31 January 2007

Working mom survival guide

My sister-in-law discovered the wonder of crockpots recently. They are a complete staple in our house. We couldn't eat without ours. At least once a week I'll cook something in there. Often, it's enough for two meals for us, a family of five. It's a big crockpot. ;)

Work has been awful (note the lack of posts) since my boss left for his new job, and the crockpot has been doing a lot of duty.

Some favorite recipes:

Roast Beef ala Crockpot
1 roast
1-2 cans beef broth or consumme
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 bay leaves
Pepper to taste
1 can cola of your choice (diet or regular, does not matter)
Carrots (as many as you like)
Pearl onions (if you like)

Put everything in the crockpot. Order does not matter, though I've noticed that the carrots don't necessarily cook all the way through if they aren't in the liquid. Turn crockpot on high for 10-12 hours.

To mix it up, sometimes I'll add a 1/2 c. of sherry or red wine. Sometimes I add mushrooms (I love portabella).

I'll make either mashed potatoes or noodles when I get home.

Spaghetti Sauce
1 pound ground beef, cooked
1 small can tomato paste
2 jars tomato sauce, or 1 jar Prego or Ragu or your favorite spaghetti sauce.
2 Tbsp. minced garlic (note: I love garlic. If you hate it, leave it out.)
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning.
Mushrooms (as many as you like)

Mix all in crockpot. Stir mushrooms and meat through well. Cook on high 8 hours. Fix spaghetti when you get home.

For variety, I'll toss in all sorts of veggies (shhhh, don't tell the kids). Green and red and yellow peppers. Leftover eggplant. Whatever works.

A variation is to toss the noodles into the crockpot about 30 minutes before serving. I prefer the more traditional serving method (sauce ladled over spaghetti before eating), but for leftovers, if there are enough noodles, I'll toss 'em in and reheat.

My Mom's Soup, ala Crockpot
1 soup bone
Enough water to cover soup bone
1 28 oz. can tomato juice
1 can crushed tomatoes
Coupious amounts of seasoned salt or Mrs. Dash of your choice
1 bay leaf
Vegatables of your choice, chopped

Throw everything in pot. Cook for 5-6 hours on high, 8 or more on low.

At the last 30 minutes, either toss in rice *uncooked* or alphabet noodles *uncooked*.

I have more; I'll add a few some other time, but SpongeBob's almost over.

One more working mommy recipe to share:

Mommy-tracked's Hot Toddy
1-2 fingers of rum
Squirt of lemon juice
Dash of both nutmeg and cinnamon
1-2 fingers of piping hot water from teakettle
1 sugar cube

Mix. Enjoy!


Scott said...

Except for the fact that I'm single (which means I'd have roast coming out of my ears for weeks), you make crock pot cookin' sound appealingly easy. Over at the bachelor pad, the two appliances that get the most use (apart from the dishwasher and microwave, both of which I have a passinate affair with) are my panini press, which makes killer grilled sammiches and wraps, and my vegetable steamer. I'm on steamer No. 2, which I use almost daily for everything from veggies to rice to shellfish (not all at once, mind you!) Yay, kitchens!

Gina said...

I use my Crock-Pot a lot, even though I'm a single gal. I'll make up a batch of soup, for example, and freeze a lot of it in single-serving portions to enjoy all winter.

Sherrie, holler if you want my mom's recipes for white-bean soup and split-pea soup. They're amazing. I also have a wonderful, tasty recipe for black bean/salsa chicken (or even turkey, if that's what's in the freezer) and one for New England clam chowder.

I have a little Crock-Pot, too, that I found at Target for about $10. It's great for single batches and for warming up food when I'm not in a big hurry. Otherwise, I couldn't do without my plug-in grill named after a certain boxer (ahem). :)

Scott, what kind of vegetable steamer do you have?

Sherrie said...


Send me those recipes! Not only would I want them, but my sil would be interested, too.

Scott, what panini press do you have? I've thought about getting one. My George Foreman Grill (tm) has about had it.

Scott said...

I've got a Black and Decker Flavor Scenter Handy Steamer. Like, maybe, $20 at Target. I've also got a Breadman panini press, which I find far superior to my old George Foreman knockoff (large, flat surface, though no drip tray so I wouldn't try "grilling" meat)...

Now, if I only had the money and use for one of those funky Kitchenaid Mixmasters. I've drooled over those since I was a kid...

Kim R. said...

I love my crock pot, too. Currently, it's serving as a vaporizor in our bedroom (no joke, it really works). But when it's not vaporizing, I love it for my dad's beef veggie stew recipe and my mom's ham and beans (both recipes available by request). We also have a couple crock pot cookbooks, which have come in handy. Crock pots really are the easiest way to cook yummy, healthy, warm meals, especially in the winter. I, too, freeze soups in single-serving portions to eat later. It's quite convenient.

Gina, I'd take your mom's crock pot recipes, too. Thanks!

Sherrie said...


I'll take your recipes, too. I love anything that makes my life easier. :)

Joan said...

Sherrie (or anyone else, for that matter), do you have any recommendations regarding which crockpot to purchase? We know we want to put one on our registry, but don't really know anything about selecting one. Then maybe we can make some of these yummy recipes y'all have been passing around. :)

abigail said...

Thanks for the recipes. I'll definitely be trying those out! As well, if Gina sends her mom's soup recipes, I'd love to try them.

Sherrie said...

Joan, I have a Rival from Target. They aren't two pricey, and we've had ours for seven years now. It's under pretty heavy use, and has stood up well.

Two things: Get a programmable (mine's not), and avoid white (impossible to keep clean).

Sherrie said...


Too pricey.

Sorry, we're doing interviews for my new boss today, and my brain is toast.

Kim R. said...

Joan: Our crock pot was Michael's grandma's from the 1970. It's the smaller sized Rival (5 quart, I think), but still big enough to feed two with lots of leftovers. My mom has an equally old crock pot, same brand and size. It has three settings: high, low and off. I think they make fancier ones these days.

Sherrie, Gina, et al: I'll post crock pot recipes on my blog shortly.

Joan said...

Thanks for all the suggestions, folks! :)