Slow Cooker Moroccan Lamb Stew

Moroccan lamb stew

This slow cooker Moroccan lamb stew is delicious and easy to combine on your cooking day.

In converting the recipe into a make ahead meal kit type recipe, there is a little bit of upfront prep work involved. Don’t let that scare you off.  For simplicity purposes, this recipe has been broken down into four parts:

Part 1 – VEGETABLES – Onions, zucchini, tomatoes and garlic

Part 2 – DRIED FRUIT & NUTS – Dried apricots, dates and almonds

Part 3 – MEAT – Cubed lamb and broth

Part 4 – SEASONING – Moroccan spice mix


Add the following instructions to “Part 1”:

Slow Cooker Moroccan Lamb Stew
In the slow cooker, place Part 1 (veggies) in the slow cooker. Add Part 2 (dried fruit and nuts). Add broth.  Oil lamb (Part 3) and place over vegetables and broth. Sprinkle Moroccan spice (Part 4) over the lamb. Sprinkle any extra spices around the edges so it flavours the veggies too.

Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours.

Serve with couscous and fresh green salad.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Add veggies and dried fruit to slow cooker:

Moroccan Lamb Stew Vegetables

Add meat, broth and seasonings:

Slow Cooker Moroccan Lamb StewCook on high for 3-4 hours:

Crockpot Moroccan Lamb Stew

Pulling this yummy meal together is super fast and easy to do on the actual cooking day.  Very flavourful, with very little effort.  Perfect for a busy family activity night!

Freezable Homemade Pizza Dough

freezable homemade pizza doughThis make ahead freezeable homemade pizza dough whips up in a cinch. The bread machine in this recipe does ALL the heavy lifting of the kneading, keeping your hands clean!

Once you make it a few times you will NEVER want to go back to take out pizza! It’s super easy to make and so much better tasting than store-bought or premade pizza crusts. And it’s better for you too!

Once you’ve made your own delicious pizza dough, throw some in the freezer and have it ready to go whenever you feel the need for pizza!


Place all the ingredients in the bread machine pan according to the order in the manufacturer’s instructions.

homemade pizza doughProgram for the Dough or Pizza Dough cycle and Press Start.


When the machine beeps at the end of the cycle, press Stop and unplug the machine. Immediately remove the bread pan from the machine and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.

Divide it in the desired number of portions. Flatten each portion into a disc by kneading a few times then folding the edges into the centre. Cover with a damp towel on the work surface to rest for 30 minutes until the dough has increased about 20 percent in size.

Roll out and shape the dough as directed in your pizza recipe.

To freeze, wrap the dough in plastic first (to suspend the rising) and then in a resealable freezer bag. Pizza dough keeps frozen in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in refrigerator overnight before using.  Allow dough to rise for at least 20 minutes before rolling out.

Slow Cooker Baked Potatoes

slow cooker hasselback potatoesWhy turn on the oven for just baked potatoes? Making baked potatoes ahead of time in the slow cooker not only saves a whole lot of energy by not heating up your oven, but it also saves valuable time in the evening.

Simply place these yummy potatoes in the crockpot first thing in the morning. Come home to already done baked potatoes that are simply just as delicious, if not even better, than potatoes done in the oven. Many slow cooker recipes suggest that you wrap the potatoes in tinfoil, but this extra step is really not necessary.


slow cooker baked potatoes ingredients

Clean the potato(s) and peel if desired. Skins are okay to leave on, if you prefer not to peel them.

Grease the interior crock with olive oil. Take a paper towel and coat the potatoes with olive oil. In this recipe we’ve sliced the potatoes hasselback style. To slice, simply place the potato in a wooden spoon and slice it thinly without cutting all the way through. This way the butter and seasonings can spread further into the potato making it more flavourful.

Add the potatoes to the slow cooker.  Remember the slow cooker should be at least 1/2 full and not more than 3/4 full.  Season the potatoes with your desired amount of butter, garlic powder and Italian seasoning.

Slow Cooker Baked Potato

Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours.

Potatoes that are smaller in size will cook faster than larger potatoes.

Slow Cooker Tips

Slow cookers are a life saver when making meals ahead of time.  Although it may seem like one could just throw a few ingredients together and have it cook, there are some slow cooker tips that will make your slow cooking experience better.

