Archive for the ‘Crockpot’ Category

Spring has definitely sprung and today would have been a great night to BBQ.  BUT since I had some stew meat to use up, I decide to pull out the good old reliable slow cooker perhaps one last time until the Fall (?) and make a nice hearty beer infused beef carbonnade.  It’s a Belgian dish and I choose this time to use a dark beer or more specifically Rickards Dark (an English style porter) because I had it on hand. 

I initially found the flavour quite strong so I added in some beef broth to help mellow it a bit.  And take the edge off it did….however the flavour of the dark ale was still present (and yummy by all accounts). We served it with a cheesy mashed potato.

Adapted from The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes

Crockpot Beef Carbonnade

2 tbsp oil
1/2 half a package bacon
2 lbs stewing beef
2 medium onions, sliced thin
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp old bay seasoning (or celery seeds if you have on hand)
3 bay leaves
1 tsp seasoning salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 cups beer (or beer/beef broth combo)


Season your stew meat with salt & pepper.

In a sauce pan over medium-high heat add a glug of oil and then brown your beef stew in batches. Transfer to Slowcooker.

Next add in your bacon and cook until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towel. Set aside. Once cool cut into 1 inch pieces and add to the slow cooker.

In pan with remaining bacon fat add in your sliced onions. Cook until soft. Add garlic, thyme, old bay seasoning, bay leaves, another dash of salt & pepper and cook for 1 minute or so. Sprinkle sugar over mixture in pan and stir well. Add flour and cook for another minute (stir as you go). Finally add your beer/broth combo, increase your heat a little and cook until mixture thickens.

Pour saucepan mixture over beef & bacon.  I give it a little stir, cover and cook on low for about 5-6 hours or until meat is tender. Remove bay leaves and serve immediately.

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Wanted an easy dish so I dug this one out one night last week and made it for dinner. 3 words or less: Good Comfort Food. 

Pick a white wine you like so you can enjoy it with your chicken & dumplings.

Adapted from Mable Hoffman’s Crockery Cookery

Chicken & Herb Dumplings

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil or canola oil
1 medium onion, sliced in chunks
2-3lbs of fryer chicken (thighs, thigh/legs attached)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp thyme
3 bay leaves
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine (chardonnay is nice)
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 cup packaged biscuit mix
1-2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
6 tbsp milk
Salt & Pepper

In a pan heat your oil & butter over medium-high. Season your chicken pieces then place in pan careful not to overcrowd pan. Get your chicken nice and crispy brown on one side, than flip the chicken pieces and do the same on the other side. Remove from heat and set aside.

In crock pot add your onions, garlic, marjoram, thyme, bay leaves, broth, wine and a little pinch of salt & pepper. Add your browned chicken pieces on top and cook on low 6-8 hours or until chicken is nice and tender.  Fish out your bay leaves and discard. Turn control to HIGH.

In a small bowl mix together cornstarch and water stirring to combine.  Add to chicken mixture.  Now put the lid back on crock pot while you make your dumplings.

In a medium bowl combine biscuit mix with parsley and milk, mixing with a fork until moistened. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto chicken mixture in crock pot. Put cover back on and cook approximately 30 minutes more or until dumplings are cooked in centers (test with fork or toothpick).

Bring entire crock pot to the table and serve away.   Rice, mashed potatoes, even egg noodles goes nicely with this comfort dish. 

Serves 5-6

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Good soup on a cold, fall/winter day. Many variations of Minestrone soup available, this is one version we enjoy. We prefer to cook our pasta and add it separately so as it sits and/or overnight it does not soak up all the soup broth.

Adapted from Mable Hoffman’s Crockery Cookery

Beef Minestrone Soup, Crockpot

1 lb beef stew meat
6 cups beef broth
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced (dried works too if you do not have fresh)
Splash (tbsp) worcestershire sauce
Splash hot sauce
1 (16oz) can diced tomatoes
2 cups napa cabbage, chopped
1 (15oz) can cannellini or white navy beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 cup zucchini, grated
1 1/2 cup cooked macaroni
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Let’s begin…
In a skillet over medium high heat, add a little oil and quickly sear your stew beef in small batches. Transfer to crock pot.

