Thursday, November 5, 2015

Crockpot Recipe Round Up

A few nights ago Mark made a special request for a dinner - homemade macaroni and cheese made in the crockpot. It was something that we hadn't had in a while and bonus! something easy I could make for one of the nights I worked because it's made in the crockpot. I was more than willing to oblige him.

I couldn't find the recipe in the kitchen anywhere but I remembered posting about it here on the blog so I looked it up. It was funny to read the post because I talked about how Mark was not a fan of the crockpot and how the mac n cheese was the first thing he ever really liked that came out of one. He's come a long way since then - probably because I've come a long way since then in my ability to cook halfway decent meals the majority of the time. (I'm definitely still a work in progress!)

So with that being said I thought it'd be fun to round up my most commonly used slow cooker recipes that are winners here in our house and their original source. Because I'm pretty sure you're dying to know what I cook in my crockpot.

1.) Mac N Cheese - the original version that I posted here. I have upped the ante a little bit and now I add about 1tsp of ground mustard and 1 tsp of garlic powder to kick up the flavor just a tad.

2.) Homemade Chili - we just leave out the beans because, well, beans are eww and lots of times I'll leave out the sugar as well. There just isn't a need for it. I like this recipe because it doesn't use any pre-packaged chili mix so no processed mess. In all honestly, we usually eat "dirty" foods ha, most of the rest of these recipes have processed stuff in them. But it feels good when something can be easy and "clean."

3.) Chicken N Dumplin's - okay, so 1st - the best way to make chicken n dumplins is they way my grandma does it with all homemade ingredients and broth that simmers and thickens with homemade mashed potatoes. But sometimes I don't have time for that so this quick version actually turns out great in the crockpot! 2nd - I know I just talked about how it feels good when I don't eat processed foods and this recipe has a few no-no's in it if you're looking to eat clean. But again - its the quick weeknight, moms gotta work until 7 version.

4.) Shredded BBQ Chicken - Have you seen where you can use a hand mixer to shred chicken?! It's a game changer when it comes to recipes like this. Google it. Pinterest it. I usually just buy some Hawaiian sweet rolls to make some of these sandwiches and serve with a side of sweet potato fries.

5.) Cheesy Potato Soup - this is one is super easy, rich and delicious. Love it! Perfect for winter nights.

6.) BBQ Pork Baby Back Ribs - I only made this once because purchasing baby back ribs isn't a luxury we usually allow into our grocery budget, but Oh My Soul - these turned out way better than expected. If your grocery store has ribs on sale (which was the case this particular time) and you don't have the hours upon hours that you're supposed to have to slow cook these babies on a grill - then try this recipe. You won't be disappointed.

7.) Italian Chicken - This recipe has the chicken diced up and served over rice or some other grain, but I've usually just cooked the chicken breast whole and served with a side of veggies or something and it tastes great that way too. I'll also make chicken with different seasonings this way too! I just have to be careful about cook time so it doesn't get too dry.

8.) Spaghetti Squash - I found this cooking tip out while doing the clean eating challenge in September. After the squash is cooked you can season it just like you would regular spaghetti, even add meatballs if you want! Or you can keep it simpler with just olive oil, garlic powder and salt. Any recipe you look up that uses spaghetti squash, cooking it in the crockpot is the way to go!

9.) Sweet Potatoes - this one is kind of like the squash - its more of a technique than a recipe but its great way to cook up potatoes! We love sweet potatoes and when we have them for dinner it is usually the main course. 1 sweet potato each is enough to fill us up : )

10.) Meatballs - we don't usually have these but I made them for Reaghan's birthday party and they were a huge hit! Super easy appetizer to take to a gathering or make for a Christmas party. (Also I was wracking my brain to think of just ONE MORE recipe that I've made in the crockpot to round this number off to 10 and meatballs were the only thing left that I could think of!)

SO there you have it! My top 10 Crockpot Successes. I've had quite the long list of failures too... like chicken broccoli and rice casserole {too mushy} and crockpot lasagna {crispy noodles}... and I've tried TWICE now to make a decent pot roast and it always turns out way to dry. Basically inedible. So I don't have plans to revisit pot roast any time soon - because it basically sucks to buy an expensive piece of meat that you hoped to use for at least 2 meals go to waste because it's way overcooked....

....Which brings me to my last thoughts on my crockpot meals. My slow cooker is basically an incinerator when its on high. I always cook things on low for a set amount of time and then allow it to go to the warm setting to slowly finish cooking. Otherwise consider the dish ruined.

What are your favorite crockpot meals?! Now that I'm working 3 nights a week, the crockpot has been in pretty constant rotation - seeing the countertop at least once a week. I could use some good ideas!

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