Slow cookin'....

I have a torrid love affair I need to come clean about. It's been going on for two years now, ever since my friend Amy hooked me up on my birthday. I never could have known that an offhand remark about a secret desire would lead to such a connection that I know will last for the rest of my life.
Don't tell Chris.
It's my crock-pot.


If you have not yet been introduced to the fantabulousness that is a crock-pot, let me be your "hook up". You need to get one. Like, today! As the first grey and stormy days hit Seattle this week, it is time to pull that baby out and get to making some of my favorite hearty soups and one-pot meals. The house is filled with delectable smells all day long (a blessing and a curse), preparations are simple, it needs no tending, and at the end of the day you have a scrumptious feast. I had always dismissed crock-pots as something that grandmas used, and wasn't really a modern cooking apparatus. I was so wrong.

That's my little cherry red beauty there. Nothing fancy, about $20 at Target (though right now it's on sale for $16.99). You don't need anything complex like programmable digital timers or anything like that. Though of course you can if you feel compelled, it just isn't necessary. We know how to read clocks. I recommend getting a 4 quart size, even if it's just you, as it is a perfect size for making enough food for leftovers (and you WILL want the leftovers, believe me!), for parties, etc. Don't bother with a cookbook, as there are literally thousands upon thousands of recipes available online, searchable by keywords for just what you have in mind or in the fridge at the time.

Here is what I am making as we speak:

* 1 package 16 Bean Soup (toss the "ham flavor" packet if you want veg. soup)
* 1 tablespoon fresh crushed oregano
* 1 can no-fat chicken or vegetable stock
* Additional water to cover
* 2 stalks celery chopped
(* 3 carrots diced - no carrots in the larder today, but I usually do)
* 1 red or green bell pepper, cut into ~ 1" chunks
* 1/4 white onion chopped
* 3 cloves garlic sliced
* 1 can stewed (or diced) tomatoes

Preparation:
Combine first 4 ingredients (liquid should cover mixture + 1 to 2 inches) in slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 hours, or until beans are tender. Add remaining ingredients and decrease temperature to low; cook for additional 3 to 4 hours. If desired, add cayenne or crushed red pepper when adding second set of ingredients. Serve as complete meal or over rice. Freezes well.

You can vary this recipe any way you like and not go wrong. It's kind of "stone soup" in our house, where I will grab whatever is in the veggie drawer, sometimes we'll add sauteed ground beef or chicken, different spices, whatever. We like to serve the bean soup with grilled cheese sandwiches.

I have many other simple and delicious recipes to share, if y'all are ever interested in hearing more. But in short, get a crock-pot, and experiment! Such fun, delicious, and rewarding!

5 comments:

  1. Timely....I just used MY crockpot to make vegetarian stew today.
    All fresh veggies from the market or from the CSA share.
    Potatoes, carrots, celery, mushrooms, crushed tomatoes, green beans, kidney beans, rice, peas, onion, garlic...am I forgetting anything? All with 3 cups of water and mushroom soup, with a bunch of assorted seasonings.
    - Mom

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  2. Oh Mom, sounds good!! I am drooling here with all the good smells coming off of ours. :) Oh darn! I forgot I had some mushrooms! Well...there is always tomorrow...:P

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  3. Not to mention the crockpot is AWESOME for warming up that apple cider and the christmas wasl!

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  4. Classic 40 cloves chicken, served with a big salad and bread to spread the cooked garlic on. Yum!

    http://www.cooking.com/Recipes-and-More/recipes/Chicken-with-40-Cloves-of-Garlic-recipe-7133.aspx

    ReplyDelete


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