Next add in your broth, onions, thyme, parsley, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, tomatoes, cabbage and salt/pepper to taste.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. At about 8 hours add in your beans, zucchini and cook another 30 minutes or so.

Meanwhile cook your pasta, drain, mix in some butter and set aside.

When serving ladle some soup into a bowl, add some macaroni and top with a good heaping of parmesan. Yum.

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I come from a good mix of Ukranian, German and Romanian decent. As such I grew up eating Holubtsi (cabbage rolls), Borscht, Sauer Kraut (fermenting somewhere in the house) and Pierogi. There were all kinds of German baking and pasteries that came our way regularly as well. And so yum.

While I prefer to buy my Sauer Kraut because I only have time to make wine, (not sauer kraut!) I do make certain items from scratch. Cabbage rolls are one of them. Easy to prepare and delicious to eat. Even easier is when they are done in your crockpot. My mother would make them with tomato juice, nothing else and bake them in an oven. I prefer tomato sauce and I love my crockpot! If you’ve never rolled a cabbage roll before – give it a try! You will find it easier than you think.

Adapted from Mable Hoffman’s Crockery Cookery

Cabbage Rolls

Small head cabbage
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/4 – 1/2 cup finely minced onion
1 lb ground beef (lean works)
1/3 cup uncooked basmati rice
23oz (680ml) tomato sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste (1 tsp each)

Here we go…
Immerse cabbage leaves in a large pot of boiling water and cook about 3 minutes or until limp. Drain leaves and set aside.

In bowl combine egg, milk, onion, beef, rice, salt and pepper.

Depending on the size of your cabbage leaf, place 2-3 tbsp meat filling in middle of leaf. You do not want to much that it over flows or too less that it is not enough to fill the cabbage leaf. Tuck in sides and roll ends over meat mixture. Set aside. Continue on until you have used all your meat filling. You may have leftover cabbage leaves.

In bowl mix together tomato sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice and worcestershire sauce. Spoon a little on the bottom of your slow cooker. Place your cabbage rolls into the crockpot covering the bottom first and then layering as necessary. Pour the sauce over the cabbage rolls, cover and cook on low 6-7 hours.

Sometimes I add in even more tomato sauce since we enjoy alot of sauce with our cabbage rolls. These freeze well and make approx. 12 cabbage rolls.

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Crockpot or Slowcooker?  You will see I can not decide which term to use in this post.  Either way in the photo of the casserole I have not included the bread crumb Topping.  Sometimes they like it…other times they don’t. And so this time it was grated cheese as the Topper of choice.

Slow Cooker recipes are all the rage again. Everywhere you look there are slowcooker recipes showing up left, right and centre. Even Rachael Ray, a confessed non crockpot fan has been presenting crockpot recipes on her show the past 2 years (perhaps ratings were low?).

In August 2011 many people became aware of the Crockin Girls, (formally Crockpot Girls) a couple of Southern ladies who decided to team up, create a page on Facebook and share some of their crockpot recipes. What they didn’t plan on was getting over 1 million followers in a matter of weeks! Who knew there was such a void in the market for crockpot recipes.

As for me – I am happy to see the explosion of slowcooker recipes since I’ve been using mine for the last 20 years and love the variety of recipes to try and of course dinner ready at the end of a long day.

Here is one that 3/4 Bakers enjoy.  Think of this as a healthy (no additives) slowcooker hamburger helper. You can use any ground meat you want…I’ve tried both ground beef and chicken.

Adapted from The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes

Crockpot Cheesy Hamburger Casserole

1-2 tbsp oil
1-1.5 lb ground meat
1 onion, diced
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp (each) seasoning salt and pepper
1/2-1 cup beef broth (change to chicken if using ground chicken or turkey)
1 cup tomato sauce
4oz cream cheese softened, cut into cubes
1 pkg egg noodles, cooked just to al dente and buttered

1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup shredded old cheddar cheese
2 tbsp butter, melted
Mix all topping ingredients together and set aside

Get Busy
In a saucepan heat your oil and cook your ground meat until nicely browned. Set aside.

