This Crockpot Swedish Meatballs recipe is more than just a recipe — it’s a dinnertime savior. When life gets crazy (which happens more often than not, amiright), let the slow cooker do the heavy lifting for you when dinnertime rolls around. Add lingonberry jam and mashed potatoes and just like that, you have a satisfying, family-friendly dinner ready to go.

Crockpot Swedish Meatballs -- make this easy slow cooker meatballs recipe for a quick, family-friendly dinner. Everything is made in the crockpot -- even the gravy! @girlversusdough #girlversusdough #slowcooker #crockpotmeal #easydinnerrecipe #easyappetizer

In case you’ve missed it on Instagram, we officially moved! We’ve settled back into apartment life in the Twin Cities after spending last month in Wisconsin with my parents and the six months before that traveling the country in an RV, as one does. We’ve spent the last few days unpacking all of our things — which, since moving out of a less-than-200-square-foot space and into a 1,000-square-foot space, isn’t too much — and making our place feel like home.

So much has changed in the last year for us, and yet, so much hasn’t — including our love for the slow cooker. From house life to RV life to apartment life, I’ve schlepped my slow cooker to and fro and used it to make meals everywhere. And these crockpot Swedish meatballs always reign supreme in my household — wherever that has been or will be.

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Creamy Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese | @girlversusdough

I have eaten macaroni and cheese no fewer than half a dozen times in the last week. What happened is that we hadn’t eaten macaroni and cheese for a good month or so, which is forever for us, and so I decided to make up for it by making baked mac and cheese. And then a few days later, when that ran out, I made this creamy slow cooker mac and cheese. The husband says one or two dinners of mac and cheese is enough — I say the limit does not exist.

This cheesy, creamy slow cooker number comes not only at the request of my mac-and-cheese-starved tummy, but also by you, dear reader. I put up on a poll on Facebook last week asking whether you’d want to see a recipe for creamy slow cooker mac and cheese or slow cooker shrimp and grits. There was a resounding winner (I’ll let you guess which); though, the latter may have to make its way on the blog someday, too.

But today, we talk about mac and cheese, made extra cheesy and extra creamy in the crockpot. It’s easy food at its finest. It’s comfort food at its finest. It’s mac and cheese at its finest. And all you have to do is set it and forget it, as they say.

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Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs -- easy to prepare, freezer friendly and perfect for any occasion! @girlversusdough #girlversusdough #crockpot #dinneridea

I realllllly wanted to title this post “slow cooker Italian meat-a-balls” because that’s how I always say it in my head. But we’re trying to keep it profesh around here, so the traditional spelling wins out (though you’ll totally say “meat-a-balls” in your head now, too. You’re welcome).

This is one of the recipes I made pre-baby for our freezer stash, and I made a royal mistake with them — I froze all eleventy billion (or, like, 40) of them in one container. Do you know where I’m going with this? It means I had to thaw all 40 meatballs for me, my husband and my mom (who was staying with us at the time) at once. I was shaking in my boots that some of these delicious meat-a-balls would end up going to waste.

Well it turns out I completely underestimated my husband’s love for the meatball, because they were all gone — GONE — in two days. Down the hatch in meatball sub form, on top of pasta, cold and sliced and placed atop whole-grain toast (YUM, really), etc. OK, OK — my mom and I helped, too.

Needless to say, this recipe is one of those low-effort, high-result recipes that you’re going to want to make again and again (just maybe freeze them in batches if you do, unless you love eating meatballs for two days straight like my husband).

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Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan -- Tender, flavorful chicken topped with tomato sauce and melty cheese, all prepped in the slow cooker! @girlversusdough #girlversusdough #crockpot #chickendinner

This is a big week ahead. My mom is coming to town this weekend, my birthday is next week, my baby’s ONE YEAR birthday (!) is the day after that, I’m going to see Death Cab for Cutie in concert for the first time ever, which is a total bucket list thing for me, AND I’ll be diving into this slow cooker chicken parmesan for dinner probably no less than three nights in a row, which is also a total bucket list thing for me. I am so excited about all of it.

What, you don’t have this slow cooker chicken parmesan on your bucket list, too? Well, you should. Because it’s so easy and so tasty and so cheesy and so flavorful and actually, make that four nights in a row that I’ll be having this for dinner. With leftovers for lunch the next day.

