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Slow Cooker Minestrone

After eating the same dish 3 (maybe 4) times, I’m usually done. I don’t want to eat it again for at least a little while. But when I made this soup last week, I ate it for lunch every day and wanted another batch as soon as it was done. So, I made more today. I hope I’m not tired of it by tomorrow🙂.


1 onion, minced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp dried oregano (or 1 1/2 tsp fresh)

1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

15 oz. can tomato sauce

1 cup dried beans (great Northern, cannelloni, or another type that you like), salt soaked and rinsed

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick

1 bunch swiss chard, stems removed and leaves sliced 1/2 inch wide

1/2 cup small pasta shape

1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced

fresh grated parmesan cheese and extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

Start by soaking the dried beans. Dissolve 1 Tbsp salt in 2 quarts water. Add the beans and let soak overnight. Rinse and drain. (If you need them faster, you can use 1 quart boiling water and 1 1/2 Tbsp salt. Add the beans and let them soak at room temperature for 1 hour.)

Combine the onion, garlic, oil, oregano and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Microwave, stirring occasionally until onion is softened, about 5 min. Add to the slow cooker along with the tomato sauce, broth, beans, and carrots. Cook until the beans are tender, 9-11 hours on low or 5-7 hours on high. Add the zucchini, chard and pasta and cook covered on high for 20-30 min. (I prefer to cook the pasta separately and just add some to each bowl so that it doesn’t get soggy in leftover soup). Add basil and top each bowl with parmesan and olive oil.

(Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution)

Aloha Pork Chops (slow cooker)

Pork chops aren’t something I think to buy very often, but this looked like a good, easy slow cooker recipe. I was glad I tried it-it’s a keeper. The meat is very tender and the dish isn’t too sweet. Just make sure to buy the right type of pork chop for this recipe.


20 oz. can pineapple chunks in juice

ÂĽ cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp cider vinegar

1 Tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp curry powder

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp red pepper flakes (or less if you don’t like things too spicy)

6 bone-in blade-cut pork chops, about Âľ inch thick (7 oz) – cut 2 slits, about 2 inches apart on one side of each chop (prevents curling)

1 Tbsp water

2 tsp cornstarch

2 scallions, sliced thin

Mix pineapple, juice, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, and spices in the slow cooker. Season pork chops with salt and pepper and nestle them into the sauce. Cook 6-8 hours on low or 3-5 hours on high. (I’ve tried this both on high and low – the pork was much more tender cooked on low, but I was in a hurry the second time.)

Remove pork chops and cover loosely with foil. Let liquid settle for 5 min, then skim the fat off the surface with a large spoon. Whisk the water and cornstarch together in a small bowl then add to sauce. Simmer (uncovered) until reduced to 2 cups, about 12 min. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in scallions and serve over pork chops with a side of rice or noodles and a salad.

(Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution)

100% Whole Wheat Pancakes

After a short adjustment period, these have replaced my former favorite pancakes. The white flour ones taste a little better, but these not only taste almost as good, but I feel a lot better after eating them. I don’t get the same sugar-shock I feel after regular pancakes (it also helps if I skip the syrup :)). I like to keep a stash of these in the freezer and just pop them into the toaster for a quick breakfast or snack. They are good with whipped cream and fresh fruit, or even plain with a glass of milk in the middle of the the night.


2 c (11 oz) fresh whole-wheat flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 c buttermilk or 2 cups milk with 1/4 cup white vinegar
5 Tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for cooking
2 eggs

Whisk dry ingredients together in one bowl and wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Make a well in center of flour mixture and add wet ingredients. Whisk until smooth.
Heat 1 tsp oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over med until shimmering. Wipe out oil with paper towel, leaving a thin film on bottom and sides of pan. Add 1/4 batter in 3 places and gently spread into 4 1/2 inch circles. Cook 2-3 min, flip, 1-2 min.
(Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated July/August 2015 )

Chipotle Meatballs

Great meatballs in a delicious slightly spicy sauce. This is one of my new favorite recipes. I’ve tried the various options (beef vs. pork or a combination, and rice vs. bread crumbs). Personally, I like the combination of half ground beef and half pork with the bread crumbs, but any of them will work.

