Tag Archives: pork

New slow cooker cookbook takes your crock beyond soups and stews (+ recipes for you to try!)

Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes A Joy Makin' Mamas ReviewI have featured my bottom of the line, workhorse 4 quart slow cooker in my photos so often that I have occasionally thought maybe I should get a new one just so you guys would have something new to look at. I kept using it even after the original handle broke off- I just picked up an orphaned lid from the thrift store and turned it into the Frankenstein’s Monster of slow cookers. (A nice perk is that the new handle is much easier to grab, so I don’t worry as much about dropping the lid. It also doesn’t get as hot. I’m dangerously close to advising you to void your warranty by modifying your cooker with off-list parts… I’ll stop before I get us all into trouble.) If I need any further credentials regarding my expertise in the world of slow cooking, well… I don’t have much to offer you except that I’ve been a dogged fanatic for almost 16 years now.

The news says they are making a “come back.” The theory is that the recession has led to fewer restaurant meals, and so the ease and convenience of the slow cooker is leading us all right back to it. Combine that with new demographics discovering the joy of entertaining, and slow cooker sales are booming. I am not surprised they are popular, but I confess I WAS surprised to hear they are “back.” I hadn’t realized they were ever gone. It would be impossible, in my opinion, to overstate the convenience they offer. Whether your household is DINK, WAHM, SAHM, SAHD, or one crazy cat lady, that slow cooker is a simple, inexpensive, hands off way to make sure dinner is ready when you are hungry. (And I have used mine in every situation but SAHD. YES, my crazy cat lady credential arrived early in life. DEAL WITH IT.)

That’s why I am so excited to have in my hot little hands a review copy of Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes: 200 Recipes by Donna-Marie Pye. I think most of us look for similar things in a cookbook- ease of use, which means good organization, eye candy/food porn (PICTURES, okay?), and whether our family will eat the food. That last one is kind of a deal breaker… if it’s just got pretty pictures of food no one here will eat? I’ll browse it in the book store but it’s not going to live on my shelf. (Ok, maybe my virtual shelf? I could see having an e-cookbook just for the pretty pictures, but actual shelf space is at a premium around here.)

Buy on Amazon: Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes: 200 Recipes {Aff Link}

If you would like to do more than the “add a can of this” type of slow cooking, you’ll appreciate this book. Moving beyond soups and stews, this book not only offers recipes for a wide variety of dishes, it includes helpful ingredient hints, like how to cook with a tomatillo. I’ve never touched a tomatillo, but I may just make it a point to go there now that someone has brought it up. (Why have I never done that, you ask? Because you cook with what you can get your hands on, and I can honestly say I don’t remember ever seeing one in the small town I lived in before moving to the metro area I now call home. After 11 years, you get into habits, ok?) As you can see from the sample images I’ve included (with permission from the publisher, of course), it does indeed include attractive, full color, full page photos to make you drool while you plan your menu.

Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes is organized by main ingredient or type of dish. The second to last chapter (right before desserts- my personal favorite) is called “Double Duty Dinners.” This section is devoted to meals you crock cook the first night, and then transform into something totally different the second night. Cook once (-ish, or and-a-half) and eat twice. I like it. This is a great idea for busy families, particularly since this type of forward planning tends to help you with your time budget and your money budget, both. Also, the size of slow cooker needed for each recipe is noted at the top of the recipe, so there will be no ugly surprises after you start cooking.

Much as I would like to have made (and eaten!) every one of these 200 recipes before writing about this book- and I did work up an appetite while I was reading them all- it would take weeks or months for me to do that. I did have a hard time picking just a couple to try, because a great many of these pass the “will my children eat this” test, and even more of them pass the “will I put the children to bed early so my husband and I can eat this in peace” test. In the end, I decided to test drive one of the Double Duty dinners, and I got permission from the publisher to share three of the recipes with you, so you can try them yourself.

