Slow Cooker Sunday: My Top 5

slowcookingAs always, I’ve  been slow cooking this week.  But, it’s been one of those weeks, I’ve been so busy I don’t know if I’m coming or going and to be honest I’m starting to drop a few balls.

Nothing this week really stood out to blog about so I thought I would dig through the archive and share a few of my more popular recipes.  Weirdly, my most popular recipe is still the first Slow Cooker Recipe I ever posted ‘Green Thai Chicken Curry’ back in August 2010.

My top 5

Thai Green Chicken Curry – one of the most visited pages on my blog and if you want to have a go at your own paste check out the recipe on Just Annie QPR

Easy Slow Cooker Lamb Curry – yes it involves jars but it’s still worthy, but as a busy mum I’m always up for a cheat.

Abruzzi Lamb – perfect for a dinner party, I’ve served it time and time again and always gets rave reviews.

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Curry – for my veggie friends!

Pesto Salmon Bake – find me a kid that doesn’t love salmon.  Plus a bit of wine for mummy!

Now it’s your time to share.  There is a linky below;  recipes can be old or new and it doesn’t have to be your own recipe, just one that you know and love and have a website address.  Alternatively, you can email recipes to me or leave your recipes in the comment section.

And if you need extra inspiration, don’t forget to check out our Pinterest Board, with over a hundred recipes.

Google+ fans, we also have a Community ‘All Things Slow Cooking’ feel free to join in.

Slow Cooker Sunday: Special Edition – Food Styling with Ren Behan

I find it very difficult to make brown gloop look appetizing!  The lovely Ren Behan, a friend and local food blogger, kindly invited me around her house for a session on Food Styling.  I had no idea there was actually such a thing.  Apparently, there are people who do this for a living!  They travel around to different food shoots with a van full of props.  I’ve still got a long way to go but I learned a few things.

Tips for Food Bloggers

  1. Get a decent camera!  Everyone had digital SLRs and there was me with my iPhone.  I got a bit lost when they started talking decimal points and aperture.  However, after the session I came home and found a couple of apps that can help make your photos look like they were taken with an SLR camera.  The first which I’ve been using for awhile is Camera Plus and the new one I down loaded is called Afterfocus.  It allows you to choose the area you would like to focus on then blur the background also known as Bokeh.
  2. Natural light is a must.  This is difficult as we often eat late and it being winter in the UK there isn’t a lot of natural light.  The trick is to set aside a portion and take a photo in the morning.
  3. When presenting food, apparently, less is more.  I’ve had a bad habit of taking photos of it in the slow cooker, which didn’t result in appetizing photos.
  4. Props!  Don’t go out and buy 6 full dinner sets but buy the odd plate, bowls, and cutlery.  Charity shops and places like Matalan are brilliant for this.  Also, start collecting pieces of fabric that you can use to add interest/colour to your photos.
  5. Get a collection of wooden boards.  Look for offcuts at your local DIY store.
  6. When presenting food use odd numbers.  (E.g.  1, 3, 5, 7)

I’ve only been applying these tricks for a week but I’ve already seen a big improvement in the quality of my photos.

Thanks Ren

Now it’s your turn to share your Slow Cooker recipes using the Linky below.  We’re also on Pinterest if you want to see the recipes from past weeks.  The hashtag for Instagram and Twitter is #scsunday

Slow Cooker Sunday: ORANGE & LEMON-BRAISED LAMB SHANKS (Guest Post)

This week I have a special treat for you, someone who can really cook.  It’s none other than Keith, from Reluctant Housedad famous for his Thrice-Cooked Chips.  I only cook mine once and they come out of a bag.   I had to rein him in a bit as he has a penchant for things that takes days to cook (e.g Heston’s three-day ultimate bolognese).  I’m all up for slow cooking but really not that organised. :-)



As we all know, lamb goes great with strong flavours such as Garlic, Rosemary and Anchovies, but I like to add a little zing to this delicious comfort food dish. The long, slow cooking in the orange and lemon stock permeates the meat, making it aromatic, fresh and light. Don’t cook it for too long: you’re after a firm texture for the meat, which you can break part into its individual muscle lobes once it has cooled, ready for finishing, bathed in its own gravy.

Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks

Serves 2

For the lamb

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 lamb shanks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 300ml white wine
  • 500ml chicken stock (from a good quality cube is fine)
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon

To finish:

  • 1 tsp cornflour dissolved in a little water
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon

 For the butternut squash

  • 1 butternut squash, seeds removed, skin on, chopped into chunks
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  •  3-4 small dried chillies
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes or rock salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For the cavalo nero

  • 8 big leaves, stalks trimmed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Knob of butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


1. Add the sunflower oil to a large frying pan and brown the lamb shanks all over, approx. 6-8 mins.

2. Add the browned lamb and the rest of the ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours until the lamb meat is very tender and almost, but not quite, falling off the bone.

3. Remove the lamb from the stock and transfer to a plate. Leave to cool.

4. Drain the stock into a pan through a sieve. Put the pan on the hob on a high heat and reduce by half. Leave to cool, then transfer to a jar and put in the fridge. This will allow the excess fat to rise to the top and solidify, which you can then remove. Once the fat has been removed, transfer the stock to a saucepan.

