August 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm
Low-calorie recipes and unique dinner ideas were in high demand during our August Slow Cooker Chat on Facebook this week, as our readers across the country are gearing up for back-to-school. Many of you loved hearing about other cooks’ adventures with the slow cooker, while others sought advice from our associate food editor Michael Tyrrell about cooking times on the crock-pot. If you missed the chat, here’s a recap:
Family Circle: Welcome to our 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 slow cooking 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?
Michael Tyrrell: Hi! So what has everyone been slow cooking?
Michelle: I made a peach cobbler. It was delicious, but I think my peaches outnumbered the cobbler and it turned out more like a peach bread pudding. I don’t have any left though! .
Michael Tyrrell: Michelle, peach anything this time of the year sounds good. Give us an idea of what you did?
Michelle: I did this: 4 cups fresh or frozen sliced peeled peaches
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup Original Bisquick® mix
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
Ice cream or whipped cream
1. Spray 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In large bowl, gently toss peaches and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Turn into slow cooker.
2. In medium bowl, gently beat Bisquick mix, sugar and milk with whisk until blended. Pour over peaches in slow cooker.
3. Cover; cook on low heat setting 3 hours or until cobbler is set in center.
But I added more peaches than it called for and left the cobbler the same. So I think the peaches juice took over so the cobbler didn’t get “fluffy.” And I also used the Heart Smart Bisquick.
Family Circle: Hey Michelle, here are more slow cooker dessert recipes you can try.
Michael Tyrrell: Michelle, re your cobbler: I think you hit it—just reduce the fruit. Let us know next time how it comes out.
John: BBQ chicken breasts, they were delicious.
Michael Tyrrell: John, bone-in or boneless? I always do extra chicken in the slow cooker so I have leftovers for sandwiches, tacos, etc.
Charlotte: If you want to cook chicken breasts to use in chicken salad, how long do you cook four breast halves and how much liquid do you add to the slow cooker? Thank you!
Michael Tyrrell: Charlotte, try a cup of broth on high for about 5 hours, assuming it’s boneless and pretty thick pieces. Check the temperature. It should be 160.
Victoria: Stir-fry meat with tomatoes. Awesome!
Michael Tyrrell: Victoria, tell us a little more about your stir fry and tomatoes. Also, what did you serve with it. Rice?
Karen: I have round steak in freezer that I want to slow cook today. I want to make Swiss steak but don’t have the veggies to go into it and too lazy to got to the store. Any recipe ideas?
Michael Tyrrell: Karen, we never recommend putting frozen meat in the slow cooker for safety reasons. If it was thawed, I would say cook in stewed or diced tomatoes, shred and serve as hot sandwiches or over rice.
Karen: Great. It won’t take me long to thaw it. Thanks.
Martina: Can anyone recommend a GOOD slow cooker? I had my mother’s for a while and it broke down. Not happy with Crock-Pot! Recipes I want to cook 10 hours finish in 4 or 5. That is not slow.
Michael Tyrrell: Martina, if I understand your question, you want recipes that can go for 10 hours. Not that easy but our web editor Heather just posted something on our blog that addresses what cuts of meat do best for long cooking times. We’ll get you the link.
Family Circle: Hi Martina, here is a story on the best cuts of meat for your slow cooker.
Kathy: Michael, what is the difference (or benefit) of cooking a shorter amount of time at high or a longer amount of time at low? Is it just a time issue or are there advantages for each?
Michael Tyrrell: Kathy, I would say it is partly timing. But slow cookers are cooking at much higher temps than in the past so for some recipes low is the new high so to speak .
Hanna: What should you look for when buying your first slow cooker?
Patrice: Pork roast with onions, cooked in chicken broth. It was amazingly moist and yummy.
Michael Tyrrell: Patrice, tell us about what cut of pork you used for your roast and also the cooking time. High or low? Pork can be a problem if you let a lean cut go too long.
Crystal: Classic pot roast and veggies for Sunday dinner. It was wonderful. For the fall, I’d like some ideas for apples (maybe even paired with pork, my fave) and would like a classic lasagna recipe for the slow cooker.
