March 15, 2012 at 12:10 pm
by Jennifer Moncayo
Every Wednesday, we hold our Slow Cooker Chat on our Facebook wall, where we invite you, our readers (and slow cooker obsessed), to talk with our associate food editor Michael Tyrrell about anything slow cooker. The conversation this week was great! Everyone had tons of questions—like can you put frozen meat in the slow cooker—and lots to say about their newest crock-pot adventures. If you missed the lively discussion (and recipes), here’s what happened:
Family Circle: Welcome to our weekly Slow Cooker Chat with associate food editor and slow cooking expert, Michael Tyrrell. He’s here to answer all of your questions, share recipes and give great tips. Please feel free to post your questions for Michael onto our Facebook wall.
Let’s start with: what did you make in your slow cooker this week? How did it turn out?
Cynthia: I am ashamed to admit I haven’t used my slow cooker this week. I used it more when I was working so I didn’t have to fix dinner when I got home.
Michael Tyrrell: Cynthia: even when you’re at home for the day, it’s still great to have dinner perking away while you do something else. We have a great healthy slow cooker story in our April issue and a fun giveaway. We’ll get you the link.
Family Circle: Hey Cynthia, here are the healthy slow cooker recipes Michael mentioned from the April issue.
Cynthia: Thank you Michael, I will check it out.
Peggy: I made my favorite marinara sauce (let it cook overnight for me). Then next night made chicken stock. Any good St. Patrick’s Day recipes that don’t include corned beef?
Michael: Peggy: why not try a lamb stew—any basic beef stew recipe can easily be tweaked for lamb. Let us find you a link to one of our stews.
Kristin: Chicken tacos!! Yummy!
Michael: Kristin—soft or hard tacos?
Family Circle: Hi Kristin, here are some Mexican-inspired slow cooker meals you can try next.
Shari: Sunday was roast and vegetables, Tuesday we had ribs, tonight will be chicken and dumplings. Love my slow cooker!!!!
Michael: Shari: check out our giveaway in our April issue—sounds like you are wearing your slow cooker out!
Family Circle: Hey Shari, here’s the link to the slow cooker giveaway we are holding.
Faith: Last night we threw some sweet peppers, onion and Little Smokies and diced tomatoes in our cooker, cooked for about 6 hours and served over yellow rice with a side salad. Something we just threw together b/ecause I didn’t have time to run to store. It turned out to be pretty good.
Michael: Faith: love meals that can be thrown together with pantry items. Easy and economical too.
Abby: Meatloaf with potatoes and carrots on the side. I would do the meatloaf again but do the sides separate.
Michael: Abby: love meatloaf and the leftovers make great lunches. We’ll link you to a turkey meatloaf recipe of ours.
Family Circle: Hi Abby, here is a recipe for turkey meatloaf.
Heather: Is 4 hours on high safe for chicken thighs?
Michael: Heather: I think you’re OK with 4 hours on high for thighs (assume bone-in). Internal temp should be 160 degrees.
Family Circle: Hey Heather, here is our recipe for Indian-spiced chicken thighs.
Shari: Question for you, why are you not supposed to cook an item from frozen? I cook my roasts from frozen every time. So far so good, I’m just wondering the reasoning behind it.
Michael: Shari: it’s a safety issue. Frozen items stay at an unsafe temp for too long a time. It’s best to always thaw first.
Faith: Does anyone have a good chicken cacciatore recipe for the slow cooker?
Jennifer: Faith: I just throw some chicken breast in with a can of tomatoes, and whatever veggies I’m feeling, like carrots, onion, and celery usually a little salt and pepper, garlic. I don’t think it can be messed up. Soooo good, chicken just falls off the bones.
Michael: Faith: I know we have done chicken cacciatore in the slow cooker. Let us link you to one of our chicken sideshows. I think you’ll find one.
Family Circle: Faith, here is our recipe for slow cooker chicken cacciatore.
