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Crock Pot Cooking for the Busy Family

Vickie Hacking - February 01, 2007

Nothing says "Welcome Home" like the smell of dinner cooking. Using a crock pot will welcome you home after a busy day at work, or playing at the park with your children, with little effort on your part.

A crock pot or slow cooker is one of the best time-saving devices you can have in your kitchen. Newlyweds and beginner cooks (think young women’s activity) just need to fill it, turn it on, and return hours later to find a great meal ready to be eaten with little or no other preparation needed.

 

Crock pots are great for the family with teenagers who arrive home at all different times of the day. Their dinner awaits them whenever they come strolling in.

 

Crock Pot Basics

 
  • When shopping for a crock pot, buy one that has a removable stoneware liner. This makes cleanup a breeze (dishwasher safe) and you can serve your meal right out of the liner.
  • Most crock pots come with two heat settings—low and high. That is all that is needed. You can buy crock pots with digital settings and various temperature settings, but they cost more and are not necessary.
  • Buy a crock pot that is big enough for your needs. If you need to cook a big roast with potatoes and carrots to serve ten, you need a bigger crock pot. If you are a single adult needing a meal for one, a smaller crock pot will work best for you.
  • The most common crock pot sizes are four-quart, five-and-a-half-quart and six-quart. They do come bigger and smaller, but are not as common and are harder to find. A four-quart crock pot is perfect for cooking BBQ chicken, while a six-quart size is great for that roast with potatoes and carrots.
  • Only fill the crock pot one-half to two-thirds full. The crock pot will not cook properly if it is too full.
  • You can buy cheaper cuts of meat when using them in a crock pot. The long, slow cooking process makes any meat tender.
  • Ground meats need to be browned in a pan on the stove before being put into a crock pot.
  • Remove fat and skin from meats. The slow cooking time will make the meat tender, without the fat.
  • Most meats require cooking on low for six–eight hours.
  • You can brown meats before placing them in the crock pot, but it is not necessary.
  • If possible, add spices and seasonings towards the end of the cooking time.
  • Liquids do not boil away during cooking, so you will have more liquid at the end of cooking than when you started.
  • Do not add dairy products until the last hour of cooking. (Cream soups are okay to add at the beginning.)
  • For food safety, cook on high for the first hour to quickly get food cooking and up to 140º F. Then turn down to low for the remaining time.
  • The low setting is usually 200º F, and the high setting is usually 300º F. Both of these are above the minimum safe temperature of 140º F.
  • Two hours on low is equal to one hour on high.
  • Try not to lift the lid while the food is cooking. Each time the lid is lifted, heat escapes, prolonging the cooking time fifteen minutes each time you peek in.
  • You can use your crock pot to keep soups, chili, wassail, hot cocoa, etc. warm during a party or open house.
 

Crock Pot Recipes

 

Cheesy Crock Pot Chicken

 
  • 2 lbs. chicken tenders or chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 1 can cheddar cheese soup, undiluted
  • garlic powder
 

Place chicken in crock pot. Sprinkle chicken with garlic powder. Mix together soups (do not add water). Pour over chicken. Cover with lid. Cook on high for one hour, then on low for five–six hours. Serve over rice or warm egg noodles. Serves about six.

 

Sweet Crock Pot Chicken

 
  • 2 lbs. chicken tenders or boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 small bottle Russian dressing
  • 1 envelope Lipton Onion soup mix powder
 

Place chicken pieces in crock pot. Mix together dressing and soup powder. Pour over chicken. Cover with lid. Cook on high for one hour, then on low for five–six hours. Watch carefully towards the end, this tends to burn around the edges. Serve over rice. Serves about six.

 

BBQ Crock Pot Chicken

 
  • 2 lbs. chicken tenders or boneless thighs
  • 1 bottle BBQ sauce
 

Place chicken in crock pot. Pour BBQ sauce over chicken. Cover with lid. Cook on high for one hour, then on low for five–six hours. Serve over rice or with baked potatoes. Serves about six.

 

Crock Pot Swiss Steak

 
  • 3 lbs. round steak
  • 2 regular size cans stewed tomatoes
  • 1 cup flour
  • salt and pepper
  • oil
 

In a bowl mix 1 cup flour, salt and pepper. Cut steak into pieces. Dip steak in flour to cover both sides. Pound with a meat tenderizer all over each piece, on both sides. Fry in a little oil in a skillet until light brown on both sides of steak pieces. Place in crock pot. Pour tomatoes over browned steak pieces. Cover with lid. Cook on high for one hour, then on low for six–seven hours. Serve with mashed potatoes. Serves six–eight.

