We are a Baseball family. My daughter plays softball. My son plays baseball. My husband coaches and I keep the score book. So, between practice and games, we are at the ball park almost every night during the season. This means one of two things:
1. We can eat an incredibly healthy diet of hot dogs, nachos and Frito pies. Or
2. I can break out the crock pot.
I choose option 2. I love my crock pot! It is the most under utilized kitchen appliance. Talk about convenient! You don't even have to be home while it's working! Just throw some stuff in it in the morning and then you come home after a long day to a hot home cooked meal! Who doesn't love that?
Another thing I love is that it doesn't heat up my kitchen like turning on the oven or standing over a hot stove. If you've never visited Louisiana in August, then you don't understand how weather can hate you! Heat and humidity stalk you and try to kill you! This is no horror film, this is real!!! So, it's beyond nice to keep the kitchen cool. Also, it uses very little energy and costs pennies to operate. Gotta pinch those pennies nowadays!
But the best thing about the crock pot is that I can make "Two-fers" with it. A "two-fer" is what I call it when I can make two meals for the price of one protein. Like when I cook a roast beef, I use the leftovers to make grilled steak and cheese sandwiches. Just make it like you would a grilled cheese, but throw on some shredded roast. So simple, but my kids think it's the greatest meal on earth!
When I make Chicken Creole, I shred up the left over chicken and use it to make quesadillas or chicken soft tacos. When I make red beans and rice, I use some of the beans to make a big pot of chili. Making Two-fers can save you a lot of time and money and nothing goes to waste.
Here are a few tried and true crock pot recipes:
1 1/2 lbs chicken thighs (bone-in)
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp creole seasoning (Tony Chachere's)*
hot sauce to taste
Put chicken in crock pot. Combine remaining ingredients and pour on top of chicken. Cook on low 7-8 hours or on high 4-5 hours. Serve over rice.
*Tony Chachere's is my favorite seasoning. My Mother-in-law lives in New York City and she can get it up there, so it's pretty readily available. Here's what it looks like:
2-3 lb chuck tender roast
1 (14oz) can tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
1 pkg dry onion soup mix
Put some cut-up carrots and celery in crock pot. Add roast. Stir together tomato sauce and onion soup mix. Pour on top of roast. Cook on low for 8 hours.
This is a simple recipe, but it is so tasty. The tomato helps to tenderize the beef.
PULLED PORK SANDWICHES
1 pork shoulder
1/2 bottle bbq sauce
Tony Chachere's (or season salt)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 TBS worcestershire sauce
1 onion, sliced
Season pork with Tony's. Put onions and water in crock pot. Place pork on top. Mix bbq sauce, brown sugar, and worcestershire sauce together and pour on top of pork. Cook on low 8 hours. Remove and shred meat. Add shredded meat back to sauce in crock pot. Serve on buns.
This is so delicious! My family loves it! And it makes a lot! You'll definitely have leftovers!
And make any kind of beans in the crock pot! You don't have to baby sit them like you do on the stove top.
So, the next time you want a cool house and a hot meal, break out the crock pot!