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Crock Pot Pinto Beans with Bacon and Potatoes

6 Sep

These are incredibly flavorful, incredibly simple pinto beans that go great with crusty bread or Mexican cornbread. Cooking them on high for five to six hours instead of on low for ten to twelve results in tender-firm beans that, thrown together at lunchtime, are ready by dinner. The beans thicken nicely with the addition of the potatoes. You’ll need to soak the beans and the ham hock overnight, so keep that in mind for your dining plans.

– 1 pound pinto beans
– 1 ham hock
– water

– 2 cups beef broth
– 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
– 1 tsp oregano
– 1 tsp chili powder
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1/2 tsp pepper

– 1 15oz can white potatoes, diced
– 1 lb bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

To prepare the beans and ham hock overnight:

Soak the beans overnight – place in a large bowl and cover with water two inches above the level of the beans. Cover and leave on the counter. Soak the ham hock overnight – place in a small stock pot, cover with water, cover with a lid, and place in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day:

Drain and rinse the beans, and place them in the crock pot. Place the ham hock in the crock pot with the beans, and reserve the soaking liquid. Pour the beef broth over the beans, add the chopped onion, oregano, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Pour in the liquid from the ham hock, until the beans and hock are covered (you may not use all of the liquid – if you run out, add water). Stir well to combine.

Set crock pot on HIGH and cook for five to six hours.

In the final half-hour of cooking time, cook the bacon until very crisp, and crumble. Reserve two TBSP of bacon grease, and fry the diced potatoes until golden. Add the bacon and the potatoes to the beans and stir. Continue cooking the beans until they are the desired tenderness (mine are done usually right at five hours, but I let them sit on “keep warm” for another few hours until we’re ready to eat, and they’re just fine).

Remove the ham hock (you can chop the meat up and add it back in – I don’t really care for hock meat myself) and serve the beans with bread, sour cream, shredded cheese, sliced jalapeños, etc. IF there are any leftovers, they keep well in the refrigerator for several days.


Five Flavor Pork Roast for the Crock Pot

22 Dec

You can mix up the herbs and spices used for this pork roast, it’s a very flexible recipe. I use:

– One 4-5 lb pork roast (bone-in or boneless), any cut, whatever is preferred
– Five cloves fresh garlic, sliced or quartered
– 1 tbsp butter
– 1 tbsp vegetable oil
– One sprig fresh or two tsp dried rosemary, crushed
– One tsp. dried oregano
– One tsp. paprika
– One tsp. onion powder
– Salt and pepper, to taste
– One cup chicken or pork broth or stock

– Optional: 1-2 tbsp. any brand of fruit or citrus jam or marmalade (stirred until smooth), or a fruit jam made with hot peppers (like Crooked Acres Strawberry-Habanero Jam!).

With the tip of a sharp knife, cut several deep slits into all sides of the roast. Insert garlic slices into the slits, pushing them in at least several inches. Combine all spices in a small bowl, then rub all sides of the roast FIRMLY with the spice mixture, pressing into the pork to ensure the spices adhere.

Heat butter and oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Brown each side of the roast, turning every two to three minutes. Remove roast from skillet and place in a large crock pot. Brush with jam or marmalade, if using. Pour broth or stock over roast, cover, and cook on LOW for 10-11 hours.

Serve with sweet potatoes or white potatoes, rice, or egg noodles. To make gravy, remove juices from crock pot into a medium saucepan, heat until boiling, and thicken with 2 tbsp corn starch mixed with 2 tbsp water.

Sonoran Chicken (Crock Pot)

20 Apr

– 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved
– 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
– 1 can sweet corn, drained
– 1.5 – 2 cups salsa of choice
– 1 jalapeno, sliced (optional – can also use nacho style jalapenos in a jar)
– 2 tbsp minced garlic
– 1 tbsp worcestershire
– your favorite spicy seasonings, to taste (red tabasco, green tabasco, Cholula, mexican spiced salt, etc.)
– salt and pepper to taste
– 1 8-oz pkg cream cheese -or- 2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, cheddar/jack, mexican blend, etc.)
– garnish – tortilla chips, sour cream, etc.

Place chicken breast halves in the crock pot. In a large bowl, mix together beans, corn, salsa, jalapeno, garlic, worcestershire, spices, salt and pepper. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on LOW for six hours. In the last 20 minutes of cooking, add cubed cream cheese or shredded cheese to the crock pot, continue to cook until melted.

Serve with warm flour tortillas, or accompanied with spanish rice or skillet fried potatoes.

Article: The Necessary Slow Cooker

8 Feb

If there is one appliance that busy families – or really, ANY cook – can NOT do without, it is a slow cooker, or “crock pot”. I can’t begin to tell you how many times having this one simple device in my possession has saved the meal, saved the day, and produced rave reviews. Indeed, the slow cooker is enjoying a renaissance as cooks everywhere rediscover its uses, expand its repertoire, and recall from their youths the meals it’s capable of producing.

