White Beans with Leeks and Thyme ‘Slow Cooker Friday’ Stew or Soup


That ended up being quite a long title, but the ingredient list is all the shorter to make up for it. And yes, I realize it’s not Friday 😉

Shorter days and all the holiday activity can leave you tired and sleepy. It’s darker earlier and after the hustle and bustle of the holidays most don’t feel like doing as much as on a sunny summer evening. Add to that the weeks of overindulgence that usually lead up to the end of the year, the lethargic feeling that comes with it and you know you really don’t want to cook at all. But luckily to your aid comes the slow cooker! After a long week of work or entertaining, you deserve to come home to a meal that’s good, good for you and won’t break the bank! Prepare in the morning and decide if you want soup or stew on your way home! (Sorry there are no picture of the soup, we were too hungry and it was dark out, but let me tell you, it was yummy)


I used a 2 qt size round cooker for this recipe. Makes 4 servings if you add some Chicken Sausage Patties on the side.


  • 1/2 lb dry white beans ( I have used both baby lima and regular dried lima beans) rinsed
  • 1 cup leeks, white and light green parts only, (from about 2 stalks) cut into rounds and cleaned well*
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cube Rapunzel (no salt added) bouillon
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 4 cups water
  • (optional) pancetta or speck as a topping or chicken sausage patties as a side

* Leeks can trap a lot of dirt, so submerge the cut rounds in cold water and move pieces around with your hands, changing the water a couple of times if necessary until no more ‘sand’ collects on the bottom

imageHere served with a nice slice of 10 grain sourdough for a vegetarian dinner (resuscitate your sourdough starter in the back of the fridge, you will need it for this yummy bread, recipe coming up soon)


  1. Rinse beans well, then layer into the slow cooker and add 3 cups of water.
  2. Add the cleaned leeks, salt and thyme sprigs.
  3. Turn your slow cooker to high and wait 5-6 hours until beans are fully cooked, adding water if necessary. (On low the recipe will take longer, about 8-9 hours)
  4. When you get home, either serve as is, or add another cup of water and using a hand held blender, puree the beans and leeks until smooth, adding more water if you like a thinner soup.
  5. Cook some chicken sausage patties until nicely browned and serve along the stew or cook a slice or two of Pancetta or Speck, crumble and top your soup with it

imageCopyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Osso Buco ‘Slow Cooker Friday’

imageOsso Buco – Braised Beef Shank

This is part of the ‘Slow Cooker Friday’ Series, more recipes are Thai Red curry chicken, Turkey Provençal and Sausage and White Beans.

OMG, this is so super awesome, and easier than pie. And I swear there is no way anyone can tell that you did not labour over a hot stove for four hours or more. Go ahead, bask in the glory, no need to tell them. But it totally cooks itself while you’re at work, the only thing to do when you get home is to make the risotto (or I guess polenta or pasta in a pinch) and I have a maybe not totally authentic but very totally labor saving version for that as well 😉

The flavor factor is off the charts but for one person, well I guess it would have fed two, really, but I like leftovers and if you’re nice you’d probably want to serve one beef shank per person, so get this, the meat for one only cost me $3.55-$1 (coupon)=$2.55. And that really is for two meals. There are also a carrot, a piece of celery, onion and some tomatoes in there, but you all agree the big ticket item is generally the meat. Striving to be more frugal, like ‘K’ over at the $35 a week project. I admire how she can make a dollar last!


Even though the recipe tastes like a million bucks, it definitely isn’t one you have to crack the piggy bank open for, so put the hammer down… and get the crock pot out!

The trick to making this taste like the original, comes from two essential steps: browning the meat before cooking and thickening the sauce after cooking. The rest is taken care of while you are gone. Added bonus? The delicious smell all over the kitchen when you get home at night!



  • 1 beef shank (about .7lb) (Osso Buco is traditionally veal, but beef works wonderfully)
  • 1/4 cup flour for dredging
  • 2 tbsp butter or oil
  • 1 carrot, cut into 1/4″ rounds
  • 1 small celery stalk
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved, or 1 can (14oz plum tomatoes)
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 small sprig rosemary
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • about 1  1/2 to  2 cups beef broth (depending on the size of your beef shank)
  • salt& pepper to tast
  • 1 tbsp lemon peel, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely diced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (from on small clove)



  1. Season beef shank all over with salt and pepper. Put flour in a wide, shallow dish, dregdge the beef shank in the flour, then shake off excess flour.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp butter (or oil) in a skillet, when hot, add the beef shank. Cook until golden brown, turning once (It is important you don’t go and turn it over multiple times, or it will not brown properly) about 8 minutes. Beef will cook more later, this is just to give it more flavor. Transfer beef to slow cooker.
  3. Add white wine and the broth to same skillet, scrape up any browned bits, then add the onion, carrot, tomato and celery. Bring to a boil, then transfer all to slow cooker insert.
  4. Cook for 6-8 hours
  5. To thicken the sauce, pour it out of the slow cooker (careful, insert is HOT, use gloves) into a sauce pan and boil on the stove top for 15 minutes or until thickened. No need to make sure it’s just the liquid, if the vegetables come along, that’s fine. (If you used too much broth,  and it is still very liquid after 15 minutes, you could always thicken it with some flour or corn meal)
  6. To make Gremolata: Finely chop the lemon zest, garlic and parsley, serve the Osso Buco topped with Gremolata and a side of Risotto Milanese

imageThis is when I remembered the sauce and the gremolata to put on top, with extra lemon peel, because it’s so good 😉

imageAnd yes, I did lick the plate… Shhht!, no one saw me…

Copyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Turkey Provençal ‘Slow Cooker Friday’


