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What to do with your Crock Pot: Soups & Stews
Jan 7th, 2017 by Dr Karma

First, the tips:

1. If you’re doing anything with beans, get dried beans. Put them and a lot of water in the crock pot overnight–turned off. This will soften the beans and they’ll cook beautifully while you’re at work.

2. Instead of using a blender at the end of recipes that call for them, invest in an immersion blender. You will become evangelical about it.

3. If your soup or stew calls for rice, and you want it to come out great, buy minute rice. Put it in your crock pot stew 10-15 minutes before you want to serve.

Okay–on to the recipes! (I’m sorry, by the way, about the way most of the recipe sites I’m linking to are organized. You have to scroll a LONG way down to the actual recipe, and pop ads get in the way, but I don’t want to steal people’s recipes, either.)

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Soup. This is a favorite of my son.

Black Bean Soup. Book group and campus people love this one. It’s vegan, but you can have toppings: cheese, ham/bacon, sour cream, etc. I recommend green onions on top in any case. With this and other bean recipes, have some wine vinegar on the table–just a sprinkle refreshes the flavors.

Curried Lentils with Chicken and Potatoes (from Melissa Bender). So good, and warming in cold weather.

Jambalaya. I do this in the crock pot, though the recipe is for the stove top. See the rice hint above. I also add okra, cause it’s friggin’ jambalaya. If you use shrimp, add them relatively late. The trick to Jambalaya, though, is to do it the old-fashioned way–throw in whatever meat you have. I always use ham and sausage, and I usually throw in a frozen or fresh chicken breast and a frozen fillet of white fish if I have one lying around the freezer.

Red Beans and Rice. Make the rice on the stove or in the rice cooker. Soak the beans first, as described above, and sprinkle with wine vinegar at the end.

Basically, I do almost all the soups/stews I could do on the stove in the crock pot: chili, split-pea soup, white bean soup, chicken soup, vegetable soup, daal, pork tomatillo soup, potato soup, broccoli soup, etc. If you’re doing a pot luck, you can make the soup on the stove, but then take it to the party, or, in my case, the all day grading session, and leave perfection on low.

In addition to the recipes listed above, here are more favorites that book groups and colleagues alike have wanted the recipes for:

Creamy Tomato Soup. You know, the kind kids like. I add basil.

Spiced Carrot Soup with Lime. The boy and I decided this needed a little bit of rice and some coconut milk. We serve it with naan.

Indian Spiced Corn Soup. This is now my favorite corn soup.

Chickpea Vegetable Stew. This can be made vegetarian, or, if you’re making it for my son, you can make it more kid friendly by leaving out the chickpeas.

Yes, I know my son is no longer a kid. And he’s not picky in all the traditional kid ways. He doesn’t like beans, but love broccoli. He eats Japanese, Thai, and Indian all the time, but won’t eat some of the more traditional “American things.”

Just the other day, he had falafel for dinner with his friends. Since he’d been SO picky as a child, he asked if I was surprised.

“No. I know it would take something really exotic like an omelette or an apple pie to throw you now.”

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What to Do with Your Crock Pot: Meatballs & Roasts
Dec 24th, 2016 by Dr Karma

Fill it up. Plug it in. Go to work. Come home to dinner.

We all need to use our crock pots more, and I’m saying that as someone who uses hers all the time.

Most people know about chili in the crock pot, so I’m not going to give you a chili recipe. I’m just going to give you all the other ones my household loves. We’re covering the non-soup/stew recipes and non-pasta recipes here.

Waltonen Family Meatballs: Buy a package of frozen meatballs, your favorite bbq sauce, and a jar of grape jelly. Mix equal parts jelly and bbq sauce in the crock pot–enough to cover the meatballs. You can either put the frozen meatballs in and let them warm up in the crock pot during the day, or if you’re in a hurry, put them in pre-thawed. In my family, we have these plugged in all day on major holidays to snack on.

A whole damn chicken or turkey breast: That’s right. Use whatever kind of rub you like. I alternate between a savory mix of garlic, thyme, rosemary, s&p, and sage; lemon slices, s&p, rosemary; and peri-peri spices. Leave it in there all day. When you’re ready, the bird will be resting in its own juices. Serve it whole or shred it. I tend to get quite a few meals out of this: the first dinner, a soup, and tacos or enchilada meat. The one drawback: the meat is so tender that you will have a problem keeping it all together if you want to platter it. You’ll also have tons of chicken broth, useful for soups. If you slow cook root vegetables too (in the same pot), you can easily make a stew or chicken pot pie with the leftovers.

You can do any kind of meat you would normally bake in the crock pot. I do all my pot roasts this way.

Beef roast: coat lightly in s&p, flour, garlic, and a touch of ginger. You can cook the root vegetables in there at the same time. Leftovers easily become beef stew.

Pork tenderloin: Mix peach preserves, a bit of mustard, a pinch of crushed red pepper, s&p, and brandy (optional). Pour over the tenderloin.

Kalua pork: You can make a perfect Hawaiian delicacy with three ingredients. Coat a giant pork roast in liquid smoke and sea salt. Cook it all day. Shred. Serve over rice. (Save the broth. You can use the leftovers for pork tacos, enchiladas, or pork stew. This flavor works particularly well with a tomatillo pork stew, which you can also make in the crock pot.)

Caribbean Pork. Mix 4 tsp nutmeg, 4 tsp cumin, 4 tsp salt, 3 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4tsp ground red pepper. Coat a tenderloin or roast in it. Cook it all day. Serve with mixed fruit (mango, pineapple, etc.) mixed with 1 T chopped cilantro, 1-2 tsp lime juice, and cumin.

Speaking of pork, you can make carnitas and carnitas soup with the leftovers. Or try Vaguely Vietnamese Pork Tacos.

Then, try:

Garlic Pesto Chicken in a Creamy Tomato Sauce

Balsamic Glazed Chicken Legs (for these and the garlic pesto chicken, I always put another servings worth of chicken and the marinade in the freezer for a quick meal a few weeks later)

Red Beans and Rice (this recipe isn’t for the crock pot, but it works well there. For perfect beans, start by covering the beans in a lot of water. Leave them in the crock pot overnight–unplugged and off. This will soften the beans so they are perfect after you add the other ingredients, set it to low, and head to work)

Chicken Shawarma (I add oregano and a bit of curry powder to this recipe; I cook on low all day, not using as much water as the original does. I also make Shawarma Rice. I serve them with sliced cucumber & safeway tzatziki cucumber dressing on pita.

It’s Christmas time, so I’m getting ready to make lamb. Usually, I just coat it in a mix of garlic, mustard, and balsamic vinegar, but this year we’re trying this recipe for Persian-Spiced Lamb. I’m altering it just a bit–we’re doing a leg and doing it in the crock pot!

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