Category Archives: Slow Cooker

Tangy Pork Loin End Roast, Ninja Style

Looking good!

With the holidays so close, time is at a premium for most of us, with the parties and decorating and shopping and such. Here’s an easy and delicious pork roast to make in your slow cooker. I save even more time by making this in my Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System, especially since I don’t have to use a separate skillet to saute the onions and brown the meat. Don’t have a Ninja yet? Then add it to your Christmas gift list – you’ll be thrilled if one shows up under your tree!

This pork roast is tender, moist and flavorful. The vinegar makes it tangy and the hot sauce gives it a nice kick!

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Ham, Potato and Corn Chowder, Ninja Style

The first dish I made in my new Ninja® 3-in-1 Cooking System that I blogged about last week was a wonderful ham, potato and corn chowder. I wanted to use the Ninja’s stovetop and slow cooker modes, and since the weather had turned a bit chilly, a chowder seemed to fit the bill. And, as luck would have it, I found ham potatoes and red bell peppers on sale at the grocery store. I love when things come together like that!

This is a hearty soup that will warm your insides. It is so creamy and the ham, potatoes, corn and red pepper taste great together. You will probably come back for seconds!

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Product Review: Ninja® 3-in-1 Cooking System

It’s been several weeks since I got my Ninja® 3-in-1 Cooking System and I’ve been quite happy with it so far. Before I begin this review, a couple of things: First, I am not affiliated with Ninja in any way. Second, I did receive this product for free, as some of you may remember from my recent blog on Portland. I attended the International Food Bloggers Conference in late August and one of the luncheons was hosted by Ninja. I didn’t realize beforehand that I would be receiving the Ninja just for attending the lunch (nor did most of the people in the room, judging by the excited reactions I heard when it was announced that the system would be shipped to us, free of charge.) That being said, I promise to give the most unbiased and honest review that I can.

According to one of the booklets that came with the system, the Ninja, with its “triple fusion heat technology, combines oven, stovetop, slow cooking and revolutionary steam infused roasting and baking to create delicious and healthier meals, faster and with true convenience.” I like to describe it as a slow-cooker on steroids, plus more.

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Carnitas Soft Tacos

Harris Teeter had Boston butts on sale the other day, so I picked one up, not really sure how I was going to prepare it. Since Cinco de Mayo was approaching, I decided to try my hand at carnitas soft tacos, which I’ve been ordering quite a bit lately whenever we go out for Mexican food. Carnitas is Mexican for “little meats” and is simply small bits or shreds of well browned pork used as snacks or fillings for tacos or burritos.

For my carnitas, I pulled ingredients from a handful of recipes, plus took the advice of a server in one local restaurant who suggested I slow cook the pork in cola, which acts as a great meat tenderizer. I am glad I did because it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. This is so easy to make and the only thing I will do different next time is to double the amount of jalapeños and garlic.

Ingredients for the Pork Shoulder Roast

  • 5 lb. pork Boston butt
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • Cumin to taste (I use at least 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 sweet onion, quartered
  • 2 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and sliced lengthwise (remember to wear gloves!)
  • 3 garlic gloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large seedless orange, juiced, with the peel cut into 4 to 8 slices
  • 20 oz. bottle of cola (do not use diet)
  • Salt to taste
  • Hot sauce to taste

Preparation

Trim the fat off of the pork roast, cut it into large chunks and sprinkle it liberally with the cumin. Heat the oil in a large skillet and brown the pork on all sides. You will want to do this in batches so as not to crowd the meat. Drain the meat on paper towels and place in the slow cooker.

Add the rest of the ingredients except for the salt and hot sauce, and cook on low for 8 hours, until fork-tender. About halfway through the cooking period, taste to see if you need to add salt and/or hot sauce. I needed both, especially the hot sauce.

Let the pork cool, and then strain it from the rest of the ingredients with a slotted spoon and place it in a large bowl. Shred it with two forks – it should come apart quite easily.

Ingredients for the Carnitas Tacos

  • Flour tortillas
  • Shredded pork roast
  • Cilantro, chopped in small pieces, to taste
  • Red or sweet onion, diced, to taste
  • Lime juice, freshly squeezed (I use ¼ lime per taco)
  • Hot sauce, to taste

Preparation

Warm the tortilla in a skillet or microwave according to the directions on the package. Place desired amount of pork on the tortilla and sprinkle with some of the lime juice and hot sauce Add the onion, cilantro and the rest of the lime juice.

Serve this with a black bean salad and an avocado-tomato salad, or with chips and salsa and guacamole. And don’t forget the margarita!

 Bon appétit!

Eat, drink and be merry!

Food of the Month, March 2012: Corned Beef

It should be no surprise to anyone that March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day – is National Corned Beef and Cabbage Day. I love corned beef, especially for leftovers to use in Reuben sandwiches and paninis, or as a base for corned beef hash.