 

Easy Pot Roast

 
  • One cheap roast, any size
  • 1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup mix powder
 

Place roast in crock pot. Pour in about ½ cup water. Sprinkle onion soup mix powder over roast. Cover with lid. Cook on high for one hour then on low for eight hours. You can thicken the juice to make gravy. Serves a family.

 

*You can add cut-up potatoes and carrots to the roast. Place on top of roast. Cooking time should not change. Remember to not fill crock pot too full. Only add vegetables if your crock pot is big enough.

 

Corned Beef and Cabbage

 
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 3 lbs. corned beef brisket
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp mustard
  • 6 small cabbage wedges
 

Place brisket in crock pot. Place onion slices on top. In a bowl combine apple juice, brown sugar, and mustard. Pour over onions. Place cabbage on top. Cover with lid. Cook on low for ten–twelve hours (high for five–six hours). Serves six.

 

Crock Pot Baked Chicken

 
  • 2 lbs. chicken legs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic powder
 

Crumple up four pieces of aluminum foil into lightly packed balls. Place in the bottom of crock pot. Remove skins from chicken legs (this is done easiest if legs are still partially frozen). Place chicken legs on foil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Cover with lid. Cook on high for one hour, then on low for six hours. Serve with buttered pasta. Serves six.

 

Cranberry Pork Roast

 
  • 3 lbs. boneless pork roast
  • 1 can jellied cranberry sauce (without chunks)
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup cranberry juice
 

Place pork roast in crock pot. In a bowl mix cranberry sauce, mustard, cloves, sugar, and cranberry juice. Pour over meat. Cover with lid. Cook on low for six–eight hours. Gravy can be thickened to serve with meat or as a gravy.

 

BBQ Ribs

 
  • 2 lbs. boneless Country Style Ribs
  • 1 bottle BBQ sauce
 

Place ribs in crock pot. Pour on BBQ sauce. Cover with lid. Cook on high for one hour, then on low for six–seven hours. Serve with baked potatoes, coleslaw and corn bread. Serves about six.

 

Teriyaki Chicken

 
  • 2 lbs. chicken tenders or boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 bottle teriyaki sauce
 

Place chicken in crock pot. Pour teriyaki sauce over chicken. Cover with lid. Cook on low for six–eight hours. Serve over rice. Serves about six.

 

BBQ Beef

 
  • 1 ½-2 lbs roast, chopped (easiest to do if still slightly frozen)
  • 1 ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 1 ½ cup green peppers, chopped
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Chili powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp. dry mustard
 

Place roast pieces in crock pot. Mix together remaining ingredients and pour over roast pieces. Cover with lid. Cook on high for one hour then on low for about eight hours. Stir and watch towards the end. Shred and mix together. Serve on buns. Serves six.

 

Crock Pot Baked Apples

 

5-6 medium apples, cored and peeled about 1 inch down

½ cup sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 tbsp. Butter

½ cup water

 

Mix sugar and cinnamon. Stuff apples with sugar mixture and dot with butter.  Pour water into crock pot, add apples. Cover with lid. Cook on low seven–eight hours. Serves five–six.

 

Delightful Crock Pot Dessert

 

·        1 can cherry or apple pie filling

·        1 pkg yellow cake mix

·        ½ cup butter, melted

·        1/3 cup walnuts (optional)

 

Pour pie filling into crock pot. Combine dry cake mix and butter, and mix until crumbly. Sprinkle over pie filling. Sprinkle on walnuts. Cover with lid. Cook on low for two–three hours. Served with whipped cream or ice cream. Serves six–eight.

 

Wassail

 
  • 1 gallon apple cider (16 cups)
  • 1 quart orange juice (4 cups)
  • ¼-1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 2 tbsp. crystallized ginger (or 1 tsp. ground ginger)
  • 12 whole allspice berries
  • 2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
 

Place all ingredients in crock pot. Stir. Cover with lid. Cook on low for four–eight hours. You may want to strain out spices before serving. Place thin slices of orange and lemon on top before serving. Serves about twenty.

Vickie Hacking is a busy mom of four children. She also runs and maintains a website for Young Women leaders at lds-yw.com. She and her husband, Carl, live in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

© LDS Living Magazine
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