When I signed on to November Crock Pot Month in the middle of October, I was worried that it would be way to warm for the hearty meals that I love the crock pot for. The stews and roasts I usually make don’t sound so wonderful when it’s over 90° during the day. But November has been decidedly cooler (hooray!) and, combined with my quest to find all things fall, it’s turning out to be a really good idea. In the past few days I’ve even pulled out my wool socks and thought about turing on the heat! It won’t last, though. It will be back in the mid-70s to low-80s soon.
The idea of NoCoPoMo is to get people cooking and sharing recipes for homemade food. Since slow cookers are an easy way to make a warm, hearty meal, and we’re basically all overbooked and a bit crazed (especially at this time of year), sharing slow cooker recipes is a great way to make this happen. We’re supposed to make 1-2 meals a week and share our recipes. Since we’ve been in Arizona, I cook pretty much every day. But I remember the craziness of our lives less than a year ago and how much I relied on the crock pot (and also the restaurant…) to feed us.
I started about a week early, but I really couldn’t help myself. I had discovered the apple display at the grocery store and came home with way too many apples.
Apples that I only eat during the fall, and that Nate basically doesn’t like at all. So I made applesauce. And it was delicious. Delicious when I ate it, first hot right out of the crock pot, then cold every morning on my oatmeal, and delicious smelling as it simmered all day long with cinnamon.
I used this recipe minus the lemon peel. I did not have a lemon. I used bottled lemon juice. It was still delicious.
Then! On the first of November, I kicked off NoCoPoMo with an Herbed Beef Roast from the Betty Crocker Cookbook! And it was a big fat flop. Boohiss. It happens. I’m not going to post the recipe, because I wouldn’t recommend it. But I will tell you what was wrong with it. It didn’t start off well, really. I had a smaller roast than was called for, which happens every time I cook because there are only two of us. I thought I could put it in our little crock pot (the one I have never used) but it was a bit too big. And it was way too small for the crock pot I usually use. So I threw in a bunch of vegetables to fill it up. The recipe calls for 1 cup of balsamic or red wine vinegar as the only liquid added to the roast. This seemed quite excessive to me, so I put in half vinegar and half beef broth. And I used red wine vinegar, because we have a ton of that. The whole roast tasted so much like vinegar that we had pucker lips while we were eating it and decided not to make it again. I think it would have been better with balsamic, and maybe even more beef broth and less vinegar. Oh well, we ate it and it was fine.
Since that roast did not turn out so well, I tried another recipe. This one is from Better Homes and Gardens the Ultimate Slow Cooker Book. As usual, I didn’t follow the recipe exactly.
- 2 1/2 – 3 lb. beef chuck roast
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes w/ basil, garlic, & oregano – undrained
- 10.5 oz can condensed French onion soup
- 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 16 oz package frozen sweet pepper & onion stir-fry vegetables (or 1 chopped pepper & 1 chopped onion – wait to chop until needed)
- 1 1/2 cups instant white rice (or not)
Put meat in slow cooker; add thyme, cayenne pepper, tomatoes, French onion soup, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 4-4 1/2 hours. Turn to high and add peppers, onions, and rice. Cook for 30 min.
I used fresh peppers and onions instead of frozen, and I didn’t use rice at all. I think I made potato pancakes instead. This one was pretty good, but it’s a bit of an onion overload if you don’t love onions.
Have I mentioned how I have a habit of breaking slow cookers? One just stopped working in the middle of making a meal, and I broke the knob off this one approximately the 4th time I used it. Now it requires a wrench for operation, but it still works otherwise!
Finally, this past weekend I made pulled pork. I made it on Saturday so we had to sit at home and smell it all day, but it was definitely worth it in the end. We actually had dinner at about 3pm when the pork was finished cooking because we couldn’t wait any longer!
This recipe is also from Better Homes and Gardens the Ultimate Slow Cooker Book. And! I followed the recipe! Exactly! This never happens!
- 3 to 3 1/2 lbs boneless pork shoulder
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 12 oz bottle chili sauce
- 2 tbsp packed brown sugar
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Put pork in slow cooker, combine remaining ingredients and pour over pork. Cook on low for 10-11 hours or high for 5-6 hours. When finished, pull pork into shreds, return to crock pot, mix with sauce, enjoy.
The pulled pork was really good, but I think we’d prefer the good old pour-bottle-of-your-favorite-barbeque-sauce-over-pork-and-cook method.
OK maybe I didn’t follow ALL the directions – I used a bone-in cut and all the meat fell right off! Isn’t that beautiful!