The slow cooker can literally be left to its own devices all day long. With a few simple steps performed in the morning before work, school, or errands, it can welcome you in the evening with a home filled with delicious aromas. The time it takes to go from pot to plate with a few simple side dishes is the work of moments – even faster than the time it takes to get through the line at the drive-through of some fast-food joints! And which would you rather have – tender home-made roast beef, or a luke-warm patty of “mystery meat” on a bun?

There is a very simple concept behind the success of the crock pot – meat/veggies + liquid = delicious. It seems the longer the meal is cooked, the better it becomes. It’s almost impossible to “ruin” a meal made in the crock pot! A whole fryer chicken when placed in the crock pot with two cups of broth, cooked on low all day (typically in my household that means from about 7:30 in the morning until 6:00 at night) produces juicy, moist, flavorful meat that falls off the bones. A pot roast seasoned and covered with beef broth and a splash of wine results in the tenderest beef, at the end of the day, you will ever experience. For either recipe, piling a bunch of potatoes and carrots or other veggies in the bottom of the pot before adding the meat will provide a ready-made side dish.  And the broth left over thickens quickly and easily with a few tablespoons of corn starch dissolved in milk, broth, or water.

Absolutely nothing is beyond the capability of the slow cooker – meats, vegetables, soups, stews, casseroles, beverages, desserts – the possibilities are endless. Trust me on this, if you don’t have one, GET YE HENCE THIS MOMENT and purchase one.  They are inexpensive (ranging from $20 to $100 and up depending on the size and amount of “whizzy-bang” capabilities), yet priceless.  The particular model I use is a Rival 6.5 quart, with just three settings – low, high, and off.

There are multiple recipes for the crock pot listed on this site – simply click on the “crock pot” category to the right, and enjoy a fast, easy, delicious meal!

Cheese Enchilada Chowder (Crock Pot)

25 Jan

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (10 ounce) package frozen whole kernel corn
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped bell peppers (red, yellow, or green)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, and finely chopped
1 (19 ounce) can green enchilada sauce (or one 10-oz can and 1 cup of chicken broth)
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
2 cups milk
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp Worcestershire
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream
tortilla chips

– Add the black beans, tomatoes, frozen corn, onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno pepper to a 4 quart slow-cooker; stir to combine.
– In a mixing bowl, add the enchilada sauce and cream soup, garlic, Worcestershire, salt and pepper; whisk together.
– Gradually whisk in the milk until mixture is smooth.
– Pour over vegetables in slow-cooker.
– Cover and cook on LOW heat for 6-8 hours.
– Add cheese and stir until melted.
– Ladle hot soup into individual serving bowls and top with sour cream, guacamole and broken tortilla chips if desired.

enchiladachowderI added a can of chunked chicken breast to the pot to give it some meat. I also added a small handful of jarred jalapeno slices (nacho style), and probably more cheese than the recipe called for. Calvin added a couple of spoonfuls of refried beans to his serving. We omitted the guacamole completely as it is EVIL.

Jambalaya (Crock Pot)

25 Jan

12 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups green peppers, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14 ounce) can whole tomatoes
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 can (15 oz) beef broth
1 tablespoon parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lb shelled raw shrimp
3 cups cooked rice


– Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces.
– Put all ingredients (EXCEPT shrimp and rice) in crockpot.
– Cover; cook on low for 8 hours.
– Add shrimp the last 20 minutes of cooking.
– Stir in rice before serving.

I used two cans of chicken breast as we didn’t have any packaged chicken, and it turned out really well. I stirred a tablespoon of sour cream into my serving.

Makes about six generous servings.

Chicago Italian Beef (Crock Pot)

25 Jan

5 lbs rump roast (do not substitute for a different type roast)
2 cans (~28-30 oz) beef broth
1 package good seasons italian seasoning
1/2 – 1 jar sliced pepperoncini peppers (depending on level of spiciness desired)
1/2 – 1 jar giardiniera (a jarred pepper/veggie medley found in the pickle section of the grocery store)
3-5 sweet green peppers
1 loaf long thin French bread

– Cook first 5 ingredients in a Crockpot on LOW for 18 hours.
– Turn over at the 6th and 12th hour interval.
– At the 17th hour cut sweet green peppers into 1/8 ths lengthwise and cook in water on low heat until soft.
– Cut bread into 6 inch lengths and slice on the side lengthwise.
– Pull roast apart with a fork, and using tongs, pile bread with meat and juice. (Do not let juice drain before putting on bread. The juice is half the taste of the sandwich.)
– Lay strips of green pepper on top of the meat. Salt to taste.
– May be frozen when cooked.

For us, we skipped the green peppers, added sliced provolone to the sandwich and I added jarred roasted red peppers for myself. Very messy and good!