Crystal’s Pulled Pork

Generally, when I make pulled pork in the crockpot, it’s just pork and whatever barbecue sauce happens to be on sale. It’s an easy dinner for a busy night and we’ve always enjoyed it.

A lot of my friends have been raving about this recipe for more than a year. It didn’t seem that much different from what I was already doing, so I never put in the extra effort to try it – until this week. I didn’t tell Mark I’d done anything different, but he knew it at first bite. His immediate reaction was, “This is so good!” Quite a compliment since I usually have to ask him point-blank about things before getting an opinion.

This is now our go-to recipe!

Crystal’s Pulled Pork
(passed along from my friend Crystal… thank you!)

3-4 lb. pork roast
3 T. Bam seasoning
1 large onion, cut in half and sliced
1 bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce

Rub pork with Bam seasoning.

Place half the onion in the bottom of the crockpot. Place pork on top and then cover with remaining onions. Pour 3/4 of the bottle  of sauce over the meat and onions. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Remove meat, shred and return to crockpot. Stir in remaining sauce. Cook on low for an additional half hour, or until heated through.

Easy Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce

I’m always a little hesitant to try a new pasta sauce since Mark is very partial to his grandmother’s recipe but I couldn’t pass this one up. Minimal ingredients and using the slow cooker make this an easy summer dinner. Thankfully, it was not only easy but also a great sauce – no complaints from Mark here.

In the original recipe, Gina recommends Tuttorosso brand canned tomatoes and I want to second that recommendation here – it’s our go-to brand and I’ve never been disappointed with them.

I used the leftovers to make stuffed peppers and they came out fantastic, too.

Easy Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce
Makes about 3 cups

1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
1 t. extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, smashed
28 oz. crushed tomatoes
Fresh cracked pepper

Brown the sausage in a large skillet, breaking up any large pieces. When sausage is browned, drain if needed and add to crock pot.

Clean skillet with a paper towel and set flame to high; when hot add oil. Add garlic and cook until golden but do not burn; add tomatoes and garlic to crock pot along with fresh cracked pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Asian Style Pulled Pork

Most people equate slow cookers with winter cooking but they’re also great for summer because you can make a hot meal without heating up the house with the oven. Barbcue pulled pork seems like a natural choice for summer and this recipe is a nice twist on what you’d normally think of.

The Asian flavors pair nicely with fresh cucumbers and cabbage giving it an even more summery feel. This was totally worth making the full six servings for the two of us – we’ve really been enjoying the leftovers!

Asian Style Pulled Pork
(from Branny Boils Over)
Serves 6

1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. plum sauce
1 T. rice vinegar
1 T. chili garlic sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t. grated ginger
1 t. sesame oil
2 lbs. pork roast

Mix together first seven items in a small bowl. Place pork roast in slow cooker and pour sauce over the top. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Shred pork and return to slow cooker for 15 minutes more. Serve on rolls with sliced cucumber and cabbage.

Slow Cooker Baked Beans

There’s something about baked beans that scream summer grilling to me – but I almost never make them because I hate having both the grill and the stove going at the same time. Using the slow cooker to make the beans is a great way to be able to focus on just the grill. I made these for a barbecue a few weeks ago and everyone loved them – and I loved them because they were really hands-off to make.

If you have trouble finding Navy Beans, check in your ethnic/international section. My local stores had them shelved there instead of by the other canned beans.

Slow Cooker Baked Beans
(from Eat at Home)

4 cans navy beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup ketchup
1 bottle chili sauce
1 small onion or 1/2 large onion, diced (about 1/2-3/4 cup)
6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped or crumbled

Combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours.  If your beans seem too soupy, remove the lid for 15-20 minutes to let it thicken up.

French Dip Sandwiches

We’re having a super busy week around here so this recipe was perfect. It’s much easier to run errands after work knowing you have a hot meal waiting for you at home – slow cooker meals are awesome that way.

We tried out this recipe as part on another swap – it was basic but really good. The minimal ingredients and no pre-cooking required, it was easy to toss this in the slow cooker before work. When we were ready to eat, we were at the table in about five minutes. It’s a perfect option if you’re short on time!

French Dip Sandwiches
(from Christine’s Kitchen Chronicles)
Serves 4

2 lbs. beef chuck roast
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 T. herbs de provence
3 bay leaves, broken in half
1/2 c. low sodium soy sauce
3 c. water 
4 hoagie rolls or french bread, cut in half horizontally
4 slices provolone cheese
Italian seasoning

Place meat in crock pot. Sprinkle with garlic, herbs de provence and bay leaves. Add in soy sauce and water. Cover and cook on low for 6-10 hours until the meat is tender and is easily pulled away with a fork.

To assemble the sandwiches: Take bottom piece of your bread roll & add the meat. Top with cheese. On top half of the roll spread a thin layer of mayonnaise and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.  Place open faced sandwich in oven and broil until bun is lightly toasted and cheese is melted and bubbly.  Place top half on top of sandwich.

If desired, skim the fat off the top of the au jus remaining in crockpot.  Then, place some of the au jus  into a small bowl and serve with sandwiches for dipping.

