February 8, 2013

Crockpot Love and the Witching Hour.

So.  The crockpot.  Dude!  I might be in love.  Ok wait.  Let me start at the beginning....

Matt usually gets home around 6:30.  Which means we need to eat AS SOON AS HE WALKS IN THE DOOR OMFG.  And the time between 5 and whenever that is is awful.  The Witching Hour.  The time when my kids go from tame and nice and trustworthy to hellions intent on destroying both the house and each other.

WHY. Why do they need to take out ALL OF THE BOOKS?!?!? #igiveup #sellthemtogypsies
This is tame.  Usually it's much, MUCH worse than this.
I get it.  They are hungry and tired and ready for daddy, I am at the outer limits of my patience for the day. The results being a loud, meltdown-y, mess.  That I need to supervise to prevent injury. Which is perfect considering that's exactly when I need to be cooking in order to time dinner right. 


I could probably just feed the kids earlier but all of us eating together as a family is not something I'm willing to give up.  I think it's so, SO important to have that time together.  And to establish that as a non-negotiable way of life from the beginning. 

I also could plug them in.  I have cooked with Elmo's aid many times before. But I"m just not willing to go there every single day.  I want it to be the exception not the rule.

Really the only solution is to hire a personal chef. 

Or... barring a ridiculous influx of disposable income.... throw a bunch of crap into the crockpot while the kids are eating lunch and hope it comes out ok.  Guess which one I've been doing alot of lately?

Some of it has been awesome. 
Cilantro lime chicken. One in the crockpot for now, two to freeze for later. #yum #crockpot #dinner #cilantro #picstitch
Cilantro Lime Chicken.  I made 3 batches.  One to eat then, one to freeze for later, and one to take to my Brother and Sister in Law who just had a baby.  Freezer meals are a whole other rabbit hole I've fallen down lately.  Cooking is hard now but grocery shopping with THREE KIDS?  I can't even... how... it's...my brain implodes.  So I'm planning ahead.
Some of it not as much:

Attempting potato soup in the crock pot. We shall see. #dinner #crockpot
The crockpot potato soup turned out quite delicious. #dinner #yum #crockpot
Crockpot Baked Potato Soup.  I changed some things from the recipe - used frozen hashbrowns for half of the potatoes and added in cheddar cheese with the cream cheese.  The flavor was outstanding but the texture was... not quite right.  Overall it was ok but I'm not sure it will make it into my regular meals list.
And some of it completely, totally random.  I've gotten to the point where I basically just wander through the house looking for stuff to put in the crockpot:

Crock Pot Meals
How about this?  Would this work?
So far I've had amazingly decent results.  The picture above turned into a recipe I came up with on the fly using nonsense I found in my basement pantry.  I told my husband it was "Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore."  Yup.  It was so good that we threw down over who got the leftovers for lunch the next day (he did.) I served it over Polenta made with cornmeal from our summer CSA.  So, so, so good.  Crazy good considering the complete lack of effort involved.  So I thought I would share:

Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore:

Can of Stewed Tomatoes - I used traditional recipe w/ green peppers and onions
Can of Cannelinni Beans drained and rinsed
Small onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
Chicken Stock - I used about half of a 32 oz box
Boneless Skinless Chicken Tenderloins (breasts or thighs would work, too)
Italian Seasonings - alot
Red Pepper Flakes - a little
Green Pepper chopped? (I didn't have one of these but I bet it would be delicious in this recipe)
Mushrooms chopped? (I didn't have these either but adding them in would also be good.  It would give the whole thing a more traditional cacciatore flavor)

Dump some frozen chicken into the crockpot.  I didn't even bother to dethaw.  Then put some Italian seasonings and a little bit of red pepper flakes on top.

Crock Pot Meals
Add in the onion and garlic, add some more Italian seasonings:

Crock Pot Meals
Dump the beans and tomatoes on top.  Add some more Italian seasoning.  Then pour in enough chicken stock to make the whole thing wet.  You don't want to make soup but it needs some liquid to cook.

Crock Pot Meals

Cover and cook on low for somewhere around 6 hours (or high for... less time?)  Right before you serve this shred the chicken a bit with two forks.
Crock Pot Meals

Serve over Polenta or rice with good, crusty bread:

Crock Pot Meals Act like you are the world's best chef and your husband should be super impressed with your culinary prowess.  AHEM.

So what about you guys?  What amazing and easy crockpot recipes do you have up your sleeve?  I'd love to hear some more good ones!  The simpler the better...
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