Monday, October 19, 2009

Crockpot Cooking

Here at NeatnessCounts we are pleased to bring you Crockpot Tuesdays. These posts will focus on meal planning, and more often than not, the value of a crockpot, or slow cooker, in simplifying your life.

There is a WEALTH of information on crockpot cooking in the library and on the internet. Crockpots are relatively inexpensive but they do require a bit of knowledge for success. Crockpot recipes are generally more successful if the crock is full, so consider this when purchasing. You might have to experiment with cooking times, ingredients, and liquid amounts (very little is needed) before you find your staple recipes.

My first crockpot when I was single (almost 20 years ago!) was probably a 1 1/2 quart model and cost me about $10. A similar model now sells on Amazon for under $14. I now have a 5 quart Rival model with a removable crock and high and low settings. I definitely recommend a removable crock. You can assemble your dish the night before and place it into the warming unit in the morning without fear of the crock cracking. You can also store your leftovers afterwards.

If I were buying one today, I would also opt for a built in, programmable timer. This will allow you more versatility in cooking which some slow cooker recipes require. Of course, if you don't have a built in timer you can always get a separate timer which you plug the appliance into and then plug into the wall. Depending on the type of timer, this can be tricky though - I will never forget the time I tried to use the first timer I bought - a contraption which needed to be set by pegs or something, and I came home to a beautiful pot of chicken cacciatore, as ice cold as I had left it that morning! I had mis-set the timer and it didn't go off. My first clue was when I hit the front door and didn't smell anything cooking! So if you decide to use a separate timer, I recommend a digital model and practice setting it over the weekend before you leave the house with your intended dinner in the crockpot!

In honor of my timer gaffe, here's my recipe to get you started!

Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore
Serves 4


3 lbs chicken, cut up in pieces
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce
1 can sliced tomatoes, drained
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons oregano (or to taste)
1 teaspoon dried basil (or to taste)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional

(You may also substitute a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce for the tomato sauce and tomatoes - keep the tomato paste for thickness)

Place onions and peppers in bottom of crock pot.
Add chicken pieces.
Stir all the other ingredients together.
Pour over chicken.
Cook on low heat 7 to 9 hours or high heat for about 3 to 4 hours.
Serve over pasta or rice.


1 comment:

Yakini said...

I've been considering buying a crock pot - I probably will once we move in a few months and I have a roomier kitchen space. THis informaiton is great cuz i am sooo clueless when it comes to crockpot cooking!


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