The CrockPot, Its Better Than You Think!

Serves To Everyone!

What you need
     I never imagined I would be writing this.  After all, your slow cooker does come with directions, right?  Well I discovered recently that many people do not read directions.  Myself being a avid direction reader (I even read my car's owners manual) I was surprised to hear of these crockpot mishaps.  These are true stories.  The names have been omitted to protect the innocents.
      So, to make this easier for you, I'm going to give you a few tips.

     1.  The cord is short for a reason.  Its meant to keep the pot on your counter and prevent your meal from falling on the floor.  If you can't reach it well enough to chop your ingredients elsewhere, put them in the ceramic insert, then in the heating unit.  Do not use an extension cord - especially if you have a child or pet.
     2.  Never, never ever use your ceramic insert on the stove unless you have a special very expensive slow cooker that has an insert designed to be used on a stove top.  You will know this because, it will be very expensive and it will tell you on the box what you can do.  Otherwise, be safe and only use the insert in the slow cooker unit.  That is, after all, why they call it an INSERT!
     3.  Finally, and I am surprised that I've had to say this more than once, Never put food directly into the metal heating unit.  The food goes in the INSERT, the insert goes into the HEATING UNIT.  This is so basic, but very very important.  If you get confused and you have any questions, please email me immdiately and I will help you.**
** The one in the photo is not designed to be put on the stove top or be used without the insert.

WARNING

How to

Serves 6 - 8

What you need
2 lbs Ground Sausage
1 bag frozen chopped peppers
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 tbsp Garlic Powder or Paste
1/2 c. Port Wine
2 cans crushed tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 c. cream cheese
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese


Bolognese Sauce in the Slow Cooker

How to
         If you have a crock pot that browns, you can do this all in the pot.  Otherwise, do your browning on the stove, then place all ingredients in the crockpot.
        Add Oil & Onions to preheated pot and sauté until just golden.  Add Garlic and Italian Seasoning, stirring just a moment or two.  Now add the ground pork and brown along with the onions and spices. Deglaze your pan with Port Wine.  Once browned, if you used a separate pan, add it all to the crock pot now, and use a potato masher to break up and large pieces of pork. Then add crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes now.  Stir well, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook on simmer or low for about 2 hours.  Add Cream Cheese, (or sour cream) and parmesan, and cook about 10 minutes more. 
          Meanwhile, boil your pasta, and drain.  Serve with sauce for a lovely dinner - weeknight or holiday.  This is a fantastic recipe for a wonderful otherwise time consuming dinner, that takes no time at all!

Serves 6 - 8

What you need
   A pizza casserole in the crock pot? I couldn't believe it, but you will be very pleased with how it turns out! It's delicious and hearty and it feeds a crowd, and its versatile enough that you can add or omit whatever kinds of fillings or toppings you prefer. Hope you like it!

1 lb. rigatoni (uncooked)
2 jars tomato sauce (or your own marinara sauce)
1 tbs. dried oregano
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. Italian sausage, (removed from casing)
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 green pepper, roughly chopped
1-2 cups sliced mushrooms
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
sliced pepperoni
.

Crock Pot Pizza Casserole

How to
   In a large skillet, brown the ground beef. Drain excess fat. Remove from pan and set aside. Do the same thing with the sausage, making sure to break it up into small pieces.    
   Meanwhile, mix the sauce, uncooked pasta, and oregano in a large bowl until the pasta is well coated. Spray the inside of a large crock pot with cooking spray. 
   Now make layers using half of each ingredient and then repeat using the other half. Layer in this order: Pasta, beef, sausage, onions, peppers, mushrooms, cheese. 
   Place slices of pepperoni on the top and sprinkle with a little more oregano. Cook on low for about 6 hours.

Tips:
I omit the pepperoni to the top layer, because it makes the entire casserole too spicy. You can as as much or as little as you like. If you're all about spicy, add the pepperoni and even some red pepper flakes.
Be generous with the sauce because the uncooked pasta really absorbs a lot. I would add a little extra layer of sauce between the meat and the vegetables.
You can make this a low carb dish by omitting the pasta completely.

Serves 4 -6

What you need

     For some reason, I love the idea of Macaroni & Cheese in the slow cooker, even though it doesn't take long to make on the stove.  Its just hot and messy, and this recipe from "fix it and forget it" seems so....simple. 
    I'm going to try it this week, double the recipe, and add a few different cheeses to kick up the taste a notch, then I'll be back to let you know how it went.