Michael Tyrrell: Crystal, I love pot roast. We have some great lasagna recipes that we can link you too.
Family Circle: Hi Crystal, here are some slow cooker pasta recipes, including lasagna.
Chantelle: My family has been digging crock-pot lasagna, asking for it weekly. I am going to make a vegetarian version today with portabella in place of meat and spinach.
Michael Tyrrell: Chantelle, lasagna works well and there are so many variations to try.
Alison: I just put some meatloaf with potatoes and carrots under it in the crock-pot today. Homemade dry onion soup mix has become my new best friend! Here’s hoping it all turns out good!
Michael Tyrrell: Alison, meatloaf is a real crowd pleaser, and the leftovers make lunches that coworkers envy. We have some great recipes on our site. Let us give you a link.
Family Circle: Hi Alison, try our recipe for slow cooker meatloaf!
Tammi: I used my slow cooker for the first time this week. I made pot roast with cream of mushroom and dry onion soup mix and potatoes and carrots. I can’t wait to try more recipes. Thanks for the links, so glad I caught this conversation . Will be visiting the website for more.
Michael Tyrrell: Tammi, thanks! Download our free slow cooker cookbook. We’ll get you a link.
Fawn: Yesterday, I didn’t have much in the house to make a recipe yet still wanted to crock-pot something. So I threw some chicken in and then mixed two cans of cream of chicken, milk and a package of Grill Mates Zesty Herb and dumped it all in the pot! To say the least, it turned out amazing. Even my picky 8-year-old asked for seconds!
Michael Tyrrell: Fawn, that’s what is so great about slow cooking: you can be very creative with usually good results. Your chicken recipe sounds easy and good. Always a good thing to add another kid-friendly recipe to your list.
Wendy: Are slow cooker and crock-pot the same thing? Anything that I have tried to make is automatic mush. My son hates anything I try to put in a crock pot!
Michael Tyrrell: Wendy, first thing I would say is you may be cooking things too long. Also, our web editor Heather recently posted on our blog 10 kid-friendly recipes. We’ll get you the link.
Kathy: Hi! Looking for easy LOW-Calorie recipes. Healthy and clean. Thanks!!
Kathy: I’m trying to stay clear of the cream soups, etc., even though they work sooo well!
Michael Tyrrell: Kathy, we have tons of healthy slow cooker recipes to share. We’ll link you to some.
Family Circle: Hi Kathy, here are some of our low-calorie slow cooker recipes.
Renee: I’m with Kathy. I need low-calorie recipes for the slow cooker. Any would be appreciated.
Family Circle: Hi Renee, here are some low-cal recipes.
Michael Tyrrell: Kathy, we rarely use soups in our recipes.
Michael Tyrrell: Renee, check out the link we provided for lower-cal recipes.
Katie: What is a good substitute for the cream soups? They are so unhealthy and am looking for a good alternative. SO many of my crock-pot recipes call for them :/.
Michael Tyrrell: Katie, instead of cream soups, use extra broth. At the end, stir in some reduced-fat cream cheese for a little creamy finish.
Loretta: Hi Michael, any ideas on a beef broth bean soup? Using the bean mix that needs soaking overnight.
Michael Tyrrell: Loretta, for your bean soup, you could just replace your bean mix with whatever is called for in a recipe that uses soaked dry beans. I think you are referring to that Goya bean mix, which I use in soups at home a lot.
Chris: Cooked corned beef and cabbage, carrots, potatoes and onions in crock-pot last Sunday on low for about 12 hours. Cabbage went in for the last 3 1/2 hours. Everyone loved it.
Crystal: @Chris, did you corn your own beef? That is my ALL TIME favorite meal, but I have a hard time finding corned beef in this part of the country, which I am new to (south Louisana). Would love to hear tips if you corned your own!
Michael Tyrrell: Chris, everyone is always looking for recipes that can take longer cooking times. Was your corned beef still moist after 12 hours?
Michael Tyrrell: Crystal, where are you from that you have trouble finding corned beef? I would think a large chain store would order it for you.
