As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and
create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not
only the world around you but also the world within you.
~President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Friday, April 23, 2010


Last night I got to teach a little class about slowcooking.
I LOVE slowcoking. I find it to be the best way for me to be able to get a meal on the table for my family, and it's also a great way to be able to make enough for large groups, or to take a meal to someone else!
Here is some of the info I gathered to share in the class.

1. Slow cooker recipes are written as if your slowcooker was filled 2/3 to 3/4 full. For example, if your chicken mixure was on the bottom of the slowcooker and it only took up 1/4 of it...then it is going to cook a lot faster than the full recommended cook time.

2. I usually only cook chicken breast recipes for 3 or 4 hours on low. But do keep in mind sometimes certain slowcookers cook quicker than others.

3. Thaw meats before placing in slowcooker.

4. Always put vegetables in first. Vegetables take longer to cook than meats do, so for layering purposes, start with vegetables, then meat, and finally seasonings and small amounts of liquid.

5. Don't add more liquid than a recipe calls for, as liquid is retained. The recipe will get more and more watery as time goes by as the condensation drips onto the food. If you're adapting a traditional recipe, consider reducing the amount of liquid you add, or it might be quite soupy by the time it's ready to serve.

6. Fresh dairy products such as cheese and milk can curdle. Add these near the end of cooking, or substitute canned condensed soups, nonfat dry milk powder or canned evaporated milk.

7. As a general rule, lifting the lid off the slow cooker lengthens the cooking time by 30 minutes to an hour.

8. As foods will cook best if the slowcooker is at least half full, when cooking soups or stews allow a 2-inch space between the food and the top of the crock-pot so ingredients can come to a simmer.

Adapting traditional recipes to slow cooker recipes:
*Generally the low setting is about 200 degrees and the high setting is about 300 degrees. One hour on high is approximately equal to 2 to 2 1/2 hours on low.
*Liquids will not boil away as in conventional cooking. Try reducing the amount of liquid in oven recipes by 1/2 unless there is rice or pasta in the dish.
*Spices may need to be reduced or increased. Whole herbs and spices increase their flavoring power in the slow cooker while ground spices may lose some flavor. Add ground spices during the last hour of cooking. Whole leaf and herbs will probably need to be reduced by half.

What kind of slow cooker do you use?
I think that the most important thing to consider when you're buying a slow cooker is your family size. When considering a size to purchase, keep in mind that the cooker should be 1/2 to 3/4 full for the most efficient cooking.
1 to 2 Quart Mini Slow Cookers: This size slow cooker is generally used for hot dips and spreads or for cooking a 1 or 2 serving dish.
3 to 4 Quart Slow Cookers: This medium size is great for fixing dishes for 3 to 4 people. It also works well for larger quantity dips or appetizers, such as meatballs or chicken wings.
5 to 6 Quart Slow Cookers: A cooker of this size is necessary when preparing a dish that needs to feed more than 4 people. It works great when you need to make a dish to take for holidays or for potluck suppers. It is also useful when trying to make complete meals that consist of meat, potatoes and vegetables in the slow cooker.
7 to 8 Quart Slow Cookers: These extra large slow cookers are used when extra capacity is necessary. They are nice when making meals for large families or when you are having extra guests. They work well when cooking a large chicken and you want to slow cook other vegetables along with it.

* (made a dish every day for one year using a slow cooker

Café Rio Shredded Chicken
5 lbs boneless chicken
1 small bottle Zesty Italian dressing
1 tbsp chili powder
3 cloves minced garlic
Place chicken in slowcooker. In a bowl combine Italian dressing with chili powder and garlic. Once mixed, pour over chicken. Cook on low for 6 hrs. Shred at the last hour using two forks. Continue to cook on low for the last hour.

Café Rio Pulled Pork
6 lbs boneless pork roast
2 cans El Pato (Mexican Tomato Sauce)
1 c. brown sugar
4 cans tomato sauce
Put in slow cooker with ½ cup water. Cook on low for 6 hours (until falls apart). Shred pork and discard drippings. Add sauce and sugar and cook on low for 2 more hours.

