I love my crockpot. Yes, love. It is the greatest tool in my kitchen because it enables me to have a hot meal on the table every night, even if I have a long day, I can spend 5 minutes in the morning and come home to deliciousness. And my family thinks I'm awesome. Yeah. That's always the best part. (If you're looking to save even more time and money, try this post about doing a freezer crock pot session-29 meals for under $135)
I've had to work every day this week (not the norm for me) so I knew in advance that this would be a crockpot week. We are halfway through the week. Here are the recipes for this week so far:
Monday: Whole chicken in the Crockpot
I tossed in a whole roaster chicken, some sliced onion, and some herbs from my garden (basil, thyme, and rosemary). You can use whatever herbs strike your fancy. You don't need to add water, but you can if it makes you more comfortable (chicken makes it's own juice/water as it cooks). Turn to low and let it sit all day while you are gone. It will be falling off the bone when done! This is great, but because of all the little bones in a chicken (and my small children), I really have to pick through the meat to make sure no bones are left. SAVE YOUR BONES AND SCRAPS!!!
Monday Night: Chicken Broth in the Crockpot
Since you've saved all your bones, herbs, onion, non-edible chicken scraps in your crockpot, fill the crockpot with water (I filled mine to about 2 inches from the top). Add in some coarsely chopped celery and carrot. Turn on low and let it sit over night. In the morning, you will have made yourself a big pot of chicken broth! Strain out all the "stuff" from the liquid. I used a cloth napkin placed inside a colander, placed inside a bowl to strain out the yucky stuff. I made about 10 cups of broth. Portion into baggies, containers, etc. and freeze!
Tuesday: Smokey Turkey and Black Bean Soup
Before you freeze all of that broth, scoop out 4 cups and put it back in your cleaned crockpot. Toss in a raw turkey breast or two (even deli turkey would work), 1 can of corn, 2 cans diced tomatoes, 1-2 cans black beans (I did three cups of cooked beans from my freezer), 1 TBS tabasco or Frank's Red hot, 1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp liquid hickory smoke, and 1/2 an onion peeled and diced. Turn to low and let sit all day. Shred the turkey with a fork when done.
Wednesday: Black Bean and Salsa Chicken (shredded for tacos)
This is a family favorite. It uses three ingredients: Chicken (breasts or thighs work great), salsa, and black beans. Add a little water on the bottom to avoid burning. Dump all three in (whatever quantities you like) and let cook on low. Now, I have burned this one before due to the lack of moisture (which is why I now add a little water to the bottom). This is not one that you should let cook ALL day. Set your crockpot to turn off after 6 hours or so on low (that should be enough time, provided you are not using frozen chicken). When done, shred with a fork and use in tacos! Yummy!