The holiday season provides a plethora of added activities. Christmas parties, volunteering, baking, activities for the kids, and the list goes on. As if the life of a homeschool mom isn’t busy enough. Just getting the weekly laundry, cooking and cleaning under control is enough to keep any mom hustling and bustling. Now add Christmas.
Rather than trying to be super-mom, I’ve resorted to placing limitations on myself this time of year. Take preparing meals, for instance. This is the time of year that I put any challenging gourmet attempt on hold and bust out the simple, easy, one-pot, slow cooker meals. This way, I have more time throughout the rest of my day to focus on the “extras.”
I’ll admit, I’m a bit picky when it comes to using a slow cooker. I’ve had an aversion to it since when I first entered the domestic life I would attempt any and every “cream of mushroom soup” recipe known to man. The end product would always result in a mushy, flavorless mess. Rather than the ingredients blending together in harmonious bliss, we would taste a strange, metallic flavor leaving us utterly disappointed at the end of the day.
After some searching and experimenting, I’ve found a few tried and true recipes that have been working well for me in the slow cooker. Recipes packed with flavor, calling everyone in my family back for seconds!
Consisting of only two ingredients to throw in the slow cooker, this comfort food aims to please. Simply take a four pound pork loin and trim the fat. Place in the slow cooker and pour ¾ of a bottle (or homemade) barbecue sauce in with the meat. Set on low and cook for 8 hours. Remove from the slow cooker and pull the pork apart with two forks. Serve with the remaining ¼ bottle of barbeque sauce on large buns with coleslaw! We love this meal in our home!
You know those rotisserie chickens you can buy at the grocery store? You can actually create a similar experience at home. Smother your chicken with your favorite seasonings and place on four balls of aluminum foil in your slow cooker. This prevents it from sticking to the bottom. Instead of aluminum foil, I use potatoes and then throw them on the serving dish with the chicken when all’s said and done. That’s it. You’ll want to cook this recipe on high, rather than low to get it nice and crispy. This cooks for 4-6 hours.
Chicken Tikka Masala
This recipe is a big hit with company. If I want to focus on getting the house ready when company is on the way then this is the perfect recipe to prepare in the morning and let simmer throughout the day. The Indian spices fill your house preparing you for the delicious meal to come.
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized chunks
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons garam masala
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 large onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon sugar and cook
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 cups heavy cream
Combine all the ingredients except cornstarch and heavy cream in a large bowl and mix to coat the chicken well. Pour into slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. 30 minutes before serving, mix cornstarch with heavy cream and add to the slow cooker. Remove lid and stir often to thicken the sauce. Serve over rice.
If I know I have a busy day planned that won’t allow me much time to prepare a decent breakfast, then sometimes I’ll grab a bag of dried hominy (not the canned stuff) and throw it in the slow cooker the night before. For each cup of dried hominy, add ½ stick of butter, 2 tablespoons of salt and six cups of water. Cook on low overnight and wake up to a prepared meal in the morning!
Beef and Potato Soup
This hearty meal is great for those cold, winter days. Brown one pound of ground beef or venison with half an onion, two cloves of garlic, one stalk of celery and your favorite spices, (I use cajan). Pour (2) 32 ounce cartons of chicken broth (or homemade stock) into the slow cooker. Add four chopped carrots, 6 chopped small potatoes and a bag of frozen corn. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Add a handful of spinach to the soup 3 minutes prior to serving.