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Newly single chow-dude and his crockpot

OK, gang.

It's been awhile since I was singularly responsible for every evening meal. I'm a little rusty.

Just ordered a programable crockpot and am looking for chow-worthy recipes.

I will admit that I have NOT searched for old strings on this subject.

So, what is your go-to slow cooker recipe for a mid-week dinner after a long day at work?

Extra credit for something that turns into great lunches the next day(s).

DOUBLE extra credit for great cookbooks in this genre...that will serve my tummy AND my addiction to cook book collecting.

Happy chowing and thanks in advance.

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    1. re: carolinadawg

      I'm going to second that website. Its great just for inspiration if nothing else.

      1. re: foxspirit

        Nice! I have already archived that blog address.

        Looks like some good "clean-hound" tips for the newly single, also!

        1. re: Monch

          The Taco Soup recipe on her blog is a family fave. My kids crush tortilla chips in a bowl and ladle the taco soup on top... then add avocado or sour cream. Huge hit.

      2. re: carolinadawg

        I have her first book, and I use it frequently.

        To my surprise, the Buffalo Chicken Soup is a great favorite of my wife.

      3. any inexpensive, well marbled (read: fatty) cut of meat. My go tos are: pork shoulder, boneless/skinless chix thighs. 6-8 hours on low, they both create their own juices. pour off the juice and freeze it for an hour, this congeals the fat which you can then skim and discard, use the rest to make any sauce you like.I will make bbq, carnitas, Asian style, curry style...whatever mood you are in. I love having these yummy cooked meats around and find myself throwing them into everything, quesadillas, sandwiches, you name it.

        1. A few months back we started a Slow Cooker Sunday series. A few of my favorites are:

          Breakfast Casserole (it's hearty enough for dinner and lunch leftovers) http://www.chow.com/food-news/153609/...

          BBQ Beef Sandwiches: http://www.chow.com/food-news/151290/...

          and, Red Pepper Butternut Squash Soup: http://www.chow.com/food-news/150910/...

          We have some great recipes going live over the weekend - so keep your eye out for them. Happy crock pot cooking!

          1. America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution. Fun stuff like ribs, lasagna, etc. Not just soups and stews (though there's plenty of that too.)

            1. Welcome to my life, I use my Slow Cooker very often

              fatty cheap cuts of meat are your fried - bone in will add more flavor

              beef shanks can go many ways - just red wine and herbs - over rice + leftovers for sammies. Tomato sauce for a quick and dirty meat sauce, you can take it Mexican for taco/burrito filling

              Fatty cheaper cuts of lamb do well too

              Chicken thighs - over a "bed" of potatoes and carrots - with wine or beer in the bottom

              chili is always good, pulled pork, ribs

              soups are easy - broth+ can of tomatoes + beans and veggies = tomato vegetable soup - add pasta or rice and leafy greens at the end

              if you have time brown mear in a skillet fist, deglaze and add that liquid - will help with flavor and texture

              potatoes & carrots and the like tend to hold up well but all softer veggies and greens should be added at the end or you get mush - same with pasta and rice

              get a rice cooker if you don't have one - slow cooked meat and veg ready when you get home + fresh quick rice = Dinner

              Dried beans can take forever - soaking AND parboiling is helpful- crunchy beans are gross ;)

              keep it simple and don't expect miracles and the slow cooker is a very useful tool made much more useful by a ric cooker/steamer for the parts of the meal that don't want low and slow. If you just dump everything in there you get muck.

              1. This is a fall favorite. Feel free to fiddle with spices and vegetable components:

                http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/slo...

                  1. re: sparky403

                    Just back, but the chicken caught my eye....great use for the four-packed chicken thighes I score from Costco!

                    To all that have replied, so far, many thanks!

                    Keep 'em coming, please and thank you.

                    1. re: Monch

                      Whole chicken with nothing else in the pot works well if you want shredded chicken for enchiladas or other dishes.

                      1. re: rasputina

                        You can do the same with chicken parts if they are cheaper. I find dark meat works better in the crockpot than white meat.

