I've mentioned before that I really enjoy using my crockpot to prepare meals. The major advantage is that you come home to a prepared (or almost prepared) meal. Plus, there is no need to turn on the oven so your house doesn't get extra heated (especially beneficial in the summertime).
I would definitely encourage you to invest in a slow cooker and to start trying out some recipes. I have this cookbook and I would recommend it as a good place to start; there are a lot of different options for each type of dish so you can pick out something that suits you and your loved ones. Or if you are anything like me, it allows you to grab ideas from about 25 of them and combine some things from each of them to make your own recipe.
Before you jump in, I want to share a few of my slow cooker life lessons to help prepare you.
1. Depending on the amount of time you have in a given morning, plan on prepping much of your meal the evening before. Brown meat (if using) and cut up vegetables. Place them along with everything else (unless you are putting in raw meat... add that in the morning) in the crock of your slow cooker, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Then you can just pull it out of the fridge, plop it in your cooker and turn on the heat.
2. If you are cutting onions, garlic or jalapenos in the AM, make sure to PUT YOUR CONTACTS IN FIRST. If you are like me and you plan on doing your prepping before you hop in the shower and get ready for the day, even washing your hands multiple times will most likely not remove all the sulfoxides or capsaicin and if you touch your eyeballs, THEY WILL STING. Take it from someone who knows!
3. Timing for soups and stews are pretty flexible. If you have long work days (8-12 hours), these are typically good choices to go with. Cooking with chicken or something without a lot of liquid may require more stringent timing, so follow those instructions more closely.
4. Do not take the top off of the slow cooker (unless you are adding some else as instructed). Part of the beauty of a slow cooker is that the temperature is fairly low, if you remove the top, you release the heat that has built up and it will take awhile to get back to the right temperature. This can increase your cooking time.
5. Don't forget to turn it on! It can be very frustrating if you come home expecting a hot meal but instead have raw materials (my suggestion-- call for pizza). Or if you have to make an extra trip back home to turn it on.
6. Make enough for leftovers. Soups and stews are perfect for lunch. Or shredded pork or chicken can be re-purposed into just about anything. You might as well fill up the crock while you're going through the effort and you'll be set for lunches (and maybe another dinner) for the week.
Okay, those are my tips.
On to the recipe of the day:
This is my favorite pork roast recipe. I know I have already shared with you honey bourbon pulled pork, but this recipe is actually my go-to. It is melt-in-your-mouth, falls-apart-on-the-fork, tender-as-all-get-out pork. I usually serve the pork topped with the sauce alongside some veggies and bread. And I always follow #6 above. I make enough for leftovers. Wait until you see what I did with leftover pork this week.
I need to give credit to my parents for this recipe. I'm not sure from where my mom originally got it, but she passed it along to me. Simple and delicious!
Simple Pork Roast in the Crockpot
1-3 lb pork roast (depending on how much you want to eat)
1-2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1/2 onion, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 cup of water
chicken bouillon cube
1-2 tbsp cornstarch
Preheat the broiler.
Cut small holes into the pork roast with a sharp knife. Stick the slices of garlic into the holes. Broil for 15 minutes to render off some of the fat.
In the bottom of your crock, add the onion, bay leaves, clove and water. Add the pork roast.
Cook on low for 8-12 hours (or high 4-6 hours).
Remove the pork roast and let it rest.
Pour the juices into a small saucepan, removing the bay leaves and the clove. Add the bouillon cube and cornstarch and bring to boil. Cook for about 5 minutes until the sauce as thickened.
Serve sliced pork topped with sauce.