[I just realized I didn’t take a picture of them–whoops! I must have been in too big a hurry to eat them…every time I’ve made them🙂. I’ll come back and add it in next time I make them.]

1 lb. ground beef or pork, or a combination

1 egg

1 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp salt

2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh mint (optional)

3/4 cup packed fresh breadcrumbs (such as from Pepperidge Farm white sandwich bread, about 2-3 slices) OR 1/2 cup packed cooked cooked rice (roughly chopped)

2 Tbsp oil or bacon drippings, for frying


15 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes, with juice

1-2 canned chipotles in adobo (remove seeds if you want it less spicy)

1 Tbsp chipotle canning sauce

scant 1 tsp dried oregano OR 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

2 garlic cloves (minced unless you have a great blender)

To make the meatballs, combine the meat, egg, salt and mint, then add the bread crumbs or rice. Mix until just evenly distributed and form into 12 meatballs. Heat the oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium. Brown the meatballs all over (about 8 min).

Combine all the sauce ingredients in a blender and pulse until coarsely pureed. When the meatballs are cooked, add the sauce to the pan, making sure all the meatballs are coated. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook about 10 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.

Remove the meatballs from the sauce. Turn the heat up to medium high and add 1/2 cup water, broth, beer or wine. Simmer for a few minutes and season with salt to taste (about 1 tsp). Serve over the meatballs.

If I have some sauce leftover, I like to use it to top toasted baguette slices and then add a little goat cheese. It makes a great appetizer or snack the next day.

(Recipe adapted from More Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless)

Apricot Breakfast Crisp

Fresh apricots are in season, and this is my favorite thing to do with them. It’s less sweet than a dessert crisp, and meant to be eaten cold with plain yogurt (although it’s also good warm with vanilla ice cream). I double the recipe if I’m going to be sharing.🙂


1 pound fresh apricots, pits removed and torn into quarters

2 Tbsp sugar (preferably turbinado)

1 Tbsp flour (all purpose, white whole wheat, or a combination of white and whole wheat)

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg


4 Tbsp butter (can replace half with olive oil)

1/3 cup sugar (preferably turbinado)

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup flour (all purpose, white whole wheat, or a combination of white and whole wheat)

large pinch of salt

2 Tbsp sliced or chopped almonds

Place the apricots in an 8×8 baking dish and sprinkle with sugar, flour and nutmeg. For the topping, melt the butter in a small saucepan and then add the sugar, then the oats, then flour, and then salt and almonds. Sprinkle over apricots and bake at 400 degrees F for about 30 min.

Serve chilled with yogurt.

(Recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman)


Mom’s Whole Wheat Tahini Cookies

This is my mom’s tahini adaptation of her favorite peanut butter cookie recipe. The sugar has been reduced (a lot) and some extra ingredients added for a little crunch. It’s a nice not-too-sweet snack with afternoon tea.


1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup tahini
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
Pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
Some dried sweetened coconut (to taste)
1 1/2 cups rice crispies

Cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg, tahini and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the coconut and rice crispies. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes. These cookies are best if well-baked (until they start to brown).

Mini Angel Food Cakes

This is one of my go-to recipes for using up extra egg whites (the other is chocolate meringues). The recipe uses three egg whites and makes two cakes. The cakes freeze well too. And, actually, so do egg whites. If I don’t have three leftover egg whites at once, I freeze them and make the cakes later when I have enough. You need 2 mini tube pans (2-cup size) for this recipe, as well as something to hold the cakes up while they cool (see note at the bottom).