I enlisted some help and JMM Danette Z and I tested some of the recipes from this book. We are pleased to report that the directions are easy to follow, the cooking times are accurate, and the recipes come out as they are supposed to. Like always, we got mixed reviews from our families depending on what we chose… but trying something new is always fun, and adding even three or four new slow cooker favorites to the family rotation means three more nights a month when I can set dinner up when I have time, and eat it when it’s ready! I’m in!Nonnas Mini Meatball Soup Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes Joy Makin' Mamas Review

Nonna’s Mini-Meatball Soup, page 49, kid-fav
Author: 
Recipe type: soup
Cuisine: Italian
 
• Minimum 5-quart slow cooker Makes 6 to 8 servings This soup reminds of the one I’m served when I visit my friend Maria’s house. Her mother always has a pot of soup on the stove, or if she doesn't, she will quickly make one for you with whatever.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb lean ground beef 500 g
  • 1 lb lean ground pork 500 g
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese 250 mL
  • 1 cup fine dry Italian bread crumbs 250 mL
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped (about 1 cup/250 mL)
  • ½ tsp salt 2 mL
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper 2 mL
  • 6 cups chicken broth 1.5 L
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach, coarsely chopped, 500 mL (or chopped escarole)
  • 2 cups cooked small pasta, such as elbows, tubetti, shells or stars 500 mL
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine beef, pork, Parmesan, bread crumbs, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper. Using your hands, roll into ¾-inch (2 cm) meatballs. Place meatballs in slow cooker stoneware. Gently pour in broth.
  2. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 9 hours or on High for 41?2 to 5 hours, until soup is bubbling and meatballs are cooked through.
  3. Stir in spinach. Cover and cook on High for 10 to 15 minutes or until greens are wilted, bright green and tender. Stir in cooked pasta.
  4. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with additional Parmesan, if desired.
Notes
Tip: If you don’t have homemade chicken stock, use ready-to-use chicken broth. I like to keep 32-oz (1 L) Tetra Paks of broth on hand, especially the sodium-reduced variety. They come in handy when you’re making soups and stews. Another option is to use three 10-oz (284 mL) cans of broth and add enough water to make 6 cups (1.5 L). Avoid broth cubes and powders, which tend to be salty.

Courtesy of Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes by Donna-Marie Pye, 2014 © www.robertrose.ca

Reprinted with publisher permission.

Holy Mole Chili Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes Joy Makin' Mamas Review
Holy Mole Chili, page 86, vegetarian
Author: 
 
Makes 4 to 6 servings With its notes of cumin, cinnamon and chocolate playing off the gentle spices, this meatless chili combines the best of a mole sauce and a Cincinnati-style chili. Its rich body makes it a seriously satisfying dinner any night of the week. • Minimum 4-quart slow cooker
Ingredients
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 can (19 oz/540 mL) diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 can (14 oz/398 mL) baked beans in tomato sauce
  • 2 cups cooked or canned romano or pinto beans (see page 84), drained and rinsed 500 mL
  • 2 cups cooked or canned black beans (see page 84), drained and rinsed 500 mL
  • 1 tbsp chili powder 15 mL
  • 2 tsp ground cumin 10 mL
  • 2 tsp ground coriander 10 mL
  • ¼ cup mole paste (see tip, at left) 60 mL
  • ½ cup vegetable or chicken broth 125 mL
  • Crushed tortilla chips, chopped fresh cilantro, shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. In slow cooker stoneware, combine garlic, green pepper, onion, tomatoes with juice, beans in tomato sauce, romano beans, black beans, chili powder, cumin and coriander.
  2. In a bowl, combine mole paste and broth. Using a fork, gently stir together into a thin sauce. Stir into bean mixture.
  3. Cover and cook on Low for 5 to 6 hours or on High for 21?2 to 3 hours, until vegetables are tender and chili is bubbling. Serve topped with tortilla chips, cilantro and cheese (if using).
Notes
Make Ahead: This dish can be assembled up to 12 hours in advance. Prepare through step 2, cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, place stoneware in slow cooker and proceed with step 3.

