For years our family mercilessly teased my Aunt Linda about her limited cooking prowess. When my cousins were dating, they often invited their boyfriends over for dinner. The joke would always be “Don’t ask what’s for dinner because it’s chicken in a Crock Pot”. That’s the only thing Linda ever seemed to cook. Being a busy working mom, she managed to get dinner on the table by tossing chicken and some sort of sauce into a crock pot most nights. If they didn’t have chicken in a crock pot, it was most likely take out instead. I don’t recall ever having one of these infamous chicken in a crock pot dinners so I haven’t the foggiest idea how they tasted. I only remember years of barraging remarks from everyone about how Linda only knew how to cook chicken in a Crock Pot.
Before the quads, George and I were foodies. We loved experimenting with new recipes and relished homemade meals. We rarely go out for dinner and can’t tell you what fast food restaurants are near our home. We have a history of inviting people over for dinner only to get them involved in dinner prep. After work, I almost always cooked dinner and if George was off work, he did. (George is actually a better chef than me and taught me a lot about cooking over the years.) Having four babies at home makes it difficult to find the time for exquisite cooking. Sometimes it isn’t even the cooking that is difficult, it is managing to go to the store to buy needed ingredients for a recipe if I found time to choose a recipe. I try to keep our pantry and freezer stocked with versatile staples so we can whip something reasonable on the fly. We bought some freezer meals from Costco, but we miss fresh homemade stuff.
Thanks to Pinterest, I am rethinking Linda’s style of cooking. There are actually tons of recipes for the crock pot besides pot roast. I’ve experimented a bit and found a few keepers. I found a recipe for Crock Pot Chicken Tacos, but realized I was missing half of the ingredients and it wasn’t even a Crock Pot recipe. I improvised with what we had and it turned out great! George loved the tacos so much he had a second helping.
Here’s what I threw in the Crock Pot:
1 can of tomatoes with green chiles
1/2 can of chicken broth
1/2 an envelope of Ranch dressing mix
1 envelope of taco seasoning
4 frozen chicken breasts
I put it on high for an hour then stirred it a bit and flipped the chicken. I left it on high about 2 more hours then shredded the chicken and returned it to the Crock Pot where it simmered on low for 30 more minutes or so until we were ready to eat. We had lettuce, shredded cheese, salsa, and cream cheese for garnish. However, I think it would be great with feta or jack cheese, avocado, lettuce, and tomatoes in a corn tortilla.
We had a lot of chicken leftover so I transformed it into chicken tortilla soup the next night. Here’s how I did that:
In a stockpot, I sautéed
1 large onion diced
4 minced garlic cloves
4 corn tortillas cut into strips
and handful of chopped cilantro
a few tablespoons of olive oil
I then dumped the following into the stockpot:
2 32 oz. boxes of chicken broth
3 cans of tomatoes with diced green chiles
1 tablespoon mild diced jalapenos from a jar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
a dash of pepper
We garnished the soup with avocado, crushed corn chips, fresh chopped cilantro and Colby Jack cheese. It turned out really well.
In addition to making these two meals, I found the Six Sisters blog at: http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/ On it, they have a post about how to make 8 freezer meals for the Crock Pot. They provide a grocery list sorted by area in the store and a list of the recipes. You then dump a bunch of raw ingredients into gallon sized freezer bags. When you are ready to cook them, you thaw 24 hours in advance and cook in the Crock Pot. They claimed the prep work would take an hour, but it took me much closer to two hours. Apparently the six sisters work more efficiently than I do, but there are six of them and only one me. I now have eight Crock Pot meals in my freezer ready to go! In fact, we are trying the first, Country Style Pork Ribs, tomorrow. We are making our traditional New Year’s black eyed peas and corn bread, which I thought would go well with ribs.
Our family has a tradition of eating black eyed peas for good luck. It dates back to the Civil War when the Union troops burned all of the crops in the south. The black eyed pea crops were spared because they were used for animal feed. People living in the south survived the harsh winter by eating black eyed peas! Last year, we made a batch and brought some to our RE prior to my IUI on New Year’s Day. George thought it was a horrible idea, but I wanted to keep our family tradition alive. As it turned out, they were quite lucky for us! We struck the quad jackpot in 2012.
I am signing off for 2012, but don’t worry there is plenty more to come!
Of course, I wouldn’t leave out a baby picture so here you go!