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Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Working Mom's Cooking Guide: Embrace Your Crockpot

My mom rarely used a crockpot when I was growing up. We got one for our wedding but I only used it once or twice a year. Then I became a working mom. And the crockpot became my savior! I use it once or twice a week, sometimes more. There are a lot of great recipes out there and you can throw them together in the morning in less than 10 minutes, and come home to a house smelling of a delicious dinner. Don't have a crockpot? Get one! I suggest a 4- or 5-quart size with a removeable ceramic bowl. Then you might one to invest in at least one good crockpot cookbook to get started. I got Dawn Hall's "Busy People's Slow Cooker Cookbook." It's pretty good. All recipes are 7 ingredients or less and low in fat. She also teaches you to prepare "pocket pouches" so you can cook vegetables in the crockpot separately from your main dish. The downside of this book is that a lot of delicious-sounding recipes include Muellers brand pasta which is the only pasta, according to Hall, aside from no-yolk noodles, that will hold up in the crockpot over a day. Still, this cookbook--and others--are a great start.

Some tricks I have learned:
  • Always cook on low when you're leaving it for the day.
  • Start with frozen meat if possible, it will prevent the dish from cooking too fast and drying out while you're at work.
  • Pull unrefrigerated ingredients out the night before so all you have to do in the morning before work is throw it all together.
  • If you have a recipe that calls for browned ground beef, you have two options--brown it the night before and keep it in the fridge, or use a frozen meat substitute, such as Morningstar's Meal Starters "meat" crumbles.
  • The frozen or boxed crockpot meals that you can get now aren't great. But they will do in a pinch. I usually keep a frozen one on hand. They include all ingredients and are VERY easy.
Check out our Recipe Box in realworkingmom.com's Bulletin Board section for some great crockpot recipes: http://realworkingmom.proboards106.com/index.cgi?board=crockpot


  • At 12:36 PM, Blogger Jenn said…

    Love these hints! I need to use our crockpot more. When I do, I am always pleased with the results and I enjoy not having to rush to make something.


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