We definitely enjoy using our crock pot, aka slow cooker, but we often forget about it until the winter months. My husband recently said to me, “It would be nice if we started to crock pot again.” The colder weather is reminding us to cook warm, comfort foods.
Crock potting is a great way to cook healthy and save on time. After a busy day of work or play, an already prepared dinner cooked starts the evening off on the right foot.
What to crock pot? We use the crock pot for breakfast (oatmeal or a ham cooked over night), dinner (turkey breast, stews, soups, other meat or bean dishes) and for side dishes (“hold” baked macaroni and cheese and hot dips). Did you know you can crock pot desserts? (We have not tried this as of yet.)
How to start?
- Know the size of your crock pot: We have a larger one for meals and use a smaller one for side dishes, oatmeal, dips. Desserts might call for one large enough to hold a small soufflé dish.
- Choose a meat: Since the dish will sit for hours on high and then low heat, one can cook with cheaper cuts of meat. The muscle fibers will break down over the day and become more palatable. Consider cooking plain meat (ie: plain turkey breast or chicken).
- Choose a liquid: Fill the pot ½ to 2/3 full with the cooking liquid. The ingredients at the bottom of the pot cook faster and fill with flavor since they simmer for hours.
- Know how long to cook on high and low: Start at high heat for at least 1 hour. Temperatures should reach > 140 degreesas fast as possible. Then, switch the temperature to low heat. Several crock pots today have automatic settings for this reason. The HIGH setting = 300 degrees while the LOW setting = 200 degrees.
- Add other ingredients: Refer to Crock Pot 101.
Should I reheat in a crock pot? No, reheat the food left in your crock in an oven or microwave oven. Many crock pots are now oven proof for this reason. You can also transfer the food into a pan appropriate for the stove. Reheat and hold foods to temperatures > 140 degrees.
Adapted from the Cooking Cardiologist, Dr. Richard Collins, Overnight Oatmeal recipe from the cookbook The Cooking Cardiologist.
Canola oil spray
1 cup steel cut oats (not quick cooking)
2 cups unsweetened almond milk, vanilla flavored (I have also used cow’s milk)
1 cup unsweetened apple juice or cider, no sugar added
1 cup water
1 apple cored and chopped, do not peel.
2 T brown sugar or sugar substitute
1 t cinnamon
½ cup raisins or other dried fruit
½ t salt, optional
½ cup toasted walnuts (or other nuts on hand), coarsely chopped for topping
1 cup Greek styled yogurt, optional for topping, flavor of choice
Lightly spray the insides of a slow cooker with canola oil. Combine the oatmeal and the milk in the slow cooker. Add the apple juice, water, chopped apple, brown sugar, raisins, salt (optional) and cinnamon. Mix well. Cover and place on low heat. Cook overnight. Serve warm the next morning. A firm crust should form in the oatmeal along the sides and bottom. Top each serving with divided walnuts and 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt. The remainder of the oatmeal can be refrigerated for 4- 5 days in an airtight container.
Serves 6. Serving size: ¾ cup.
Nutrition Info: Calories: 252, Total Fat: 9 grams, Saturated Fat: 1 gram, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 258 mg, Carbohydrate: 41 grams, Fiber: 5 grams, Protein: 7 grams; Analysis does not include yogurt.
Coming home to an already cooked meal is just awesome. I look forward to your recipe contributions or crock pot ideas!
Please check out another Dayton Children’s blog related to crock potting: batch cooking. Please continue to check out Dayton Children’s on Pinterest for crock pot recipes I have (re)pinned!