The Crock-Pot Situation

I am pretty sure that you ladies have the solution to my trouble. My trouble is that I want to like cooking with a crock pot, but I don’t. It seems so handy. But so far in my crock pot career, I find it uninspiring. Sometimes I throw in a roast that I plan to shred in order to make something else. Sometimes I put in some chicken and beans and taco seasoning to make burritos. But usually, I don’t use it.

I have a couple of cookbooks that are slow cooker related, but if you have to sear the meat, caramelize the onions, and make a broth all before it hits the slow cooker, I think it has defeated the purpose. If I am going to do things like that, I use a dutch oven.

So, what do you make in the crock pot? Tell us about it! We need ideas!

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87 thoughts on “The Crock-Pot Situation

  1. Here are some things I like to do with a crockpot:
    Put a whole chicken in (preferably skinned—which is a lot of work, but worth it in this recipe), peel a whole bunch of garlic (think 2 heads) and place the cloves inside and around the chicken. Then put fresh rosemary all over it and then slice up 1 or 2 lemons and lay the slices all over. Then cook it on high until the chicken is done.

    I also cook a whole chicken it all the time. After the chicken is in I strip the carcass of all the meat (freeze it or use it right away) and I pour water over the carcass and put some carrot, celery, bay leaf, onion, salt and pepper in and cook over night on low for broth.

    And of course I do soup in the crock pot all the time.

  2. To be honest, I mainly use my crockpot for warming. For Sunday lunch, or with having company over, I make a casserole, or side dish like mashed potatoes, ahead of time, and warm it in the crockpot. If it’s been refrigerated because of being made the day before, it takes a few hours on high to warm. If I’m just making it slightly in advance, then I can just put it in on warm once it’s ready. It lets us eat a nice Sunday lunch as soon as we get home, and also means with company that I can easily do the cooking and clean up work in advance of their arrival.

    Occasionally, I make baked potatoes in the crockpot http://www.recipezaar.com/recipe/Baked-Potatoes-from-the-Crock-Pot-53182

    The only crockpot recipe I make with any frequency is an enchilada casserole:

    4 cups chopped cooked chicken
    4 cups cooked black beans
    1 can cream of chicken soup*
    2 cups plain yogurt
    1 can diced tomatoes
    1 T garlic powder
    1 T onion powder
    1 T chili powder
    1 T salt
    1 tsp cumin
    6 10-inch tortillas
    2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

    *can substitute additional plain yogurt and adjust seasoning

    Stir together all the ingredients except for tortillas and cheese. Tear tortillas in roughly 1-inch pieces or strips; kids love doing this.

    Grease 5 or 6-quart slow cooker. Layer 1/3 tortillas, 1/3 chicken mix, and 1/3 cheese. Repeat layers 2 more times.

    Cover and cook on low 3 1/2 hours. Uncover and cook 30 more minutes on low.

  3. I don’t use mine a lot either. Shredding meat for sure. But it is the ONLY way I make Applesauce! So much easier than on the stove where I tend to forget and burn it.

    Sloppy Joes. Adobo Chicken (allrecipes.com). A ham. Rice and beans with sausage. I search for crock pot recipes on Allrecipes – I have found a few….

    Post your results here – i would love some new ideas too!

  4. And like you, I want to make more use of it, but haven’t found any way that I find substantially easier, especially since I’m at home almost every day. A lot of crockpot recipes seem to require just as much work, except that you do it in the morning before you leave for work, which isn’t applicable to me.

    The crockpot is also nice for cooking fall-off-the-bone meat….

  5. Mine was damaged beyond repair in a move over 3 years ago. I keep thinking I will replace the item. The only problem is the only time I think this is before a potluck at church where I would need to keep something heated… So, I’m looking for ideas here too.

  6. I use my crockpot a TON. However, it did take a long time to learn to use it – it’s not just a natural extension of the stove. It took time.

    Things that work well in the crockpot:

    – Beans
    – Soups of all kinds
    – Wet-cooked meat (roast, chicken, etc.)
    – Works really well for vegetables – white potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, etc.
    – Casseroles that have a lot of moisture in them

    I love Mabel Hoffman’s “Crockery Cookery” and also the crockpot365 blog, and I also just look up recipes on the web when I have a vegetable that I want to cook. With young children in the house, having a crockpot is just a lifesaver for me – dinner time is THE WORST TIME EVER to be making dinner, LOL!

  7. Soup, soup, soup!

    We have soup and bread often twice a week from about October to March. :)

    For the little ones, I just scoop their soup with a slotted spoon so they don’t get so much liquid. Or I make blended soup (with an immersion blender) and then it’s thick enough to stay on their spoons.

  8. The question is, what don’t I make in the crockpot? This is soccer season so I use my crockpot for nearly every meal (since we all get home from practice at 6:00 and the kids are starving)! Sometimes I even assemble everything the night before, put the pot in the fridge, and then just pull it out and plug it in in the morning (or right after lunch on high power).

    Some great ideas definitely include soups and chili. I recently discovered that a potato chowder does great in the crockpot all day. I’ve also tried out crockpot enchiladas (which you need extra sauce on to keep them from drying out). And this week I will attempt my first crockpot lasagna!

