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My go-to Slow Cooker recipes. Am I the only person who travels with my 3-quart slow cooker?

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Adapted from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook (NYMSCC).

Polenta in a slow cooker cooks thoroughly and does not stick.

Whisk together in slow cooker:

Cook on high for 4-5 hours, or High for one hour and on low for 5 hours. NYMSCC warns that the polenta will look done after about two hours, but not all the grains will be cooked evenly.

Polenta will firm up as it cools, so use enough water have it done while it is thick but still pourable.

I enjoy plain polenta (with butter), but I often dress it polenta like pasta: with tomato sauce, butter and cheese.

A friend of mine used to pour the polenta into a cleaned can or onto a cookie sheet, let it cool, then slice it and fry it. He would then eat it with bacon on the side.


Lightly grease a crockpot and turn it on to high.

Add to crockpot and stir gently:

  1. One quart milk (4 cups), preferably whole, or 3 cups milk and one cup sour cream. Reconsitituted evaporated milk (half milk, half water) can be used.
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 3/4 cup white rice (long-grained Basmati is excellent) (some people prefer short-grain rice because it is stickier)
  4. 1/2 t cinammon or nutmeg or cardamon
  5. 1 t vanilla
  6. pinch salt

Optional: Pour 1/3 c melted butter over mixture in crock pot and stir gently.

Cook LOW for 4-5 hours or High for 2.5 - 3 hours. Stir it after an hour: the milk / sour cream will tend to rise to a separate layer in the top if you don't stir it down. You want the rice to be more than cooked; you want it to be creamy.

Eat hot or warm or chilled.



No simmering in water or trying to keep wieners from the grill warm. The crockpot will cut you some slack AND will produce wieners with a slightly "grilled" skin.
  1. Crockpot to High;
  2. Add as many wieners (any kind) as you desire;
  3. Cook for 1.5 - 2 hours.
This came straight out of NYMSCC. I could not improve on it.


  1. In the crockpot bottom: washed potatoes and carrots.
  2. On top of the vegies, your raw meatloaf mix, consisting of:
  3. One hour on high, two hours on low.
  4. This dish is being steamed, not baked, so pile the vegies on top to provide color. Or make some sauce or gravy to provide color.



Fastest Cooking of Plain Pasta: You do not have to cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water.
  1. Place your pasta in a cooking pot.
  2. Cover the pasta with cold water. Add a dash of olive oil to reduce foaming.
  3. Stir once, gently, and turn the heat on medium low.
  4. Cover the pot. When the water is about to boil, the pasta will be al dente.
  5. Do NOT stir the pasta while cooking!
Cheese Macaroni:
  1. Prepare one pound of pasta (any shapes) by cooking until al dente. Undercook rather than overcook.
  2. Cut one lb of cheese into very small cubes: cheddar, swiss, mozzarella, Gruyere. Fantastic if you mix different types.
  3. Set slow cooker 4-qt slow cooker to high and spray with non-stick spray.
  4. Beat together in a large bowl:
    • 1 c milk
    • 6 x-large eggs
    • 1 t salt
    • spices as desired: paprika, pepper, oregano, basil, garlic.
  5. Add pasta and cheese to bowl and stir gently.
  6. Turn contents of bowl out into crockpot and smooth with spatula.
  7. Cook for 1 hour on High; 20 minutes on low; sit ten minutes to set.

Alternate cooking method: Cook in uncovered casserole at 350F for 30 minutes, or until milk-egg-cheese "custard" is set.

If desired, blend together the cheese, milk, eggs, salt and spices before adding to pasta. I prefer the result from cut cubes but this shortcut is fine.

Dec 2016: I used 6 large eggs instead of 6 x-large eggs and the difference was noticable. An extra egg would have been helpful. AND: more salt would have been nice.

Half recipe: 1 c milk, 1/2 lb cheese, 3 eggs, 1/2 lb macaroni; 1 t salt, 1 t mustard seeds, 1 t worchestshire sauce in a 1.5 qt crockpot on high for one hour, low for one hour, let sit 1/2 hour. The amount of milk IS the same as the larger recipe.

Cooking in a normal oven: Pour cheese mixture into noodles, stir, and cook UNCOVERED in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until cheese "custard" is firm.


  1. Cut 1.5 lb mozzarella into tiny cubes, or use mozzarella pearl-shapes.
  2. Prepare the optional ingredients:
    • If spinach is desired, use canned spinach and drain, or cook fresh spinach until completely reduced. In any event, press and wring dry.
    • If sausage is desired, remove the casings from 2 lbs of Italian sausage, cut into chunks and cook until brown in olive oil (10 -12 minutes);
    • If onions are desired, mince and saute in olive oil (or in sausage pan).
  3. Assemble the sauce:
    • 48 oz of marina sauce;
    • If onions and/or sausage are being used, leave them in the pan and add and stir in the sauce. Otherwise, sauce can be used straight from the jar.
  4. Make the ricotta mixture:
    • Beat 2 eggs.
    • Stir in the 1 lb ricotta, and any green vegies (spinach, parsley, etc)
    • Add desired spices: black pepper, oregano, garlic. NO SALT unless using unsalted tomato sauce.
    • How about some pesto sauce? 3-4 oz, and thank you!
    • Add 1/2 - 1 cup c of grated parmesan, if desired.
  5. Assemble the lasagna:
    • Turn on the slow cooker.
    • Prepare the slow cooker by spreading a thin layer of sauce on the bottom.
    • Then, four to five layers of the following:
      • Layer of lasagna noodles or spaghetti, breaking to fit as needed;
      • Ricotta mixture;
      • Sauce;
      • Mozzarella;
      • Parmesan.
    • End with sauce and mozarella cheese.
  6. Cover and cook. Cooking times are so dependent on the pot and the electric current! Here is what my newest pots use:
    • Best: 4 hours on low.
    • Yummy: Cook high for one hour, low for 1-2 (office potlucks cannot wait!).
    • Warming the pot before layering will be of assistance.
  7. Let set for 20 minutes or the servings will have to be scooped out, not cut, and then the food will be so hot that people will burn their mouths. Tell the ravaging hoards to wait.