Chicken Divine

5 tbsp dry Italian Seasoning
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup
4-6 chicken breasts
Potatoes (enough to make mashed potatoes for everyone---approximately 1 potatoe per person)
Combine first three ingredients in a bowl. Place chicken breasts in slowcooker and spoon soup mixture overtop. Cook on high for 5-6 hours (or until done). During the last half hour of cook time, peel and cook potatoes, drain and mash them. Slice chicken in slowcooker and spoon chicken and sauce over mashed potatoes. Serve with broccoli, carrots or vegetable salad.
Serves 6.

Asian Chicken & Noodles
1 lb. chicken breast or thighs cut into bite sized pieces 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter 1/4 tsp salt
¼ cup soy sauce 2 garlic cloves minced
1 tbsp rice vinegar 1 1/2 cups shredded carrot
1 tbsp lime juice 1/4 lb. snow peas
1 ½ tsp of oil 1/2 a red bell pepper
1 tsp hot chili sauce with garlic (Srirachi)

Combine all ingredients (except chicken, carrots, peas and red pepper) in medium sized bowl and whisk until smooth. Toss chicken into mixture and put into 3 quart crock pot. Cook on low for 3-4 hours (watch to see that the peanut butter sauce doesn't start burning.)
About 20 minutes before serving, cook 8 oz. of linguine according to package directions. For the last 2 minutes of cooking add the following ingredients: 1 1/2 cups shredded carrot, 1/4 lb. snow peas trimmed and halved cross-wise, 1/2 of a red bell pepper cut in strips.
Reserve 1/3 - 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and add to the crockpot mixture. Drain pasta and vegetables and place in a large bowl. Pour chicken mixture over pasta. Toss well. If crockpot is large enough, just pour the pasta into the pot and mix and then serve from the crockpot.

Slowcooker Hamburgers
1 lb. hamburger made into patties (or ready made patties) 1 tsp Worcheshire sauce
1 cup of ketchup ½ cup bbq sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar 2 Tbsp Cornstarch (to thicken if desired)
6 Tbsp onion (chopped)
¾ cup water
3Tbsp vinegar
1 Tbsp prepared mustard
Brown hamburgers in frying pan. Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Place browned hamburgers in bottom of slowcooker. Pour sauce overtop. Cook for 5-6 hrs on low.
Serve on buns with fresh veggies and salad. Very tasty!

Sloppy Joes
1 ½ lbs ground beef 2 Tbsp Worcheshire sauce
1 onion chopped finely 2 Tbsp prepared mustard
1 cup grated potato 1 ½ Tbsp flour
½ - 1 cup ketchup 3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp vinegar
Brown meat and onions in frying pan, add salt and pepper to taste if desired. Drain excess fat if any and add grated potato in with the meat mixture. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Place meat mixture in slowcooker, then pour the sauce overtop. Mix in well. Cook on low for 5-7 hrs. Serve on hamburger buns with fresh veggies and salad. Great recipe for large gatherings!
Meat can be cooked ahead of time to make it even simpler!

Chicken Dinner

in bottom of Crock Pot put a layer of hash browns (defrost first to speed up cooking time)
then lay chicken breasts over top (defrost first to decrease cooking time as well)
You could put a layer of defrosted french style green beans on top of has browns, this is optional

Mix together:
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
Cumin or Italian spices

Spread mix over chicken. Sprinkle spices over top. Bake on high for 4-5 hours..... may not need this long if frozen food was defrosted.


  1. Hey jenna, I found your blog on Lauren's and I'm sad I wasn't able to make it to the slow cooker class last night but am really excited to try some of those recipes. Thanks!

  2. hey i know u posted this awhile ago, but i just read it and found it to be very helpful. i never knew that veg. took longer to cook than meat! who would've thought!