Michael: Jennifer: your chicken dish sounds good. I would only suggest that for long cooking times watch out for some of the small bones from the breast ending up in the sauce.
Faith: Thanks guys! I will be trying this one out by the weekend
Karin: I have some baby back ribs in apple cider cooking in my slow cooker right now. By dinnertime they will be ready to throw on the grill with some barbecue for fall-off-the-bone goodness.
Michael: Karin: ribs are one of my fave things to slow cook. I posted my fave rib recipe on our blog a while back. We’ll give you a link.
Family Circle: Hey Karin, here is the rib recipe Michael mentioned.
Karin: Great, thank you!!
Karla: I tried the pork ragu last weekend! Very good. Easy on the wallet and had some sauce leftover to freeze.
Michael: Karla: glad you liked the pork ragu. I am at heart a cheapskate so most of my recipes are economical too.
Amy: I made chicken and mango salsa and it was yummy (in fact having the leftovers for lunch).
Michael: Amy: tell us more about what you do with the chicken and mango salsa dish. Share for us all please.
Jennifer: I haven’t used it at all this week. I have been on a kitchen vacay! But, like Shari, I want to know why it is not recommended to use frozen meats in the crock-pot? I have done it several times, with chicken breasts, boneless chicken thighs and with beef stew meat…no problems here! Something I should be watching out for?
Michael: Jennifer: as I mentioned, frozen stuff stays at an unsafe temp too long and bacteria can be a problem. It also can throw off cooking times if you’re following a recipe.
Jennifer: Michael: bingo, that is the only problem with the dish.
Angela: Beef stew, it was fantastic!
Michael: Angela: I love beef stew as well. Try switching things up and adding some chili powder, cumin and cilantro for a Tex-Mex spin. Check out our beef and hominy stew recipe in our April issue. We’ll get you a link.
Family Circle: Hi Angela, here is the beef and hominy stew recipe from our April issue.
Daneen: I didn’t use my slow cooker this week. **hangs head in shame**
Michael: Daneen: no need to go that far. Make two recipes this weekend!
Family Circle: Hey Daneen, if you’re looking for some new ideas our web editors are always posting slow cooker recipes on the blog.
Daneen: Thank you for the recipe ideas. I want to try making rice pudding in the crock-pot. Anyone try that? Any luck?
Family Circle: Hey Daneen, here’s our slow cooker recipe for sour cherry rice pudding.
Daneen: Oo that looks good. Maybe that will be my weekend crock-pot recipe!
Mary: Made pork tenderloin with a can of cream soup, a can of tomatoes, some spice and veggies. Of course it came out delicious. That is the main reason I use the crock-pot. Things come out so good.
Michael: Mary: sounds so easy too. The thing with leans cuts like pork tenderloin is to just not to cook for extended times or they get dry.
Faith: Made applesauce and spaghetti sauce.
Michael: Hello again Faith, what do you put in your sauce?
Faith: Spaghetti sauce? It is made with whatever tomatoes I have, canned or fresh, cilantro, basil, red pepper flakes, brown sugar, tomato paste, a dash of sea salt, a dash of cracked black pepper, balsamic vinegar, onions, garlic, cheese rind for flavor or parmesan cheese, carrots, celery or other veggies I want to “sneak” in…I think that’s it. LOL. I puree it with an immersion blender, so it’s smooth. (I take out the rind before blending though.)
Get Crocking: I made some Lemon Chicken with leg pieces and it turned out pretty good. I need to tweak the recipe a little to make it perfect, but the chicken was very tender.
Michael: Get Crocking: share with us when you do it again.
Sarah: Can you make corn beef in the slow cooker?
Michael: Sarah: corned beef is excellent in the slow cooker. Maybe we can get you a link to a recipe of ours. Haven’t done one in while so we might have to search a bit.
Family Circle: Hi Sarah, yes! Here is our slow cooker recipe for corned beef and cabbage.
