Slow Cooker Recipes for Busy Women

slow cooker recipes for working womenWhen we were doing our roundup of posts to help with your resolutions, I realized it’s been too long since we had an open thread with shared crock pot recipes.  So many recipes have easy prep, easy clean up, and such a long cook time that you can start your dinner before you even leave the house in the morning. I’ve always been a huge fan of slow cookers, even in my singleton days — if I wasn’t planning on working late enough to get a Seamless dinner and didn’t have dinner plans, odds are good I had something brewing in the slow cooker for an easy weeknight dinner.  I’m a big fan of using the slow cooker to “lock me in” to healthier choices than I might make otherwise.  Shall I stop in to the fast food place? Nah — I’ve got food waiting for me in the crockpot at home.  To that end I’ve made a ton of stuff in the slow cooker that you don’t need to make in a slow cooker — pierogies, fried rice (with brown rice and/or quinoa), and meat sauce all come to mind.  I’ve posted some of my favorite recipes before (like the 5-ingredient Moroccan Chicken Lentils Stew or my super-healthy pulled pork) but I’ve pasted another one we like, Mediterranean Beef Stew (in my slow cooker right now!) below.  (Pictured.) So, ladies, please share — are you the fan of slow cooked dinners? Which are your favorite slow cooker recipes?  

For what it’s worth I almost always use a slow cooker liner to make cleanup easier, and although I have some fancier slow cookers, my favorite one remains an old 4.5 quart one similar to this $30 one, pictured above.  (Pro tip: just make sure the stoneware is entirely removable — I had a cheap one when I first got out of college that had the stoneware attached to the electric base and it made cleaning a total pain.) If you haven’t used a slow cooker before, note that there are a ton of recipes for vegans and meat-eaters alike — and these days a lot of recipes go well beyond canned cream of mushroom soup.  (Though, FWIW, I really like cream of mushroom soup — but I avoid cream of chicken soup like the plague.  If you get the boxed soup or boxed tomatoes it’s a bit healthier because you avoid BPA.)

Another note: cooking for the freezer has become hugely popular — people will cook double amounts or cook several recipes in one weekend in order to fill their freezer with pre-cooked meals. Another popular technique is slow cooking from the freezer — pre-assembling slow cooker meals that can just be dumped in — and then freezing those.  (I have some links in our Further Reading, below.) I don’t have a lot of experience with either technique, and I’d love to hear your experiences.   (I’ll admit I often use frozen veggies, particularly for things like chopped onions (I haaaaate chopping onions for some reason) or at the end of a recipe to bulk it up (like adding a bag of frozen cauliflower to Buffalo Chicken Pasta), but I tend to raise my eyebrows at a recipe that just has you chopping fresh vegetables and adding them to a freezer bag along with raw meat and other ingredients, without blanching them first — but maybe it just doesn’t matter in a stew or whatnot.) Oh, a lot of people are also doing things like ricing cauliflower to use with stew dishes instead of using white rice, which is something I’ve yet to try, but fits with my “the more vegetables the better” philosophy.

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Handling Business Lunches as the Only Vegetarian

work - dietary restrictionsWhat if you’re at a lunch meeting or other work event and there’s nothing you can eat as a vegetarian? What should you do, and how can you take steps to ensure you don’t find yourself in the same awkward situation again? In general, how should anyone with dietary restrictions handle a business lunch? Reader M wonders…

I went to a meeting today with a catered lunch. The options were turkey or chicken sandwiches. I am a vegetarian. This put me in the awkward position of not eating when the other four people in the room (all males of varying ages) were eating lunch. My question is: How should one deal with dietary restrictions at work or at events with work colleagues? Should I have contacted the assistant in charge of the lunch? My dietary restriction is voluntary, but there are many people out there who will literally become ill if they don’t follow certain dietary guidelines. I can usually find something, but there are the occasional times when I cannot. I also hate being an inconvenience. When I was interviewing for jobs, I actually ate dishes with meat a couple times to avoid an awkward situation or risking coming across as a picky eater.

