The crock pot is one of my favorite utensils. I love to know that I will have supper ready whenever we are ready to sit down to dine, without having to worry about it being ready on time. Crockpot cooking does not have to take too much thought. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, and in minutes there is a complete meal in one dish.

Bountiful Black Bean Chili

Black beans are one of the most popular and nourishing beans used in Brazilian cooking, where I grew up. We ate our lunches in school where the national dish of rice and black beans was served every single day. It is full of minerals and a great source of fiber.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds ground turkey breast or extra lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion — finely chopped
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups cooked black beans
  • 1 large can (approx 4 cups) diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 small green pepper diced
  • 1 small red pepper diced
  • 1 small yellow pepper diced
  • 7 oz diced green chilies
  • 1 Tbs. chili powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Directions:

In nonstick skillet over medium heat sear ground meat and garlic until meat is no longer pink; drain. Transfer meat to Crock Pot. Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Cook on “high” for 4 hours or on low for 7 hours.

Serve over a bed of cooked brown rice with a generous serving of sauce.

Preparation time 20 minutes

Serves 8.

Tip: I often omit the meat and make this a vegetarian dish with equally satisfying results

Fabulous Pepper Steak

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds pepper steak or minute steak slices cut into 2 inch strips (have your butcher cut it for you)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder to taste
  • 3 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbs onion soup mix mixed in 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup water
  •  1 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 large green bell peppers cut in strips
  • 1 red pepper cut in strips
  • 2 cups stewed tomatoes from a can, with liquid
  • 3 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste

Directions:

Sprinkle strips of beef with garlic powder to taste. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the vegetable oil and brown the seasoned beef strips. Transfer to a slow cooker.

Mix onion soup with hot water until dissolved, then mix in cornstarch until blended. Pour into the slow cooker with meat. Stir in onion, garlic, stewed tomatoes, soy sauce, sugar, and salt.

Cover, and cook on High for 3 to 4 hours, or on Low for 6 to 8 hours. Add pepper strip in last hour of cooking so it keeps crisp.

Delicious when serve over a bed of couscous, or orzo.

Serves 6

Preparation Time 20 Min

Savory Slow-Cooked Chicken Cacciatore

What can be better than coming home after a long day and having a delicious dinner waiting all ready for you? To achieve such a feat prepare your dinner ingredients in the morning or even the night before. Put everything in the slow cooker and you will come home to this comforting and flavorful topper for cooked pasta.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 pounds cut up chicken
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 can spicy tomato sauce
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, cut into 2-inch-long strips
  • 1 ½ cups chicken soup/water
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 (16 ounce) package broad ribbon pasta or fettuccine, cooked and drained

Directions:

Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until well browned on all sides.

Stir the garlic, Italian seasoning, mushrooms, onions, pepper and 1 cup stock in a 6-quart slow cooker. Add the chicken and turn to coat.

Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours or on LOW for 7 to 8 hours or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken pieces and put it into a dish. Stir the cornstarch and remaining stock in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth. Stir the cornstarch mixture in the cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 10 minutes or until the mixture boils and thickens. Serve with the chicken over your favorite pasta.

Serves 6

Preparation Time 20 Minutes

Vegetable and Chickpeas Curry

This dish is very nutritious as it is delicious. Chickpeas and barley form a full protein thus it is a meal in itself. Feel free to substitute chickpeas for your favorite bean, as well as adding any vegetables you have around.

Ingredients:

  •  2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas), with 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
  • ½ cup pearl barley washed
  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup fresh cut green beans
  • 1 cup sliced carrot
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 2 cups vegetable broth/water
  • 2 to 3 tsp curry powder
  • 1 cup white cooking wine (optional)
  • ¼ cup shredded fresh or frozen basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a 3 ½ - or 4-quart slow cooker, combine cauliflower, garbanzo beans, green beans, carrot, and onion. Stir in broth and curry powder.

Cover and cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours or on HIGH-heat setting for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Stir in cooking wine and basil.

Serves 4 to 6

Preparation 25 minutes

Delicious Crockpot Apple Crisp

This is a delicious dessert that can be made a number of ways, but the tastiest results come out of a crockpot. It is delectable for an occasional treat.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups thin-sliced Granny Smith apples, peeled
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup apple cider
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup transfat free margarine

Directions:

Start cooking your apples in the slow cooker. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, flour, apple cider/juice, oats and cinnamon. With a hand mixer, cut in the margarine until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Sprinkle all that over the apples. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours or until apples are tender. Decorate with a dollop of whip cream and a mint sprig!

Preparation 20 minutes

Serves 6