Eclectic, quirky, and sometimes edgy…this is how things look from my front porch.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Crockpot, My Best Kitchen Friend

I don’t know what I’d do without my crockpot. Actually, I have two and they are in constant use.

I’m often out and about during the day, so the crockpot is a great tool for having a piping hot meal when I get home. There is nothing like coming home to the smell of salsa chicken or a beef stew simmering in my crock. Since I started using my crockpot regularly about five years ago, we’ve saved a great deal of money by not eating out. The crockpot is also wonderful for tenderizing tougher cuts of meat, another cost savings.

So what do you put in there? You can find some good recipes here:

Here are some of my, very easy, favorites:

Salsa Chicken

4 chicken breasts, boneless or bone in
A large bottle of salsa, any type

Place one third of the salsa on the bottom of the crockpot. Place the chicken on top and ut the remainder of the salsa on top. Cook on low for 8 hours. Great by itself with a vegetable or fork-pulled with tortillas.


4 to 6 bratwurst, the turkey variety is much healthier
2 cans of sauerkraut, the cheaper the better
2 apples
caraway seeds

Peel and slice the apples. Rinse the sauerkraut to remove some of the salt. Put rinsed sauerkraut in a large bowl, add a tablespoon caraway seeds and apples and mix thoroughly. Place one third of the mixture on the bottom of the crock, add bratwurst and place the remainder on top. Cook on low for 8 hours.

Crockpot Beef

London broil
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 pkg gravy mix or Lipton onion soup mix
2 tablespoons red wine or balsamic vinegar

Mix last three ingredients together. Place on third of the mixture at the bottom of the pot. Add London broil. Add a ½ cup each zucchini, button mushrooms, cubed raw potatoes and baby carrots. Pour the rest of the tomato mixture on top. Cook on low for 8 hours.

Other ideas for crockpot cooking include your favorite meat loaf recipe with BBQ sauce on top, Irish (steel cut) oatmeal with apples for breakfast and “baked” yams or potatoes. Scrub the yams or potatoes, prick with a fork, spray with Pam, wrap with tinfoil and cook on high for 8 hours. The potatoes are a great reason for a second crockpot. Combine them with a crocked meatloaf and you have whole meal.

Crockpots are often available at thrift stores and garage sales or through relatives who don’t use them. Before running out and buying a new one, try finding a used one. Make sure that you choose a crockpot with a removable pot, they are far easier to clean. Before putting food in a used crock, fill it to the top with water and leave on high for a few hours. It should get very hot and have some bubbles on the edges. If it does not, discard it, as the heating element isn’t working properly. If it isn’t, you run the risk of food poisoning.