Crock Pot Vegetarian Beef Stir Fry

Feed the meat-eaters in your family something new and tasty!

Feed the meat-eaters in your family something new and tasty!

Ever wonder how to feed vegetarians but still make something that your family will eat?  My boys are meat-eaters.  I praise them for their love of fruits and veggies, too, but without meat, they would not survive. We are not a quinoa-black bean-lentil-tofu-kale-any other alternate to real protein eating crew. We’re just not. I don’t care how you make it, if it doesn’t look like meat, my boys won’t touch it.

Crock Pot Vegetarian Beef Stir Fry itemsBut, wait! What is this?! Beefless tips?! I was amused, possibly bewildered, and very intrigued. Let’s try it in the crock pot! From what I could tell from the package, the end result would be very similar in consistency to meat. Since it didn’t actually need to be cooked through, this product worked great without taking a lot of time (DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Gardein Company, I just liked this product and wanted to share it with you.)

If this coming weekend is bringing guests of all shapes and sizes, and maybe even weird dietary restrictions or preferences, try this vegetarian dish and see if it’s a crowd-pleaser for you, too!


Crock Pot Vegetarian Beef Stir Fry

Serves 6 people

4 cups kale, washed, stalks removed

8 oz sliced baby portabello mushrooms

1 bag Gardein Homestyle Beefless Tips

6 oz. can sliced water chestnuts

1/2 c. Soy Vey Veri Veri Teriyaki Sauce

Layer all of the ingredients in the order listed in the recipe. Hit start. It's just that easy!

Layer all of the ingredients in the order listed in the recipe. Hit start. It’s just that easy!

Put all ingredients in crock pot in order and then pour Teriyaki sauce over everything. Cook on low for 3-4 hours. Serve over brown rice.

Crock Pot Thai Chicken Wraps

Tonight is open house at my son’s school and the timing  makes dinner as a family tough. So, it is going to be date night instead— but eating out is expensive, so I’ll feed the kids early and then us parents can eat when we get home (and the kids are sleeping!). But since I’m not sure what time we’ll get home from the school, I’m going to start the crock pot late this afternoon so that dinner is ready when we get back.

One of my favorite appetizers is those amazing sauced up thai chicken wraps that you can get at fancy Asian-inspired restaurants. The unfortunate part is that the lettuce is totally an illusion making you think this is a healthy choice. The typical sauce is usually full of really salty, sugary, high calorie ingredients that I totally don’t want to indulge in tonight. So I’ve come up with a healthier way to enjoy this treat, using the crock pot to get the most out of all the flavors and then whipping up a quick sauce in a pan to coat the whole mixture.

Most restaurants serve this dish with iceberg lettuce because it is crisp, but you can also use leaves of romaine lettuce or even tortillas. I hope you get to enjoy this at your next date night at home, too!

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

6 oz. mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves garlic

1 8.75 oz. can water chestnuts, chopped

2 10 oz. cans white chicken in water


1/2 c. peanut butter

1/4 c. soy sauce

1/4 c. water

3 T.  rice wine vinegar

2 packets of Splenda

Put all filling ingredients in the crock pot and cook on low for four hours. In a saucepan, cook all sauce ingredients over medium heat (yes, on the stove), until it reaches a smooth consistency. If it is too thick, add 1/4 c. water and continue stirring. Pour the sauce into the crock pot and stir the mixture well. Serve with chilled lettuce leaves.

Crock Pot Tuna Casserole

OK, so this one might seem a little like “school lunch”, but I like the combination of creamy noodles and easy protein. Anytime I make this in the oven, I always wind up burning the edges. When I make it in the crock pot, it keeps the meal warm and creamy and doesn’t get crispy crusts.  (Although, if the crispy crusts are your favorite part, feel free to use this recipe and just shove it in the oven for an hour instead.)

One of the things that is really unique about my tuna casserole is that I used diced water chestnuts. I like the surprise burst of these moist, crunchy morsels. They keep to the neutral color of the dish and add a little bit of jazz that is pleasing to the palate.  I also suggest using tuna from a foil packet, not from a can. The canned fish is great for tuna salad, but I like that the foiled fish has better texture and bigger chunks.  If you are not a fan of peas, you can try any frozen vegetable– corn, green beans and mixed veggies are good ones to try, too.