    You don’t always have to follow those “sear the meat” or “saute the vegetables” ahead of time instructions. It just might mean your green peppers or celery may be slightly softer than ideal, but the time you save in not saute-ing them is usually more worth it.

  9. Personally, I dont mind searing a roast first (stuffed with garlic!!!), because when you use the crockpot, thats 20 minutes of cooking that tastes like it cooked all day, and you can leave the house. (I spray the crockpot with pam first also). In my opinion if you dont sear it then it will just taste like an ordinary can of beef stew. I also cook dry red or white beans alot. I omit the meat and add a little bit of real butter (along with onions etc). The butter cooking all day is alot different from just melting a little bit in your dish. Is sort of browns the butter and no one ever complains about it being vegetarian!

  10. Definitely beans…I cook them overnight and then the next day I have some to freeze for chili another day (when I put them, frozen, in the crock pot with the other ingredients and let it simmer all day), and some to turn into re-fried beans.

    I also love it for soups, for cooking potatoes for potluck during church, for heating cider for groups,& for keeping dinner warm for my husband when he won’t be home for a few hours after we eat.

    Also, one of the easiest desserts ever is to put two cans of drained peaches and one can of peaches with the liquid in the crockpot and mix about a cup of oats, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and cinnamon in with them, simmer for a few hours, and serve warm. :)

  11. I’m with you. I like it for beef or hot drinks. Chicken turns to mush. The biggest downfall is that you have to commit to smelling like what’s in the pot for the whole day. Not fun.

    – BBQ sandwiches at the end of the day with no work at all:
    A roast (or two),
    1 onion, quartered
    1 bottle of Sweet Baby Rays.

    – Roast Beef with carrots, onions, potatoes, parsnips, broth, and Lipton packet. (I have no problem with Lipton packets. Lipton has a stroganoff recipe that is also great but I don’t remember it. And I don’t brown anything.)
    Veg on bottom
    Meat on top

    – Stew Meat with above veg, plus butternut squash, fresh herbs, wine, little broth, and tomato paste. (No browning!)

    -Autumn Spiced Punch
    apple/orange/cran juices
    allspice, cinnamon sticks, cloves
    brown sugar/honey
    orange slices

    Simmer/refill all the day long and enjoy! Rum optional.

  12. Soups – Cheese soup are great – just save the veleeta and flour until the last hour.
    Dry beans – soup or throw them in there overnight and all day to make really soft, yummy refried beans.
    Spaghetti sauce – my husband’s grandmother simmered hers for 3 days on the stove – I throw mine overnight in the crockpot – Whala!
    Fall off the bone pork ribs, ribs of any kind.
    Sunday dinner on Saturday night-
    I cover spicey foods with a layer of tin foil until the lid as I prefer the smell of coffee to cooked food in the morning.
    Thanks for the recipe sites!

  13. “The biggest downfall is that you have to commit to smelling like what’s in the pot for the whole day. Not fun.” Teri, do you mean that it smells up the house? I put mine on the porch and plug it in, especially if it has something stinky in it. Such as our favorite, Sauerkraut (use the bagged or jarred, no cans!) Add an apple or two sliced, a Tbs or so of caraway seeds, a sliced onion, a couple of Tbs. of brown sugar and meat of your choice – kielbasa or boneless pork chops. Serve over lumpy mashed potatoes.
    I also put a frozen turkey breast in it (if it doesn’t fit cover with doubled foil krimped all around) and let it cook on low for about 8 hours. Tender and delicious!

  14. Ok, you all MUST go and check out this blog and buy the cookbook or borrow it from the library or something:

    http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

    Here’s her cookbook:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1401310044?ie=UTF8&tag=totatogejour-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=1401310044

    My mom and I use her recipes a lot for shared meal at church. Some of our favorites are Pasta Fagioli, Rotisserie Chicken, Chipotle Chicken & Sweet Potatoes…. my mouth is watering just thinking of it :)
    Enjoy!
    Bon apetit!

  15. Hi Rachel, One of my favorite recipes is from the Hot Providence cookbook on page 98. It’s Chicken Tortilla Soup. It calls for Hominy but I use a mixture of white beans and black beans instead. I up the spices a little too. Happy cooking!

  16. I cook a whole chicken in my crock pot 2 or 3 times a month. I don’t skin it. I salt and pepper it, sprinkle on a little paprika, some minced garlic, and an entire stick of butter, cut into pats. You can put whatever you want inside it, parsley, garlic, carrots, onions, or nothing, should that be all you have.
    I cook it on high for one hour, and then on low for 6 more.
    I also use the bones and skin to make chicken stock in the crock pot.
    I also will cook chicken legs with a sauce of BBQ sauce, crushed pineapple, a heaping tablespoon of ginger, salt and pepper, and corn starch. I cook it u til it’s falling off the bone and serve it over rice.

  17. I use my crock pot quite regularly. Especially since I’ve discovered the America’s Test Kitchen SlowCooker REvolution! Yes, there’s some prep work needed on some of the recipes, but it’s so worth it in the end!!