In same saucepan cook your onions and celery adding another drop of oil as necessary. Cook until softened. Add garlic, mustard, oregano, salt, pepper and cook for about 1 minute stirring continuously.  Then add in your beef broth and tomato sauce stirring until blended.  Add in your cream cheese and stir until melted.

Now you are ready to assemble your meal. Spray your slow cooker with Pam. Spoon in approx. 1 cup of cooked ground meat spreading all over bottom. Add a layer of cooked noodles and then some sauce. Repeat until all ingredients used, finishing with the sauce.

Now alternately you can pour all the meat on the bottom, spread all the noodles on top and then pour the sauce all over (covering entirely) the noodles.  Both ways work.

Turn on low.  In my slowcooker this meal is done in 3-4 hours.

Your topping (if using) goes on the last 30 minutes of cooking (or until bubbling), just to melt the cheese a little. During this time you can drink some wine and ask your partner to make a salad!  Enjoy.

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I grew up eating roasts that had been over cooked and had absolutely no flavour.  I remember covering it with HP Sauce and trying to choke it down since I was “made” to eat it.   Two things came from this, A) I am not a huge Roast Beef fan and B) I will never force my kids to eat something they don’t like!!

I am however someone who loves to cook and is married to a Carnivore of English decent (think beef & potatoes).    Plus I want my kids to grow up enjoying a wide range of foods.  And so we/I cook Roasts several different ways (indirect grilling, rotisserie, slow cooker, dutch oven) and it always has to have a ton of flavour!

I came across this recipe awhile ago and have adapted it for our family making both with vodka and also red wine.   If you can not find shiitake mushrooms use white or brown button mushrooms…they work just as well!   

Tip.  You can make this recipe and/or any crockpot recipe the night before…get everything ready the night before and put the covered stoneware right into your fridge.  The next morning pull it out..plop it into it’s home, plug it in and get on with your day knowing supper will be ready when you get home.  I did this alot when I worked outside of the house and my first born was in a dayhome!

The flavour in this recipe is supurb.

Adapted from: The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes, Judith Finlayson

East-West Pot Roast With Shiitake Mushroom Gravy

1 package dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 beef pot roast (blade), approx 3-4lbs
4 large french shallots, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp gingerroot, minced
salt & pepper (1 tsp each)
8 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
1/3 cup vodka
1.5 cup beef broth
2 tbsp soya sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp water

1. Soak shiitake mushrooms in a hot tub (boiling water) for 30 minutes to plump.  Strain through a sieve or colander reserving liquid.  Pat mushrooms lightly to dry and finely chop.  Set aside.

2. While the shiitake mushrooms are in their hot tub brown your roast over med-high heat in a pan with oil (make sure oil has been pre-heated and is sizzling).  Once all sides on roast are brown deposit into your crockpot.

3. In same pan with oil and roast drippings saute your shallots and cook until soft.  Add garlic, gingerroot, salt, pepper and reserved plump mushrooms.  Cook 1 minute (stirring) then add fresh mushrooms and cook 1 minute (stirring).  Add your vodka and cook 1 minute.  Finally add reserved mushroom soaking liquid and beef broth bringing to a boil.

Tip. If you do not have dried shiitake mushrooms simply mince 4 button mushrooms and use in place of dried ones in recipe.  I also add a splash of worchestershire sauce to the beef broth to give it another flavour boost.

4. Once boiling pour entire mixture over roast in crockpot and cook on Low for 8 hours or High for 4-5 hours.  Once roast is tender transfer to a plate and using a slotted spoon, remove solids from cooking liquid and arrange around roast.   Cover with foil to keep warm.

5. Almost done….in a pan over medium heat, bring cooking liquid (you get this from the crockpot) to a boil.  Add soya sauce (careful here depending the type of soya sauce it can make it salty), oyster sauce, hoisin sauce.  Cook approx. 5 minutes to reduce and concentrate flavours.  Stir in cornstarch mixture and cook a minute or two until it thickens. 

Serve gravy with roast & mushrooms.  Sides with this dish would be rice, mashed potatoes or buttered egg noodles and your choice of veg or salad.

