Crock-pot Cooking: Baked Maple Apples

I’ve been in a bit of a cooking rut lately. To try and unstuck myself, I’ve been checking out cookbooks from the library, reading favorite cooking blogs, perusing cooking magazines. This weeks cooking inspiration attempt is my crock-pot, helped out by the newly released cookbook, More Make if Fast, Cook it Slow, written by the crock-pot queen herself, Stephanie O’Dea.

Monday nights I get home from yoga around 7 p.m. I need something easy for supper. This week I knew I was serving leftovers, but I wanted a little something extra. So, I quickly put together these baked apples. And in two hours we had a nice little treat. Super easy and perfect alongside a meal, or as a lightly sweetened dessert.

We love cinnamon in our house, so I sprinkled these with cinnamon before baking. The orange juice added a bit of a tangy quality to the sauce. If you don’t prefer that, you might try substituting apple juice.

BAKED MAPLE APPLE HALVES
(from More Make it Fast, Cook it Slow)
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2 large apples, cored and cut in half
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 c. orange juice
2 Tbsp maple syrup
Whipped cream, if desired

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Put the apple halves into the bottom of the slow cooker, flesh-side up. In a small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. Stir in the orange juice and maple syrup. Spoon the butter and syrup mixture evenly into the apple halves. Cover and cook on low for 2 to 3 hours, or on high for 1 to 2 hours. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

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Market Fresh: Slow Cooker Vegetables

This week, we will be sharing recipes for your slow cooker (aka crockpot). I don’t use my crockpots (yes, I have more than one – a 4 qt., 6 qt., and a little dipper) nearly enough. The house smells great and dinner is so simple when I take the time to put it in early in the day.

One lady took slow cooking to a whole new level in 2008 and has continued to provide recipes suitable for the crockpot ever since. Her family is gluten free which means that all of her recipes can be made gluten free. You can check out her site A Year of Slow Cooking for many, many recipes. I have adapted two of her recipes for vegetable side dishes for today’s edition of market fresh! There is also a Crock Pot Recipe Link Up over on Smockity Frocks today, so check out that site for another list of crockpot recipes.

SLOW COOKER LEMON BROCCOLI
(adapted from crockpot365)
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2 lbs. broccoli florets
1 c. slivered almonds 
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 Tb. olive oil
2 lemons, juiced
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Use a 4 quart crockpot for best results. Wash and trim broccoli, and add to crockpot. Peel garlic, and add with salt and pepper. Add almonds. Squeeze lemon juice evenly over the top and add lemon zest. Toss with wooden spoons.

Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, or on low for about 4. This is finished when broccoli has reached desired tenderness.

SLOW COOKER SOUTHWEST SWEET POTATO & CORN MEDLEY
(Adapted from crockpot 365)
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3 lg. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
12 oz.  frozen corn (or 1 can, drained)
1/4 c. chopped onion
2 limes, juiced
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 Tb. chopped fresh cilantro plus more for serving

This is a good recipe for a 3-4 quart crockpot. If you have a larger one, consider doubling for leftovers, or stay close by so the sweet potatoes don’t over cook and turn to mush.

Place sweet potato into the crock. Add diced onion, drained corn, and fresh cilantro. Sprinkle in the chili powder and salt. Squeeze the limes, and then toss all ingredients together.

Cover and cook on low for 5 hours, or on high for 3-4. This is done when the potatoes have reached desired tenderness. Serve with chopped fresh cilantro sprinkled on top.