Tip: If you can’t find mole paste, substitute 1 tbsp (15 mL) unsweetened cocoa powder and 1?2 tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon. Mole paste is a rich, dark, reddish brown sauce used in many Mexican poultry dishes. It is a smooth cooked blend of onions, garlic, several varieties of chiles, ground seeds (such as pumpkin or sesame) and a small amount of Mexican chocolate, which adds richness without being overly sweet. You can find mole paste in the Mexican foods section of the supermarket or in specialty stores.

Courtesy of Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes by Donna-Marie Pye, 2014 © www.robertrose.ca

Reprinted with publisher permission.

Creamy Caramel Blondies Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes Joy Makin' Mamas Review
Creamy Caramel Blondies, page 346, desserts, kid-fav
Author: 
 
Makes 4 to 6 servings My son, Jack, and I are caramel and butterscotch fanatics! Blondies are often described as brownies without chocolate, which I find silly: blondies have their own unique, delicious personality. While brownies depend on chocolate for their flavor, with blondies it’s all about the brown sugar. This tasty dessert combines a cake top over a creamy caramel sauce. Be sure to serve with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. • 4- to 5-quart slow cooker
Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 250 mL
  • 1 tsp baking powder 5 mL
  • ½ tsp salt 2 mL
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar, divided 250 mL
  • ¼ cup butter, softened 60 mL
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 5 mL
  • ½ cup milk 125 mL
  • ½ cup soft caramels, wrappers removed 125 mL
  • 1 cup boiling water 250 mL
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat half the brown sugar and butter until creamy.
  3. Stir in vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with milk, making three additions of each and beating well after each addition. Stir in caramels. Spread batter evenly in slow cooker stoneware.
  4. In a glass measuring cup, combine the remaining brown sugar and boiling water, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour evenly over batter.
  5. Cover and cook on High for 21?2 to 3 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes
  6. out clean.
Notes
Tip: It is best to use individually wrapped soft caramels, but you can substitute ½ cup (125 mL) butterscotch chips.

Courtesy of Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes by Donna-Marie Pye, 2014 © www.robertrose.ca

Reprinted with publisher permission.

I’d love to hear how they go for you! This book is definitely going into my meal planning rotation, and I’m sure I’ll be singing the praises of the tomatillo for you soon.

Looking for more ways to live it up on a budget? Check out my Good Life Pinterest Board:
Follow Meghan Gray’s board Living the Good Life on Pinterest.

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Would you like to win a three month subscription to eMeals? You’ll get your dinner plan and grocery list delivered right to you, and all you have to do is pick up the ingredients and fix dinner. I told you what we liked about eMeals, but I am not sure I ever mentioned that my husband has made me sweet potatoes and fresh spinach exactly ONE time in his life- and it was because he was following an eMeals plan! How HOT is that? I was able to hand him the page and say, “here are the instructions for tonight’s dinner.” And he brought me a hot, delicious dinner perfectly prepared from fresh ingredients. That right there is true romance, people!

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eMeals lets you pick a menu plan that meets your family’s needs. Vegetarian, clean eating, slow cooker… lots more! So you can see how simple eMeals makes dinner, I’ve posted two of their sample recipes. Notice that you get “two dinners for the work of one,” as it were- this is very standard for them. You’ll find one of the meals that comes early in the week instructs you to set aside a portion for a “no work” dinner on another night. I love that- once you’ve done the pork shoulder (which is often on sale, and is a very simple crock pot meal) you only need to add a few ingredients and you have got your tacos on the table. If you can’t wait or if you want a plan that includes more than just dinner, you can get 20% off your purchase with coupon code SCHOOL.