  18. I use my crock pot for pulled pork (http://www.food.com/recipe/pulled-pork-crock-pot-131018).

    I also make oatmeal in it overnight. 1 part steel cut oatmeal to 2 parts water and cook on low overnight (approx8 hrs). I usually add some cinnamon and nutmeg and a dash of vanilla. However, if you add the spices it will form a dark crust but it still tastes great.

    Food.com is an excellent source for recipes in general. Users rate and review recipes so watch the ratings and read the reviews.

  19. I made a great sweet potato and veggie chili once, but I don’t know where the recipe came from anymore… basically canned beans, chipotle chiles, cut up sweet potatoes, onions, seasoning… serve with sour cream and cilantro, and chips. So Good!

  20. I use my crockpot all the time, even when I have a day off and am at home. I have a ton of energy in the morning, and none at all later, so it works so much better for me. My hubby is often unpredictably late or early for dinner, so it works great for that too.
    My mom always uses it outside in the summer so she doesn’t make the house warm by cooking.
    I cook everything in the crockpot or on my George Foreman grill. Funny, because nearly everyone I know who owns those two items never uses them. I make all kinds of meat dishes, soups and stews, rice, and noodle dishes in it. I also use it to keep things hot when going somewhere else, like fried rice dishes or casseroles.
    I love my crockpot!

  21. I too haven’t found many things in the crockpot I really love, but I do a couple of things that are fantastic:

    1. Italian beef. Tough roast, a jar of salad pepper rings (in the olive/pickle section of the store), a couple cloves of garlic if you like. Cover with the lid and a large towel so none of the liquid escapes. It is pretty potent-smelling, so you can do it in the garage if you don’t want your house to be saturated with the aroma! Shred and serve on toasted buns with provolone.

    2. Sticky toffee pudding or any other English-style steamed pudding works great in the crockpot, and you can adapt any recipe by tripling the given time (or increasing to 6 hours), with the crockpot set on high.

  22. I love to use the crock pot and modify or create recipes for it. I make all of my soups in it as they simmer without needing stirring. My red sauce is not a splattering-mess all over the stove when I do it in the crock pot. Most recipes that need to simmer on the stove for a while do well in the crock pot. And I never sear or brown the meat before tossing it in the crock pot (I have never noticed it tasting inferior). It is nice to come home from car-pooling or errands to dinner nearly ready. Some of my favorite recipes are red sauce with meatballs and Italian sausage, chicken stew, chili, pea soup, potato soup, any other kind of soup… Email me if you want recipes.

  23. porridge (or oatmeal) overnight made with milk powder is a delicious, nutritional and economical breakfast – servce with runny honey or applechunks and cinnamon.

    Soups – I make on the stove but transfer to crockpot to turn on when we go to church so its hot when you get home.

    I have done the same with other meals – pancakes for instance – make them in advance if you know you are having a busy day and leave them in crockpot on low and voila – its ready when you get home.

    Most other crockpot meals are horrid.

  24. Sorry, but I really don’t like the crock-pot, it’s just not my thing. I have only 3 recipes that I make that my husband doesn’t ascribe the word “crockpoty” to.

    1. A copy-cat recipe of Olive Garden’s Pasta e Fagioli soup (I haven’t made this in years though): http://www.food.com/recipe/olive-garden-pasta-e-fagioli-soup-in-a-crock-pot-copycat-31717

    2. Beef(usually a chuck roast from Costco) with salsa verde and roasted green peppers (I shred it when it’s done cooking to make shredded beef)*Got this recipe from a friend.

    3. Pork (a pork shoulder roast also from Costco, in some places in the country this is called a Boston pork roast or a Butt roast) with Mexican Lager, jalapenos, some kosher salt and cilantro (I shred the pork when it’s done to make shredded pork) I don’t add the cilantro until the end so it won’t wilt and lose it’s flavor. *Got this recipe from a friend also.

    That’s all I have. And like you, if I have to sear, caramelize, etc. I don’t even bother with the crock pot. In all honesty, a dutch oven can produce some very fine foods. The crock pot just can’t compete with that.

  25. I use my crockpot often. I use it for spaghetti sauce, chili, pot roast, pulled pork, herb chicken for starters. I have a great blog to recommend to you. http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/
    A Year of Slow Cooking. Stephanie O’Dea doesn’t like to sear and carmelize before she puts stuff in her crockpot either. She has tons of great recipes that are very easy and delicious on this blog. She also has two cook books out – Make it Fast, Cook it Slow and More Make it Fast, Cook it Slow. I recommend the Buffalo Chicken Dip and the Brown Sugar Chicken for sure! Check it out and I’m sure you’ll find some things to try.
    Now that I wrote this comment, I see that two other people recommended the same blog. It’s a good one!

  26. My crock pot broke over a year ago and I started using my pressure cooker more. I know many are scared of the pressure cooker since it seems tricky and dangerous, but I’ve found it much easier to use for our family. Maybe won’t work for everyone, but I got a great book on it and I love it.

    With some trial and error I have been learning how to convert recipes over so I can use crock pot recipes in my pressure cooker. :)

  27. I love making taco soup in the crockpot! It’s also the way I cook beans and then serve over brown rice, with tortillas and all the fixings(like tacos minus the meat).