Corned Beef with Parsley Sauce

I love corned beef. Mark only puts up with it on my behalf. When I saw The Country Cooking of Ireland on the library shelf, I had all these grand intentions of making a more Mark-friendly St. Patrick’s Day dinner. This cookbook is truly drool-worthy – the photography is beautiful and had me considering things I’d never think of eating (like, everything in the “Offal” section). If you’re interested in Irish cuisine, I highly recommend checking it out.

In the end, I just couldn’t break up with my corned beef – I love it too much – but this slight variation was enough to make it a little different than the usual. The original recipe called for boiling the corned beef for serveral hours – the traditional preparation – but it worked perfectly in the crockpot too.

I served this alongside roasted potatoes and – of course – cabbage.

Corned Beef with Parsley Sauce
(adapted from The Country Cooking of Ireland)
Serves 4

2 lb. corned beef brisket with spice packet
2 T. butter
1 T. minced onion
2 T. flour
3/4 c. milk
2 t. minced fresh parsley
1/2 t. spicy brown mustard
Pinch of nutmeg

Place the brisket in a slow cooker. Sprinkle spices from spice packet over the brisket. Add just enough water to the slow cooker to cover the brisket. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. When finished, reserve 3/4 c. of the cooking liquid.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add minced onion and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in the flour and cook for an additional minute. Add the reserved cooking liquid, milk, parsley, mustard and nutmeg, whisking until smooth. Cook for 4-5 minutes longer, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens.

Serve the corned beef sliced, with the sauce poured over it.

Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon

In the interest of full disclosure, I feel like I should mention that this is the first time I’ve ever had beef bourguignon, so I don’t know how it compares to a more traditional version – but we both really enjoyed this.

I made this on one of the many snow days we’ve had recently and it smelled awesome all day while it was cooking. The meat came out very moist and tender and the carrots picked up a nice tartness from the red wine. We used the extra red wine sauce as a gravy to top everything off.

Despite being a nearly zero-effort meal, it seemed like a special dinner. It’s something I’ll definitely make again.

Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon
(from A Year of Slow Cooking)
Serves 3

1 1/2 lbs. beef roast, or beef stew meat 
4 slices bacon, uncooked
2 T. olive oil
1/2 onion, sliced in rings
1 cup baby carrots 
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. herbs de provence
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1 T. tomato paste
2 cups red wine 

In the bottom of your stoneware, smear around the olive oil. Then lay down 2 slices of bacon. Add sliced onion and garlic. Put the meat into the pot on top of the onion and garlic and sprinkle on dried spices and herbs. Toss the meat to distribute the spices to all sides. Add tomato paste. Lay the other 2 slices of bacon on top of the meat, and throw in the carrots. Pour wine over the whole thing.

Cover and let cook on low for 8-9 hours, high for 4-5, or until meat has reached desired tenderness. If you are using a roast, you may want to flip the meat about an hour before serving so more liquid is absorbed into the meat.

Slow Cooker Mexican Chocolate Chili

This was the main dish for our all-chocolate meal. Since Almond really seemed to seek comfort in chocolate, I thought chocolate comfort food was the way to go.

This chili has chocolate in it, but it wasn’t a taste you could pick out while eating it. Instead, it seemed to give the chili a nice hint of sweetness.

If you were looking to make a chocolate-inspired meal for Valentine’s Day, this would be a great option because it’ll cook all day and be ready to go when you get home from work.

Mexican Chocolate Chili
(from AllRecipes)
Serves 6

1 pound lean ground beef
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. hot water
28 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
14.5 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained
1/3 c. semisweet chocolate chips
2 t. chili powder
1 T. ground cumin
1/2 t. dried oregano
1 t. salt

Combine ground beef and onion in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until beef is browned, about 5 minutes.

Transfer cooked beef and onions to slow cooker. Stir in water, tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans, corn, chocolate chips, chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt. Cook on High for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.

BBQ Bacon Apple Chicken in the Slow Cooker

This is, hands down, my favorite slow cooker recipe. It takes less than five minutes to prep and is easy to size up or down, depending on how many people you want to feed.

Of course, because I like it so much it photographs awfully. Trust me on this one, it tastes a whole lot better than it looks!

BBQ Bacon Apple Chicken
(adapted from the November 2009 issue of All You)
Serves 2

2 chicken breasts
4 slices of bacon, raw
1 small granny smith apple, peeled and shredded
1/2 c. BBQ sauce

Wrap two slices of bacon around each chicken breast and place it in the bottom of the slow cooker. Mix together shredded apple and BBQ sauce and pour over top of the chicken. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Drip Beef

Life has been so crazy the last few weeks that quick and easy meals are the name of the game. My slow cooker is pretty much my best friend right now.

This was a great fit for the omg-too-busy-to-breath-and-you-want-me-to-cook-dinner-too?! week we had. Minimal ingredients and a very tasty outcome!

The only change I made to the recipe was that I left out the salt. I thought it was plenty salty without it.

Drip Beef
(from Branny Boils Over, originally from Pioneer Woman)

2 lbs. chuck roast
2 T. Italian seasonings
1 12 oz. jar banana peppers
12 oz. water 

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.  Shred before serving.