Amy's Blog

Slow Cooker Secrets

Slow Cooker Secrets

I can’t imagine life without it! My BFF these days is my slow cooker! Seriously! As a busy working mom it’s a life saver! If I can just get up five minutes earlier in the morning to throw a few ingredients in the slow cooker, I can handle whatever the day brings. No matter how crazy it gets, or how late those after school activities go, I just keep smiling. I know the house will smell amazing when we walk in the door and a delicious dinner will be waiting for us. Love that! Also, I love the fact that I don’t have to hit a fast food restaurant on the way home from my daughter’s game. That can get expensive, not to mention it’s not very good for you!

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you need to get one. If you do have a slow cooker and it’s harvest gold or avocado green and from the 1970’s, it may be time for a new one! LOL! The heating elements do burn out after awhile. Here’s the good news, slow cookers have really come down in price! Yes, you could spend big bucks on one that looks really cool and has a touchscreen or digital timer, but you really don’t have to. These days you can get a great slow cooker for under 25 bucks. I’d get one that’s between 7 and 4.5 quarts and go with one of the well known brands.

There are so many secrets to really good slow cooking. First of all use a slow cooker liner. They rock! You’ll find them right at your regular grocery store in the aisle with the foil and plastic wrap. No scrubbing the pot after dinner. Cleanup is a breeze! Love that! Don’t have a liner? At least spray your slow cooker well with cooking spray.

If you have the time to brown your meat in a skillet with a little oil before putting it in your slow cooker it can really boost the flavor! No, time to do that? I get it, sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day. Just make sure to season whatever you’re cooking really well.

Also, it’s important to have a great braising liquid. Don’t just use water. Think beer, wine, juices, stock, and cream soups. You want your dish to have great flavor!

Cheaper cuts of meat like beef chuck and rump roasts, and pork butt roasts are meant for the slow cooker. They need to be cooked low and slow so that they get tender and wonderful.

If you’re putting veggies like potatoes, carrots, and celery in with that roast, I like to wait until the last hour or two of cooking to add them. That way they won’t overcook.

When it comes to cooking chicken in the slow cooker, I use boneless chicken breasts rather than bone-in chicken. I don’t want to hassle with picking out the bones at the end of the night. I bet you don’t either. Chicken breasts cook much quicker than a beef or pork roast. They need just 4 to 5 hours on low. So, keep that in mind if you’re going to be gone longer than that. You can throw frozen chicken breasts in your slow cooker. They will take a little longer to cook than the thawed, about 6 hours.

Got leftovers? If your slow cooker has a removable stoneware liner, you can refrigerate that liner with its cover. Just make sure it cools down a bit before putting it in the fridge.

So, what are some of my favorite slow cooker recipes? I have so many! In the winter, when it’s cold I crave all those great crockpot comfort foods like my Yankee Pot Roast and BBQ Beef Sandwiches.

Yankee Pot Roast

Craving German food? In college I used to work at a German restaurant in Milwaukee called Maders. Ever been there? Whenever I am dreaming of the wonderful dishes they serve there, I pull out my crock opt and make my German Dinner in the Slow Cooker. Sausage, kraut, and potatoes! It’s all in there and man is it good!

I can get a little fancy in my slow cooker too! My Heavenly Chicken served over angel hair pasta is totally company worthy! Same goes for one of my all-time favorites my Just Leave it Beef and Wine. This recipe is near and dear to my heart. It was passed down to me from my grandmother. She served it over butter egg noodles. With a salad to start, bread, and a nice dessert it was always a hit at her dinner parties. Mine too!

Just Leave It Beef and Wine

I do lots of soups and stews in my slow cooker too like my Sausage and Cheese Chowder which was featured in the New York times as “the ultimate” football party dish. I agree! Sausage, cheese and beer! What’s not to love!

Do you know you can even do Mac ‘n Cheese in your slow cooker? My kids love it! Okay what kid doesn’t love macaroni and cheese? In fact, you can do lots of sides in your slow cooker. My Slow Cooker Stuffing is moist and delicious and frees up oven space. When I’m roasting a turkey there is just no more room in there. I make Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes too and yummy Crockpot Glazed Carrots.

On the lighter side, try my Southwest Chicken Stew! It’s delicious and nice and healthy too!

And, the slow cooker isn’t just for dinner! Why not make breakfast the night before. Throw together my Overnight Apple Oatmeal before you go to bed and wake up to a delicious breakfast! Not to mention your house will smell amazing!

Slow Cooker Apple Oatmeal

Don’t forget dessert! My kids beg for my Triple Chocolate Mess! It’s perfect for slumber parties! All the kids go home and tell their parents about this to-die-for chocolate concoction I made. Next thing I know I’m getting lots of calls for the recipe. Love that!

So this winter, why not give that slow cooker a workout! I have a whole chapter of slow cooker recipes in each of my 2 cookbooks. I also put a bunch of slow cooker recipes here on my website. I’m always working on new ones so check back soon! And, hey, if you have any good slow cooker recipes please share! I’d love to feature them on my website!

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