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French Onion Dip — Homemade in the Crockpot

Onion Dip If I want onion dip for the Superbowl, I could use the classic recipe: open a packet of Lipton’s soup mix and a container of sour cream, mix them together and have a fat bowl of MSG, corn syrup and unpronounceable things with a side of my entire RDA of sodium. Or I could make onion dip from scratch, controlling the ingredients myself, adding the right amount of salt, and slowly caramelizing the onions to add depth of flavor. Of course, caramelized onions require a long period of cooking them in a skillet, stirring frequently to make sure they don’t scorch, waiting for those Maillard reactions to hurry up and happen. Or you could just use a crockpot.


The One I’ve Been Waiting For — Easy Slow Cooker Chili

Chili 2

I don’t come from a place where chili is a thing. Heck, I’m from California — we put barbecue chicken on pizza. We don’t have things. What this means is that I don’t have firm and fixed ideas about what should and shouldn’t be in chili, and as a result, I’ve tried many a chili recipe over the years. I’ve tried white chicken chili, turkey chili, chili con carne, chili without beans, vegetarian chili, what was supposed to be Cliff Huxtables super spicy chili from the Cosby Show, and even a really weird one from epicurious that had green olives and raisins (which wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t chili. I may not be a firm con carne or con frijoles person, but I feel about chili the way the Supreme Court feels about pornography — I know it when I see it).

I never really settled on THE chili — the one that becomes my go to recipe, that I make again and again — until I found this chili. It presents a mild heat without bowling you over with spiciness, it has beans, which I like, and meat, which I also like and it has tomatoes without being a tomato stew. Best of all, it is easy as pie to make and can be made in the crockpot, which means all I have to do is chop an onion and brown a little ground beef in the morning, dump it in the crockpot with several cans and spices, and I have a nice bowl of chili waiting for me when I get home. It’s also great for a Super Bowl party — hearty and warming, and there’s no last minute fuss to prepare it when your guests arrive. [...]

Consider the Crockpot — Thai Pork with Peanut Sauce

Ah, the poor crockpot. It is used, nay, embraced all winter, when it churns out a steady stream of warming soups, hearty stews and stick-to-your-ribs casseroles. Then, come summertime and hot weather, the lonely crockpot is summarily dismissed, banished to the cupboard below the stairs with the spiders. “No!” it cries, “Wait! It doesn’t have to be like this! I can be summery! I am more eco-friendly than the grill! I don’t heat up your kitchen like an oven! Save me!” But you remain deaf to its piteous cries, and turn your back on the crockpot.
Until now. Look, I know where you’re coming from. Nobody wants to eat pot roast with gravy in July. But the crock pot should not be so easily dismissed. Just because it’s daylight until 10 pm doesn’t mean you don’t want to come home and have dinner waiting. And any appliance that doesn’t heat up the kitchen should be put into play in the summer. The key, of course, is to look to cuisines from tropical countries, where warm weather is the norm. You’re still making a stew or a casserole, but it seems, somehow, more fitting. Take this Thai pork with peanut sauce. I might not make this during a heat wave, but for a normal summer dinner, a crockpot may be just the ticket. [...]

The Hits Keep Coming — Recipes for Black Beans 3 Ways

I know I’m going to get my frugal license taken away for this, but the truth of the matter is I don’t really like leftovers. Sure, I’ll take last night’s dinner as a brown bag lunch the next day, but that’s pretty much it. I’m certainly not eating the same thing for dinner the next night, and forget about having it every night for a week.
However, when you are cooking for two adults and a toddler (who may, or may not eat whatever you’ve made, depending on some bizarre power struggle/whimsy/will of the gods), sometimes leftovers are unavoidable. Sometimes I foist them on my husband to take to work for lunch multiple days in a row; sometimes I strongly hint to my babysitter that she’s welcome to help herself to anything in that fridge, but sometimes these strategies don’t work, and I am forced to my last resort. No, not eating leftovers. I’m talking about the element of disguise.

See, even though I may not want to eat the same thing three days in one week, I am perfectly willing to eat three different things with the same base ingredients. Like these black beans three ways. I like beans and rice, and realize that many people eat it every day of their lives, but sadly, I am not one of those people. I can, however, eat beans and rice one day, and a quesadilla another day, and soup on a third day and be perfectly happy to do all three. Apparently I’m not too bright if I can trick myself this easily, but there you go. Thus we have — black beans three ways, or how to use up your leftovers without driving yourself crazy. [...]

Crockpot Pot Roast

It’s the week after Memorial Day. Which means you can wear white without subjecting yourself to sartorial ridicule. And you’ve broken that long stretch after President’s Day with no 3 day weekends. And reasonable people start thinking summer! Grilling! Beach Volleyball! (apologies to my Australian readers. I have an admittedly northernhemispheric outlook here).

The [...]

Crockpot Carolina Barbecue Pulled Pork Recipe

Pork 7 Click here to go directly to the recipe

I should probably, in the spirit of full disclosure, tell you that I am not from the South. I am from California, and to me, barbecue or bbq means meat cooked on a grill, over an open flame, ideally on the rare side. Heck, you could even throw some corn on there. Or artichokes. Or be really crazy and barbecue some avocados.
Fortunately for you all, this recipe is not one of my family recipes. It’s from my friend Mallory, who is from Illinois but LIVES in South Carolina, and she’s married to a North Carolinan (Carolingian?) to boot. Carolina Barbecue isn’t the style of barbecue most of you Yankees think of — there is no tomato, no molasses, no honey, no sweet and sticky sauce. Just vinegar, and lots of it. This is sour barbecue, and I love it. Hello, my name is Kate and I am addicted to things that are tart.
Of course, a real barbecue aficionado will point out that this is not barbecue at all because there is no fire or smoke, and that would be true, but let’s just ignore that, because I don’t know about you but I don’t have a barrel smoker in my yard – heck, I don’t have a yard – and a crockpot will just have to do. Full Post


The Big Easy — New Orleans Red Beans and Rice in the Crockpot

March 2009 186 Louis Armstrong reportedly signed all of his letters “Red Beans and Rice-ly yours” in a tribute to New Orleans. Few dishes are as strongly associated with one city as Red Beans and Rice is with the Big Easy. And it’s no wonder — the dish is easy to prepare, easy to afford, and easy to eat. Just a few ingredients — beans, some vegetables, a few spices — are transformed. It may not LOOK like much, but it tastes just dandy. The simplicity, of course, made it perfect for my week of low budget meals. Dried beans are inexpensive, the vegetables are staples, and I have a well stocked spice cabinet. This is also a dish that is regularly in rotation in my household, because it cooks best in the crockpot. And if you are a working mother (or working anything, frankly), the crockpot should be your friend. Read more … [...]