One last big difference in my version is that most tuna casseroles call for cheddar cheese and mine adds something extra. While I think melted cheddar cheese adds to the creaminess, I think including something like feta actually gives the whole dish more flavor and an overall better success. With these modifications, we are taking “school lunch” into the adult world. You could serve this to family or friends on real plates.

The only thing that could be better than this tuna casserole would be if the school lunch ladies could be here to serve and clean everything up. Enjoy!

1 lb. broad egg noodles, cooked and drained

1 6 oz. foil packet of albacore tuna

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 c. milk

8 oz. frozen peas

1 8 oz. can of diced water chestnuts, drained

1 c. crumbled feta cheese

1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 t. salt

1.2 t. black pepper

1 T. parsley

1/2 t. celery seed

1/4 t. ground mustard

Cook noodles according to directions on package. Combine all ingredients in crock pot and stir until well mixed. Warm on low for 2-3 hours.

Crock Pot Roasted Chicken (and curried chicken salad)

It’s Friday! I work hard all week waiting for today. Tonight we get to start our weekend. I can’t think of a better way to welcome the weekly 2-day vacation than to have a family meal together at home.  To make it more special, we are having guests this evening as well. Ok crock pot, it’s time to do your thing and make dinner tonight taste like it was hard to make (but really it’s only noon o’clock and it’s already done).

The most challenging part of this recipe is making sure that your meat will fit in the crock pot. If you have a round and more vertical design of a crock pot, you might have to use a cornish hen instead of a chicken if you want it to fit! This recipe really works best in a 5-6 qt. crockpot that is oval shaped. I just thought you should know this before you start trying to shove everything in and then being disappointed when it doesn’t fit.  (check out my next post about buying a new crock pot!)

If you have leftover chicken after tonight, I’d recommend making curried chicken salad tomorrow. Add a stalk of fresh, chopped celery (not a cooked one from the pot), add a small can of diced water chestnuts, 1/2 c. quartered red grapes and then enough mayo to make it a good consistency. Then, add curry powder, a little salt and pepper— I can’t tell you how much because I don’t know how much chicken you have left, but remember that curry powder becomes more potent after it gets a chance to fester. Make this salad up and then put it in the fridge for a couple hours– when it turns a darker copper color (from the curry), it’s ready to eat!

Well there you go, I guess it’s a two recipe day. You have one for today and one for tomorrow! 

Now for to the roasted chicken recipe:

1 3-4 lb. fresh chicken, thawed, rinsed and patted dry

2 T. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

8 oz. baby carrots

3 stalks celery, cut into 2 inch chunks

1/2 med. onion, cut into chunks

dash of paprika

salt and pepper

If you have a trivet that fits in your crock pot, I’d recommend using it. It keeps your chicken just elevated from sitting in it’s own juices and makes it MUCH easier to pull the chicken out when it is done (which makes for a nicer presentation too).  Place chicken in pot– to know it’s on the correct side, you should see the smooth skin covering the chicken breasts.  Brush the skin with the olive oil and sprinkle with the chopped garlic. Position the carrots, celery and onions around the bird. Sprinkle all contents with paprika, salt and pepper. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, depending on bird size.

Crock Pot Green Bean Casserole

It doesn’t have to be Thanksgiving to enjoy a side dish that can be a year round favorite.  I like to go to restaurants and just order an array of side dishes as my meal— green bean casserole, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and scalloped apples are some of my favorites. Let’s be honest, it’s a good thing Cracker Barrel doesn’t have a buffet.

Side dishes can be dangerous though. All these creamy, cheesy, salty tastes can be brief in moments, but high in fat and calories. This crockpot version of green been cassarole saves some calories by using fresh onions instead of fried ones and also adds water chestnuts for the crunchy texture.

Try this crockpot cassarole with any of your favorite meals. And if you eat it as a main course… I’m ok with that too.

1 28 oz. can green beans

1 can diced water chestnuts

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1/2 c. milk

1 t. soy sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 medium onion, sliced thin

1/2 t. pepper

Mix together soup, milk  and soy sauce. Put green beans, water chestnuts and onion in crockpot and then dump liquid mixture and mix through once. Don’t overmix it or else the canned green beans will fall apart. Cook 4 hours on low.