Well YAY!!! I'm so glad to know that I'm not the only person who hadn't been introduced to the wonders of the foil packet!
I'm also really glad to know that I'm not the only biggo dork who gets excited about crock pot revelations. I really had no idea that it would come to this. Next thing you know I'll be wearing house dresses and asking Santa for a new vacuum attachment!
It's okay though. I'm willing to sacrifice my dignity to pass on the slow cooker wisdom. We moms have to stick together!
So, back to the amazing crockpot-o-matic tricks and tips…
Slow Cooker Revelation #3 – Slow Cookers Aren't Just for Cooking Anymore!
You know sometimes I don't really need to cook something all day. Sometimes I just need a little help manipulating the available time. In this case, the slow cooker becomes a quick warmer. Case in point… we're finished up with school and we really need to make a run to the grocery store. I realize that by the time we get home everyone is going to be hungry and impatient for dinner. I'm going to have to get bags unloaded and stuff put away while listening to the last requests of the starving as they wither into nothingness.
Oh yes, we get very dramatic when we haven't eaten in…. oh, say half an hour.
In this case the slow cooker meal may be pre cooked chicken or left over briskit thrown into the pot with a bottle of barbecue sauce, just before we head off to the store. I might add in a few of these foil wrapped rolls (which I make ahead and keep in the freezer). When we come home from the store I put the boys in charge of setting the table while I put away the groceries. By the time the reusable bags are returned to their hook, dinner is served! We've got mini barbecue sandwiches to which we'll add a side of raw carrots with ranch and some fruit.
Slow Cooker Revelation #4 – Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize.
In my last post I told you how it never occurred to me that crockpot meals didn't have to be big gooey casseroles all the time. It also never crossed my mind that the crockpot doesn't have to be the sole supplier of your menu. You can use it to make the creamy chicken that will go on top of your rice, or the sauce and meatballs that top your pasta, or the filling for yummy lettuce wraps, or the beginnings of your teryiaki sandwiches.
Think of it this way: whatever comes out of your crockpot is your little black dress. It can be fantastic in and of itself, but with accessories it gets even better…. grandma's pearls make it fancy, a funky scarf and boots make it right for a night on the town. In the same way your crockpot, with the right accessories, can give dinner a while new look.
It has really opened up so many new possibilities for me when I began to think of the crock pot as a PART of the meal and not the sum total of it.
Slow Cooker Revelation #5 – If One is Good, Three is Better!
So as I said in my first Slow Cooker post, I recently brought home my THIRD crockpot. Now honestly, I didn't really need THREE, but the two I had were both that tallish round sort that resembles a stock pot.I really can't remember how I ended up with two in the first place. The two pots that I had were great for soups and small meals, but not so good for stuffing full of packets of potatoes or making big roasts. They're also kind of ancient so they don't have all the fancy timers and "warm" setting features that the newer ones have. They don't even have the removable pot that makes clean up easier. So one day, in a fit of summer-weary refusal to turn on my oven, I caved and brought home a bigger fancier crockpot.
What I learned is that having more than one pot opens up a whole new world! Say you've got a lasagna cooking in one pot. You can put packets of broccoli and some of those aforementioned rolls in a second pot an hour or two before dinner. You can have a roasting chicken in one pot and throw some of this yummy corn in another. You can have chinese hot pot soup in one pot and kung pao chicken cooking in another.
I'm really so excited about this last revelation because I think that it will make a big difference when it comes to holiday cooking. There's always that struggle to time what comes in and goes out the oven. How do you fit the turkey and the pie and the corn casserole in the oven at the same time? And what if they need to be at different temperatures?
So there you have it friends, all the new (to me) ways to use a slow cooker to make keeping your family fed just a little bit easier.
This weekend I'll pop in with a list of some of our favorite slow cooking recipes, and next week I'll talk about something totally different. Promise!
Have a great day, friends!