Meet Your New Kitchen BFFs!
Hello my lovelies!
If it's been as HOT where you live as it has in Arizona where I live, (+115 degrees some days), then you might like to invest in this dollarwise little kitchen lovely so that you don't have to turn your oven or stove-top on and therefore create even more heat in your house and up your AC costs by doing that too.
Bonus points here for the fact that this cooking m.o. is a one dish clean-up project. Don't you just love those?! TIP: Soak the white pan insert in hot soapy water with 1/2 cup baking soda for an hour or so and it will clean up anything stuck-on -- food slides right off, or at most, you might need one of these brushes for a little help. The Crockpot pan insert fit perfectly in my sink to do this as shown in above pix.
I've been cooking at home a long time, (since I was about 8 years old!), and I must say, I think this Crockpot Casserole Cooker is right up there with my favorite Crockpot as my other fave way to cook now. I have been using the casserole cooker almost every day since I bought it and just love it.
Below are some dishes I have made recently that you might like to try for the 4th of July in lieu of grilling, or as side dishes to your favorite grilled meats. The fun thing is, you can make it up as you go and have fun being creative -- I didn't really use recipes for any of the dishes below and yet they all tasted yummy in the end. My hubby raved so this is a good man-food slow-cooker too. The best part, other than that they taste hearty-yummy? They are all dollarwise per portion too, even when using organic food. (Anyone else's food bill gone up during the pandemic? Yes, I thought so. But you, my Dollarwise Duchesses, know how to outsmart inflation so you can stay on your budget, yet also eat healthy tasty meals, right?! If you don't know how to do that, then stick with me kid and I'll teach you in future posts.)
Now for the yum ...
Chop your favorite veggies like summer squash, zucchini, eggplant, potatoes etc. and top with pre-cut coleslaw. You don't have to use fresh veggies, BTW. You can use a frozen mix like this if you want. Sprinkle a tablespoon of dry onion and garlic over the top, your fave spices, salt, 1/2 to 1 cup liquid aminos, and then pour a jar of your fave marinara sauce over all, or you can just use the aminos and no marinara sauce. My most fave dollarwise marinara sauce. Cook overnight on low. Stir it all up in the morning and oh my! Soooo good. The aminos give it an awesome flavor.
Chop potatoes in larger chunks, cover with frozen or fresh diced peppers/onions, a can of Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Chicken soup, your fave spices, a little salt, and some shredded cheese on top. I used this plant-based cheese on top and it's really good. Cook overnight on low. Stir it up in the morning and another yum!
Again, chop potatoes in chunks, add in sausage slices. I used these plant-based sausages and they taste really good. Cover with a can of Cream of Mushroom soup, shredded cheese, and if you wish, salt and your fave spices. Cook overnight on low. Yum. Yum!
Slice eggplant in thick slices, rinse so they are wet, coat with seasoned bread crumbs. I use this brand as it's gluten-free. Lay the eggplants in the dish. Cover with your fave marinara sauce, add grated Parmesan cheese to the top. Bake overnight on low or about 4 hours on high, 'til eggplants are tender. Serve with a green salad and garlic toast. Oh how delish this is! My hubby Steve gets "fancy" with the toast and cuts our everyday bread into triangles, bless his heart.
Fancy mac and cheese, anyone? Boil your fave noodles in a pot of water, rinse, and drain. Add in sun-dried tomatoes, (my faves). Snip them into small pieces with a scissors, and a jar of Kalamata or regular black olives, diced. Sprinkle in shredded cheese and melt all together 'til it's like mac 'n cheese. Transfer to the Crockpot casserole dish, (greased), and sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese and/or seasoned bread crumbs. Bake on low for 4 hours or so. I wouldn't bake this one overnight for so many long hours or it will get overdone, even on low. (Ask me how I know!) Easy-peasy comfort food!
Dessert for breakfast anyone? Steve diced up apples and pears and put them in the casserole cooker. He topped them with several packets of quick-cook oatmeal that had been mixed with a little coconut oil and brown sugar and that made a nice crumbly topping. Baked on low right before we went to bed and in the morning we had it for breakfast! Really good with coconut milk on top.
Tips I've learned using this little Crockpot casserole cooker ...
Greasing the dish with coconut oil or butter helps clean-up.
Make your dish up during the day and stick it in the fridge 'til right before you go to bed and then turn it on low. Be prepared for food smells all night though. We set ours on our range top and turn on our range vent fan.
I like to cover the top of the white insert pan with foil and then put the lid on. It seems to really hold the heat in well that way. Pix above.
You can put the 9x13 inch pan in a handy insulated carrier to easily take it to a pot-luck dinner or a friend's home and the food will stay at least somewhat warm.
Anything I have made in this casserole dish can be easily frozen into portions to grab and heat up when you have a busy day away from home yet want to come home to a home-cooked meal.
This appliance does not heat up your house excessively in hot weather.
It uses much less electricity than using the oven, saving you money. And we all like to save money, right?! I know we do. :)
On another note, my hubby Steve has another new kitchen toy he loves! When I read that one reviewer on Amazon said it was as fun as a skill-saw for her hubby, I was sold. I'm not a big kitchen gadget cook personally, but I thought Steve would enjoy using this, and he has, so I'm glad I bought it for him as a little gift for all the cooking help he's been giving me during the pandemic. His eyes lit up immediately! Probably not quite as fun as skill-saw for him, but it dices potatoes like a dream! And he grated cheese for our dishes above and it worked great for that too.
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We wish you a wonderful upcoming 4th of July as we enter the deep heart and heat of summer. Stay cool. Stay safe! Stay savvy!