Slow Cooker: tips, tricks, and recipes!

13 Feb

Hi all! I’ve been inspired! I’m going to write an entire post about my slow cooker. Okay, not my slow cookier specifically, but about what you can do and make with one! (Note: slow cooker and Crock Pot are basically synonymous. Crock Pot is just a specific brand of slow cooker, kind of like Kleenex is a brand of facial tissues, but most people call them Kleenex, even if it’s the Target brand 🙂 OK? OK.)

First, the basics:

– a standard size for a slow cooker is about 8 quarts. I had a really old one before the one I have now and it was only about 6 quarts, so I had to generally size down whatever I was making. That meant smaller cuts of meat and less liquid.
– some slow cookers have more settings and fancy things than others (like Todd’s mom has a three-mini-tub Crock Pot! WHOA!). Mine just has off/low/high/warm. I tend to use it on the low setting for most things, because I turn it on while I’m at work for the day. The high setting would be used more for quicker meals or dishes like dips. If you’re cooking meat, generally low is your best bet.

Next, some tips!

– a slow cooker does not cook the same way a pot or a Dutch oven does. Too much liquid is a bad thing! I’ve dried out a pot roast before by adding too much liquid and that was the only time I’ve ever made that mistake.
– do not completely fill your slow cooker! Especially if you have it on high. This could cause leaking and explosions, which can be fun to watch, but not fun to clean.

And finally, some of my favorite recipes:

Pot Roast

This recipe comes from my mom, so you know it’s going to be good.

Ingredients:
– pot roast (I usually use a chuck roast, about 3 – 4 pounds)
– a couple pounds of potatoes (I use reds, not skinned, quartered)
– yellow onion, sliced thickly
– baby carrots (or chopped regular carrots)
– a can of beef consummé
– a cup of water
– a packet of onion dip mix (the stuff you use to make either onion dip or onion soup)

Steps:
1. put the pot roast into the slow cooker.
2. next, add your liquid. I usually pour in the beef consummé, and then fill the empty can with water.
3. Add the onion dip mix to the liquid around the roast.
4. chop your potatoes and put them all around the roast. Do the same with the onion. I like large pieces of onion so I tend to just do a few chops and I’m good. If you don’t like onion as much, chop them finer or leave them out.
5. add your carrots. Just fit them in the potatoes where you can.
6. cook on low for 8 – 9 hours.

The roast should fall apart when it’s done. It should be brown on the outside and can be red on the inside, but it’s still cooked! Don’t leave it on for too long though because it will dry out the meat. I serve mine with just the potatoes, onions and carrots, but you can serve it over noodles or rice too! This can make about 4 – 6 servings, or more, depending. I usually make it for dinner, then have it for lunch for up to two days following. This is a great meal anytime of year, but I like it better in the winter, since it’s comforting, like I’m back home with my parents.

Taco Chicken

This one is super easy. Update: looks like I already posted this one! See it here. (Also, I think I’m pretty hilarious!)

Ingredients:
– 2lbs of chicken breasts
– packet of taco seasoning
– jar of salsa (about 8 – 10oz)

Steps:
1. place the chicken in the slow cooker.
2. pour the salsa over the chicken.
3. sprinkle the packet of taco seasoning over everything.
4. cook on low for 8 hours.

That’s it. Seriously. It’s stupid easy and very hard to screw up. This chicken is tasty over rice or in a taco! I like mine in a soft corn shell, with sour cream and avocado.

Italian Chicken

I’ve only tried this one once, so I’m still figuring out how best to do it.

Ingredients:
– 2lbs chicken
– can of cream of chicken soup
– 8oz cream cheese, room temperature
– packet of Italian seasoning (the stuff you use to make dressing)

Steps:
1. place chicken in the slow cooker.
2. mix cream cheese with soup and seasoning.
3. spread over the chicken.
4. cook on low for 8 hours.

When I made this, I just placed all the ingredients in separately. I tried to place in chunks of the cream cheese (which I forgot to take out of the fridge to soften) around the pot but I ended up with odd chunks of cream cheese that were cooked on the outside, almost baked, and then molten lava cheese on the inside. Aside from that, it was super tasty. If I made this again, I’d definitely mix all the ingredients together first. I served mine with some veggies and it was tasty!

I love my slow cooker because I can throw it all in the pot and when I come home from work, dinner is ready! And the great thing about all of these recipes is that they’re gluten free! Do you have any tried and trusted slow cooker recipes?

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4 Responses to “Slow Cooker: tips, tricks, and recipes!”

  1. interiorsbykenz February 13, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    That Italian chicken sounds food-gasm-tastic. I MUST try it!

    • paigetopus February 13, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

      yeah! and that’s a good one for you!

  2. nicole February 25, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

    yummm I love using the slow cooker. We just made stupid-easy BBQ chicken: put boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the crock-pot, add a layer of sliced red onions, and then cover it all with BBQ sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours and then shred easily with a couple forks and serve on a sandwich roll. Much like pulled pork but chicken instead (which I like better). Must try your taco chicken!

    • paigetopus February 25, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

      I just made that last week! Didn’t do onions but that sounds TASTY!!

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