Crock pot recipes... with specific criteria


#1

I have perused at least a half dozen cookbooks devoted solely to crock pot (or slow cooker) cooking, but unfortunately, I have rather strict criteria for the recipes I'm looking for. So I'm asking fellow forum members for tried-and-true recipes that will work in my situation.

BACKGROUND: The reason I am looking for specific types of recipes is that I recently took on a second job (part time) which begins right after my regular job ends. Main job hours are from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m., part time from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. two or three times a week. That means, including drive time, I'm out of the house for up to 18 hours on those days. DH is gone from home at 6 a.m. and doesn't get home until 7 or 8 weeknights and our son is starting college and has classes that run from 1 p.m. until 6 or 10 (depending on what night it is.)

What I need are recipes I can put together the night before, leave the stoneware crock or insert in the fridge overnight and instruct my son to put it in the heating element and turn it on before he leaves for his afternoon college classes. What I need are recipes that require at least 6-8 hours of cook time in the crockpot or slow cooker and do not require adding any cooked ingredients just prior to starting the crockpot or an hour before the cooking time is up. Maybe cooking up some Minute Rice at the last minute, but we're hungry when we get home and don't want to have to put off dinner for another hour!

This is only for a couple of nights a week--thankfully I'm home most evenings, but I don't want to have to resort to picking up a bucket of chicken on the way home every week or relying on two-day-old leftovers either.

Any ideas will be appreciated!


#2

I thought about doing this because I'm out of the house about 11 hours during the work week, but I haven't done it yet because I don't think my father would be able to understand the directions since he has dementia. I have put something like a pork tenderloin in the crock pot at 10pm and it was done at 6 am, so I could refrigerate it and just heat it up when I got home. I haven't tried anything more complicated because I don't want to be chopping vegetables, etc before bed. I just toss the tenderloin in and dump some BBQ sauce on it. In the morning I wrap half up to freeze and stick the rest in the refrigerator for supper that night. It's easy enough to heat it on the stove or in the microwave in a couple minutes. There's just the two of us and I use the bags of frozen rice and vegetables you steam or the rice you microwave for 90 seconds. Maybe that helps, maybe not.


#3

Two things: # 1 - google crockpot365 for a website from a woman who cooked with her crockpot everyday for a year. She has great recipes and an entertaining style of writing. I’ll link a few of my favorite recipes from her site later.

#2 - From what I understand, it is a bad idea to take the crock from refrigerator to directly being heated. The change in temperature can easily cause the ceramic to crock. So, a minor adjustment would be to put everything in a bowl and have your son dump the bowl of prepared stuff into the crock.

Good luck. I use the crockpot a lot more in the winter but always think it would be good in the summer to keep the heat down inside.

Kris


#4

From what I understand, you’re not supposed to put food in the crock pot and keep it refrigerated overnight and then let it heat up in the morning when you turn on the crock pot, because it doesn’t heat to temperature quickly and you run the risk of bacterial growth while it is still at fairly low temperatures, which might be for a couple of hours or so. A better way of doing prep ahead of time would be to put the ingredients into a different bowl in the refrigerator, then in the morning heat them up before putting them in the crock pot and turning the appliance on.


#5

I have seen a few recipes where the meat is browned prior to placing in the crockpot… would that make a difference?

Anything requiring any activity remotely resembling cooking (i.e. heating up ingredients, etc.) prior to placing in the crockpot won’t work with my son… he’ll have too much going on in the mornings before taking off for school at noon (we live a half hour away from our jobs and the university and he’s got animals to feed and water, homework to do, chores, etc.) At most, combining prepared ingredients in the crock and turning it on will be what I can expect from him (he is NOT a morning person to begin with and his classes have him coming home very late.)

For what it’s worth I’d rather do the prep work at night and just be able to walk in the door and dinner is done (minute rice and veggies in the microwave are about it.) I can do prep work on the days I’m off from the part-time job, too.


#6

I agree with above, and I'm saying a prayer for you and your work schedule.

A woman's work is never done :)


#7

Here are a couple of recipes that we really like that I think would work as dump in a bowl the night before. I also like the idea of cooking them overnight and just needing to reheat at dinner time that someone suggested. I think I'll try that myself.

French Dip sandwiches: crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/07/crockpot-french-dip-sandwiches.html

BBQ Pulled Pork: crockpot365.blogspot.com/2009/01/crockpot-barbecued-pulled-pork-recipe.html

French Onion Soup: (I'd think you'd need to put the sliced onions in a zip lock baggie the night before but they ought to stay fresh in the fridge). My DH loves this recipe and I made it many times this past winter. crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/03/french-onion-soup-crockpot-recipe.html

Apricot chicken: (My old recipe actually just called for packaged dry french onion soup and the preserves but we like the soy sauce that this one adds.) crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/03/crockpot-apricot-chicken-recipe.html

Hope these help.

