Nourishing Crockpot Carnival: My Crockpot, My Friend

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She may not see as much use in the summertime, but come fall and winter, my crockpot is my very good friend.

I think my favorite thing about using a crockpot is that all it takes is a small time investment in the morning, usually as we’re finishing up breakfast and I’m tidying the kitchen. That small amount of time (usually no more than 5-15 minutes) ensures that by dinnertime, there is a hot and nourishing meal waiting for us with no added effort or dishes on my part!

Lindsay must love her crockpot as much as I do, because today she’s hosting a Nourishing Crockpot Carnival over at Passionate Homemaking! I’m joining in by sharing some of my frequently-used recipes and favorite ways of using this handy, time-saving appliance!

Broccoli Beef- Really delicious, really easy asian style broccoli and beef to go over rice.

Chili- This isn’t specifically a crockpot recipe (it’s my regular recipe that I wrote up as a guest post for The Nourishing Gourmet), but sometimes I make it that way. I use the same basic ingredients, but I pre-cook the beans and meat, then add it all to the crockpot at the same time, including the seasonings. I would set it for 6-8 hours on low, or about 3-4 on high.

Crockpot Chicken and Quinoa- A lovely stew using quinoa to bulk it up, rather than potatoes or another grain like barley. I often make this for a simple Sunday night dinner during the winter.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew- I’ve tweaked this recipe slightly to make it healthier and more to our liking. I use chopped onions while sauteeing the meat instead of doing them on their own at the end (and I find 3 onions a bit too much- more like 1-2 is fine). I substitute the 2 cups of boiling water with 2 cups of beef bone broth instead (doesn’t need to be boiling). It usually needs a bit of extra salt to make up for the soup mix. I use regular, chopped carrots instead of baby carrots. And if you don’t have red wine, apple cider vinegar makes a good substitution.

Beezie’s Black Bean Soup- A super frugal recipe that makes a huge amount of soup with a kick! I soak the beans overnight and skip Step 1, then just cook them as in Step 2. Also, I use brown rice instead of white, so it needs to be added much earlier than 20 minutes (more like 40-60 minutes).

As well as these recipes, here are a few other ways that my crockpot sees a lot of use:

1) Cooking a roast.

I like to marinate mine in buttermilk or kefir (as per one of the Nourishing Tradition’s recipes), so I put it in the pot, pour the cultured dairy over it, and let it sit in the fridge overnight. The next morning I add a bit of apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, some garlic cloves and a small chopped onion, plus a bit of liquid for making gravy with the drippings. Sometimes I add other herbs like thyme or dill (but not both together!). If I’m in the mood for cooking up my veggies in the crockpot, I will add some diced potatoes, carrots, celery, etc. to the pot also. We usually eat some of the roast the first night, and I use the leftovers to make other meals, like fajitas, stew, etc.

2) Roast a whole chicken.

After breakfast, I rinse off my chicken and put it in, breast side up. I add a few pats of butter, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, throw in some garlic cloves, and sprinkle it with sage (sometimes I put in lemon wedges, too). I let this cook until the mid-late afternoon, then I pull it out and separate all the meat from the bone. I put the meat in 1 cup packages for the freezer and use them in lots of different meals (pastas, soups, casseroles, chicken salad, etc.). Then I…

3) Make Chicken Broth.

I put all the bones right back into the crockpot after removing the meat and leave any drippings in the pot as well. I add a few Tbsp of apple cider vinegar, and then pour a couple quarts of cold water over the bones. I put it on low overnight. In the morning, I add a bunch of veggie scraps from my bag in the freezer (carrots, celery, onions, etc.) and let it simmer away all day on low. That evening, I add some parsley, sea salt, maybe some thyme, etc. and give it 10-20 minutes more, then I pour it through a strainer and put the broth in the fridge overnight to cool. The next day, I put it in jars to freeze for whenever I need chicken broth (it’s handy to have it in ice cube size servings as well).

You might also be interested in the post Making Cooking Easier: Using Your Slow Cooker, which includes several other ideas for letting your slow cooker make life easier (read the comments as well for some more great ideas).

Do you use a crockpot very often? What types of things do you use it for? Any recipes to share?

About The Author

This post was brought to you by one of Keeper of the Home's fantastic guest posters!

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Comments

  1. When cooking a whole chicken, do you add any liquid or is the juice from the chicken enough?

  2. Wonderful crockpot ideas!!! I was wondering though, for cooking the whole chicken do you put the crockpot on low or on high?

