It’s finally Autumn! I look forward to this time every year- cardigans, blankets, school buses, color tours, and waking up to the smell of breakfast ready in the slow cooker! When the schedule starts getting hectic, I start trying to find ways to save time in the kitchen without spending a lot or sacrificing nutrition. For me, the slow cooker is usually the answer. Being able to avoid the headache of getting home from work and realizing I have no plan for dinner and no idea what’s in the fridge is a big stressful weight off my shoulders.
Easy Breakfast Strata
This is super customizable to suit your mood and whatever you have lying around. It can be really basic for busy mornings or fancy for brunch guests. It can also easily be made sweet instead of savory by trading veggies for fruit and cheddar for cream cheese or Chevre (and omitting the mustard!)
9 slices bread of your choice (I like grainy stuff), toasted
2 c. sausage, or whatever meat you have in the fridge that needs to be used
2 c. grated cheddar cheese
2 1/2 c. veggies-broccoli, bell peppers, kale, onions—use one or mix them all together!
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
6 large eggs
2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 c. grated fontina cheese
Directions: After oiling a four-quart slow cooker, put two slices of bread in the bottom of the cooker. Cut another slice of bread into pieces and fit them in around the first two slices to create a bottom bread layer. On top of that, sprinkle half the meat, half the cheddar, and half the veggies. Make a second bread layer and then top with the remaining cheddar, meat, and veggies. Make a third bread layer.
In a mixing bowl, beat together the mustard and just one egg at first. Beat in the other 5 eggs, plus the milk, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the strata, trying to cover everything evenly and then push the bread down into the eggs and milk to make sure all the bread gets nice and eggy.
Top the strata with the fontina.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3 hours. Enjoy waking up to the smell of breakfast!
Split Pea Soup
I love split pea soup. It’s so warm and comforting, plus full of protein! I usually top it with cheese (mozzarella cubes or goat cheese) and/or crispy tempeh squares, but I hear ham is pretty awesome in it too...
3 c. dry split peas
2 cloves garlic
Up to an entire bunch of celery
Juice of 1-2 lemons
1 tsp. cumin (or more to taste)
Hungarian smoked paprika
Crispy tempeh (optional)
Cheese cubes (optional)
Directions: Soak the split peas in water overnight or approx 8 hours. Make sure they are covered by about two inches of water as they will absorb a lot. When they’re done, rinse them and put them in the slow cooker with the cumin and garlic. Cover again with about two inches of water. Cook on high for 8 hours. Add chopped veggies and cook on low for another 4 hours. Add lemon juice and salt to taste. When the soup has cooled a bit, put it in the food processor or blender and blend to desired consistency. Add paprika to each bowl before it’s served.
So Easy Whatever-Fruit-You-Want Crisp
Seasonal fruit crisp is my go-to dish for potlucks, parties, and celebrations of all kinds. I love strawberry rhubarb in the spring, peach in the summer, apple-cranberry in the fall, and anything in the winter! It’s so easy to throw together and way healthier than cake, right?
For the fruit:
4 c. fruit (apples, berries, rhubarb, peaches, go nuts!)
2 Tbs. sugar (I like to use coconut sugar)
2 tsp. cinnamon (for apples)
1 Tbs. corn starch (for berries/rhubarb)
For the crisp:
1 1/2 c. rolled oats
3/4 c. white whole wheat flour
3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Ice cream or whipped cream for serving (optional)
Directions: Add all the fruit ingredients to the slow cooker and stir it all up. Let sit while you make the crisp.
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl until well combined. Work the butter into the dry mixture with your hands until it’s looking clumpy.
Stir the fruit once more and make sure it’s spread evenly in the slow cooker. Sprinkle the crisp over the top.
Cook on high for 2 hours or low for 3 to 3 1/2 hours turn the heat off and let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.