Slow Cooker Recipes for Busy Women

slow cooker recipes for working womenWhen we were doing our roundup of posts to help with your resolutions, I realized it’s been too long since we had an open thread with shared crock pot recipes.  So many recipes have easy prep, easy clean up, and such a long cook time that you can start your dinner before you even leave the house in the morning. I’ve always been a huge fan of slow cookers, even in my singleton days — if I wasn’t planning on working late enough to get a Seamless dinner and didn’t have dinner plans, odds are good I had something brewing in the slow cooker for an easy weeknight dinner.  I’m a big fan of using the slow cooker to “lock me in” to healthier choices than I might make otherwise.  Shall I stop in to the fast food place? Nah — I’ve got food waiting for me in the crockpot at home.  To that end I’ve made a ton of stuff in the slow cooker that you don’t need to make in a slow cooker — pierogies, fried rice (with brown rice and/or quinoa), and meat sauce all come to mind.  I’ve posted some of my favorite recipes before (like the 5-ingredient Moroccan Chicken Lentils Stew or my super-healthy pulled pork) but I’ve pasted another one we like, Mediterranean Beef Stew (in my slow cooker right now!) below.  (Pictured.) So, ladies, please share — are you the fan of slow cooked dinners? Which are your favorite slow cooker recipes?  

For what it’s worth I almost always use a slow cooker liner to make cleanup easier, and although I have some fancier slow cookers, my favorite one remains an old 4.5 quart one similar to this $30 one, pictured above.  (Pro tip: just make sure the stoneware is entirely removable — I had a cheap one when I first got out of college that had the stoneware attached to the electric base and it made cleaning a total pain.) If you haven’t used a slow cooker before, note that there are a ton of recipes for vegans and meat-eaters alike — and these days a lot of recipes go well beyond canned cream of mushroom soup.  (Though, FWIW, I really like cream of mushroom soup — but I avoid cream of chicken soup like the plague.  If you get the boxed soup or boxed tomatoes it’s a bit healthier because you avoid BPA.)

Another note: cooking for the freezer has become hugely popular — people will cook double amounts or cook several recipes in one weekend in order to fill their freezer with pre-cooked meals. Another popular technique is slow cooking from the freezer — pre-assembling slow cooker meals that can just be dumped in — and then freezing those.  (I have some links in our Further Reading, below.) I don’t have a lot of experience with either technique, and I’d love to hear your experiences.   (I’ll admit I often use frozen veggies, particularly for things like chopped onions (I haaaaate chopping onions for some reason) or at the end of a recipe to bulk it up (like adding a bag of frozen cauliflower to Buffalo Chicken Pasta), but I tend to raise my eyebrows at a recipe that just has you chopping fresh vegetables and adding them to a freezer bag along with raw meat and other ingredients, without blanching them first — but maybe it just doesn’t matter in a stew or whatnot.) Oh, a lot of people are also doing things like ricing cauliflower to use with stew dishes instead of using white rice, which is something I’ve yet to try, but fits with my “the more vegetables the better” philosophy.

Mediterranean Beef Stew

(from the Cooking Light 5 Ingredient, 15 minute Cookbook)

work: 5 minutes
cook time: 5 hour or 8 hours

2 medium zucchini, cut into bite-size chunks
3/4 pound beef stew meat, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 (14.5) oz cans Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 tsp pepper
1 (2 inch) stick cinnamon or 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Place zucchini in bottom of a 3.5 quart electric slow cooker. Add beef and remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on high setting 5 hours or until meat is tender. Or, cover and cook on high setting 1 hour, reduce to low setting, and cook 7 hours. Remove and discard cinnamon stick before serving.
Yield: 4 servings.

I like to serve it with crusty, fresh bread or rolls, but that’s me — it’s a very low carb recipe otherwise. :)

Further Reading:

slow cooker working women

Comments

  1. I’m a huuuuge fan of the freezer cooking – much more so than the slow cooker since I don’t like the texture. I swear by the Kitchn’s Chicken and Wild Rice Bake (which keeps the raw meat and other pre-prepped things in separate baggies until cooking time, which addresses Kat’s safety concerns) and their Crustless Mini-Quiches (avoiding links for moderation, but you can find the recipes easily on Google). I also usually have at least one homemade soup in the freezer. I tend to cook a lot on Sundays or the weekends, and then do minimal cooking during the week.

