Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer Crock Pot Cooking

My brother recently sent me an article that showed up on his Yahoo homepage, "10 Summer Slow-Cooker Recipes" by Robin Shreeves.  Shreeves explains how a slow cooker can be useful for cooking during the summer, because you don't have to be in the kitchen over a hot stove when it's just as hot outside.  The recipes she selects are divided into four categories: sandwiches, garden vegetable dishes, side dishes, and main dishes.  I haven't yet tried versions of all the recipes that she includes, but I will make a hearty recommendation for BBQ ribs in the crock pot.  The meat comes out absolutely delicious.

Now, I've been curious for a while about what homemade baked beans done in the crock pot might turn out like, and this article has inspired me to finally try it.  So this week I'll be cooking Boston Baked Beans (I'm going to use the recipe from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook instead of the one linked from that article though).  Look for my review/comments in a future post.

This got me thinking about what my top 10 summer dishes, of what I've made so far in the crock pot, might be.  The list (taken from the Crock Pot Incredibly Easy Recipes cookbook) would probably include:

  • Campfired-Up Sloppy Joes -- very yummy, crock pot version of the standard sloppy joe.
  • Meatless Sloppy Joes -- a vegetarian substitute (beans, green pepper, and onion) as opposed to the chicken substitute mentioned in the article above.
  • BBQ Roast Beef Sandwiches -- part of the 4 ingredients or less chapter, so super easy.
  • Open-Face Provencal Vegetable Sandwich -- mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, onion, olives, and capers, cooked and served as an open-face sandwich.
  • Chicken and Spicy Black Bean Tacos -- you do have to use the oven to warm the taco shells (unless you use soft tortillas, which can be zapped in the microwave), but you can use the crock pot to cook the chicken and bean filling.
BBQ substitutes:
  • Polska Kielbasa with Beer 'n Onions -- not a real substitute for a backyard BBQ, but a yummy dish of kielbasa and onions cooked in a mix of honey mustard, brown sugar, and beer.
  • Honey Ribs -- ribs cooked in a mixture of beef consomme, soy sauce, honey, maple syrup and BBQ sauce. I cannot emphasize enough how delicious this meal is.
Lighter dinners:
  • Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole -- cooked with bacon, onion, celery, and mushrooms.
  • Shrimp Louisiana-Style -- probably not the most healthy, because it's basically shrimp cooked in lemon butter, but really good.
  • Panama Pork Stew -- good soup that makes a nice light supper when you add a salad.
If anyone is interested in a more thorough evaluation of any of these recipes, let me know in the comments, and I'll make it.

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