    Some other favorite easy recipes are to take chicken and bbq sauce, or Italian dressing and cook on low all day or high half-day. Whenever country style ribs go on sale, I buy some, brown them first (but you don’t have to), put them in the crockpot, pour a bottle of Kraft honey bbq sauce over and a little water, cook all day. Yum! (Potatoes, salad on the side).

    My favorite cookbook is Fix It and Forget It. There are so many meal ideas in there. When chicken thighs go on sale, for example, you can look in there and find numerous recipes for them (and just about any other cut of meat). Highly recommend!

  28. I found this easy crock-pot recipe on a friend’s website and have used it often. She likened it to a PBJ dinner regarding the difficultly level.

    Layer 1: 2-3lbs frozen chicken breast
    Layer 2: 1 can of black beans
    Layer 3: 1 can of corn
    Layer 4: Can of seasoned tomatoes
    Layer 5: 1 package of taco seasoning
    Layer 6: Brick of cream cheese on the top

    Cook in crock-pot on low for 6-8 hours. Chicken will fall apart; mix with contents. Can serve with noodles or rice. Can other spices, such as chili powder, for taste.

    Less than 10 minutes of prep for dinner; we usually have leftovers after feeding a mom, a dad, a 12 year old boy, and 2 year old twins:)

  29. I like to think I can cook, but everything I put in a CrockPot turns out horribly. I love to use it for Ancient Egypt studies, as an example of embalming: it extracts all the juices from your meat and leaves a dried-out hunk of Whatever swimming in broth. It’s pretty good for statistics, too. You can have the kids keep track of how many good dishes come out of it and do the math of what the odds are for a tasty dinner tonight. Or convert to batting averages for the sports-inclined. We’re giving Bill Bergen a good run for his money on lowest average in baseball history.

    Signed,
    My Kids Would Like One of You to Come Over for Dinner and Accidentally Take the Crockpot Home with You.

  30. I’m not much of a crockpotter either, but here is one recipe with minimal prep that really delivers:

    Pot-Roasted Pork
    from my mom’s Rival Crockpot cookbook

    4 to 5 pound loin end pork roast (I usually use a pork shoulder blade roast)
    salt and pepper
    1 clove garlic, slivered
    2 medium onions, sliced
    2 bay leaves
    1 whole clove
    1/2 c hot water
    2 T soy sauce

    Rub pork roast with salt and pepper. Make tiny slits in meat and insert slivers of garlic. Place roast in broiler pan and broil 15 to 20 minutes to remove excess fat.
    Put 1 sliced onion in bottom of crockpot. Add browned pork roast and remaining onion and other ingredients. Cover and cook on low 10 hours (high 4 to 6 hours).
    To thicken gravy: Remove roast to serving platter. Blend 2 T cornstarch with 2 T cold water to form smooth paste. Set on high and pour in paste. Stir well and let come to a boil, about 15 minutes, until thickened. (I usually put the gravy in a pan on the stove, since it seems to take too long to boil in the crockpot; or I simply don’t bother with the gravy and serve little bowls of au jus with some crusty bread).

    The roast is super flavorful and just kind of falls apart. Some chunky homemade applesauce served hot with this is absolutely the best! And you can roast some potatoes and vegetables, too.

  31. In my world, the crockpot was made for beans. That’s almost all I use it for, but that’s worth it to me. Beans take forever and I don’t like babysitting them.

  32. I’m with ya…if it requires several prep-steps…kinda defeats the purpose…which to me is supposed to scream EASY.

    I do like to make chicken or pork spaghetti sauce in it.
    Stick in either pork loins or chicken breasts, cut up peppers, and dump on spaghetti sauce. Stick on low all day. Lift the cover to shred the mean…make the noodles and you’re good to go.
    Same with BBQ pork or chicken sandwhiches. Dump in the meant. Top with BBQ sauce. Shred the meat when cooked and serve on rolls.

  33. Mrs Jankovic, I know EXACTLY which recipe book you need.

    “Slow Cooker” by Sally Wise: http://www.sallywise.com.au/books_slow_cooker.html

    It’s a little no-frills cookbook which the author begins with an explanation that a crockpot meal where you have to brown the meat is already too complicated. It contains recipes for everything from soup to dessert.

    I got to know the cookbook while I was staying with some friends and doing a lot of cooking and was able to sample a large quantity of the recipes contained therein. All the ones I tried came out absolutely delicious–and they’re interesting, low-fuss meals like stroganoff (delightful!) moroccan lamb (delicious!) devilled beef (delectable!) or braised beef with caraway dumplings (de-lovely!).

    The only drawback is that you may have to order it from Australia. Sorry ’bout that.

  34. I don’t do all the searing or caramelizing, either — takes too much time and usually adds calories if it involves flour or oil.

    Usually I just fill half the crockpot with potatoes and carrots, sprinkle with salt, pepper, minced onion and garlic powder (or the real things if you want to chop them up), a little water, a can of cream of chicken soup, then boneless chicken, then more salt, pepper, onion and garlic, then another can of chicken soup. That’s my usual “company meal” because it makes so much. Of course, you can make less by using fewer potatoes, carrots, and chicken and only one can of soup. I do roast and stew meat the same way, minus the cream of chicken soup.

