Tag Archives: slow cooker

Pot Roast For Two

Michael and I are empty nesters now that Mr18 is in college, creating a whole new challenge in cooking.  Most of my recipes work for my family of three with enough leftover for one more meal or lunch.  These very same recipes now last three or four days!  They are yummy, but really.  A couple times is plenty.  I am not an organized “freeze in dinner-sized portions for later” person, although I may learn to be that way.  🙂

Fall has happened and I have begun to yearn for slow-cooked, aromatic fall foods….like pot roast.  Can you imagine how long those leftovers would be around?!  While snooping around the grocery store the other day, I came across a chuck roast package weighing only 1 1/2 pounds!  Perfect!  I could make a tiny pot roast for two! (Now of course, it occurs to me I can buy a regular-sized roast and cut it into smaller portions–duh!) I opened my Julia Child How to Cook for inspiration, (Smothered Brisket of Beef) gathered a very few things and was on my way to fall food yum-a-palooza!  This recipe should double or triple easily for larger families.

(Based on Julia’s recipe, adjusted for amounts and what I had on hand)

  • 1 1/2 pounds beef chuck roast
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1/4 tsp dried thyme–fresh is better if you have it)
  • 1 large clove of garlic, pressed or very finely minced
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • a few grinds of black pepper, approximately 1/8 tsp
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 4-6 small potatoes, washed and cut in half
  • 4-6 carrots, peeled and cut in half

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Combine salt, thyme and garlic in a small container.

Add oil and whisk together.

Rub the garlic mixture over all surfaces of the roast, place it into a large casserole or slow cooker.  Place potatoes and carrots on top.

On top of that, add the can of tomatoes, including liquid, and the onion.

Cover with the casserole’s lid or foil and place in the oven for 3-4 hours, or slow cooker on high for the same time, or slow cooker on low for 6-7 hours.

Within an hour, your house will start to fill with that wonderful November Sunday dinner at Mom’s or Grandma’s aroma.  At the end of the cooking time, remove from the oven.  Mmmmm! doesn’t that look yummy?!

Remove veggies and roast to a platter or large plate and tent with foil to keep them warm.

Strain and de-fat the drippings.  You can use a special little pitcher that pours from the bottom, specifically designed for this, or if you have time, place the drippings in the fridge to solidify the fat, or be like me and use a spoon to skim off as much fat as you can.  I’ve also heard you can wrap an ice cube in a paper towel and skim it over the surface to get more fat off, but I wasn’t all that concerned.  Transfer the drippings to a small sauce pan over medium heat.

Take out 1 TBSP of the drippings and place in a small bowl.  Add 1 1/2 tsp corn starch.  Blend well and add back to the pan.  Heat until boiling while stirring, reduce heat to a simmer.  Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings as needed.

Serve up your pot roast in perfect portions and drizzle with the sauce.  Add a slice or two of crusty bread to mop up any leftover sauce.  Alas, in my excitement to consume this yummy meal, I totally forgot to get the bread out!

There. Moist, tender, flavor-y.  Fall comfort food on a plate, just like Mom used to make.  We each had a satisfying portion of roast and veggies and had one more portion left over.  I love cold potatoes and I’ve already snitched a couple from the fridge and plan to use the roast in quesadillas tonight.  As Julia said of this recipe. “It makes prime eating.”

I’ve been somewhat obsessed with Julia lately (I’m on a first-name basis with her, as you can see), having just finished Dearie, a biography.  I’ve also read Julie and Julia, and My Life In France.  I’m all inspired to try more Julia-esque recipes this fall and winter.  Do you have a favorite Julia recipe?

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Slow Cooker Posole

In the October 16, 2011 Fall Home Improvement section of our local paper, The Daily Sentinel, a page heading caught my eye: Miracle in a Slow Cooker.  Sentinel columnist, Penny Stine provided two recipes that have minimal prep involved–an important condition when trying to throw stuff in the crockpot while cooking breakfast and getting ready for work. 

I’m a big fan of posole.  I’ve had authentic versions created by masters of Mexican cuisine, and let me tell ya–this easy-peasy version rivals those.  Yesterday, I got a half pork-shoulder out of the freezer, and last night I set out the other ingredients.  This morning, I got the posole together, cooked and ate breakfast and enjoyed a cup of coffee–all within 30 minutes.  If I had chopped the onions and garlic last night, that time would be even shorter!

When I got home from work today, the lovely red chili aroma welcomed me at the door.  The pork was fall-apart-tender.  Dinner was ready as soon as I assembled garnishes, bowls and spoons.  Perfect.

An amazing soup with just a few simple ingredients–most of which come from cans!

  • 1 pork shoulder  (My slow cooker is not large enough for a whole shoulder.  I buy the pork, cut it in half and freeze it)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped (I love garlic–used 4 cloves!)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large or 2 regular cans hominy (Yellow or white, your choice.  I like how yellow looks with the red sauce.)
  • 2 15-ounce cans of any combination of: chopped tomatoes, Rotel tomatoes, tomatillos, red chile sauce  (I used chopped tomatoes, and a jar of red chile sauce–I think the red sauce gives a more authentic flavor to the posole.)
  • 1 can chopped green chiles
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin

Garnishes:

  • cilantro
  • avocado
  • cheese
  • sour cream
  • chopped green onions
  • squeeze of lime

Chop the onion and garlic.  Place the pork roast in the slow cooker.  Add everything else.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  (Uber-easy, right?!)

I gave it a stir before I left for work.  When you get home, lift out the pork and shred it using two forks.

Return the shredded pork to the cooker.  Prepare any garnishes you wish to use.

Ladle into generous soup bowls, top with your favorite garnishes and get ready for the yum.

So, so flavor-y and satisfying.  In my opinion, a perfect fall soup.  A soup that essentially makes itself, and in that way lets me pretend that someone (like my mom) made dinner for me!  How lovely to come home from work and have dinner already there.  Perfect. 

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Pulled Pork Enchilada Bake

Today was my first day back at the greenhouse I work for–Mt. Garfield Greenhouse.  I love being back with friends and seeing all the plants and new goodies in the store.  I knew time would be shorter than in recent months for getting dinner on the table, so I decided to let my crock pot do part of the work for me.  I set it on low with the ingredients for Pork Carnitas before I left this morning, with the intention of making an enchilada bake.

This is sort of a cross between a lasagne and open-faced enchiladas.  DH was in heaven–especially since I decided a margarita might look nice in the final picture!  🙂

When I got home, I pulled the pork and gathered just a few other ingredients.

  • 1 1/2 pounds pulled pork
  • 9 corn tortillas  (I like the ones made with corn AND wheat flour.)
  • 8 oz grated cheese  (This is white cheddar, but jack or yellow cheddar would be yummy too.)
  • 1 pint green sauce  (This is my home-canned “Vaya con Verde,” the hot version of my famous tomatillo salsa, named by a FB friend–thanks again, Linda!)

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Spray oil an enchilada sized pan–8″x12″.  Place two whole tortillas in the pan next to each other, tear up a third to fill in the spaces.

Next, spread a layer of the green sauce over the tortillas, using about 1/3 of the pint.

Layer the pork over the sauce, using 1/3 of it.

Now layer 1/3 of the grated cheese over the pork.

Continue layering–tortillas, sauce, pork, cheese–using the remaining ingredients to build 2 more complete layers; for a total of 3 layers, ending with cheese.  Bake 20-25 minutes, until cheese is browned and sauce is bubbly.

Cut into squares and serve!  I made beans, rice, a little topping salad of lettuce, green onions, tomato and cilantro to go with the enchilada bake.  I topped it with a dollop of plain yogurt (which I like as well as sour cream and can use for lots of other things besides!), and made margaritas on the rocks!  Yowza!

There ya go!  A fabulous meal on a work day in less than an hour–including everything on the plate plus margaritas!  I’d say there were 6 generous servings or 8 smaller ones from this.  I’m looking forward to leftovers for lunch!  Yummy!  Now if only the dishes fairy will show up to clean that crock pot while I finish my margarita….

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Succulent Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

Today’s recipe was selected in honor of Chinese New Year and anyone who’d like somethin’ yummy for dinner all ready when you get home from a long day.  Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken lets you control the quality of the ingredients (sometimes, I wonder if my take-out cashew chicken is really chicken) and it’s almost as easy as making that phone call for take-out; even if the restaurant is on your speed dial!

Some of the ingredients are not staples in my pantry (although after the success of this recipe, maybe they should be), so I had to do a tiny bit of a grocery shop before hand.  Since I was already there, I grabbed a box of fortune cookies for dessert–fun!

Ingredients for Succulent Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken (recipe adapted from Low Carb Slow Cooker Recipes) are:

One 10 3/4-ounce can condensed golden mushroom soup  (NOT cream of mushroom)

2 TBSP soy sauce

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders   (I used chicken breasts and cut them into slices)

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms    (Save time by buying them pre-sliced.)

1 cup sliced celery  (2-3 stalks)

1 cup shredded carrots   (Save time and knuckles by buying them pre-shredded)

One 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained

1/2 cup cashews + extra for garnish

1-2 TBSP corn starch

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 scallions, chopped

red pepper flakes for garnish if desired   (or dared!)

