I wrote Pesach While You Sleep to cut some stress out of Passover, but the book’s recipes, methods, and ideas may and can (and should!) be used for any Yom Tov. For now, I will call it Yom Tov While You Enjoy.
Cooking for Yom Tov, even in large quantities, (even in a year and place when Yom Tov runs into Shabbos), does not need to be super time consuming. Cooking in 2-3 slow cookers, for example, produces multiple soups, meats, chickens, and even meatballs, matzah balls, and applesauce, etc. It’s almost like having a robot!
Without the special dietary details necessary to make Pesach, Yom Tov may be made using my book’s recipes my book’s recipes and just adding challah, salads, and a jacket (to take it out to the sukkah)!
Whether you are making Yom Tov for the first time and own barely a utensil or just don’t want to stand in your kitchen all day, try this system and you will get ahead of yourself with the delicious aromas of large quantities of food ready to be frozen.
You may also wish to cook this way to have supper ready for Chol Hamoed without staying home all day cooking.
For Rosh Hashana or Sukkot, I’m not in such a panic to prepare and freeze ahead every single entrée, but this way of cooking is so easy and delicious it frees me up for other Yom Tov preparations like the clothing shopping, errands, enjoying the family, the house prep, the sukkah building, etc.!
There are multiple reasons why you would want to use this method to prep or the slow cooker to cook.
It may be that you:
- Suddenly find yourself hosting Yom Tov due to a change in plans and are overwhelmed by the work load
- Need to conserve your energy, for whatever reason
- Are eating out as a guest, but want to help your hosts in some way
- Want easy supper choices to feed your family just before Yom Tov
- Are keeping Kosher in a not-kosher environment
- Are making Yom Tov for the first time, but don’t yet have tons of pots and pans, etc.
- Want to prepare large quantities of food in a small amount of time
- Want to have your home smell delicious day and night!
- Are hosting guests with allergies or very different tastes, and you want to prepare their food separately
- Want to feel peace of mind that you did most of your cooking early on and can therefore focus on other tasks (and people)
- Are simply looking for some new, delicious, kosher slow-cooker recipes!
- Agree with me that less is more. (See the intro to my book for more on this…)
The first time I tried this system to cook for Yom Tov (Pesach), it took some flexibility to believe I could cook anything but mush in a slow cooker. But once I tried it and saw how low-maintenance, efficient, and delicious it was, I was hooked. I experimented and took notes for a few years, and now we have the book available in print!
Here are a few recipes from my book to get you started and help you see what a lifesaver this method really is!
Before and After Chicken Legs
Yields: 8-10 servings
8 chicken legs
5 frozen garlic cubes
3 onions, chopped
4 tbsp. duck sauce (or less)
4 shakes each of paprika and garlic powder
black pepper, to taste
Line slow-cooker with liner. Put chicken legs into slow-cooker. Mix other ingredients together and smear all over the chicken. Cook on low overnight 7-10 hours.
I usually double this recipe (everything besides the salted water — that does not need to be doubled), and it still fits in 1 slow-cooker. This is one of the only recipes I don’t cook through the night.
Yields: about 15 medium balls
4 tbsp. oil
4 tbsp. ice water
1 cup matzah meal
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
8 cups water
Put 8 cups of water with 1 tsp. salt in the slow-cooker. Leave water on high for 1 hour. In the meantime, in a separate bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients. Let the dough rest 20 min in the fridge before forming balls.
Form into balls.
After the water in the slow-cooker has cooked for an hour, add matzah balls to it. Cook for approximately 3 hours on low. Allow to cool, then freeze on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, for about an hour. (This helps the matzah balls not stick to each other when frozen together.) You can then transfer matzah balls to small loaf pans/containers/ Ziploc bags to freeze by portions.
You can find plenty of slow cooker chicken soup recipes in my book too!
While you are preparing the Yom Tov food, what do you serve for dinner tonight?
Split Pea Soup
1 lb green split peas
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
6 cups water
1 tsp onion powder
6 shakes black pepper
1 bay leaf
Put everything in the crock pot. Cook on low 6-8 hours, or on high for 4 hours and then low another 3. Remove bay leaf before serving. Serve with some tuna salad and garlic bread and voila.
Slow Cooker Beef Stew
1 onion, chopped
2 large potatoes, peeled and chunked
2 carrots, peeled and chunked
1 sweet potato, peeled and chunked
1 package lean beef stew (about 1.25 lbs)
2 TB olive oil
2 TB ketchup
1-2 TB honey
2 cubes frozen garlic
1 tsp salt
3 shakes black pepper
Onion powder- be generous
Marinara sauce ½ cup
2-3 cups water
¾ – 1 cup raw old fashioned oats (if you don’t have them, don’t buy them! Use any starch – barley, pancake mix, etc.!)
Use slow cooker liner to line the pot. I cooked it on high for 4 hours without any water or sauce (only the ketchup and olive oil). Then add everything else and leave on low 3 hours. If you want to “sleep” on this one, dump it all together and cook on low for 7-8 hours, only adding the oats in the morning, leaving it to cook one more hour. Orzo or Israeli couscous works, too, or anything else you are trying to use up!
Julie Hauser is the author of Mothers to Mothers: Women Across the Globe Share the Joys and Challenges of Jewish Motherhood, When I Check on You at Night; The Gratitude Game, and Pesach While You Sleep: The Easy Way to Cook Ahead for Yom Tov. Julie lives with her husband and children in Detroit, Michigan, and happens to be an occupational therapist by profession.