quart slow cooker. I used a 5.5 quart. Because there isn't much liquid in this dish, it's best to cook on low (unless you're using sausage. The sausage provides the right amount of oil and moisture, and cooking on high would work just fine if need-be). The only thing that needs to soften and cook is the raw onion. If you don't have at least 5 hours, pan fry the onion in some olive oil until it is soft and translucent.
Otherwise, toss everything into the slow cooker, and stir well to distribute the spices. Cook on low for 3-6 hours. If you're home to do so, stir an hour before serving.
Last year we declared around the dinner table that this was just like eating a bowl full of fall. I'd agree. This has a wonderful homey flavor, and is kind of addicting. Adam and I kept sneaking spoonfuls out of the crock while we were doing the dishes. 3 out of the 4 of us had seconds. The other one had very little, declared she wasn't hungry, then asked for a peanut butter and honey sandwich 30 minutes later.
I think my head may have exploded. I'm not sure.
edited 9/7: Rachael used her slow cooker every day for a month, and logged her fantastic results!
other dishes you may like:
Maple Dijon Chicken
Azorean Spiced Beef Stew
Sausage and Vegetable Medley
Meal Planning with the Slow Cooker