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Shamefully easy slow cooker recipes?

Hi hounds,

I need help. Grad school is consuming all of my free time and energy (I always thought people were exaggerating about that, but I know better now!), and my lovely boyfriend manages to ruin cooking dry pasta. The result? We're eating out for at least 50% of our meals. It's expensive, and soon to be more expensive when we need to buy new, bigger pants.

We've just moved to a neighborhood with a pretty basic, albeit large, supermarket, and some decent hispanic markets, but grocery shopping is a once-a-week affair at the moment. In my single days, when I was still cooking regularly, I was used to being able to stop at the whole foods or trader joes in walking distance a few times a week, so having to plan ahead so much is new to me. We've got a CSA membership, but that's winding down for the season.

So, I need some very, very simply, healthy slow cooker recipes or weeknight meals that don't require much prep or many fancy ingredients. We're talking chop and dump. Browning seems ambitious right now! Six kinds of fresh herbs probably isn't happening either-- I'm still trying to convince my boyfriend not to boil carrots (really). The more simply I can make these things, the better. I'm hoping to be able to print some things out and stick them in a binder in the kitchen so whoever has the time can get a meal started.

Am I doomed to lots and lots of things that begin with opening cans of cream of mushroom soup? Or eating pasta and canned sauce the entire winter (again, leading to a need for new pants...)? Looking online at recipes, and even at cookbooks, there don't seem to be many good options. What did you all eat when you were young, first living together, and just starting out?

thank you thank you thank you!

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  1. Turkey thighs with a little tomatillo salsa - all day on low. Gets to be like shredded pork, great for burritos or tacos.

    1. our favorite slow cooker "dump and go" recipe is
      4-6 frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts
      a can of chilis
      a can of black beans, drained.
      a generous dose of taco seasoning
      3/4 jar of your favorite salsa

      Sometimes I add a can of corn.

      cook on low for 6 or so hours. shred. we use this chicken on tortillas, or over rice. using frozen chicken keeps the meat from drying out while it cooks. if you don't need such a long cooking time, you can use thawed meat.

      11 Replies
      1. re: jujuthomas

        I do this with flank steak and a bag of frozen corn, without the taco seasoning.

        ~TDQ

        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          TDQ, Really? I never have luck with flank steak. ALways comes out tough when I grill it. How do you prepare it exactly? Just steak and corn?

          1. re: lilmomma

            Steak on the bottom then corn and beans. Dump the salsa over the whole works. Cook for 8-9 hours on low until you can shred it. You'll still need to chop it, but it works well for burritos or tacos or something along those lines.

            ~TDQ

            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              sorry for being ignorant about this but what is the corn for? mixed with beans and salsa does it make into a hot bean relish of sorts? or is it in there for flavor or moisture?

              1. re: iL Divo

                It's there as a vegetable--one pot dish kind of thing. And, yeah, I guess it's sort of a hot bean relish.

                ~TDQ

            2. re: lilmomma

              the trick when grilling it is not to overcook it and most importantly cut it thin as you can against the grain, as with fajitas.

          2. re: jujuthomas

            We make this all of the time, and actually made it this weekend. We add a package of cream cheese in the last 30 minutes or so, and it makes it nice and creamy. I admit it looks slightly (or more) vomitous, but it is really tasty, especially served over rice....mmmm. I am looking forward to my dinner tonight!

            1. re: justme123

              sounds terrific and just about as tasty looking as my scrambled eggs with salsa mixed in, LOL!

            2. re: jujuthomas

              I do this without the chilis and with the corn.

              1. re: jujuthomas

                I make a version of this but with boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I find it is a lot more flavorful and moist. We call it taco chicken in my house and it makes great burritos, too. Side dishes are refried beans and the Spanish rice from Fresh and Easy. That rice is super easy to make and has a really great flavor.

                1. re: jujuthomas

                  This, plus the corn and a block of cream cheese or a wheel of Laughing Cow Queso Fresco. Great on chips or as burritos. We call it chicken nachos.

                2. another super easy recipe that's on my list for this week (tonight, perhaps?) is to saute some sliced onion and garlic in some butter. let it start to caramelize then add a small cut up ham steak. Throw some frozen pierogi on top - we like Mrs. T's potato and onion. I usually add a splash of chicken broth or water just to keep the pasta from sticking to the pot, since I don't use a lot of fat in the pan. I usually do 12 pierogi with 1 small ham steak, it makes 3 servings. throw some cheese or sour cream on top, make a salad, and you've got dinner.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: jujuthomas

                    This is in the crockpot? For approximately how long?

                    1. re: tcamp

                      oh, no. not in the crock pot. in a deep sautee pan on the stove. it takes about 15 minutes. OP asked for easy crock pot or weeknight meals. :)

                      1. re: jujuthomas

                        Bummer. That would be a nice trick.

                  2. One of the easiest things I made last night was pulled pork. Took an onion, sliced it up and put that in the bottom of the crockpot. Added just a little bit of vinegar, topped the onion with a pork loin. Cook on low for 7 hours. Take pork out of crock pot and shred, place back into crockpot, add your favorite bbq sauce and cook for another hour or so. You really don't need to brown the meat first.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: ludmilasdaughter

                      You use a pork loin, and it shreds? Good to know - I always have pork loin in my freezer.

                      1. re: jeanmarieok

                        Seems like pork loin would be dry, no?

                        1. re: lilmomma

                          Nah, I do it all the time as well but add a dash of oil, water, and a bay leaf to mine.

                          1. re: lilmomma

                            Not at all. I know some people that use tenderloin, but I wouldn't go that far. The pork loin came out super tender and very easy to shred using two forks.

                      2. I like this pork and sauerkraut one, except that I use sweet potatoes.

                        http://allrecipes.com/recipe/slow-coo...

                        Here's a breakfast one (except that I use a can of low-fat evaporated milk in place of some of the water and abour 1/4 cup of brown sugar in place of the sugar substitute. Also, I add a pinch of salt.) http://allrecipes.com/recipe/slow-coo...

                        Here's one (pepperoncini beef) I recently tried that was recommended by another hound. Super easy! http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8643...

                        Here's a dump and go ropa vieja recipe that is highly rated on food network that I've been meaning to try. I posted a link to it in another thread and the hound whou tried it (sorry, I can't remember who it was or which thread it was!) thought it was good. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/fo...

                        ~TDQ