Pasta Pot

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I find that cooking is all an exploration of what works and what doesn’t. I am all about finding efficiencies to prepare good meals that are cost effective and saves me time on cleanup. Since I spent time making granola and bread this weekend, I turned to my crockpot for an easy meal. I’ve always wondered if you could cook meat fully in the crockpot without browning it first and whether it would cook pasta for an easy all in one dish; yes you can. I was thrilled with how well it came out and I grated a little Parmesan on top for that final touch of flavor. Check out the easy recipe below and put your crockpot to good use.

1 lb lean ground beef

1 cup sliced mushrooms

8oz frozen spinach

1 25 oz jar of vodka sauce

8oz of dry corkscrew pasta 

1 1/2 cup of diced onion

2 cups water 

2 tbsp fresh rosemary

2 tbsp fresh basil 

Directions:

  1. Defrost lean ground meat at least two hours before starting.
  2. Add meat to a crockpot and breakup thoroughly.
  3. Dice and slice veggies and mince herbs; add them to the crockpot including spinach.
  4. Add pasta then sauce and water.
  5. Cook on high for 4 hours.
  6. Enjoy 

Food For Frost

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With these unexpected cold fronts, it’s a great time to bring out the crock pot for something warm to bump out the cold. I was in the mood for a new round of curry and blended the remaining red curry I had and some yellow and used chicken as the protein this go round. As I often say, it’s helpful to prep ahead of time by separating large packs of meat into 6, 8 and 10 count bags for your freezer, since we don’t always have time for a store run. Since I already had the chicken, purple green beans and curry powder, I grabbed basil, low fat coconut milk and carrots from the store to finish the dish. This can be eaten as a soup or served with rice depending on your preference. Check out the recipe below.

Chicken Curry
Serves 8

8 chicken legs
2 cups purple or green beans
1 14-16 oz bag of baby carrots
6 small red potatoes
1 tbsp. yellow curry powder
2 tbsp. red curry powder paste (optional)
1 13.5 oz can low fat coconut milk
1 package of basil
1 cup diced onion
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. garlic powder
3 cups of water

Directions:
1. Remove skin and any excess fat from chicken and rinse before putting in crock pot.
2. Season chicken with seasoning (not curry).
3. Dice onion and halve potatoes add to crock pot. Add frozen green beans and carrots. Add water and curry and mix well.
4. Set crockpot on low heat for 8 hours.
5. Add coconut and basil in last 30 minutes of cook time.
6. Enjoy!

A Bit Of Succotash

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Another crock pot dish has made my life easier this week and is one that will freeze easy for go-to meals when I don’t have time or am not in the mood to cook. Succotash is an inexpensive go-to dish that is primarily veggie based and a southern favorite; a rich tomato-based fusion of flavor that can slow cook in the crock pot and make it easy to run errands, workout and live life. You can always spice it up with a pinch of cayenne for an added kick. I grew up with this dish made with sausage; however it can be made with or without it. At about $9 for the pot without the sausage, this dish is a must add to the line up. Give it a try and share your thoughts!

Succotash
Serves 8-10

Ingredients:
8 husks of corn
2 medium/large tomatoes
1 1/2 large bell pepper
1 large yellow onion
1 head of garlic (6 cloves of garlic) minced
1 14.5 oz can tomato sauce (no salt added)
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
1 lb (16 oz) smoked sausage of choice
1 cup frozen or rinsed and canned Lima beans
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
3 1/2 cups of water

Directions:
1. Shuck and rinse corn, then cut off cob and place in crock pot.
2. Peel onion and garlic; dice onion and mince the garlic and add to the corn.
3. Rinse and slice bell pepper before dicing and adding to the crock pot.
4. Rinse and slice tomatoes. Cut the whole sliced tomato in half (horizontal) then dice for smaller dice. Add to mixture in pot.
5. Slice and add sausage to the pot. Rinse and add Lima beans to the mixture or just add them in if using frozen.
6. Add tomato sauce and fill the emptied can with water twice to add to crock pot.
7. Add tomato paste and seasonings and stir well before setting timer to 4 hours.
8. Cook brown rice 30 minutes before timer is done.
9. Serve and enjoy.