Vanessa: @Michael, I’m a vegetarian and I’d love some new recipes. Also a mom of 3, one year old twins. As you can imagine my hands are full and slow cooking works for me.
Family Circle: Hi Vanessa, here are vegetarian slow cooker recipes.
Michael Tyrrell: Vanessa, our blogger Irina is always posting great veggie recipes on our blog. Check it out.
Family Circle: Hi Vanessa, here are some veggie recipes from our blog.
Nikki: Chili. It was great!
Michael Tyrrell: Nikki, we have a great chili slideshow on our site. Give it a look.
Family Circle: Hi Nikki, try some of our slow cooker chili recipes.
Rachelle: I made stuffed peppers one night and eggplant parm the next. My oven is broken so I pulled out the crock-pot. It was delicious and everyone loved it.
Michael Tyrrell: Rachelle, eggplant parm. HMMMM. Tell us what you did please.
Ann: I am making brisket tacos in my crock-pot today. Two sale pieces of brisket and 2 cans of Rotel, plus some taco seasoning. Cook all day and shred. Put on tortillas, make brisket enchiladas or other recipes.
Michael Tyrrell: Ann, welcome back to the chat. Where have you been?
Michael Tyrrell: Ann, brisket is one of the best candidates for longer slow cooking times (as you know). Great to have extra for re-purposing .
Ann: Raising kids. It’s summer. But school is starting, my fall schedule is super busy, so my crockpot will be working overtime.
Chantelle: I made a “breakfast risotto” recipe from a crock-pot website yesterday. It was a total flop, a hard mushy mess with hard rice. I need to pick up this edition. I need breakfast recipes.
Family Circle: Hi Chantelle, here are healthy slow cooker breakfast recipes.
Michael Tyrrell: Chantelle, rice can be tricky. Check out our slow cooker breakfast story in our September issue.
Hanna: I saw a recipe for a delicious cherry dessert the other day. Who knew a Crock-Pot could make that! Any recipes that you’re surprised can be made in a crock pot? Extra points for dessert recipes! .
Family Circle: Hi Hanna, here are some dessert recipes you can try.
Hanna: Thank you Family Circle! Looks great. I’ll have the apple crisp!
Michael Tyrrell: Hanna, desserts are fun in the slow cooker. Check out the link to a slideshow on our site.
Stephanie: Today it’s Mexi-chicken. Corn, black beans, salsa and chicken breasts for 6 hours. Then take out chicken and shred, put back in with 4-oz. cream cheese and rice for 30 more minutes. Delicious!
Patrice: Stephanie, your Mexican chicken sounds wonderful. Do you use any broth and how much salsa? Also boned or de-boned chicken? Please.
Crystal: @Patrice: I make a similar mexican chicken. Deboned. And one small jar of salsa, 14 oz. is the size, I think. In addition to her ingredients, I add a packet of taco seasoning. The corn and beans I drain, and I “rinse” the salsa jar with water (3/4 full) to add extra cooking juices.
Michael Tyrrell: Stephanie, Tex-Mex style recipes are a natural for slow cooking. Your recipe sounds easy and delish. I bet kids love it, too .
Michael Tyrrell: Yes Stephanie, I agree with Patrice. Give us more detail please.
Family Circle: Hey Stephanie, here are some of our Mexican-inspired slow cooker meals.
Michael Tyrrell: Crystal, taco seasoning is a great shortcut. I just used it this morning in our test kitchen for a slow cooker story I am developing for our January 2013 issue.
Helen: I have a 2 1/2-qt crock-pot. It’s just my daughter and I, so I don’t need to make a lot. I find recipes for larger “pots” that sound good, but am not sure on amount of ingredients. Some are for 3 1/2 qt or larger. How do I figure out the ingredient amounts for 2 1/2 qt?
Michael Tyrrell: Helen, you have to experiment with smaller slow cookers. Why not make the full recipe and freeze for the future? I like to think of that as “frozen assets”. .
