School is back in session, cool weather is coming and fall sports are in full swing. It's a great time of the year and one that is very busy - making it difficult to eat #healthy. For the Kissman family, fall introduces #crockpot season.
Normally, during the summer, I have plenty of time to plan meals grill a lot, and do all year, actually. However, in the fall, because of my daughter's high school sports schedule (and the basketball schedule of my daughter in college), we are constantly on the go. Sitting down to a hot meal as a family is nearly impossible.
Our choice, then, is to eat out, or eat in. We try to opt for eating in as much as possible. To make that work, the Kissmans like the crockpot.
I've been a big fan of using crockpot liners, but those don't always hold up. Especially when you want to spoon out those last few drops of a meal and accidentally pierce the plastic.
I've become a world-class crockpot chef, too. Over the years, I've perfected plenty of dishes from the simple roast and potatoes, to more intricate chicken noodle soups and plenty of stews. We are pretty much a meat and potatoes family, but it's easy to keep up on your veggie intake with a crockpot.
Here are my tips:
GET THE FRESHEST MEATS AND VEGGIES
Can't stress that enough. Sometimes you have to use frozen items or canned goods, but when you can, eat fresh. And don't skimp on good cuts of meats. It makes a difference.
PLAN TO LET THE FOOD COOK FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN
The best thing about a crockpot is that you set it and forget it, right? I always look at it as a long slow smoke on the grill; longer is usually better. Unless a recipe calls for quick cooks or adding ingredients as you go. I always look for long-cooking dishes. They are perfect for late practices or getting home from work at a different time.
LINER OR NO LINER
It's really up to the cook. I prefer a liner because of clean-up. No matter what you choose, make sure the crock is clean. And when you clean, make sure it's cool before putting it in water. I've lost a pot or two because of it cracking.
GET AS MANY RECIPES AS YOU CAN
Try them all and tweak them to make them work for you. I didn't realize you can do breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, or hot drinks from the crockpot until I received cookbooks from friends. There are some real treasures out there.
RUB IT DOWN
Like grilling, it helps to preseason meats. The slow cook really allows your favorite rub to soak into the meat and vegetables. I like that.
Bring on the season and crockpot cooking. I'm ready. I'm actually looking forward to it. The hardest part, especially when you work from home, is to smell it slowly cooking while you look forward to the meal. It's so good!