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As you might have gleaned from the title, yes, this is a diary about cooking in a crock pot. I ran across a blog not too long ago where the blogger used "crocking" as a verb in place of cooking, baking, roasting etc. and it made me chuckle;)

I was fortunate to get a lovely 6 qt oval crock pot for the holidays this year so I would like to share with you some of the things I've already made as well as things I've discovered but not yet attempted.  Join me over the orange cheesy poof for pics and recipes!

What's For Dinner is a community diary series published on Saturday nights at 4:30PST/7:30EST every week. We talk abut food, share recipes and anecdotes. Leave politics at the door, pour yourselves a drink and relax.

So my SO bought me lots of kitchen stuff this year. One of those was a very nice Hamilton Beach crock pot with the rubber sealed lid that has the lock down clamps to keep it from spilling during transporting so it's great for potlucks etc.

Here you see it alongside the digital scale he also bought for me.

So I immediately started looking for good ideas and recipes to make in my new toy. I spend a lot of time on Pinterest.  I pin A LOT of recipes on there! So I ran across lots of good ideas. One of the first I tried was kind of an old childhood memory from lots of folks I know:

Cream of Mushroom Pork Chops and Rice with Apples and Onions
adapted from: Slow Cooker Golden Mushroom Pork & Apples

2 cans (10 3/4 ounces each) Campbell's® Condensed Golden Mushroom Soup
(I did not have any canned soup on hand and instead had fresh mushrooms so I made a simple mushroom sauce with a roux base and half & half so it was nice and rich.)
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
8 boneless pork chops, 3/4-inch thick (about 2 pounds)
4 large Granny Smith apples, sliced
2 large onions, sliced (about 2 cups)
1 cup of instant rice, cooked.

Stir the soup, water, brown sugar, Worcestershire and thyme in a 4-quart slow cooker. Add the pork, apples and onions.

Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 9 hours or until the pork is cooked through. Serve with the cooked rice.

Next I wanted to do some stuffed peppers. I've made lots of those in the oven, but thought I'd try doing it in the crock pot. I didn't follow any specific recipe, more or less I just read a bunch of different ones and got the basic gist. This is what I came up with:
Crock Pot Beef & Rice Stuffed Peppers

6 large bell peppers, any color you like
1 lb ground beef
1 cup rice, cooked according to package directions
1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
2 tblsp tomato paste
1 small can of tomato sauce
1 cup of shredded mozzarella plus extra for sprinkling on top

Cut the tops off the peppers and clean off any seeds/ribs from both the tops and bottoms. Set aside.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and season well with salt and pepper.

Stuff the peppers and place into the crock pot so they are all standing upright and "shoulder to shoulder". Place the pepper tops back on. Slowly pour in water until it comes about 1/4" up the sides of the peppers. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours until peppers are tender and the filling is at 165°. Top with mozzarella and pop under the broiler to melt before serving.

**Note: if you have leftover stuffing mixture it makes an excellent stuffing for other veggies such as tomatoes, zucchini, etc. Or you can make a meatloaf too!

I have had a small rectangular "crock pot" for many years and I have used it in the past to make stock from ham bones or other smaller bones. But now that I have a big one? Oh yeah baby! Making turkey stock after roasting a big bird just got so easy!
Crock Pot Stock
I keep a gallon ziploc bag in the freezer that gets filled up over time with veggie scraps; i.e. onion tops & skins, celery bits, carrot ends, mushroom stems, etc. This is for making stock. So, last weekend I roasted a 12 lb turkey and had a nice dinner gathering. When cleaning up all the leftovers I cleaned as much meat off the carcass as I could and just tossed the carcass into my crock pot. I dumped in my frozen veggie scraps, seasoned with a liberal amount of coarse salt, black peppercorns, and a few cloves of garlic. Then you just need to pour in water until everything is covered. Cover and "crock" on low overnight for 8-10 hours. Let cool enough to remove the ceramic "crock" part and slowly strain into a large container. Press as much liquid from the solids in the strainer as you can then discard the solids. Refrigerate the stock and either use or freeze within the next few days.

Ok, so now for some tasty links to the stuff I am planning on trying:

Balsamic Roast Beef
    1 3-4 pound boneless roast beef (chuck or round roast)
    1 cup beef broth
    ½ cup balsamic vinegar
    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 tablespoon soy sauce
    1 tablespoon honey
    ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
    4 cloves garlic, chopped

Place roast beef into the insert of your slow cooker. In a 2-cup measuring cup, mix together all remaining ingredients. Pour over roast beef and set the timer for your slow cooker. (4 hours on High or 6-8 hours on Low)
Once roast beef has cooked, remove from slow cooker with tongs into a serving dish. Break apart lightly with two forks and then ladle about ¼ – ½ cup of gravy over roast. Store remaining gravy in an airtight container in the refrigerator for another use.

Slow Cooker Coconut Ginger Chicken & Vegetables

Slow Cooker Coconut Ginger Chicken & Vegetables    

Serve this creamy and fragrant stew over Jasmine or brown rice. I like to top mine with a few chopped scallions. NOTE: My slow cooker bowl can be used on a burner which can then be transferred to its electric base to cook further, but if you have a different type, then simply prepare the first few steps of this recipe in a heavy bottomed pot or skillet and transfer the ingredients to the slow cooker when the liquids are added.

    4 cloves garlic, peeled
    2 inch cube of ginger (about 30 grams), roughly chopped
    1 small sweet onion, peeled, quartered
    1 Tablespoon olive oil
    2 Tablespoons butter
    2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into four
    2 cans coconut milk, not shaken
    2 Tablespoons cornstarch
    1 can of baby corn cobs
    1 cup peas or frozen vegetables of your choice

For the spice blend

    1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon ground coriander
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground tumeric
    1 teaspoon salt

Combine ingredients from the spice blend together and set aside.
In a mini food processor, combine garlic, ginger and onion and pulse until it forms a paste. In the bottom of a slow-cooker placed on a burner (see IMPORTANT note above), heat olive oil and melt butter. Add pureed aromatics and stir well. Cook for a few minutes, then add spice blend. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Move aromatics to one side of the pot and add chicken pieces to the pot. Cook chicken slightly on all sides, using a sturdy wooden spoon to move it around the pot. It should get thoroughly coated with the spice mixture. Open the cans of coconut milk and remove the cream from the top using a soup spoon. You should have about 1 cup. Pour the coconut milk over the chicken and with both cans, it should just barely cover the chicken. Drain the corn cobs and chop in half. Add to the slow-cooker. Place the slow cooker in the base and cook on low for 4 hours. Whisk cornstarch with coconut cream until smooth and add to the chicken. Stir well. Add frozen peas or other vegetables of your choice. Cook for another half an hour or until you deem the chicken cooked and the vegetables hot.

Artichokes? in the crock pot?
Crock Pot Artichokes with White Wine & Garlic

I have found lots more but I will open the floor to my fellow WFD folks now.
Thanks for stopping by! What's in your crock pots tonight?

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