    • After that story on the kitchn I bought the book (Not Your Mother’s Make Ahead and Freeze Cookbook), which has other good recipes. We have a small family so I freeze two half-recipe packets each time I make something. It is a huge help during busy weeks.

  2. Anonymous :

    I’ve never left my crockpot on during the day when I’m not home for fear I’d accidentally burn my apartment down, which limits crockpot meals to the weekend (crockpot favorites: chili and gumbo). Am I being unnecessarily paranoid?

    • Probably, but would it be an option to cook things overnight, move them to the fridge in the morning, and then a quick reheat in the microwave when you got home? Chili and gumbo would work well that way.

    • I think they have such low heat you’re probably safe. But if you’re worried, put it in the sink, if it fits, or even in the stove with the door open – so it’s not near anything flammable.

    • Anonymous :

      Probably, but I am the same way. I won’t worry about leaving it on if I have to run out to the grocery store or something, but I don’t put it on while I’m away at work for 8+ hours. I save slow cooker meals for weekends or days when someone in the house will be home most of the day.

    • Huh, I thought that was the whole purpose of crock pots – to cook slowly while you’re away.
      That is basically the only way I use mine, I’m either asleep or not home.

      If I’m home and awake I use the stove or oven, not the crock pot.

    • I leave stuff cooking in the crock pot all day while I am at work all the time. I just make sure nothing is close to it that could catch on fire, like paper.

    • I just googled safety tips for crock pots. Make sure they are around 2/3 to 3/4 full and don’t leave them on high. Make sure there is space around the crockpot (nothing flammable on top of it, which seems pretty obvious that you wouldn’t stack newspaper on top of a hot appliance) and that your countertop is ok with getting warm.

      With those precautions they are perfectly safe. People say they worry about electrical fires but no one unplugs the refrigerator when they leave the house.

    • I was given a Crockpot for a wedding gift but gave it away after never using it. A friend gave me a large one to try to see if I would use it now. I’ve used it once and it’s great but old, so it has just high and low and it’s not well insulated. I don’t think I would leave it all day while I’m at work. If I end up liking it, I’ll buy a newer one. Like others, I only see it being useful for soups, stews, roasts, and I don’t eat a lot of that kind of thing (well, I eat soup but generally it doesn’t need a slow cooker). So I’m trying to figure out what to cook in it that I’ll eat. My SIL gave me a chicken barbecue recipe that I liked in concept, but the sauce is a bit sweet for me. Still working on it!

      • I gave away the one we got as a wedding gift too. I’ve gone through several since then, and used it twice this week (korean beef lettuce wraps and Italian wedding soup). Turned out it’s a godsend with kids to feed.

      • Senior Attorney :

        The old ones are the best! The new ones get too hot and overcook/burn your food if you leave them on all day! I gave away my new one and am hoarding my old ones!

        • Yes! We have an OLD white one, and a newer black one. We crock from frozen. In the old one on low heat, everything is fine and ready when we get home. With the new one, even on the longest possible time (10-hour mark), everything is overdone and dry or burnt.

        • Oh, interesting! My friend (who is in her late 60s) gave it to me when she moved. Apparently it was her mother’s. It has a green removeable crock and it’s flowered on the outside. She gave it to me because I’m much more likely to cook for a crowd than she is and it’s a bigger one. I just need to find recipes I like. I found a few today!

    • Sydney Bristow :

      My husband refuses to let us get one because of this exact reason. He’s normally the one who cooks though so I haven’t pushed it.

  3. I was home yesterday and read through a slow cooker recipe book I have, looking for more weeknight options. Except it pretty much had ten versions of essentially the same recipes, so I’d like some good options. I know Pinterest has a bunch, but I sort of hate Pinterest.

