Introducing Katie Shannon and 3 Crock Pot Dishes for Easy Entertaining

 A stainless steel slow cooker or crock pot with a simple 4-settings dial - Off , Low, High and Warm
A stainless steel slow cooker or crock pot with a simple 4-settings dial – Off , Low, High and Warm

Hi everyone, I am  a “domestic goddess who loves to cook. I have been legally blind since I was 10 years old. I started cooking when I was young. I am not so much in to gourmet dishes as I am in to quick, easy, creative, and tasty meals.  I hope to share ideas with those who like to cook as well as those who are beginners.

Here are three slow cooker (crock pot) recipes with some information about choosing a slow cooker, and tips and shortcuts.

  Crock Pot Dishes for Easy Entertaining

The festive season is here and winter is upon us.  It is time to dust off the crock pot or slow cooker (which ever you prefer to call it). Slow cookers are an easy, convenient way to make hearty meals with little effort. You can cook soups, stews, meat, chicken, pork, and even some desserts in it. A crock pot only cooks foods that have liquid around them, and the flavor of foods is enhanced by the slow simmer process.

A slow cooker is not a pressure cooker so you don’t have to worry about the lid blowing off. Also, these pots are not meant for small amounts of food. If you are cooking for one, no problem, you can freeze the extra portions, and have meals for the future. You can also transport food to another location and it will stay warm.

One of the best features is that you can use the cooker as a second oven. If your oven is full with a 20 lb. turkey, the cooker can (slowly) cook an additional vegetable such as potatoes, or just keep something warm.

If you are thinking of purchasing a slow cooker you will encounter different shapes and sizes. The oval ones are a good choice; they can accommodate different shapes of food such as a chicken or pot roast. A medium size pot (4-5 quarts) will probably be used more often than a large or small one.

Some pots have heat controls such as low, high and warm. The pots without controls are less expensive but this is no time to skimp. Buy the pot with the heat controls, you’ll be glad you did! Hamilton Beach(name brand) has a 4 quart(medium size) with Hi, Low, and Warm controls for about $30.Crock Pot(name brand)also has a 4 quart cooker with Hi, Low, and Warm controls for about $30. Both these brands got good reviews and are available on line or in most retail stores.

Here is a simple festive recipe to start with.

Orange Cranberry Glazed Chicken or Turkey Breasts

Ingredients

1 medium chopped onion

2 large or 4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts

Or 2-2 ½ pounds boneless, skinless turkey breast.

1 (14 ounce) can whole cranberry sauce

1- 12 oz. jar orange marmalade

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4teaspoon black pepper

This recipe is good served with rice. The Minute Ready-to-Serve rice, comes in a twin pack of 2 x 1 cup  cooked rice which only needs 1 minute in the microwave oven.

 Tips

  1. If you can’t find whole cranberry sauce, you can use the regular sauce, but whole is better, it adds more texture
  2. If you don’t have any thyme (the Herb!) , don’t worry about it, it won’t kill the recipe .
  3. You can use 1 to 1 ½ cups frozen chopped onions instead of fresh

Directions

  • Place the chicken and onion in the slow cooker. Put all the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Pour the sauce over the chicken.

 

  1. Cook on LOW for 2 1/2-3 hours

. Check the chicken or turkey after about 2 hours of cooking time.

  1. If you have a “Seeing Eye Human available,” have them check for doneness or a talking meat thermometer should read 165 degrees.
  2. You can freeze any leftover cranberry sauce. It might come in handy for leftover turkey or other chicken dishes.

Here is another very simple recipe. The cooking time and temperature will be good for all crockpots. You can be creative with this recipe. If you don’t like peppers, leave them out. If you love bacon, add as much as you like. I like my chowder spicy so I add hot pepper to mine. Remember, if you are adding spices or seasonings, less is best. You do not want to add too much because once it is in there, you can’t take it out! I leave a bowl with a large spoon next to the crockpot. I add a little of the seasoning, stir it up and wait a few minutes. I then take a spoonful of the broth, put it in my bowl, and wait for it to cool. I take a taste and if it needs more, I add a small amount and repeat the process. Fear not, it’s only food! Have fun with it, and make it your own.