¼ stick (2 Tbsp.) butter
1 ½ cups uncooked macaroni
1 qt. milk
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, or cubed Velveeta cheese
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper

Mac & Cheese (yes, in the slow cooker)

How to

1. Place the butter in a small microwave-safe glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.
2. Microwave the butter on High for 30 seconds, or until it is melted.
3. Use potholders to remove the bowl. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the butter into your slow cooker.
4. Add the macaroni, milk, cheese, salt, and pepper to the butter in your slow cooker. Stir well.
5. Cover your slow cooker. Cook the Mac and Cheese on Low for 3 hours.

Serves 6 - 12

What you need
   I'm always looking for something to do with Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs.  They're healty and reasonable, and you don't find that too often.  So, I came across this recipe this evening, and its going to be tomorrow's dinner.  I, of course, will be doubling the recipe, because I have hungry kids, and they WILL eat leftovers.  I'll let you know how it turns out and what I did with it when it was done!
     (7/30) Ok, I did it.  I doubled the recipe of course, and turn it off just before the chicken falls apart, this way it will retain its moisture.  It was fast, easy to put together, and mildly spiced so I could eat it as well as the kids, who cant wait for leftovers tomorrow.  The crockpot is a wonderful tool in the summer.  You don't heat up your kitchen, you can go out and not tend to it, and you can use it on those days when its too hot to even turn on the grill.  I recommend this one!

  • 1.5 lb chicken breasts and/or thigns (turkey breast, beef or pork roasts can be substituted)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (smashed and peeled)
  • 1 can Rotel (10 ounce can of diced tomatoes with green chiles)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 ounce can)
  • 1 can green chiles (4 ounce can)
  • 1 can black beans (15 ounce can)
  • 1 cup frozen corn (8 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup taco seasoning (1 envelope)
  • rice for four servings
  • taco toppings (cheese, veggies, sour cream, etc)

CHICKEN TACO CHILI

How to
  1. Place chicken on the bottom of the crock pot and put garlic cloves on top of chicken.
  2. Pour remaining ingredients over top and stir together leaving chicken settled on the bottom. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  3. Stir ingredients and shred chicken. Eat immediately or continue to cook on low adding water if liquids begin to evaporate.
  4. Cook rice according to package directions and build bowls by layering rice, then chicken mixture and top with vegetables, cheese, sour cream or other ingredients you would typically put on tacos.

Serves 6 - 8

What you need

  Greek Chicken cooked in the CrockPot?  And made with my favorite boneless skinless chicken thighs?  I love it before I even try it. I think this is also something you can put together with the stuff in my pantry, but you will need the Feta!

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 Tbsp Greek seasoning (Penzey’s)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 1/2 cups kalamata olives, pitted
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups freeze-dried zucchini (You can use fresh)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 container feta crumbles

GREEK CHICKEN

How to
1) Rinse chicken thighs and put in the bottom of the Crockpot.
2) Drizzle with oil, lemon juice and Greek seasoning and toss to coat.
3) Add olives and zucchini or vegetable of choice.
4) Add chicken broth. (If you don’t use the freeze dried veggies, you may not need any broth.)
5) Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours.
6) Plate and top with feta.  Serve with rice or pita.  Now how simple is that?

You could easily cook without any veggies, and then served over some zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash! You could substitute any other frozen vegetable you like.  You could use fresh vegetables, or even potatoes.

Serves 6 to 8

What you need
2 whole chickens, cleaned, cut up into parts and patted dry.
2 c. sliced fresh mushrooms (ok to use canned here)
2 pkgs (bags) frozen birdseye pepper and onion strips
  (or 4 red and yellow bell peppers and 2 onions sliced)
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp Italian Seasoning mix
1/2 c. fat free chicken broth
1/4 c. dry white wine
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained.
2 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

(2 tbsp cornstarch and 2 tbsp water, as necessary)

Chicken Cacciatore

How to
   1. Put all chicken pieces in slow-cooker, wings on top.  In a separate bowl, combine mushrooms, onions, peppers, and garlic and seasonings with broth, wine, tomatoes and tomato paste, mix to blend.  Pour over chicken.
   2.  Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 7 hours, mixing gently once.  Depending on the heat of your slow-cooker, check your chicken for doneness at 5 hours.  If you overcook it, it will shred.
   3.  Remove chicken once it is done and cover to keep warm. Remove and discard bay leaves.  If your sauce is too thin, turn to high-heat setting. Mix cornstarch with water to make a slurry, then wisk in tomato sauce mixture if you want to thicken it. Cover and cook for 15 minutes more. Serve vegetable mixture over chicken and cooked rice or pasta.

Serves 6

What you need
   The slow-cooker is not just for winter anymore.  With an abundance of vegetables available, and everyone so busy these days, take advantage of your slow-cooker.  

    2 to 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
   1 bag frozen sliced carrots

   
1 medium onion, sliced (or 1 bag frozen chopped onion)
   
1 can Campbells healthy request cream of mushroom soup
   2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into approximately quarters**
   
4 bay leaves
   
1/2 box fat free chicken broth
   
1 teaspoonoregano
   
salt and pepper to taste
   
1 cupfresh mushrooms or zucchini, diced (optional)
   (feel free to add any other vegetable you like here)

**The original recipe called for 1 lb of stew beef and beef boullion, but I couldn't see how that was a "light" meal.  So I made a few adaptations.  Feel free to go back to beef if you choose.  Or, if you want to go lighter, use chicken breasts. 

Summer Slow-Cooker Stew

How to
  1. If you want the color on the chicken, brown the thighs in a frying pan with a tablespoon of oil, just a little. Add to slow cooker.
  2. Put all the remaining ingredients in slow cooker and stir. If you need more broth, add it, but do not add more than enough to cover more than a quarter of the way up the ingredients.  The cooker will do the rest.  You can always add more later.  Stir and cover.
  3. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. This stew does not have to be watched or stirred. You can put it on before you leave for work and it will be ready when you get home. (I find that if its cooked more than 6 hours, the chicken will beging to shred, and the vegetables will be mushy.  So if you are not coming home soon, be sure your cooker has an auto off feature.  Not a keep warm, because it will continue cooking)

Serves 8

What you need
Here is a lighter version of pulled pork.  You can make it even lighter by mixing half boneless chicken breasts and half boneless thighs. You can cut down the spice by using less cayenne

  • 1 tab lespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pkg frozen diced onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped  (2 tbsp minced)
  • 1 pkg frozen diced peppers
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup hot-pepper sauce, such as Frank's
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
  • 8 hamburger buns

Buffalo-style Pulled Chicken

How to
  1. Contrary to the original recipe, browning the chicken first does not add much in flavor and just makes more pots to clean up. So,  simply add all ingredients to slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook on high until chicken is very tender, 4 hours.  If you are going out, cook on low 6-8 hours. Shred chicken using 2 forks (its likely to fall apart anyway, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve on buns.
  2. If your chicken needs more moisture, you can add a buffalo wing sauce.  If that is too spicy for you, use chicken broth.

Serves 8-10

What you need
THIS SWEET N SPICY PEANUT CHICKEN IS THE MOST REQUESTED RECIPE IN MY HOUSE. DON'T BE PUT OFF BY THE ODD LIST OF INGREDIENTS. WHEN THEY COME TOGETHER, YOU WILL HAVE JUST THE RIGHT BALANCE .

8-12 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
1 bag frozen chopped onion
2 tbs minced garlic or 1 tbs garlic paste
1 bag frozen pepper strips
1 jar chunky salsa
1 cup peanut butter
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs honey
1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbs ground ginger

Slow Cooker Peanut chicken

How to
In 5-7 quart crockpot mix all ingredients, except chicken. It should be thick and chunky. The cooked chicken will add moe liquid to the sauce at the end. (It will not be very greasy, as the meat is skinless).
Add Chicken and stir to coat. Cover crockpot and cook on low 7 hours.
Just before chicken is done, if you would like a thicker sauce, mix 2 tbs cornstarch w/ 2 tbs cold water until smooth, then stir into chicken. Cook 10 more minutes

The original recipe suggests a splash of vinegar, and a garnish of chopped peanuts and cilantro. We dont find it necessary unless you are going to display it and serve it to guests.

Serve over hot cooked rice

Serves 6

What you need
      I did not invent this recipe or its title, but the name caught my eye, and I do know that in fact a slow-cooker can be too complicated for some people.  Believe it or not, it comes out delicious.  Caveat:  Use thick cut pork chops, bone in or out, and do not get the extra lean ones.  In the slow cooker you will need the extra fat to keep your meat moist.  You can drain the fat out later.  
   So try this one, with gravy like your mom used to make; they're so easy it's stupid!
  • 6 thickpork chops
  • flour for dredging
  • 2 tbs garlic, minced
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 can sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Stupid Slow-Cooker Pork Chops

How to

1. Dredge pork chops in flour, salt and pepper, and place in slow cooker.

2. Add remaining ingredients and cook on low all day, 5-6 hours or until pork chops are tender. Serve over buttered noodles or mashed potatoes

Serves 8-10

What you need
1 large or 2 small pork shoulder, or pork butt
1 package frozen chopped onion
1/4 c. BBQ Seasoning'
1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce   
2 tbs. lemon juice
1 tbs honey   
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. mustard (optional)
 

Pulled PorK

How to

Spray a large (7-9 qt) crockpot with Pam.  Turn on high and empty bag of onions into the bottom.  Rub pork shoulders or butts with BBQ seasoning all over.  There should be enough meat to fill the pot. (it will shrink)  Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours or until you can pull the bone out easily.  If there is no bone, then until the pork shreds with a fork.
At this point, take the meat out (carefully as it is hot and will shred easily) so you can drain off most of the fat that has accumulated in the bottom of the pot.  Put the meat back in the pot and when its cooled slightly, pull it apart with either your gloved hands, or 2 forks.
Then, add the rest of the ingredients and mix, gently.  You dont want to chop your meat or shred it any further.  I personally only use half the bottle of sauce (as I prefer the Carolina way w/ mustard and lemon- a bit more tangy), and let the diner add as much as he or she wants at the table.  It depends on whether you like your pulled pork very saucy, or less.  Either way, it will be moist and tender.
Serve on crusty rolls, or po-boy rolls. Cole Slaw on or with the sandwich is classic.
Note:  The slow cooked pork below is not shredded or sauced, but simply taken off the bone in pieces.  You can serve just as it it is, over rice, in a sandwich, on top of a salad.  The possibilities are endless with this luscious meat.
Enjoy. 

Serves 12

What you need
2 pkgs dried split peas 
1 pkg frozen sliced carrots
1 pkg frozen chopped onions, or onions and peppers
1 meaty ham hock, preferred but not necessary
2 boxes fat free chicken broth, or vegetable if you prefer
2 tbs adobo seasoning
dash worstershire sauce
   

Split Pea Soup

How to

   Spray a large (7-9 qt) crockpot with Pam. Turn on high and empty bags of onions and carrots into the bottom.  Add ham hock, if using.  (you shold use a nice size ham hock with a bulk of meat and fat attached.  I keep them in the freezer until I'm ready to use them. 
    Open and rinse split peas in a small strainer to get rid of any dust and pick through for any stray pebbles, then add to crockpot.  Then add broth, seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste
   Swithch crockpot to low and cook 7-8 hours.  By then the peas will have softened and melded with the rest of the ingredients so that you will essetially have a thick puree.  If it is too thick, add more broth.  Take out the bone from the ham hock and be sure the ham is shredded. 
   Serve in bowls, topped with a dab of sour cream, and a bit of hot sauce (as my kids prefer), or as in the photo below as I prefer) with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese).

Serves 12

What you need

   I found this recipe a few years ago and have been making my Thanksgiving mashed potatoes this way ever since.  It takes away one extra chore to worry about and the potatoes will be hot when you take them to the table.  My family likes them served with French's Fried Onions on top.

  • 3 lb. small red potatoes
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced (or 2 tbsp bottled minced garlic)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup cream cheese with onions and chives, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup whole milk (we use fat free half and half

Crockpot Garlic Smashed Potatoes

How to

Halve or quarter the larger potatoes to make pieces about the same size. Place potatoes in a 4-6 quart slow cooker. Add garlic, onion, oil, salt, pepper, and water and mix to coat. Cover crockpot and cook on high for 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 hours until potatoes are tender.

Mash potatoes roughly with a potato masher. Stir in cream cheese and butter until mixed, then add enough milk or cream for desired consistency. You can serve this right away, or cover and hold it in the slow cooker up to 2 hours on low. 14 1/2 cup servings (I always add extra broth or water if I'm going to be holding them at warm for an extended period of time)

If you have a new hotter cooking crockpot, check this after 2-1/2 hours. You might also want to stir the potatoes after 1-1/2 hours to prevent over browning or burning.