Crock Pot Ideas and Recipes
You can see how beat up and used my crock pot is.
I love using my crock pot. It saves me so much money because it keeps me from eating out or ordering in. I normally have a very flexible menu plan where I just list a bunch of meals out and each day I look at the list and decide what sounds good. But on a day that I know we will be gone most of the afternoon I always make sure to plan a crock pot meal.
There are so many recipes and ideas and wonderful websites out there on crock pot cooking. Really I am beginning to think that you could make anything in the crock pot. You can make any meal of the day, side dishes and even desserts. A crock pot uses less energy than an oven or stove, even though it cooks longer. Have you ever heard of the Fix It and Forget It cookbook? That is what you can do with your crock pot. Get the ingredients in when it is convenient for you and then forget about it until you are ready to help the plates.
One of my favorite dinner recipes, which also doubles as a really good appetizer or dish to take for a potluck, is Mexican Dip. Take a can of refried beans, a can of diced tomatoes and diced jalapeno peppers to taste and blend them up in the blender. Brown a pound of ground beef or other ground meat and put it in the crock pot. Add two pounds of diced Velveeta cheese and pour the tomato/bean mixture over it all and turn on low for four hours or high for two hours. Stir to mix well after the cheese has mostly melted. You can cut this recipe in half, by freezing half of the tomato/bean mixture and just using one pound of Velveeta cheese and a half a pound of meat. I serve this dip with tortilla chips and fresh fruit. It is really an all around meal with veggies, dairy and meat, although not the best meal for you.
A super easy dinner that I make often is some sort of meat in the crock pot along with diced potatoes, carrots and onions with a bottle of marinade poured on top. I have made this dinner with chicken, or a roast of beef, pork, antelope, elk and deer. I have used BBQ sauce as well as many of the flavors of Lawry's marinades (or the generic version). My family has loved them all.
I have made spaghetti sauce in the crock pot too. For the last thirty minutes you just dump in a box of bowtie pasta and add 1/2 cup of water and stir well. Crock pot macaroni and cheese is really good too. Add some ham and frozen peas and you have a complete meal. This doesn't take very long at all, unlike other crock pot recipes. Vegetable soup is super easy in the crock pot as well. I used to always make it on my stove, but I had to be around for a few hours to baby-sit it. I feel much more comfortable have a crock pot on for that long, and I don't have to be around the whole time it is cooking.
Meatballs with a bottle of BBQ sauce and a jar of grape jelly is a really good appetizer for a party or a main dish if served over pasta. Chicken noodle soup would be easy in the crock pot as well, but like the spaghetti add the pasta for the last thirty minutes.
For side dishes applesauce is my favorite. I cook my apples on low for about four hours and then add a 1/3 cup of sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon. I run a blender through it for a minute to mash up the apples and let it cook for another thirty minutes. Corn casserole is a good too. When I make green beans I like to cook them in a beef broth with some pepper. This would be a quick one in the crock pot too. Well quick by crock pot standards, a couple of hours at most. You can make oatmeal for breakfast in a crock pot. Put it on to cook the night before and it will be ready when you wake up.
For dessert you can make any sort of cobbler, which is similar to pie, but doesn't have to be exact. This is why I only make cobblers; they don't have to look perfect. You can also make brownies or cake in a crock pot.
Having a crock pot gives you more options in the kitchen. If your stove or oven happens to break down, there is no need to rush out and get a new one before you can cook a meal; just use your crock pot. If you live in a dorm, you can still cook something in your crock pot. You can take it with you on vacation and cook meals in your hotel room. This is a great money saver. I actually have three crock pots and if you are serious about crock pot cooking you will want to have more than one too.
So there are some of my favorite recipes and ideas for meals to make in your crock pot. If you haven't fallen in love with your crock pot yet, now is the time to try it again. I love having dinner ready when I walk in the door from a long afternoon out. I love the way the house smells while the food is cooking. If you need more crock pot ideas, check out the blog A Year of Crockpotting. It is full of great recipes and ideas.