Slow-cooker Tips and Meals

October 21, 2010 by Amy Clark

I’m busy, you’re busy, we’re all busy!

That’s why I love making meals in my Kenmore slow cooker. Imagine all the things you can be doing while a yummy, budget-minded meal cooks away on your counter.

There are so many kinds of recipes you can make in a slow cooker, too – and since meats, in particular, are cooked slowly over a long period of time, you can use less-expensive cuts and be good to your grocery budget.

Slow cookers are also great for entertaining a crowd, or when my folks are staying at our house. I often bring mine as a potluck dish to a friend’s home.

Slow cooker tips

  • Cook onion or brown ground beef before adding
  • Cut veggies into similar-sized pieces for uniform cooking
  • Don’t keep opening the lid; too much heat will escape, and the cooker will need time to get back to the proper temperature
  • Add spices just in the last hour or they will lose flavor
  • Don’t overfill a slow cooker – keep it two-thirds to three-quarters full.

Another thing I love about slow cookers is how simple they are to use. I can easily prep and combine the recipe ingredients the night before, then pop the cooker into the base the next day morning and switch it on. Need some menu ideas?

  • Breakfast – egg dishes, hot cocoa for a crowd, mulled cider
  • Lunch – mac ‘n cheese, soups, baked bean casseroles
  • Dinner – chili, stew, pot roast, ribs, jambalaya

Slow Cooker Breakfast: Overnight Oatmeal

  • 8 cups water
  • 2 cups steel-cut oats
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • chopped fruit (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a 5-quart slow cooker and turn on low heat. Cover with lid and cook 8 hours. Fruit pieces can be added with the ingredients at the start or right before serving if you prefer (I wait and add them in the morning).

Slow Cooker Lunch: Taco Soup

  • 1 pound ground turkey or beef
  • 1 can chili beans with liquid
  • 1 can kidney beans with liquid
  • 1 can whole kernel corn with liquid
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix

In a medium skillet, cook the ground meat until browned over medium heat. Drain and set aside. Place the meat, chili beans, kidney beans, corn, tomato sauce, water, diced tomatoes and taco seasoning mix in a slow cooker. Mix to blend and cook on Low setting for eight hours. Serves 8.

Slow Cooker Dinner: Pot Roast Italiano

  • 3 pounds beef chuck roast
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 can tomato sauce – 12 oz
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Place sliced onions on bottom of slow cooker. Place roast on top of onions. Season with salt and pepper. Pour diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, vinegar, and spices over roast. Cook on high for 1 hour, and then low for 8 hours. Transfer meat to cutting board and cut into chunks. Meanwhile, whisk tomato paste into the gravy in the pot roast and add Parmesan cheese to taste. Gravy will get thicker after a minute or two. Add meat back to gravy and serve.

Leftover Tip: If you have any meat leftover (which will be highly unlikely), shred it for sandwiches. Serve the shredded meat on hoagie rolls with chips and fresh veggies. Yum!

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark has been the driving force behind MomAdvice since 2004. In addition to running a successful community for women and running after her two kids, she has appeared on The Early Show, and in Parents magazine, Redbook, Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, MSN Money and The New York Times.