Crystal: I am still fairly new to using a slow cooker. All I can make is roast beef and stew. Does anyone have any recipes that I can make to feed my family of six?
Michael: Crystal: we have a great slow cooker story in our current issue, healthy too. We’ll get you the link. Also download our free slow cooker cookbook on our Facebook page.
Crystal: Okay! Thanks!
Family Circle: Hi Crystal, here are some low-calorie slow cooker recipes you can try.
Loretta: I have been reading different recipes for beef barley soup, and they all have a different amount of pot barley and beef broth, what would you recommend or do you have a good recipe?
Michael: Hi Loretta, that is a great soup to do in the slow cooker. We do have a recipe that we will link you to.
Family Circle: Hi Loretta, here is a Family Circle slow cooker recipe for beef and barley soup.
Family Circle: Slow Cooker Chat continues: What’s the best slow cooker dish you’ve ever made? Share your recipes and/or ask Michael for tips on ways to improve it!
Michael: My recent favorite is a cilantro lamb curry that I posted on our blog recently. Let us get you a link.
Family Circle: Here is the link Michael’s lamb curry recipe.
Jennifer: My daughter’s request WEEKLY ‘Bacon Ranch Chicken’! It is a winner! We also love having red beans and rice (the beans and sausage are done in the slow cooker).
Michael: Jennifer: everyone loves kid-friendly recipes. Share your Bacon Ranch Chicken please.
Jennifer: Couldn’t be easier! Mix 1 can of cream of chicken soup with 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dip mix, 1 8 oz container of sour cream and 1 envelope of Real Bacon Pieces (the soft ‘real’ kind, not crunchy bacon bits). Then, I put the mixture over the desired number of boneless chicken breast tenders in my crock-pot and let it go on low all day! I serve this meal over No Yolk Egg Noodles with broccoli and garlic bread! My family loves this meal!
Faith: Orange chicken. But the coating from the chicken fell off; I think I was stirring it when I should have just left it alone.
Michael: Faith: coating things for slow cooking can be problematic—tasted good anyway I bet.
Family Circle: Hey Faith, here is our recipe for orange chicken with angel hair pasta.
Phyllis: My favorite dish is rotel dip; what does everyone do to kick it up?
Michael: Phyllis: that is a crowd pleaser. You could add chipotle chili powder for more of a smoky thing.
Robyn: I love making lasagna in my slow cooker.
Michael: Robyn: lasagna works well. We have some good ones on our site, let us link you to one.
Family Circle: Hey Robyn, here are some recipes for lasagna in the slow cooker.
Jennifer: Mexican Chicken served over rice is a family favorite here. It’s actually on the menu for dinner this week! I ♥ my slow cooker!
Lillian: I just tried this today with great success. Tropical slow cooked steel cut oats. 1 cup steel cut oats, 1 can coconut milk with enough skim milk to equal 3 cups liquid. Cook on low setting for approx 4 – 5 hrs. In last 30 min add 1/2 cup shred coconut and just enough honey to sweeten to taste. Add pineapple chunks and toasted pecans just before serving. OMG. This is so good! I usually make this amount of oats and keep in fridge. I re-heat a desired amount in the morning for breakfast. If you like tropical flavors be sure to give this a try.
Family Circle: Attention slow cooker fans: we want your recipes! Send us your favorite original slow cooker recipes and we may publish it on our Momster blog! Please email your recipe (including directions and ingredients), an image of the dish, and your contact info to FamilyCircle.Momster@gmail.com. Thanks!
Family Circle: Thanks for joining our weekly Slow Cooker Chat, everyone! It was a great conversation! Please come back again next week from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday to talk more with our associate food editor and slow cooking expert Michael Tyrrell. Happy slow cooking!
Check out these links for more slow cooker recipes:
Jennifer Moncayo is web assistant for FamilyCircle.com.