    I like doing buffalo chicken dip, chili/cheese or nacho dips. I do stew meat with an au jus seasoning packet and 3 cups of water, then add frozen egg noodles for a half hour after I get home. Pork roasts are good with any sort of marinade. Chicken breasts/chicken broth/two cans of cream of chicken soup, with quartered Pillsbury biscuits added for a half hour at the end for chicken and dumplings.

    I’ve found a lot of recipes that call for cream of mushroom soup – what do people suggest as an alternative if I despise mushrooms?

    • Cream of celery works pretty well

    • You could use cream of chicken soup, but honestly, canned cream of mushroom soup has very little relationship to actual mushrooms. My Dad hated mushrooms and he would eat a casserole with cream of mushroom soup (but he would pick out the teeny tiny pieces of mushroom). Campbell’s also makes cream of asparagus, which might work.

  4. How timely! Just got my first slow cooker and would love to hear about favorite recipes. For anyone researching slow cookers to buy, I highly recommend the one I just got. It has a “thermometer probe” that allows you to set the slow cooker to shut off when what’s inside reaches your desired temperature. It’s great for cooking meat. After TONS of research, this Hamilton Beach one is the only one I found with the thermometer feature. So far I’m very happy with it.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EZI26DW?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00

    • This recipe for beef tacos (or burritos, or burritos bowls with rice or quinoa . . .) is great and beats the pants off the recipes that are just meat with salsa poured on top. But nearly as easy. I really think it’s good enough for guests.
      http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/slow-cooker-shredded-beef-tacos/

  5. Wanderlust :

    I made this the other night, and it was heavenly! Tasted even better on day 2.

    http://www.slenderkitchen.com/recipe/slow-cooker-coconut-basil-chicken

  6. Anonymous :

    I love slow cooked meals, but as a single gal, I can’t stand eating the same thing for so many servings, and I’m not great at freezing extras. I wish there were more crock pot recipes for just 1-2 servings.

    • You can place a smaller bowl in the slow cooker to cook smaller portions. I know this doesn’t address the recipe portion of your problem, but thought I’d pass along the tip regardless.

    • America’s Test Kitchen “Cooking for Two” books have small scale slow cooker recipes.

  7. I don’t know why it is this one in particular, but the title of this post irks me. I get it that you need some specific terms for SEO, but the whole site is for busy women, and layering on the phrase in this case assumes that women are the only ones cooking in a busy family and feels incredibly sexist.

    • Just to offer a counterpoint, I appreciated that the title of the post was for “Busy Women” instead of “Busy Moms,” since non-moms are usually busy, too. (Maybe I’ve been reading too many mommy/lifestyle blogs?) I guess “Slow Cooker Recipes for Busy People” would have addressed the issue just as well (although I assume that men don’t often read here?).

    • Anonymous :

      It annoyed me too, even though rationally I understand Kat didn’t mean only women cook, just that most readers of the blog are women. I think “Slow Cooker Recipes for Busy Professionals” would have been a better title. My husband does 90+% of the cooking in our house.

    • Why do you assume people who use slow cookers are cooking for a family? I’m a single woman and a busy person who uses her slow cooker all the time. Seems to me you inserted the “family” into this, not Kat.

    • It annoyed me, too. Yesterday’s CorporetteMoms entry on meal planning apps had a similar title. I’m wondering if “Man Who Has It All” is going to pick up on this…

  8. Always the Bridesmaid :

    TJ. TL/DR: Where are your go-to online shopping places for solid color bridesmaids dresses with sleeves?

    I have just been informed I have ONE MONTH to find a bridesmaids dress in “blush pink.” Floor length or knee length (minimum 38″ dress) is fine, but it must have sleeves. I’ve ordered a couple from Nordstrom that haven’t worked. I’ve checked online at all my typical places without luck (Bloomingdales, Saks, Saks off 5th, Neiman, Last Call, Nordstrom Rack, Ann Taylor, Banana, Loft, Limited, Macy’s, Dillard’s. even Polyvore and outnet…). I’m hoping to spend under $150 (turns out, pink is not my color and I’m never wearing it again).

    Anywhere else I should look online? Or do you ladies recommend just biting the bullet and trying to go to a real store? I live in a major city with lots of shopping but big law associate, blah blah blah.

    • Anonymous :

      eShakti? You can get made-to-order dresses from there.

