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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: The Crock-Pot Is A Cook’s Best Friend

By Sherrie Norris

The crockpot, also known as a slow cooker, has made a come-back in recent years, and has become a best friend to cooks everywhere. It’s especially helpful to busy wives and mothers, as it requires very little prep or clean-up, and its results usually end up as family favorites for life.

In today’s world, anything we can do to make life a little less hectic is a win-win for everyone.

Here’s hoping these recipes help ease the load for you in this new year.


Slow-Cooked Beef Stew

1½   lb. beef stew meat

4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 jar brown gravy

1 can diced and peeled tomatoes

1 tsp. dried thyme leaves

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

1 lb. baby carrots

8 small potatoes, quartered

2 small onions, cut into eighths

1 (8 oz.) pkg. fresh whole mushrooms

In medium skillet over medium heat, cook beef and bacon until beef is browned; drain.

In crock-pot, combine gravy, tomatoes, thyme, salt and pepper. Add beef, bacon and remaining ingredients, stirring gently to combine. Cover, cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender. Makes about 6 servings.


Pork Barbecue

1 pork roast, approx. 4 lbs.

1 lg. onion

4 to 6 garlic cloves, sliced

Your favorite barbecue sauce

Brown pork roast in skillet with small amount of oil. Peel and slice 1 large onion. Place half of onion in bottom of crock-pot. Put roast in crock-pot and add ½ cup water. Add remaining onion and garlic. Cover; cook on low 9 to 11 hours; remove meat and let cool enough to handle. Discard onion and juices. Tear roast into small pieces or shred with fork, return to crock-pot and add barbecue sauce (until juicy and as much as you like). Continue to cook on LOW for 1 ½ to 3 hours, or until flavors are well-blended.

Serve on buns.


Country Cousin Soup

4 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled

1 lb. lean ground beef, cooked, crumbled, well drained

1 lg. onion, chopped

3 lg. potatoes, cubed

4 cups cabbage, shredded

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 large can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes

1 can kidney beans

Salt and pepper, to taste

Brown bacon and ground beef; drain and add to slow cooker with all other ingredients. Cook on low 7 to 9 hours. Season to taste.


Slow Cooker Chicken With Biscuits

1½ to 2 lbs. boneless chicken breast halves, cut in large chunks

½ cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 can (10 ¾ oz.) condensed cream of chicken or cream of chicken and mushroom soup, undiluted

1 jar (12 oz.) chicken gravy

¼ tsp. poultry seasoning

½ tsp. dried leaf thyme

Dash black pepper

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

6 frozen biscuits or refrigerator biscuits


In a slow cooker, layer the chunks of uncooked chicken breasts with chopped onion and celery. Combine the soup and gravy with poultry seasoning, thyme and pepper; pour over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours. Add thawed mixed vegetables, turn slow cooker to high and continue cooking for 20-30 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, bake biscuits as directed on package. Split a biscuit and spoon some of the chicken and vegetables over the bottom biscuit. Put the top half of biscuit on the chicken and gravy, if desired.

Serves 6.


Slow Cooker Bread Pudding

3 eggs, beaten

3 ½ cups milk

2 tsp. vanilla

1 to 2 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. salt

3 cups bread cubes or soft torn bread

¾ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup raisins

1 banana, sliced, optional


Combine all ingredients, gently stirring until breadcrumbs or cubes are thoroughly moistened. Place mixture in a greased slow cooker. Cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve hot or cold. Great with a vanilla sauce or ice cream.