December 15, 2011 at 1:19 pm
by Heather Eng
Broccoli cheddar soup, carne guisada, balsamic chicken, pulled pork with apple pie filling and BBQ sauce–those are just a few of the great recipes you shared with us yesterday during our weekly Facebook slow cooker chat. Plus, Michael Tyrrell, our associate food editor and slow cooker expert, imparted his wisdom about ideal cook times, avoiding mushy veggies and more. Read on!
Family Circle: Welcome to the slow cooker chat with our associate food editor and slow cooking expert Michael Tyrrell. Feel free to ask him your questions, share tips and talk about your favorite recipes. Let’s start with: what did you make in your slow cooker this weekend and how did it turn out?
Amanda: I haven’t used a slow cooker in a while. Every time I made something it came out mushy and always tasted like everything I made in the slow cooker. Not sure what I was doing wrong, I’m pretty sure it was one particular ingredient I used to make everything taste the same, just not sure what that ingredient was!
Michael: Amanda – first of all, you may be cooking too long—fattier cuts of meat and chicken thighs can take 6 to 8 hour cooking times. Leaner cuts—pork roast, turkey breast—only 3 to 6 hours. Keep some of your seasoning out and taste at the end. Add balance at that point. Good luck.
Amanda: Thanks, Michael. It’s mostly stuff without meat that I tried to cook. I’m not much of a meat person. I probably just cooked the stuff way too long.
Family Circle: Amanda – one of our Slow Cooker Newbies isn’t a huge meat person either. Follow our Slow Cooker Chronicles for some great vegetarian options.
Michael: Amanda – one of web editors posted a recipe for vegetable lasagna this week on our blog. We’ll get you the link.
Family Circle: Amanda: Try this vegetarian lasagna for the slow cooker, but there’s plenty more recipes on our blog!
Amanda: Awesome, thanks, I will!
Barbara: Hi. I am going to stop by and visit some family for appetizers on Christmas Day. I would love any ideas of something I could bring that would be quick that won’t keep me in the kitchen all morning. I want to enjoy my kids opening up their gifts. Thanks.
Michael: Barbara – for apps, what about baby back ribs? Let us link you to a recipe on our website.
Family Circle: Barbara: Here are some great party appetizers.
Michelle: @Barbara: I’ve made a buffalo chicken dip that’s amazing and easy if you like spicy stuff (2 cans of chicken, 1 cp Frank’s RedHot sauce, 1 package of cream cheese, and 1 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese). Use tortilla chips or celery for dipping.
Michael: Michelle – thanks—everyone, including kids, seems to like buffalo “anything.” Great for Sunday game days, too.
Stacie: I made broccoli and cheddar soup. It was amazing!
Lisa: Stacie…could you tell me where to get the recipe for the soup…it sounds AWESOME!!
Chantelle: Stacie: I’d love the recipe for the broccoli and cheddar soup!!!
Michael: Stacie – one of our web editors just made Broc & Cauliflower Soup—we’ll link you to our blog where she posted it.
Family Circle: Try this Creamy Broccoli & Cauliflower Soup.
Stacie: Broccoli Cheddar Soup
1 qt chicken broth/veggie (I used chicken)
2 cups milk (2%)
2 10 oz bags of frozen broccoli florets (I used two heads of fresh broccoli.)
1/2 white medium onion (diced)
1 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground nutmeg (Omitted just because I am not a fan of nutmeg)
1 cup each of three different cheeses (I used jack, cheddar and a little mozzarella.)
I did add some celery salt and a dash of red pepper but because! =)
1. Mince the onion into really small pieces. (The onions are going to soften in the milk and the broth, and need to be quite small so you don’t crunch on onion pieces when the soup is complete.)
2. Add the onion to your crock-pot, and top with the milk, broth, and spices.
3. Stir in the broccoli.
4. Cook on low for 7-9 hours, or on high for 4-6. The broth is done when the onion is cooked nicely.
5. 20 minutes or so before serving, shred all the cheese you are going to use, and stir it in. The cheese will be stringy and will stick to the broccoli florets.
