Everyone I know right now is posting pictures on Instagram of food concoctions that comply with their Paleo or gluten-free diet. In the Werner house, that’s far from us right now. Yes, we want to eat healthy too. But right now, Dean’s arrival into our family means we’re in a season of life where mealtime is all about quick, easy, nutritious homemade meals.
Enter the good ‘ol slow cooker. Or, to borrow a page from my mama’s lingo, the good ‘ol crock-pot (coincidentally, I “borrowed” one of her crock-pots 10 years ago and today it’s still the one sitting on my kitchen counter). I cannot begin to tell you the number of days since I’ve been back to work where my brain has meandered to that 4 o’clock “Oh-crap-what-am-I-making-for-dinner-tonight” zone, only to sigh in relief, remembering “That’s right, you put a meal in the crock-pot this morning, didn’t you?”
The crock-pot is one of those perfect accompaniments for cooking in a season of life when one feels frazzled by everything. But also, it’s perfect for cooking in this particular season. As in, wintertime. Come summer, it’ll be back to burgers and chicken on the grill and salads with fresh produce. But winter is the time when a pot roast that’s been simmering all day, its meat so tender it literally falls apart on your fork, is exactly what you’re craving. So I thought I’d share a bit more about some of my favorite crock-pot recipes. I hope you give these a try — they couldn’t be easier and the small amount of prepwork is worth it to come home from a long day of work to a meal that’s ready for you as soon as you kick your heels off!
In searching for crock-pot recipes earlier this year, I came across Six Sisters’ Stuff. Oh my gosh, these women are AMAZING. I purchased both their Slow Cooker and 5-Easy Ingredient recipe books and we’ve really enjoyed nearly every dish I’ve made from them both. (Our top picks include the pulled pork, Hawaiian chicken, Swiss chicken, beef stew and beef enchiladas). Our FAVORITE recipe has to be for their pot roast. I’ve excerpted that recipe below but seriously, buy their cookbook. It’s SO worth it!
FALL APART POT ROAST
2-3 lb. boneless beef chuck or rump roast
1/4 cup flour
1 onion, sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 (1 oz) package dry beef gravy mix
1 (1 oz) package dry Ranch dressing mix
1 (1 oz) package dry Italian dressing mix
1/2 cup water (or more if you want your gravy to be thicker)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 (16 oz) package baby carrots (you can use less, I just love carrots)
4 potatoes, cubed
Spray slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Spread onions on bottom of slow cooker. Sprinkle flour over work surface. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the roast and roll in the flour so all sides are coated. Place roast in the slow cooker. Mix together beef gravy mix, ranch dressing mix, Italian dressing mix and water until smooth. Pour over the pot roast. Distribute carrots and potatoes around the roast and pour Worcestershire sauce on top. Cook the roast on low for 8-10 hours. Slice the roast and pour gravy (it should thicken up while it cooks) over it. Serve with carrots and potatoes on the side.
And I thought I’d also share my Aunt Pat’s recipe for the most AMAZING slow cooker lasagna. I know, you’re probably thinking, LASAGNA in the crock-pot? But seriously, this is the BEST lasagna I’ve ever had! I won’t be making it any other way now!
1 lb. cottage cheese
1 lb. mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 lb. hamburger
1 medium onion, chopped
2 15 oz. cans of tomato sauce
1 3 oz. can of tomato paste
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
Directions: Mix the first three (cheese) ingredients in one bowl. Brown the hamburger and onion in a saucepan and then add the remaining ingredients to make the meat sauce. Layer meat sauce on bottom of crock-pot, then add a layer of uncooked lasagna noodles (break to fit crock-pot), another layer of meat sauce, a layer of the cheese mixture, then another layer of uncooked lasagna noodles. Repeat this layering (noodles, meat, cheese) until you’ve reached the top of the crackpot or all your ingredients are gone. Cook on low for 5 hours.