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Slow Cooker Pear-Quince Butter | @stephmwise

How was your weekend? Ours was pretty great. We bought pumpkins and drank pumpkin beer and ate pumpkin mac and cheese and I almost bought a pumpkin Halloween costume for Avery (but I didn’t, because my deep-down Pinterest-driven-yet-not-so-crafty personality wants to DIY this situation so she will probably end up being a baby for Halloween).

And to answer your obvious question, no I am not yet sick of the pumpkin. Or of the apples, or the pears or the quinces.

Have you ever tried a quince? They’re admittedly not the most beautiful or convenient of fruits, but when they are baked — or in this case, slow cooked with brown sugar and vanilla bean and pears to a sweet, caramelized fruit butter perfection — they are quite tasty. And by quite tasty, I mean erase the “quite tasty” and replace it with “YUMMMMMMMMMMMMM.”

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10+ Egg-cellent Egg Recipes | @stephmwise

Oh, I know. You don’t even have to tell me — I know you’re impressed with my pun.

Here’s the thing: I was planning to share with you today a really delicious egg-based recipe — that is to say, a frittata — and I totally botched it. A FRITTATA. It was going to be all yummy and pretty and full of arugula and prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese, oh so much lovely goat cheese, but then I had to go and ruin it with a ever-so-slightly lengthy run under the broiler. It was yummy, yes, but so not pretty. So. Not. Pretty. And I just couldn’t bring myself to share it with you. So I ate it all to hide the evidence.

Instead, let’s take a gander at some yummy AND pretty egg-based recipes that you can make this weekend for Easter brunch, or for breakfast any day, or for brinner, which is becoming my new obsession for dinner these days. Can’t stop/won’t stop.

Mom's Egg Salad | @stephmwise

First up: Mom’s egg salad. It’s simple and quick and easy and I dare you to not eat all the servings in one sitting. So far I haven’t won this dare.

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Slow Cooker Mexican Grilled Corn Dip | @girlversusdough

I have, admittedly, been writing this post in my head for the better part of July. I may have been physically absent on the blog, but my mind has been hard at work this whole time, cranking the gears along that generate all those ideas for recipes to share. Off the grid I’ve been chopping fresh vegetables, slicing juicy fruits, grilling meats and sipping on sangria and icy beers but inside, in my head, I’ve been blogging away all the while.

This month off was just what I needed: to relax, recharge and renew my sense of perspective, re-energize my creativity. But it’s also been a time to shift those gears that have been constantly turning in my mind. And, alongside those glasses of sangria and icy beers, to eat mountains of this slow cooker corn dip. So thank you. Thank you so much for giving me this time.

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slow cooker cheesy pesto and spinach egg casserole

Lest you think I’ve moved on from thinking about brinner, I’m here to tell you that a) I have another brinner-ful recipe for you and b) it’s impossible for me to stop thinking about brinner.

Remember that one time we chatted about the winter blahs and having a Backwards Day Brinner Bash to get over them, if even for just one meal? And we drooled over loaded mashed potato stuffed biscuits? Yeahhh, now you remember. Well, meet its lovely partner, the slow cooker cheesy pesto and spinach egg casserole, a.k.a., the egg bake of your dreams (and if your dreams are anything like mine, they include egg bakes).

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Hearty 13-Bean Slow Cooker Minestrone | @girlversusdough

As of last week, whenever I would think of minestrone, I’d think of the kind you get from Olive Garden, along with the salad and those seriously addictive breadsticks. It was always my favorite soup there, and I’d order it every time with the soup and salad meal. I’d tell you I’d order that meal for the soup alone, but we all know the soup was just there as a dipping receptacle for those breadsticks (so addicted, srsly).

Don’t get me wrong — I like the OG’s minestrone. It’s got everything a classic minestrone should — tomatoes, basil, pasta, beans, chopped vegetables. But it also has a lot of what it shouldn’t, at least in my opinion — a heavy hand on the broth and the salt. I know this now because, as of last week, I now have a new minestrone soup to set the standard. And that is this version — this hearty 13-bean slow cooker minestrone, perfect for the holiday season when cookies count as breakfast and colds and sniffles run amok (at least that’s been the case in this household).

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view from above.

This bread had high hopes.

