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Crock Pot Slow Cooker Tips

Wed 27th, Jun, 2012

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Hey Beach Cottage dudettes, let’s get some crock pot, slow cooker lurve going on here this fine day in Beach Cottage land shall we?

I have been absolutely, mind-boggingly into my slow cooker at the moment, more than I ever was before, that is because I am pretty busy with lots of stuff at the moment…and so I haven’t got too much time to fuss around with cooking, but I still like to read about cooking and try a few new things every week, keeps this old brain from rotting – trying out new recipes in one’s slow cooker is like experimenting without really playing the game – you don’t often come out with a fail…

…and it seems that some of you who read here are also new converts to this little beauty who sits on your counter all day long doing all the work for you and filling your house with old-fashioned comfort, so I thought I would do a round-up post on why I love it in my little life and some of my favourite, week-in, week-out keeper recipes for it.

I don’t need to convert to this appliance – in this old cottage it is an essential part of our lives and I mean essential – it means one of my kiddos gets to do some serious sport and gets a home-cooked, nutritious dinner when arriving home every single night, it means my other kiddos get to eat at differing times as to their commitments, it means I can spend time blogging without worrying about the dinner – if I haven’t done dinner and those sorta things in this old cottage, I don’t blog, simple as that, it also means that my husband, aka Mr Beach Cottage thinks I am doing a fairly good job at my end of this thing they call marriage and kiddos and I am more than happy to continue with him continuing with that assumption ;-)

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Beach Cottage Slow Cooker / Crock Pot Curry Chicken Recipe

The best thing I ever did with the crock pot / slow cooker after the initial Honeymoon period when we had some version of stew or another every night was to think outside of the box and start trawling the internet for recipes…that is the best way I have found to get ideas for different things and get a feel for what goes in there well – old-fashioned forums are really good too, because you get real girl feedback on what works and what doesn’t…

…books are good too, but in my experience a LOT of the books out there are the same recipes for some variation on a stew – be it French, Hungarian or Indian, or that type of meal.  And there is nothing wrong with that, but I have found that experimenting with it has meant it can produce dinner for us most nights, whatever the meal.

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Beach Cottage Slow Cooker / Crock Pot Beef Roast

Beach Cottage Crock Pot / Slow Cooker 101

Benefits of Crock Pot / Slow Cooker cooking

 

1. Saves Time 

This is the main reason for me – I actually like cooking dinner and quite enjoy it on good days, but day in day out, 3 kiddos and one husband gets mind-numbingly borning – utilizing the labour of this old girl on my counter saves me a bundle of time and brain power…

Once it’s in you don’t need to stand around stirring and foofing or monitoring it…the most you have to do is taste it and adjust the seasonings and I can about handle that.

 

2. Easy 

Using my crock pot is just easy, you don’t need to be a culinary master to get this right… as you know I like shortcuts in my life and this is one of them…throw stuff in, turn it on, put on the lid and wait – it’s my kinda cooking.

I set up my slow cooker at about lunch time and the rest it just does itself, put it on and forget it, it really is as simple as that!

 

3.  Clean-Up 

Clean up with a crock pot / slow cooker is too easy – my slow cooker has a removable insert and gets thrown straight in the dishwasher and comes out the next morning as good as new, ready for another day of life in Beach Cottage Land.

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Beach Cottage Chorizo Stew

4. Organized 

Crock Pot / Slow cooker cooking makes you look, feel and actually be organized – this is an amazing feeling and a kinda secret one too – I have found myself on more than one occasion thinking OMG thank you thank you that I put the dinner in the slow cooker before I left for a busy day with school stuff or sport or to go to a blogging thing – no sinking feeling of oh no what to cook or ahhhh we need to stop and buy food (that my kiddos won’t like) – no when you get home it’s all there, hot, done and dusted.

Cooking the slow cooker way is also great when you don’t have the motivation or inclination to cook anything and the last thing you want to think about is ‘what’s for dinner’ – I keep a few handy long-life things in my fridge (like chorizo, bacon & ham hock) so that if the cupboard is bare and I have no energy to do little more than chop one or two things, I still know that at Arsenic Hour in our house there will be dinner for everyone and a broomstick riding occasion may well be avoided.

