My Crock-Pot is my best friend.
Seriously, what other kitchen appliance can have a hot meal ready and waiting for you — with minimal preparation and cleanup — when you get home after a long day of class or work?
Those of you who just answered “roommate” or “boy/girlfriend” obviously haven’t been introduced to the majesty of a slow cooker.
I received my first Crock-Pot as a gift two Christmases ago, and it quickly became my favorite acquisition from the holiday. Finally, I didn’t have to worry about putting in extra time to cook a meal when I was exhausted from a day full of running from place to place.
I could be like my mom, who often puts a roast and some vegetables in the Crock-Pot before leaving for work, and have a full meal prepared before I walked in the door.
I never realized how easy Crock-Potting dinner was until I started doing it myself. Believe me when I say that I used my Crock-Pot for a solid week. It was glorious to come home and be able to smell dinner from the hall outside my apartment. Everyone should have that experience.
Below are two of my favorite Crock-Pot meals. These recipes are written for a household of one but can easily be adapted to accommodate more hungry tummies.
Chicken and Rice
1 chicken breast, frozen or thawed
½ can cream of mushroom OR cream of chicken soup
½ cup instant rice
Optional: ½ cup frozen vegetables of your choice (I like peas, corn and green beans)
Place your chicken breast on the bottom of the Crock-Pot. Cover with soup. Put the lid on and turn the Crock-Pot on low for 6-8 hours. Leave for class. Come home to delicious smells.
During the process of cooking, juices from the chicken will have thinned out the soup. Fifteen to 20 minutes before you plan on eating, pour your uncooked rice and frozen vegetables into the Crock-Pot. Stir to ensure the rice and veggies are covered by the soup mixture. Watch an episode of “Arrested Development” on Netflix. Pause the next episode, and dish up your creation!
Ranch Pulled Pork
1 pork chop
½ packet ranch dressing mix
Enough water, broth or beer to cover your pork halfway
Drop your pork into the bottom of the Crock-Pot, and add the liquid of your choice. Sprinkle ranch seasoning over pork and liquid. Cover with the lid and set the Crock-Pot to low for 6-8 hours. Go to work and daydream about dinner. Come home.
At this point, the pork should be tender enough to shred between two forks. Mix the pulled pork with the liquid in the bottom of the Crock-Pot and it’s ready to eat!
I like to serve this pulled pork over garlicky mashed potatoes — or with rice — and a vegetable. It can also be put in a bun or between slices of bread and eaten as a sandwich!
I hope I’ve inspired you to dust off your slow cooker and give Crock-Potting a try. It really is one of the easiest — and most versatile — ways to create a meal.