We both did, really. In my continuing quest to find The Perfect Bread for the Laziest Girl Ever, when I happened upon a recipe for bread baked in a crock pot, I thought my days of searching were over. “This is it!” I thought. “I can make bread without lifting a finger!” I said to myself. “I can watch TV and paint my nails and take a nap on the floor with my cat and this bread will just bake itself!” I exclaimed. (OK, that last one is a bit of an exaggeration. Though I do take naps with my cat.)*

As I was saying — this bread recipe looked promising. I love my Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbook like it was my own not-yet-existent child. The recipes are tried and true, ridiculously easy to make and honestly scrumptious. It really is the lazy girl’s (or guy’s) guide to bread baking. So I shouldn’t have been surprised that a recipe requiring even less effort didn’t turn out quite as well in the visual department. The taste is another story.

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Slow Cooker Cranberry Pulled Pork with Cheesy Polenta |

Everything’s coming up autumn over here. After a cool-weather weekend, I’m full-on into the season — complete with canned pumpkin, PSLs, cozy sweaters and comfort foods. Oh yes. I may love me some summertime, but fall is my true favorite — especially when it comes to the eating.

Green Chile Chicken Tamale Bake |

That’s why I’m fairly certain that my dinners this fall will most likely be either slow cooker cranberry pulled pork with cheesy polenta or green chile chicken tamale bake. Or both. Because I don’t want to take sides, obvi.

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slow cooker turtle upside-down cake

Happy Thursday, ladies and gentlefolk! I hope your weeks have been treating you well and that you’re looking ahead to fun-filled weekends. As for me, I’m heading to Iowa City this weekend to catch up with old friends, so this week has been pretty hectic in getting everything prepped for some time away.

BUT because I like you guys and I just can’t leave you hanging without something yummy to share, I’ve wrastled up a roundup of some tasty fall sweets and breakfast treats I’ve been creating for some neat sites I write for, like Tablespoon, Betty Crocker, Bisquick and KitchenAid. Get ready for some serious yums in your face.

First up! Slow Cooker Turtle Upside-Down Cake (pictured above). Um, to say that I ate approximately half of this cake with my by myself in two days is an understatement. It’s rich and it’s delicious and it’s easy and you gots to make it.

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Scotcheroo Ice Cream |

It is a darn shame that this was the first time I used my ice cream maker this summer. That’s not to say this is my first time having eaten ice cream this summer because, hello, ice cream. I actually might be a little ashamed (or proud?) to tell you just how much ice cream I have consumed thus far this season.

But that is neither here nor there — what is important is this ice cream, ladies and gents. This homemade scotcheroo-flavored ice cream. This glorious, homemade scotcheroo-flavored ice cream. This magical, glorious, homemade scotcheroo-flavored ice cream. This — well, you get my point.

Pause: Do you know the goodness I am referring to that is a scotcheroo? I first tried the treats when I was a reporter in Iowa and we had potlucks every now and then so as to boost workplace morale (and/or have an excuse to eat cheese dip from a slow cooker and five different kinds of dessert for lunch. #memories). I’m pretty sure I wolfed down no less than threeve of the yummy little chocolate-covered, peanut buttery and butterscotchy crispy bars right after my first-ever bite. It was instant love. And I haven’t had a scotcheroo since.

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loaded mashed potato stuffed biscuits

I don’t know about you, but I’m fiercely battling some cabin fever these days. These winters, they get to be long, too long (and too cold, brrr) and come mid-January, I’m ready for it to be over. But it’s far from that, unfortunately.

So… what to do, what to do…

Obviously, you make brinner and turn it into a party, that’s what.

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10 Easy DIY Gift Jar Recipes for the Holidays | @girlversusdough

Tis the season to give and get gifts in Mason jars! I, for one, am completely on board with this undying trend. It’s been a constant source of inspiration for me, especially around the holiday season when I am often stumped on what to get for friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, etc. The jar becomes my BFF, and I fill it with all sorts of goodies from cookie mix to homemade dressing to roasted nuts.

So if, like me, you are a fan of the edible gift in jar form, let this roundup of 10 easy DIY gift jar recipes be your guide this holiday season. Or, send it to someone as a hint for a gift idea for you (I mean, I would love it if someone gifted me a jar of my own peppermint brownie mix, TBH). I’ve included ideas on how to package each idea, too, so all you need to do is measure, pack, and gift away. MERRY MERRY.

