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creative handmade family cooking


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Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Recipes

LeahKent_SweetPotatoPrepHow is it April already!? This first year with August is already going so fast, I can’t believe he will be four months old next week. He’s teething and practicing his skills of sitting up on his own. Babies are so impressive and very hard workers!

As my baby gets more and more active, I have less and less time to make dinner and work on my passion projects. This just means that Deliciously Slow, my new slow cooker class, is coming at the perfect time for our family.

I’ve been making dinner in the crock at least two or three nights a week. Usually I make something big enough that we can eat the leftovers a few days later. So I am only cooking two or three times a week for five or six meals. Woo hoo!

One of the things I’ve discovered about the slow cooker in the past few years is that you can make so much more than just soup, chili or stew.

You can also cook dried beans, whole grains, and even root vegetables and squash. I either eat them as is or use them in other recipes. Sweet potatoes are a favorite food in our house because they’re so nutritious. And they’re especially good for breastfeeding mamas, by the way! Sweet potatoes are packed with Vitamins A and C plus Beta-Carotene and a ton of fiber. Good stuff!

You can cook sweet potatoes in your slow cooker so easily and the results are delicious! You can also make a tasty sweet potato and apple mash, which makes a perfect side dish now that grilling season is here again. I just made this and paired it with green beans and pork chops and it was amazing. As in lick-the-plate clean amazing.

Here are the recipes to make these deliciously slow and simple dishes:

Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes

Wash and scrub 4-5 sweet potatoes, leaving skins on. Pierce several times with a knife or fork and arrange in the bottom of your slow cooker. It’s ideal if they don’t overlap one another too much. Cover and cook on Low for 6-7 hours. You can test that they’re done by piercing them with a fork.

These can go savory, topped with salt and pepper and a splash of olive oil or butter alongside grilled meats. You can also dress them up sweet with a drizzle of coconut oil and a sprinkling of brown sugar, maple syrup, or cinnamon. If you have leftovers, they keep nicely in the fridge and can then be chopped and used in a hearty grain bowl or salad in a day or two.

IMG_1932Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Apple Mash

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced or chopped
3 apples, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 TB brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Toss potatoes and apples into the bottom of your slow cooker. Mix the maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg together and sprinkle over the top of the potatoes and apples. Cover and cook on Low for 4-5 hours. Serve as a dinner side dish. This is so easy and yummy, you could eat it for breakfast, too!

These are the types of healthy, whole food recipes I’ll be sharing in Deliciously Slow, my seven-day class that starts on April 13th. If you’re not already signed up, this is a pay-what-you-can offering and I’d love for you to join me! You can click right here to learn more about Deliciously Slow.

If you make these slow cooker sweet potatoes, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!


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Five easy dinners

IMG_4495Do you have those weeks where it’s all you can do to just throw some food on the table in a hurry? Maybe a week where you serve pasta with red sauce five nights in a row?

I adore cooking and spending time in the kitchen but you don’t get to do that as much with a two month attached to you at all hours of the day! I know he won’t always be this little and cuddly so I am focused on enjoying this time and surrendering to my new schedule.

While that’s my reason for needing quick and easy dinners, we all have something we’d like to have more time for. That could be reading a book, working on a passion project, or just getting a few extra minutes of much-needed sleep!

Even when life is busy and feels hectic, I’m committed to cooking dinner for myself and my family as much as possible. We do it because we greatly value home-cooked meals made from whole ingredients. I know the food we prepare ourselves is more nourishing for us than take-out. And it’s certainly much more economical than buying ready-made meals night after night.

Yes, of course we eat out or buy a prepared meal sometimes! But over years of cooking and trying different recipes, I can honestly say that often it’s quicker and easier just to make something at home. I am talking three-ingredient dinners, nothing fancy, and releasing any expectations about how things are supposed to look!

I truly believe that even the simplest dinner, when prepared with a little bit of love, is the most nourishing thing to put on your plate.

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I thought I would share five of my favorite meals that I make when I have limited time or energy for cooking. These are dinners that go together in a snap and you really don’t need a recipe. Instead, you can take these basics and make all the substitutions you need with the ingredients you have on hand.

Best of all, they’re made from healthy, whole foods to keep you nourished so you can take on your life, projects, and appointments with confidence and grace.

