For many, college is the first time students get to dip their toes into adulthood. That might come in the form of many things: paying bills, making doctors’ appointments, doing laundry, and, perhaps most of all, cooking. As the semester wanes, the weather gets chillier, and the holiday season approaches, the need for warm, homey dishes is almost unavoidable.
Meet your new best friend, the crock pot.
Easy to do and difficult to get wrong, cooking in a crock pot (or slow-cooker, as it is sometimes called), can be as simple as dumping ingredients together, flipping a switch, and waiting. This is especially helpful for a busy college student, as the food can be prepped and cooked far in advance, sometimes up to five hours ahead of time. All the delicious, budget-friendly recipes below have six ingredients or less and can be prepared with minimal effort and skill.
Creamy Christmas Eve Hot Chocolate
6 cups milk
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 bag milk chocolate chips (substitute semi-sweet for a richer chocolate flavor)
Combine all ingredients in a large crock pot. Heat for 2-3 hours on low, stirring often. Serve with marshmallows, whipped cream, and any other desired toppings.
Holiday Party Cranberry Meatballs
1 can jellied cranberry sauce
12 oz. bottle sweet chili sauce
26 oz. bag frozen, pre-cooked meatballs
Combine the cranberry and chili sauce together in a small bowl. Put meatballs in crock pot, top with sauce mixture, and stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours. Stir occasionally.
Winter’s Night Chicken Alfredo
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, thawed
¼ teaspoon garlic salt
2 jars Alfredo sauce of choice
1 package pasta of choice
Add chicken to crock pot and sprinkle with garlic salt. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours. Drain juices from crock pot. Add Alfredo sauce and pour over chicken. Cover and cook on high for 30 more minutes or until sauce is hot. Meanwhile, prepare pasta on stove. To serve, top pasta with chicken and sauce.
Easy Apple Crisp
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 stick butter (softened and cut into cubes or melted)
3 lbs. apples (Golden Delicious or Sweet Tango are preferred, but any type will work)
Peel, core, and thinly sliced the apples. Add granulated sugar and flour to the apples and toss to coat. Put apples in bottom of crock pot. Mix brown sugar, oatmeal, and butter until formed into a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle oatmeal mixture on top of apples. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or until apples are fully cooked. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.