First up: Caramel Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt. I just had to retype that recipe title three times to get all of that goodness in there — caramel bits, coconut flakes, chocolate chips, sea salt, all in a cookie. WORD.

Caramel Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt | @stephmwise

How to package it: Measure out a HALF BATCH of cookie ingredients (to make 1 dozen cookies). Combine the flour, baking soda and salt called for in the recipe. In a (at least) 1-liter size resealable jar, add the flour mixture, then the sugar, then the brown sugar, then the chocolate chips, caramel bits and toasted coconut flakes. Top with a small sachet/bag of sea salt. Attach recipe ingredients/directions to the jar.

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Three Months of Motherhood |

As of this weekend, I will have been a mother for three whole months – well, unless you count me carrying around a fetus when motherhood consisted of making sure I took my prenatal vitamins and didn’t eat sushi, in which case I’m coming up on a year. Either way, I’m pretty sure I literally blinked and my daughter went from “newborn” to “baby.” *Cher voice* If I could turn back tiiiiime…

I feel like I haven’t said much about this new chapter in my life since it happened so, because we’re pals, I figured I’d bring you up to speed so you have an idea of what’s been going on behind the scenes of the good ol’ GVD.

Oh, you thought it was all ice cream and slow cooker meatballs and lovely loveliness? HA. I mean yes, those things have happened, along with cuddles and smiles and laughs and feelings of so much love my heart could burst. Truly, I enjoy being a mom more than anything and I always knew this was the role I was meant to have in this world. BUT. There also have been breakdowns and blowouts and fightin’ words and eating of feelings and wonderings of, “Why the heck is she crying?” And wonderings of, “Why the heck am I crying?” and fears that maybe I’m the worst mother in the world and stressy stressiness. Still, I wouldn’t trade a single second of it.

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These easy soft and chewy sugar cookies are anything but plain. Perfectly crisp on the outside, chewy in the centers with the sweet flavor of vanilla throughout and a crunchy sugar topping, I dare you to eat just one.

chewy sugar cookies on a cooling rack

Happy Valentine’s Day! Are you team yay or nay when it comes to this holiday? For me, I really just like using it as an excuse for a date night in, to be honest. That, and having dessert, like one or five of these chewy sugar cookies — not that I need any excuse to do that.

Friends, if you like cookies (which, if you do not we need to talk), you will LOVE these cookies. They might seem like plain sugar cookies, but that couldn’t be farther from reality. The fact is, well, can I let you in on a secret? These might just be my new favorite cookies of all time.

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cheery biscuits.

If you’re close to me, you know that I like to pawn off most of the things I bake. I do this for three reasons — one, because I care about you and like to show it via baked goods; two, because I know if I don’t give the brownies/cookies/chocolate peanut butter quick bread/etc. away, I will eat it all. Maybe in one sitting. And three, because otherwise, my freezer will implode with the weight of too many a frozen creation. And then it will hate me. And I cannot let that happen.

But mostly, I share my baked treats with others because it’s one of the best ways to show someone you care, I think. At least, I always feel well cared for when someone takes the time to make food for me. Even if it’s microwaving a bowl of SpaghettiOs or pouring cereal. Doesn’t matter. It’s love.

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Saffron Risotto with Shrimp and Pistachios | @stephmwise

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want this year to look like — really, what I want my life to look like going forward. I know some people choose a word to define their year and while I did that last year (served with a side of cake, naturally), I felt like it would be too limiting for me for 2015. I just wanted to go into it with intentions: To eat well, to love better, to pray more, to obsess less, the list goes on.

But then the word “legacy” recently popped into my brain one slow afternoon, while my daughter played with nesting bowls on the rug in the center of our living room and I, as I often do, sat on the couch scrolling through photos on my Instagram feed. And it struck me, quite aggressively and surprisingly, actually: Is this the legacy I want to leave for my little girl? Do I want her to remember me as the mother who loved her unconditionally, who showed her the beauty of this world and fed her delicious home-cooked meals and took her on adventures and sometimes even just sat on the floor with her playing with her bowls? Or do I want to be the mother who stared at her phone all day, itching to get back on the computer during naptime to clunk out that blog post, edit those photos, scroll through another feed?

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