I’m suffering from a lack of inspiration this week. I’m tired. Judah is teething. Things have been a little rough lately. So forgive me for phoning it in a little on this one, but lately I’ve been having a love affair with my crock pot.
I’ve always thought of the crock pot as a fall/winter thing, but my love affair with mine started during this summer’s intense heat wave. We were having issues with our air conditioner, and the house just wasn’t getting as cool as we wanted. We couldn’t bear the thought of turning on the oven, and my husband (the cook in our family) didn’t want to stand over a burning stove top in the kitchen. Enter the crock pot.
We started buying large cuts of meat, slow cooking them in the crock pot, and using the meat in dishes throughout the week. Sandwiches, salads, soups, quesadillas. The possibilities were endless. Now as we enter the cooler season, I’m thinking about soups and stews and roasts and other winter comfort food that will be a snap to prepare in our beloved crock pot. It makes me wish we’d started using the thing years ago.
Here are a few of the reasons why I love it so much:
Just chop and drop your ingredients in the morning (or before you go to bed), and when you get home dinner is ready to serve. Simple!
It uses less energy than the oven.
Even though the crock pot cooks for longer, it doesn’t use the massive amounts of energy it takes to heat an entire over to 300-400 degrees. So it will lower your energy bill (slightly).
It doesn’t heat up the kitchen or the house.
While most people think crock pot = winter comfort food, we started using ours in the summer time to avoid the heat generated by the oven and stove top.
It allows you to buy and cook cheaper cuts of meat without sacrificing flavor.
The process of slow cooking breaks down and softens up cheap cuts of meat that would otherwise be tough. That means you can stretch your grocery budget and still eat delicious meals.
It makes the house smell glorious.
There is nothing better than walking in the door to a house the smells of delicious roasted meat or soup. Trust me.
You can make more than you think with a crock pot.
I have an entire pinboard on Pinterest devoted to crock pot cooking, and I’ve been shocked at how many different recipes you can make. It’s not just soup and roasts. The crock pot can make it easier to prepare pasta dishes, casseroles, dips, and even drinks and desserts.
What’s your favorite crock pot recipe or web site? I’m always looking for new ideas!
Last night, we had slow cooker artichoke pasta – http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2011/01/super-easy-slow-cooker-artichoke-pasta.html. It was pretty tasty, and you could probably cook the pasta in the crockpot in the last hour or two of cooking, provided you add more liquid (broth, tomato juice, or water). We’ve also been using our toaster oven a fair amount this summer to avoid heating up the oven. I love your pinboards!
That blog looks awesome! I haven’t seen that one before, but I’ll add it to my reader. Thanks for the tip, Megan! Do I follow you on Pinterest? What’s your username?
I personally recommend Mama D’s slow-cooker cookbook (and, of course, all of her other cookbooks too):
http://www.amazon.com/Slow-Cooker-Cookbook-Easy—Make/dp/0811866572/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1315480922&sr=8-1 or directly at http://www.dianephillips.com/books.html
I just told my boyfriend that I want a crockpot for my birthday this year ( Sign that I’m getting old?). I hate to buy things like that here since I know I won’t be able to ever use them again on account of the weird, non-U.S. plug in, but I’m thinking it might pay for itself in the long run, even if that’s only six months.
My daughter stands by the crock-pot, waiting for this to be ready EVERY time I make it:
One of my favorites is pulled pork. I usually just use a (clubhouse slow cooker) seasoning packet and the ingredients it calls for (ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar), but you could use bbq sauce or make your own sauce. Then just cook the meat in the sauce, turning occasionally, until it falls apart. Then use two forks to shred it, add it back to the sauce and heat a little more. It is great for sandwiches. I usually cook up a huge roast and put the shredded meat in small containers in the freezer. Then you can just pull one out and microwave it while you are toasting bread or buns, and you have dinner in minutes.
Also if you want to heat the house up even less, you can take your crockpot out to the deck or balcony and plug it in out there.