I typically double the recipe since it seems to go pretty quickly at my house
Stacie: Can’t wait to try to broccoli and cauliflower soup!
Chantelle: I have ribs in my slow cooker right now…I’m a newbie and can’t get enough. I’m thinking on trying a rice pudding when the ribs are done!!
Michael: Chantelle – ribs in the slow cooker are great—if you put on for long cooking times the bones just fall out when you take out. You can’t eat them as ribs but it sure tastes good over rice.
Chantelle: Great idea about the rice Michael!!!
Jackie: I’d love to know how to do ribs in the slow cooker!
Michael: Jackie – we’ll link you to one of our recipes. You’ll be very pleased with them
Family Circle: Try these beer-braised short ribs.
Lisa: I made stuffed green peppers…I could not live without both of my slow cookers!!
Michael: Lisa – peppers do very well—what was your filling and how long did you cook them?
Family Circle: Lisa: one of our editors made these vegetarian stuffed peppers. Give them a try!
Philippine: Pulled pork with Epicure spices—YUM!
Michael: Phillipine – love me pulled pork. Give us more detail about the spices please.
Philippine: Michael – I ♥ Epicure Spices – I do not cook anything without them. Check out the website. If you have ANY questions let me know.
Joyce: My husband made chili verde (Mexican dish of sliced beef, onions, garlic, diced green chiles and a little salsa) while I was at a birthday party and it came out wonderful like always.
Michael: Joyce – try one of our chilis—we’ll give you a link to a story we did.
Jonni: I made pepper steak and it was very good…
Michael: Jonni – what cut of beef did you use and how long did you cook?
Helena: I have a spaghetti casserole recipe that cooks at 300 for 1 1/2 hours. How long would I cook that in my slow cooker?
Michael: Helena – we did a story that contained some general guidelines—we’ll give you the link. Also, what’s in your casserole?
Family Circle: Helena: here are some tips on how to modify a favorite recipe for the slow cooker.
Carolyn: Made carne guisada and it was yummy.
Michael: Carolyn – I am familiar with that but others may not be. Give us a short description.
Carolyn: Carne guisada is basically meat with gravy. It’s a Mexican dish, spiciness can be adjusted. My recipe calls for onion, garlic, cumin and jalapeno. I add a bit of tomato paste just because I like it.
Rosaura: I would love a great recipe. Carne Guisada sounds great.
Michael: Rosaura – try our web editor’s drunken carnitas on our blog. Well get you the link.
Family Circle: Rosaura: here’s the recipe for the Drunken Pork Carnitas on our blog.
T.K.: I attempted loaded potato soup. I guess I used the wrong kind of cheese because it didn’t melt and get creamy, it just got chunky, but it was good—just didn’t look appetizing.
T.K.: I attempted chicken legs today. It is pre-seasoned with lemon pepper. Not sure how I am going to do it yet or what will l go with it…
Michael: TK – lemon pepper seasoning sounds good—a combo of legs and thighs would work well too.
Michael: TK – check recipe finder on our website for a loaded potato soup. I remember it coming out creamy.
Family Circle: T.K.: One of our slow cooker newbies also made this baked potato soup. Try it with a cream cheese.
Leann: Getting ready to start my Balsamic Chicken for dinner tonight!
Michelle: @Leann love anything with balsamic vinegar. What’s the recipe!
Leann Carter: Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken
4-6 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
2 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 onion thinly sliced (Not chopped)
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
ground black pepper and salt to taste
Pour the olive oil on bottom of crock pot. Place in chicken breasts, salt and pepper each breast. Place sliced onion on top of chicken. Add all the dried herbs and garlic cloves. Pour in vinegar and top with tomatoes. Cook on high 4 hours. Serve over angel hair pasta.
Leann: I am going to try it today with chicken thighs…the breast meat tends to be kind of dry in this recipe.
Michael: Leanne – use bone-in thighs for the best results.
Leann: Thanks Michael!
Jaime: I made chili this weekend and it came out yummy!!!!
Family Circle: Some of our favorite slow cooker chili recipes.
Michael: Jaime – chili is one of my faves in the slow cooker. What kinds do you make?