Slow cooker clean eating pork tacos with cilantro lime salsa

Italian Pork Shoulder
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 4 lb boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Anaheim peppers, seeded and sliced*
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Instructions
  1. Season pork with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat.
  3. Add pork; cook 5 minutes per side or until browned.
  4. Remove from heat and transfer to a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker.
  5. Add parsley, oregano, garlic, broth, vinegar, peppers and crushed red pepper
  6. flakes to slow cooker.
  7. Cover and cook on Low 6 to 8 hours or until pork is tender. Serve half of pork,
  8. and reserve remaining half for Pork Tacos.
  9. *Note: Green bell peppers may be substituted for Anaheim peppers if desired.

Pork Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Slaw
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 2 cups tricolor slaw mix
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Italian Pork Shoulder
Instructions
  1. Heat tortillas according to package instructions.
  2. Combine slaw mix, cilantro, lime juice, oil, cumin and salt in a medium bowl; toss to coat.
  3. Gently warm pork in microwave or warm oven; shred with 2 forks.
  4. Arrange pork in tortillas; top with slaw.

Apple Chutney Pork Roast

In spite of the name, there isn’t actually any chutney in this recipe. Although a true chutney would have vinegar in it, this tastes pretty darn close to me. This recipe uses staple ingredients that store well, so it’s easy to throw it in the crock pot on a day when you weren’t expecting to need a plan for dinner. If you are out of cinnamon or nutmeg, throw in a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice along with the chili pepper and you should be pleased with the results. You can also make this recipe your own with a hint of coriander or 1/4 cup of dried fruit.

The super quick prep on this recipe along with the “can’t ruin it” flavors also make this a great choice for cooking with kids. My big guy loves to chop apples with his Pampered Chef “kids knife” (I believe there are other types of knives on the market that will cut fruit and aren’t dangerously sharp. One friend says her kid cuts apples with a nylon knife. I don’t have one so I can’t tell you more than that.) And there are only a few spices, which means it’s a great opportunity to practice measuring. (And no one will care if there’s a pinch more nutmeg in there!)

Apple Chutney Pork Roast
Author: 
Recipe type: slow cooker
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 4 lbs pork roast (I used sirloin. Pick one with some fat on it so it'll hold up to the long cooking.)
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 3 small cooking apples, cored and sliced (I leave the skins on but you may prefer to peel them.)
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, grated
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ancho chili powder (if you like more spice try cayenne.)
Instructions
  1. Put the pork roast in the bottom of the slow cooker and put remaining ingredients on top.
  2. Cover and cook four hours on low.
Notes
Slow cooker times vary. Be sure to stick in a meat thermometer and make sure the roast is at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit in the middle. Learn more about Cooking Apples.

 

Maple Mustard Pork Loin

Maple Mustard Pork RoastPork Tenderloin is a very tender, lean cut and I frequently find it on sale, so I’m always on the lookout for a good pork tenderloin recipe! This one depends mainly on ingredients you probably already keep on hand.The big exception is the fresh rosemary. I love fresh rosemary so much that I plant it in my garden every year. There is just no comparison between fresh rosemary and dried. Rosemary and pork comes second only to rosemary and lamb, in my opinion.

If you’re like me, you probably have been accustomed to think of pork as something that has to be cooked long and hard. New recommendations for the internal temperature of pork are lower and result in an incredibly tender and flavorful dish. AND- it gets dinner on the table faster. Which is awesome, because, by the time dinner rolls around, I am usually pretty darn hungry. I do not like to wait any longer than I have to!

Maple Mustard Pork Loin
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup Maple Syrup
  • ¼ cup Dijon Mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Cider Vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Sea Salt, (i used rosemary salt.)
  • 1 teaspoon Fresh Rosemary
  • 3 pounds Pork Tenderloin
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients except pork in a non-reactive bowl and mix well.
  2. Put roast in a roasting pan.
  3. Cook roast, uncovered, in the middle of the hot oven for approximately 1 hour, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the roast measures the temperature at 145 degrees.
Notes
I love this with green beans, tomatoes, and a small amount of sharp cheese on the side. My husband prefers his with mushrooms. Sometimes I add a clove of pressed garlic to the sauce, and sometimes not. Also, you CAN make this with dried rosemary, but it doesn't compare to the fresh stuff!