Crock Pot Cooking for Families


With the summer heat inside and outside of my home, I am in need of ways to cook meals without heating up my entire kitchen by using my stovetop and/or oven. So, I have once again pulled out the Crockpot to cook up some summer meals that don’t overheat my kitchen.

I found some great tips on converting my favorite recipes to be cooked in the Crockpot over at http://www.about.com/. I though I would share a few of them with you along with a perfect summer crock pot meal.

Crockpots may vary but generally, the LOW setting is about 200 degrees F, and the HIGH setting is about 300 degrees F. One hour on HIGH is approximately equal to 2 to 2-1/2 hours on LOW. Most Crockpot recipes recommend cooking 8-10 hours on LOW. Some recipes recommend the HIGH setting based on the nature and texture of the food. You will have to judge your recipe accordingly. For example, beef cuts will be better cooked on LOW for 8-10 hours to get a more tender texture, where chicken can be cooked on HIGH 2-1/2 to 3 hours.

• Reduce the amount of liquid used in most oven recipes when using the LOW setting, since the crockpot retains all moisture that usually evaporates when cooking in the oven. Add liquids for sauces about an hour before done. You will normally end up with more liquid at the end of cooking times, not less. A general rule is to reduce liquids by half, unless rice or pasta is in the dish.
• Spices may need to be reduced or increased. Whole herbs and spices increase their flavoring power in crockpot cooking while ground spices may have lost some flavor. Add ground spices during the last hour of cooking. Whole leaf and herbs will probably need to be reduced by half.
• Rice, noodles, macaroni, seafood, Chinese vegetables and milk do not hold up well when cooked 8-10 hours. Add these to sauces or liquid about 2 hours before serving when using LOW setting (or 1 hour on HIGH). If you want to use milk in an 8-10 hour recipe, use evaporated milk.

• Browning meats before cooking is a personal choice. It’s not necessary, but it will reduce the fat content of some meats if you brown it before cooking.

• Sautéing vegetables (like onions, etc.) is not necessary (except for eggplant which should be parboiled or sautéed prior, due to its strong flavor). Just add them to the pot with everything else. You may wish to reduce quantities of stronger vegetables since they will permeate the other foods in the crockpot with their full flavor.
• Dry beans can be cooked overnight on LOW as an alternative to soaking. Cover with water and add 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Drain and combine with other ingredients. Be sure beans are softened before adding to any sugar or tomato mixture.

• For best results, use long-grain parboiled/converted raw rice in recipes, and use standard liquid amounts instead of reducing the liquid. For mixed recipes requiring pasta, it’s best to cook the pasta separately to al dente texture and add just before serving.

• For soups, add water only to cover ingredients. If thinner soup is desired, more liquid can be added at the end of the cooking time.

General Oven to Crockpot Cooking Time Conversions15 to 30 minutes oven cooking to 2 to 2-1/2 hours on HIGH or 4 to 6 hours on LOW crock pot
35 to 45 minutes oven cooking to 2 to 3 hours on HIGH or 6 to 8 hours on LOW crock pot
50 minutes to 3 hours oven cooking to 4 to 5 hours on HIGH or 8 to 18 hours on LOW crock pot

Note: Most uncooked meat and vegetable combinations will require at least 8 hours on LOW.

General Crockpot Cooking Times for Specific Foods
Pot Roast 8 to 12 hours on LOW or 4 to 5 hours on HIGH
Stew 10 to 12 hours on LOW or 4 to 5 hours on HIGH
Ribs 6 to 8 hours on LOW
Stuffed Peppers 6 to 8 hours on LOW or 3 to 4 hours on HIGH
Brisket 10 to 12 hours on LOW
Swiss Steak 8 to 10 hours on LOW
Corned Beef & Cabbage 6 to 10 hours on LOW or 4 to 5 hours on HIGH
Casserole 4 to 9 hours on LOW or 2 to 4 hours on HIGH (stirring occasionally)
Rice 5 to 9 hours on LOW or 2 to 3 hours on HIGH
Meat Loaf 8 to 9 hours on LOW
Dry Beans 1 to 2 hours on HIGH plus 8 to 9 hours on LOW
Soup 6 to 12 hours on LOW or 2-6 hours on HIGH
Chicken 7 to 10 hours on LOW or 3 to 4 hours on HIGH
Vegetables 2 to 4 hours on LOW with liquid added
Baked Potato 8 to 10 hours on LOW
Artichoke 6 to 8 hours on LOW or 2-1/2 to 4 hours on high(with water)

Note: Remember to check the owner’s manual for your particular crockpot for full instructions on usage. The above cooking times are only VERY general guidelines.

This week’s Let’s Make a Meal Mondays recipe comes from the cookbook Countertop Magician, by Jyl Steinback.
Chicken Tacos (easy, do-ahead, freeze)

Ingredients:
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 packet taco seasoning mix
1 cup nonfat chicken broth
6 (7-8 inch) low fat flour tortillas
1 cup shredded lettuce
14½ oz can chopped tomatoes ( I use fresh chopped tomatoes)
¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salsa
Nonfat sour cream

Directions:
Combine chicken breasts, taco seasoning, and chicken broth in slow cooker. Cover and cook for 6 to 8 hours on low.

Remove chicken from slow cooker and spoon sauce on top to moisten; shred chicken with a fork.

Place tortillas on paper towel; cover with another paper towel and heat in microwave for 1 to 1½ minutes until warm. Tortillas can also be wrapped in foil and heated in 350 degree oven for 5 to 8 minutes.

Serve with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, cheese, salsa and sour cream.

Do you have a great summer Crockpot recipe? Email it to trisha@247moms.com

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6 Responses

  1. Yum…this sounds great. I will have to give it a try since my family LOVES mexican dinners!!
    Missy

  2. Yum…this sounds great. I will have to give it a try since my family LOVES mexican dinners!!
    Missy

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