    • Anonymous :

      Is it a modesty issue or for style? Do the sleeves need to be full length?

    • Have you tried Amazon? Lots of stuff there, but it’s all random sizes and varying degrees of formality.
      http://www.amazon.com/Adrianna-Papell-Scalloped-Womens-Sheath/dp/B017W76XX6/
      http://www.amazon.com/Adrianna-Papell-Womens-Flutter-Parchment/dp/B00S31GQ2O/
      http://www.amazon.com/Adrianna-Papell-Womens-Sleeveless-Sheath/dp/B00PWI9U8S/
      http://www.amazon.com/Adrianna-Papell-Rosette-Cascade-Sherbet/dp/B00S31H2QI/
      http://www.amazon.com/Adrianna-Papell-Womens-Shimmer-Bodice/dp/B00PBZKW6Q/
      http://www.amazon.com/Sue-Joe-Womens-V-neck-Pleated/dp/B00VX32HKO/

      Also, I bet ebay would have lots of random bridesmaid dresses. You could also probably find a bolero and wear a dress with shorter sleeves, if you can’t find anything else.

      • ASOS too. They always have lots of midi dresses.

        • Always the Bridesmaid :

          Thanks for the amazon recommendation–I’ll check there! I love ASOS but they really struggle with the sleeve thing. I’ll keep checking.

    • Wildkitten :

      Weddington Way. I HATE IT but its perfect for this need.

    • Try Brideside dot com. They are very customer service oriented and helpful on the phone. Used for the last wedding I was in.

    • Anonymous :

      I had a similar last-minute bridesmaid dress situation last May: tea length and metallic light silver (NOT matte grey or gunmetal or…). After exhausting every other place I could think of, I ended up custom ordering online from China. I know it sounds risky and weird but I’m here to tell you, the dress was absolutely perfect and I received it within 10 days (with expedited shipping) and it was under $150. The company is FashionToken.

    • If half sleeves are ok, the Tahari dress featured a while back comes in blush: http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/tahari-seamed-a-line-dress-regular-petite/3501047?cm_ven=Linkshare&cm_cat=partner&cm_pla=10&cm_ite=1&siteId=J84DHJLQkR4-uRNeT76inXmlWz6moWXMpg

      Here’s one from Shopbop that might work – the fabric is a bit casual but you could easily make it more bridesmaidsy with a sparkly belt: https://www.shopbop.com/longsleeve-maxi-dress-lanston/vp/v=1/1527027232.htm?folderID=2534374302155112&os=false&colorId=12816&extid=affprg_CJ_SB_US-2178999-ShopStyle.com&cvosrc=affiliate.cj.2178999

      This one on MyHabit has elbow-length sleeves: http://www.myhabit.com/#page=d&dept=women&asin=B00Z70A0HG&cAsin=B00Z70A2G0&qid=aps-0FYN5BJSXZXPKZVVH870-1453403772155&sindex=5&discovery=search&ref=qd_women_sr_1_5

      Something from Zappos in pale pink: http://www.zappos.com/product/8632502/color/11?channel=194&si3397404=&mr:referralID=bdcea060-c073-11e5-ba16-005056946dac

      Anthro, slightly less bridemaidsy silhouette: http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/product/clothes-dresses/4130257231222.jsp#/

      Shorter Anthro dress with short sleeves: http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/product/shopsale-dresses2/4130275871112.jsp#/

      Super classy dress, but don’t know if sheer sleeves count: http://www.6pm.com/product/8316454/color/5249

      Antionio Melani also has a few peachy dresses that might work, but I’m not sure if they count as “blush” –

      http://www.dillards.com/p/antonio-melani-blake-crepe-lace-dress/505468439?di=04502395_zi_snowberry&categoryId=410&facetCache=pageSize%3D100%26beginIndex%3D300%26orderBy%3D1

      http://www.dillards.com/p/antonio-melani-suki-crepe-and-mesh-dress/505824662?di=04631472_zi_petal&categoryId=410&facetCache=pageSize%3D100%26beginIndex%3D0%26orderBy%3D1

    • Dessy. I think you can get their stuff online, but they literally have an entire rainbow, tons of fabrics, tons of sizes and they ship fast.

