Penelope Loves Her Crock Pot: or closest thing to a clone I’m gonna get

January 27, 2010

I get such satisfaction out of cooking with my Crock Pot (or, more properly, my “slow cooker”).

I love that I can wake up just 15 minutes earlier than usual and prepare that night’s meal. I love that all day, I can think “I’m here at my office, working like a crazy person, and at home, my Crock Pot is bubbling away, making tonight’s dinner.”

When I get home, it’s a quick salad, some bread, and – poof! – dinner. Such a timesaver and, really, the closest thing I’m going to get to having a clone short of my sister abandoning her family and coming to live with me. (That ain’t gonna happen. I’ve tried.)

Here’s one of my favorite slow cooker recipes, both because it’s delicious and because I can get it going in less than 10 minutes. Let me know if you try it.

Meredith’s Chicken Cacciatore:

Makes 6-8 servings

  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 packages of chicken thighs (about 8 pieces)
  • 2 6-oz cans of tomato paste
  • 4-oz of fresh mushrooms (you can use canned, but I think canned mushrooms are yucky and the fresh come pre-cleaned anyway, so it’s still fast)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (you might want more, taste it in it’s final stages and add if desired)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (of a quality you’d drink)
  • 2 garlic cloves (or, as I use it, 2 spoons of crushed garlic from the jar)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed (if desired)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • (+ for serving: rice/pasta and 1/2 cup goat cheese)

Put the onion in and cover with chicken. Stir the rest of the ingredients together and pour over the chicken. Cover and cook on low 7-10 hours or high 3-4 hours.

I serve this over rice, but you can serve over spaghetti or any pasta.

Penelope tip: sprinkle with goat cheese and serve. This extra zotch of creamy tanginess is what makes the recipe for me. And, I always make the full recipe and have enough for leftovers the next night. I just change out the salad and bread to make it a bit different. My family never minds.

My favorite slow cooker recipe book is The Fix It and Forget It Cookbook by Dawn Ranck and Phyllis Pellman Good.

Update: one of my favorite Pennies, Kimberly, just recommended we check out A Year of Slow Cooking. Looks great. I can’t wait to dig into those archives.

Do you have a favorite slow cooker recipe? If so, please share in the comments.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Kimberly January 27, 2010 at 4:26 pm

I used to have that cookbook, and I loved it! I loaned it to a friend, and I have yet to get it back. Where is her number? The recipe looks yummy. I’ll have to give it a try. I love the slow cooker too. There is a great blog called A Year of Slow Cooking – –she has some yummy recipes too.

Kristi @ Life at the Chateau Whitman January 27, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I will absolutely try this! I love my crock pot too. I only discovered it a few months ago, if you can believe it. Thanks for the book recommendation too as I was looking for one of those.

Amanda @ Serenity Now January 27, 2010 at 5:43 pm

YUM!!! I love to use my crock pot…I need to do it more often. :)

Bneato January 27, 2010 at 6:30 pm

as you know, i’m moving in with the beau on monday (and between adam and i) i think we know how to make 4 dishes–frozen pizza being one of them. i think a wise purchase will be a crock pot–thanks for the recipe!

Jesse January 27, 2010 at 8:16 pm

Sounds delicious! I love my crock pot too!

Emily Horak January 27, 2010 at 8:19 pm

I love my slow cooker, too! I, too, have tried to get my sister to come live with me. The similarities don’t quit. ;) Thanks for the recipe!

Susan January 28, 2010 at 8:45 am

YUM! Definitely bookmarking this recipe! I love chicken cacciatore!

Erin January 28, 2010 at 8:49 am

This is pretty silly of me, but I don’t think I have a slow cooker. I have a dutch over (buttery yellow, quelle surprise) and a rice maker. Can I use either of those? Can I put this stuff in the dutch over and just have it sit in the oven all day? As I typed that it seemed like a bad idea. My rice cooker may also be a slow cooker – it has a timer on it… Time to get out the manual! I’ve always liked the idea of having dinner waiting for me when I got home :) My sister did live with us for a few months and it was heaven!

Susan January 28, 2010 at 8:50 am

P.S. You NEED to make this:

It is amazing. And you can use the meat for so much more than tacos. Use it in enchiladas, for sandwiches, or for my favorite – tamales!!!

Meredith Meredith January 28, 2010 at 9:49 am

@Kim: thanks for that link, I’m going to check it out.

@BNeato: I can’t wait to see how it goes after the move…so exciting!

@Erin: you gotta get a slow cooker, my friend. Don’t try anything else bc the slow cooker is made for just this purpose, anything else might light your house on fire. They’re not too spendy and totally worth the money.

@Susan: that recipe looks great. I’ve printed it and put it on next week’s menu. Thanks for the recommendation.

And why are our sisters’ our perfect clones? My sister is the only person in the world who could come in and run my home exactly as I do. I guess it’s all the shared history, teaching and DNA. OK, that was a dumb question.

Melinda January 28, 2010 at 1:05 pm

As the sis of this Penelope, i just had to write in a big “aahhh, I love you too!” And there are definitely days where I feel my Penny-sanity would be restored if I could just spend the weekend with you. But alas, our families desperately need us.

Thanks for the cacciatore recipe. It’s going on next week’s menu. I am saddened to say that it took me a few years to fall in love with my crock pot as I didn’t know the placement order of ingredients was so important. I was constantly putting my meats on the bottom only to find them overcooked at the end of the day. Huge let-down after salivating for 8 hours. So yes, I’ll be sure to tuck those onions underneath.

To Erin with the Dutch Oven, I adore mine and use many a crockpot recipe in it but the cook time is about 1/2 of that of a crockpot and usually involves a bit or stirring and temp checking now and again. I second the motion of not leaving it on the stove when you are gone for more than an hour.

However, if you ever find a lazy Saturday, here is one of my fav dutch-oven recipes:

Served it at a dinner party and it was a huge hit. And can be made the night before!!

carlee January 28, 2010 at 1:40 pm

I love my slow cooker. I agree, it’s so nice knowing it’s cooking while you are doing something else. I will have to try this recipe out, it sounds delicious!

Jennifer Tankersley January 28, 2010 at 2:44 pm

I smiled when I read the title to your post today. Somebody (in church) once told us that when it comes to sex, men were like microwaves and women were like slow cookers (I hope that was not too racy) :-) I would say my biggest obstacle in using one is just thinking that far ahead. You basically have to look at your menu plan the day before so you can be thinking about it the next morning. If my slow cooker were in better view, I might think of it more often.

Marie January 28, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Hi Penelope! Thanks for popping over to my blog! I’m loving the course too!! I’m really happy to discover your blog….b/c i also love my crockpot!! lol…I even mentioned it one of my posts “Things to Love About Fall”…my boyfriend is the expert though. Love it! See you in the forum! xo

Megan January 29, 2010 at 8:44 am

Right now there is a Slow Cooker recipe book available for free for Kindle! It’s great! I can pop open the “book” at the store and make sure I have all the ingredients!

Audrey January 30, 2010 at 7:56 am

I too love my crockpot. Often I get it ready the night before. Then in the morning, all I have to do is plug it in and leave for work.

simonp008 September 6, 2010 at 5:10 pm

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Werner Beadles October 16, 2010 at 8:38 pm

I have to say, every time I come to #hostname you have another fascinating post up to read. One of my friends was telling me about this topic a few weeks ago, so I think I’ll send my friend the link here and see what they say.

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