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Warmer weather is finally upon us, and nothing is better than walking into a house filled with the aroma of something brewing in the slow cooker.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be food, either. The smell of a great stew is inviting, but you can also save yourself a fortune on candles by putting the following in your pot. These combinations work well, but you can also experiment by saving apple peels, citrus rinds or stems from herbs such as thyme, parsley or rosemary. However, if you’d like to have dinner on the table as well, the healthy recipe below will utilize some of the first vegetables of spring.

Slow Cooker Chicken and Quinoa with Spring Vegetables

• 1½ cups dry quinoa

• 1 lb. raw chicken breast, boneless, skinless, cut into 1-inch cubes

• 7 cups low-sodium organic chicken broth, divided use

• 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

• 1 tsp. dried basil (or chives or parsley)

• Sea salt (or Himalayan salt) and ground black pepper (to taste; optional)

• 6 tsp. prepared pesto sauce

• 3 cups fresh or frozen peas

• 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

• 2 tsp. olive oil

• 2 cups shredded (or grated) carrots

• 1 bunch asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 2 cups)

• ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

1. Place quinoa, chicken, 4 cups broth, garlic and basil in a 3-quart slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Mix well and cover; cook on low for 3 to 3½ hours, or until chicken is not pink and quinoa is tender. The mixture will be very thick and sticky.

2. Remove lid. Add remaining 3 cups broth, 1 cup at a time, until mixture resembles the consistency of risotto. You may not need to add all of the broth.

3. Add pesto sauce, peas and lemon juice; mix well and cover. Set aside.

4. Heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

5. Add carrots; cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until carrots are tender-crisp.

6. Add asparagus; cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until asparagus is tender-crisp.

7. Fold carrot mixture into quinoa mixture; mix well.

8. Top each serving with 1 Tbsp. cheese.

Recipe Courtesy of beachbody.com

 

Or, for a house that just smells great …

Set your slow cooker to low, add the following ingredients, cover with at least 2 or more cups of water and cook uncovered for hours. Add water intermittently if your slow cooker runs a little hot.

Lemon Verbena

1 sliced lemon

Fresh rosemary

1 tsp. vanilla

Relaxing

1 cup lavender

1 cup eucalyptus leaves

½ cup dried spearmint

Springtime

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2 sliced limes

3-4 fresh thyme springs

Handful of mint or ½ tsp mint extract

1 tsp. vanilla

Coffee cake

2-4 cinnamon sticks

1 cup leftover coffee grounds

1-2 tsp. vanilla extract

Summertime

Sliced lemon, lime, and orange

1 can pineapple juice

1 Tbsp. coconut extract.

Creamsickle

1-2 tsp. vanilla extract

Orange peels and slices

A Williams Sonoma store

2 sliced lemons

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

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L Magazine editor

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