    • David’s Bridal or Rent the Runway?

    • I second eShakti or Shabby Apple.

    • Anonymous :

      Was just flipping through my mothers latest chadwicks of Boston catalog. They have an ‘elbow sleeve sheath dress’ in ‘pink champagne’ (looks like blush to me) that might work for you. And the $60 price tag can’t be beat if your never going to wear it again! :)

  9. I basically only use mine for chicken stock. I make a roast chicken once per week on average, so after the meal I throw in the carcass and whatever veggie parts I have around (onion tops, carrot peels, etc) and cover with water. Set to low and cook overnight and sometime the next day, strain into mason jars. Voila, a freezer full of homemade chicken stock. I use it in everything.

    • We get a rotisserie chicken fairly often but it never occurred to me to make stock. Does it work well with just water, or do you really need the vegetables? Usually the rotisserie is because we’re low on food around the house in general. I love them. I roast a good chicken but the rotisserie is usually cheaper, which baffles me.

      • Yes it will be fine without any vegetables. I honestly just use whatever is around. No matter what it’s still better than the canned stuff.

      • What I usually do with chicken carcasses is throw them in a freezer bag and save up a few to make a huge batch of stock. I also toss veggie trimmings into the bag as I go, so when I’m ready to make stock I have a bag full of everything I need.

      • Anonymous :

        Grocery store rotisserie chickens are usually injected with or brined in lot of sodium and are not that good for you. If you make a good chicken at home, that’s much healthier. I’d also never use a grocery store rotisserie chicken for stock for this reason, since when I buy chicken broth I normally buy a low-sodium version.

        • sweetknee :

          You can actually use your crock pot to make a roasted chicken. Roll up three or four balls of foil and put them in the bottom of the crock pot for the chicken to rest on. Rub the chicken with olive oil or butter and season with whatever your like ( lemon pepper, rosemary, etc). Put in the crock pot on high for a short period and then low for longer ( you can look up times per pound on internet). I make sure it is done by checking temp with a meat thermometer. I then use the meat throughout the week for lunches, and have the carcass for making stock later.

          • This sounds perfect, thanks. I don’t eat the skin anyway so I won’t miss out on the lack of crispiness the oven provides.

        • OK.

      • KateMiddletown :

        I can convince myself to splurge on the organic rotisserie chicken if I make stock out of it, too.

    • I did this once, and the stock that resulted was pretty flavorless — not worth the time and effort even though I was starting from a store-bought rotisserie chicken!
      But then I think some salt is necessary for flavor. I don’t buy low-sodium stock (even from brands like Imagine Foods, Pacific, Trader Joe’s organic) because I find those flavorless too.

      • Aunt Jamesina :

        I leave mine on low in the slow cooker for 24-36 hours and it’s SUPER flavorful. I can never get stock on the stovetop to taste that rich. Maybe lengthen the cooking time?

        • Baconpancakes :

          My theory is that it’s when the marrow starts to dissolve into the soup that it gets so delicious. I made multiple batches of stock when I had 6 chicken carcasses, and basically kept them just below a simmer in my canning pot for a full weekend. Most flavorful, chickeny, delicious stock ever. Soups made with that stock don’t taste like they even need salt.

  10. Here’s my favorite, a vegan stew that meat-eaters in my family also have loved. I add a half pound or more of chopped or sliced carrots, use fresh garlic instead of dried and cut the black pepper to 1/2 tsp (because the 2 tsp it calls for makes it so hot it has to be a misprint).

    This does make a lot — I use a larger crockpot — so I don’t make it much now that I live alone, but it probably could be cut in half. One of the best thing about this recipe is that it can cook on low all day; I don’t understand the “cook for four hours” thing, why use a crockpot?

    http://allrecipes.com/recipe/36922/mushroom-lentil-barley-stew/

    • Legally Brunette :

      Thank you! I am always looking for good vegetarian crockpot recipes, esp. ones where you don’t have to sautee the veggies beforehand (otherwise, what’s the point of a crockpot?).

