Slow Cooker Mexican Style Corn and Potato Chowder (Gluten-Free)

Mexican Corn and Potato Chowder

As some of you might know, we’re a new homeschooling family at The Crumbs.  At the end of last year, I started to feel like I finally got the hang of the whole thing.  However, when we officially started our second year last week, it came with two big unexpected challenges…

1. My schedule didn’t get a little tighter. It got a lot tighter.

Maybe it’s because we switched curriculum. Maybe it’s because we added another child to the classroom. Maybe it’s the simple reason that with a higher grade, comes more work. In any case, nearly every hour in my day is accounted for and there’s not a whole lot of wiggle room.

2. We can’t spend any money. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

This is a temporary situation of course, and we brought it on ourselves. It was sparked by a conversation that my husband and I had after he read my post on how much food is enough. Agreeing with me that God has blessed us far beyond our needs, he suggested we challenge ourselves to 30 days without spending money. We’re now just over two weeks into the challenge (read about the first 10 days here), and we’ve been blessed at how this has grown our level of contentment and our point of view in terms of needs versus wants.

At the same time, it means nearly every single meal and food we eat is 100% from scratch. Even our peanut butter is made from scratch … and not only is it from scratch, it’s made from the random pieces of nuts left in the pantry. This means more planning and more prep time in the kitchen!

So in order for me to make best use of my time, and stay within our grocery budget (zero for now, then $330 for the four of us when the challenge is over), I’m going to have to work smarter, not harder with frugal slow cooker meals.

While we regularly incorporate frugal meals into our meal plans (frugal meals are those that can be made for $5 or less and feed the average family of four), they still take time to prepare. 10 minutes to chop, 10 minutes for noodles, 15 minutes to cook… Granted, we’re still eating in less than 30 minutes, but as I mentioned, there isn’t much wiggle room in my day for mistakes.

If any one of the from-scratch ingredients doesn’t go according to plan, we’re not eating anytime soon. As we all know, that doesn’t exactly make for a fun evening.

Chowder

That’s why having a reliable list of slow cooker meals that can be tailored to what’s currently in the kitchen means I can breathe easy. So long as I hit “go” on the slow cooker, dinner will be on the table at a decent hour and the family will have full, nourished bellies.

My favorite slow cooker meal is salsa chicken, but this Slow Cooker Mexican Style Corn and Potato Chowder is gaining speed for first place (and fast) for these seven fantastic reasons:

  1. The two main ingredients – corn and potatoes – are readily available year-round, and we almost always have them both in the kitchen. (Note: If you’re avoiding GMOs, it’s important to purchase organic corn.)
  2. The recipe is very flexible. The corn can be fresh, canned or frozen (read about which option is most affordable here). Potatoes can be peeled or unpeeled, and any variety you have on hand. You can use more or less of any ingredient – essentially tailoring it to your own liking and your pantry – and the end result will be just as delicious.
  3. It can be made with leftovers too, saving me that much more time with the cook once, eat twice principle. It’s the perfect recipe for using up leftover grilled corn, or those two small potatoes sitting lonely in the bag.
  4. My secret weapon – creamy cauliflower sauce – is what creates the illusion of a creamy chowder. Using it in place of heavy cream reduces the cost and increases the veggie content too.
  5. It’s easily adaptable to most allergies. It’s already gluten-free, but swap bacon grease for the butter and it’s dairy-free too.
  6. A myriad of topping options allows the meal to be as simple, or as festive, as my pantry and budget allow.
  7. It’s frugal! This entire meal costs just over $2 if you buy your ingredients in bulk. Even if you bought just what was needed for the recipe, your total would still come in under the $5 mark to be officially considered a “frugal meal.”

Slow Cooker Mexican Corn and Potato Chowder (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Option)

8 hours

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 Tbsp bacon grease
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter (if DF, substitute with additional bacon grease)
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 2 cup corn kernels (if avoiding GMOs, use organic)
  • 1 cup diced potatoes
  • 1/2 creamy cauliflower sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, or corn stock if you have it (.05)
  • 1 cup water, or additional chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a 6-quart slow cooker.
  2. Set cook time to low and cook for 6-8 hours.
  3. Stir chowder, then taste. Season to taste, as needed. (I generally find the chowder needs about the same amount of seasoning after cooking as I added to it prior to cooking.)
  4. If desired, lightly mash a portion of the chowder with a potato masher, pastry knife or with a large fork. This will help to thicken the liquids a bit and make it more of a soup than a stew.
  5. Serve with optional toppings (see notes).

