|Dinner's on! Right in between the coffee and the baby formula.|
1. You have to actually plan dinner 6-10 hours ahead of time.
2. If you have managed to plan dinner, you also need the ingredients. (Don't judge, even with ten hours to go before dinner it's hard to get out of the house and to the store with four kids in tow)
3. If you have managed to plan dinner, and have all the ingredients on hand, you have to remember to prep the meal 4-8 hours ahead of time!
If you can do all this, you're set to go.
So far I've managed quite a few recipes, and it is really nice to have the afternoon freed up for playing with the kids, and only needing about 10 minutes to put dinner together. The one thing that make slow cooking a little more challenging here is that so many of the recipes I find call for things that are either not available here or cost prohibitive. An unfortunate example - cans of condensed soup. Cream of chicken, mushroom and cheese are the most prominent, featuring in about 75% of the recipes I see. But I can't justify spending $5 on a can of soup (if I can even find the flavor I'm looking for). So I make my own substitute (a basic white sauce with seasonings). Other canned goodies are just not available at all - enchilada sauce, I'm looking at you! What I'm saying is, the convenience of a crock pot recipe is sometimes compromised by having to make the canned ingredients from scratch. Not that it can't be done - I do have a pretty good enchilada sauce recipe, it just takes a lot more time, pans and blenders before I can throw in the "can" of enchilada sauce to make the perfect dish.
Some of the recipes I've tried have turned out perfectly, others, not so much. Last week I tried this Chicken and Dumpling Casserole recipe. I didn't have self-rising flour so I added baking powder, but the dough layer was much too runny and we ended up with a very nice tasting chicken stew, sans dumplings. Next time I'll try making my own biscuit mix and putting it on the top for the last 30 minutes.
This Taco Soup recipe has been the easiest and simplest one, even though you have to brown the ground beef before putting it in the crock pot. We love eating this one with cheese on top and tortilla chips on the side.
Another favorite is this Italian Chicken. While we don't have ready access to the Italian dressing packets, I have a few that were brought from Canada on my parent's last trip. I really love that you can put your chicken in uncooked - no other pans needed! I served this on rice with a side of broccoli.
I'm really enjoying my slow cooker - even though I usually have to adapt a lot of the recipes. It will be getting a lot of use at our house.
What are your favorite slow cooker recipes?