I truly believe that the crockpot is the best thing for cooking since the invention of fire. A few minutes of prep, and it does the rest of the work for you, unattended. It’s like a personal assistant in the kitchen. Absolutely brilliant! While it does not seem “quick and easy” if the recipe must cook for 6-8 hours, I consider it quick if the active time is under thirty minutes. When the crockpot does the work I can do other things, like write a novel. So I set up both of my crockpots over the weekend to make weeknight cooking of dinners and lunches quicker. And while they took longer than the recipes said, they still turned out fine. And, I ended up with more than I could use, which meant my freezer benefitted too. It’s easy to end up with a pile of odds and ends without the motivation to do anything with them. This quick and easy strategy worked wonders, and it kept me from going out, and kept me on plan with my eating.
So here is what I did:
Cooked a crockpot full of garbanzo beans to use for hummus and for Beans Florentine.
Shopped at the farmer’s market for greens, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini.
Set up one crockpot for Black Bean Soup, and another crockpot for Slow Cooked Lentil Stew. Here’s is how I played the game:
Slow Cooked Lentil Stew (Quick and Easy Cookbook p. 136)
2 C lentils
1 qt Vegetable juice (like V8)
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 can stewed tomatoes, chopped
1 t bottled garlic
several dashes oregano an Mrs. Dash.
Place all ingredients in crockpot and cook Low=8hrs, High=4hrs. Maybe not. I’ve made this recipe before and the timing is an issue. The acid in tomatoes can interfere with the cooking of beans, so it is best to add them after they are mostly cooked. So, I started this one early to see how long it really needed. It was more like 6 hours on High. I did not want crunchy lentils. I also changed the recipe by adding the bell pepper, increasing the vegetables, adding the seasoning blend and a touch of Tabasco. Once they were cooked, they were great. I like to use them as a topping for baked potato halves, and that was my lunch for most of the week.
Crockpot Black Bean Soup
2 C black beans, sorta soaked (see below)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 4 oz can chopped green chilies
1 can chopped, fire roasted tomatoes
1-2 bell peppers, chopped Use any color, or combination.
1 hot pepper minced
2 yams, peeled and chopped
1 C chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t chili powder
hot sauce to taste
I based this one off the recipe in The Starch Solution, but the recipe calls for everything thrown unto the crockpot and cooked, without pre-soaking the beans. I did not think it would be ready in 8 hours, so I did a “quick soak.” Bring beans to a boil in plenty of water and let soak for an hour, then rinse and continue. They didn’t get a full hour to soak, and like with the lentils, I was concerned that the tomatoes would slow down the cooking, which they did. If the beans were not soaked at all, they would have taken longer for sure.
Combine all ingredients except fresh tomatoes and yams in crockpot and cook on high until beans are nearly done, about 6 hrs. Add fresh tomatoes and yams, and cook until done. Garnish with cilantro, hot sauce and salsa. Serve by itself, or over a baked potato or rice. This was dinner several nights in a row.