Carmelized Onions in the Slow Cooker

Caramelized onions are one of my favorite foods. Can you call it a favorite food if you can’t eat it solo? I love things with caramelized onions – burgers, pasta, steak – you name it, you can throw onions on it. We’ve made quite a few dishes with them here at MMC.
My only real issue with caramelized onions is the time required to make them and in this, I am not alone. According to Alton Brown, the caramelizing onions process requires removing most of the onions’ moisture and converting the natural sugars within the onion (fancy fact: it’s called a Maillard reaction). There are many articles for making the perfect caramelized onions – but none of them are really regularly suited for the busy mom lifestyle.
I just knew there had to be an easier way. Every so often Kayte brags to me about the amazing jars of caramelized onions Mary makes. It’s a dedicated process in the oven, in which the onions are baked for an extended period of time and every so often you stir them. Totally worth it to make a huge batch! But still, there had to an easier way……You CAN cook down POUNDS of onions in a slow cooker with minimal effort. Once cooked, you can bag/can/otherwise store and freeze. I was able to defrost the onions straight from frozen.
After quite a bit of research, I experimentally cooked my onions, using a combination of two recipes from The Kitchn and Gimme Some Oven. The basics are as follows……
  1. Thinly slice up 3-5 lbs of onions and throw them in your slow cooker. 
  2. Toss with 3 tablespoons EVOO or melted butter.
  3. Cook for at least 8-10 hours on low. Stirring the onions occasionally will promote more even cooking, but is not required. 
  4. You can continue to cook 3 -5 more hours with the lid ajar. I highly encourage this, as my onions were full of liquid before this. The liquid is released during cooking, but can’t escape the slow cooker like it can in the pan. 
  5.  Use, refrigerate or freeze. 
You can add balsamic vinegar or brown sugar during the last couple hours of cooking. I did not do this. However, depending on what I was using them for, I did add balsamic dressing during the reheating.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

If you were to talk to my husband, he would probably tell you that I am not a pork person. I’d probably agree, but in all honesty, we eat pork on a pretty regular basis. We LOVE crock pot pulled pork in this house, and this dish tops them all: baked sweet potato stuffed with BBQ pork.

A baked sweet potato stuffed with pork covered in bbq sauce,
caramelized red onions, and melted colby jack cheese

This was really easy to make. It was inspired by Jim N Nicks pig in the potato patch. According to their menu it’s a potato “loaded with smoked bacon, butter, sour cream, cheddar, bbq sauce, and a choice of pork or chicken”. It’s one hell-of-a-way to eat a potato. We’ve made our own versions before, but this was the first time we made it with a sweet potato. Not only is a sweet potato a much healthier choice, it adds an incredible level of flavor.
A few weeks ago our local Kroger had a bone-in pork shoulder on sale. Pulled pork is actually quite a versatile meat and is pretty regularly on sale. We purchased two 8+lb roast for only $12 each. That is less than $2 per pound. I froze one, and popped the other roast into the slow cooker (recipe here).  I shredded the roast with my kitchen aid and split it into gallon size bags. For reference, a roast this size made 3 gallon bags of 3.5 cups and one container approximately 3 cups. (See more pulled pork recipes)

On the day I made dinner, I threw my potatoes in the pressure cooker and caramelized some onions. Once cooked, I cut the potatoes opened and topped in the following order: BBQ sauce, pork, sauce, caramelized onions, sauce, cheese. I baked them in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. We served the loaded potatoes with some sour cream.

Mini stuffed mushrooms

Have I mentioned before that goat cheese, caramelized onions, and mushrooms are pretty much my favorite foods? These stuffed mushrooms were absolutely delicious. I doctored this recipe from The Joyful Foodie to suit my taste and the ingredients I had on hand. They were scrumptious.
I essentially halved the recipe, mixing bacon bits, caramelized onions, and equal amounts goat cheese and cream cheese. I sauteed the mushrooms with a bit of balsamic vinaigrette before stuffing. Once stuffed, I baked for a little bit then allowed to cool. Try it now.

Spinach, Mushrooms, and Onions – Pt 3

The first post last week was about a delicious spinach, onion and mushroom recipe. I used this recipe to make a chicken bowtie pasta. In the second post, I talked about how I used this recipe to make a delicious pizza, in just a few minutes. Believe it or not, I have TWO more uses for that scrumptious blend. The second time I made this recipe (only a week later, I might add) – I also doubled it, then split it in half.

First up is this delicious egg scramble we made for a weekend brunch with the left overs. I intended it to be an omelette, but I am impatient, and just plain awful at making them – omelettes usually turn into a scramble. Same ingredients, same textures, different presentation – still delicious. I added mozzarella cheese, and some breakfast sausage. 
Next up is another bowl of pasta! I think we used linguine – the noodle doesn’t really matter. A friend had forwarded me a delicious looking recipe for a spicy smoked sausage alfredo bake. I purchased the smoked sausage, but forgot the remaining ingredients. We always keep a few jars of different types of pasta sauce on hand in the pantry, so I sliced the sausage and threw it in a pan for a few minutes. I added the spinach,onions, and mushrooms, just for long enough that everything was warm, and then I poured in the Alfredo sauce. It was so delicious, and it may be my husband’s new favorite! 

