7 Lovely Desserts You Can Make In The Slow Cooker (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

Desserts are the crowning glory that help finish off a great meal, but there’s a bit of a hot weather problem — outside of ice cream, frozen stuff and fresh fruit, a lot of delicious recipes require you to fire up your oven or spend a ton of time you don’t have laboring over the stove. 

Fortunately, you can have super amazing desserts without needing to do any of this. All you need to do is pull out an old standby for busy people: a slow cooker. 

With a little early planning, you can dump a bunch of stuff in there and let it cook while you enjoy your dinner and kick your feet up and relax. Next thing you know, you’re all ready to satisfy your sweet tooth.

1. Cinnamon Roll Monkey Bread

Cinnamon rolls are super tasty, but they can be a ton of work to prepare. Not so with this gorgeously tender, buttery crescent dough-based dish that takes only five minutes to prep and slow cooks for two hours.

2. Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

A whole CAKE in the Crock Pot? Am I insane??? Maybe, but that’s beside the point! This dessert comes out incredibly moist, and there’s no way anyone will believe that you didn’t bake it, honest. Oh, and it’s also fairly low-cal, too. This oil- and butter-free cake is packed with applesauce, pineapple, shredded carrots and chopped nuts, but it still tastes amazingly rich. How is that so??

3. Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie

You know those honking huge, oozy warm cookies, topped with mounds of ice cream that you can get at some restaurants? Save yourself a ton of money and make that in the slow cooker. It is as good, if not better, with crispy edges and a soft, tender center, although you can always adjust the cooking time if you prefer it more or less doughy.

4. Chocolate Lava Cake

Lava cake sounds a little finicky, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t!! Using a slow cooker takes out all the guesswork, plus you can totally serve this one to guests topped with vanilla (or your favorite flavor) ice cream for an irresistible mix of warm, cool, gooey, melty and cakey. Yum!

5. Peach Cobbler

In the heat of summer, you might debate whether it’s worth it to heat up the house to make seasonally appropriate cobbler. Don’t. You can make a super delicious set-it-and-forget-it version in the Crock Pot too! Feel free to use any cobbler-friendly fruit (like berries or stone fruit) that you have on hand, fresh or frozen.

6. Gooey Slow Cooker Caramel Blondies

Soft, rich and oozing with a ridiculously easy caramel sauce, these gooey treats are hard to resist. If you want, you can add a spoonful or two of whiskey to the sugar glaze for an extra zing of complexity.

7. Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This surprisingly healthy (but it really doesn’t taste it, honestly) spin on your favorite dessert is so moist and indulgent! Top with a few maraschino cherries or fresh berries at the end for a strikingly tasty, lovely garnish.

Featured Photo Credit: Andy Nguyen/Flickr

Tags: Crock Pot recipe, slow cooker, summer desserts, summer recipe, weekend dessert recipes
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Cool Off With These 6 Lazy, Refreshing No-Cook Dinners

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By Cooking Panda

It may be too hot to fire up the oven, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat delicious homemade food every night this week. This is the perfect time to try out some awesome no-cook or minimal cook recipes. Now go make all of these recipes, and save us a bite.

1. Pan Bagnat

Absolutely no cooking required. The best part about this sandwich is that it gets better the longer it sits, so it is the ideal work lunch or make-ahead dinner.

2. No-Cook Tomato Sauce

Presumably, you’ll pour this over pasta, so it’s not no-cook unless you have instant, fresh, or leftover noodles on hand. Please forgive us.

3. Cold Rice Noodles with Grilled Chicken and Peanut Sauce

Rice noodles are great because they cook up so fast — all you need to do is soak them for a few minutes in a bowl of very hot water. You can buy pre-cooked chicken if you’re feeling lazy, or just grill (or sautee) it yourself.

4. Warm Chickpea Salad with Cumin and Garlic

Shout out to all the vegans and gluten-free folks out there. This dish is delicious served hot, warm or cold and gets better the longer it sits. Serve with some salad greens and/or something bready like flatbread or a crunchy baguette. This would even be great in corn tortillas or lettuce wraps.

5. Steak Tartare

Make sure you get quality meat from your butcher that is safe to eat raw! If you’re concerned about the taste or safety of raw eating, go for the seared version mentioned in the recipe.

6. Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps with Grapes and Pecans

These sweet-savory chicken salad lettuce wraps will fill you up and cool you off in the summer heat. It’s also pretty healthy and lean, with tangy Greek yogurt instead of mayo, so you can totally enjoy this guilt-free.

Featured Photo Credit: Karsten Moran​/The New York Times

Tags: easy dinner, no-cook meal, summer dinner, summer recipe, weeknight dinner
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Our 14 Favorite Easy Camping And Backpacking Recipes

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By Cooking Panda

Summer is in full swing, and that means one thing – time for a camping trip!

If your least favorite part of camping or backpacking is the food, you are totally doing it wrong. Let us help you!

If you are car camping and have plenty of space, you can always bring a good, tough skillet with you (preferably cast iron) and an ice chest full of awesome food. You can cook just about anything in there. But if you don’t have the space or don’t want the hassle, here are some simple, streamlined meals that taste even better than something from the stove:

Camping

1. Campfire Bacon

This is actually super easy – just wave each strip of bacon evenly onto your skewer for even, crisp cooking. You might even be able to get away with this one for night one of backpacking…

2. Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Whole Grain Mustard

These guys would be absolutely perfect interwoven with the bacon – you gotta do it!

3. Campurritos

Make your burritos at home, wrap in foil, and throw them in the cooler. When they are ready to cook, all you need to do is heat them up in the fire.

4. Campfire Popcorn

It’s so easy! All you have to do is put the kernels and oil in a foil pouch and tie it to a stick with some string. This one could also make a great backpacking snack, if you have the energy!

5. Campfire Chicken With Roasted Brussels Sprouts

You can prep this before you leave and put it all in foil packets if you aren’t using a pan.

6. Whole Wheat Pasta in Foil with Goat Cheese and Tomatoes

Another one that you can prep before leaving! Who says you can’t eat gourmet in the wild?

7. Camping Quesadillas

This one is so simple that you might ask yourself why you’ve never thought of it, but it will improve your camping trips significantly.

Dessert

8. Baileys Dipped Toasted Marshmallows

Yes, it IS possible to improve your s’mores! If you don’t want to go the Baileys route, roast some sliced bananas in foil for an extra s’more filling. Delicious!

9. Barbecued Apple Crisp

Apple crisp ingredients + foil + fire = heaven.

Backpacking

10. Thai Peanut Noodles

This recipe is so much more than ramen noodles and peanut butter. It’s surprisingly delicious, and it will definitely fill you up and satisfy you after a long hard day on the trails.

11. Beans + Rice with Fritos & Cheese

This is one of our favorite backpacking meals. It’s filling and comforting, and it weighs very little when dry. You have to try this one!

12. Polenta + Peppers

This is an excellent and filling veggie meal! If you want to add some meat, throw in some chunks of dry salami.

13. Cheddar Corn Chowder with Bacon

What an amazing dish! If you’re going ultralight and don’t want the heavy potato, go ahead and replace it with the dried variety – dehydrated cheesy scalloped potatoes would not be bad here!

14. Deconstructed Lasagna

If you don’t have the energy to actually cook the noodles, go ahead and get the instant ready-to-bake kind and cook everything at once. Grape tomatoes are a great trail snack, but if you don’t want to carry them, replace with the sun-dried variety and a little extra sauce.

Bonus: Want some booze? Mix up a simple no-refrigeration-needed cocktail, like a Negroni or Old Fashioned, and bring it in a flask. Pour over ice if you have some when you are ready to drink it. Your camping buddies will be forever grateful.

Featured Photo Credit: Ninth and Bird

Tags: backpacking, camping, easy vacation recipe, fire, summer recipe
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Cool Off With These Easy Ultimate Shaved Ice Recipes

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By Cooking Panda

Looking for the perfect treat to cool off with this summer? Learn how to make the perfect shaved ice!

This stuff is so much better than those red and blue snow cones that never quite had enough processed syrup in them – trust us. Oh, and you don’t need to spend a fortune making them, either. In other words, there is basically no reason why you shouldn’t make shaved ice, and make it often.

Shaved ice machines are pretty inexpensive these days – you can get one for about $10 or $20. But if you still can’t get your hands on one, don’t fear! You can make a delicious granita by adding a couple extra cups of liquid (water, juice, soda…), pouring it into a 9-by-13 inch pan and sticking it in the freezer. Every 20 minutes or so, scrape and stir the slush until it has formed tiny ice crystals and is as firm as you want it.

Want a simple and frugal syrup? Mix equal parts sugar and boiling water and one packet of your favorite flavor of Kool Aid. Once it cools, you have just about the easiest syrup ever.

Top with condensed milk, coconut cream, sour spray, li hing mui powder (salty dried plum), mocha, chocolate syrup, fruit or anything else that jumps out at you.

1. Coconut-Lime Shaved Ice

This stuff is super refreshing and incredibly easy to make. If you want, you could also use some of that frozen concentrated limeade.

2. Mocha Shaved Ice

Cocoa powder and instant coffee combine for an unexpectedly perfect shaved ice concentrate. Top with shaved chocolate, mocha, or chocolate sauce.

3. Raspberry Blueberry Snow Cones

Feel free to use any berries you have on hand for an all-natural sweet treat.

4. Cherry Cola Shaved Ice

All you need are cherries and cola to make the ultimate refreshing treat.

Basically, you can make anything that tickles your fancy into awesome shaved ice syrup. Just follow these recipes as a template and reduce your liquid in a saucepan until it is the right consistency.

Enjoy!

Photo credits: bungalowhouston/Instagram, fan.cheng_ting/Instagram, _kobaayu_/Instagram, tangiblestrategies/Instagram, Petrina Tinslay/Epicurious

Tags: dessert, shaved ice, shaved ice recipe, snow cone, summer recipe
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5 Easy Summery Recipes That Will Save You From The Heat Wave

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By Cooking Panda

It’s summer, and there’s a good chance that you’ll be coming home from work, exhausted from your day and the heat wave. But that’s not a reason to stay out of the kitchen!

If you have 30 minutes or so, you’ll be able to whip up some super easy, comforting summer recipes that’ll make you forget about the heat.

1. Orange Chicken

Sometimes you need a good ol’ comfort food to revitalize you from the summer heat. The best part? It’s super easy to make, and you don’t need to use your oven!

If you want to round out your meal, you can add pineapple chunks, kale or similar greens, or cauliflower – either saute it or treat it exactly like the chicken – battered and fried. Want a healthier sauteed version that has all the deliciousness of the original stuff? Skip the batter and use this recipe.

2. Fig and Blue Cheese Tart with Honey, Balsamic and Rosemary

It’s way too hot for the oven! Make small versions of these guys in the toaster oven, or grill them – the best part is that you’ll get a sublime flavor kick. Use this guide to avoid disaster when grilling tarts and pizzas.

3. Sake-Steamed Mandarin Fish

This white fish recipe is delicious, easy and summery, complete with refreshing tangerines. No oven needed – you can either cook in a dedicated steamer or throw it with some veggies in a steamer rack at the top of your rice cooker for a few minutes for a one-pot meal. If you don’t have a steamer, you can also wrap it in foil and grill it like so.

4. Pork Chops with Peaches and Walnuts

Cook in a cast iron skillet (or a regular skillet if you don’t have it) for a super easy 20-minute dish. You can also make this with chicken thighs or breasts – adjust the cooking time as needed to make sure it cooks all the way through.

5. Raw Mango Curry

Spiced mango curry is totally delicious and would make for a refreshing and light meal or side, served with rice and roti (Indian flatbread) or over coconut rice as a tasty dessert.

Featured Photo Credit: Mommyhood's Diary

Tags: fruit dinner, no oven, quick dinner, summer recipe, weeknight recipes
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