Crock Pot Mushroom-Spinach Soup with Middle Eastern Spices

Crock Pot Mushroom-Spinach Soup with Middle Eastern SpicesSo it’s Saturday and I’ve got a date with this really fungi… haha, get it?! I’m making a mushroom soup!

This version is an adaption of a recipe from the New York Times, it is not my original creation. But I saw the recipe online and thought… this looks delicious, but has WAY TOO MANY steps. Let’s make it easy and throw it all in the crock pot instead. And guess what. Yup. It works just perfectly without the extra hassle and dirty dishes.

There are so many wonderful varieties of mushrooms, you can change up the the recipe a million different times for different texture and flavor results. Play around with it. I have increased the quantity of seasonings after reading reviews saying that it needed a little more umphh. I don’t think that’s a technical culinary term, but neither is WOW or YUM and those are the things I’m going for here! I’ve added links for you to my favorite brand of seasonings, just in case you don’t already have these items on hand.

Try this soup with a dollop of plain greek yogurt and some naan or pita bread. Enjoy!


Crock Pot Mushroom-Spinach Soup with Middle Eastern Spices

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 7 hours

Serves: 8 people

~1-1.5 lbs fresh mushrooms- cleaned and diced=about 5-6 cups

(try button, cremini, portobello, Baby Bella, etc)

1/4 lb shallot (one) finely diced

2 T. tomato paste

3 T. salted butter

2 t. dried thyme

1 1/2 t. coriander

2 t. cinnamon

2 t. cumin

1 t. salt

1/2 t. freshly cracked black pepper

5 cups water

5 ounces fresh baby spinach

1 lime

plain greek yogurt (optional)

Dice mushrooms and shallots and stir together in crock pot. Add seasonings, tomato paste, and butter. Pour water in, but do not stir. Cook on low for 6 hours- you may lift the lid and give it a stir after the butter appears to be completely melted.

After 6 hours, add the spinach and squeeze about 2 T. of fresh lime juice into the crock pot, give it all a stir, and heat on low for up to one more hour… or until spinach is wilted. Serve with a dollop of plain greek yogurt.


Crock Pot Baked Apples

These baked apples will make you think very naughty thoughts.

These baked apples will make you think very naughty thoughts.

Looking for something easy? This one is fabulous! Hot and sultry and moist. (Why do those three words sounds so naughty together?!?!) It’s a baked apple, people. Calm down.

No need for a grand story or explanation. Baked apples are a great choice because the fruit is easy to find and consistent in taste all year round. I made this batch with opal apples— they are sort of the color of a golden delicious with the texture of a gala. But they cooked up really nicely and held their shape. You can try it with green apples for a more tart finish, macintosh for a sweet crisp taste or any other variety that you want to experiment with for dessert.

Crock Pot Baked Apples

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 4 hours

Serves 6


6 apples

3/4 c. golden raisins

3/4 c. dried pineapple chunks (this brand is allergen-free, too!!)

1/2 c. steel cut oats

3 T. brown sugar

1 T. white sugar

1 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t. ground allspice

1/4 t. white pepper grounds

1/2 c. water


  1. Wash and core the apple; core it twice to make a big enough opening for filling
  2. Mix all of the dried fruit and dry filling ingredients together in a separate bowl.
  3. Stand all of the apples up in the crock pot (oval or casserole sized works best).
  4. Carefully fill all of the apples with the filling. Press the filling down into each open core and let the filling mound on top, too.
  5. Pour the water into the crock pot around— not on— the apples.
  6. Cook on low for 4 hours. Serve with vanilla greek yogurt or ice cream. Crock Pot Dulce de Leche is also an excellent topping!

Crock Pot Pumpkin Pie Applesauce

Pumpkins are not just for fall, make squash of all varieties part of your diet all year round!

Pumpkins are not just for fall, make squash of all varieties part of your diet all year round!

Okay fans, it’s April and I’m pretty sure we are all just a bit intimidated by summer swimsuit season being just around the corner. But just in case you’re still holding onto those ideals of a perfect bikini body– or at least an ounce of confidence when you are poolside sipping on an adult beverage and reading a trashy magazine– I’m offering up this recipe.

I’ve had requests for more crockpot desserts and this one is a healthy, low-calorie version of a cross between pumpkin pie and apple pie. It will delight your sweet tooth just like two slices of pie, but to your diet– it’s two servings of fruit instead.

I suggest serving this dish warm with a hearty scoop of salted caramel ice cream or with honey vanilla greek yogurt.

Crock Pot Pumpkin Pie Applesauce

serves 8-12

8 apples, peeled, cored and cubed

1/2 c. Orange juice

1 t. Cinnamon

1/2 t. Nutmeg

1/2 t. Allspice

1/4 c. Maple syrup

15 oz. can pumpkin purée

Add all ingredients to crock pot, stir and cook on high for 3-4 hours.