Notes

This chowder is a simple meal turned festive with optional toppings. Consider adding fresh cilantro, diced green chilis, black beans, shredded cheese, sour cream, diced bacon or salsa to a hot bowl of chowder to give new flavor twists to an instant family favorite.

http://thenourishinghome.com/2014/08/slow-cooker-mexican-style-corn-and-potato-chowder/

When you’re crunched for time and money, what’s your favorite go-to meal?

Note from Kelly: Don’t miss all of the other great budgeting posts that Tiffany has shared here. Simply click here and keep scrolling through to see her many helpful posts on how to save money on your food budget. You can also subscribe to her newsletter to get exclusive money saving tips, a free eBook “22 Days to a Fresh Start,” five pages of budgeting printables and real food conversation delivered weekly to your inbox – for free!

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Slow Cooker Asian Style Chicken Wraps

Slow Cooker Asian-Style Chicken Wraps

Guest post by Debra Worth, Worth Cooking

I am so excited to be here today sharing a simple, and healthy, chicken recipe. So, thank you, Kelly, for having me over!

In keeping with this month’s slow cooker series, I’m sharing one of my family’s personal favorites! This Asian-style Chicken Wraps recipe is super simple. (Since I have a 5, 3, and 1 year old, easy meals are my friend!) So this recipe takes just five minutes to assemble for cooking in the slow cooker. Then, right before serving it, you’re looking at about another 10 minutes to prep the sauce and shred the chicken.

I use boneless skinless chicken thighs in this dish vs. the more common chicken breast for several reasons. The two main reasons are – it keeps the dish moist and it shreds quicker.

An easy tip for shredding chicken … Simply squeeze the cooked chicken thighs with tongs and it breaks into perfect shreds. This method takes just a few seconds to do the entire batch. (No battles with two forks and dry chicken breasts.)

It’s important to note that the seasoned chicken by itself is not the most flavorful. The reason I kept the seasoning simple is because sometimes chicken thighs release a lot of juices, and therefore, most of my attempts at flavoring the chicken ended up in the liquids rather than on the chicken.

So be sure to not skimp on the sauce! That’s where the delicious savory-sweet flavor comes in. With coconut aminos (a soy sauce substitute), toasted sesame seed oil, spices, ginger, garlic, and maple syrup – this flavorful sauce really is what makes the dish come alive!

Asian-style Chicken Wraps

Layering everything in a boston lettuce cup makes for a tasty texture, and healthy dish. I do recommend serving with an Asian-themed vegetable dish (such as this Sesame Broccoli Salad) to up the vegetable content as well as the bulk of the meal.

Note from Kelly: A special thank you to my sweet friend Debra for sharing this delicious and healthy gluten-free dinner recipe with us. I highly recommend putting this incredibly flavorful dish on your next meal plan! And I also recommend popping over to check out Debra’s site at Worth Cooking. She’s a wonderfully talented home chef with a wealth of family-friendly whole food recipes that are as tasty as they are healthy!

Slow Cooker Asian-Style Chicken Lettuce Wraps (GF)

Yield: Serves 4 (4 lettuce cups per person)

Ingredients

    For the Chicken:
  • 1 1/2 lb boneless/skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 teaspoon 5-spice seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • For the Sauce:
  • Zest of two oranges (save the oranges for serving)
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos (or organic soy sauce)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon + a pinch real salt (omit salt, if using soy sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon 5-spice seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon starch (arrowroot or tapioca) mixed with 2 teaspoons water
  • For Serving:
  • 16 leaves of Boston lettuce (from about two heads)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • Orange wedges (use the oranges zested for the sauce)
  • Optional: Sesame seeds, chopped chives and cilantro

