Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Crock-Pot - One Of Mom's Best Friends

Summertime means we're getting BUSY...camps, the pool, day trips.  Thinking about dinner isn't something I really want to do, so the appliance I most treasure in the world continues to work for me during the summer:  the crockpot. 

Even before I had kids, I marveled at this low-wattage miracle device which allowed me to, literally, throw in a bunch of ingredients (2 points if I get the carrots in) and after a long day at work, come home to a hot, delicious meal. Even if I had errands or chores (shoveling snow, for example), the food usually didn't burn and if it did, it wasn't a lot. I'd walk in to a house so fragrant, one would swear someone had been cooking all day just for my pleasure.

Now that I have kids and a husband who works long hours, I still rely on the crock-pot for its simplicity and convenience. The devices are fairly inexpensive (in the $20 to $150 range) and the one I have has a 4-quart capacity which is perfect for my family. To learn more about choosing a slow-cooker, visit ( Also, since I'm a renowned culinary disaster, I redeem myself with this appliance.

Here are three of my favorite recipes:

Turkey Chili

I make this at least once a week because my son loves it and it freezes well. Come to think of it, most of the crock-pot dishes I make freeze well...


1-1/2 to 2 pounds of ground turkey
2 15.5 cans of drained black beans
1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes (I'd use diced tomatoes, but the boy can't stand tomato chunks.)
1 or 2 packages of chili mix (depending on how spicy I want it)
1 40 oz. can of drained red kidney beans


  1. Spray the inside of the pot with cooking spray.
  2. Add all ingredients and set on the Low setting to cook for about 8 hours.
  3. Stir periodically.

Variations: I've added some canned corn and frozen chopped spinach, served it over brown rice, and thrown a tablespoon or two of sour cream and diced Mexican cheese on top just for fun. To stretch it, add a can of Hormel chili.

Turkey Meatloaf

Again, an easy-peasy recipe that yields the filling for an amazing sandwich the next day.


2 pounds of ground turkey
2 eggs, beaten (or 1/3 cup of liquid egg whites)
¾ cup of milk or water
3/4 cup dry breadcrumbs (I use whole wheat ones)
1 cup of ketchup


  1. Spray the inside of the pot with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk or water, breadcrumbs, and meat. Mix thoroughly and shape into a large ball. The ball should be large enough that it won't touch the sides of the pot.
  3. Place the ball into the pot and add about ½ cup of water.
  4. Pour the ketchup over the top and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours.

Variations: To get extra vegetables into my son, I've added a jar of babyfood – squash or sweet potatos work well. You may need to increase the amount of breadcrumbs by ½ cup if you do this.

Chicken Soup


1 to 2 cups of shredded chicken (I use thighs because they're cheaper than breasts.)
1 cup of water
2 cups of frozen, diced vegetables (Generic ones from the grocery store work fine, just be careful what they have in them. If there's a lima bean in the assortment, my kids won't touch the soup.)
6 cups of chicken broth or 6 chicken bouillon cubes
leftover rice or pasta, if you have any
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Put all of the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours. Taste periodically and adjust the seasonings to whatever you like.

I've served this over rice, added leftover vegetables and had fun with this recipe. Ask a young child to help – they love it.

For more crock-pot recipes, visit the following sites: – Here's the link to a whopping 105 slow-cooker recipes: – This link has 30 recipes: – Nikki lists 50 recipes here: – They list an Apple Pie Moonshine that sounds compelling. Their link is – Linda Larsen has a great article on 5-ingredient recipes here: – Probably the best cooking site for cooking. Their Slow Cooker Collection can be found at

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