Love/Hate Relationship with My Crockpot

My crockpot and I have a love/hate relationship.  I love that I can stick stuff in it, forget about it and 6 – 8 hours later, dinner is ready.  I hate that everything I cook in it tastes like it was cooked in a crockpot, like it was thrown in and left alone for 6 – 8 hours.  I’ve tried just about every crockpot cookbook out there.  Of all the recipes I’ve tried, I continue to go back to Stephanie Odea’s website, A Year of Slow Cooking.  She has a new book, 365 Slow Cooker Suppers, coming out in September and I’ve pre-ordered mine.

This morning I said to myself . . I am going to make the crockpot work!  I am going to cook good food in it.  I am going to fix meals that don’t taste like they came out of the crockpot!  I need to do this because:

  1. It doesn’t heat up the kitchen so much.  I don’t stick my crockpot on the porch because there’s a constant 90 mile per hour dusty wind blowing here and I know dirt would get in our food.  Besides, some rocket scientist put the electric plugs on my porch in the ceiling and I can’t reach them!
  2. There’s so much yard work to be done in the evenings.  I don’t have time to get the cooking done and the kitchen cleaned and not only do I not have time, but I run out of energy and would be perfectly happy to have a bowl of Blue Bell ice cream . . any flavor but chocolate . . for dinner.  That wouldn’t go over so well around here.
  3. While I don’t want to leave dirty pots and pans on the stove, I don’t mind running water in the crockpot and leaving it sitting overnight.  I know . . there are plastic liners . . not going to buy those!

Hmm . . what to cook for this debut dinner in the crockpot that doesn’t taste like dinner from the crockpot!  One thing for sure  . . every meal we have these days includes carrots, potatoes and garlic . . thanks to the garden.

Dinner!

There is no telling how many potatoes are out there.  Good thing we love them.

There was a thick round steak so I cut it up, seasoned it and browned it.  Maybe the browning before it goes into the crockpot will help things taste better.

Browned Meat

Then I carmelized the onions, along with the garlic.

 

Onions

Then I put the meat in the crockpot, along with the onions, carrots, and potatoes.  I browned the potatoes a bit too.  Maybe that will help.

Meat, Carrots, Potatoes & Onions

Seems like most every recipe has Cream of Mushroom soup but I accidentally opened a can of Cream of Chicken with Herbs instead of Cream of Mushroom so . . Cream of Chicken with Herbs it is . . along with a packet of onion soup mix . . that’s usually in the recipes too, right?

But while grabbing a jar of mayo out of the pantry for the chicken salad for lunch, I saw a can of Rotel tomatoes.  Throw that in there too!

Canned Soup, Soup Mix and Rotel Tomatoes

Dump it in the crockpot, put the lid on and go sew!

Ready to Cook

Sounds good . . I’ll let you know how it tastes.

Comments

  1. 1

    Peggy says

    I hope it is good, because it sounds good. Are you going to dry and store some of the potatoes for later use? Those red potatoes look good.

  2. 2

    Lori in South Dakota says

    Anything ready to eat when you’re tired is good. A fireman friend suggested to always put your crock pot on the stove top or in your sink. When one malfunctions–your counter top might catch on fire–where the stove top or sink will not. He said lots of house fires are started this way. I really like using my crock pot overnight and worry less when its in the sink or on top the stove.

    • 2.1

      lynne quinsland says

      the sink part would scare me because of the water and electricity mixture, but on top of the stove sure sounds like a great idea. thanks for the safety tip!

  3. 3

    patty says

    I think browning the meat will definetly help. I sometimes cook chicken in the crock pot heavily sprinkled with paprika, turkey – a 12 pounder fits in my oval pot, and my version of chili. That is all I have ever cooked in mine! I will continue to read how you use yours.

  4. 4

    Gwen says

    I think browning is very important. I use mine a lot and that is very similar to what I put in mine. I have found that is I prep the vegetables and only add the onion in the beginning and the rest about half way through I am happier. They are done and not cooked until they all taste the same.

  5. 5

    says

    I’ve started using my crockpot again recently and one thing I have learned is that the newer recipes say to only cook it for about 5 hours. I tried it and I do prefer the shorter time (but it defeats the purpose of being able to start it before i leave for work in the morning!

    • 5.1

      says

      You are so right! I put this all on to cook at about 10 this morning. Checked it about 2:45 (4 hours, 45 minutes) and the meat is tender, the potatoes are cooked but not crumbly. Looks like it’s going to be delicious. OK . . I tasted it and it’s really good. I turned the cooker to warm and it has to sit there for the next 2-1/2 hours so we’ll see how it turns out after that.

  6. 6

    Patty says

    I would throw the same exact stuff in the pressure cooker and cook it in about 30 min and tastes wonderful

    • 6.1

      says

      I don’t recommend a pressure cooker for this kind of meal. For my pressure cooker, this type of meat would need about 14 minutes. By the time I bring it up to pressure, cook it maybe 8 minutes, turn it off, let the pressure fall to zero, remove the lid, add the potatoes which would need to cook about 4 minutes, bring it up to pressure, cook it 4 minutes, let the pressure fall, add the carrots, which would take about 1 minute . . it takes my cooker about 10 minutes for the pressure to fall to zero. That would make this meal take a long time with lots of babysittiing.

      Pressure cookers work best when all items in them need to cook the same amount of time, not when there are several ingredients that need to cook at different times.

      • Patty says

        My pressure cooker works just dandy for adding the browned meat and all the vegetables and cooking them all at once for a delicious meal. I don’t make a science out of it I just cook it and serve it.