      Here’s one that I make for potlucks that always gets rave reviews. As an Indian, I will say that it tastes nothing like Indian food but is still yummy. :)

      http://allrecipes.com/recipe/214900/delightful-indian-coconut-vegetarian-curry-in-the-slow-cooker/

      • Another thank you for vegetarian recipes. Always looking for them, too. My favorite is below. You do need to saute some before combining it all in the slow cooker. I assumed for the food to taste yummy sauteing something would be necessary. But I’m definitely open to recipes that don’t require it.

        http://www.littlespicejar.com/slow-cooker-red-lentil-soup-dal/

        • nylongirl :

          Thank you! I have a bag of red lentils sitting in my pantry and I’ve been wondering how to use them. Perfect!!!

      • And that one looks great!

        Here’s Mark Bittman’s recipe/method for cooking dried beans in the slow cooker. I’ve used it with lots of different combinations of beans, vegetables and liquids, it’s great.

      • Fellow veggie here. I just made this sweet potato and black bean soup a few weeks ago and it was easy peasy!

        http://www.everyday-reading.com/2012/03/vegetarian-recipe-14-crockpot-sweet.html

  11. This Cooking Light recipe wasn’t originally designed for the crockpot, but I saute the meat and veggies and then toss it all in the crockpot:
    http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/all-american-chili

    I usually cook it on low for about 8 hours and I definitely leave it on while I’m at work. It makes about 11 servings. I put leftovers in individual plastic containers and freeze them. And then I make a new batch every 6 weeks or so. My only tweaks are to add frozen corn, bump the wine up to a cup and a half, and substitute diced tomatoes for whole tomatoes.

    • And I use this Amazon best-selling crockpot:
      http://www.amazon.com/Crock-Pot-SCCPVL610-S-Programmable-Cooker-6-Quart/dp/B004P2NG0K/ref=sr_1_2?s=appliances&ie=UTF8&qid=1453400129&sr=1-2&keywords=crock+pot

    • Cooking Light Thai-Style Pork Stew is also amazing:
      http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/thai-style-pork-stew

  12. I love the Hamilton Beach slow cooker that has a timer, so it automatically switches to “warm” after your set amount of time. I’m frequently gone for more than 8 hours so I love that my food won’t be totally nuked by the time I get home.

    My favorite recipe is cranberry pork loin — four ingredients, no chopping or pre-cooking. The resulting juice is sweet/savory deliciousness. I throw in onions and potatoes or cauliflower too for a full meal. http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2012/04/slow-cooker-cranberry-pork-loin-recipe.html

  13. Meg Murry :

    I’ve done a few recipes from the Year of Slow Cooking blog (and her cookbook). Most fall firmly into the “ok” category for me – not anything amazing, but definitely better than another night of takeout.

    This is probably my favorite recipe from there, although I make some tweaks (leave out celery, black beans instead of pinto, extra spices). I’ve also made this and then drained off the sauce and used the chicken and beans for burrito filling (I put the sauce back in the slow cooker and cooked it down until super thick to have with burrito bowls a different night).
    http://www.ayearofslowcooking.com/2010/01/enchilada-chicken-chili.html

    My biggest disappointment was probably an Indian recipe from the cookbook. The house smelled soooo good all day (made it on a Saturday) but the food itself had hardly any flavor of the spice at all. It was disapointing, to say the least.

  14. New Tampanian :

    This is one of my FAVORITE recipes. It’s super easy and delicious. Comes out fork tender with a slight crisp depending on how long you cook it. I used a boston butt roast for the one I made yesterday. The juice is delish. I’m drooling and can’t wait to get home to eat more of it.

    Slow Cooker Italian Pork

    http://meljoulwan.com/2012/10/16/slow-cooker-italian-pork-roast/

  15. I primarily use my slow cooker to cook dried beans, but I also like to cook chicken thighs in it with either honey, garlic, and soy sauce, or chili powder and jalepenos. The chicken thighs have enough fat that they don’t dry out when cooked all day.

