Saturday, October 2, 2010

Food For Thought

Happy October!  Last week we ushered in Fall and recently on our walks to school we have been noticing more and more gold and yellow and rust colored trees.  I love the excitement in Ashley's voice as she spots a tree that looks different than it did yesterday.  I enjoy the little snapshots of seeing the world through the kids' eyes:  everything is new and different and wonderful!

We enjoyed/endured a warm/hot summer this year (depending upon what sort of desert dweller you are!) and as we have marched toward fall, we haven't really cooled off yet.   Brett and I were commenting on that last night as we headed to bed ... with the ceiling fan still whirring and our bedroom windows still open! Is this really fall?  I hope we don't jump straight into winter!  While I am ready for cooler weather, crisp mornings and the changing of seasons as seen in the trees ... I'm not ready to bundle up the kids every time we head out the door or the need to shovel the driveway!

One part of Fall and the cooler weather to come that I truly do love, is the transition from fresh summer dinners to comfort meals hot from the oven.  Or in this case ... the crock-pot!  In addition to welcoming Fall, we are also saying good-bye to Fall Ball next week.  While I have really enjoyed the games I have gotten to see of Aaron playing baseball, these 5:15 games really throw a wrench in our typical dinner plans.  In light of the fact that two nights a week we have been stumbling in the door at 7 pm, each one of us hungry and a tad bit tired, it has been absolutely necessary to have dinner all ready to eat when we arrive.  Hence my love for my crock-pot!  I love that I can do the work ahead of time (when the mornings are more predictable) and then I get to smell the yummy concoction simmering away all day and then we can dive in to a scrumptious, hot dinner when we're ready!  Here are four of my favorite crock-pot dishes.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Slow Cooker Lasagna
(from "Taste Of Home ~ The New Slow Cooker") 

1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 29 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 tsp salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 8 oz package no-cook lasagna noodles
2 cups mozzerella, shredded
12 oz cottage cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
In a large pot brown the beef with the onion and garlic.  Add the sauce, water, paste and oregano and mix well.  In a separate bowl, combine the cheeses and egg.  Mix well.  Spread 1/4 of the meat sauce in the crock-pot.  Arrange a few noodles over the meat - break them if necessary to make a complete layer. Spoon 1/3 of the cheese on the noodles.  Then meat, noodles, cheese, meat, noodles, cheese, meat.

meat layer
cheese & noodle layer

Put the cover on and cook on low for 4-5 hours until the noodles are tender.  Yum!

The kids scarfed this meal down!

Five Can Chili
(from yours truly!) 
1 pound ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
Ground Red Chili Pepper
1 can each of pinto, kidney, dark kidney and chili beans
1 28 oz diced tomatoes

Doesn't get much easier!
Brown the beef in a skillet with the garlic.  Season to taste with cumin and chili pepper.  Transfer to crock-pot.  In a colander, drain and rinse all the beans except for the chili beans.  Dump all the beans into the crock-pot.  Drain the tomatoes of some of their juices and transfer them to the crock pot.  Add a few shakes of basil and stir.  I let this sit on low for 5-6 hours.  We serve our chili with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of cheese and, for the adults, some fresh chopped onion.

Slow Cooker Enchiladas
(from "Taste Of Home ~ The New Slow Cooker") 

1 pound ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can pinto beans, rinsed & drained
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 10 oz can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup water
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups cheddar, shredded
6 flour tortillas

beginning layers
In a pot, cook beef, onion and green pepper until no longer pink.  Add everything else except the cheese and tortillas - mix well.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Spray the crock-pot with a little cooking spray before starting the layers.  Begin with about 1 cup of the beef mixture, followed by one tortilla and 1/3 cup cheese. Repeat layers until your run out!  Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours.  We topped our with a bit of sour cream.  Delish!


Pork Carnitas
(from "Dinner Doctor") 
3 lb pork roast
1 small onion, chopped coarsely
1 4 ox can chopped green chilies
1 package taco seasoning
1 cup water
3-4 green onions, chopped
Burrito makings:  tortillas, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, sour cream, avocado, salsa, etc.
Place the roast in the crock-pot and toss in the onions and green chilies.  Pour the taco season packet on top and pour the water over everything.  Put the lid on and walk away!  Warning:  about two hours into this cooking, your house will be filled with the most delicious aroma.  You will spend the day salivating!

Simmered to perfection!

About 30 minutes before dinner, take the roast out and place it carefully on a plate.  With two forks, pull the roast apart.  You are wanting to have shredded pork when you are finished.  Transfer the meat back to the crock-pot and stir all the meat, onions and chilies back together.  At this point, I like to toss in the green onions for some extra color and a fresh flavor.  All that's left is to serve it up!  We wrap our carnitas up in tortillas and top them with any of the above toppings.  I also like to serve the meat mixture on top of rice and serve in in a bowl with a side of chips.  So very wonderful and easy!

Ready to roll and eat.

I hope that you will enjoy a few comfort meals this Fall ... and if you use a crock-pot, you can be outside enjoying the changing of the seasons, instead of in your kitchen!


  1. Okay, 3 things...
    1. The joy of having children is being able to see the world as a child, again. So, if you missed it as a kid it's agift to go around again & again & for you?...again & again :)
    2. Thanks for the recipes for the crock pot. I was just saying this morning, I should get it out......
    3. Once are an inspiration (&Allison bought a label-maker today...)

  2. Okay, 3 things ...
    1. The joy of children and seeing the world through their eyes can make you dizzy! :)
    2. You're welcome.
    3. Thanks! And don't go labelin' without me! :) Ashley wants to know what color the labeler is :) That's my girl!

  3. Okay, 3 things...
    1. You are a wonderful mom who enjoys her children (and their joy!) to the fullest! You are an inspiration!
    2. CANNOT wait to try some of these recipes! It's great to be able to throw a meal in when I leave for the day and come home to delicious smells and tastes!! How long do you leave the pork roast in the crock pot?
    3. I am incredibly jealous of Allison's label maker!!

  4. Krystal ... I love ya! Okay ... 3 things :)
    1) You make me get a little teary eyed with your sweetness :)
    2) I think I leave the pork in for about 4 hours ... you cannot over-cook it.
    3) I love my label maker ... Sweet Brett got me one for Mother's Day and it was a little embarrassing how excited I was. You really should get one ... seeing as you are an organizer, too. Hugs!

  5. Okay, 3 things:

    1) I too am going to enjoy these wonderful recipes (as will my family- who is used to me only knowing how to make waffles!)
    2) I was wondering if there is a way to print directly from your blog (I ended up cutting and pasting onto a new document)
    3) My printer now needs more ink!

  6. Sweet Beth Lady :)
    Okay, 3 things:
    1) I remember you making a few meals in your college days :) I have complete confidence in you!
    2) I will have to look into printer-abilities ... that's a good idea.
    3) Dontcha hate that?!?


Thanks for visiting! Your comments are warm fuzzies! (And con-crit is always welcome, too.)