Operation Crockpot Part 1: The Meals

Posted 24 February, 2012 by Trish in In the Kitchen / 32 Comments

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A little over a month ago I announced my intentions to use my kitchen gadgets in 2012. I have so many cool things in the kitchen but many of them I don’t utilize as much as I could or should. First up was the crockpot.

This post is Part One of Two – The Meals. Part Two contains lessons learned and tips and tricks as well as my next Operation Use My…

Can I admit that I’m a bit sad that my Operation Use My Crockpot time is up? I’m officially calling the Operation a success, and even though not everything that I made turned out, I learned so much and still have so many things I want to try in the crockpot. While this particular chapter of Operation Use My… is over, I’m by no means done using the crockpot.

And I’d love to thank you all for your support for the challenge over the past month. You tweeted and emailed me recipes, sent me crockpot websites and links, pinned things for me on Pinterest, and of course helped me troubleshoot issues or questions I had during the journey.

And can you believe that I made TEN things?

Operation Use My Crockpot Experiments:

Ham and Cheddar Brunch Strata
(recipe via Crockpot Made Simple)
Scott liked this one more than I did but I’d try making it again. This was my first non-meat type recipe in the crockpot and I wasn’t sure what to expect! Definitely worth a second shot.

Glazed Cinnamon Coffee Cake
(recipe via Crockpot Made Simple)

First attempt at something “baked” in the crockpot. You can tell from the pictures that the edges burned a bit. The inside was either really moist or undercooked. I’m going with moist. It tasted great, though!


Asian Beef Stew (forgot to take a picture!)
(recipe via Crockpot Made Simple)
Was good but not great. Scott did not like this one at all. The taste was unusual and neither of us could put our finger on what it was we didn’t care for. Maybe the orange juice or Chinese 5 spice? Ah well.

Chicken Marsala
(recipe via Crockpot Made Simple)
Chicken was so tender and juicy! This recipe did require a bit of prep but wasn’t too terribly intensive. Only took two hours to cook and the leftovers were good but not great. On the fence overall.

Hot Fudge Cake
(recipe via Crockpot Made Simple)

Plain and simple this was a *disaster* of epic proportions. After more than the suggested cooking time, it was still just a pot of runny chocolately mess. So bummed about this one! 

Chicken Stock

I’ve yet to use the chicken stock but it made about 10 cups and all of it is in the freezer. When I did a little taste test I thought it tasted a bit bland but then I realized it’s because it doesn’t have all (or any) of the sodium of the canned stuff. This stock stewed in the crockpot for 24 hours!

Chicken Taco Chili 
(recipe via skinnytaste.com)

Quite possibly my favorite of the bunch! Either this or the BBQ Pulled Pork. So freaking delicious! (Thanks Merd) I’m hoping to add the leftovers to the freezer as I’m sure it’ll reheat wonderfully. We ate with rice but will eat with chips next time. I added a bit of cayenne pepper for kick.

BBQ Pulled Pork
(recipe via Goodhousekeeping)

Yummmmmy! This is tied with the Chicken Taco Chili as my favorite. This Pulled Pork is so flavorful and came out so tender–the perfect combo of sweet and tangy. I froze a bag and everything defrosted and reheated beautifully. Will definitely make this gem again!


White Chicken Chili
(recipe via Lu @ Regular Rumination- recipe can be found in comments)

This yummy White Chicken Chili was so easy to make! It did require a bit of prep (sauteing onions and jalapenos), but it helped provide a richer taste to the soup. I had plenty of leftovers for this so I have a few bags in the freezer. When I reheat I’ll probably add a bit of salsa or Rotel cuz I like it spicy. ;)


Apple Cinnamon Steel-Cut Oats
(recipe via The Yummy Life)

This was my first attempt at cooking something in the crockpot overnight (other than the chicken stock). The cooking time is 7 hours and so at 5:00 the crockpot set to warm. There was a bit of burning around the edges of my crockpot, but nothing that couldn’t just be scraped away. Everything else worked wonderfully! The taste is a bit blander than I’m used to (since I always eat the Maple and Brown Sugar instant packets). The post I linked to says to reheat with a bit of milk, but my leftovers were so moist that I didn’t need any milk. Very good reheated!


So there you have it–ten things in the crockpot. With so many more ideas!!

I really wanted to highlight all of the other links that you guys provided me, but I’m still kind of overwhelmed by your outpouring. If you are interested in more (untried by me) links and recipe ideas, please head to my original Operation Use My Crockpot post.

What is your favorite thing to cook in the crockpot? Do any of these look tempting to you?

Make sure you tune in tomorrow for the lessons learned and tips and tricks!

Every weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking.  “Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.”  Hope you’ll join the fun!

32 Responses to “Operation Crockpot Part 1: The Meals”

  1. The dish that I always cook in the crock is pepperoncini beef. Just buy a roast and a big jar of pepperoncinis (spicy but not too hot) and dump the whole jar – liquid and peppers -over the beef in the pot and turn it on. I don’t follow a recipe (the true recipe had bunches of other stuff but I’m lazy and I think this is just as tasty) and serve when done on sandwich rolls or rice.

