Saturday, September 28, 2013

Slow Cooker Suppers

I'm no Barefoot Contessa, but I do love to cook. At this stage in life, however, the recipes that get the most use in my house are the ones that are fast, easy, and don't require expensive or hard-to-find ingredients. I've said it before how much joy I receive from planning and preparing healthy, tasty meals for my family. I try not to use many processed foods and like to incorporate at least one vegetarian option a week. There are certainly times when I wish the food would miraculously find its way to the table itself, but for the most part I see this as one of the the most important and worthwhile things I can do for my family.

That's why, just about every week, I sit down on Thursday night to plan out our meals for the week (including if we'll be getting pizza or going to Culvers, as some days just simply require). Then the kids and I typically go to the grocery store on Friday mornings, and from there, the only thing left to happen is to actually prepare the meals I've planned and remembering to take meat out of the freezer ahead of time. :) (Most weeks, one meal inevitably gets changed or the order gets switched around.)

One of the things that makes it possible for me to make a home-cooked meal most days of the week is my crock pot. Although not as much during the summer, this is a staple in my meal-planning. Yes, it takes some extra time in the morning, but for me that is well-worth eliminating the after-work-dinner-prep scramble. Whether or not you are someone who loves to cook or wishes you cooked more, who uses the crock pot all the time or hardly ever, my hope is that you might find here a few recipes to try that help make your family meal times more about the time together and conversation rather than the time and energy it took to get the food on the table.
(This is one of the slow cooker cookbooks I use a lot)

The Easiest Pork Chops Ever

4-5 pork chops
1 C flour
1 t dried mustard
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
2 cans chicken rice soup (I used Campbell's Healthy Request)

Mix dry ingredients. Dip chops in. Brown well on both sides. Place in crock pot. Pour soup over. Cook on low 6-7 hours.

Note: Usually I skip the dry ingredients and browning and just put the pork chops and soup in the crock pot. Easy-peasy and very yummy.

Italian Style Chicken and Potatoes

1 cut up whole chicken or 1 pkg. chicken thighs
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cups chopped carrots
1 large potato, cut in chunks
1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 cans (14.5 oz each) diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup white wine
3/4 t Italian seasoning
2/3 cup tomato sauce
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper

Place chicken, mushrooms, carrot, potato, green pepper, tomatoes, and onion in slow cooker. Cook on low 6 hours. Stir in tomato sauce, basil, salt, and pepper and serve.

Layered Mexican Casserole

31 oz. canned hominy, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (with garlic, basil, and oregano, undrained
1 cup chunky salsa
6 oz. tomato paste
1/2 t ground cumin
3 large flour tortillas (9 inch)
2 cups Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded

Spray crock pot with non-stick cooking spray. Stir together hominy, salsa, tomatoes with juice, black beans, tomato paste, and cumin in large bowl. Press one tortilla in the bottom of crock pot. Top with 1/3 of hominy mixture and 1/3 of cheese. Repeat layers. Press remaining tortilla on top and cover with remaining hominy mixture. Set aside remaining cheese. Cook on low for 6 hours. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and serve.

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