Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Easy Meals- Part 1

 A while ago, I received an email from a friend requesting easy dinner ideas for either the crockpot or otherwise. She's a mom of a two year old with a baby on the way so things need to be extra simple and quick! 
 I decided to divide my response to her into two parts: 1) Crockpot recipes and 2) other easy meals. 
Because I find the crockpot to be such a wonderful help on busy days, I started with a list of our favorite super easy crockpot meals.
Crockpot:
Rotisserie-style chicken-- our favorite. Leftover chicken makes excellent chicken salad or chicken for sandwiches and casseroles. 

Baked potatoes-- This really works! Leftover baked potatoes can be shredded and cooked into hash browns or cubed for potato salad. This method also works well for sweet potatoes.




Chicken breasts covered in BBQ sauce and cooked on low for 4-6 hours.


Spaghetti sauce--Makes a huge pot and freezes well.  We really like this! I freeze it in 2 cup containers.


Spaghetti and meatballs-- Pour spaghetti sauce in crockpot; add either bought or homemade meatballs. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Serve over hot pasta. 


BBQ Meatballs- Pour BBQ sauce over meatballs and cook on low 2-4 hours. Some people heat the meatballs in the crockpot and then add the sauce right before serving. As long as you don't overcook it, it should be fine either way. Also fully-cooked meatballs won't need as much time as raw.  Use premade meatballs or make a batch of homemade and freeze until ready to use.


Sausage and sauerkraut-- Empty a package of sauerkraut into crockpot. Cut a package or two of fully cooked sausage or kielbasa and place on top. Cook on high for 2 hours or so. I've never made this myself since one of us doesn't eat kraut but we have this regularly at our fellowships. Very easy!


Ravioli-- I haven't actually made this but it looks terrific and easy and looks like it'd be great for pregnancy and the new baby days.   


Lasagna—We love this! You don't want to overcook it, though.


Lentil and Rice Pilaf-- This makes a LOT! It does freeze well. It cooks a lot faster in my crockpot, so you'll want to watch it the first time you make it. Perhaps this could be halved in a smaller crockpot. This is very tasty, cheap, simple and a great "one-armed" meal to make when you have a little one hanging on!:-)
Makes 8-10 servings
Ideal crockpot size: 4 or 5 quart.

2-5 large onions, depending on taste preference
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
6 cups water
1 ¾ cups dry lentils, sorted, washed and drained
2 cups brown rice

Slice onions into ½ inch circles. Place in skillet with olive oil. Saute over medium heat until onions are golden brown.

Remove about 1 onion's worth from skillet and drain on paper towel.

Put remaining onions and drippings into crockpot. Combine with water, lentils and brown rice.

Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours. (Cooked in about 4 hours in mine.)

Serve hot or cold. Garnish with crisp brown onions.

Serve as is or top with a basic green salad and a vinaigrette dressing. Surprisingly good with the salad!

Now it's your turn! What are your favorite easy crockpot meals? Please share in the comments! 

**Stay tuned for Part 2 which will include a collection of other easy meals! 




6 comments:

Katie said...

I'm bookmarking this post, Mary Ann! Wow, thanks for all the easy meal ideas. The crockpot is really a nice friend to a homeschooling family. :)

One of my favorite crockpot meals is any type of roast...just browning the outside first, then placing it in the crockpot with 1/2 cup of water or so...and then throwing in carrots, potatoes, onions and all the spices you desire. This usually lasts for a few meals at our house. I'm sure you've probably done this though, but that's one of our faves! =)

Melanie said...

Thank you for the recipes, Mary Ann. I'm going to have to come back to this post. :)

I really enjoy using my crockpot. Usually every Sunday morning, I put a roast, carrots, potatoes, and onions in the crockpot. When we come home from church, it's all ready. :)

Another favorite is to put in chicken breasts and a can of cream of celery soup. When it's finished, I serve it over rice, and have a vegetable on the side...very easy and so good!

Rhonda said...

really great list of easy meals!

I was blessed to find marked down ground round yesterday for 99 cents a pound. I bought 16+pounds. I came straight home and made
18 quarter pound patties
4 meal sizes of taco meat
6 meal sizes of cooked and drained meat for using in goulash, etc
and 2 gallons of chili.
Everything is froze now in meal size containers.

I also make big batches of marinara sauce and freeze it. The jarred kind has too much sugar for our taste.

My son was very busy during law school and he mostly lived on my freezer cooking -chili, taco meat for salads, spaghetti, shredded roast beef. I was glad to be able to help him.

Easy and quick meals are nice for everyone with this heat wave so we don't have to heat up the kitchen as much and stay in that hot room too long.

Mary Ann said...

Katie,

Thanks for sharing! Roast beef is awesome in the crockpot--I didn't put that one on the list. One of our faves!

Glad you've found this helpful.

Mary Ann said...

Melanie,

Thanks for stopping by!

Aren't crockpots awesome?! We love roast beef in the crockpot. The chicken you shared sounds delicious too!

Thanks for sharing!

Mary Ann said...

Rhonda,

That's a great price on meat! You made a lot of stuff from it too. I like to keep some foods ready in the freezer too--so handy!

Thanks for sharing.