I’m sorry! I’m not doing a very good job of keeping up, am I??? I’ve been thinking about it and pondering what I wanted to talk about but time is just slipping by me. Really coming up with good ideas for this is harder than I thought!
Do you ever cook in the crock pot? I love, love, love my crock pot. It’s easy. I put stuff in it and I walk away. That’s it. And I don’t even have one of the fancy-smancy programmable ones. Just a plain old white, turn the knob crock pot. (Now I will recommend that if you’re purchasing one, BUY A BLACK ONE. Darn things stain. Trust me).
The reason I put this under Tightwad Tuesday is because I truly believe that my crock pot has saved us money. How? There are several ways. First is what I think is most obvious. We have a meal started when we walk in the door (if not almost complete). If I throw a roast, potatoes, carrots and a sliced up onion in there, when I get home, all I need is a bread and tea and we’re in business for a meal. And if I already have some homemade bread, I just toast it up with some butter, garlic salt, pepper and shredded cheese and my boys all eat the heck out of the stuff. It eliminates the “”We didn’t lay out any meat to thaw’ or ‘I don’t feel like cooking so let’s just go out to eat’”-itis.
Second, a crock pot will take a less desirable cut (i.e. a cheaper cut thus saving money) and turn it into a wonderfully tender and tasty meat. We use ours a lot for venison roasts and pork roasts (whatever is in our freezer). A lot of times, we leave venison in large chunks just to cook this way. AND, if you’ve never cooked dried beans, get yourself to the store and buy some! These things are a cheap and yummy source of protein and they cook wonderfully in the crock (or slowly on the stove if you don’t have a crock). Seriously. I 1lb bag for about 0.60 yields us two and half crocks of beans. You it would take $2 or more worth of canned beans to do this and they wouldn’t be as good. Ingles had 4lb bags BOGO for $2 about 2 weeks ago. That’s a lot of cheap but healthy meals.
Third, the versatility of what you cook in the crock just opens doors for you. Roast one night is BBQ the next night (just shred it as you put it up the first night and put it in a oven safe dish and cover with BBQ sauce. 30 minutes on night 2 in the oven at 375 makes a great meal). Or fajita meat. Pintos in the crock with cornbread on night one is refried beans with Mexican food the next night. And the best part is you can change things up with herbs and seasonings. We’re forever adding a can of Rotel to our pintos for a little flavor. Toss in garlic powder and onions or slice up an onion and add some chicken, beef or vegetable broth. Add all the ingredients and let veggie stew simmer all day long. It’s SO good. Are you catching my drift here?
We’ve also become fans of crock pot lasagna (you have to brown the meat first though but you could do that the night before while you’re making another meal), potato soup (to die for), chicken cattatorie–spelled wrong I know—(cook the noodles separate), etc. We tried an enchilada casserole that I loved but Hunter didn’t care for the cornbread topping. I’m working on adapting that one. I make beef (venison) stew a lot in the winter as well. And a chicken tortilla soup that’s really good too. Hmm, we haven’t had that this year…
A warning though. When you get your crock pot (or drag out the box, unpack it and wipe the dust off), start out with a weekend meals. It takes a little bit of time to figure out how your crock pot cooks. It’s just like an oven to me. Everyone cooks a little different. Mine tends to cook fast so I rarely use the high setting and I almost always add more water that most recipes call for. I don’t want you to be all excited and then come home to a dried out black blob! But, it is really important to not take the top off very much. They take a while to build heat and if you keep opening it to check on things, it’ll never get done.
Recently, I’ve been turned on to a website: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/. I’m really excited about trying some of these recipes. I also have a huge file of crock pot recipes. We tend to use our crock pot more in the fall and winter but I am hoping to change that this year. There’s no reason it can’t be used year round.
There’s numerous sizes of crocks. I have a larger sized one but I’m hoping to get a smaller one soon. Just because I believe that it would cook some smaller dishes quicker if it wasn’t spread out. Plus, I want a mini one to make dips in! And, in dream world, I want a programmable one so that I could tell it to turn on at 11 a.m.(while I’m at the office) and cook my supper for me without it drying out! How fantastic is that? I do need to look into how the meat stays safe sitting there waiting though. That, I’m not sure about.
That’s it…Tightwad Tuesday (Wednesday). I hope you’ll try your crock out if you don’t use it faithfully and share how it goes. Or share some recipes! Tonight, the boys and I are having pintos (that I flavored up with onions and a couple of jalapenos with the seeds removed) and cornbread. And chicken nuggets for them. I can’t wait for some good ol’ cornbread and milk myself!