This year I decided to cook the brisket in Guinness (not only since it is good for you, but also because beer is a great tenderizer) and found this great recipe that called for coating the corned beef with brown sugar and then adding the beer. Why not, I thought. I decided to use my slow cooker instead of preparing it on the stove/oven as I usually do. Wow, simply wow. This was absolutely one of the most tender briskets I’ve ever made. The addition of the brown sugar not only gave the beef a great taste, but also enhanced the sweetness of the carrots.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lb. corned beef brisket (including spice package)
  • 1 cup brown sugar (I used a combination of light and dark)
  • 2 cans Guinness draught
  • 4-5 red-skinned potatoes
  • 10-12 carrots, cut into long slices
  • ½ head of cabbage, quartered

Preparation

Wash the brisket well and dry with paper towels. Coat it on all sides with the brown sugar.

Place the corned beef in the slow cooker and sprinkle it with the spice package.

Add the Guinness. If the beer does not completely cover the brisket, add water until you can no longer see the corned beef. If you cannot be home while this is cooking, place the “fat” side up in case some of the liquid evaporates – this helps the brisket not to get dry.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours – the longer, the better – for tender, fall-off-the-fork meat. About two hours before you are ready to eat, add the carrots and potatoes.

About ½ hour before dinner time, add the cabbage.

This is such a wonderful one-pot meal. Serve with some nice crusty bread if you’d like.

As I mentioned earlier, I love leftover corned beef for sandwiches and to make hash, and I will be posting recipes for both soon.

Want to make something different for St. Patrick’s Day? Check out my post for Kel’s Incredible Irish Stew and Kel’s Traditional Shepherd’s Pie for some tasty alternatives. It’s all good! And don’t forget, Guinness is good for you!

Bon appétit!

Eat, drink and be merry!

Kel’s Incredible Irish Stew (Slow Cooker Version)

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already March! Since St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, I’ll be sharing a few recipes over the next couple of weeks that you may want to use for your celebration of Ireland’s patron saint, which is usually characterized by parades, the wearing of the green, shamrocks and lots of drinking. If you drink, then you need to eat – I promise you will thank me the next day.

When I visited Ireland in the late 1990s my friend Lee and I loved to stop by little pubs and try out their wonderful soups and stews, not to mention the great bread that accompanied them. Pair that with a Guinness (because Guinness is good for you) and voilà – instant comfort food!

This recipe is for a hearty Irish stew made with lamb (or beef, if you prefer) and Guinness – did I mention that it is good for you?

I like to make this stew in a slow cooker so I can leave it to cook on its own once everything is in the pot. When the stew is ready, it has the consistency of a rich soup that you may want to eat with a spoon or else sop up the liquid with some good, crusty bread. If you have leftovers (which freeze well, by the way), the stew thickens up some after being refrigerated, so break out your fork instead and dig in. Either way – yum!

Ingredients

  • 2 ½  lbs. boneless lamb sirloin, cubed (use stew beef if you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 small turnips, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 sweet onion, quartered
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 5 cloves garlic, whole
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, cut into large pieces
  • 4 cups (32 oz.) beef stock
  • 1 can (14.9 oz.) Guinness Draught beer (2 cans if you want to drink one while you’re making this, which is recommended)
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • ½ cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped fine
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Salt (I used Penzeys 4S), to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 2 cups frozen green peas

Preparation

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the lamb (I usually do this in a couple of batches), sprinkle with salt and brown – a couple of minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

Place the lamb and potatoes, turnips, onion, carrots, celery, parsley, garlic and bay leaves in the slow cooker. Add the Guinness and the beef stock. Place the rosemary sprigs on top.

Cook on high for 2 hours and then change the setting to low and cook for 5-6 hours. I usually remove the rosemary when I switch the temperature to low.

When you are about ready to serve, mix the cornstarch with ¼ cup of water. Add this to the stew and cook for ½ hour or so, at the high setting. Add the green peas at the very end – they will cook quickly in the hot liquid.

Serve with crusty bread and a glass of good red wine (or a Guinness, since it is good for you.)

By the way, if you love lamb, check out my previous post “Lamb Two Ways: Grilled Loin Chops and Greek-inspired Pita Pizzas.”

Bon appétit!

Eat, drink and be merry!

Slow Cooker Boneless Sirloin Pork Roast

Sirloin pork roasts were on sale the other day, so I picked one up to fix in my slow cooker. This recipe is big, big, big in flavor and so easy to prepare with just a handful of ingredients – throw everything in the crockpot and let it do the work for you! Use the leftovers for yummy sandwiches.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 lb. boneless sirloin pork roast
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Penzeys 4S salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium sweet onion, quartered
  • 1 package dry onion soup mix (Lipton’s works fine)
  • 1 cup good red wine (don’t use wine you wouldn’t drink)

Preparation

Turn crockpot to its “high” setting. Rub the pork roast with the garlic, salt and pepper to taste.