  35. I cook in the crockpot 2-3 times a week. Between church and soccer it’s the only way that we would have home cooked meals on those nights….Of call the recipes I use, my very favorite is Pesto Chicken. I adapted, but closely followed a recipe on the Once a Month mom website for it.

    4-6 chicken breasts
    jar of pesto
    1 cup mozzarella cheese (also add just a touch of parmesan)

    I just layer it and then I stick aluminum foil over the top. I put a couple of pounds of tiny red potatoes on top of the aluminum foil and season those with Italian seasoning, garlic and some olive oil. About 8-10 hours later (on low), dinner is done.

    Not only do I not like to sear, I only like to cook recipes that take 8-10 hours because I like to put stuff on before the hubby leaves for work and not have to fuss with it until after soccer practice :)

  36. “The biggest downfall is that you have to commit to smelling like what’s in the pot for the whole day. Not fun.”

    I don’t know what Teri meant, but I know that sometimes, if I smell something all day long, no matter how good, I lose the ability to really enjoy it when I finally taste it. It’s like I’m tasted out on it. A few hours of good smells are good, but after a whole day it just loses its kick.

  37. As an avid cookbook collector and one who is very familiar with my family’s likes and dislikes I have learned to sift through books quickly looking at what will/won’t “work”. What works for us is to adapt recipes we already like (split pea soup, sambar, chili, stew, chicken marengo, etc.) for the crock pot. Alternately I will ask for a recipe at a pot-luck if it is something the family loves! :) I do not care for using cream of something soups, etc. All the crock pot books I’ve found are 90% things I would never make so I don’t buy them.

  38. I am a crockpot365 fan, too. One of my favorites is an all-in-one meal – pesto chicken with sweet potatoes: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2009/07/slow-cooker-pesto-chicken-and-sweet.html

    It was actually with that dish that I discovered that we like crockpot-baked sweet potatoes better than oven-baked! I do lots of soups (potato soup in it right now) and whole chickens, and beans. Especially fiesta beans – gussied-up refried beans. Oh, and William Sonoma has an amazing butternut squash soup recipe for the crockpot on their site… And easy easy risotto (see crockpot365) and applebutter – definitely the only way to go for that. And my mom’s killer triple chocolate crockpot dessert which involves a cake mix, choc. pudding, choc. chips, and sour cream so you can just imagine. It’s like a giant molten lava cake only to be eaten with vanilla icecream to cut the sweet. I am sure you could google a similar recipe… I hope that helps!

  39. Crock Pot chicken chili = easiest recipe ever.
    2-3 chicken breasts, 1 chopped onion, some chopped celery and carrots, 1 can of pinto beans, 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 1 can of tomato sauce, 1 can of tomato paste, 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin powder. Set it to high for 4 hours or lot for 6 (or 8 or whatever). Voila! The chicken shreds by the end. It is so delicious!

    AllRecipes also has a super easy way to do apple butter in the crock pot. Yummy! I DO NOT mind my house smelling like apple butter all day.

  40. Easiest slow cooker dish ever: pulled pork. They sell the pork carnitas at WinCo for usually less than $2/lb.

    For the easiest possible version, I just dump a bunch of seasoning salt on it then cook it on high for 5-6 hours. Then you can pull it apart with a couple of forks and mix it up with your favorite BBQ sauce. Serve it on rolls or all by itself with some Texas-style side dishes. (You can also save some without the sauce to thrown into chili, or add mexican spices to make fabulous enchilada filling.)

    The slightly classier version involves adding liquid smoke, vinegar or wine (plus a few dashes of Tabasco, if you like a little kick), brown sugar, chili power, onion powder, pepper and salt. It basically makes its own BBQ sauce as it cooks.

  41. I never sear my meat or caramelize the onions – you can’t tell the difference and it saves a lot of time and mess.

  42. I got a huge crock pot cookbook for Christmas, and over half the recipes defeat the entire purpose of having the crock pot. My favorite thing to make in it is pork chops: I just throw 4 pork chops, two cans of diced tomatoes, half an onion (roughly diced, lest I put too much work into it), a few squirts of that garlic in a bottle (best invention ever), a hand full of dried coriander seeds, and salt and pepper. Cooking that in a crock pot on high for about 4 hours seems to add so much more flavor to the pork chops then when I cook them in the oven. And you don’t even need a knife, you could cut them apart with a spoon once they’re done.

  43. I love this Beef Stroganoff recipe. It is a go to pantry/freezer meal for me. If you have a bias against condensed soup you’ll have to overcome it.

    Combine the following in the crock: 1 lb beef stew meat, 1/2 c chopped onion, 2 cans golden cream of mushroom soup (don’t use regular!), 1 bouillon cube, 1/2 packet onion soup mix, 1 T Worcestershire, 1/2 c water, and a little garlic, salt and pepper. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. About 1/2 hour before serving, stir in 4 oz cream cheese and a dollup of sour cream. You can also saute some mushrooms and throw those in the crock. Serve over egg noddles.