  3. I’m new to your blog–WONDERFUL ideas!! I’ve been looking for more information on how to use my crockpot because I love the recipes I do use. Thanks for posting. :-)

  4. What fabulous comments! Please tell me what brand crockpots you ladies utilize. My MIL gave me a smart pot and I dont think it is so smart. ;-) It cooks likes a microwave on steroids! I will leave my chicken overnight and in the AM it is boiling! Not like any crock I have had before. The meat tastes lifeless and often just falls apart, not the chicken from the bones but the meat itself. Bleeeecky!

    Katherine, I also found that the biggest danger with crockpots was leaving them and having them burn the counter when they occasionally malfunction. I have since placed mine on an unglazed floor tile on the counter (put felt spots on the back), on the stovetop, or a trivet. I can go and know that my crock is safe.

  5. LOVE the crockpot. I always pray my house doesn’t burn down while I’m away at work. My fav: pulled pork sandwhiches. yum.
    .-= Katherine´s last blog ..Make Your Own Granola Bars =-.

  6. Thanks for participating Steph! I love your recipes and will be adding them to my list. ;) Keep up the good work!
    .-= Lindsay @ Passionate Homemaking´s last blog ..Our Jesse Tree: A Focused Advent Celebration =-.

  7. What a great idea! I love the thought of using the crock pot more, but do want it to be nourishing ~ Thanks for sharing your recipes.

    Blessings,
    Camille
    .-= Camille´s last blog ..The Art of Sewing =-.

  8. For the chicken quinoa recipe, any substitution ideas for the wine? I know you use normally whole chickens, like me, so when you do something like this in the crockpot, how do you use a chicken breast or thigh or whatever? I never buy my chickens in “parts” so I then have pre-cooked meat…which I haven’t figured out how to then use it in the crockpot. So, so far we’ve only done bean or beef based meals in it. Any ideas? What do you do?

    • @Nola, For the wine, I substitute apple cider vinegar. You could lower the amount slightly and then add more to taste.

      As for the chicken, I don’t really buy chicken “parts” either, but usually just whole. I would just add the cooked meat much closer to the time that we eat it, basically long enough for all the flavors to mix and the chicken to get warm enough.

      • @Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home, Thank you! Such a simple idea for making use of my precooked chicken in crock pots I had not thought of! You have no idea how much this helped me!!!! I think I will plan crock pot recipes all next week now, LOL! By the way I have my whole chicken in the crock pot right now as per your instructions. NEver done that before.

  9. I also love my crockpot! Soups are a favourite of mine (which I posted on my blog as a part of the carnival!). I like your idea of a roast though! That’s not something I’d thought of, but I’d like to try! Thanks for sharing.

  10. I have started to use my crockpot more, although still not enough! I agree that it really makes meal preparation so much easier. I think one of my next crockpot ventures will be roasting a chicken as I’ve heard a lot about this lately.
    .-= Greta @ Mom Living Healthy´s last blog ..Homemade Pizza Night =-.

  11. Okay, I am SO trying out the crockpot beef and broccoli and the chicken and quinoa!

    The crock pot … I truly don’t think it gets the credit it deserves! :-)

    (PS – I recently found your blog and your e-books and keep finding myself reading along and nodding my head. Fantastic writing! Thank you for sharing these bits and pieces of your life and all the information you pass along. One of the things that makes blogging so great is the community it builds!)

    Best Wishes,
    Kara
    .-= Kara´s last blog ..Daybook: Monday =-.

  12. This is a great idea for a carnival! I will have to come back later and check it out more. We love our crockpot too, as you know from when I did my guest post! I love that ours is so big- 7 quarts.

    I posted my favourite recipe back then in the comments but I will post it again since its such a great one I want to share it with anyone new!

    I thought I would also quickly share my favourite crock pot meal. So easy and this is the one I usually serve for guests! I often double this or add more potoates if needed to suit the people. Everyone seems to love it!

    Meatloaf in a stew

    1/4 cup water
    5-6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
    6 medium carrots, peeled and cut into pieces
    sprinkle of salt and pepper
    1 large egg, fork beaten
    1/3 cup ketchup (I use tomatoe paste)
    2 tsp beef bouillon powder (I leave out)
    1/3 cup finely chopped onion
    1/4 tsp ground thyme (I use 1 tsp)
    1/4 cup water
    1/3 cup cracker crumbs or plain rice cakes crumbled
    1 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp pepper
    1 1/2 lbs ground beef

    Pour first amount of water into 6 Q slow cooker. Add potato and carrot. Sprinkle with first amounts of salt and pepper. Combine next 9 ingredients in bowl. Mix well. Add ground beef. Mix well. Place over veggies. Cover. Cook on low 8-10 hours or high 4-5 hours. Serves 6. (Note: my slow cooker does it a bit faster time).