Isn’t it time for another lazy day recipe? Well, maybe not lazy, but for when you’re tired (or you know you’re going to be tired) and just want something simple, that waits for you when you come how after a long day at work. Lately it’s already dark by the time you get out of work and I am feeling tired. I still think we were supposed to hibernate, just like bears and those other smart creatures (I tell you , they got it right), but asides from daylight saving time, there isn’t a whole lot of support of this idea 😉 (Just imagine though, wouldn’t it be great? fireplace, bowl of soup and long naps all winter… 🙂

Well since that is not happening anytime soon, I will keep making tasty slow cooker recipes for my Fridays. This one has a bit of international flair, olives, tomatoes and rosemary, evoking summer sun and abundance while the white wine rounds out the flavors.



  • 1 turkey leg, boneless
  • 4 plum tomatoes chopped (or one 14oz can)
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped (including leaves)
  • 1 cup diced winter squash (such as butternut, kabocha, buttercup)
  • 1/4 cup black or green olives, pitted
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary leaves
  • 1 tbsp basting oil
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 bay leaf
Note: If you got enough turkey in your near future, you could also make this with pork, like a piece of pork shoulder


  1. Dice tomatoes (or open can, if using canned) place in the bottom of the slow cooker insert, add diced celery and bay leaf.
  2. Place turkey atop the vegetables, adding the olives, mustard, rosemary and basting oil over top
  3. In a zip top bag, toss the diced onions with the flour until coated, then cook in a skillet over medium heat until softened and lightly browned. Add wine and scrape up any browned bits, stirring to dissolve the flour. Pour over turkey in slow cooker insert.
  4. Add the pieces of winter squash (if you are going to be home, you can also add these half way through cooking, if you prefer to have the squash hold it’s shape)
  5. Cook on low for 6-8 hours (after 6 the meat will still hold its form, after 8 it will fall apart)
  6. Serve by itself or with polenta or rice as a side

If the tomatoes are very juicy and the dish seems to watery, mix 1 tbsp flour with about 3 tablespoons cold water and slowly stir into the slow cooker dish, cooking until the sauce thickens.

Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Sausage and White Beans ‘Slow Cooker Friday’ Stew


As the colder and shorter days arrive, and I know some of you are starting to get ready for the holidays, I tend to be drawn to soups and slow cooked dishes. I shop and eat with the seasons. Many of you already realize that in the summer months you are drawn to fresh crisp salads, raw vegetables and fruits and but now you naturally gravitate towards warming dishes as the temperatures start coming down. This is all part of the seasonal gear shift getting into the colder months. Nature hibernates and rests. So sit and sip some tea in front of the fireplace and read a good book, take your time, slow down and rest.

Eating fresh and local means to be in sync with nature more. Eating with the seasons takes into account that fruits and vegetables are at their peak of nutritional value when ripe, and the longer they have to travel until they get to you, the sooner (before ripeness) they have to be picked. Once the produce is picked and disconnected from the plant or root that it grew on, it is as nutritious as it is ever going to be, it can’t ‘make’ any more nutritional value. At the same time, the clock starts ticking and its nutritional value diminishes over time. For those of us on the East Coast, just think about how long it takes a truck to get here from California… Seasonal eating involves eating more locally grown and harvested produce. It has to travel less far to get to a store near you = it’s nutritional content is higher, therefore better for you. Yes, that means in the winter, strawberries and cantaloupe are not going to be as good or as good for you (high in nutritional content), as when they are in season. However apples, pears and oranges are at their peak.

Even though I love to cook, and admittedly spend a lot of time in the kitchen, on Fridays specially now that it gets dark so early, I like to take a break. I know many of you understand this feeling, after a long week, you just want to relax. That’s where this series of recipes comes in: Slow Cooker Friday! Simple and easy to prepare, pile it all in the slow cooker and forget about it until you come home to wonderfully flavorful dinner and a kitchen that smells like you just spent hours laboring over the stove!

To get the best dried beans, make sure they are not too old. In addition to loosing nutritional value, they will take longer and longer to cook. The best places for (fresh) dried beans I find are stores with a large Latino or Indian customer base. Remember, you will need to start this recipe the night before, as you are going to be soaking the beans overnight. I have also added barley to this recipe, since beans and grains together make up a complete protein, good to know if you are vegetarian!

Easy and it is also an end of the month kinda recipe, using sausage, and dried beans to maximize your $$!

Note: I use a 2 qt round slow cooker, which usually makes enough for 2 hungry people, plus a round of leftover for as many.


  • 1/2 to 1 lb sausage of your choice (I used a spicy garlic turkey sausage this time, but sweet or hot italian sausage works great too!)
  • 1 cup baby lima beans (about 1/2 lb)
  • 1/4 cup barley
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 sprig of rosemary or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 1 bay leaf


  1. Soak the beans the night before in a bowl with cold water.
  2. Chop the carrots and celery ribs and place in the slow cooker insert. Then drain the beans and layer over top the vegetables. Add the bay leaf and rosemary and sprinkle with salt.
  3. In a skillet brown the sausage by cooking it without turning for about 5 minutes per side. Place in the slow cooker on top of the veggies.
  4. Fill the slow cooker insert with water to just cover the ingredients by 1/2″, turn your cooker on low and cook for 5 hours.
  5. Come home to a wonderful dinner 🙂

Serves 4

Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved