Crock Pot Love

In honor of the week’s feastings.

I got a call from my brother last week.  After years of hearing me, nondomestic Deborah, wax poetic about my crock pot, he finally got one for himself; I was almost giddy at the news.

I got my crockpot as the First Christmas Present from my mother-in-law six years ago; and though it felt a bit like the toaster episode in Father of the Bride, this kitchen gadget quickly opened up a whole new world of culinary pleasure.

At the heart of the pleasure is my kitchen minimalism.  “Guess how long it took me to make this stew? 10 minutes! . . . and then 8 hours in the crock pot.”  I’m an impatient cook, so my sauteed chicken is often too tough and my pasta too dente.  I am also a whole food devotee, so nothing processed touches my crockpot.  Just good meats, veggies, fruits, spices, combining their juices over hours of slow simmering.  And now it’s tradition: I roast a chicken every Sunday, saving the leftover juice for soup stock.

When my brother asked me for favorite slow cooking recipes, I passed along my lusciously-thick beef stew secret — adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe I came across a few years ago.  Here it is — you’ll notice it’s not an exact science (another reason to love the crock pot). But please, don’t add any water.  I promise you don’t need as much as a teaspoon.

Bottom of the pot:

  • 2-3 pounds lean stewing beef
  • 2 small containers of tomato PASTE smeared over the meat
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

Above the meat, fill the pot nearly the top with:

  • Carrots, sliced thick (6-8)
  • Small onion, sliced
  • A bunch of whole, *small* red potatoes (if you can’t find the little red ones, cut the slightly larger ones in half.
  • Optional: One sweet potato, sliced fairly thin (this adds sweetness and thickness when you mix it all up)

Cook on low for 8 hours. Stir it all together (will become a thick, red sauce). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Your turn to help my brother. What’s your favorite crock-pot recipe?


Deborah is K-12 educator who nurtures a healthy interest in reading, writing, running, ethics, mystics, and interfaith dialogue.

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17 Responses

  1. EM says:

    Crock pots are the best invention ever, next to pressure cookers. I loved coming home after a long day at the office to a house that smelled delicious. My favorite recipe is a pot-roast, to which you add 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, 1 packet of onion soup mix and 1 cup of water, cook 5 to 8 hours serve with mashed. garlic potatoes and veggies. Yum yum.

  2. makakona says:

    a few chicken breasts, a cup of chicken broth, a packet of taco seasoning or the homemade equivalent. a few hours et voilà! shred it up and serve over rice or on a tortilla with fixings.

  3. Two of Three says:

    Cranberry chicken (chicken breasts, can of cranberry jelly, and 1/2 cup orange juice served over rice or stuffing) or cook a roast all day, then shred, add bbq sauce, heat and serve with buns!

  4. spunky says:

    Veggie Chilli!
    Brown about a pound of ground beef, if you like beef (if you want all veggie, just skip the beef and add more veggies)
    Chop 1 zucchini into bite-sized pieces
    Chop 1 onion (or 1/2 if you are not a huge onion fan)
    Chop and seed 1 red bell pepper
    Grate 2 carrots
    1 cob of corn, cob removed 🙂
    1 cup dry pinto beans, rinsed
    1-2 cans chopped tomatoes (or similar fresh, with skins removed)
    1-2 Tab. chilli powder (salt free, salt with keep the beans from cooking properly- but you can add salt at the end before serving)
    1-2 cloves garlic (optional)
    1/4 cup sour cream
    1 chopped jalapeno, if you dare

    Chuck it all in and cook on slow for 8 hours… I haven’t tried the cook on high option, but I assume it would be fine.

  5. Caroline says:

    Sour Cream Chicken Bake

    6 chicken breasts, 1 can milk, 1 cup sour cream, 2 cans cream of chicken soup, 1 8oz packet of cream cheese, 1 packet of italian seasoning. Mix all ingredients up and pour over chicken. Yum! And if you like extra kick, sprinkle mrs dash on top when you serve with rice.

    Love all these crock pot recipes!

  6. Rachel says:

    If you haven’t made this super-clear to your brother yet…….
    The most important thing to know about a slow cooker is to NOT lift the lid. You’ll be tempted, but don’t. Resist the urge to stir, or whatever. Just let it keep on cooking.

  7. EmJen says:

    Oh my goodness, I love this recipe as a Thanksgiving side dish. And you have to use the super sweet corn.

    Darrell’s Cream Cheese Corn

    1 – 32 ounce Package Frozen Super Sweet White Corn (Western Family)
    2 – Tablespoons Sugar
    1 – 8 ounce package Cream Cheese
    1 – Cube Butter (not margarine)
    3 – Tablespoons Water

    Put corn in the crock pot then add the water and sugar. Put the Cream Cheese and Butter on top of the Corn, cover the pot, turn on low and let sit until the Butter melts away and the Cream Cheese is very soft. Stir until thoroughly combined. Let it continue to cook for 2-3 more hours on low, stirring occasionally until thick.

  8. Sandra says:

    Sweet Potato Stew:

    3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
    1 small red onion
    28 oz can diced tomatoes in juice
    14 oz coconut milk
    1 cup frozen corn
    2 cups cooked kidney beans
    2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
    3 carrots, sliced
    1/2 cup dried lentils
    1 cup vegetable broth
    2 cups water
    1 t tumeric
    1/8 t dry mustard
    1 t cumin
    1 t coriander
    1/2 t salt
    1/4 t red pepper flakes
    Turn slow cooker on high and toss in olive oil, garlic, and onion. Put the lid on and let those flavors come together while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
    Open your cans, dice and chop your vegetables and throw everything in the pot! Cook on high for 4-6 hours. It took four hours for me, but I think my crock pot is on the hotter side of things.

  9. Deborah says:

    Sounds luscious, Sandra — I love sweet potato. Thanks, all. Keep ’em coming.

  10. Jessawhy says:

    My favorite is Gorditas. This is a party favorite, the kind of dish you can serve when you don’t have time to feed a crowd (my mom used this to cater 2 weddings, actually)

    4 chicken breasts
    1 jar salsa
    2 cans corn
    2 cans black beans (rinsed and drained)
    Cook on high for 4 hrs or low for 6

    15 min before serving shred chicken add in chopped cilantro and green onion.

    Serve in tortillas with taco toppings, cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, black olives, etc.

  11. Keri Brooks says:


    Peel and cut up 2.5-3 lbs apples. Toss in crock pot with 1/4 cup orange juice, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1-2 tbsp. brown sugar. (The cinnamon and sugar can be adjusted to taste.) Cook until the apples are soft (approx. 2.5 hours on high or 5 hours on low), then mash up to desired consistency. Serve warm or cold.

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