Serves: 4-6

Cook Time: 4 to 5 hours

This recipe is easy to double for extra-large families or get togethers. This chowder is on the thicker side. If you want a thinner consistency, add more vegetable broth.

Ingredients

1 (16 ounce) bag frozen hash- brown potatoes, thawed

1 (15 1/4 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed

2 (14 3/4 ounce) can cream-style corn

1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk

1 green pepper, seeded and chopped

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1⁄4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup vegetable broth

1 ½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Short Cuts

  1. You can find pre chopped onions and peppers in bags in the frozen food section. 1 cup would be equal to 1 onion or 1 pepper. I use the frozen chopped onions quite often because I don’t like to cry while I’m cooking. Just make sure they are thawed before adding to pot.
  2. You can use the pre grated packaged cheese instead of fresh, but it won’t have as much flavor. If you are not good at grating cheese, you can just chop it into small chunks and it will blend in just as well as grated. I strongly recommend using the “real” cheese.
  3. You can find fully cooked bacon in a box usually near the eggs or in the produce section. It is not in the refrigerator. I like this bacon, it seems to have less fat. You microwave it until it becomes crispy, about 1minute, and then crumble it with your hands or chop it with a knife. You can also buy the raw Bacon and cook it yourself.
  4. You can substitute chicken broth for the vegetable broth.

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients except the cheese together in the crock pot and cook for 4-5 hours on low
  2. Add the cheese in the last 20 minutes of cooking.
  3. If You are not ready to serve, turn the crockpot setting to “warm”.

Serving Suggestion:

Top bowls of chowder with more crumbled bacon and cheese and sprinkle with paprika

 

Slow Cooked French Onion Pork Loin

One thing to remember when using a slow cooker is that temperatures can vary from pot to pot. For instance, I followed a recipe for pot roast which said to cook on high for 6 hours. By the time I got home, the meat was the size of a hockey puck. The dogs wouldn’t eat it and even the garbage disposal threw it back at me. I refuse to be defeated by a crock pot so I remade the recipe with some changes. Instead of high for 6 hours, I cooked it on low for 4 hours and it came out fine. But that’s my crock pot, yours could be different. When cooking a leaner cut of pork or other meat, the time and temperature will be less than it is for a fatty piece. You will become familiar with how your crock pot cooks so you can make adjustments to time and temperature.Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 can cream of mushroom soup-condensed

1 can of French Onion soup (any brand)

1 large sweet onion, chopped

1 pound to 1-1/3 pound pork loin

Chicken stock, enough to just cover pork in slow cooker

½ teaspoon Pepper, to taste

Red potatoes, about 8-10 small, quartered

10 to 15 Baby carrots or more if you like

Short Cuts

  1. You can use canned whole potatoes cut in half. Rinse well
  2. You can use frozen chopped onions. Make sure they are thawed. 1 to 1 ½ cups are equal to one onion

 

Directions:

  1. Pour both cans of soup into slow cooker
  2. Add flour and stir to blend. Use a wire whisk if possible.
  3. Set crock pot on Low.
  4. Add onions, carrots, and potatoes
  5. Make sure everything is just covered with the liquid
  6. Cover and cook on Low for 1 hour.
  7. Then place pork , fat side up in pot. The fat is always a lighter color than the meat. Pork loins don’t usually have much fat so if you can’t find the fat, don’t worry about it .
  8. Ladle soup and vegetables over pork.
  9. Pour in just enough broth, start with 1 cup, to barely cover pork. I touch the pork with my finger to check the level. Of course, I wash my hands first.
  10. Put the lid back on and cook on Low for another 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

If you have a “Seeing Eye Human” available, Have them cut into the pork and check for doneness. Or use a talking meat thermometer. The temperature should read approximately 160 degrees

 

You can freeze any leftover pork, vegetables, or sauce.

Happy cooking and best wishes for a wonderful holiday season filled with love, fun and of course, food!

Chow for now, Katie

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