Monday, May 2, 2011

What a crock!


I love the slow cooker.

Growing up, I remember my mom using it every now and again, but it wasn't one of those go-to kitchen gadgets. When I graduated from college, I packed up my things and my mom gave me the ol' crockpot. She told me she never really used it, but that I might like it. I happily took it and piled it in the box with my brand new hand mixer (bought with the generous gift card my former co-workers at the ice company gave me), can opener, and all-purpose pan.

It went mostly unused until that first year of marriage. It was at this point that I was looking for easier meals that were semi-healthy, but good. Not to mention, meals that wouldn't require that I clean several pots and pans and scrub the kitchen...which, let's face it, is what any kitchen that I cook in usually looks like. Then, my sister introduced me to a simple easy chicken recipe* that not only satisfied, but was EXCELLENT on the pocket book. Woo-hoo!

At this point, I'd also acquired Don's slow cooker through our marriage. When my brother graduated from college, I bought him a cookbook solely for crockpot recipes and insisted it be one of his first purchases for his place. I think he might have used it once or twice and shoved it in the back of his cabinet. It wasn't long after that he asked if I wanted it and I said sure. So that is how I found myself with three slow cookers. On cool days like today, or weeks where I know I'll be much too busy, like this week, I will take out my little family of crockpots and put them to work. (what is going on with Texas that it was in the 40s today! Not complaining because soon enough we will have those triple digit temps, but whoa! Cheers to procrastination and not putting away the kiddos winter wear.)

Far left (and the crockpot that became mine after marriage):
Braised short ribs with button mushrooms and egg noodles in a marsala sauce 
Middle (newest crockpot from my brother)
Whole chicken, with garlic and pepper, a bit of onion and celery...this will make a great base for a meal 
Far right (the oldest crockpot, and quite possibly my favorite)
Pot roast with potatoes, celery, carrot, onion, and garlic

Usually when I cook with the crockpots, I like to use a Reynolds Slow Cooker Liner. Don is concerned about cooking the food in a plastic liner, but I'm living in ignorant bliss. Maybe they are bad. Maybe I should care, especially because I'm obsessive about so many other things. Maybe I hate scrubbing the slow cookers after wards. Yeah, that's it and it totally trumps everything else...for now.

*Easy Chicken Dinner, aka Salsa Chicken
Whole Chicken
1 jar of your favorite salsa...get crazy with it and try something with pin eapple or mango

Add chicken and entire contents of the jar to the slow cooker. Cook on low overnight. Your chicken will be tender and will fall right off the bone! I usually take off all of the chicken meat from the bone and will add a bit of water to the "juice/sauce" and it can be a pretty delicious and spicy chicken soup. Enjoy!

Do you cook with a slow cooker? If so, what is your favorite recipe?

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