  16. I’ve made this recipe once already and I’m making it again tomorrow!

    http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2016/01/chicken-chili/

  17. Bewitched :

    I love the Crockpot Chicken and Noodles from the website “South Your Mouth” which is more like a heavy stew than a soup (but you can always add more water or broth to make it more like soup). We make this once every two weeks or so in the winter.
    http://www.southyourmouth.com/2013/09/crock-pot-chicken-noodles.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+SouthYourMouth+%28South+Your+Mouth%29

  18. I think I got this recipe from this site years ago, and it has been on rotation in my house ever since. Very good. Be sure to double the sauce, most reviewers say the original sauce isn’t enough:

    http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/thai-style-pork-stew

    • Oops, didn’t see that you posted this, too. I agree that this is very good and you definitely have to double the sauce ingredients!

  19. Any recipe suggestions that would use red potatoes and ground beef (slow cooker or not)? I am willing to make a stop at a store to pick up additional ingredients. I googled and everything suggested just cooking them with salt, which sounds super unflavorful.

    • That could be the basis of a beef stroganoff sort of dish — I would saute some chopped onions and mushrooms, then brown the beef in the same pan. The cook the beef and veggies along with the potatoes in some beef broth until the potatoes are done (in a slow cooker or just simmering on the stove top). A bit of dijon mustard and some dill (fresh or dried) would be nice additions. Just before serving, stir in some sour cream. You could also cook the potatoes separately, mash them up and serve the beef/mushroom sauce on top.

  20. I like to use my slow cooker to make large batches of chicken that I can use throughout the month. I buy a 10lb bag of frozen chicken breasts and will cook up a couple different batches in the slow cooker. A batch with seasoning for tacos, quesadillas, or on top of salads. One with barbeque sauce for sandwiches. One with teriyaki sauce for stir fry, and a plain batch for using in casseroles. Then I package them all in meal size portions and freeze.

    • Wildkitten :

      Brilliant.

    • This is a really smart idea and sounds so much more manageable than those 12+ hour freeze-a-thons that I can never convince myself to try.

    • Sorry – need details- do you do one batch, on high, for 2-4 hours or so, then just clean out the pot and do the next batch? I could see this on a weekend day or something – is that what you do?

      • I have two crockpots and I usually do this over the weekend so I can easily switch them out or do a different one each weekend to keep a rotation going.

  21. If you google “Vaguely Vietnamese Slow Cooker Pork Tacos” from the New York Times, that produces LOTS of delicious pork that can go into noodle bowls, wraps, tacos and more. It uses pork shoulder seasoned with sesame oil, onion, garlic, ginger, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, and sriracha. The accompanying slaw recipe is very good, too.

  22. Senior Attorney :

    Also: You can get paint off door hinges or other hardware using your crockpot. Toss ’em in the crockpot with water and a couple teaspoons powdered laundry detergent and cook on low overnight. The 50 years of layers of paint will just slide off!

  23. Chicken tikka masala! I have two versions — 1) the dump it all in at once version and 2) taking 5-10 minutes to saute the garlic/onion/ginger/spices before dumping it in the slow cooker. I prefer version #2, but version #1 is still delicious. I serve this over rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, roasted cauliflower, or roasted potatoes. I generally double the recipe so I can get multiple meals out of it.

    Ingredients
    1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
    1 large onion, chopped (I buy pre-chopped when feeling lazy)
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tbsp of ginger puree (comes in a jar and I always use this in lieu of fresh ginger; it tastes the exact same)
    2 tablespoons tomato paste (not necessary if you don’t have it)
    2 tablespoons curry powder (I use Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods curry powder)
    2 teaspoons paprika (optional)
    2 teaspoons salt (not optional)
    1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
    Greek yogurt or coconut milk (stir in at the very end to taste)
    A few tbsp ground almond flour (from Trader Joe’s) (this is optional but it makes it taste AMAZING)
    Fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

    Version #1 (when you have less than zero time):
    Put the chicken thighs in the slow cooker.
    Add the chopped onion, garlic, ginger, tomato paste, curry powder, paprika, and salt until the chicken is evenly covered with spices.
    Stir in the diced tomatoes with their juices.
    Set the slow cooker on low for 8 hours.
    Optional: Once it’s done cooking, take the lid off and stir in a few dollops of greek yogurt or coconut milk to taste. I also like adding a few tbsp ground cashew or almond flour. It makes it taste very creamy and nutty.