Kris


#8

Can you afford a new crockpot? You can get one with a timer or one with a thermometer probe. You can also cook an extra batch of stew or chili, etc on the weekends or nights while you cook something else to serve another day.


#9

I do, too, but the problem is that I leave for work at 1 a.m. and DH leaves at 6 a.m… that would leave it up to DS to shut off the crock pot, let the food cool and then put it away. As long as it can stay in the crock, it would help, since having to put it into storage containers means having more dishes to do.

Perhaps I should lean toward cooking double on my “single job” days and freezing the extra in microwaveable dishes (pull them out to thaw before I leave for work on my “double job” days)… hmm, any other suggestions? (besides teaching the dog and cats to cook?)


#10

I love my crock pot! Even during the hot summer day's, that crock pot is doing it's work.

Myself, I like simple recipes for crock potting. But, they do have flavor, and usually contain all the food groups except fruit.

Here is a simple one my Grandmother taught me in the 70's:

rump roast (seared both sides nite before)
potatoe's ( 4-6 cut into quarter's or smaller)
carrot's (as many as you like)
celery (2-4 stalks cut large or small)
onion ( 1 whole or 1/2 cut in chunks)
garlic (1 clove chopped or omit)

salt and pepper

Basically, this is a great, simple old fashioned STEW.
You can make a easy DUMPLING mixture when it is finished and put dollops of the dough
on top of the STEW. Let steam with lid on top for several minutes. Voila! Delicious!

Chicken can be substituted for the Beef sometimes.

Good luck with your new job and enjoying your trusty crock pot.


#11

Maybe you may want to just stick to pasta on the days that you work the two jobs. You could buy the kind that can be boiled in about 7 minutes. You can maybe throw in some vegetables (pre-cut) to cook, and then have prepared meatballs or sausages ready to throw in the microwave.

Someone mentioned praying re your schedule, and I am going to do the same. I am going to pray that you get a job that will make up monetarily for the amount you are making part-time or that you get a raise in your full time job. I know that in this ecnonomy that will take a miracle, but I have witnessed miracles in my lifetime, and so I will pray for you.

Heavenly Father, in faith, I thank You for helping BlueRose with her income situation. Thank You Father for helping her make enough money so that she won’t have to work such a stressful schedule. Father, she is Your daughter, and You have parted the Red Sea for Your Children. I ask You to do the same for BlueRose, and I thank You for doing so. Thank You. Amen.


#12

[quote="NiceMimi, post:11, topic:253051"]
Maybe you may want to just stick to pasta on the days that you work the two jobs. You could buy the kind that can be boiled in about 7 minutes. You can maybe throw in some vegetables (pre-cut) to cook, and then have prepared meatballs or sausages ready to throw in the microwave.

Someone mentioned praying re your schedule, and I am going to do the same. I am going to pray that you get a job that will make up monetarily for the amount you are making part-time or that you get a raise in your full time job. I know that in this ecnonomy that will take a miracle, but I have witnessed miracles in my lifetime, and so I will pray for you.

Heavenly Father, in faith, I thank You for helping BlueRose with her income situation. Thank You Father for helping her make enough money so that she won't have to work such a stressful schedule. Father, she is Your daughter, and You have parted the Red Sea for Your Children. I ask You to do the same for BlueRose, and I thank You for doing so. Thank You. Amen.

[/quote]

Thank you. The part-time job is only temporary... we got hit with a big medical bill (MRI, PET scan, CT scan and two trips to the ER, all within 3 months) right when our son is starting college... thank God for his scholarship, but there are still expenses! I'm pretty much maxed out on the pay scale at my full-time job (13 years there and good benefits, so I can't do much better where I live) and my part-time job is just 2 or 3 days a week and it's fun... it's at a winery and cheese shop, the pay is good and I get a great discount!

The funny thing is, DH and I prayed about this (me getting a part-time job) and I told DH that I would only take a part-time job to take care of these expenses ONLY if it was someplace I really wanted to work... and I specifically mentioned the winery. Two days later, the job listing popped up on my facebook page... I submitted my resume two days later, got hired the day after that and started two days later! I always say, when God says "Yes", there's no mistaking it!

Your prayers are appreciated!


#13

Not sure if this helps, but on the days you're home, can you cook extra and microwave leftovers on the hectic days?

I work 'normal' hours and still make extra on Sundays and plan a leftovers night during the week. Of course, I love leftovers. :thumbsup:


#14

Well then, here's a second web site for freezer cooking! 30daygourmet.com/

I do have the manual they sell and it really is helpful for ideas and tips. I actually enjoyed the big cooking day I used to do with a friend. There are free recipes on the website and the main idea behind freezer cooking is that tripling a recipe doesn't triple your prep time.

