One of the daily stresses that is part of being a working mom is “What are we going to eat for dinner?” After working a full day, coming home and cooking a meal is not something I look forward to or necessarily want to deal with. Ideally I want to relax and hang with the kidlets, since I haven’t seen them all day, but until I get my own live-in chef, it’s either me or the Hubs preparing the family meals.
During the summer it’s easy to just toss something on the grill. It’s quick and we can play outside with the kids until the meal is ready. The grill is still an option for the winter since we have a gas line connected to it, but I’m not a big fan of going out into the freezing cold to take care of the food! During the wintertime, I usually rely on my handy-dandy friend, the crock-pot. Before I go to work, I toss everything in, set it to cook for x-amount of hours and when we get home, not only does the house smells amazing, a hot meal is awaiting us. And since it’s all cooked in one pot, it reduces the after meal mess!
Ah, the much maligned Crock-Pot; along with its groovy cousins Presto Burger and Mr. Coffee, it seems like no 1970s or 80s kitchen was without one (usually in “lovely” Harvest Gold or Avocado Green!). We got our first crock-pot when we were married eight years ago; it was one of those perfect wedding registry gifts. It wasn’t all that high tech and didn’t have too many settings. In fact, it only had two: high or low. One feature which I always wished for was an option to sauté in the pot itself. For pot-roasts, chicken and sausage recipes – I always wound up having to brown them in a separate frying pan on the stove before putting them in the pot to cook. So now instead of just cooking with and cleaning a crock-pot, I also had to scrub a frying pan, often washing away the best flavor from the bits on the bottom of the pan.
I was convinced that there had to be a crock-pot out there that was a little more versatile. So I went online and did some research on the new slow cookers out there. I was amazed at all of the options now out there. There are models that not only sauté, but steam cook, have multiple temperature settings and even ones that you can actually also use on a stove top.
I eventually settled on what I think is the Cadillac of slow cookers-the Cuisinart Multicooker. I was so giddy that I used it the first day I got it.
Full disclosure: This is not my kitchen, I wish mine looked that good & stylized! This is the actual photo ad for the Cusinart Multicooker
To christen my new crock-pot I selected a fairly simple recipe in a slow cooker magazine, Chicken and Portobellos with Mustard Cream. I browned the chicken in the crock-pot and then with just the touch of a button, switched over to a roast setting and added my wet ingredients. In three hours, I had some flavorful chicken, but it was a little dry. Turns out that most slow cooker recipes are made for 5-quart cookers and mine is a whopping 7-quarts, so all my important cooking liquid evaporated away to keep the chicken moist. Note to self – going forward I would have to make liquid adjustments to most recipes to accommodate my humongous crock-pot.
Actually browning the chicken in my new hi-tech slow-cooker
Anyway, it was still was a tasty meal, one that we’ve already had more than once. Here’s the original recipe – for a 5 Qt Crock Pot:
Chicken and Portobellos with Mustard Cream
Prep time: 15 minutes
Slow Cook Time: 5 to 6 hours on low OR 2 ½ – 3 hours on high
3 Large, fresh Portobello mushroom caps, sliced
2 Cloves of garlic
3 ½ to 4 Pounds of meaty chicken pieces (breasts, thighs & drumsticks), skinned
2 Teaspoons of dried rosemary, crushed
½ Teaspoon of Kosher salt
¼ Teaspoon of fresh ground pepper
¼ Cup of chicken broth (fresh, canned or bullion cube)
¼ Cup of dry white wine (either cooking or table wine)
2 Cups of shredded romaine lettuce
½ Cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon country Dijon-style mustard (grainy mustard)
1. Sprinkle chicken with dried rosemary, salt & pepper and lightly brown chicken pieces in slow cooker set on “sauté” or in a separate frying pan.
2. In a 4-to-5-quart slow cooker combine mushrooms and garlic. Place browned chicken in cooker. Pour broth and wine over chicken.
3. Cover and cook on either low heat setting for 5 to 6 hours or high setting for 2 ½ -3 hours.
4. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and pull meat apart into shreds discarding any bones. Line a serving platter with washed and shredded romaine lettuce; top with the shredded chicken. Using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms from the cooker and place on top of chicken. Discard the remaining cooking liquid.
5. For mustard cream, in a small serving bowl, combine the sour cream with the country Dijon-style mustard. Serve chicken and mushrooms with mustard cream, and if you have some fresh rosemary sprigs, you can garnish with that.
It’s only been a few weeks since I got my new slow cooker and I’ve made at least one meal a week in it – usually doubling the recipe so I have some extra to tuck away in the freezer for one of those “uh-oh” nights where I don’t have anything on hand for dinner. I’ve done chicken, pot roast, and even spare ribs with sauce. They’ve all come out yummy and I’m ready to get more adventurous with the meals….and I’m looking to you to help me out.
What are some of your favorite slow cooker recipes?
Beginning this week and for every following Thursday, my friend and fellow mommy blogger Cristina from centraljerseyworkingmoms.com will share with you a crock pot recipe that we have actually cooked for our family. Sometimes they will be different recipes, like this week, or others it will be the same one – just our different takes on it. We know first hand, how busy a mother’s day can be whether she works in a traditional office or at home. With some simple and quick preparation, we hope to help you pull together one meal you know your family will love.
I hope that you’ll enjoy with new weekly feature and join us in sharing your favorite recipes in the Mr. Linky feature below – feel free to share both your tasty recipes and even some of the disasters!