Instructions

    For the Chicken:
  1. Mix the seasonings together. Sprinkle on the chicken. Put in the slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours.
  2. If there is a lot of liquid in the slow cooker when the chicken is done, remove the chicken to a bowl and shred (discard juices, or save the juices for another use). If there is just a little juice, shred right in the slow cooker. The easiest way I've found to shred chicken is to squeeze it using kitchen tongs.
  3. Making the Sauce:
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together the orange zest, coconut aminos, maple syrup, rice vinegar, sesame oil, starch and salt. Set aside.
  5. In a small skillet, add the garlic powder, ginger powder, five spice seasoning and red pepper flakes. Turn heat to medium. Stir and toast until the spices increase in fragrance and smell toasted (approx. 3 minutes).
  6. Add the orange-maple liquid mixture. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a gentle boil. Boil the sauce for 3 minutes, occasionally stirring. Turn off the heat.
  7. Add the starch-water mixture and whisk well. Remove sauce from heat.
  8. For Serving:
  9. Put a small amount of chicken in the lettuce cup, pour sauce on, and then top red pepper, other desired toppings, and a little squeeze of orange juice.
http://thenourishinghome.com/2014/08/slow-cooker-asian-chicken-wraps/

headerDebra Worth is first and foremost a daughter of the King of kings. She resides in central Missouri with her husband of 6 years and three young kids. She is passionate about serving her family nutritious and delicious foods, especially after needing to cut out many foods due her family’s food intolerances. In March, she started the blog Worth Cooking where she shares her healthy, delicious, and allergy-friendly recipes.

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Garlic Thyme Chicken {Slow Cooker Recipe}

Crockpot Garlic Thyme Chicken

It’s hard to believe that in a few short weeks, it’s back-to-school season! With the hustle-bustle of that time of year, I always make sure to schedule as many quick-n-easy dinners as possible on my meal plans those first few weeks.

Lately, I’ve been perfecting a few new slow cooker recipes – cause nothing could be easier than tossing in a bunch of fresh ingredients and coming home to a delicious home cooked meal!

This Slow Cooker Garlic Thyme Chicken is a newfound favorite – it’s truly a garlic lovers dream! My inspiration for this recipe came from the wonderful cookbook Make it Fast, Cook it Slow.” Author Stephanie O’Dea has so many delicious gluten-free crockpot recipes that are wonderful as is, or can easily be tweaked to suit your personal taste preferences, or dietary lifestyle.

So it is with this recipe … I modified it by changing out the seasonings and I chose to use chicken thighs instead, since they cook so beautifully in the crockpot. I also prefer to use skinless chicken in the crockpot, as the skin can become quite rubbery. A tip to overcome that issue is to follow the slow cooking process with a quick broil in the oven to crisp the skin, as I often do when making Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken. However, for the sake of ease, we’ll forgo the crispy skin, because this recipe is delicious without that extra step.

Garlic Thyme Chicken (Crockpot)

By the way, if you love slow cooking as much as we do, be sure to check out my SLOW COOKER RECIPES section – it’s a quick way to reference some of my family’s favorite easy, healthy slow cooker recipes.

P.S. If you’re not quite sure about using 20 cloves of garlic, then you can always reduce the amount a bit to suit your taste. But personally, the buttery melt-in-your-mouth texture of slow cooked garlic, combined with its mellow garlic taste, is what makes this recipe one of my personal favorites!

Garlic Thyme Chicken {Slow Cooker Recipe}

Yield: 5-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled and sliced into thin rings
  • 3 lbs bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 20 garlic cloves (about 2 large heads of garlic)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp fresh-ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Lightly oil the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker. Evenly place the sliced onion along the bottom.
  2. Smash and peel the garlic cloves, making sure to gather 15-20 large cloves. (See note below on "how to smash garlic," if you're unfamiliar with this method.)
  3. Place the chicken thighs into a large mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add the smashed garlic cloves and toss to combine.
  4. Sprinkle the seasonings across the top of the chicken-garlic mixture and toss until chicken is well coated with seasonings.
  5. Transfer the chicken-garlic mixture to the slow cooker and cover.
  6. Cook on low for 6-7 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours. Serve with a side of your favorite veggies.

Notes

How to Smash Garlic Cloves: Smashed whole garlic cloves provide a much mellower flavor than minced garlic which is why this method is used in many oven roasted and slow cooker recipes. To smash garlic, simply separate the garlic cloves and smash each whole clove with the flat side of a knife. To do this, carefully place the flat side of a large chef's knife on the garlic clove, then strike the knife with your palm to flatten the clove. Of course, it goes without saying you need to be careful! (I always make sure to position the blade of the knife against the cutting board to ensure it doesn't come into contact with my hand.) Once you've smashed the garlic clove, peel the skin off of the clove and add it to your dish.

http://thenourishinghome.com/2014/08/slow-cooker-garlic-thyme-chicken/

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