  44. I have the exact same feelings about the crock pot. I think they’re overrated, especially, as others have noted, if you’re home all day. I tried one of those slow-cooker cookbooks, but the advance work before even getting to the crock pot stage made it not a time-saver (which is what I was looking for). If I’m going to do things like roast, peel, and chop poblano peppers–and I do enjoy that kind of cooking–I’m going to do it on a day when I’m not looking for shortcuts. Another slow cooker recipe book I saw contained mostly variations on the same theme, all involving condensed cream-of-something soup. And since I’m trying to cut back on processed foods, that one didn’t impress me either. I have come to the conclusion that the crock pot just isn’t as helpful to me as I had thought it would be, though I’m glad to fall back on it as a way to keep food warm at a fellowship meal where oven space is at a premium.

  45. this has been mentioned a lot for a reason – GO to crockpot365.blogspot.com and browse your heart out. Seriously – i NEVER used a crockpot before I discovered this blog. Now I use it once or twice a week. It’s AWESOME.

  46. Margaret and Pentamom – Out in the fresh wide world after being cozy with a crock pot all day, I realized that all eight of us had a deep and abiding smell of onion in our hair. Loverly. Porch is a nice option!

    LG – Sticky Toffee Pudding! Brilliant!

    SAF – That’s the one!

  47. Um…. thank you. thank you. thank you. With my oven broken, and in need of an expensive fix that will just have to wait a while, this is a.m.a.zing. I have been desperate to stop cooking solely on my stove top, but I needed a good kick to get back into my crockpot. :) Mostly I have been desperate for roast chicken.

  48. I’m with ya. Dutch ovens are my slow cooker of choice as well. My mom is a whiz at just throwing everything in a crock pot and having it turn out marvelous (a skill that I did not inherit). I use my crock pot for warming mostly. We’ve been renovating our new home and it’s come in very handy for feeding the masses that have been helping us out. I make corned beef in it a lot and I’ve also used it to make oatmeal when I anticipate a crazy morning and I want something ready and hot when the natives wake up, hungry as bears. :-)

    Oh, and am I the only one that wants to smash the darn crock pot during pregnancy? Lingering odors of roast with garlic and onions. ‘Nuff said. I have to leave it on the porch.

  49. Another Sally Wise fan here. There’s no condensed cream-of-anything soups in them, no messy do-all-this-before stuff, and no weird-and-need-to-go-hunting-for ingredients.

    I often thank God for my slow-cooker – but everyone’s different.

  50. I’m afraid my favorite crockpot recipe falls into the “seared meat” category. It’s called San Francisco Chops, and it’s worth it. Make it in your dutch oven, if you like. Just make it.

    I would be lost when making apple butter, if crockpots did not exist. But otherwise, I could get by just fine.

  51. A roast or frozen chicken breasts dumped from the freezer into the crockpot in the morning with some taco seasoning on top and a little water will make for delicious shredded meat burritos at night. I add black beans and shredded cheese after shredding the meat. I am into super fast meals. This one is delicious!

  52. If it can’t be dumped in all together, it doesn’t get made at my house! I usually place frozen chicken breasts or pork chops in, with whatever vegetable I have on hand. I also use it a lot for White Chicken Chili. Recipe as follows:
    2-3 lbs cubed chicken breast(or 2 12oz cans of chicken breast, drained)
    One sm. bag of frozen corn(or 2 cans)
    2 cans of white northern beans, drained
    2 cans of pinto beans, drained
    4c. chicken broth
    1 can of cream of chicken soup
    2 tbsp. of diced jalapeno peppers
    salt and pepper to taste

    Throw all this in in the morning and stir a couple times during the day. Serve topped with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and tortilla chips on the side. Yum!

  53. May I just say that I never, and I do mean never, sear the meat… even if the recipe calls for it. And you know what? We still love crock-pot meals. :-)

    I have three very quick, very easy recipes that are super yummy and inexpensive to boot.

    Crock-Pot BBQ Chicken:
    1 whole chicken (whatever size feeds your family)
    2 onions, sliced
    1 jar BBQ sauce

    First, take the bag of innards out of the chicken and discard. Rinse the chicken well. Place it in the crock pot. Layer the onions on top of the chicken. Pour your favorite BBQ sauce over it all. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. Chicken will be falling off the bone, and the meat will be smothered in sauce.

    Sweet and Savory Pot Roast
    1 chuck roast (again, whatever size feeds your family)
    2 onions, sliced
    1 can cream of mushroom soup
    1 can Coke

    Rinse roast and place in bottom of crock pot. Layer onions on top. Whisk together cream of mushroom soup and Coke (sounds gross, I know) and pour on top. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. Roast will be super tender and oh, so sweet.

    Tarragon Pork Chops
    1 package Assorted Pork Chops
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Tarragon to taste

    Rinse one pork chop and place it in the crock pot. Season with salt, pepper, and tarragon. Repeat with each pork chop, layering them. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. Pork chops will be falling off the bone and very moist (and we all know how easy it is to dry out pork chops!).

    I use these recipes when I don’t have much time and we all (I have three young kiddos) really like them. I hope you enjoy them, too!

