FOOD WISE: Crock pot favorites just in time for fall

By CHEF RENEE MORGAN

This week, I decided to hold my very own crock pot palooza! Ready to get crocked? So am I.

Boy, do I feel like I’m meeting myself coming and going and going and coming. Time to get out the trusty ole’ crock pot. Y’all know how I feel about crock pots. They are probably the hardest working, most reliable and one of the most important of kitchen tools. The hard working mom’s best friend. The busy family’s best helper.

Here’s one of the great things about crock pots. Most crock pot recipes can be made ahead and kept in the freezer. Then you can just pull ‘em out, throw ‘em in and like magic, dinner is ready when you get home from your long, hard day. I call them “dump dinners.” You just dump everything into a zip type bag and throw it in the freezer. These will take you about an hour to prep all of them so I’d recommend you do them all at once and you’ll have eight dinners in the freezer. Of course, you need to prepare some rice, noodles or other accompaniment at meal time. Ready, set, go!

 

Slow Cooker BBQ 

Spareribs 

1-2 lbs of country-style pork ribs

1 1/2 cups ketchup

1 1/2 Tablespoons seasoned salt

1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white vinegar

Place pork in a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag. Mix remaining ingredients together in a bowl and pour over pork. Mix together in bag and zip closed.

When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW for 6-7 hours.

 

Black Bean Taco Soup

1 lb lean ground beef (or ground turkey works too!)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 package mild taco seasoning mix

1 (16 oz) bag frozen corn

1 (16 oz) can black beans drained and rinsed (you could use kidney beans or pinto beans)

2 (14 oz) cans stewed tomatoes

1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce

1 (4 oz) can diced green chilis

Brown meat and onion, drain. Let meat cool for a minute, then dump into a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag. Dump the remaining ingredients into the bag, mix together, and zip bag closed. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on HIGH for 1-2 hours or LOW for 2-3 1/2 hours.

 

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

1 ½ pounds chicken breasts

1 (16 oz) bag frozen broccoli florets

2 (16 oz) jars Alfredo sauce

1 large green pepper, chopped

1 (4 oz) can sliced mushrooms, drained

Place all ingredients in a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag and mix together. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on LOW for 4-6 hours.

 

French Dip Sandwiches

2-3 lb beef chuck roast

2 cans (14.5 oz each) beef consomme (it is right next to the soups and beef broth)

6-8 hoagie buns

Place roast in a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag and pour beef consomme on top. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on LOW for 8-11 hours (or HIGH for 5-7 hours). Remove roast from slow cooker and save extra juice for dipping! With 2 forks, shred roast and serve meat on buns.

 

Hearty Beef Stew

1 pound beef stew cubes

4 carrots, sliced

4 red potatoes, cut into large cubes

1 package dry onion soup mix

2 cans 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup

1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce

1 (10 oz) package frozen green peas

Place all ingredients in a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag. Mix together and zip bag closed. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on LOW for 7-10 hours (or HIGH for 5-6 hours).

 

Maple Dijon Glazed Chicken

1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts,

1 cup Dijon mustard

, 1/2 cup maple syrup,

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar,

salt and pepper to taste. Place all ingredients in a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag. Mix together and zip bag closed.

When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on LOW for 8 hours (or HIGH for 4 hours). Sprinkle with fresh or dried rosemary for serving.

 

Cilantro Lime Chicken w/ Corn and Black Beans 

1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts

Juice from 2 limes

1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

1 (16 oz) bag frozen corn

2 minced garlic cloves

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp cumin, salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag. Mix together and zip bag closed. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on LOW for 8 hours (or HIGH for 4 hours).

 

Now, if this wasn’t enough to get you going, here are some of my favorite regular, non-do-ahead crock pot recipes, although I suspect the Teriyaki and the Beef Tips could be done ahead, freezer style.

 

Crock pot Teriyaki Chicken 

Servings: 4-6

1 lb chicken, diced

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup teriyaki sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 garlic cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon sesame oil

sesame seeds

Combine chicken broth, teriyaki sauce, brown sugar and garlic cloves in large bowl. Add chicken to sauce, and toss to combine. Pour chicken mixture into crock-pot. Cook on low 4-6 hours, or until chicken is cooked through. Serve over hot cooked rice and spoon extra sauce if desired. Garnish with sesame seeds, if desired.

 

Beef Tips in Mushroom Sauce

Ingredients:

2 pounds lean chuck – cut in 1 – 3/4 inch pieces

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 pkg. onion soup mix

1 can Sprite or 7up

*Feel free to bulk this up with any vegetables that you choose!

Put meat in crock pot. Pour soup and onion soup mix over meat. Add Diet Sprite/7up. Cook in crock pot all day on low (or high for at least 4 hours). Turn off and let sit for 30 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

 

Crock pot Stuffed 

Peppers

2 pounds ground pork (or a combination of pork and beef)

4 large green peppers

1 large onion

2 carrots

4 cloves of garlic

1/2 head of cauliflower

6 ounce can of tomato paste

1 tablespoon dry oregano

1 tablespoon dry or fresh tarragon

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the tops of the peppers and clean the seeds out. Arrange peppers in the crock pot standing up and make sure they fit securely.

Grate onion, carrots, garlic and cauliflower in the food processor. You can also just chop them into small pieces with a knife if you don’t have a food processor. In a big bowl, combine ground pork, shredded vegetables, seasonings and tomato paste.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Stuff the peppers with the mixture and arrange leftover meat between the peppers. Add half a cup of water, cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

 

Crockpot Chocolate Lava Cake

1 box triple chocolate fudge cake mix

1 1/4 cups milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1 box (4-serving size) instant chocolate pudding and pie filling mix

2 cups milk

1 bag (12 oz) milk chocolate chips (2 cups)

Spray 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In large bowl, beat cake ingredients with electric mixer as directed on cake mix box. Pour into slow cooker. In medium bowl, beat pudding mix and 2 cups milk with whisk as directed on box. Pour into slow cooker over cake batter. Do not mix. Sprinkle chocolate chips over top. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 2 hours 30 minutes to 3 hours or until cake is set and pudding is beginning to bubble out of cake.

 

In other news, you may remember several weeks ago I wrote about visiting a restaurant in Stephenville called Jake & Dorothy’s. Turns out, our very own Claire Wilkison, daughter of newspaper owners, Charley and Shelly Wilkison, is a student at Tarleton State University located in Stephenville. She recently visited the restaurant and shared our article with them. They were pleased and happily agreed to pose for a picture! Small world, right?