Tag Archives: crock pot cooking

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

In the interest of finding new recipes to use with my new crock pot slow cooker, I checked out a couple of books about slow cookery from my local library. I picked up Cooking Light Slow Cooker and Fix-it and Forget-it Lightly. Cooking Light Slow Cooker is a hardcover with full-page, glossy pictures of each recipe, which I really like. I also like that I was able to get both of these for FREE at my library. (Since I’m currently working in a library and studying for my Master’s degree in Library Science, don’t be surprised to hear me toot the horn of the public library from time to time!) I just have to be careful not to spill any gravy on them.

Last night I made a recipe from Cooking Light Slow Cooker – Red Beans and Rice. You can view the recipe online here.

Red Beans and Rice with Turkey Sausage

Red Beans and Rice with Turkey Sausage

I made just a few minor changes to this recipe. I found that the beans were pretty much cooked after only 3 hours on high, so I turned it down to low for the remaining two hours. The beans had a great texture, very creamy and bean-y. I also used some Oscar Meyer turkey sausage. I couldn’t find the Healthy Choice brand the recipe mentions, and the turkey sausage seemed to have wayyy less fat and saturated fat than anything else in the sausage department. The nutrition facts are available from www.thedailyplate.com. It also tasted delicious, and I would definitely buy it again. I used Uncle Ben’s instant brown rice instead of white rice for a little extra fiber and nutritiousness, and I splashed on a little Tobasco chipotle pepper sauce when this dinner made its way to my bowl. Oh, and in my excitement to eat, I forgot the sprinkle of green onions. I don’t think the dish suffered as a result. Aaron loved this dish, he raved about it the entire time we were eating and had two gigantic bowls of the stuff. I thought it was good, too, though enthusiasm like that was hard to match. 😀

You can view the nutrtion informaton for this dish on the same page as the recipe. It’s got 413 calories, with only 5% of those coming from fat, and a whopping 10 grams of fiber. I looked up the Healthy Choice sausage that the recipe suggests, and found that it has a little less fat than the turkey sausage I used, but just by one gram of total fat and .5 grams more saturated fat. The dish is still very lean. I also added a gram or two of fiber by using brown rice instead of white.

This turned out to be a very cheap meal. I used $0.50 of dried red beans, $0.50 of green pepper, $0.25 of celery, $0.50 of red onion, $1.25 of turkey sausage, $1 of instant brown rice, and perhaps $0.50 for bay leaf, thyme, paprika, tobasco, garlic, and whatever else. The total cost of this dish, then, was about $4.50. Even though the recipe says it makes four servings, it looks more like five to me since we polished off three servings last night (due to Aaron’s great enjoyment of the dish and hunger from not bringing a lunch to work that day) and there looks to be plenty for lunch for both of us. Assuming there are only four servings, the cost per serving is about $1.13. If you get the five servings that I came up with, the cost is even better – just $0.90 per serving. Awesome. This is one of the cheapest meals on the blog so far, if not the cheapest.

What is the cheapest meal you make at home?

Advertisements

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Since lately I’ve been dreaming about comforty foods like warm soups and tender pot roasts and the like, I picked up a crock pot from my local Target to help make such things possible in my own kitchen without the hassle of boiling something on the stove for four hours. So far, I am extremely happy with my $16 Target Crock Pot Slow Cooker. Yesterday it very successfully cooked a beef pot roast with potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery for me!

Crock Pot Roast

Crock Pot Roast

I noticed that my local grocery store had beef bottom round on sale for $2.99 / pound. Although I don’t know much about different cuts of meat, on account of being a vegetarian up until about nine months ago (me eating meat was a Christmas miracle), the picture in the sale paper looked like something that could be made into pot roast. After some research into meats used for pot roast and basic crock pot cookery, I was ready to give it a try.

I bought a 2-pound chunk o’ meat for about $6. In this dish I also used some red potatoes that cost about $2.50, $0.75 worth of carrots, a small onion for about $1, $0.25 worth of celery, and about $0.10 in garlic. That brings the total cost of this dish to $10.60, if my math is right, although this provided more than one meal, as we will examine shortly! Here’s how I cooked the roast and veggies.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Recipe, serves two plus sandwiches and leftovers:

What you need:

  • a two-pound roast, any visible fat trimmed away (I used bottom round)
  • 1-2 pounds of small red potatoes, washed and halved, unpeeled
  • 4-5 carrots, washed and cut into 2” chunks
  • 1 white or vidalia onion, thickly sliced
  • two celery ribs, washed and cut into 2” chunks
  • 3-5 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • a large-ish slow cooker

How to do it:

  1. In the bottom of the crock pot, place the carrots, potatoes, celery, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Season all sides of the meat with salt and pepper. Place the meat on top of the vegetables. Place the onion slices around the sides and on top of the meat. (My thinking here was to have the onion juices cook into the roast… yum.)
  3. Pour the water into the slow cooker. Put the lid on and turn the cooker on “low”. Cook for 8-10 hours, or until the meat and potatoes are cooked and very tender.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

If you wanted, you could make a gravy in the crock pot. Just take out the roast and veggies and turn the crock pot on high, with the lid on. Meanwhile, mix a few tablespoons of cold water with 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch. When the juices from the water, meat, and vegetables are boiling, add the cornstarch mix to the liquid and stir until thickened. I would have done this for this meal, but after smelling the delicious food for hours and hours, I simply ran out of patience and had to eat! Can you blame me?

closeroast

I didn’t know much about the nutrition content of bottom round, so I went to nutritiondata.com for help. According to that site, 3 ounces of bottom round, with the lean meat only (remember to trim off any excess fat prior to crock-potting it), braised contains 182 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 2 grams of saturated fat. When you compare that with the filet mignon I ate while on vacation (excluding the hollandaise sauce!), this is pretty good, since 3 ounces of the filet, broiled, contains 232 calories, 15 grams of fat, and 6 grams of saturated fat. We won’t even talk about the hollandaise.

Today I had plenty of roast beef left over, so I made Aaron and I roast beef melts for lunch. Can I still call it roast beef if it wasn’t actually roasted?

Open-face Roast Beef Melt with Muenster Cheese

Open-face Roast Beef Melt with Muenster Cheese

To make these, I places two slices of whole wheat bread on a baking sheet in the oven, set to broil,  and toasted them very lightly on both sides. Then I removed the bread and spread the top side with light mayonnaise, placed some beef on top of the mayo, and topped it with a slice of orange-rind muenster cheese. Then I put the sandwiches back into the oven and broiled them until the cheese was melted. These were delicious and extremely satisfying. I’m happy to report that I still have enough roast left for another three sandwiches. So, my $6 roast will provide about 8 servings of yummy protein for Aaron and I (for those of you who are counting, Aaron had seconds of the initial pot roast and veggies meal).

Also, the crock pot itself was a bargain with an added bonus – it came with a new toy for Pigeon.

crockpotpigeon