Spinach, Mushrooms, and Onions – Pt 2

mmmm Pizza
Earlier this week I wrote about my favorite new recipe: a delicious blend of caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, and spinach. I doubled the recipe, and set half aside. I used this half to make a delicious flat bread pizza.
It was so quick and easy! Use the bread (or dough) of your choice. Spread on your favorite pizza sauce or make your own. The classico sauce featured above, is delicious. They have a fire roasted blend also. Ive seen a few roasted red pepper recipes around also that would be perfect. Cover the pizza with the spinach, onion, mushroom blend, and then top with cheese. Bake per directions and enjoy!

Spinach, Mushrooms, and Onions – Pt 1

Bowtie pasta covered in a cream sauce 
with chicken, spinach, mushrooms and caramelized onions

I somewhat recently confessed to not liking veggies. That’s a fairly simply version of it. I have a difficult time incorporating a variety of veggies into our meals. I don’t hate vegetables, I just tolerate most of them. There are, of course, a few exceptions – two of these being onions and mushrooms. I am of the opinion that you can never have enough caramelized onions, or sauteed mushrooms. Its just not possible.

Cooking onions & mushrooms, while holding baby

I haven’t published too many post on either of these things (don’t worry, they are coming), but the making of this French Onion Soup – definitely had us discussing how to cook, and use caramelized onions. Just thinking of it makes my mouth water.

This Spinach, Onion and Mushroom recipe from Julia’s Album has already become a favorite in our house. Its incredibly simple, and with a bit of creativity we’ve been able to use it in a variety of dishes. This recipe is intended as a topping or side for meat (chicken, steak, etc) and comes with an optional “cream” recipe. Julia even list a few other ideas. This post is part one of three about different uses for this combo.

Plain spinach, onions and mushrooms

I have used it as a steak topper, pasta w. chicken, Alfredo pasta w. sausage, and for flat bread pizza. I even threw it in an egg scramble with some sausage!. I think it would be delicious in a red-sauced pasta. I’m sure you could make some kind of quesadilla, or even some kind of fancy veggie taco or burrito. Each time I have made it, I have varied the ratio of onion, mushrooms, and spinach based on what I have on hand. I have always “doubled” it though, and used a portion of the left overs for another dish.

With the cream sauce

This recipe is three basic steps: (1) caramelize the onion, (2) saute the mushrooms, (3) combine mushrooms and spinach with onions. Then use as you see fit.The first time I made it, I doubled the recipe, then removed half when finished. I added 1.5-2x the cream sauce, and added costco rotisserie chicken, and poured over pasta.I saved the remaining recipe (without sauce) for another recipe.

Spinach, Mushrooms & Onions
Ingredients
  • 3 Onions, sliced
  • 10 – 15 small mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
  • 2 Tbl Olive oil
  • 1 Tbl Balsamic Vinegar (I use dressing)
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 3 C Spinach
  • Salt
Directions
  1. Caramelize the onions: heat 1 Tbl olive oil in a large pain, add onions. Begin on high heat, then lower and add a pinch of salt. Cook until caramelized (approx 30 minutes). Use 1TBL balsamic to deglaze the pan. 
  2. Saute Mushrooms: while onions are cooking, heat 1 Tbl olive oil in another pan, add mushrooms, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook approx 20 minutes.
  3. Combine mushrooms with onions, and add spinach on low heat until spinach wilts
*Note More detailed instructions on the original website*
Optional Cream Ingredients:
  • 1/3 C Heavy Cream
  • 1/4 C Milk
  • 1/2 C Parmesan Cheese (I used italian blend)
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt
Instructions for Cream Sauce: Add listed ingredients to mix on med-low heat and mix until melted and coating all vegetables. 

Salisbury Steak Meatballs

Ok – not the most appetizing photo, but the food was good. I previously posted a delicious french onion soup recipe. We made three massive bowls of soup the first night, and then had about 2 Cups of soup left. I had totally planned on eating it for lunch the next day, but then I stumbled across this recipe for Salisbury Steak Meatballs
The sauce in the recipe is fairly similar to the french onion soup, with a few tablespoons of ingredients added. We always keep a stock of meatballs on hand. I made my own, and we use them for spaghetti and meatballs, meatball subs, and a few other meals. I also have a pretty steady supply of different types of pasta stocked up in my pantry too. This sounded like a perfect dinner plan!
Salisbury Steak Meatballs
(Inspired by Damn Delicious)

Ingredients:
  • 2+ Cups French Onion Soup
  • 1 Tbl Worcetershire Sauce
  • 1 Tbl Ketchup
  • (Optional 1 Tbl cornstarch)
  • 10 – 20 (cooked & frozen) Meatballs
  • Egg Noodles

Directions:

  1. Combine French Onion Soup, worcetershire, and ketchup.
  2. Throw meatballs in crock pot, top with soup mixture
  3. Cook on low for 4 – 5 hours
  4. (If the sauce is too thin, it can be thickened with cornstarch).
  5. When ready to serve, cook egg noodles per directions.
  6. Top egg noodles with meatballs and sauce
Easy Peesy Right? The original recipe includes a recipe for meatballs, and involves making sauce from scratch on the stove top. I’m sure it’s delicious also. But I’ll take (remade) left overs, freezer ingredients and a slow cooker any day.