Saturday, March 12, 2011

Crockpot Cooking: Potatoes and this and that.

This will be a little different. It's not really a recipe, it's just to let you know of some things you can do with the slow cooker that you might not ordinarialy think of.

First is baked potatoes.
There are plenty of times I have wanted to have baked potatoes, but didn't want to heat up the whole kitchen by running the oven for an hour. Then there were times I was going to be out in the afternoon and wouldn't be there the hour before supper time in order to start potatoes. This may seem kind of duhh, but it took me awhile before I ever considered baking potatoes in the crock pot.  If you've never done it, it's really simple. You just wash them well and put them in the pot with a little water in the bottom. You don't need to poke holes in them, or cut the ends off, or anything else I've ever heard people say they do to potatoes before they bake them; I don't do it and I've never had a potato explode. The water keeps the skin from drying out, especially if you're going to cook them for a long time. Maybe that's why they don't explode(?). Cook them on high or low depending on how long it will be before you want to serve them. They do need at least three hours to cook this way. My Dad would argue that the potatoes are steamed rather than being baked, but hey, they're cooked. We love to have a loaded potato and a big salad for supper. In fact, that's what we had last night.

Second is leftovers.
Many leftovers aren't nearly as good because reheating them tends to dry them out. There are many things I reheat in the crock pot because it helps keep this from happening. Or, we can take leftover chicken and dumplings (which is one of the things I prefer to reheat in a crockpot), chili, or soup to church with us and it will reheat during service, or put it on before we leave and it will be ready when we get home.

The next tip is something I think I've mentioned before, but it's worth repeating. Heating bread on top of the pot while you're cooking the other food. I just wrap the bread in aluminum foil and lay in on the lid, or I may use a cookie sheet in place of the lid so I'll have a larger, flat surface to use for heating the bread. This works like a charm. I've used it for regular, homemade loaf bread, rolls, cornbread, and tortillas.

I also use my crockpot to keep things warm that I cooked ahead of time for large family gatherings. Sometimes I'll cook the food the day before and put it in the pot to reheat, or sometimes I'll cook it earlier and transfer it to the crock pot and turn it on the warm setting. I always look for pots with a warm selection on them. Pintos are something I like to cook the day before a gathering, or very early on, and then keep warm/reheat in the slow cooker. I know you can cook pintos in a crock pot. I've known many people who do it, but there's something about the way they cook up in the crock pot that I don't care for as much as beans cooked in an open pot on the stove top. I don't know why - that's just me. By cooking beans, veggies, or mashed potatoes ahead of time and keeping them warm in the crock pot, it frees up the stove top the last hour or two for other things, like mac and cheese, or turkey gravy.

These are just a few additional ways I utilize my slow cooker.
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  1. I love my crock pot and have enjoyed reading some of your recipes this evening. I cook my potatoes for mashed potatoes in the crock pot, especially on Sunday. Potatoes ready for mashing when we walk in the door!

  2. Thanks Melissa.
    That is a really good idea. I'll have to try it sometime soon.