I hope these recipe ideas help you, whether you’re in the midst of a major life change (hello new mamas!) or just looking to carve out a little extra time for yourself. Click right here to download the pretty printable PDF I made for you! You can hang this inside a pantry door or post it right on the front of your refrigerator as a happy reminder that a simple dinner could be on the table quicker than it takes to order a pizza to be delivered.

Feed yourself and your family with care and compassion, a smile and a laugh, because that is really all that matters in the end.

I hope you savor and lean into the lovely things you find in each day, and feel free to leave a comment below with your own super easy dinner ideas!


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Making the most of what you’ve got…

chopping leeksWith all of this chopping and cooking I do in my kitchen, I end up with more vegetable scraps than I know what to do with. I hate to throw them out because, well, it’s not very environmentally friendly of me! We compost as much as we can, but in our small suburban homestead, this is just one small compost barrel and it doesn’t take me long to fill it to capacity.

Instead, as often as possible, I save up my scraps from different meals so I can make a stock for soup with them when I’m ready.

The best way I’ve found to do this is by keeping a plastic zipper bag in the freezer, the bigger the better, to save my veggie peels, trimmings, and ends.

When the bag is full and I have a nice assortment of carrots, peppers, celery, onions, and other odds and ends, I put them all in the slow cooker for the day. It is perfectly fine to put them straight into the cooker from the freezer. If I have them, I will also add bones, like chicken or turkey, to add to the stock. I also add peppercorns, lots of herbs, and a bay leaf or two to give the stock flavor. I personally like to use salt in my stock because I find that it draws a lot of flavor out of the scraps I’m cooking with. However, I do go light on the salt so that I can adjust the seasoning again when I’m making a soup or other dish with the stock.

There are very few days when I am in the house for the hours and hours I would need to tend to my simmering brew. While I can and certainly have made stock on the stove top, I usually don’t because there is another way that gives me more freedom. I’ve fallen head over heels with my slow cooker for its magical ability to deliver stock with zero intervention from me!

I have a huge, 6-quart slow-cooker that is programmable. This means I can set it for the time and heat level and when it’s done, it automatically turns itself over to the “warm” function. This is very handy for those days when I’m out of the house for most of the day.

Potato Leek SoupTo encourage your efforts at making a delicious, home-made stock, I created a pretty printable guide with all the instructions and a handy list of the best veggie scraps to include in your creation. Just click right here to download yours, print it on your nicest paper, and pin it up on the fridge or inside a cupboard. This way you’ll always be prepared to make the most out of the food you have worked so hard for. And the biggest reward will be the soup you make with it!

And for a little soup inspiration, you can get my recipe for a delicious lentil soup by clicking right here.

Happy cooking and stock making, my friends!


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Turning broccoli into delicious pesto for your pasta…

Turkey_Meatball_DinnerAs I have learned from countless conversations with friends and mamas, pesto is one of the most universally beloved dishes for hurried weeknight dinners.

I could probably eat a half pint of it on my own with nothing more than a crusty loaf of bread to use as an impromptu spoon!

Pesto is pretty to look at and even more delicious to eat. I grew up eating pesto exclusively from the grocery store. My parents were partial to the kind you can still buy at Trader Joe’s. We would stock up on it and store extra tubs of it in the freezer and my sister and I would light up at this special treat that somehow felt so much fancier than marinara.

Last year, as I was gathering old and new recipes together for the first session of Season’s Eatings, I came across a recipe for broccoli pesto. I was immediately intrigued and headed for the store to test this concept out. I knew you could make pesto from all sorts of things, like arugula or kale, but I’d never thought of using broccoli for a green pasta sauce!

Chopped_BroccoliThe first tests were a big success and the recipe has become one of my all time favorites.

One of the highlights of my cooking career was getting feedback from a friend that the broccoli pesto was gobbled up by her husband, sons, and their friends with much gusto. It is the best “gold star” I could ever hope for…to be sharing recipes and ideas that feed families and nourish an appreciation for good food in kids of all ages.

I love making recipes that are pretty and printable so you enjoy looking at them on the counter or in the cookbook holder. To get your copy, just click on these images to download the PDF.

With a few ingredients, a pot of boiling water and a food processor, you can whip this dish up quickly and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment from making pesto from scratch. I can tell you from experience that this is quite a rush, so be prepared for unabashed smiling and possible squealing when you stop to appreciate what an amazing gourmet chef you truly are.