6 Tbsp cake flour (1.5 oz)

1/2 cup sugar (3.5 oz)

pinch salt

3 egg whites, room temperature

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Mix the flour, half the sugar, and the salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer on medium-low until foamy (about 1 min). Turn the mixer to medium-high and mix another minute, or until it forms soft, billowy mounds. Slowly add the remaining sugar and whip until the whites are glossy and form soft peaks (1 to 3 min). Add the vanilla and whisk it in by hand. Sift half the flour mixture over the egg whites and gently fold it in with a large spatula. Repeat with the rest of the flour. Divide the batter between two mini tube pans.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 30-35 min, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out dry. Invert the pans over an upside-down kitchen funnel to cool completely (about an hour). Run a knife around the cake to loosen it and remove it from the pan.

Note: If you don’t have 2 kitchen funnels to cool the cakes, the recipe suggests using a beer bottle with a chopstick in it. That didn’t work so well for me, but plastic squeeze bottles with pointy lids worked fine.

(Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s Cooking for Two: 2010)

Cherry Mint Couscous Salad

This recipe was originally cranberry mint couscous salad, but it works well with cherries too.


1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries

1 cup uncooked couscous

1/4-1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil (or a combination)

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

1/3-1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1/3 cup chopped green onions or chives

2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint

Combine broth, cherries, cinnamon and cumin in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in couscous, cover and let stand 5-7 min. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool slightly, uncovered.

Whisk oil and vinegar together. Pour over couscous. Add remaining ingredients and toss well. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies

My friend Averil introduced me to this variation on peanut butter cookies she found while trying to use up a jar of tahini. The tahini flavor is more subtle than peanut butter but it makes a good substitute.

tahini chocolate chip cookies

Beat together:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup softened butter
Stir in:
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Add 1 cup chocolate chips

Shape dough into 1 1/4″ balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet or parchment paper. Bake at 375 degrees F for 8 min. Remove from oven and use a fork dipped in sugar to gently flatten the balls. Return to oven for 1-2 minutes, until very light brown.

Makes 12

tahini cookies

Ribollita (Tuscan bean and kale soup)

I liked this soup more than I expected. It’s got a good flavor and a little spiciness from the red pepper flakes. It’s a good thing to have around this week with all the holiday baking I’ve been doing – at least we’re eating something healthy! It took me years to find romano beans. Eventually I found them at a Mexican grocery store somewhere in a northwest Chicago suburb. When I run out of them, I’ll probably just substitute another kind of bean so I can make this again sooner. I never did find savoy cabbage, but green cabbage works fine. I used the whole bunch of kale and the whole (small) cabbage. This may be part of the reason my soup was so thick.


If you want to include the bread (which I recommend), you’ll need to do a little advance planning and make it at least a few days in advance, or even longer if it’s more convenient. And, since making this recipe seems to be all about planning ahead, I cooked the dried beans in a slow cooker the day before making this soup. This way, it didn’t take as long for the soup to cook and I put the extra cooked beans in the freezer to make this again later.

1/2 cup dried romano (or borlotti) beans – or another bean that you like

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup coarsely chopped red onion

1/2 cup carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup celery, coarsely chopped

2 small bay leaves

1-2 tsp salt

1 tsp red pepper flakes

7 cups cabbage (green or savoy), cored and thinly sliced

1/2 bunch lacinato kale (also called Tuscan, black or dinosaur kale – or use green kale if you can’t find it), stems removed and leaves thinly sliced

14 oz. can diced tomatoes, regular or fire roasted

5 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups very stale no-knead bread, cut into cubes. (You could try using something else,  but this bread doesn’t dissolve into complete mush in this soup like other breads would. It’s not much work to make and you can do it way in advance – a week or more. I recommend cutting it into cubes before it gets really stale and is hard to cut.)

If using dried beans, rinse and drain the beans. Cover with cool water and soak for 8 hours.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-low. Add the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, 1 tsp salt and the red pepper. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until the onions are partially translucent and just starting to brown at the edges (about 9 min). Add the cabbage and kale. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until wilted (about 15 min). Drain the beans and add to the pot with the water and tomatoes (with juice) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the beans are cooked and vegetables are soft, 2 to 3 hours if using dried beans, and a lot less if your beans are already cooked. Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes.

Add the bread to the bowls of soup and let it sit a few minutes to soften.

(Recipe adapted from My Bread by Jim Lahey)