As the New Year begins, most people make resolutions -- lose weight, save money, get organized.
For some, a slow cooker and even the new InstaPot is a lifesaver. I am not an InstaPot user just yet, but from what I see on social media, it is the best invention since the microwave.
Now the slow cooker and InstaPot are cousins. One cooks a meal slowly and one cooks in a snap. The concept is the same -- one pot meals.
Tina Gatlin, our bookkeeper here at The Winona Times and The Conservative, was sharing with me her favorite slow-cooker recipes, and one we had in common -- the Mississippi pot roast. (For InstaPot lovers, you will need to determine the right amount of cooking time for the recipes below.)
The Mississippi pot roast makes the best sandwich in the world. No matter what, you dump the ingredients into the slow cooker, and it is perfect every time.
Mississippi Pot Roast
1 (3-4 pounds) chuck roast
1 packet ranch dressing mix
1 packet Lipton Onion Soup Mix
1 stick of butter
8-9 pepperoncini peppers
Place roast in the slow cooker and sprinkle the top with the ranch dressing mix and soup mix. Place peppers on top of the mixes, and add the butter.
Cook over low heat for eight hours.
Tina raved about her “Chicken Crack” recipe -- one she pulled off Pinterest. This is definitely one I will have to try soon, and she says it makes a great sandwich.
2-3 pounds boneless chicken breasts
2 (8 ounce) blocks cream cheese
2 (1 ounce) packets dry Ranch seasoning
8 ounces bacon, cooked crisply and crumbled
In a slow cooker combine chicken, cream cheese, and Ranch seasoning. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours, until chicken shreds easily. Once chicken shreds stir with a large fork or spoon, so the chicken shreds and all the ingredients combine. Add in crumbled bacon and stir to incorporate. Serve warm.
A few years ago, my friend Angela McCaulla served Lasagna Soup at a book club meeting. It was amazing -- even better than regular lasagna. After hunting down the recipe on Pinterest, I can make this amazing soup anytime I want.
1 pound ground Italian sausage
1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 green pepper, diced
1 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon basil
¼ teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 (14.5 ounces) cans petite diced tomatoes
2 (8 ounces) cans tomato sauce
3 cups water
4 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
3 cups uncooked campanella noodles (they look like little tiny lasagna noodles)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Grated mozzarella cheese
In a pan, brown the ground sausage and saute the onions and garlic at the same time. Drain off all grease. Rinse the meat in a colander with hot water to make sure all grease is rinsed off. Add to the slow cooker.
Add the green pepper, garlic, thyme, basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, bay leaf, brown sugar, tomatoes, tomato sauce, water and bouillon into the slow cooker.
Cover and cook on LOW for about 4-6 hours.
Discard the bay leaf. Cook the pasta over the stove top until al dente. Drain off the water and add the pasta to the slow cooker. If needed, season and salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle into serving bowls and top with grated Parmesan and mozzarella and a dollop of ricotta cheese.
My husband, Keith, and I love these chicken Philly cheesesteak sandwiches made in the slow cooker. And what’s great is this recipe is low fat and relatively healthy -- based on what kind of bread and fixings you use to make the sandwiches.
Chicken Philly Cheesesteaks
Chicken breast, skinless boneless, 2 large breast
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 onion, sliced
2 Bell peppers
1/2 cup Banana peppers, sliced
Place chicken breasts in slow cooker. Top with seasoning, sliced onions, peppers, and banana peppers. Cover and allow to cook for 5-6 hours on low (3-4 hours on high). Once fully cooked, use forks to pull apart and shred chicken.
Serve on a Hoagie roll and dress with mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato.