6 Outstandingly Tasty Slow Cooker Dinners (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

If you want to infuse ridiculous amounts of flavor into your dinners, you can marinade, braise and simmer. But let’s be honest here: Who has that kind of time on their hands on hectic weeknights? Not I!

Fortunately, there’s a little gadget that a ton of folks have in their kitchens called a slow cooker — maybe you’ve heard of it?

That little thing can save you a ridiculous amount of time. All you need to do is prep your food and dump it in the Crock Pot at the right time, and like magic you’ll have a stellar dinner waiting.

Here are some stupendously good meals you can make with your slow cooker:

1. Coconut and Green Curry Pork

If you’re in a hurry — or just feeling a little lazy — there’s no need to toast the curry paste or broil the pork, although it does intensify the flavors. If you want to cut out half of the work, you can brown the pork by quickly searing it in the same pan you’re going to use to toast the curry paste.

2. Buffalo Chicken Tater Tot Casserole

Some nights just call for tater tot casserole. With tangy, spicy buffalo sauce, who can resist? Pro tip: For a little shortcut, sub in cream of chicken or cheddar soup in place of the flour and chicken broth.

3. Brown Sugar and Roasted Garlic Pulled Pot Roast Sandwiches

Pulled pork might just be one of the best uses for a slow cooker. This recipe calls for roasted garlic, but if you’re not feeling it, you can toss the same amount of peeled garlic heads (use a few extra for good measure) into the Crock Pot when you have a couple hours left. Then just mash and mix in the softened garlic, and you’re good to go.

4. Sweet Potato Chili

If you’re craving some fall flavors, this seasonal chili is an excellent way to prepare yourself for a cool evening. Don’t have sweet potatoes? Butternut squash or pumpkin are just as tasty.

5. Chicken Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo usually takes a little bit of work. You have to cook the chicken, boil your noodles, make your cream sauce and then put everything together. But the cool thing is that you can prepare a rigatoni version of this by plunking your ingredients into your slow cooker and letting them sit for a couple hours. So easy!

6. Beef Broccoli

The nearly healthy takeout iteration is a common one that many of us spend tons of money on every month, but guess what? It’s so easy to make at home, and the Crock Pot provides an effortless way to get flavor-packed, ultra-tender meat without having to leave the house.

Featured Image: Geoff Peters/Flickr

Tags: Crock Pot dinner, easy recipe, quick fall dinner, slow cooker, weeknight dinners
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7 Fresh, Seasonal Dinners You’ll Love In July (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

“Game of Thrones” may be back on TV, but winter is still far, far away.

Whether I’m barbecuing for friends in the heat of July or just need a ridiculously quick, simple dinner to shove in my mouth before collapsing into bed, I always find myself craving the light, bright seasonal fruits and veggies that just scream summer to me.

Plus, buying seasonal produce is usually cheaper and will yield the freshest, tastiest foods.

Here are all the fruits and veggies that are in season for July, according to BuzzFeed:

Got it? Good. Now go pick up some delicious, seasonal foods and make some bomb dinners with them. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Summer Garden Fish Tacos

Fish tacos are simple to make and easy to customize, so feel free to adjust based on what you have on hand — you can bread and fry the fish, top with cabbage and a quick mango salsa or do whatever else floats your boat.

2. Farro + Beet Burgers with Chimichurri Yogurt

Even veggie burger haters may enjoy this tasty, easily veganizeable recipe. (To make it vegan, I recommend using vital wheat gluten instead of eggs to bind the patties.) The meaty texture is just right — it’s not mushy, but it’s no hockey puck, either. This is a great meal to make if you have guests over, since you can prep the patties and sauce in advance.

3. Roasted Garlic Butter Bucatini with Burst Tomatoes

This is one of the easiest dinners ever, especially if you make the quick roasted garlic butter in advance — make extra and plop a pad of that stuff onto just about anything to make it taste delicious!

4. Grilled Pizza with Fontina and Arugula

Grilled pizza? You betcha. You can top it with anything you want, just keep in mind that you’re only grilling it for a few minutes, so make sure that any meat and veggies are already cooked to your liking when you throw them atop the cheese.

5. Balsamic Grilled Cherry, Blueberry, Goat Cheese, and Candied Hazelnut Salad

This sweet salad just screams summer! If you’re really hungry, you can keep it as a side dish or top with additional protein — seared tofu, rotisserie chicken or crispy bacon would all be awesome additions.

6. Mango Lime Grilled Chicken

The sweet, tangy sauce will give you that perfect caramelization and those black grill marks that you crave. It’s absolutely perfect for your summer barbecue!

7. Scallops with Wilted Spinach and Arugula

Seared scallops make for a really easy yet classy dish that you can whip up in a few minutes and impress anyone. The earthy, peppery kick from the wilted, garlicky greens perfectly rounds out the meal, although if you have a big appetite you might want to serve this along with grilled corn or a hearty grain like quinoa or brown rice.

Featured Photo Credit: jeffreyw/Flickr

Tags: easy dinner recipes, July recipes, seasonal July food, seasonal recipes, weeknight dinners
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These 7 Easy, Healthy Dinners Are Anything But Boring (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

Eating healthy can be tough; during the week, you just want something easy to eat, but you know you should take good care of yourself. The problem is, you’ve already had chicken and veggies four times in the last couple of days, and you’re beyond tired of your go-to salmon and rice bowls.

Don’t worry! There are so many balanced, wholesome dinners you can whip up without putting too much effort into it. These recipes don’t have any specific diets in mind, so feel free to adapt as necessary to fit your protein-carb-fat preferences.

1. Soba Noodle Salad with Caramelized Chicken and Chili Oil

Want something fresh? This crunchy, tart, sweet and salty “salad” is delightful hot or cold (and topped with avocado, if you’re in the mood), so make sure to save some leftovers for lunch.

2. Easy Burrito Bowls

With black beans and avocado, this dish is pretty filling as is, but if you want to add more fixings, you can dump some tequila lime chicken (recipe here) or tofu (recipe here), cubed roasted sweet potatoes, sauteed bell peppers, onions, cheese or anything else that goes well in a burrito. If you want to make things even healthier, you can use your favorite whole grain like brown rice or quinoa, and you can swap out the sour cream for plain yogurt. 

3. Slow Cooker Eggplant Parm

You’ll be surprised at how amazing eggplant parm is, even without the frying. Bonus: This recipe only takes 10 minutes to prep!

4. Whole Wheat Tortilla Pizzas with Arugula + Prosciutto

You totally don’t need to sacrifice your cravings if you are looking to eat healthy but are also in the mood for pizza. Grab your favorite whole wheat tortilla and get moving. We love keeping it simple with salty, savory prosciutto and bright, pepper arugula, but you’re more than welcome to top with whatever you want.

5. Indian Turkey Meatballs Over Rice

Easy, flavorful and delicious! Want to up the nutrition of this meal? Toss a handful of fresh spinach into the meatball + sauce mixture a few minutes before you are done simmering.

6. Pistachio Pesto Chicken with Whole Wheat Spaghetti

Sear the chicken properly, so that it gets a little crispy on the outside — or even just grab scraps from a rotisserie chicken and smother it with pesto. We adore this pistachio version, though this dish would also be delicious with any variety, even jarred pesto.

7. Rainbow Spring Rolls with Ginger Peanut Sauce

These bright, light, crunchy spring rolls are the perfect light lunch or dinner. We are hooked on the fresh mango chunks in here — just keep in mind that the fruit’s acidity might eat through the rice paper if you leave it long enough, so leave it on the side if you’re bringing these rolls for lunch.

Featured Photo Credit: Emilie/The Clever Carrot

Tags: easy dinner recipes, exciting healthy recipes, healthy dinner recipes, healthy recipes, weeknight dinners
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7 Recipes That Prove You Can Eat Avocado For Every Meal

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By Cooking Panda

Avocados!!! Seriously, what tastes better than a nice, creamy dreamy green slice of your favorite “fruit”? Not much, right? Not only are avocados healthy, but they also make just about everything taste better. If you don’t do dairy, or you’re cutting back, no problem! Just substitute that cheese or cream for the green stuff, and you’re good to go. Here are some of our favorite avocado-y dinners:

1. Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Peas, Avocado & Lemon Basil Dressing

This is super healthy and would be delicious as a side or main course. Pro-tip: make a big batch of the dressing in advance and keep it in the fridge for salads, marinades and whatever else. Oh, and cook your well-rinsed quinoa in broth. Always in broth.

2. Chicken Avocado Burgers

This is a particularly awesome way to eat a fairly healthy burger if you are cutting down on cheese but want a reasonably nutritious burger that doesn’t taste like cardboard. Of course, you can load it the heck up with gooey cheese, corn salsa and maybe even some crispy onions if you want.

3. Deep Fried Guacamole

Avocado certainly doesn’t have to be healthy! If you want something a little different and totally shameless, go ahead and mix up your favorite spicy guac and deep fry the whole thing! Bonus: Nov. 14 is National Spicy Guacamole Day, and we think it’s the perfect excuse to eat these heavenly appetizers for dinner.

4. Charred Corn and Avocado Pizza

If you’ve never had avocado on pizza, now is the time to start! You’ll just adore the extra creamy richness it adds, that goes so perfectly with the sweet, charred corn, salty cheese and hot sauce. Give it a try!

5. Stovetop Avocado Mac and Cheese

Can’t get enough avocado? Try loading up your mac and cheese with it and mix it with some pepper jack, white cheddar or your favorite other kind of cheese. You can use something orange like cheddar, but the color won’t be as cute. It’ll still taste delicious though!

6. Tuna Poke Bowl with Avocado

If you love the poke trend, you’ll be delighted to know that you can pretty easily replicate your favorite sushi bowl at home. You can totally swap around your favorite ingredients. For example, feel free to use imitation crab and/or tomato tuna if you can’t access or don’t want to eat fresh raw fish.

7. Avocado Margarita

In case you need something green to accompany your main course, try blending a little avocado into your margarita. It might sound a little weird, but we think you’ll like the richness of this savory dessert of a cocktail.

Featured Photo Credit: Two Peas and Their Pod

Tags: avocado recipe, fried guacamole, guacamole recipe, National Spicy Guacamole Day, weeknight dinners
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9 Classic And Crazy Tacos To Make For National Taco Day

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By Cooking Panda

Stop stressing over what you are going to make for dinner tonight and go get some darn tortillas. It’s National Taco Day AND Taco Tuesday, so it is written in the stars that you must shove some delicious fillings into a tortilla and promptly devour it.

We have everything you could want here when it comes to taco recipes, from addicting classics to mouthwatering fried vegan tacos to straight up delicious abominations. Try them all!

1. Grilled Steak Tacos

Flat iron steak is a great affordable alternative to flank steak, though you can use either one, or really any other cut if you want. The orange juice-chipotle marinade tastes great and will really impress a large crowd!

2. Tacos de Pollo

Easy tender shredded chicken in savory, spicy sauce. How can we pass that up?

3. Tacos Al Pastor

Technically, al pastor is supposed to be shaved off a spit, but no one has time for that, pretty much ever. Here’s a much easier option that will still give your slightly spicy, savory meat beautiful flavors and textures that go perfectly with everybody’s favorite grilled pineapple.

4. Breakfast Tacos with Chorizo, Egg and Potato

Whether you’re in a breakfast mood or just accidentally bought WAY too many eggs (does this really happen, ever?) put them to good use here for an easy and delicious brinner.

5. BBQ Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos with Creamy Lime Slaw (Vegan)

Pro-tip: Cut down on time with store-bought slaw mix, and then whip up the dressing by hand. You can also double or even triple the BBQ rub and keep it around for the next time you want it.

6. Fried Cactus Tacos with Avocado Cream Sauce (Vegan)

If you love nopales, this recipe is for you. If you don’t love cactus or have never tried it, you’ll still probably devour this crunchy creamy dish, because it’s just that delicious.

7. Pastrami Tacos

Are you ready for something a little weird? Fry up some blue corn tortilla shells (or whatever you want) and cram them full of peppery pastrami, tangy sauerkraut, classic yellow mustard and spicy pickled jalapenos. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!

8. Pizza Tacos

Call these what you want — a tasty taco perversion, if you will. It is worth stuffing tortillas (we’d probably use crispy taco shells, personally, since the authenticity ship sailed long ago) with a savory pizza filling, complete with sweet Italian sausage, spicy pepperoni, savory mushrooms, creamy mozzarella and classic pizza sauce. Just give it a try. We won’t tell anyone.

9. Bacon Weave Choco Taco

Ready for some dessert? Why not stuff a bacon weave with your favorite ice cream and top with chocolate? You’ll love the savory-sweet indulgence. Get these started before you make dinner, since they need to chill for a while.

Featured Photo Credit: She Likes Food

Tags: fusion tacos, National Taco Day, Taco Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, weeknight dinners
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7 Hearty One-Dish Recipes That Are As Easy As They Come

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By Cooking Panda

It’s just about fall, and regardless of how you feel about it, we suspect that your food wishes are similar to ours — you want filling, hearty meals, but you don’t want to put in the work. We got you! Here are some of our favorite fall recipes that only use one pot or pan — you can thank us later.

1. One Pot Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Pasta

Add your favorite protein and/or vegetables. Want more ideas for the wonder that is one pot pasta? Check this out.

2. Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili

With easy canned pumpkin puree, flavorful Italian sausage and a ton of beans and vegetables, you’ll love this easy but healthy Crock Pot meal.

3. One Sheet Pan Roasted Garlic-Parmesan Chicken Tenders and Green Beans with Fresh Grape Tomatoes

This would be tasty with fish as well, though you’ll want to keep an eye on it, as cooking times will vary.

4. One Pan Healthier Chicken and Zucchini Noodle Casserole

Craving casserole? Update that chicken noodle one you had 50x a week when you were a kid and turn it into something a little more edible.

5. 30 Minute Butternut Squash and Cider Soup

Who can resist creamy, rich butternut squash soup? It is sweet, savory and seasonal, and it somehow manages to be hearty and light all at the same time. But it can be a big pain to make. So skip all that nonsense, buy the pre-cubed stuff if you can, and make this super easy and very healthy but rich soup.

6. Everybody’s Favorite Strawberry Bacon Salad

Hang on to those last remnants of summer and make this flavorful, fruity, satisfying salad. Bonus: trick yourself into eating greens by loading them with bacon, strawberries, nuts and blue cheese (or feta, gorgonzola, goat cheese…whatever you prefer!)

7. Lamb Tagine with Couscous

Couscous is awesome because it cooks up in a flash, meaning that you can go ahead and throw it your pot towards the end of cooking your marinated lamb. Delicious and simple!

Featured Photo Credit: Half Baked Harvest

Tags: easy dinner recipes, fall dinners, one pot meals, one pot pasta, weeknight dinners
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