Helen: Thank you! I just was nervous it would be too much for the size, risking an overflow! Appreciate it!
Karen: I just discovered the world of freezer meals. I spent a few hours on a Friday and fixed 14 complete meals for my freezer. Put them in the crock-pot before I leave for work and come home to a delicious, healthy dinner. We have had the pepper steak; Hawaiian chicken with pineapple, red bell peppers and teriyaki sauce; turkey Italian sausage and green, red and orange bell peppers; beef roast with red bell peppers and broccoli; chicken breasts with corn, black beans and hot peppers. All have a wide array of seasonings in them also and are fabulous! Fix, freeze and feast. A few hours of preparation equals a couple weeks of eating healthy and it all cooks while I’m at work!
Cynthia: Karen, how do you prepare those meals? I’d like to try some of those.
Annie: Karen, where did you get the recipes?
Tracey: I made pulled pork with pork tenderloin and root beer! It was delicious and a HUGE hit with the family!
Michael Tyrrell: Tracey, pulled pork is probably everyone’s fave thing to slow cook. Soda is a great trick as long as you don’t use diet soda.
Rhonda: I used my slow cooker twice over the weekend, once to make peach butter and the second time to make an Ethiopian chicken stew. Love tossing things in then being able to leave it.
Michael Tyrrell: Rhonda, tell us more about the Ethiopian Chicken stew please.
Rhonda: I follow the recipe in this link—turns out perfect every time.
Anita: I cooked a whole chicken—just poured 1 1/2 cup salsa over the top and a sprinkle of salt—came out delicious. Shredded the leftovers for fajitas with multicolored peppers and onions tonight and remainder for burritos with rice and beans another night.
Anita: Last week I made 1/2 gal. low carb yogurt in my crock-pot for me, but I can’t keep my family out of it. It’s so good!
Michael Tyrrell: Anita, yogurt? You must share what you did. Please!
Cynthia: Anita, how do you make yogurt? My family goes through those store bought cups likes there is no tomorrow.
Sabrina: I’ve got boneless BBQ ribs in my crock-pot today. I try to do at least one meal a week in the crock-pot, but especially on the days I have a lot to do. In 10 years of using a slow cooker, I have never tried a dessert in one. Might need to fix that .
Family Circle: Hi Sabrina, here are some of our slow cooker rib recipes you can try next.
Michael Tyrrell: Sabrina, ribs are my personal fave thing for the slow cooker. Check out my pork ragu recipe on our blog. We’ll get you the link to the recipe.
Amy: I made Lima beans with turkey necks. (Yes, I am from the South) BUT they are cheap and turn out great!!!
Michael Tyrrell: Amy, your turkey neck recipe, a side dish? If a main dish, what do you serve it with? I love inexpensive recipes.
Amy: Michael, as a main dish. Almost like a red beans and rice (which you could do the same way). It’s a good hearty inexpensive dish. I just add a package of uncooked turkey necks with a pound of dry beans, fill with chicken broth and water. For spices I add, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, tyme and rosemary. Set on LOW for 8-11 hours. Perfection. I know the turkey necks may seem like a weird choice of meat, HOWEVER they make any dish very rich with turkey flavor!
Vicki: I made dump cake. It was delicious. Tasted like a cobbler and so easy that when I shared recipe no one believed it.
Annie: Can you can potatoes ? And if so, what is the best way?
Stephanie: Bring the ideas on! Anything to spend more time with my family!
Jeannette: Beef roast, just yesterday. It was yummy!
Andrea: My crock seems to have taken on the smell of onions. I’ve soaked and scrubbed it and even put it in the dishwasher. Can you recommend a way to get the smell out?
Michael Tyrrell: Andrea, make a warm water and baking soda solution and let it soak over night. This might work .
Andrea: Thanks. I’ll try anything. .
Family Circle: Thanks for joining our Slow Cooker Chat, everyone! We hope you enjoyed chatting with our slow cooking expert Michael Tyrrell. Happy slow cooking!
Check out these links for more slow cooker recipes:
Kris Anne Bonifacio is a web intern at FamilyCircle.com.