Crock Pot Spicy Applesauce

Ok fans, let me put it this way…. my dad dubbed this “ass-kickin’ applesauce” and he’s a respectable man. It’s spicy and tangy and might tingle your tongue a little (especially if you use the full 1/2 t. of cayenne pepper); but this dish is also flavorful in ways that normal applesauce or apple butter just does not compare.

Here are my top three FAVORITE ways to enjoy this spicy applesauce:

Thanksgiving– leftover turkey sandwich on wheat bread– use this applesauce instead of mayonnaise to rock your taste buds to a happy holiday tune.

Chanukah– one potato latke+ one tablespoon cold sour cream + one scoop spicy applesauce= a celebration in your mouth.

Dessert– serve this spicy applesauce warm on top of a scoop of french vanilla ice cream for a hot and sweet treat.

I definitely recommend adding this to your holiday table over the next few weeks. Enjoy and happy holidays!

8 medium apples (any red, crisp variety) peeled, cored and cut into chunks

1/2 c. rum

1 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. black pepper

1/4 t. (OR UP TO 1/2 t.)  cayenne pepper

1 can jellied cranberry sauce

Put apples in first, then seasonings, then rum. Stir well. Cook on high 3-4 hours. Add cranberry sauce and then use a hand blender to puree the applesauce. Cook on low one more hour.  Enjoy as a side or as a spread or topping.

Crock Pot Escalloped Apples

This recipe is the direct result of two completely different factors=

1. we’ve been getting great fall apples and need to use some up, especially the ones with bruises  

2. it’s almost the holiday season and I’m trying to find lower calories, but equally delicious dishes to serve up as dessert

This recipe is best served warm with a scoop of either vanilla ice cream or just a dollop of whipped cream. It tastes like the inside of a warm apple pie, but barely has more calories that a cup of applesauce. It’s soothing and comforting to the whole body and there is no reason to save this dish for dessert— try it for breakfast with your oatmeal, as a side to lunch or dinner or as a snack at any point of the day!

Unlike applesauce, this dish should be made with large chunks of apples. As they cook down, the apples might fall apart a little bit, but that will help the juices flow. Do not overcook this recipe or you will wind up with apple butter.

8 medium apples, peeled and cored and cut into large chunks

2 T. salted butter

1/2 c. brown sugar

1 t. cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

1/2 t. black pepper

1 T. vanilla extract

1/4 c. cold water

1 t. corn starch

Put apples in the crock pot first, then sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper and drizzle with vanilla. Put butter on top of mixture, it will melt as it heats. Cook on low for 4 hours or until apples are softened, but still firm. Dissolve corn starch in water and then pour over apple mixture and stir. Turn crock pot off and let sauce thicken until it gets syrupy and easily coats the apple chunks.  Serve warm. 

(Makes 8 servings)

Crock Pot Noodle Kugel

This is one of my favorite foods from my experience with Jewish holidays. This casserole is sweet and dense with a wonderful warmth of cinnamon and vanilla. The noodles are soft and bound with the creamy egg filling.  But my favorite taste is the plump raisins that swell with flavor and are a great contrast to the texture of the noodles.

 I’ve made this dish many times in the oven, so it seemed like an easy transition to do it in the crock pot. Plus, it was so much easier to serve this dish hot as a buffet item when guests could just scoop it up still steaming. Plus– no one had to be embarrassed to have seconds when they could just go back to the crock pot for more!

1 lb. yolk-free broad egg noodles, cooked

5 eggs, beaten

16 oz. sour cream

16 oz. cottage cheese

1/2 c. sugar

1 t. cinnamon

1 T. vanilla

1 c. raisins

1 c. Special K cereal (crushed)

2 T. butter, melted

Mix all ingredients except noodles in crock pot until smooth. Fold noodles into mixture gently. Mix crushed cereal and melted butter in a separate bowl and then flake on top of casserole mixture. Cook on low for 4 hours. For last 15 minutes, position lid sideways so that air can escape during final moments of cooking.

Crock Pot Peach Cobbler

The only thing better than a local farmer’s market is a neighbor with an amazing garden and fruit trees. I had the pleasure of pillaging the peach trees yesterday and came home with about two dozen little peaches, ripe and ready to be enjoyed. They were sweet and juicy, broke easily off the pit and cooked down perfectly into my peach cobbler.  I’m not sure what makes me happier– the warm cobbler with it’s sticky sweetness stuck to my spoon… or the fact that I can walk next door, fill my basket and make another pot full tomorrow.

I like the keep the flavor of my cobbler simple. The peaches are already so sweet, I really just want to be able to cook them down a little. And I like the oatmeal topping, it makes me think of a cookie up on top.  This recipe definitely craves a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, but it’s also really good with some vanilla yogurt or just a little half and half… or nothing at all. It’s really good that way, too. Enjoy!