                        Turkey parts are great too, and the liquid the cooking produces makes a great broth for soup.

                        1. re: lagatta

                          I don't like dark meat for certain dishes though. I love thighs in general but I don't like them for enchiladas for example. Which is where using a whole chicken works so well. Eat the thighs and drumsticks, the rest for enchiladas.

                  2. In addition to the stuff already mentioned, anything liquidy and cooked a long time is generally great for the crock and the normal recipes can be adapted to it. Soups, chilis, stews, porridges, curries, etc. Just do all the first steps in a pan, pour into the crock, add liquid and let it go. Bonus, in general I've found those also freeze and reheat well. I've been using mine recently like a slow double boiler and it makes the creamiest best steel cut oats around. So now you've got breakfast too!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: foxspirit

                      Oats are OK, but I'm a grits guy!

                      Now I know that the way to have hot grits first thing in the AM is with the crock!

                      Damn, this is fun! Shoulda gotten single years ago!

                      1. re: Monch

                        That's one reason I like my Hamilton Beach 3 in 1 slow cooker. It's not programmable so not good for leaving all day long unattended, but I love that it has 2,4 and 6 qt crocks so I can choose the perfect size I need. I have programmable ones for unattended cooking also.

                    2. My favorite roast beef recipe is done in the CP. Start with any cut of roast. Smear 1-2 tsp. Heinz 57 sauce over the top (no substitutes). Sprinkle a packet of onion soup mix (dry) over that. Smear a can of cream of mushroom soup (undiluted) over that. Cook on low 8-10 hours until roast is fork tender. Use the cold leftovers in sandwiches with a little horseradish mayo. Our group does this up for our annual ice-fishing trip to Lake of the Woods.

                      1. Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two, by Beth Hensperger. I actually have an earlier NYM slow cookbook by Beth H, and I have to recommend her cookbooks in general for being thorough. She also gives good recipes. I've used her white chili recipe, with some tweaking, many times, and it makes wonderful chili. This week I follower her directions for a small pot roast and it was lovely. I will use her directions again.

                        But you don't just get good recipes from Hensperger's books; you get in depth explanations and even other recipes as go withs.

                        Since you are single, I'm guessing you would like the NYM Cookbook for Two. You can make enough for one meal, and have the rest for leftovers. (Cook once-eat twice.)

                        Also check out her blog, http://www.notyourmotherscookbook.com...

                        She lists recipes by category on the right; there is a slow cooker category.

                        Have fun with your new toy!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: sueatmo

                          On that note, the Indian Slow Cooker book is really good too. I recommend that if you like those flavors.

                        2. Chicken stock, pork shoulder, short ribs, aloo gobi, pibil. Pork shoulder especially if you just give it basic seasoning, you can turn it into burritos, tacos, bbq pork sandwiches ect by adding seasonings or sauces later.

                          My favorite slow cooker cookbooks are The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla and The Mexican Slow Cooker by Deborah Schneider.

                          1. Hi Monch, do not forget the classic slow cooker delight...Little Smokies in barbecue sauce. Good for dinner, lunch, Badger game parties, poker night, you name it. :-)

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Fowler

                              lol I haven't had those in years. Now I have to get some next time I go to the store.

                              1. Unlike others, I haven't had good luck with the crockpot365 recipes - maybe I picked the bad ones, but the 3-4 we tried were either meh or badly overcooked. Just keep in mind that when the crockpot is on "warm," it's still cooking your food...

                                A few other suggestions:

                                Shredded pork for burritos or pulled pork sandwiches: Slice a big onion and lay the rings on the bottom of the crock (sprayed with non-stick spray). Place a ~3 lb boneless pork loin on top. Pour in a can of root beer (or birch beer, or probably even cola). Cook for about 6 hours on low, then shred the meat.

                                Meatballs - http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20... . I mix the sauce ingredients in the crock, then make and add the meatballs. I use crushed tomatoes and omit the wine (I prefer to drink it on the side!).

                                Taco chicken: bone-in, skin-off pieces + 1 packet of taco seasoning + 14-oz can of diced tomatoes (with liquid) + optional peppers and onions.