Fawn: I made pulled pork with apple pie filling and bbq sauce (Sweet Baby Ray’s). It is sooooo yummy and easy!
Michael: Fawn – tell us about the pork with the apple pie filling. When does the filling go into the slow cooker? Sounds interesting.
Fawn: Michael…I just dump 2 cans of apple pie filling in with a lg bottle of regular bbq (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s) sauce with the pork loin (2 lbs) you can adapt it per servings you like! Cook for 6 to 8 hours on low! So good every time! The apples stay pretty firm and the filling absorbs better into the meat this way!
Michael: Fawn – I like the sound of that—never thought to use pie filling that way. Thanks for sharing.
Rita: I have a slow cooker that has a time for 4, 6, 8 and 10 hours and then it switches to “warm.” Last time I tried doing the chicken breast I was doing it for 8 hours and it was coming out dry so I did 6 hours, but it was still dry. Would it be because of the warm setting?
Michael: Maria – the warm setting prob has some effect. If you need to cook for longer cooking times because of your schedule, try thighs with the bone in—they can handle longer times.
The Baby Chef: Slow cooked organic apples to make homemade apple puree for a friend’s baby. Yummy! Love my slow cooker!
Family Circle: The Baby Chef: We’ve made plenty with apples on our blog too! Applesauce, apple butter, applesauce cake and even breakfast baked apples! Check them out.
Jessie: My problem is chicken breast. They dry out faster than other meat. And I made beef brisket! So good. It’s my grandma’s recipe and she uses it for the oven but I tried slow cooker and turned out great!
Michael: Jessie – brisket is nice and fatty and does well in the slow cooker. We did a “5 Ways with Brisket” story in our Sept issue. Check it out. Also try chicken pieces with the bone in. If you do breasts, less cooking time.
Family Circle: Jessie: Here are our beef brisket recipes.
Leann: Jessie…I have personally found that I can only cook chicken breast about three to maybe four hours. If I keep it in the range usually they are nice and moist. If I cook longer they tend to be pretty dry.
Family Circle: Leann & Jessie: Try some of these recipes with chicken thighs.
Leann Carter: Thanks Michael…the Sweet & Tangy Chicken looks so good!
Shannon: Do you know a slow cooker recipe for chicken verde?
Michael: Shannon – we have a lot of chicken slow cooker recipes on our website that have Mexican flavor profiles. Take a look.
Family Circle: Shannon: Here are some of our chicken recipes.
The Baby Chef: Anyone have success with lasagna?
Family Circle: The Baby Chef: try our test-kitchen tested Veggie Lasagna.
Michael: Baby Chef – we have done lasagnas with great success—let us link to a veggie one just posted on our blog.
Sheena: Made corn chowder with a recipe I got from recipe.com. 2nd attempt and the potatoes were still not done after the time suggested. Otherwise delicious!
Michael: Shenna – hard veggies can be a prob. Cutting them smaller the next time sounds like an easy fix.
Jessica: I roasted a chicken last night, then used the bones to make stock in the slow cooker. Unfortunately it was kind of a mess trying to transfer it out of the slow cooker and into something else, but…
Michael: Jessica – it’s worth it though, because you can let the slow cooker go all night and have a really rich stock for soups or risotto.
Stephanie: I’m looking for a good, hearty beef stew slow cooker recipe. I want to make that for Christmas Eve lunch with some homemade sourdough bread
Michael: Stephanie – love beef stew in the slow cooker- let us link you to one of ours.
Family Circle: Stephanie: Here’s a Sweet and Savory Stew we’ve done.
Stephanie: Thanks. Sounds yummy!
Christine: This weekend I made Turkey Chili w/ 3 beans (black, white and red). I think chili is THE best dish in the slow cooker. It came out so good!
Family Circle: Christine: try our variation on White Turkey Chili also.
Christine: Thank you! Those sound like some different ways to do chili. It’s definitely chili weather here in New England!
Michael: Christine – I agree about the chili—also so easy to double and freeze. I like to use my second part as enchilada filling.
Candy: My husband has become addicted to pork chops made in the crock-pot. They are incredibly tender!