(You’ll see in the recipe directions that I use the crock pot in an unconventional way. I cook the dessert on low, half uncovered, for the last hour. This helps the peach portion thicken up and the crumbly top crisp a little bit.)

4 lbs peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced

1/4 c. brown sugar, not packed

1 t. cinnamon

1 t. vanilla

cobbler topping:

2 c. old-fashioned oatmeal

1/2 c. brown sugar, not packed

1/2 t. cinnamon

1/4 t. salt

1 stick butter, melted

Put the first four ingredients in the crock pot and stir together. In a separate bowl, pour in the oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir, then slowly pour in the melted butter and continue stirring. Then, pour the crumbly mixture on top of the peach mixture already in the pot. Cook on high for 2 hours. Remove lid and turn it so that steam can easily escape and cook on low (half covered) for one more hour. Serve warm.

Crock Pot Cincinnati Chili

If you are unfamiliar with Cincinnati chili, let me explain to you how this is different from what you might think. This is more like a spaghetti sauce, than a stew. It usually has some combination of allspice, cinnamon and sometimes cocoa powder in it. There are no beans cooked in this pot and it is not meant to be consumed by itself. It is however, an amazing topper for hot dogs, spaghetti, french fries or even in a tortilla! When you eat this, there are different ways of presenting it– five in fact! Two-way would be spaghetti and chili, three-way adds finely shredded cheddar cheese, four-way diced onions and five-way would be all of the above plus some dark red kidney beans. Crazy enough– you can also top it with oyster crackers and hot sauce, if you so choose.

Skyline and Gold Star are probably the most common brands of Cincinnati Chili and you can get it at the fast-food restaurants or in cans at the grocery store.  But since I don’t live in the Great Lakes area anymore, I make my own crock pot Cincinnati chili using my best friend’s mom’s recipe. Yes, it’s three degrees of separation, but it’s still so good! So to “K” and “R”— thank you for sharing your recipe with me, it’s better than the original!!

1.5 lbs. ground beef

1 29 oz. can tomato sauce

1 14.5 oz can peeled whole tomatoes

1 onion, diced

1/2 t. allspice

1/2 t. cinnamon

1 t. salt

1/2 t. black pepper

1 1/2 t. chili powder

1 t. white vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

3 bay leaves

Brown meat in a pan, then add to crock pot. Add all ingredients and stir well. Cook on high 4-5 hours. Smash peeled tomatoes while still in the crock pot. Remove bay leaves before serving. See notes above for different ways of enjoying your Cincinnati chili, including on a hot dog, on french fries, in a tortilla, or most commonly on spaghetti and topped with finely shredded cheddar cheese.

Crock Pot Apple Brown Betty

 Your crock pot isn’t just for cooking main dishes, I’m on a kick cooking desserts too! If you are a fan of baked apples or even just apple sauce, you’ll love this take on what I call “apple brown betty”. If you look up the meaning, it’s still unclear who this “betty” is and why her apples were so brown. Most sources date the dish back to colonial times and confirm that the dessert is truly as American as… well, apple pie. 

The flavor and composition of my apple brown betty is similar to a cobbler, so if you’d like to try this with peaches, berries or any combination of fresh fruit, give it a try and please post a comment and let us all know how it turns out. Enjoy!

6-8 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 T. vanilla

1 t. cinnamon

1/4 t. nutmeg

For the crumbles–

2 cups of granola

1/2 c. sugar

1 t. cinnamon

2 t. melted butter

Put apples in crock pot first and then rest of filling ingredients. Toss together so that the apples get coated. Then, in a separate bowl, mix together crumbles ingredients and then pour on top of apples, but do not mix. Cook on low for 3 hours. Serve a scoop of dessert with a scoop of ice cream– the warm sweetness and the cold creaminess are a delightful combination.

Crock Pot Carrot Cake

I would like to begin this post with an argument. The title of carrot cake is really a misnomer. This shouldn’t be considered a dessert. It is based foremost on a VEGETABLE for goodness sake! It is a carbohydrate next and then a treat after that. It is vegetarian, kosher, can be low fat and I’d almost put the gold sticker of “healthy” on it!

Based on these clear and evident facts, I would like to share with you my recipe for crock pot carrot cake. Serve it for breakfast, after lunch, for an afternoon or evening snack or just about any point of the day. Chalk it up as doing a good deed for yourself. And trust me, this tastes soooo much better than drinking v8!

1 c. flour

1 c. oatmeal

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. applesauce

2 t. potato starch

1/4 c. apple juice

1/4 c. vegetable oil

1 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

1 t. cinnamon

1 c. grated carrots

1 t. vanilla

1/2 c. raisins

1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a separate mixing bowl by hand. Coat a loaf pan with non-stick spray and then pour batter in. Place entire loaf pan in crock pot (use oval shaped crock pot to make it fit). Cook on high until center of cake is no longer jiggly– about 2-2.5 hours. Let cool and then shmear with whipped cream cheese or cream cheese frosting.