The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

November 9, 2011

Some things are better slowwww

For The Daily Southerner
Karen Freeman

PRINCEVILLE — We stay so busy that we end up just throwing together dinner many nights. Or even worse – going through the dreaded drive-through window for fast food. With just a little planning, we don’t have to do that. Most of us own a Crockpot, we just don’t use it often enough. Here are some great Crockpot recipes that will make your kids want to sit down to a family dinner. I hope you enjoy them.

Our first recipe is root beer barbeque. I don’t like root beer. Ever. So, I use Coke. You can do it either way. The kids will get a kick out of pouring in the root beer! Once you put this on the bun, add just a bit



Root Beer BBQ Beef Sandwiches



1 boneless beef rump roast (4 lbs)

2 cups barbecue sauce

(any flavor that you like)

1 cup root beer

(you can substitute Coke or Pepsi)

Dash salt and pepper, if desired

16 sandwich buns; split



In 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker, place beef. In 4-cup measuring cup or bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups of the barbecue sauce and the root beer; pour over beef.

Cover; cook on Low heat setting 10 to 12 hours.

About 20 minutes before serving, remove beef from slow cooker; place on large plate. Pour juices from slow cooker into 12-inch skillet. Cook over medium-high heat about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until juices are thickened and reduced to about 3 cups. Meanwhile, shred beef with 2 forks; return to slow cooker.

Stir remaining 1/2 cup barbecue sauce into reduced juices in skillet; pour over shredded beef in slow cooker. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Spoon about 1/2 cup beef mixture into each bun.

Makes 16 sandwiches



Slow Nachos



Nachos

1 (3-lb.) boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed of fat

1 (1 oz) pkg. Taco Seasoning Mix

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped chili peppers

(you choose how hot)

10 oz. restaurant-style tortilla chips



Toppings

4 oz. (1 cup) shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese blend

3/4 cup sour cream

3/4 cup Thick 'n Chunky salsa

(mild, medium or hot)

1/4 cup sliced green onions

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup sliced ripe olives

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 cup chopped chili’s

(how hot is up to you)



Place beef roast in 3 1/2 or 4-quart slow cooker. Sprinkle taco seasoning mix, garlic, onion, chili peppers and brown sugar over beef.

Cover; cook on Low setting for 8 to 9 hours.

Just before serving, place all topping ingredients in individual serving dishes. Remove beef from slow cooker; place on large plate. Shred beef with 2 forks; return to slow cooker and mix well.

To serve, have guests place chips on serving plates; spoon 1/3 cup beef mixture onto chips. Top nachos with desired toppings. Beef mixture can be held on Low setting for up to 2 hours.

Makes 12 servings



Salsa Chili

1 lb. lean (at least 80%) ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)

2 cups Thick 'n Chunky salsa

1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce

1 can (4.5 oz.) chopped green chili’s

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 can (15 to 16 oz.) pinto beans, drained, rinsed

Shredded Cheddar cheese, if desired

Sliced green onions, if desired



In 10-inch skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain.

In 3- to 4-quart slow cooker, mix beef mixture and remaining ingredients except beans.

Cover; cook on Low heat setting 8 to 10 hours.

Stir in beans. Cover; cook on Low heat setting about 5 minutes longer or until beans are hot. Top with cheese and onions.

Makes 6 servings

Substitution: You can change the taste by using black beans instead of pinto beans. If you like a milder chili, use mild salsa and a little less chili powder.  You can also make it hotter by adding Habanero peppers with or without the seeds.

Double Up: If you like, you can cook up a double batch, then refrigerate or freeze half for another night. If you do make a double batch, use a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker.



Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff

Pot Pie

1 envelope chicken gravy mix

1 can (10 1/2 ounces) condensed chicken broth

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 bag (1 pound) frozen stew vegetables, thawed and drained

1 jar (4 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained

1 cup frozen green peas, thawed and drained

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups Bisquick® mix

4 medium green onions,

chopped (1/4 cup)



1/2 cup milk Mix gravy mix and broth in 3 1/2- to 6-quart slow cooker until smooth. Stir in chicken, stew vegetables and mushrooms. Cover and cook on low heat setting about 4 hours or until chicken is tender.

Stir in peas. Mix sour cream and flour; stir into chicken mixture. Cover and cook on high heat setting 20 minutes.

Stir together Bisquick mix and onions in small bowl; stir in milk just until moistened. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto hot chicken mixture. Cover and cook on high heat setting 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of topping comes out clean. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings



Did You Know?



Basic Crockpot Tips

Crockpot General Cooking Tips

Only fill the crockpot one half to two thirds full. The foods will not cook properly if the appliance is filled to the brim. If the food and liquid level is lower, the foods will cook too quickly.

Foods cooked on the bottom of the slow cooker cook faster and will be moister because they are immersed in the simmering liquid.

Remove skin from poultry, and trim excess fat from meats. Fats will melt with long cooking times, and will add an unpleasant texture to the finished dish. Fatty foods will also cook too quickly.

You can thicken the juices and concentrate flavors by removing the lid and cooking on HIGH for the last half hour of cooking time.

Most meats require 8 hours of cooking on LOW. Use cheaper cuts of meat - not only do you save money, but these meats work better in the slow cooker. Cheaper cuts of meat have less fat, which makes them more suited to crockpot cooking. Moist, long cooking times result in very tender meats.

Follow the layering instructions carefully. Vegetables do not cook as quickly as meat, so they should be placed in the bottom of the appliance.

Don't lift the lid to stir, especially if you are cooking on the low setting. Each time you lift the lid, enough heat will escape that the cooking time should be extended by 20 minutes to half an hour. To check progress without lifting the lid, spin the cover until the condensation falls off. Then it's easy to see inside.

Specific Cooking Tips

For best results, ground meats must be cooked in a skillet before cooking in the crockpot.

Seafood should be added during the last hour of cooking time, or it will overcook and have a rubbery texture.

Large pieces of meat can be browned before cooking in the crockpot, but this step isn't necessary. Browning adds color and helps in flavor development.

Cayenne pepper and tabasco sauce tend to become bitter if cooked for long periods of time. Use small amounts and add toward the end of the cooking time.

Add tender vegetables like tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini during the last 45 minutes of cooking time so they don't overcook.

Dairy products should be added during the last 30 minutes of cooking time, unless the recipes states otherwise.

Liquids do not boil away in the crockpot, so if you are making a recipe that wasn't specifically developed for the crockpot, reduce the liquid by 1/3 to 1/2 unless you are cooking rice or making soup.

Stir in spices for the last hour of cooking. They will lose flavor if cooked with the rest of the ingredients for the long cooking period.