  7. 7

    lynne quinsland says

    i am in total agreement with you and your assessment of the crockpot. and, yes, browning does help with the taste and consistency, , but boy howdy, for something that is supposed to be easier, it sure doesnt seem like it is to me. all the upfront work of browning everything, and also doing dishes upfront instead of around dinner time doesnt seem like easier, it just seems like switched around choring to before instead of after……..there is the fact of the coolness of the cooking method that still remains and for that, i vote for the crockpot during the hot summer months.

    the only thing that i really consistently use my crock pot for actual cooking is meat for carnita s. i love how yummy it turns out. i cube the meat, dont brown it, add the spices (similar to your recipe judy) and let it go for the day. then, i take the forks and shred it into the juices and voila, yummy carnita meat. i like that it gets that bit of crunchy all on its own instead of having to go thru the mess of cooking it again in the oven….
    what i really use my crockpot(s—i have 3 large ones and one of the 3 in one kind too) is for serving stuff at parties and large dinners. they hold things warmly and safely……..

    • 7.1

      says

      I usually use the same pot to brown everything and it’s a pot that will wipe clean with no scrubbing. I’d much rather wash the dishes in the morning when things aren’t so hectic than to try to do it in the evening when we’re doing yard work, visiting with the neighbors, etc.

  8. 8

    Cosmos says

    I agree with you! I love the convenience, but dislike most slow cooker recipes. I end up making pulled pork or a pot roast in my slow cooker. In the winter I will occasionally make stew, I don’t mind mushy vegetables in stew.

    I like my veggies, at least most veggies, crunchy, so I avoid using the slow cooker in the summer.

    Good luck!

  9. 9

    susan rizzi says

    I have a love/;hate relationship with my crockpots. Stews and pot roast are really good in them also soups. What I have trouble with is the amount of lizuid – either I have too much or too little. I do like the 365 days of crockpot cooking blog and often use her receipes.

    The tip that I would like to pass on is that the newer crockpots seem to cook faster (or maybe at a higher heat) so I like to plug my crockpot into a lamp timer and set it to start haours after I leave the house for work. That way it only cooks for maybe 4 or 5 hours and the timer shuts it down about 1/2 hour before dinner. Food stays warm and doesn’t over cook.

  10. 10

    says

    I have a love/hate relationship with mine too. I actually have two and have ended up dyeing yarn in one of them (really fun if you’ve never tried it)! I found a fabulous crock pot recipe for Chicken Caccitore – loads of good reviews. It tasted horrible even though I reduced the cooking time. I hope you figure out something that works for you because it will probably work for me too!

  11. 11

    says

    I have two of the things and they both drive me nuts. My little one runs too hot even on low and my big one doesn’t get hot enough at all. The only thing that turns out great in either is spaghetti and meat sauce and any kind of meatballs with sauce.

  12. 12

    says

    Hi Judy, a lot of german quilters own a crockpot too. The problem we often have with the ‘american’ receipes is that they often asked for processed goods we don’t have available in Germany like ‘canned tomatoes with jalapenos’ or ‘hot nacho dip’. Or they recommend to use packet soup e.g. onionsoup. So ‘we germans’ use a lot of receipes from scratch and most of the receipes recommend to brown the meat or roast the veggies. It is a bit more work but it’s worth it.
    We have an awful spring in Germany (with tons of rain) and I prepared a goulash for tomorrow.
    Regards Katja(quilt)

  13. 13

    says

    Usually, I only go as far as the onion soup mix. I got really tired of Cream of Mushroom soup early on, and never went back. The combo of flavors you’ve got going sounds interesting. Can’t wait to hear how it goes!

  14. 14

    AngieG9 says

    I use my crockpot every time I cook. The newer ones do cook a lot hotter and faster, but I’ve learned to deal with that by checking on it a couple of hours earlier. I have never used a recipe book for crock pot meals, just mainly put in what I have on hand (after sticking in a liner) and turn it on low. I collect recipe books for ideas, but seldom follow the exact recipe. It is best to brown the meat first, holds the juices in, but then I just dump whatever I see in with it and go about my day –or rather my half day, because the only things that take a whole day or night are when I make homemade ketchup or apple butter in it, and since they both have to reduce by at least half I prop the top open a bit with a toothpick and just ignore it. With the liner there is no real cleanup — just wipe it out with a damp cloth and it’s ready for the next meal. It’s also good for making highly condensed meat or vegetable stock and can be left on up to 24 hours if necessary. My only plug in the kitchen area is at the counter, so I can’t put mine on the stove, and I share Lynn’s concerns about putting it in the sink while plugged in. An alternative would be to set it on a fire proof surface on the counter top, like my cookie sheet.

  15. 15

    Diana says

    Absoolutely love my crock .. I find all sorts of new recipes that I can try with herbs and spices, different items from the ol pantry. Gone through two of them since a year ago. Bought two more and working on them now , we make green chili alot, chicken noodle soup, red chili and a few new to us recipes. Everytime I plan something in the crock the Dearest hubs decides he wants to make something so hence the need for two around our house !LOL

  16. 16

    Leslie Kiger says

    I make Ratattouille, gumbo, and minestrone in mine on a regular basis. Love Ratattouille in the summer when everything is fresh.

  17. 18

    Cindy from CA says

    Before I put anything in my crock pot, I spray it with oil. Everything rinses right out!! No scrubbing or liners.

    I have given up recipes that call for cream of anything! Now I like the results much better.

  18. 19

    Mary Ann in CT says

    I found this post very interesting. I stopped using my crockpot for the same reason, everything tasted the same. Will check out the recipes you mentioned. Which crockpot do you use? Brand, size. Love your blog, always read with my coffee every morning.

  19. 20

    amy says

    You should check out the onehundreddollarsamonth webiste, she has some awesome crockpot recipes … I’ve tried a few and they’re always awesome.