Slow Cooker Apple Butter

I’m a huge fan of slow cookers recipes because really, what’s not to love about a recipe that requires minimal hands-on cooking time? This slow cooker apple butter made my apartment smell fantastic and tastes like fresh cinnamon apple goodness. I love mine slathered on whole grain toast or bagels for breakfast or a quick snack. A perfect fall treat!


Slow Cooker Apple Butter 
5 lbs. apples (I used Gala), peeled, cored and cut into quarters
1 cup maple syrup or agave syrup
1/2 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Place all the above ingredients into a 5 or 6 quart slow cooker set on low covered with the lid. Cook for 4 to 5 hours. Stir occasionally during the last two hours of cooking to break up the apples (they should fall apart fairly easily and form a fairly smooth butter-like consistency).

Continue to cook for 30 additional minutes without the lid, stirring frequently, to achieve the consistency you desire.

Transfer butter into canning jars. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Espresso and Cream




Slow Cooker Roast Chicken

Thanksgiving is this coming weekend for us Canadians! Growing up, it was just me, my mom and my sister so we never needed a whole turkey to celebrate Thanksgiving. Instead we did just fine with a small chicken! I always enjoyed the taste of chicken better than turkey anyways. Did you know that you can easily make a roast chicken using a slow cooker? I didn’t until I saw this recipe, and I can honestly say that it is probably the easiest way to make a roast chicken. You essentially cook the chicken all the way through in a slow cooker, and then stick it under the broiler for a few minutes to get a nice crispy skin.

I’ve never been squeamish when dealing with raw meat, but something about an almost whole raw chicken made my stomach turn a bit. The chicken I bought at the grocery store already had the giblets removed, there was just the neck that I had to chuck (I felt quite faint looking at it anyways). Then I just stuffed the chicken with lemon, garlic cloves and fresh parsley.

IMG_3781After the chicken has been cooked in the slow cooker, it will still have a very light skin that does not look very appealing. I sprinkled some salt and pepper over the skin, and then stuck it under the broiler.

And there you have it! A perfectly simple roasted chicken.

IMG_3785I managed to get about 2 cups of shredded chicken off of what was left over of the chicken as well, which came handy in pastas. You can also use it as a pizza topping or for chicken noodle soup, the possibilities are endless!


Slow Cooker Roast Chicken 

4-5 lb. whole chicken
1 medium lemon
1/2 bulb garlic
1/4 bunch fresh parsley

Remove the chicken from its packaging over the sink and allow the juices to run out. Remove the giblets from the cavity and discard them. Fold a long piece of foil lengthwise to form a sturdy sling and place the chicken on it.

Cut the lemon in half and then cut one of the halves into quarters. Stuff the quarters inside the cavity of the chicken. Peel the garlic cloves and stuff them into the cavity along with the whole sprigs of parsley.

Take the second half of the lemon and place it face down in the center of the slow cooker. This will help the chicken sit up off of the bottom of the cooker. Using the foil sling, lift the chicken into the slow cooking, placing it on top of the lemon. Fold the sides of the sling into the cooker, secure the lid, and cook on high for four hours.

After cooking on high for four hours, carefully lift the chicken out of the slow cooker using the foil sling and place on a baking sheet. Set the broiler to its low setting and cook the chicken under the broiler (5-6 inches from the flame) until the skin is golden brown and crispy (5-10 minutes). Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting or serving.

Budget Bytes



Slow Cooker Marinara

img_2080If you are the kind of person who stocks up on jars of pasta sauce when they go on sale at the grocery store or even just in general find that your pantry is always kept stocked with pasta sauce, than you should definitely try this slow cooker marinara. Pasta can be such a satisfying and quick weeknight meal to throw together and it just tastes that much better with fresh, homemade marinara (no preservatives added!).

img_2067What I love most about this recipe is that you literally throw a few ingredients into a slow cooker and in 8 hours you have a large batch of marinara that you can either serve immediately or freeze for later. The marinara tastes great when served plain over pasta, but if I have the time I love adding cooked sausage or meatballs and maybe even mushrooms and peppers as well. Whichever you prefer, you will not regret having a bag or two of this marinara stored in your freezer for a lazy day :)


Slow Cooker Marinara 

2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 medium yellow onion
1/2 tbsp minced garlic
2 whole bay leaves
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the onion into a small dice and mince the garlic (or use pre-minced garlic from a jar). Place both in the slow cooker. Also add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, bay leaves, basil, oregano, and freshly cracked pepper. Stir well to combine. If your slow cooker tends to lose moisture and dry things out, add 1/2 to 1 cup of water as well.

Secure the lid on your slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hrs.

Remove the lid on the slow cooker, stir the sauce, and remove the bay leaves. Season with salt to taste (I added about 1 tsp). Enjoy over your favorite pasta!  Remember the sauce can be served plain over pasta, or you can use it as a base sauce and add it whatever you want, like mushrooms, cooked sausage or chicken, bell peppers, etc.

