If there’s one thing I’ve learned about living in LA, it’s convenience. With two working parents, a son with a full slate of activities, and a city that is gridlocked half the time, the trick is to simplify things and take advantage of every opportunity that will make life easier.
I perfected the art of convenience thanks to my marriage (OK, so it’s not that intimate!) with my slow cooker. But can I just say how much I love it? How I couldn’t go a week without it? And how delicious ANYTHING is that comes out of it? If you are not already one of the converted, prepare yourself.
A slow cooker will change your life. I promise!
How my love affair began: I endured a crazy commute for 12 years, and rushing home through brutal LA traffic to put a meal on the table for my husband and young son was a futile effort. Thankfully, my husband is a master of the grill and is great at making the tastiest quesadillas, so we lived off that for several years.
On a whim, I bought a slow cooker. And then I picked up the book “Fix It and Forget It” at the impulse-buy checkout lane at Bed Bath & Beyond. The journey began.
I have made at least 20+ recipes out of that book, and many more recipes that I find online, and everything I have made in the slow cooker comes out succulent and delicious.
Best part: it’s EASY. You throw the ingredients in, set the slow cooker to start working its magic, and 6 to 10 hours later you come home to a perfectly prepared home-cooked meal.
So, as a continuation (or rather the jumping off point since my first installment was about a dessert!) in my series of simple meals, I present you with one of my family’s favorite recipes: Chicken Azteca.
And to show you how easy it is, I took a photologue as I threw this meal together this morning — just 5 ingredients and prepared in under 5 minutes. I’m going out of town for the rest of the week to attend NAPO’s (National Association of Professional Organizers) annual conference in Atlanta (I’ll be back with great tips next week!), and wanted to make a few easy meals to leave for my boys. This recipe is the easiest, most pleasing-est meal I make. It’s in regular rotation in our home, and a fiesta always follows!
2 cans black beans, drained
1 24 oz. jar salsa, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 boneless chicken breasts
Pour drained beans in bottom of slow cooker and add 1/2 jar salsa, garlic and cumin. Mix well.
Place chicken breasts on top and cover with remaining jar of salsa. Set slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. (I prefer the low setting and letting it cook all day — it will fall apart easily as you shred.)
After cooking, shred and stir to combine ingredients.
Serve over lettuce for a taco salad, in a tortilla for burritos, in a crispy taco shell or over chips for the best nachos around! Add cheese, sour cream and cilantro if desired.
What are your favorite slow cooker recipes? Please share them below — I’m always a fan to try new ones out!
I recently made this Tikka Masala (http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/chicken-tikka-masala-recipe), and while it doesn’t taste like a traditional Tikka Masala, it was delicious and the kids polished it off!
This one was also a hit:
Hawaiian Ribs. – serves 4
2 pounds boneless beef short ribs, or about 4 pounds babyback ribs
1/3 cup gluten free soy sauce (LaChoy or Tamari Wheat Free)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-Spice powder (I’ll put a recipe to make your own down below)
6 cloves minced garlic
If you’re using boneless ribs, they will probably fit nicely in a 4 quart slow cooker. If you’ve got bones, you’ll most likely need a 6-quart.
Put the ribs into the cooker, and top with the sauce mixture. If you really want to, you can combine all the sauce stuff in a little bowl and then paint it onto the ribs, but that seems like a lot of work. They’ll be fine if you just dump everything on top. They’ll be fine if the meat is frozen solid, too. Mine was!
Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or on high for about 4 to 5. Flip the ribs over a few times before serving to cover evenly in the sauce. The longer and slower you cook the ribs, the more tender the meat.
I’d love more slow cooker recipes if you want to share!
Oh, Pamela — these recipes sound DELICIOUS! We love Indian food and anything that’s “BBQ” — especially the Hawaiian variety — will be a hit with my boys. Can’t wait to try them! I will definitely be sharing more slow cooker recipes, and am so glad you appreciate them. Please stay tuned!