 


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Beach Cottage Crock Pot Slow Cooker Forty Garlic Chicken

(hopefully one day I will improve at Roast Chicken Photography, seeing as it is for sure my fave meal in the world)

5. Healthy 

You know what exactly goes in the crock pot and just a few simple, natural ingredients are turned tasty by this cooking method – throw in a piece of meat with some wine and veggies and the result is always lovely (the beef roast above works exactly like this), add a chicken and some garlic and let it work its magic (garlic chicken above) and even the humble baked potato shoved in this little wonder is divine (recipe just below)

 

6. Cost 

Popping on your dinner in the slow cooker is power efficient and better than heating up your oven.

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Beach Cottage Slow Cooker / Crock Pot Baked Potatoes

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Beach Cottage Slow Cooker / Crock Pot

I would love to hear your reasons for using the slow cooker / crock pot and if you have any other tips, hints or tricks or recipe to share, please leave them below

…any questions just add them in the comments, I am writing a guide, on my experiences with this way of cooking and what to look for when buying one and would love to include anything you want to know or of course, any of your advice!

See you tomorrow lovelies

 Sarah

find all Too Easy Beach Cottage recipes here 

(all beach cottage recipes are tried and tested by a real girl with a real life, that’s me and four very good testers ;-) )

meal planning is my other super life saver!  find Beach Cottage meal plans here

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Beach Cottage Slow Cooker / Crock Pot Lasagne Soup

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22 Responses to “Crock Pot Slow Cooker Tips”

  1. Sam says:

    Hi Sarah,
    I too love the slow cooker concept but struggle to find recipes that turn out well. Your chicken curry is the best I’ve found. Had it again last night!! I’ve tried the beef roast and garlic chicken recipes but sometimes find the Fi usher result with the meat a bit “dry/ stringy” and the sauce a bit watery. Perhaps it’s the cut of meat I buy?? What cut do you use for the roast…. As for the watery bit… As I am by no means a great cook, perhaps it’s my technique that needs Improving!! Any advice? I also do corned beef in it …. Which turns out ok too!
    Cheers Sam

    • sarah says:

      hmmm the cut of meat I buy is just a ‘beef roast’ – the cheaper cuts with more fat are better and leaving all day long – it sounds like you just need to keep trying with it – I have kinda learnt the ‘feel’ of mine now and know when to add more water, add less etc or leave the lid open a bit for an hour to get less watery…little things like that…

      I really think you should persevere! try the baked potatoes – they cannot go wrong lol x

  2. Gina says:

    I love my slow cooker too! Although since I homeschool sometimes my mornings are busier than my evenings in which case unless it’s real simple like throw in some chicken breasts and a bottle of bbq sauce some days it’s easier for me to cook in the evenings. This summer with t-ball and everything the slow cooker has been great though!

  3. Melinda says:

    What a great round up and all very sensible endorsements for the slow cooker. x

    I probably use my slow cooker about once a week – its a big one and perhaps thats the problem – I always feel its a “cook a thon” and produce lots – great for the freezer but I’d feel like an industrial caterer if I did it every day !!
    Still, it is a beauty and am really enjoying trying some of your recipes – the photos always real me in !!

    My tip for use is plugging my slow cooker in outside – strangely perhaps, I dont like the house to fill with cooking smells ( esp if Im home all day) and so if it chugs along on a table outside suddenly dinner seems magically ready and Im not “over it” after hours of smelling it – do you think Im mad?? xx

    ps lamb shanks always go well for me in the SC

    • sarah says:

      hmmm no I don’t think you are mad, because altho I like the smell, sometimes the day after it lingers horribly, I might try this on the deck, thanks!

  4. Oh my gosh I’d forgotten about your chorizo stew!! Well thats Saturdays dinner organized then! We’ve only just started eating chorizo here and the kids love it so we’ll be using it ALOT! And I know that feeling you’re talking about when you’re out late, running after kids and then rmbr that dinner is organized and at home cooking itself. Priceless! Janelle x P.S LOVE the pic of your little corner! Especially that cute bag!! x

  5. Hmmm. Well, I have two slow cookers. One large and one medium. And I use them both equally. I use the larger one for stews/roasts/potatoes/chicken and I use the medium one for chili and soups. One website I love for new ideas is http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/ we’ve liked nearly everything I’ve tried and the ideas are beyond stews and such which is nice.

