Love your crock pot
I know, I know. Long time, no post. Between being part lazy, part insanely busy and part crabby (boy, have I been fun to be around!) I just let this go. Well, I am over myself now (at least enough) and moving on. One great thing I did get to do last weekend is go on a crafting/scrap booking weekend at a cabin with a couple of groovy buddies (see above-aren’t they a couple of cuties!) That helped me out a ton! I still don’t feel quite into the swing of working outside of home a few hours each week. You would think after 5 1/2 months I would have that figured out by now, but not me. It helped to be able to step back from the fray and take a look at where I could tweek our home schedual and make a new plan for my food prep. Also, looking at photos of my son’s first couple days of life (yes, he is 11 1/2- I have quite a bit of catch up to do apparently!) was great. He was one cute baby!
Below is the crock pot article for our Mom’s Bible study newsletter. I hope it with give you some good ideas and tips. I am needing to pull my slow cooker out more and more to help with meals.
Love your Crock Pot!
When most people think of crock pots or slow cookers, they immediately think of their mother’s old gold, brown or avocado colored crock that sat lonely on a shelf in the kitchen of their childhood, never to be used except for the occasional pot luck dish. Well, times have changed, and the lowly crock pot is seeing a revival in today’s kitchens.
As I walked through the grocery store aisles a few weeks ago, I noticed the increase in prepackaged slow cooker meals. I’ve been using my slow cooker and reaping the rewards for years, so it was no real surprise to me when others started proclaiming the benefits of cooking with a crock pot. So…what’s so great about slow cooking anyway?
That’s an easy question to answer even if all you’ve ever done is make chicken stew with your slow cooker. It’s just so simple and the food tastes better when cooked slowly and evenly in a crock pot.
I’m a work-part-time/at-home mom. I manage our home, the schedules of three kids, co-lead brownies, and volunteer at the kid’s schools all of which keep me going all day long. We’re always searching for time to sit down and eat, especially eating together as a family. There’s where the slow cooker comes in handy. I have tons of slow cooker recipes, and can find just about anything to cook that my kids and husband will like to eat.
Fall and winter are always great seasons to use the slow cooker to make satisfying stews and roasts, but don’t forget about it in the summer! It uses very little electricity and won’t overheat your house. I use my crock pot year round, and love that I can fix the beginnings of the meal in the morning as I have got other ‘stuff’ out on the counter anyway, put it all in the pot, and then clean up the whole mess when I’m done. The crock pot requires very little clean up itself, so there you have yet another major reason for why slow cooking is so great.
It has been a great tool to use with my kids. I have them layer the veggies, add seasonings, etc. and start it up. They sniff away at it all day, watching the magic changes happening through the lid.
As the day goes along, the slow cooker is busy fixing your meal for you, and when you have finished a day of toddler chasing or walk through the door at the end of another long day at work, your dinner is waiting. All you need to do, depending on the recipe you’ve selected, is prepare a side dish or salad, add some bread, set the table, and call the family in to eat. Simple, simple, simple; and very satisfying.
Suggestions for using your Crock Pot:
Generally, most crock pot recipes call for 6-8 hours on low and/or 4 hours on high. You needn’t worry about turning off the crock pot at exactly 8 hours after cooking on low because the temp is so low your food shouldn’t burn.
Be conscious of what foods are where in your crock pot! If the recipe specifies an order to add ingredients, follow closely. In general, keep in mind that vegetables cook more slowly than meat, so they should go at the bottom of the pot.
Make sure to thaw any frozen ingredients before putting them in your crock pot. If you are in a hurry, and have forgotten to thaw your frozen ingredient, just add a cup of warm water or broth to prevent ‘shocking’ your dish.
Before you cook, remove skin from chicken and trim excess fat from other meats. Since fat doesn’t drain away during cooking (as with frying or baking), you want to keep it to a minimum.
Most meats do not need to be pre-cooked. The exception? Ground meats. Brown and drain ground meats before adding to the crock. Some people prefer to brown other meats before adding them to the pot; they say it makes the final meal look better, and gives the meat a more developed taste.
The ideal fill level for a crock pot is between ½ and 2/3 full. Since slow cooker capacity ranges from 3.5 to 6 quarts, you may have to adjust your recipe slightly.
Add ground herbs near the end of cooking time to avoid having them lose flavor over long cooking times.
Add rice or pasta during the last 30 minutes of cooking to avoid mushy outcomes. This is especially important with gluten-free pastas.
The absolute best tip is DON’T LIFT THE LID! The food does not need to be stirred, unless the recipe calls for it. If you cannot resist the urge to peek, grasp the top of the lid and swirl it in a circle. The spinning motion will shake condensation from the lid, and you’ll be able to see the contents of the crock pot. If you do lift the lid, add 20 minutes to the cooking time for each time you peek!
Many people want to try adapting their favorite recipes to the crock pot. The chart below explains how to adjust cooking times.
Oven/Stovetop Cook time Low Setting Cook time High Setting time
15-30 minutes 4-6 hours 1.5-2.5 hours
35-45 minutes 6-8 hours 3-4 hours
50 minutes to 3 hours 8-16 hours 4-6 hours
Kids cooking recipe! – Beef roast and vegetables in a slow cooker
Younger children may need a little help with this recipe, but the effort will be worth it. This is a one-pot meal that’s ready when everyone comes home from after-school activities and work. 🙂
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