    LOVE your OUM… posts!

  2. Wow, did you use the crockpot recipe that I pinned for the hot fudge cake? Mine turned out so great I made two in a row! :–) I have to try that coffee cake now!

  3. I’ve never baked in mine, but I’m going to try the coffee cake. I make pulled pork in my crock pot and love it. I also cooked dried beans in it and then freeze to use instead of canned. I have loved following your adventures. Can’t wait for the next installment.

    • Beth F – Curious as to how long you cook the beans for–and then do you flash freeze and toss into baggies? Definitely want to try this!

  4. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s post! You have inspired me to try ‘baking’ in my crock pot… and I want to try Lu’s White Chicken Chili, too.

  5. Ooh, I love coffeecake! I’ve never even thought of baking in a crockpot, and mine’s a small one so I don’t know if that would work. But I’ve been trying to use mine more lately, too. Just yesterday I made a beef stew in it (which my daughter didn’t like. I’ve never made stew for her before) and it was scrumptious!

  6. Missy

    My favorite, no fail crockpot recipe is lasagna. The actual recipe I use is on paper, provided by a co-worker, but this one is very close: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/slow-cooker-lasagna/23546794-7262-47be-9ca4-e12c900399a1. The only things I do differently are to add one egg to the cheese mixture, omit the basil, and use a 26-28 oz jar of pasta sauce instead of the 3 cans of sauce. It works well with plain ground beef too. I think I will by trying your chicken taco chili!

  7. Our small crockpot just met with a tragic accident (Someone, not myself, melted the power cord) It’s ok though, cause it was old and gross. I want to make Care’s beef there and I love masala, so might make yours.

  8. *Care – Interesting! I’ve never heard of pepperoncini beef before but it sounds really easy. And spicy. I looooove spicy! ;)

    *rhapsodyinbooks – How could I have forgotten about that hot fudge cake pin?! I’ll have to try that recipe–sounds very similar but looks like there are a few differences that will really help (like half the amount of boiling water–3 cups of water is SO much!).

    *Beth F – I’ll experiment with the coffee cake once more and if it turns out a second time then I’ll post the recipe. I bought the Crockpot Made Simple cookbook at Half Price Books and it looks like it’s not widely available. So curious about the beans–how long do you let them cook for?!

    *JoAnn – Definitely try Lu’s White Chicken Chili–it was so easy and very tasty. The Chicken Taco Chili is also really delicious. As is the Pulled Pork. And Steel Cut Oats. Oh my. ;)

    *Jeane – Your small crockpot might be better for the coffee cake! Also, if you find a recipe online, remember to line the bottom of your pot with parchment paper to prevent sticking.

    *Missy – Lasagna in the crockpot?! I swear–everytime I write one of these posts I’m left with so many more ideas (and questions). Thank you for sharing the link as well as the modifications. I also found a good looking pasta sauce on the website that I might try this weekend! And yes–test out the chicken taco chili and let me know what you think!

    *Bermuda – There’s just no question about how much more tender meat is when baked in the crockpot!

    *Lisa – Good news is that crockpots aren’t TOO expensive. Still bummer that the cord melted on you.

  9. yummmmmmm Everything looks good to me! hmmm maybe if I act fast enough I can pull something off for dinner tonight! Our crockpot is vastly under-used so thanks for the inspiration to dust it off! xoxo

  10. I love to use the crock pot but haven’t tried Chicken Stock or anything baked. I think I need to try the chicken stock and pulled pork. Great post and challenge accomplished :)

  11. I LOVE this post Trish!!! I just marked it in Evernote to use in the future because I totally want to try cooking all of these :D That’s ashame about the chocolate cake because it still looks amazing in that picture :p You should totally be a professional food photographer!

  12. Wow, you made so much! I don’t have a crockpot and don’t know much about them but I’m told that they’re a real help to those who don’t have much time to cook. I’m looking forward to seeing what gadget you use next!

  13. I’ve been really intending to do overnight breakfasts in the crockpot because I like to give the kids a hot breakfast in the morning but they go to school soooo early. Thanks for the motivation -gonna give it a go!

  14. I love my crockpot! I will definitely have to try some of these recipes, the chicken taco chili especially. I have been known to throw in a couple of chicken breasts with a jar of salsa in the corckpot and let it do its magic, then come home and throw the chicken on top of rice for a quick meal. So delicious! I also LOVE to make turkey chili in the crockpot, Nat from Book Line and Sinker has a good recipe that I’ve used a couple of times.

  15. What a great adventure. Congrats on making all these dishes!

    I enjoy my crockpot but mainly use it during the winter for soups and stews, unless I’m making baked beans for a summer barbecue. I’ve never made any dessert type things in mine, though. You’ve got me craving pulled pork. Yum!