Cover the roast with garlic cloves, bay leaves and rosemary. Place each onion quarter around the roast.

Whisk the dry soup mix with the wine, and pour over the roast.

Slow cook on high for 4-5 hours, depending on your crockpot. Pork should reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees. I spoon the soup/wine mixture over the roast several times while it’s cooking.

Serve with garlic mashed potatoes and some of the “gravy” from the crockpot and green peas or other veggie of your choice. Applesauce makes a great side as well.

Bon appétit!

Eat, drink and be merry!

Turkey and White Bean Crockpot Soup

Here’s the recipe for the soup I mentioned in my earlier post on making the most of your leftover turkey.  This easy-to-make soup combines turkey, northern white beans and kielbasa to make a hearty, one-dish meal. Simmer this in your crockpot for several hours, letting the slow cooker do the work for you.  If you use “lite” kielbasa you eliminate much of the fat but none of the flavor. Yum!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups shredded leftover turkey, white and dark meat
  • 1 pkg. (13 oz.) Hillshire Farm Lite Polska Kielbasa
  • 2 cans (15.8 oz. each) drained Great Northern Beans (I used Bush’s)
  • 1 can (28 oz.) whole plum tomatoes
  • 2 stalks (about 1 cup) celery, diced medium
  • 1 cup carrots cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup of sweet onion, diced small
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 ½ cups fresh turkey stock (see recipe below)
  • 1 bay leave
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh rosemary to taste (I used 1 medium stem from my garden, cut into small pieces)
  • Fresh parsley to taste (I used 4 sprigs from my garden, cut into small pieces with no stems)
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Smoked Spanish Hot Paprika to taste (I love Penzeys)

Preparation

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and brown kielbasa about 4-5 minutes. Add the celery, onions and garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes, and then remove from heat.

Add the tomatoes to the crockpot, and gently break apart (you can use a spoon, or smush them with your clean hands per my good friend Mandi’s great suggestion to one of my earlier posts.)

Stir in the shredded turkey, drained beans and the kielbasa and veggies.

Add the fresh turkey stock and all of the seasonings (salt, pepper, paprika, rosemary and parsley) and stir well.

Cook on high until the soup begins to come to a boil, and then turn the temperature to low. I leave this to simmer for 4-5 hours so the flavors meld.

Garnish with freshly ground black pepper and Parmesan cheese. Serve with crusty bread and a glass of red wine, such as a nice shiraz.

Fresh Turkey Stock Recipe

Don’t throw away those turkey bones and the carcass just yet!  Use them to make a wonderful and inexpensive stock that you can season to your preference and have on hand when your recipes call for it.

Ingredients

  • Turkey carcass, leg and wing bones – skin and meat removed
  • 1 sweet onion, quartered
  • 2 stalks of celery cut into large pieces
  • Handful of baby carrots
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns

Place the turkey carcass and bones in a large stock pot. Cover with water. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for several hours. Let the stock cool, and then strain through a colander.

Place in dated plastic storage bags. This is so great to have in the freezer to use for soups and casseroles. I usually store it for a couple of months.

Bon appétit!

Eat, drink and be merry!

Crockpot Pot Roast

Now that the weather is getting cooler, I like to make this easy and tasty pot roast in my crockpot. I love using my slow cooker – it basically does all of the work for me once I’ve added all of the ingredients. This recipe is simple and the golden mushroom soup is awesome as a base for the gravy. Comfort food at its best!

Ingredients

  • 3 lb. chuck roast (I actually used a beef round sirloin tip
    roast this time, but prefer the chuck)
  • 1 tablespoon Canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 cans (10 oz. each) golden mushroom soup (I use Campbell’s)
  • 1 package dry onion soup mix (I use Lipton’s)
  • 1 cup good red wine (don’t use what you wouldn’t drink)
  • 4 white potatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1 sweet onion, cut into quarters
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into 1-2 inch slices
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • Fresh ground salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation

Turn on the crockpot to its high setting.

Salt and pepper the roast. Heat the oil in a large skillet and brown the roast on all sides. Transfer the roast to the crockpot.

Whisk together the golden mushroom soup, dry onion soup mix and red wine until smooth. Season with the salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the roast. Cook on high for 2 hours.

Add the veggies, and continue to cook on high for another 3-4 hours, until the potatoes and roast are fork tender.

Serve this roast with some crusty bread (this time I made some garlic-cheese biscuits from a mix that were actually quite good) and a glass of nice red wine.

I like to use the leftovers to make a pot roast sandwich – pile the meat and some of the onions on a toasted roll for a delicious lunch!

Bon appétit!

Eat, drink and be merry!