Friday, March 7, 2014

H2C: Whatta Crock!

This is the next installment in a series about cooking when you really don't have time to cook. For the rest of the series, start here.

There’s something about coming home to the smell of a meal that’s cooked all day in a slow cooker that makes you feel like a rock star. Also, slow cooked meals are often healthy and have several food groups all rolled into one meal. My favorite use for the Crock-pot is cooking chicken from frozen to shreddable. I have a lot of recipes that call for cooked, cut-up chicken. My sister-in-law taught me that you can throw frozen chicken in the pot with a cup or two of chicken broth and some seasoning and come home to perfect, shreddable chicken. I just dump off the broth and stir the chicken with a fork and it’s ready to throw in my chicken dish. You changed my life, Jenica! You can also just add BBQ sauce to the shredded chicken (or a beef or pork roast cooked all day in juice) and have excellent BBQ sandwiches with no effort.

Almost any soup recipe can be made in a slow cooker. I dump all the ingredients in the pot the night before, cram the pot in the fridge, and set it in the cooker the next morning.

There are a wealth of Crock-pot freezer recipes. I think I have four sites pinned on Pinterest (on my cooking board or my "did it" board) each linking to four or five recipes. The beauty of these recipes is that you make them ahead (on a weekend or some other free time), throwing all the ingredients together in a gallon freezer bag. The day you want the meal, you just peel the bag off of the ice chunk, throw it in the Crock-Pot, and come home to a hot veggie and meat entree. Our two favorite freezer bag recipes:

Teriyaki Pork Chops and Hawaiian Chicken Sandwiches (and several others) from Saving You Dinero

And another favorite, though I've never tried to bag and freeze this one:

Cashew Crock-pot Chicken from Sally Cooks

Note: If you Crock-pot the broccoli like the recipe says, it overpowers the dish (and your house, with the smell. I mean, BAAAAD!!!). The second time around, I steamed the broccoli in the microwave and added it at the table. I also added cashews just for the last few minutes to warm them up so they'd stay crunchy.

Finally, our favorite crock pot recipe of all time, courtesy of my mom.

Not quite sure how I got the lid on this beast...

Easy Roast and Veggies

- large roast (I'm not skilled enough in the world of meat to tell you what kind. I'm sure I've tried rumps, pork butts, beef, and other words that I'm not recalling right now, and it's always good. Just look for a big hunk of meat surrounded by fat and you should be good...)
- Worcestershire sauce
- carrots, cut into large slices (or baby carrots)
- potatoes, cut into large chunks
- salt, pepper

1) Place roast in slow cooker, fatty side up. Surround with veggies.
2) Glub almost a whole bottle of Worcestershire sauce over the bad boy.
3) Salt and pepper to your liking.
4) Slow cook on low for 8-10 hours. 
5) Skim off fat, shred, and enjoy!

For 7 more tips, follow the links at How to Cook When it's Already Time to Eat.

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