  16. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my crockpot. It’s my favorite kitchen appliance with my George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Grill a close second). I love Hot Fudge Cake and craved it with my first pregnancy. The closest place that sold it was at Big Boy Restaurant and it was 42 miles away. My father drove me there once a week to get my “fix”. Yep, he was a great dad!!

    My hubby loves pulled pork and daughter loves White Chicken Chilli so I’ll be checking them out too!

    Here’s Mine

  17. I had no idea you could make so many different things with a crock pot! And it’s evident that you’ve put yours to good use :) I don’t own one (yet), because there’s not much space left in my tiny kitchen. There is hardly any space for my rice cooker xD

  18. I am so impressed with your dedication to this project. You are a very determined young woman. I am definitely going to try the pulled port and the coffeecake. They look so good. (All your pictures are excellent.) My favorite crock-pot meal is a roast beef dinner with carrots, turnips, potatoes and lots of onions. Usually there is enough liquid left to make soup. (I save out some of the meat and veggies on purpose.) Two plus meals cooked at once, sometimes more. That’s my kind of cooking. Sounds like you do the same with your extras in the freezer.

  19. WOW! I’m SO impressed! All of those dishes look great.. especially the coffee cake!

    I don’t have a crock pot. I just cook slow-cooked dishes in my big enameled stock pot and cook on my stove on low. ;o)

    What’s next in your OPERATION USE MY… ?

  20. I’m glad to hear that you were so successful with cooking in your crock pot. I’ve only attempted one dessert and it didn’t turn out to well. My favorite thing to make in there is chicken and noodles! I can’t wait to see your next adventure ;)

  21. *Andi – Glad you liked it. ;)

    *Kimberly – You guys should totally use your crockpot more often! It’s a great way to make a ton of food with little easy. Do the pulled pork and the chicken taco chili. Both were so delicious.

    *Stacybuckeye – I would have never thought to do chicken stock before but it’s so much easier to just throw everything in and leave it rather than having to worry about the stovetop version. Definitely try the pulled pork, too–it’s yummy!

    *Chris – It’s funny because the chocolate cake has now become a “thing” between several bloggers on Twitter. It’s turned out great for RhapsodyJill and Care but terrible for me and BethFishReads. Ha! ;) And thanks about the pictures–some minor touching up in Picasa really helped.

    *Joanna – I got my first crockpot when I was in college but really only used it to slowcook potroasts. I was amazed this past month to learn all of the things you can use a crockpot for!

    *Libby Rodriguez – Try the steel-cut oats! They’re not as sweet as the packaged oatmeal but you can add goodies to help liven it up a bit (love dried fruit for this!). Would definitely help in the mornings!

    *Heather/Book Addict – The Chicken Taco Chili is so yummy–add a bit of avacado and just…yum. ;) I haven’t tried chicken and salsa but I bet that would be delicious as well. Amazing how moist the chicken stays, huh?!

    *Jama – I haven’t tried baked beans in the crockpot but I’d love to! We eat a lot of them and it would be nice to have some “fresh” baked beans in the freezer! And some food for thought–using the crockpot in the summer rather than the oven might help keep your kitchen from heating up!

    *Peppermint PhD – I’m hoping that I can write up a post for the chicken stock sometime within the next few weeks but it’s really easy: I took the bones/carcass from four chicken breasts that I roasted (including skin), and covered them with about 4 quarts of water. Tossed in some celery and onion (would have included carrots if I had any) and some salt and pepper and bay leafs. Let it simmer on low for about 20 hours. I then strained the liquid into a big bowl (as pictured) and let it sit in an ice bath in the sink. When it was cool enough I took the big bowl out to the garage fridge and let it cool overnight. The next day I poured it into containers and stuck it in the freezer!

  22. *Caite – The oatmeal was really yummy–I look forward to experimenting with other flavors in the crockpot.

    *Diane/Bookchick – I hope you’ll try the pulled pork–it was great and it’s fun to make the BBQ sauce from scratch (though you could always just use your favorite bottled kind).

    *Carol/Always Thyme – Hope that you’ll experiment a bit with the crockpot–I’ve learned it really is a versatile kitchen appliance!

    *Vicki – George Foreman Grill will be one of the Operation Use My Gadgets so I’ll look for your advice! We don’t use ours enough. Definitely try the pulled pork–it’s really tangy! And the White Chicken Chili was really yummy, too.

    *Chinoiseries – Crockpots do take up a lot of space! but they certainly come in handy. We don’t have a rice cooker but I bet my husband would love that.

    *Margot – Such a great idea to use the leftover liquid from a potroast to make soup!! I hadn’t thought about that but otherwise most that liquid goes to waste. And definitely try the pulled pork–it was my husband’s favorite hands down.

    *Joy Weese Moll – Operation Crockpot was definitely a lot of fun!

    *Christine – I need to experiment with the coffee cake a bit more–I made it partially from a box and want to attempt to make it from scratch! I would love to have an enameled stock pot!

    *Samantha – My dessert definitely didn’t turn out well either but I’m going to try again! Chicken and noodles sounds delicious!