Hot, cooked rice  (optional)

Combine soup directly from the can (NOT reconstituted), soy sauce and ginger in your slow cooker.   Tip–set your slow cooker on low while you do this.  The heat helps the soy mix into the soup.

Stir in chicken, mushrooms, celery, carrots, and water chestnuts.

Cover and cook on low setting for 6-8 hours, or on high heat setting for 3-4 hours.

Toward the end of the cooking time, make rice if using, according to package directions.   While rice cooks, dissolve corn starch in chicken broth–use 1 TBSP starch for thinner sauce, 2 TBSP for thicker.  (I used 2)  Stir starch mixture into crockpot contents.  Replace lid until rice is done. 

When rice is done, add cashews to crockpot and stir to combine.

Place rice on plate, ladle Succulent Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken over the rice, garnish with a few more cashews, chopped scallions, and red pepper flakes if desired.  Serve…with chopsticks, and a fortune cookie for dessert!  Serves 4-6.

When I tasted this, I couldn’t stop my mouth from making the mmmmmmm sound.  I no longer have a need to resort to take-out cashew chicken when I want somethin’ yummy and easy!

My fortune from my cookie:  “Fortune knocks at least once on every man’s door.  Be sure to answer.”   Good fortune to you too, and happy cooking!

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Melt-in-your-mouth Slow Cooker Carnitas

OMG you MUST make this recipe!  I’ll wait while you run to the store for a pork shoulder.

Back?  Great!  You gotta love pork shoulder–at under 2 bucks a pound, you get a lot of meals for your money.  My grocery only sells whole shoulders–usually 10 pounds or so.  This recipe calls for a 2-pounder.  I just go ahead and buy a whole one.

When I get home, I get a cutting board that can go in the dishwasher, sharpen my knife and cut the shoulder into more workable pieces.  I tried to cut 3 equal pieces, but as this is “bone in” I was limited to how I could cut it.  I ended up with 2 pieces that were about 2 pounds and a larger one containing the bone, about 4 pounds.  Safety note:  wash hands carefully, before and after handling raw meat.

Then I put the pieces in freezer ziplocs, label and freeze for later.  One of them just went into the fridge because I wanted to use it the next day for these amazing carnitas!!!

This recipe couldn’t be easier and can be started before you leave for work in the morning.  When you get home, dinner will be mostly ready and your house will smell divine!

Gather up your ingredients for Melt-in-your-mouth Slow Cooker Carnitas:  (based on a recipe from Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes)

2 pounds of pork shoulder  (Definitely use the cheaper pork shoulder as opposed to the pricer and leaner tenderloin.  The tenderloin will be too dry to “pull.”)

1 cup water

2 large onions, peeled and quartered

3 fresh jalepenos, chopped, seeds and all–it will not make the meat overly spicy.   (I have a bag of frozen jalapenos from last year’s garden–I just get out what I need and let them thaw on the counter.  Pickled jalepenos would make this recipe too vinegar-y.)

8 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Trim the excess fat from the pork–you won’t get it all, remove the rest as you shred it later.

Place meat in the slow cooker, add water and the rest of the ingredients.

Handy tip:  Hot peppers can literally burn your skin, and anywhere else (eyes–ouch!) that you touch.  To minimize this, use rubber gloves or handle the pepper by its stem.  I hold it by the stem and make some cuts lengthwise and then cut across, retaining the stem end to use as a “pusher.”  Scoop up the pepper pieces with your knife and push them into the pot using the stem end.  I still wash my hands thoroughly with soap and water after.

Cover and cook on low setting for 8-10 hours, or on high setting for 4-5 hours.  (I did the high setting and was super happy with the results!)  Remove the meat to a shallow bowl and discard the cooking liquid.

Use two forks to shred the amazingly tender and succulent meat.  Be ready to slap any hands that wander by and try to sneak some before dinner!  You, as the cook, are allowed to taste.  This is called “quality control.”

Use this uber-yummy spicy pork to make sandwiches, burritos or tacos.  We made tacos.  I set out cheese, salsas, sour cream, sliced avocado, chopped green onion, queso, flour tortillas, soft corn tortillas, lettuce, and hard taco shells.  Mr16 made his with 2 flour tortillas with a layer of queso in between, lots of meat, green onion and cheese:

DH is watching his carbs so made his with lettuce leaves, meat, green onions, salsa and cheese (low carb option):

I made mine with soft corn tortillas, cheese, meat, tomatillo salsa, avocado, green onion, sour cream and lettuce:

We had enough meat for 2 tacos a piece (remember there is a teenager eating here–he uses lots of meat in his tacos!), plus some leftover.  I am totally making this again….I’m dreaming of a yummy carnitas burrito with pinto beans and green chili…..mmmmmmm!

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