Very jealous of a job at a winery. Cheese is just a bonus!!!

Good luck.

Kris


#15

We have a couple of nights where we just do not have time to do “real” cooking because of school/work commitments. Have you considered doing a pasta salad that can be eaten cold? We do one with diced chicken, feta cheese, noodles and crunchy veggies. Just add a bit of Italian or Greek dressing when you’re ready to eat. We make a big batch so we can take some for lunch the next day.

Make a double batch of sauce, or buy some premade pesto and have ravioli or noodles with some bread.

How about sandwich night? Make some tuna salad or egg salad, and have it ready so everyone can eat as they come in.

We make a turkey chili-- brown the meat and onions the night before, and add it to the crockpot with some white kidney beans, chicken broth, garlic and lime juice. You can always have two bags for your son-- one with the meat and onions, one with the beans and garlic. All he has to do is add the chicken broth and the two bags, turn on the crockpot on low and it’s ready when you get in. Add the lime juice and a handful of chopped cilantro about 15 minutes before you serve it if you want.

The roasted chickens in the deli at most grocery stores are great too. We use those for some quickie quesidillas with a bag of shredded cheese. You can bake several in the oven in less than 10 minutes, and have some salad with them.

Good luck, and I hope you are able to get back to a normal schedule soon. :slight_smile:


#16

[quote="bluerose, post:12, topic:253051"]
Thank you. The part-time job is only temporary... we got hit with a big medical bill (MRI, PET scan, CT scan and two trips to the ER, all within 3 months) right when our son is starting college... thank God for his scholarship, but there are still expenses! I'm pretty much maxed out on the pay scale at my full-time job (13 years there and good benefits, so I can't do much better where I live) and my part-time job is just 2 or 3 days a week and it's fun... it's at a winery and cheese shop, the pay is good and I get a great discount!

The funny thing is, DH and I prayed about this (me getting a part-time job) and I told DH that I would only take a part-time job to take care of these expenses ONLY if it was someplace I really wanted to work... and I specifically mentioned the winery. Two days later, the job listing popped up on my facebook page... I submitted my resume two days later, got hired the day after that and started two days later! I always say, when God says "Yes", there's no mistaking it!

Your prayers are appreciated!

[/quote]

The winery and cheese shop sounds like great fun!!! :) As for being maxed out on the pay scale, I do understand that since we've dealt with that on this end. I am sorry to hear that you were hit with medical bills, but I am happy that your hectic schedule is temporary. God bless you all!

Heavenly Father, thank You for the blessings you have bestowed on BlueRose and her family. Thank You Father for continuing to bless them. Amen.


#17

Crock pots on low are very open to a wide range of cooking times. A meal that is ready in 8 hours is still just fine if not gotten to until 14 hours. One thing on the meat. Just put the rest in below the meat, potatoes, onions, etc. There are tin pans that one can put the meat in, or just double wrap the meat in foil. That way, instead of cooking all the flavor out of the meat (but it is so tender) one can have it cooking in it's own juice AND seasonings (pepper works especially well in this, flavors all the way through the meat, and cooks soft, in case your grinder leaves some bits a bit large). And one has all the juice to make gravy for the potatoes.


#18

I have several slow cookers, but there is one other method I have tried, and that is with a Dutch oven that is regular oven-safe to simulate a slow cooker. It will work well only if your regular oven has a delayed start feature. [Might not work if your oven uses gas.] You could store the prepared ingredients in a safe container in the fridge, and the next morning [or whenever] dump them into the Dutch oven and place it in the regular oven set to 250 degrees. It will come on at the pre-selected time and temperature, and should cook everything in it like a slow cooker would.

Good luck!


“The invention of a new recipe brings more human happiness than the discovery of a new galaxy.” – Author unknown.


#19

Here’s my solution to our similar issue (although I can usually depend on my kids to add the last minute ingredients that lots of recipes seem to call for). I cook two meals each time I cook dinner. So in your case, on the nights you are home, prep a meal for the crockpot while you cook that night’s dinner. Then like another poster, it can cook overnight and you (or your dh/son) can refrigerate after it is done. Usually I’ll make a something like chili while cooking another meal and then it is available for after school or a quick dinner on a busy night.

You should also consider a timer for your crockpot to turn it on and off while you are out. That would minimize the time that uncooked food is sitting out. So if the refrigerated food (and insert) is put in it will have a bit of a chance to warm up (so the insert doesn’t crack), but the food won’t be out long enough to grow nasties.

Or, just a stack or tupperware with the various ingredients that your son empties in and turns it on and poof, dinner!


#20

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