Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Making the Crock Pot Even Easier

We are gone almost every night at dinnertime. The girls dance, the boys have TKD, and we all have debate. That schedule wreaks havoc with dinner. I honestly can't remember the last time I used my oven. I don't like it to be on when I'm not home (we really need a new one), and I don't find that I have time to make dinner once the afternoon rush is on. Thus - it's Taco Bell the crock pot for us. There are three ways that I make the crock pot even easier than it already is. First, I don't defrost, brown, or in any other way pre-prepare anything that goes in it. Frozen chicken, pink roasts, everything goes in in its original state. Second, I always use crock pot liners. Eating at 8:30 or 9:30 at night means that cleaning up is the last thing I want to do. Yes, I know it's not good for the environment. I don't care. Third, I take every single shortcut there is. I'm not a homesteader, a frugal blogger, or any of those other things I really admire. I use canned and cartoned anything I can. I still manage to make some darn tasty dinners (N.B., I absolutely can cook from scratch, and when I have time, I do).

Image Credit: CampbellsKitchen.com

For example, early yesterday afternoon I threw two cartons of Mexican Tortilla flavored chicken broth, black beans, corn, fire roasted tomatoes, green chilis, frozen chicken breasts, and tomato paste into the crock pot. About 5 hours later, I served bowls of delicious tortilla soup. I added cheese and crumbled tortilla chips to the top and everyone inhaled it. Usually I would, of course, have added spices, but with the flavored chicken broth, I didn't need any. It took me about 3 minutes to "make" dinner. It took 30 seconds to clean it up. The recipe is one that I have made before, but I have used regular chicken broth and my own spices in the past. By taking this additional shortcut, I saved the time of finding the spices and loosely measuring them (*very* loosely!). Plus, the broth was really good!

I am always looking for shortcuts like this one. When Henry and I were first married, I would sometimes spend 3-4 hours cooking dinner...but I was 21, in college, and had nothing better to do. Those days seem like a million years ago.

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