Thursday, 8 August 2013

Crockpot Cookin'

A slow cooker is a busy mom's best friend. The way some people talk about their crock pot, you'd think it sets the table, cleans up after dinner and keeps the kids from fighting.

Dinner's on! Right in between the coffee and the baby formula. 
I am pretty new to the world of slow cooking, as I recently received my crock pot for my birthday last month. With four kids, including two infants who love to cry around dinner time, I knew a crock pot would be a valuable addition to my kitchen. It's easy right? Throw everything into the crock pot and turn it on. I quickly learned three things about using a crock pot:

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? 


  1. Love Crock Pots! I once made a delicious creamy potato soup from scratch and intuitively! I couldn't get enough of it. Unfortunately, I forgot to write down the recipe and now I'll probably have to test and try it all over again, but the fact that I could do my other things without worrying about the pan exploding or boiling over and having to constantly be in the kitchen just made my day :D

  2. I don't necessarily have a favorite recipe (although there's a Ginger Pork that is pretty close to the top of the list!) - but a great site for recipes is

  3. I'll have to give my crockpot a try once I get back.

  4. Place a picture of your crockpot plug!!! Triple voltage enabled! Love, Dad Portela

  5. When I make Taco Soup in the crockpot I do it with chicken so that I can just throw in the raw meat and not have to worry about browning beef ahead of time. When its done, I just take a minute to pull the chicken apart into shredded chicken and it is delicious. If I make it on the stove then I do it with beef.

    My other favorite crockpot recipe is BBQ pulled pork. I'm sure you could find a good recipe for it online but I think the basic idea is to cook the pork shoulder all day with some onions and other seasonings. Then when its ready to go, you shred it (same as the chicken in taco soup) and add bbq sauce and eat with a bun. yum! Can you get BBQ sauce there?

    I don't use my crockpot very often because I'm not good at planning it out, but I'm sure it will come in handy when baby boy is here. Glad you are finding yours so helpful!

  6. I love my Crockpot, especially to get lunch ready before church on Sundays and to return home with no prep before lunchtime. Taco soup is a fave, as is any kind of stew. Here's the link to my current favorite from Jamie Oliver that you can tweak to suit your tastes.

  7. I do love my Crockpot, but I agree - it does involve planning ahead of time to have the ingredients, and things can be hard to find. I usually just make shredded chicken in mine, but I've tried these too and like them.

  8. Taara Ma, you can do a pumpkin chilli and also make whatever curry you want in a crockpot. I've done chicken and mutton, and it's always been good!

  9. Has anyone ever found a dual voltage crock pot? Living in Europe and need something I can use here and take back to the states... might be a pipedream.


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