5. Using your hands, break the lamb meat away from the bone, along the lines of the meat’s natural lobes. Trim of any fat and sinew, then add the lamb meat to the saucepan of citrus stock.

6. Meanwhile, in a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar, grind the cinnamon, chillies and salt. Toss the butternut squash chunks with this spice mixture and the oilive oil. Cook in the oven preheated to 180C/Gas 4 for 35-40 mins, until the squash is tender.

7. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and butter and add the cavalo nero. Cook for 5-7 mins, stirring, until the cabbage turns slightly crisp.

8. Meanwhile, bring the pan of lamb and citrus stock to the boil and add the dissolved cornflour to thicken the sauce.

9. Serve the lamb and its gravy at the centre of the plate, surrounded by the squash and cavalo nero. Garnish with finely chopped orange and lemon zest.


A huge THANK YOU to Keith, it looks amazing.

Contribute to Slow Cooker Sunday

Now it’s your turn to join in by either adding a link below or by leaving your recipe in the comments section.  Don’t worry it doesn’t have to be as fancy as Keith’s.

Don’t forget #scsunday is also on Instagram and we now have a dedicated board on Pinterest with all the featured recipes.

Slow Cooker Sunday: Converting Conventional Recipes to use in a Slow Cooker

Prior to having a Slow Cooker I really wasn’t confident in the kitchen.  Whenever I cooked it was like a meticulous science experiment, following recipes word for word and if I didn’t have an ingredient all hell would break loose as I wouldn’t know what to use instead.

However, the more and more I have used my slow cooker the more confident I’ve become.  I now feel comfortable converting some of my conventional recipes to use in slow cooker.  So, I thought I’d share some of my tips with you.

Below is a list of cooking times.  The good thing about slow cooking is that it is forgiving and if you leave it in for an extra hour or two it’s not a problem and sometimes leads to a better result (e.g melt in your mouth meat).

1)  If a recipe calls for liquid you’ll need to reduce the amount you use as the liquid will not evaporate whilst cooking.  I tend to reduce the amount of liquid by 125-250ml.  It’s always better to have less liquid and add more if needed, than having too much resulting in a watery dish.

2) However, if you are cooking rice, beans, or pasta, don’t reduce the liquid called for. You generally need twice as much liquid as product to cook these ingredients.

3) Conversely, if the recipe doesn’t call for any liquid I’d encourage you to add approx 125ml of stock, type depending on the dish.  If in doubt use vegetable stock.

4) Not all people agree but I always brown meet prior to putting in the slow cooker as this reduces the amount of fat swimming around the top.

5) If you’re adding tender vegetables such as Mange Tout, Broccoli or Peas, I tend to add them about 30 minutes before the end of cooking time or then end up overcooked.

6) If the recipe calls for lentils or beans, I tend to par boil for about 10 minutes or alternatively use tinned ones.

7) I know it’s hard to resist, but try not to take the lid off too often as all of the heat escapes and the slow cooker will have to get back up to temperature.  The beauty of slow cooking is that you don’t need to continually stir the contents.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share?  If so please do leave a comment. For more recipe inspiration click here.

Slow Cooker Sunday is all about sharing our favourite recipes.  Don’t forget they don’t have to be done in a Slow Cookers as long as its been slow cooked.

Slow Cooker Sunday – Caramelized Onion Soup

The weather is going to make a turn for the worst this week so if you’ve packed your slow cooker up for the summer it may be time to dig it out!

Slow Cooker Sunday is all about sharing your favourite recipes; you can either link up a blog post or a website you have used, tweet a picture with #scsunday and I’ll include your twitter handles so people can contact you about recipe or you can leave a recipe in the comments section.

This week we had Caramalized Onion Soup, for me it was reminiscent of French Onion Soup.  The recipe came from Sara Lewis’ 200 More Slow Cooker Recipes.  If you don’t already have one of her books I’d highly recommend them as I’ve rarely had disasters with her recipes.

Caramelized Onion Soup

  • Serves 4
  • Cooking Temp:  Low
  • Cooking Time 4-5 hours


  • 25 g of butter
  • 2TBSP Olive Oil
  • 500 g onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1TBSP Caster Sugar
  • 2TBSP plain flour
  • 250ml brown ale
  • 750ml of Beef Stock
  • 2 bay leaves (I didn’t have any so skipped them)
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
  • Salt and Pepper

Cheese Toast

  • 8 slices of French bread
  • 75 g cheddar cheese
  • 2 TSP Worcestershire Sauce


  1. Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan and sauté the onions for about 15 till they are soft and starting to turn golden.  Then add the caster sugar and fry for another 10 minutes until they start to caramelize on the edges.
  2. Stir in the flour, mix for about a minute.  Then gradually add the stock, ale and Worcestershire sauce.  Season with salt and pepper, bring to a boil and then transfer to the slow cooker.  Cover and cook for 4-5 hours on low.
  3. When it’s just about time to serve, sprinkle cheese onto the French bread and drizzle a bit of Worcestershire Sauce on each one.  Grill until the cheese starts to bubble.
  4. Serve the soup in large bowls and float the toast on top.

I look forward to seeing your recipes!