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On a cold day this is an aromatic soup that warms your soul!  With an Asian flair…it takes chicken soup to another level and makes you think you are in one of those tiny little hole in the wall vietnamese restaurants. Although not quite as good as their Pho…..it is Scrumptious!

Note: we finely shred the carrots because we get better results with the kids!

Adapted from Rachael Ray’s Book of 10

Ginger Carrot Chicken Noodle Bowl

2 Tbsp Olive Oil (or canola)
2 chicken breasts cut into small pieces (I pull it out of the freezer and shave it while still frozen)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced or shaved
1 cup finely shredded carrot
salt & pepper to taste
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp five spice powder
8 cups chicken stock (or more)
1/2 lb vermicelli noodles (cooked)
3 green onions cut on the diagonal
1-2 cups fresh bean sprouts

Heat a pot over medium heat adding oil. Add chicken and lightly brown. Add the garlic and ginger stirring for another minute. Then add the cumin, five spice powder, salt & pepper and carrots stirring to combine another minute. Add stock, bring to a boil and simmer (I simmer for at least 60 minutes if I have time to develop the flavours).

Ladle into serving bowls topping with reserved green onions and bean sprouts.

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I haven’t experimented too much with Cassoulet’s….but after finding, making and enjoying this one….have decided to dabble a little more in the French Cuisine known as Cassoulet.

This simplified version is made in the crock pot and will be put into our winter fare rotation ;).

Adapted from Mable Hoffman’s Crockery Cookery

Chicken Cassoulet – Crockpot

3-4 pieces chicken thigh/leg combo or 2-3 lbs bone in thighs
1 small leek, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
salt & pepper to taste
1 19oz can small navy beans
1/2 lb smoked sausage links, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/4 cup dry white wine

In a slow cooker combine chicken, leek, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Top with beans and sausage. Add wine. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours (give or take) until chicken is tender.

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I love my crockpot.  Nothing better then smelling the aroma of supper cooking  on a cold day…or a day where there are evening activities and not much time to cook…or really any day works!

This casserole is surprisingly delightful.  We love barley and this dish a perfect accompaniment to pork or ham….although husband indicated it would be great with ice cream!

As this is a kid friendly recipe consider getting the kids involved with helping…they can dice, slice and toss into the slow cooker!

Recipe adapted from Mable Hoffman’s Crockery Cookery

Orange Barley Casserole

2 cups orange juice
1/3 cup barley
1/4 cup thompson style raisins, sliced
1/4 cup dried apricots, diced
1/4 cup chopped dates
1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced
3 tbsp chopped pecans

Combine all ingredients in your slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 3-4 hours. Serve warm!

6-8 servings

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The nights seem crazy busy these days with two events/activities happening on some evenings. And these are the nights I need to have supper ready and on the table early. And so besides the fat content in the steak here is a pretty tasty & healthy crockpot meal. The toppings make it delicious!!

Crockpot Steak with Black Bean Gravy

3 – slices bacon, chopped
2lbs – chuck or blade steak
1 – onion, finely chopped
2 – cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp each – dried oregano, cumin seeds (or cumin), salt, cracked black peppercorns
1 – jalapeno pepper, chopped finely (you can omit if you don’t like spicy)
1 – 19oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 cup – beef broth
zest & juice of one lime

In a pan cook bacon until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towel. Drain most of fat and add steak (in batches if necessary) browning on both sides. Transfer to crockpot.

In same pan fry onion until softened. Add garlic, cumin seeds, salt, pepper and jalapeno pepper cooking for approx. 1 minute. Add beans, broth stirring to combine and bringing to a boil. Stir in reserved bacon and lime zest/juice. (side note….the bacon tends to get very soft/mushy after cooking for several hours…so next time I might try adding the bacon in within the last hour of cooking.)

Pour contents of pan into crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours. Serve piping hot with any of the following toppings: finely chopped red or green onion, finely chopped tomato, finely chopped cilantro, shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar Cheese, sour cream and salsa.

A side salad and fluffly brown rice finishes the meal!

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