When shopping, think: 1.5 lb whole-milk mozzarella, 1 lb whole milk ricotta, 1 cup grated parmesan, 1 lb pasta, 2 eggs, 48 ounce tomato sauce. (Prego Marinara and Ragu Marinara are good). If you are going to add sausage, then buy 2 lbs. Italian with casing removed.

The recipe that used to be posted on the William Sonoma website yielded the lasagna that I like best, reminding me of holiday feasts in my childhood. I modified it a bit by adding eggs to the ricotta and by cutting the mozzarella into tiny cubes or purchasing mozzarella pearls instead of grating the cheese. Also, I do not broil the cooked lasagna after the noodles are cooked.

Using broken spagetti instead of lasagna noodles yields a dish that I prefer even to lasagna, and which is slightly faster to cook if you are running short on time. Use thin, regular or linguini spaghetti, no preparation other than to break into thirds.

If you want a drier lasagna, reduce the sauce a bit (up to 8 oz less); but remember, you are not using pre-cooked noodles and the pasta is going to soak up a lot of moisture.

Regular lasagna noodles will do fine; no need to buy special ones. Some folk soak the noodles in hot water for 30 minutes before assembling dish to make them pliable.


"Until Done" is going to vary pot by pot. Some folks cook it for 5 hours. Mine cooks in my smaller crock pot in 3 hours. Ravioli is best when slight al-dente instead of slightly mushy, so, the first time you cook this, I suggest you quickly steal a ravioli from the pot to taste it. starting at 2 hours and then every hour after that.. I say "quickly" because you do not want to let the precious heat out of the pot and set the cooking process backwards.


  MOROCCAN VEGETABLE STEW: an unusual way to bring a butternut squash to the table! PASTA STOUP: Thicker than Soup, not quite a Stew: yes, this makes great leftovers! SIX-BEAN SOUP: Use up leftover beans.
Basil   1T 2t
Black Beans     1/8 c
Boullion   Enough for 6 cups 2T
Butternut Squash 1 medium (1.75 lbs)    
Carrots 2 medium    
Chili Beans     1/4 c
Cinnamon 1/2 t    
Garbanzo beans, cooked 2 cups (16 oz can) 2-3 cups 1/4 c
Garlic   1-2 t mashed  
Lentils, Red     1/8 c
Navy Beans     1/8 c
Olive Oil 1T 2T  
Onion 1 medium 1 large  
Oregano   1T 1t
Pasta     1/2 cup small shapes
Prunes 1/2 cup pitted and chopped    
Red Pepper 1/8 - 1/4 t   Dash
Salt 1/2 t To taste 2t
Spaghetti   8-12 oz  
Split Peas     1/8 c
Tamari Soy Sauce     As needed, sub for bouillon
Tomatoes, canned 15 oz stewed 30 ounces diced  
Vegetables, Root, Cubed     5c
  1. Heat olive oil in large pan over medium-high heat and cook until onion is golden, about 10 minutes:
    • Carrots, cut into 1/4 inch slices;
    • Squash, cut into 1-inch cubes;
    • Onion, chopped.
  2. Transfer cooked vegetables to a crockpot and add:
    • Garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained;
    • Stewed tomatoes and juice;
    • Prunes, pitted and chopped;
    • Cinnamon;
    • Salt;
    • Crushed red pepper;
    • 1.5 c water.
  3. With Crockpot on high, heat until food is at a simmer: 1 hour.
  4. Turn crockpot to low, and simmer 30 minutes or until all vegetables are tender.
  1. Into a 4-qt or larger slow cooker:
    • Tomatoes;
    • Onion, sliced thinly;
    • Garlic, mashed;
    • Oregano;
    • Basil leaves;
    • Olive oil;
    • Vegetable boullion dissolved in 2 cups hot water.
  2. Gently stir for a few moments to even out ingredients in the pot. Then cover and cook on HIGH until it comes to a simmer (1.5 hours).
  3. Add 2-3 c cooked garbanzo beans, rinsed in warm water. Bring it to a simmer for the second time (30 minutes).
  4. Add 8 - 12 oz spaghetti, broken into thirds, and stir into the liquid. By the time the ingredients come to a simmer for the third time (20-30 minutes), the spaghetti will be done.
  5. Add salt to taste. If the canned tomatoes were salted, this may not be necessary.

This dish can be made on the stovetop, of course. Follow the same sequence, but keep the heat on low and do not rush. Let the flavors mingle.

Use your favorite beans (other than soybeans!)

No soak time required.

Rinse, put in crock pot, cover with hottest water.

Cook 2 hours on high and 6 at medium.

Stovetop: Soak for 2 hours; simmer for one hour; add vegies and pasta and simmer 20 minutes more.



  1. Scrub them and rinse them but leave them wet;
  2. Cut a little piece off the pointed end;
  3. Cook on LOW for 4-6 hours, until they are tender when pierced with a fork.
Removal with tongs is easiest.


Hensperger, Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook (NYMSCC). This book is wonderful if you want to expand your repetoire of vegetable recipes, or experiment a bit with a tried-and-true; this book often contains several versions of classic recipes.

Williams Sonoma Slow Cooker Lasagna; Web. I have never come up with better proportions of the standard ingredients than these.
Maura Enright, Proprietor
© 2019 by Maura Enright
Last updated April 2019.
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