Budget Bytes

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

So I’m a little bummed out that I wasn’t able to make or post anything Easter-themed at all. I’ve had my final exams for university for the past two weeks, and I just finished my last exam this past Saturday at 9:00pm. Right in the middle of Easter weekend. I came home to Toronto yesterday (Easter Sunday) at around noon, and I had originally planned to make Easter themed sugar cookies with royal icing (similar to these basketball cookies), but the minute our car pulled up in my front driveway, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Instead I spent most of the afternoon and the night unpacking and trying to clean my room, which was a MESS.

Now here I am, feeling sad about not sharing any Easter treats with you. I guess there is always next year!

In the meantime, I will tell you about this slow cooker pulled pork. I’ve always seen recipes for pulled pork on many blogs, but I’ve always been too scared to make it. It seems so simple that I felt like I would probably mess up somewhere. I’m glad I finally tried this recipe out, because it is actually so unbelievably easy to make. All you coat the pork with a spice rub, saran wrap and refrigerate it for a few hours, and then stick it in the slow cooker with a bit of water and let the slow cooker work it’s magic.  The result is a tender hunk of meat that shreds really easily, and tastes delicious in wraps, sandwiches, as a pizza topping, etc. If you don’t already have a favourite pulled pork recipe, I strongly recommend this one!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 (6-8 pound) bone-in pork shoulder
1 cup barbecue sauce (plus extra for serving, if desired)

To make the spice rub: Combine all of the ingredients except the pork and the barbecue sauce in a bowl.  Massage this spice rub onto the pork, coating each side thoroughly.  Wrap the pork tightly with two layers of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (or up to 3 days).

Unwrap the roast and place it in your slow cooker.  Add 1/4 cup of water then turn the slow cooker to low and cook for 8-10 hours, or until the meat is fork-tender.

Transfer the pork to a cutting board and discard the liquid in the slow cooker.  Shred the meat using two forks to pull it apart.  Discard any fat.  Place the shredded meat back in the slow cooker and add 1 cup of barbecue sauce, tossing to combine.  Heat on low for 30-60 minutes, or until hot.  Serve the pork with additional barbecue sauce, if desired.

Source: Tracey’s Culinary Adventures, adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Slow Cooker Sticky Wings

For those of you Canadians living in Alberta, Ontario (like me!), Manitoba, Saskatchewan, or P.E.I., and for the Americans living in Arizona and Nevada, and a few other select places around the world, Happy Family Day!!! I hope you’re having a lovely day off of work/school. I’m back home in Toronto for reading week, and it’s -10 degrees Celsius right now…but I swear I can almost smell spring and a new pair of shorts. Let’s hope I’m not getting my hopes up too soon.

To me, wings are comfort food. I especially like this recipe, because it gave me an excuse to use my slow cooker. This recipe calls for a 3-inch piece of ginger, but I only used a 1-inch piece because I didn’t want an overpowering ginger flavour in my wings. I also used drumsticks in place of wings, because they were on sale 🙂

Slow Cooker Sticky Wings


3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 pounds chicken wings, halved at joint (wing tips discarded)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup tomato paste


Add 1/4 cup of the brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, the ginger, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until everything is finely ground and a paste-like mixture results.  Transfer the mixture to your slow cooker then add the wings and toss to coat them with the paste.

Cook on low until the chicken is tender, 3-4 hours.  Transfer the wings to a large bowl, leaving as much of the liquid behind as possible and discarding it when all of the wings have been removed.  Let the wings cool for about 20 minutes.  (At this point you can put the cooled wings in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.)

Preheat your broiler and position one of the oven racks about 10-12 inches from the broiler.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, then place a wire rack inside the baking sheet.  Spray the rack well with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk the water, tomato paste, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, remaining 3 tablespoons soy sauce, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.  Add half of this sauce to the bowl with the wings and gently toss to coat.  Place the wings on the rack, skin side up.  (I fit all 4 lbs of wings on one rack – spacing was very minimal between the wings.)  Broil until the wings are lightly charred, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and flip the wings over.  Brush the remaining sauce over them and return them to the oven.  Broil for another 3 minutes, or until the sauce caramelizes.


Source: Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Broccoli and Cheese Rice Casserole


Do you have a slow cooker?

This is what mine looks like.


Cute, right?

Slow cookers are handy little creatures where you throw food in, turn it on low or high, run out the door for a full day’s worth of lectures and meetings on campus, and then come home to a warm, cooked meal.

They’re pretty affordable. My mom got me mine for about $20-30 CAD at Walmart.

You can make all sorts of things in a slow cooker, including soup, chili, and this delicious rice casserole. Yum!


Broccoli and Cheese Rice Casserole

Makes 4-6 servings.


1 lb. chopped broccoli, fresh or frozen, thawed
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup butter
1 cup minute rice, or 1 1/2 cups cooked rice
10 3/4 oz can cream of chicken or mushroom soup
1/4 cup milk
1 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tsp. salt


1. In a pot of boiling water, cook broccoli for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.
2. Saute onion in butter in medium saucepan until tender. Add to broccoli.
3. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Add to the broccoli and onion mixture. Pour into a greased slow cooker.
4. Cover the slow cooker. Cook on low 3-4 hours. Make sure you don’t remove the lid during cooking, as a lot of heat will escape!!


Source: adapted from the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook Collection