Michael: Candy – what do you do with the chops?
Christine: I like all-in-one meals in the crock-pot without having to cook extra outside. Are there any good rice or noodle dishes you can cook ALL in the crock-pot?
Family Circle: Since it’s getting into the cold winter months, what are some of your favorite slow cooker soups, stews and chilis? Share recipes, tips and ask our expert Michael for suggestions and advice to make yours perfect.
Nicole: Cream Cheese Chicken Chili.
Sheila: Cheese Soup & Chicken Taco Soup
Michael: Sheila – what kind of cheese do you use? Also, do you start the taco soup with cooked chicken or cook it completely in the slow cooker?
Daphne: Love some homemade veggie soup in mine! Freeze leftover veggies from other meals and dump them in! Use the beef stew meat from your grocery and some tomatoes that already have herbs in them with tomato juice! Salt and pepper to taste!!! Makes enough for 2 meals of you freeze half!! I serve mine with cornbread!
Michael: Daphne – that’s what we love about the slow cooker—so easy and you can easily increase so you get a second meal to freeze. We call that “frozen assets.”
Family Circle: Daphne: Here’s a non-slow cooker lasagna Michael recently made that’s another great example of “frozen assets.”
Daphne: Thanks, Michael! All saving recipes gladly accepted!
Summer: I make an awesome Scottish Stew, a slow cooker mac and cheese, and a ham that I use the leftovers to make a super-delicious chowder. My slow cooker and I are involved, lol.
Michael: Summer – please give us some more details about the stew.
Family Circle: Summer: Here at Family Circle we’re quite involved with our slow cookers, too! Try our recipe for Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese.
Summer: I use beef stew meat, although you can use lamb, and coat in flour (although oddly enough I found that using a gluten free Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose works AMAZING for the stew’s consistency) with ground mustard and seasoned salt and brown the meat. Throw in the cooker carrots, taters, finely chopped onion, and a good dark beer (Guinness Extra Stout is what we use) or beef stock and set on low 8-10 hours. Add 1 cup of thawed frozen peas the last half hour of cooking. Serve with rolls or nice crusty bread. Watch husband’s belly expand, and delight in the happy nomming noises of the children.
T.K.: White chili or chicken chili, taco soup, homemade chicken noodle soup.
Brandy: I made dirty rice and beans and served with cornbread and homemade jam. Yum!
Michael: Brandy – I love dirty rice and beans—give us a little description of your version.
Brandy: 2 cans beans (1 black and 1 kidney) 2 c rice 2 cans tomatoes, beef broth Italian seasoning salt pepper and water. Low all day.
Family Circle: Last 10 minutes in our chat! Any last minute questions for our slow cooking expert, Michael? What is everyone planning to make this weekend? Share!
Joanne: Just wondering why, when it comes to recipe instructions, everything gets put into the slow cooker all together at the same time, the veggies get soggy by the end of the 6 hours, and does not at all look like the picture. Any suggestions? Can we put the veggies in towards the end instead?
Michael: Joanne – depends on the type of vegetable. Hard veg like potato, carrots usually are ok from the beginning. Softer, green veg better to add toward the end of cooking time.
Joanne: Thanks Michael! I’ll be keeping those veggies out until the end from now on!
Carolyn: Why does my chicken taste odd when cooking whole in slow cooker?
Michael: Carolyn – how is it odd tasting? What seasoning are you using?
Heather: Can I cook spaghetti in the crock-pot? With the noodles?
Brandy: The noodles get too soft for my taste. They seem to get paste-like.
Family Circle: Thanks for joining our chat, everyone! Tomorrow we’re having a VERY SPECIAL Holiday Cookies Chat here at 2pm EST. Please join! And come back next week for our usual slow cooker chat. In the mean time, tell us: what’s your favorite slow cooker recipe? Make sure to check out the transcript of this chat on our blog.
Join us next Wednesday at 1 p.m. EST for another slow cooker chat. Plus, when you “Like” our page, you can download a free slow cooker cookbook with 15 of our favorite recipes AND a special holiday cookies cookbook!
Need ideas for slow cooking this weekend? Try these: