Cold weather can sometimes make me ‘cooking lazy’. That’s when I just want to toss a few out-of-the-pantry and out-of-the-fridge ingredients into a slow cooker, turn it on, and come back half a day later to a done dish. Doesn’t mean it has to be all out of a can, but it isn’t all from scratch either. And it’s still good. And spicy. Gotta have spicy and these bold ranch pork chops deliver on that. I served these pork chops with warmed leftover mashed potatoes. The gravy from the slow cooker is great over mashed potatoes, but I think it’d be even better over grits, so I’ll give that a whirl next time. They’ll be instant grits, though, to keep with my ‘cooking lazy’ mood.
It was not a great day for grilling. I’ve always said that grilling is a passion not a season, but 50 MPH winds and blowing rain can make me rethink that philosophy. I was still jonesin’ for a chili dog so I brought out the slow cooker and satisfied my need for a good dog on a bad weather day. The dogs end up tender and they even absorb some of the great chili flavors. Topped with cheese, onion and jalapeno they hit the spot.
Cooking chili hot dogs in the slow cooker is a really great way to feed a crowd with no fuss whatsoever. You can easily double or triple this recipe if your slow cooker is big enough, ideal for that big game party!
We spent a week in a condo on fabulous Tybee Island, Georgia not long ago. I wanted to maximize our time on the beach, which meant that I wanted meals that I could prepare with minimal effort and time. Slow cooker spaghetti and meatballs was the perfect choice. And it was mighty tasty too. Yummy meatballs in a flavorful sauce, with the spaghetti already mixed in. It really doesn’t get any easier. I always like a little kick in my spaghetti and meatballs, whether they’re from the slow cooker or not, so I added a bit of red pepper flakes. You can leave them out if you like.
I’m usually a crispy, grilled or fried chicken wing kind-of-guy. But I am open to other ideas, and I can’t pass up a tasty wing no matter what. So I went into the idea of cooking wings in my slow cooker with an open mind and empty stomach. What resulted were very tasty, very tender wings covered in a fantastic homemade Buffalo wing sauce. Cooking the wings in Buffalo sauce in the slow cooker before transferring them to the oven ensured that each and every bite was packed with that great traditional wing flavor. These wings aren’t just covered in sauce, there’s sauce all the way through. The sauce is what makes these slow cooker chicken wings great. It’s the perfect traditional Buffalo wing sauce. I make a big batch and keep it on hand. I like to fill a squirt bottle with wing sauce and squirt it on macaroni and cheese. Yep, try it. It’s good.
You can get a bit of a char and crisp on these wings if you put them under the broiler for a bit just before serving. Keep an eye on them, though. You don’t want to burn them.
I absolutely love chicken wings, cooked any way, with any sauce (or without). I love them so much that I created a free eCookbook that is full of my favorite wing recipes.
Slow cooker Tennessee-style potatoes have quickly become one of my favorite side dishes to make. You start with your pretty-much-standard mashed potatoes, except you boil the potatoes in a flavor mix of chicken bouillon and garlic-infused water. Then you transfer them to the slow cooker where they get even creamier and even smoother. Perfect for a cold day. Perfect for a potluck or family get-together. The potatoes may seem like the usual, but cooking them in the flavored water really makes for a different, richer flavor. Be sure you don’t throw out the water used to boil the potatoes when they are done. Reserve a cup or so in case the slow cooker Tennessee-style potatoes get a bit thick while cooking. If that happens don’t add a lot of the water .Just add a bit, stir, and see if they’re creamy enough. If not, add a bit more.
I grew up surrounded by black eyed peas, it seemed. Canned black eyed peas in the cupboard. Dried black eyed peas in the pantry. Black eyed peas in the garden. They made an appearance at almost every dinner, and my dad still has them very, very often. My favorite way to prepare black eyed peas is in a slow cooker. For a little smokiness I add a smoked pork shank. And for a little spiciness I add a little jalapeno. To make it a main dish I add chopped smoked ham. For a side dish, I’d leave out the ham. Probably. I avoid cooking dried beans in water if possible. I prefer chicken broth. It adds so much more flavor to the beans. I seem to always have gallons of chicken broth on hand. I save my vegetable and chicken trimmings, freezing them, and once I have enough I make a huge pot of broth. It’s great stuff, specially for making black eyed peas in the slow cooker.
A few years back I made a copycat of Arby’s Beef-n-Cheddar sandwich, one of my all-time favorites by a country mile. A commercial came on the tv a few days ago for Arby’s roast beef sandwiches, and I instantly started jonesin’ for one. As much as I loved my beef-n-cheddar copycat, I wanted to take a copycat of the roast beef sandwich to a new level. The level of true copycatness. And here it is. Tender, tasty thin-sliced beef. Tangy Arby’s sauce. Onion buns. And of course, seasoned curly fries. It’s impossible to make enough of it because no matter what, I’m going to make it disappear. I actually used Sriracha ketchup for making the Arby’s sauce, and left out adding any additional hot sauce. It had some kick, and wasn’t 100% a copycat of the original, but it was fantastic. In fact, I’d recommend that Arby’s make a Sriracha version of the sauce for their restaurants. It’d be a big hit, trust me.
If you’re like me and you’re kind of addicted to Arby’s sauce, I’d double the amount below. If it’s not running down your forearm when you take a big bite of this copycat Arby’s roast beef sandwich, you’re not doing it right!
I would’ve liked to have made this slow cooker tomato sauce using tomatoes from our garden. For some reason, our tomatoes just didn’t produce this year. Usually I have to worry about the raccoons stealing them but not this time. They just didn’t come out. So, Plan B, I picked up a big batch of ripe tomatoes at the grocery store. The end result came out very, very flavorful. Quite honestly, I had my sights set on using this sauce to make pizza sauce, but it’s so good by itself you could easily serve it as-is as tomato soup. I used Roma tomatoes because I like how they taste. You can substitute any good tomato, just make sure they’re good and ripe. Do not use those hard-as-cardboard tomatoes you often find at your grocery store. If you’re lucky enough to be near a farmer’s market, it’s well worth the trip. When tomatoes are at peak you’ll want to make several batches of this slow cooker tomato sauce and freeze it for later.