Here are four of my family’s favorite recipes. These are all kid approved.
Chicken Philly Cheesesteaks
This sandwich is a kid favorite, and great year around. Try it in the summer as well, when you want to avoid heating up your house. Serve with potato chips, sweet potato fries, or a big salad.
5-8 boneless skinless chicken thighs (breasts will also work, but will be drier)
2 green peppers, sliced
1 onion, sliced into semicircles
2 tbl olive oil
1 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp steak seasoning mix
A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce (optional)
A dash of liquid smoke (optional)
Sliced provolone or Monterey jack cheese
Grease the bottom of your slow cooker. Mix olive oil, spices, Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke (if using) together. Layer sliced green peppers and onions. Place chicken thighs on top. Pour olive oil spice mixture on top. Cook on low for 5-7 hours, high for 4. Chicken dries out easily, so it’s best to avoid cooking longer. If you have a slow cooker that turns to “warm,” however, and use chicken thighs, it can last through the work day.
Remove the chicken, onion and pepper mixture from the pot and place on cutting board or large platter. There should be lots of liquid left in the pot. Shred the chicken with two forks. If it is dry, spoon over some of the leftover liquid. Serve on toasted hoagie rolls.
Crockpot Carnitas Tacos
Out of the several pork shoulder recipes we have tried, this is hands down our favorite. The leftovers should last you for days, giving you even more hiking time!
One 4 lb pork shoulder (boneless or bone-in, just remember to remove the bone!)
2 tbl olive oil
1 tbl kosher salt
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp black pepper
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbl lime juice
3 tbl orange juice
Taco toppings (tortillas, shells, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, avocados)
Mix olive oil, juices, salt, pepper, and spices together in a bowl. Cut slits in the top of the pork shoulder and place in slow cooker. Rub the mixture into the top of the shoulder. Cook on low for 6 hours, turning it over once.
Remove the shoulder and shred with two forks. Pour over a quarter cup of the remaining juices. Serve as tacos, nachos, or in a burrito!
Vegan Sweet Potato Soup
This meal is simple yet filling. It will warm you up after a cold evening outing. Serve with a side salad and crusty bread for dipping.
3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
5 cups of your favorite stock (vegetable or chicken)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 can of coconut milk
Place all ingredients in slow cooker except the coconut milk. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for four. Puree with an immersion blender, or puree in batches with a blender. Return to slow cooker and add coconut milk. Add salt or pepper if needed. This recipe can be easily halved.
Steel Cut Oats
Heading out for an early morning hike? This breakfast will help get you out the door earlier, and stick to your bones all day long. Mix this up right before you go to bed and it will be ready when you wake up!
1 cup steel cut oats (rolled oats can NOT be substituted. The steel cut oats hold up in the slow cooker over the long cooking time).
4 ½ cups water
1 cup raisins
½ cup craisins (or more raisins)
½ cup pumpkin puree
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
Half and half
Grease the bottom and edges of your slow cooker. Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker, except half and half, and stir well. If you have a slow cooker that converts to low, set it for five hours. It will continue cooking at the “warm” setting but you will avoid burning the edges. In the morning, stir the oatmeal well. Serve in bowls topped generously with half and half. The leftovers will keep well in the fridge.
Hopefully these recipes will free up some time for your family to get outdoors, and warm you up when you return. Enjoy, and please let us know if you try them!
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Jackie is the branch lead for Helena, MT. She started the branch in an attempt to keep up with her oldest boy’s boundless energy. Jackie lives in Helena with her two boys, Gene (2.5), Charlie (1) and her husband, John. They love exploring the trails around their city.