Yikes — I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been put in such a tough situation. We sort of discussed this when we talked about how to stick to your gluten-free diet at a business lunch or how to diet while working a corporate gig, but that was a while ago. What is the best way for anyone with a dietary restriction to handle a business lunch? I can’t wait to hear what the readers have to say.

I have a few ideas for how to deal with this:

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The Next Step: Services

upgrading-personal-servicesWhat are the best ways to upgrade personal services such as massages, food delivery, personal training, and more? More importantly, where is the middle ground between DIYing it and, for example, hiring a personal chef? How can you outsource and save time in some areas of your life so that you can focus on spending your time (and money) on the things you enjoy the most?

We’ve already talked about a bunch of stuff in our Next Step series: how to step up your workwear, upgrade your handbags, graduate from IKEA furniture, and buy better shoes — but something else that I thought might be interesting to talk about is services. I came up with a few ideas for areas such as massage, food, exercise, hair/beauty, and home decor/organization — what other services do you think are upgradeable? What other “middle ground” approaches do you know of?

Note: These generally go in order of money required for each level (i.e., Level 1 can be done with little to no money), but obviously other factors come into play here such as time, energy, and desire. Of course, if you’re really into a certain category, you may want to do ALL the levels, all the time (money permitting); you may also want to pursue it further as a hobby or even a future career. Where possible I’ve tried to include thoughts for that as well.

These were my ideas for each category:

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Guest Post: 5 Healthy Eating Tips

5 Diet Changes to Make | CorporetteFor busy women, eating healthy can be impossible —  so I was curious which five small changes would make the most impact. We’ve talked about easy weeknight dinners, healthy snacks for the office, and ways to politely decline treats your coworkers bring to work, and today guest poster* Sara Sarakanti, a certified health coach, weighs in on this nutritious issue. (Sara is also an old friend who features prominently in Jack’s bedtime stories — it was at her birthday party seven years ago that I met my husband.) Follow Sara on Twitter at @SaraSarakanti

Replace soda with water, and make it sexy.
Stop drinking empty calories and sugar in soda, and start replenishing cells in your body with water. Drinking six to eight glasses of water a day can be tedious, but there are plenty of bottles out there to help you reach your goal easily. Find a large water bottle (BPA-free of course) that holds up to four glasses of water, and be sure to drink two full bottles’ worth of water throughout the day. Always remember to replenish midday. If you don’t like the taste of water or think it’s too boring for your palate, then purchase an infusion water bottle. You can load up the center tube of the bottle with lemons, berries, or any other refreshing, nutrient-rich fruits. For some elegantly designed infusion water bottles, check out Define Bottle (as seen on ABC’s “Shark Tank”). Soon enough, you’ll be drinking your H2O in style.

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Summer Associate Series: Business Lunch Etiquette

The Best Business Lunch Etiquette Tips for Interns | CorporetteThis week, in our Summer Associate Series*: what are some of the best business lunch etiquette tips that interns should know about — for business lunches, office cocktail parties, and more?  Readers already working: what are the biggest dining etiquette tips you wish interns and SAs knew? Which are the biggest blunders you see (from both the guys and the gals)? Summer associates and interns: what are your biggest areas of confusion?

(*Name aside, we hope this series will be helpful to ANY intern, whether you’re a law student or another woman interning in a conservative office for the summer.) Check out our previous post on general summer associate style, what to wear for the creative summer associate events, and general business etiquette tips.

Here are some of the best dining etiquette questions we’ve covered in the past — readers, what have we missed?

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Healthy Snacks for the Office

Healthy Snacks for the Office | CorporetteWe’ve talked about healthy snacks to keep at the office before, but since it is the season for healthy eating resolutions, I thought now might be a great time to talk again about what your favorite snacks are — what do you bring with you? What do you keep at the office?

When I was working in Big Law I kept a banker’s box on the window stuffed full of a variety of snacks — when I was packing my office to switch jobs, a supervisor came into the office and I offered her some, since I was just throwing away a lot of them — we’d worked closely together for four years and she couldn’t get over how she’d always just thought it was a box of docs, like all the other boxes in our offices…  In those days I ate far too many 100-calorie Nabisco treats, but these days, I’m a big fan of: [Read more…]