Yup. Another slow cooker meal. Actually, two!

[In case you haven't guessed... we currently live off of slow cooker meals here. I thought it would be my temporary solution after Pint-Sized came home, just something to get us through the transition phase. Well, four months later and we are still in transition... and I keep expanding my repertoire of meals! My goal is to get to 4 weeks of weekday meals with no repeats. I'll probably reach that goal right around the time that we finally find our groove. But, it's still fun to find new favorites.]

When we first came home, we were mixing in a night of take out a week... we weren't ready to brave the world of eating out yet—but I also really, really needed one night where there was no responsibility on my end. We found that we kept defaulting to Chinese food since, ahh, it's one of two take-out options within twenty minutes from our house. We also found that even though every item on the menu is pretty affordable, our trips were ending up being pretty pricey once you added in everyone's "favorites." So one afternoon when Mini was still at school and Pint-Sized decided to nap, I did some pinning of our favorite Take Out Meals to Fake Out in the slow cooker. It took some trial and error, but we now have a few favorites in our rotation... Beef & Broccoli and Sesame Garlic Chicken. They aren't exact replicas of what you might find at your favorite Chinese food restaurant ... but they are super tasty! (And in case you are wondering... no, they do not replace the Korean Tacos in our household.) So now we make these at home, and we save the take-out for the things I'm not ready to tackle yet.

Beef & Broccoli 

Ingredients:

1 lb. boneless beef chuck roast, cut into chunks OR 1 lb. stew meat, cubed
1 cup beef broth
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
⅓ cup dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
4 Tbsp. sauce (from the crockpot after dish is cooked)

Frozen broccoli florets (as many as desired, I use 2 cups)

White rice, cooked

Directions:

In the crockpot, whisk together beef broth, soy sauce, dark brown sugar, sesame oil, and garlic. Place your beef in the liquid and toss to coat. Cook on low and cook for 6 hours.

After the 6 hours is up, remove the beef and shred with two forks on a plate. Remove the 4 tbsp. of sauce from the slow cooker and mix with the 2 tbsp. of cornstarch in a small bowl. When blended, mix back into the slow cooker. Return beef and add in the frozen broccoli.* Cook for another 30 minutes, then serve hot over white rice.**

* Note: You can also cook the broccoli separately and then mix in at the end.

** Sometimes, we pick up a large white rice from our Chinese Restaurant on the way home. It's worth my $2.25 to have one less step some days!

Recipe adapted from this one.

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Sesame Garlic Chicken

Ingredients:

2.5 - 3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

4 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water

sesame seeds, for garnish
cooked rice, for serving
steamed broccoli, for serving (optional)*

Directions:

In a medium bowl stir together the honey, soy sauce, ketchup, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes. Place the chicken in the bottom of your slow cooker so that they do not overlap, and pour the sauce over top. Cook on low for 4-5 hours, until the chicken is cooked through and tender.

Once done cooking, shred the chicken on a plate using two forks.

Stir the cornstarch and 1/4 cup water together in a small bowl. Transfer the liquid from the crock pot to a medium saucepan, and whisk in the cornstarch liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium high heat, cooking until it thickens... about 7-10 minutes.

Pour the thickened sauce over the chicken, stirring to coat evenly.  Serve with cooked rice. Garnish with sesame seeds.*

*Sometimes, we serve this with steamed broccoli mixed in, but more often than not, we have edamame on the side.

Recipe adapted from this one

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Aaaand... it gets better. Both of these recipes make awesome freezer meals! I often make one now, and freeze one for later. (Doubling the ingredients.) To make the "Beef & Broccoli" freezer-friendly, just mix up the beef and sauce ingredients [beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and minced garlic] in a large freezer ziploc, coating the meat. Seal, removing the air, and label with the name and cooking information.  I also measure out two cups of frozen broccoli florets into another ziploc bag and store them together... just to make sure I have them! To make the "Sesame Garlic Chicken" freezer-friendly, mix all those sauce ingredients [honey, soy sauce, ketchup, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, minced ginger, minced garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes], then pour over the chicken in a large freezer ziploc. (I also make sure the chicken is fully coated.) Seal, removing the air, and label with the name and cooking information.

When ready to cook, remove from the freezer and place in the fridge to defrost for 24 hours. Then place in the slow cooker the day of and heat according to the above directions!

That's it! Simple, no?