  54. A long time ago, when I was keeping up with Flylady, I found this section on her site where people added their favorite slow cooker recipes. It is a HUGE collection of people’s “go to” recipes so there is bound to be something good there :0) Thanks for this post. I got my crock pot out again!

    http://flylady.net/pages/FFT_SlowCook1.asp

  55. This recipe is worth going out and buying a slow cooker (the dreadful term we British use for a crock pot)for.
    Seriously buy one just for this.It’s adapted from “hamlyn slow cooker book”
    Now I know it involves sealing the meat but honestly now ladies, I have tried snapping my fingers Mary Poppins style at the kitchen but it just won’t work! Here we go:
    2 kg diced chicken breast browned with jerk seasoning,put into crock
    add 2 large onions and 2 cloves garlic to pan to soften
    pour in 800ml coconut milk and 600ml stock, add to pot
    put in 2 tins kidney beans
    one hour before serving add 400g easy cook rice and 250g frozen peas
    total cook time is 7 – 9 hours
    There you go, a British twist on Carribbean chicken with rice and peas,eat it and weep. I defy even Mary Poppins to do better.

  56. I have found a website/blog that has tons of great crockpot recipes, realistic for those of us with lots of littles ones and not a lot of time! It is http://www.crockpot365.blogspot.com She even cooks fish (like tilapia) in the crockpot, I have tried it and it’s awesome! She often even throws her meat in still frozen and it works. I have 4 children and the oldest just turned 5 and I have found my crockpot to be so very helpful thanks to her blog!! Also found this the other day that I want to try sometime soon http://moneysavingmom.com/2011/10/homemade-go-gurts.html

    I am so thankful for all the ways you encourage me through your writings… hope this is helpful for you (as well as others)!!

  57. We crockpot almost everyday–mom of five the oldest is seven. I can fix it in the am and not think about it the rest of the day. It is hot when we come home from sports or church. Shephers’s pie, lasagna, curry chicken, chili and chicken tortilla soup are some of my kids favorite. I also loved the 365 days of cooking that is mentioned– very simple http://www.crockpot365.blogspot.com and she is funny!

  58. This past Sunday I made your Tuscan Pork and White Beans in my crock-pot. It cooked while we were at church.

    I always like a chicken taco soup in the crock-pot. And love how a roast with some onions, red wine, fresh pepper, and some salt turns out if you get a fatty piece of meat and let it slow cook a long time (8-10 hrs).

  59. I am 110% with ya on the crock pot. Pioneer woman pork tacos in the crock will totally inspire you!
    This recipe from PW http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2008/08/spicy-shredded-pork/ calls for a dutch oven, but I always do it in the crock and I don’t do a single thing but throw the pork in w/ the marinade and cook a long time on low or a not as long time on high. At the end of the day, shred the meat and serve on a platter with tortillas, lime wedges, sour cream and whatever suits your fancy. I can promise this redeems crockery!

  60. I second Meg Cooper; your Tuscan Beans and Pork is a winner in the crock-pot. Here are my changes from Dutch oven to crock-pot: if you are able, start the soaked beans and chicken broth first on high for two hours (this step insures that the beans get cooked through by the end, but you can try skipping it). Secondly, add the trimmed pork roast (I had smashing success with $1.99/lb pork loin). Use 1 teaspoon dried sage (fresh herbs aren’t the best in slow cookers unless added at the end, according to America’s Test Kitchen) and omit the salt at this point (conventional wisdom says that beans don’t soften properly if the liquid is too saline). Nextly, turn the heat to low for four hours (America’s Test Kitchen again – meat can get grainy when cooked on high in this device). Lastly, add the kosher salt, pepper (heavy on the pepper), and a tad of fresh sage if available (I had some left in the freezer from trying your recipe in the Dutch o. last winter, and it was a bright crowning touch). Stir and serve. I even added some chopped fresh kale at this point to avoid serving a vegetable with dinner. I cringed when the kids took the first bite, but they said, “Mom, this is good.” I hope these changes work for you, Rachel. Very lastly, you might check out Slow Cooker Revolution from Latah Public Library and read “Keys to Slow Cooker Success” on pages four and five. Very helpful. The cookbook as a whole is probably too fussy for what you are seeking, but the Macaroni and Cheese might be worth your while for at church dinners (forget the foil collar and breadcrumbs; stir in the dry macaroni when you get to church; plug in and cook during the service). I can’t exactly vouch for it – there was none left when I came through the serving line.

  61. You may just need a thought shift. It’s not so much the food that comes out of the crock pot as it is the time of day… I can make dinner in the morning when my milkshake glass runneth over and have a hot meal to pull out of my hat when that terrible sucking-on-the-straws noise has just about done me in. 😉 Everything in it’s season. Right now the simple, plain, ordinary things that do well in a crock pot are what’s needed. Some day you can take the time to be a gourmet with the thing. I promise.

  62. Our 2 favorite crockpot recipes:

    Crockpot Country Style Ribs: http://southernfood.about.com/od/crockpotporkandham/r/r80418g.htm

    I’ve totally skipped the trimming fat/rinsing/drying steps for the meat and it’s turned out fine. Just a chopped onion and garlic and everything else thrown in the pot.

    Crockpot Coconut Chicken Curry: http://tastykitchen.com/blog/2011/03/slow-cooker-coconut-chicken-curry/

    Cut up the chicken, food process everything else. So easy.

  63. America’s Test Kitchen came out with a Crockpot Cookbook and the recipes are really good. I have tried alot of the crockpot365 recipes and haven’t had good results. My favorites crockpot recipes are White chicken Chili, Beef Stew, Spaghetti Sauce, whole chickens, Beans, Chicken Stock for soup, beef roasts for shredded beef tacos or bbq beef sandwiches, split pea soup.

  64. Applebutter

    2 qts apple sauce
    3 cups sugar (I like to use brown)
    2 tsp cinnamon
    1 tsp allspice

    Put in crock pot and cook 6 hours on high stirring occasionally. Give the steam an escape by leaving lid slightly askew. (The actual time may vary a bit depending on how thick your applesauce is when you start. The finished product should not “leak” juice if you put a blob on a plate and then tilt the plate.)

    This is my favorite way to use up last year’s applesauce from my freezer to make room for new. I like to either freeze or can it if I end up with more than we can use in a reasonable time. I also have been known to put it in the crock pot and go to bed coming down once or twice to stir it-not to difficult to do if I’m up with a little one anyway. :-)

  65. Here are 2 of my favorites that are super easy and only leave me preparing a veggie and noodles or rice at that time of day when everyone seems to need something!

    Cranberry Chicken:

    4 to 6 chicken breasts
    1 package onion soup mix
    1 can cranberry sauce

    cook on low 6 to 8 hours

    Beef Burgundy Italiano:

    4 lbs beef stew meat
    1 large can prepared spaghetti sauce
    1 package onion soup mix
    1/2 cup burgundy wine

    cook on low 8 hours and serve over wide egg noodles

  66. When I need a nap, or I need to cook beans, I use my crock pot. It allows me to greet my husband refreshed and rested(that is, if all the kids nap long enough) with the appetizing smell of supper in the air, as if I’d been cooking all afternoon! :) It also allows me to serve it over rice, another one of my husband’s favorite things(being from the very southernmost parts of our state).

    Two easies:
    1. Red beans and rice
    dry kidney beans
    1/2 cup red wine, more or less(I save the dregs of the bottle for this)
    head of garlic, peeled and pressed
    1 large onion, diced
    1 large bellpepper, diced
    stick of butter
    1 lb. good-quality smoked sausage or andouille.
    Cook all day on high, with enough water to cover beans at least 1 inch over top. Through the day, let liquid reduce. Towards end of day, stir and season with Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning(green canister, find at W-M or any grocery). Season to taste with salt and pepper(at end, or you’ll toughen the beans). When mixture resembles something unappetizingly referred to as “sludge” by my husband, you’ll know it’s perfect. Serve over rice, with pickled jalopeno slices and/or Tabasco sauce on side.

    2. Chicken Curry(or substitute shrimp, pork, steak, or venison)

    Throw any root veggies and any and all cold-drawer veggies in the crock, cut in uniform size chunks(example: celery, carrots, beets, potatoes, daikon radish, bellpepper, tomato, snap peas). Toss in frozen bouillon cubes or some broth of any kind; add 1 can coconut milk(if you have it), throw in half as many chicken breasts as people eating(less if you’ve got lots of little ones). Add several tablespoons of curry powder(don’t skimp, under-seasoned food is unappealing!), 1/2 stick butter, and a whole head of minced fresh garlic and whole onion, chopped. Cook all afternoon, making sure that you have enough liquid to almost come to top of veggies; season to taste with salt and pepper and serve over rice.

  67. Thanks for all of these great ideas! I love my crockpot and use it often. Here’s one of my favorite recipes:

    Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

    1 pkg. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (approx. 6-8 thighs)
    1 large onion, diced
    1 can (15 oz.) pineapple chunks, drained (reserve juice)
    1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce (Stubb’s Original recommended)

    Put thighs in bottom of crock pot, top with chopped onions, pineapple chunks and BBQ sauce. Cook on low for 7 hours.

    When done, remove chicken and shred. Add shredded meet back to crock pot and stir to mix well. If you like a sweeter sauce, can add in some of the reserved pineapple juice.

    Serve on multi-grain rolls or bagels.

  68. I do think that the problem with crock pots is everything tastes the same in the end. The carrot tastes like potato, which tastes like meat, which tastes like onion. OK for stew (I do have a good recipe for one – p. 83 in Fix-it and Forget-it cookbook “Full flavored beef stew”) German Potato salad, p.299 of same cookbook is good too. Add some chopped apple and more bacon – delish. But to be honest – crockpots are like casseroles – you like ’em or you don’t. Me – not so much.

  69. This post reminds me to ask about Hot Providence. I have tried finding it online, off and on, for the last couple of years, but no luck. Any extra copies out there anyone? Any chance it could end up a an e-book? Thanks!

  70. This response is coming far later than you originally wrote this post, but I only recently began following your blog. Although I understand your desire for truly one-pot recipes (I mean, who doesn’t LOVE that), there is still a blessing in the “crock pot” even when meat needs searing or veggies need dicing: I can do the prep work for dinner in the MORNING, when my kids are easily entertained with crayons and play-doh at the kitchen table, before they are tired from the day, less patient with their mommy in the kitchen, and missing their daddy. My husband will tell you that crock pot meals are some of the most glorious dinners we ever have — probably because they are actually served “on time.” :)

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