Conquering the Crock Pot

I’ve mentioned before my love-hate relationship with my crock pot. In case you missed it, my point is this: I really want to love my crock pot, but it’s completely useless to cook just the right amount of food for two people when we are gone for long days – I’m talking 11-12 hours at a time. And isn’t that the point? To be able to enjoy a hot cooked meal without any effort after a long day? Unfortunately, my crock pot is so darn big that whenever I tried to cook anything that did not fill the pot entirely, the food would completely burn and dry out. Not tasty.

I contemplated getting a smaller crock pot. But before I did so, I wanted to try one little thing. I read a tip that suggested using a smaller, covered casserole dish inside the crock pot to cook smaller portions. This made perfect sense! The food would be exposed to much less of the hot surface area, and would retain it’s moisture in the smaller dish. Unfortunately I did not have quite the right-sized oven-proof pot-with-a-lid to fit, but I quickly remedied that by picking up one of these.

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At 1.5 qts, this is the perfect size to hold 2 large chicken breasts and some vegetables and sauce. I decided to test it out on a cheap, super easy dish – salsa chicken and black beans. I figured I would try it first with something very simple with ingredients I already had on hand, so that if it didn’t work, I wouldn’t have wasted time or money (I’d just be starving at dinner time and have to figure out something on the fly!) All you need to do is put whatever you would put inside the crock pot in the small casserole dish instead. So that’s what I did – two semi-frozen chicken breasts, some southwest seasoning, a cup of salsa and a half cup of black beans. I covered it and set it right inside my crock pot, put the lid on, set it on low for 7 hours and left for the day.

Arriving home eleven hours later, I was so giddy and couldn’t wait to open the lid. And let me tell you, it was so worth the wait! What I found was perfectly fork-tender chicken simmering in salsa and not a hint of burn. I shredded the chicken and turned the pot to high to heat back up. About 10 minutes later, we were enjoying delicious chicken tacos. The chicken was perfect – not dried out at all. I was happy to have a quick and tasty and healthy meal. Hubs was happy to have an easy clean-up!

I am so glad this worked, and I will definitely be putting my crock pot to use now. I’m on the lookout for some tasty, healthy and creative dishes – any suggestions, send them my way!

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13 Responses to “Conquering the Crock Pot”

  1. 1

    Intisar — October 21, 2008 @ 2:38 am Reply

    Thanks for the tip, I would have never thought of this. And our crock pot would have just continued to collect dust on top of the fridge. Will definitely give this a try!

  2. 2

    That Girl — October 21, 2008 @ 4:16 am Reply

    I’m SO glad this worked out for you! I know how much you were anticipating it.

  3. 3

    Colleen — October 21, 2008 @ 12:38 pm Reply

    Yay! I am glad you love the crockpot now! And what a great tip for the smaller dish inside! I love the salsa chicken recipe – I find that the less ingredients a recipe calls for in the crockpot, the better!

  4. 4

    Patsyk — October 21, 2008 @ 12:46 pm Reply

    That’s a great idea! I still haven’t managed to take my crockpot out of it’s hidden spot this fall. I found that most dishes can’t be cooked for over 8 hours without it becoming mush.

  5. 5

    lauren — October 21, 2008 @ 1:07 pm Reply

    yum! I like the combo of ingredients! I would love to use my crock pot more!

  6. 6

    cejaystine — October 22, 2008 @ 4:52 pm Reply

    when you mentioned that tip on the board, I was wondering how it’d go… so great that it worked out so well…and umm, those chicken and bean tacos sound good I think they’ll be cropping up on my menu soon…

  7. 7

    LYNN — October 22, 2008 @ 10:36 pm Reply

    How clever!!! I’ll have to try this!

  8. 8

    Grace — October 23, 2008 @ 11:52 am Reply

    wonderful!! i personally feel that crockpots are a gift from above, so i’ll look forward to your adventures with it. :)

  9. 9

    Cory and Becca — October 24, 2008 @ 1:14 pm Reply

    This is a great idea! We have run into the same problem, and I always end up cooking a huge amount of food, so we end up eating it for days. =/ Thanks for the tip!

  10. 10

    maybelle's mom — October 26, 2008 @ 12:04 am Reply

    I have had some desire for a crockpot and then some concerns. this tip makes me tip towards getting one.

  11. 11

    Grace — April 5, 2011 @ 1:25 am Reply

    wonderful!! i personally feel that crockpots are a gift from above, so i'll look forward to your adventures with it. :)

  12. 12

    maybelle's mom — April 5, 2011 @ 1:25 am Reply

    I have had some desire for a crockpot and then some concerns. this tip makes me tip towards getting one.

  13. 13

    lauren — April 5, 2011 @ 1:25 am Reply

    yum! I like the combo of ingredients! I would love to use my crock pot more!

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