    PS – It’s too bad crock pots can’t make ice cream. Just sayin’…..

  6. Marnie says:

    Hey Sarah,
    Birds aren’t slammin my windows atm, so I have a few minutes spare to leave a comment…lol
    As I type, I am looking lovingly at my slow cooker that is currently cooking away with corned beef (again) I have a recipe here on my blog http://3pickles.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/recipe-corned-beef-with-white-sauce-in.html
    And last night I made a Greek dish in it called Yesmista, which means stuffed veggies. I’ll try to get that up this week. Easy, yum & delish. I have a slow cooker that I got from Target in the sales last year, it’s a Bellini and it’s HUGE. Perfect for a roast and the insert can go on the stovestop and in the oven. Best kitchen purchase for a long while.
    Looking forward to your guide.
    x Marnie

    • sarah says:

      thanks for the link Marnie!

      I like the sound of your Greek dish…please leave me the link when it’s up x

  7. well, i don’t own a stove. it’s either a stove or room to paint, and room to paint wins. plus, i’m pretty lazy when it comes to cooking, but i love real food, and when my mom died, i realized if i wanted roast beef w/potatoes & carrots, it was gonna be up to me. i never make anything complicated. homemade soups. chicken w/rice & onions.

    that 40 garlic chicken may change that. it looks goooood.

  8. Alice says:

    ummm… bought myself a slowcooker… Was very excited… It still hasn’t come out of the box. With my morning so insanely busy I can’t seem to get my act together… Might be handier later on down the track when I don’t have to do everything a million K’s an hour ; -)

    • sarah says:

      you can prep it all the night before, put it in a ziploc bag (or freeze it) then dump it in in the morning…works a treat! x

  9. Rukmini Roy says:

    I dont have a crock pot but maybe its time. Those pepperonis are making me drool all over the place. Oh and halloa- Barley is totally into Driftwood it seems. He is getting the beach cottage drift :)

  10. alison says:

    I’m getting into the swing with my new smaller slow cooker.

    Does anyone have a basic stew recipe that can be adjusted to taste?
    eg 1 kg meat, 1 cup of stock, 1 chopped onion etc etc Brown meat and onion. Add to slow cooker with stock. etc etc
    alison

  11. Aisling says:

    I work full time and have two small kids. Dh does most of the cooking during the week but I have gradually been using the slow cooker more and more. One tip if your chicken is a bit dry it might be overcooked. I find that it is one thing that doesn’t need more than six hours on low at the most. Also if it is watery use less liquid and maybe a pinch of salt. You don’t need to cover the meat in the slow cooker unless it is a stew as with the lid on it steams as it cooks.

    Your chicken curry goes down a storm with the kids here sarah and it has been a good intro to more spicy things for them.

    One thing we do as a staple for pot luck suppers now is buffalo wings in the slow cooker. They are cheap to make and everyone loves them.

  12. Rah says:

    I try to use our slow cooker once each winter. And usually fail and hate it and put it away for another year. My recipes always seem to be too salty, too tasteless, too something…I think I just need to keep persevering!

  13. Aisling says:

    Sorry I meant you don’t need to cover the meat with water you do need to need to put the lid on.

  14. Leisa says:

    I love my slow cooker, but find it cooks too fast to be able to put is on and leave for the day. It’s a Kambrook, cheap from Target a couple of years ago. Any suggestions – do I need to spend more money and get a ‘better’ one? I am finding the most wonderful recipes in two books by Australian author , Sally Wise, Slower Cooker & Slow Cooker 2. Even my very fussy family have enjoyed her recipes.

  15. Susan says:

    I bought mine last water and tried really hard to love it but am obviously doing something wrong. We all hated it, whatever I cooked was not yummy at all.

    I may revamp and try some of your recipes *sigh…….