    Version #2 (this adds 5-10 minutes of prep time but it’s worth it if you have the time):
    Sauté the onions and garlic in a little oil over medium-high heat in a skillet until softened, then stir in the ginger, tomato paste, and spices until it starts to smell good.
    Put the chicken thighs in the slow cooker.
    Transfer the sauted onion mixture to the slow cooker with the chicken and diced tomatoes and stir everything together.
    Set the slow cooker on low for 8 hours.
    Optional: Same as Version #1.

    • Hey I am working from home and just ran downstairs between conference calls and put the easy version together. Took 10 min. Fingers crossed!

  24. Two of my favorites:
    http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2013/12/03/recipe-best-pulled-pork-crock-pot/
    (I use 1 Tbsp. or more of garlic paste instead of garlic powder.)

    http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/08/29/recipe-easy-slow-cooker-refried-beans/
    (Not actually fried or refried at all, but healthier this way, and delicious!)

  25. Cooking in a crockpot is one thing, but using a plastic liner for hot food that cooks slowly over time? There is NO way that’s good for you. The convenience is definitely not worth the exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

    • Also in Academia :

      I so do not understand the liner thing. It is not that hard to clear a crock pot.

  26. I love using my slow cooker. Here is one vegetarian favorite:
    http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/slow-cooker-spinach-and-ricotta-lasagna-with-romaine-salad

  27. KateMiddletown :

    My biggest slow-cooker tip is for chicken, use boneless thighs instead of breasts. They hold up to long cooking sooo much better. Two favorite recipes are chicken w/ barbeque (literally a bottle of Melvin’s and some brown sugar, ACV and mustard) and chicken with vaguely salsa-like ingredients. I also make chili – brown the meat first then dump in all the beans and tomatoes and spices.

  28. I have beef stew going in my crock pot right now too! Love coming home to a finished dinner. If you don’t have a crock pot, I recommend the Instant Pot-it is a pressure cooker/slow cooker/rice maker in one machine! If I don’t have time to make a crock pot recipe in the am to cook all day, I can cook the same meal in the Instant Pot with pressure in 15-30 minutes.

    • I got an Instant Pot for Christmas and I LOVE it. You can braise frozen chicken thighs (for white chili, for example, or chicken tacos) in 20 minutes! Brown rice in 20-25 minutes! I made black bean soup from unsoaked, dry beans in just over an hour last weekend. It has a saute setting so you can brown meat before adding your liquid, instead dirtying a separate pan.

      I’ve had a crock pot for years but only used it on weekends or work from home days (less because of safety concerns and more because I’d be away for 10-12 hours and my food would over cook even on the low setting), but I’ve been using the Instant Pot at least once a week. I want to experiement with soaking things (beans, wheat berries) while I’m at work and cooking them when I get home.

    • Anonymous :

      I love my instant pot. I only use the pressure cooker and sauté functions (I don’t like the texture of slow-cooker meat, and the yogurt I made in it turned out grainy) but it makes the most delicious chicken stock, perfect dried beans, risotto (the serious eats mushroom risotto is one of my top ten dishes of all time), The Kitchn BBQ pulled chicken cooks in 20 mins. I have become a pressure cooker evangelist. I don’t know why they’re not more popular–you don’t need to plan ahead at all.

  29. Thanks for the shout-out for Slow Cooker from Scratch. I like your plan of having a healthy slow cooker dinner at home keep you from getting take-out!

  30. Real Simple just posted this recipe. I’m going to make it this weekend!

    http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/slow-cooker-asian-short-rib-stew?xid=dailyrecnews-01-20-2016

  31. I’m much happier with programmable slow cookers that will switch to warm. I use them more often now during the week (4-quart Cuisinart multi-cooker and 6-quart Hamilton Beach).

    America’s Test Kitchen has a couple slow cooker cookbooks. There’s an easy-prep book and healthier recipe book. All of the books include recipes that serve 2 people

  32. I love love this and have made it for years – starting in grad school and now w/ two kids. http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/pulled-pork-tacos-0

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