Crock pots come in handy for cool weather meals
Cary Bass/Wikimedia Commons
A good choice for dinner is some tasty chili, made in a crock pot.
There’s something about chilly weather that makes a person really appreciate a hot meal. No wonder many dishes are referred to as comfort food.
Crock pots, also known as slow cookers, are handy appliances to have, and their popularity has remained intact after many years of use. Nowadays we also have the Instant Pot, but I have zero experience with those, so can’t say much. I have heard people really like them, though.
A crock pot is great for stews, soups and casseroles and once you get it loaded, you can forget about it for hours. Go to work, go shopping, take a nap, watch a few movies or whatever, the pot will cook your meal.
Here are some recipes for your consideration. Stay safe, stay warm.
Crock pot chili
I do this a little differently: I add the seasoning from a Carroll Shelby’s Chili Kit, leaving out the cayenne pepper. If you follow suit, omit the recipe’s chili powder, oregano, cumin and garlic powder. Plus, I use all pinto beans.
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
1 can (16-oz.) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (16-oz.) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (16-oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (16-oz.) diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 tablespoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
1 tablespoon liquid from a jar of pepperoncini peppers
1/4 cup water
Shredded cheese and sour cream, for topping
Suggestions for additional toppings, if desired: diced avocados, diced tomatoes, canned jalapeno slices, tortilla or corn chips, diced red onion, sliced olives, sliced green onions
1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion and cook, just until translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ground beef and cook, breaking it up as it cooks, until it is browned and cooked through.
2. Place pinto beans, kidney beans, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes in a large slow cooker. Stir in the chili powder, oregano, cumin and garlic powder. Stir in the cooked ground beef mixture. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and pepper liquid. If the chili is too thick, stir in the water.
3. Cook on low for at least 4 hours, but it can cook on low all day long
Chicken enchilada casserole
3- to 4-pound chicken (or equivalent amount of cooked, shredded meat)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon oil
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) cream of mushroom soup
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 can (10 ounces) green enchilada sauce
1 can (4.5 ounces) peeled, diced green chilies
20 corn tortillas
3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (or Monterey Jack, or even mixed)
1. Boil chicken. Shred meat and discard bones and skin (or use prepared meat). Sauté onion in oil in medium to large saucepan until translucent. Stir in soups, sour cream, green enchilada sauce and chilies. Heat until warm.
2. Tear tortillas into bite-sized pieces. Layer half of sauce, chicken, tortillas and cheese in slow cooker, alternating layers. Repeat, ending with cheese and sauce.
3. Cover and cook on Low for 5 to 6 hours, or on High for 2 to 3 hours. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Old world sauerkraut supper
3 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons flour
2 15-ounce cans sauerkraut (or equivalent of your favorite from a jar)
2 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 small apples, cubed (peeled or unpeeled)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
3 pounds Polish sausage, cut into 3-inch pieces
1/2 cup water
1. Fry bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving drippings.
2. Add flour to bacon drippings; blend well. Stir in sauerkraut and bacon. Transfer to slow cooker.
3. Add remaining ingredients. Cover; cook on Low 6 to 8 hours, or on High 3 to 4 hours. Makes 8 servings.
Au gratin potatoes and ham
10 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon pepper (optional)
1/2 pound Velveeta cheese, cubed
1/2 cup milk
1 cup fully-cooked ham cubes, or sliced hot dogs
1. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.
2. Cover; cook on Low 7 to 8 hours. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
4 large tart apples, cored
1/2 cup apple juice
8 tablespoons brown sugar
12 red hot cinnamon candies
4 tablespoons butter
8 caramel candies
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Remove 1/2-inch-wide strip of peel off the top of each apple and place apples in slow cooker.
2. Pour apple juice over apples. Fill the center of each apple with 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 3 hot cinnamon candies, 1 tablespoon butter and 2 caramel candies. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
3. Cover and cook on Low 4 to 6 hours, or until tender. Serve hot with whipped cream. Makes 4 servings.