  1. slow cooker tipsBe sure to buy the right sized slow cooker, or have a couple of different sized slow cookers on hand. Make sure there is enough food in the crock AND not too much food. The food or liquid must comes at least half way up the wall of the crock insert, as the element is located on the sides of the slow cooker. If only half-filled, check for doneness 1 to 2 hours earlier than recipe. The emptier the slow cooker, the faster it cooks. Alternatively, do not overload the crock pot. Half full to three quarters full is recommended for most crock pots.
  2. Stirring is not necessary when slow cooking and removing glass lid results in major heat loss and the cooking time may need to be extended.
  3. The crock can be pre-warmed by filing it with boiling water first.
  4. Get tender meat by lightly coating the pieces in flour and then browning before adding to the crock. This also helps to seal in the juices.
  5. Fat retains heat more readily than water, so fattier recipes will cook faster than those with less fat. Trim meats and brown them prior to putting them in the crock pot.
  6. Steam accumulates on the slow cooker’s lid and the contents of the crockery tend to get watered down. Use thickeners such as flour, cornstarch and tomato paste to give texture to the dish.
  7. Vegetables: Cut vegetables in small pieces to ensure rapid heat transfer. Always place vegetable in the crock first and then the meat on top.
  8. Dry herbs and spices can lose their flavor when simmering so long, if possible–try adding them the last two hours before the meal is ready to help keep the flavor. Use fresh herbs when possible, these can be added first thing since they’ll hold their flavor better when simmering for hours.
  9. 1 hour on high is equivalent to 2 hours on low.
  10. Don’t set a hot crock on a cold surface. Always place a hot pad or towel under it.

Turkey Manicotti

turkey-manicotti-freezerThis turkey manicotti a family favourite recipe in our house, that we have enjoyed for many years now.

There are several variations on how to make it.  I personally like using Olivieri fresh lasagna sheets.  It is the quickest way to get the filling in the pasta.  Unfortunately my local grocery store was out of these little gems, so I had to use oven ready canneloni tubes.  At least they were oven ready, and I could skip the step of cooking the pasta. Cooked tubes are very floppy – not the easiest to fill!



Oven Ready Cannelloni Tubes – the preferred way to go, if fresh lasagna sheets are not available.


In skillet, over medium heat, cook turkey, onions and oregano.


Remove turkey from heat, add Parmesan cheese, roasted red peppers, artichokes, pesto and black olives.


Stuff pasta tube with filling, which can then be individually frozen on a cookie sheet. turkey-manicotti-freezer


Spaghetti sauce can also be be frozen individually in silicon muffin cups.


Pop out the frozen spaghetti sauce and include them in the meal packaging.

Slow Cooker Benefits

Slow cookers and making meals ahead of time go hand in hand.  What couldn’t be better than returning home from work to a house filled with mouthwatering smells coming from that little, but powerful kitchen appliance? If you are not yet a proud owner of a slow cooker, after reading these slow cooker benefits, you may want to make the small investment to reap the plentiful rewards!

slow cooker benefits

  1. Convenience: This is probably the number one benefit for most people. Simply put all your ingredients in before you go to work in the morning and come home to a home cooked meal.  To make your slow cooker meal even more convenient, you can prepare your meat and vegetables beforehand and freeze them, so you don’t even have to do any prep work, other than letting it defrost in your fridge before you place them in your slow cooker.
  2. Economical: Slow cookers use the same amount of power as a light bulb.  Low wattage over a longer period of time costs less than high wattage for a short period of time. They are also ideal for less expensive cuts of meat, as the cooking process tenderizes the meat.  The long slow cooking will breakdown the connective tissue of these types of meats without toughening the muscle.  Not to mention softening fibrous vegetables.
  3. Flavourful: Long cooking times make for better distribution of flavours in recipes.  All the ingredients in the one crock pot will share the same delicious flavour.
  4. Burn Proof:  Low temperature of slow-cooking makes it almost impossible to burn food or even over cook. Liquids do not boil away, as they are all contained in the pot. Many models also have a timer or thermostats which bring food to a given temperature and then lower it.
  5. Frees up Oven and Stove Top Space: Perfect for holiday meals, when you run out of space. Simply cook veggies or your turkey dressing in the crock pot. If you are a bulk cooker, it also helps in getting certain meats cooked with little effort for recipes, while you are preparing other meals.
  6. Easy Clean Up: When cooking a meal all in one pot, there is only one pot to clean up and fewer dishes to wash!

What do you like best about your slow cooker?

Slow Cooker Pork Roast

slow-cooker-pork-roastThis slow cooker pork roast recipe is so simple and a wonderfully warm meal for a dark autumn or winter evening. The delicious aroma will waft through your home as this meal slowly cooks in your slow cooker.

If possible, spend a bit more on a good quality roast. We buy meat that has no added hormones or antibiotics and the end result in taste is definitely worth it!

Tip:  Follow the recipe exactly in order to get the right amount of liquids for this recipe.  Do NOT lift the lid while cooking, as you will lose liquids and possibly cause scorching.  Be sure to cook only on low and not high. If after 6 hours the meat thermometer reads 160 degrees, switch the setting to warm. Finally, make sure your crockpot is the right size.  It should be at least  half, up to three quarters full. 


Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix

pumpkin pie spice blendI’ve come across recipes that from time to time call for pumpkin pie spice mix and never seem to find it in the stores. Well surprisingly, this spice mix is a combination of spices which I already have in my cupboard!

Super easy to make and a versatile spice mix to have on hand. It’s not just for pumpkin pie, but I like to spice up my pancakes a little with it, along with pumpkin puree for a vegetable boost in the morning. With a make ahead pancake mix and pumpkin pie mix, a healthy breakfast is quick to whip up in the morning. And my daughter gets veggies in her, without her even knowing it!


pumpkin pie spices


After blending all spices together, funnel the mix into a jar.  I’ve used an empty spice jar and relabeled it. To fill this spice jar to almost full, I quadrupled the recipe.

pumpkin pie spice mix

Other great uses for pumpkin pie spice mix are:

  • add it in muffin, breads, cookie and cake batters
  • mix it in oatmeal with a few raisins
  • sprinkle a little on top of specialty coffees, hot apple cider, sliced apples or applesauce
  • season vegetables such as yams, carrots or squash

How do you use pumpkin pie spice mix?

How to Freeze Zucchini

how to freeze zucchini

Even though it is September, farm fresh zucchinis still seem to be available in abundance. We like freezing
zucchinis as part of a meal kit, making putting a meal on the table, a much easier task.

I recently made a batch of make ahead Slow Cooker Morrocan Lamb.  This make ahead meal had three component parts to it and frozen zucchinis were one part of the components.

Preparing a little bit in advance, makes putting dinner together so much faster and we get a little taste of summer throughout the fall and winter.

Blanching Zucchinis

Blanching zucchinis is a super-duper important step because it slows down or even stops the action of enzymes. These particular enzymes are needed for growing and ripening. If we don’t stop the enzyme action before freezing, the zucchinis could continue to mature, toughen, discolour and develop off-flavours and may even become unappetizing in a very short period.  What a big waste of time!

The blanching process also softens the zucchini and makes it somewhat easier to pack. Microorganisms are killed and the zucchini colour may become a little bit brighter.

Following the recommended blanching time is very, very important. If you underblanch, you can possibly stimulate the activity of enzymes and this is worse than not blanching at all. Overblanching causes loss of vitamins, minerals, flavour and colour.

How to Freeze Zucchini

Be sure to start with fresh, ripe and tender zucchinis straight from the garden to capture the most flavour.

Step 1
Wash the zucchini, with your hands or a soft brush, in cool running water. Cut into 1/4-inch thick cubes with a knife. Do not cut and then leave for later to blanch, as the zucchini will discolour.

Step 2
Fill a pot with approximately 1 gallon of unsalted water. Bring the water to a rolling boil.

can you freeze zucchini

Step 3
Set another bowl close to the stove top. Fill the bowl with half ice and half cold water.

frozen zucchini

Step 4
Place up to 1 lb. of the zucchini in the boiling water. Allow the water to return to a full boil.

how to cook zucchini

Step 5
Boil the zucchini for exactly 3 minutes. When it comes out, the zucchini should still be firm. Remove it from the water with a slotted spoon and place it right away in the bowl of ice water.


Step 6
Cool the zucchini in the ice water for 3-5 minutes, to stop the cooking process, or until it feels completely cold to the touch.

Move the zucchini into a strainer to drain for a few minutes, Then pat dry with paper towels.

Step 7
If you have time, lay the individual zucchini pieces on a cookie sheet and freeze them this way for a few hours, or overnight, first before putting in freezer ziploc bags. If you take the time to do this, they will freeze more evenly and defrost a little bit better.

Step 8
Put the zucchini pieces in a freezer ziploc bag and remove all the air from the bag, seal and place it in your freezer.

Maximum storage time in the freezer is 12 months.

Final Note: Since zucchini has some water content, when you are ready to use them, be sure to cook from frozen right away and do not allow to defrost. Ideally frozen zucchini should be used in stews or casseroles as you can expect the original shape of the fresh zucchini to be different.