By Katrina Rasbold
I ignored my crockpot for years and even wondered what a person did with it besides keep warm the other stuff you’d made in other pots. As I’ve gotten older and lazier, I have found a number of easy peasy and very tasty projects to crock.
I have this one:
…but as you likely know, crockpots are available in all sizes and types in thrift stores across the nation for less than $10, so if you don’t have one, you’d do well to go out and get at least one before you waste a whole other winter not crockpotting. (You’d better know that’s a stock photo and that neither my crockpot nor my kitchen is that pristine)
As with all of my entries, people will think you did a lot when really, you just didn’t.
Mulled Apple Cider
Mulled is defined as “to make a mess or failure of” or “a scrap or morsel of food.” Interesting. I always thought it meant to spice it up, sweeten it up and let it simmer.
Set your crockpot to high and add about as much of a gallon of apple juice as your pot will hold. Throw in 3 cloves, 2 sticks of cinnamon and about a half cup of white sugar. Stir it up and bring it almost to a boil, then set the pot to low.
You can dress it up with brandy or orange slices or other things, but this is your base recipe. Just ladle it out into big mugs and people will think you’re an angel.
The night before you plan to make it, dump a bag of dried navy beans, pinto beans or northern white beans into a bowl and cover with water. Let them sit over night to absorb the water and soften up. The next morning, drain your beans and toss them into the crockpot. Add a thick ham steak, some ham hocks or 2-3 cups of leftover ham from a full ham you’ve cooked. I use these:
You don’t have to cut it up or anything just yet. Just toss it in there. Add a can of chicken broth (14-15oz) and enough water to bring the level up to around 2″ below the top. Cut up two stalks of celery and add about a half teaspoon of loose Thyme. I also put in a quarter teaspoon of ginger which helps to cut down on the gas. Let it cook on high for 4-5 hours or on medium for 8 hours. Around the end of that time, pull the ham steak apart with a fork. If you like a thicker soup, add a tablespoon of corn starch or Wondra that has been mixed with a quarter cup of cold water, stir it up and let it sit for 15 minutes or so.
Boiled Roast Beef & Potatoes
Quickly braise a 3-4 pound beef roast to seal it. Put it in your crockpot and add enough water to bring it up to about 3/4 full. Cut up and add an onion or 4T of chopped dried onion. Throw in some salt and pepper too. Let that cook on high for 4-5 hours until the roast is starting to get tender. Peel and cut a few potatoes into thick slices or quarters. Add them and some baby carrots or carrot coins to the mix. Cook on high for another 2-3 hours or until veggies are soft. Serve the roast pretty much whole and let people pull apart the pieces they want.
Although my mother favored serving the whole thing in a big bowl, I prefer to remove the roast and put it on a platter, remove the carrots and put them into a bowl, then drain the potatoes and mash them with a little butter and milk. It makes a mix like mashed potatoes, but with all that beef stock and veggie goodness mixed in.
Bake 5-6 good sized potatoes in the microwave until they are soft. Let them cool a bit. This recipe also works well if you have leftover baked potatoes you need to use up (although you can also cut those into little wedges and fry them up for country potatoes too). In a shallow skillet on medium heat, melt 1/2 c (1 stick) of butter. Add in a quarter cup of white flour or Wondra and mix it up until it makes a roux. Set it aside. Into your crockpot, pour 4 cups of milk, 2 cans (14-15 oz each) of chicken broth and the roux mixture. Stir well. Cut your potatoes in half and using a teaspoon or soup spoon, scoop out chunks of the cooked potato and drop them into the mix. (Make loaded potato skins with the empty skins) Add salt, onion flakes and pepper to taste. Let this all cook together on high until it almost boils and then take it down to medium for 4-5 hours. Serve with bits of green onions, bacon bits and sour cream if desired.
When I am in a hurry, I have been known to dump in a bag of frozen O’brien potatoes:
or just plain frozen (not-shredded) frozen hash browns:
They seem to work just fine as well and no one has complained yet.
Chicken Noodle Vegetable Soup
Cook one chicken or a package of boneless, skinless breasts in a pressure cooker until tender (around 20 minutes of pressure at 10 pounds). You can also boil the chicken in a regular covered pan for around an hour and get the same results, but I always forget to check it and it boils dry and sticks up the house and ruins the chicken and yadda yadda yadda.
Let the chicken cook and pull it off the bones and remove the bones or if it’s the chicken breasts, just use a couple of forks to shred the meat. Dump the cooked chicken pieces into the crockpot. Add 2 cans of chicken broth (14-15oz each), 3-4sliced up stalks of celery, about a cup or so of carrot coins, a teaspoon of loose thyme, salt and pepper to taste and enough water to bring the level up to around 2″ below the top. Let this mix cook for 3-4 hours on high to marry up well together. When you are almost ready to eat, throw in a package of thin, dried egg noodles:
and let them boil with the mix for as long as the package recommends. (You can make your own pasta if you’re feeling froggy, but remember who you’re talking to here) When the noodles are done, you’re ready to eat.
Don’t fool around with Bacos.
They are the work of the devil.
Don’t forget our ever-popular:
and use real butter on that stuff and not margarine or fake butter. You’ll be glad you did.
Feel free to share your favorite EASY crockpot cookeries below in the comments section.