Gourmet slow cooker recipes

One thing to keep in mind is the age of your slow cooker. If it is an older model (I'm guessing maybe 5 years or more?) it might not be as powerful as a new one. I just started using 2 brand new ones (one Crock Pot brand, one Hamilton Beach) and the difference in cooking time/temp is substantial.

I threw a FROZEN 3-4 lb chuck roast in my 5qt model yesterday morning along with carrots, cubed potatoes, celery and some s&p, turned it on low between 7 and 7:30am, and by 5pm I had the best roast I've ever prepared in a slow cooker. The meat was tender and the vegetables were perfect. My husband even commented that the potatoes didn't need butter- I nearly fell off my chair when he said that.

Experiment with your slow cooker(s) on the weekends until you master them. And definitely skip the recipes that call for a can of "cream of guk" because the soup breaks down when it cooks that long. There are TONS of recipes available without soup as an ingredient. Definitely check out the link that Trillby posted- Steph's recipes are good.

Family Dinner with Son's Date- Revisited- Parts One – Four

@ CJ McD- I got that one too! You are an awesome mom, step or otherwise. I would be MORTIFIED if I had to meet someone's parents after dissing them because I was hung over.

Chocolate Cake recipe - maybe it's gone forever.

I agree on the Texas sheet cake suggestion. My mom makes a killer version that I will eat for breakfast when given the chance.

Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

I've made the cake mix crust with cream cheese filling variety before and it can be killer, especially if you add pumpkin or crushed pineapple. Now I'm dying to try this version.

And if had the consistency of mucus I'd say it was undercooked. You aren't supposed to bake it until firm, but it shouldn't be runny. A slight jiggle in the the middle is all you need. Of course YOU'LL have a jiggle in the middle if you make this dessert on a regular basis... :)

Have You Ever Seen a Double Banana?

My toddler would be overjoyed.

@Jerz- good one!

Meatloaf as Medium: 'Meatloaf Creations' Goes There

When I was 16 a friend and I conspired to make dinner for our boyfriends. We made a heart shaped meatloaf. I think it was just barely edible but we had fun doing it, even though it didn't look quite as much like a heart when it was baked. Ah, young love.

What cooking skill have you recently acquired?

I agree- custard making is definitely a skill!

I think my next goal is to finally make an edible spaghetti sauce from scratch so I don't have to buy the stuff in a jar any more.

What iconic foods/brands have you not tried?

Never had Spam but would like to try it. (I know, why would I want to? I'm curious. And if I ever move to Hawaii I'll fit right in.)

I never had any canned "spaghetti" products until my teens or possibly adulthood and was grateful my mom never bought it. They're all horrendous.

Your favorite "clean-out-the-fridge" dishes are...

To borrow an expression from my cousin "Expiration date casserole". He claims his mother, my aunt, has tried to kill him by concocting casseroles from whatever is left in the fridge regardless of age.

I make sure whatever I have is still good and try to devise a casserole or some kind of 'skillet' meal with rice, pasta, potatoes, etc to use up leftovers.

Whatever, Martha!

I watch it occasionally just because I can't believe anyone (Jennifer) can be that inept in the kitchen and also to wonder at how much time and money Alexis has spent on therapy. I can't decide if she likes her mother or not. I'm not sure she likes anyone, really. She seems very closed-off but maybe that's just part of her shtick.

Alton Brown's diet

I honestly thought he had been ill. He has that look about him- as if he is recovering from something or had gone through radiation/chemo and hadn't gotten back to his old self yet.

Kudos to him for being around fabulous food all the time yet managing to lose weight.

Horrible, horrible, restaurants

I live in a small town with 6 restaurants (2 bars, 2 pizza joints, a Subway and a Chinese place). The Chinese place is a transplant from another town a few minutes away. I'd always heard their food was good so one night we decided to give it a try. It was the greasiest, nastiest Chinese food I'd ever had. I didn't have the Greco wrestling match going on in my guts but there was definitely a rumble. We haven't been back since. Not too long ago a friend mentioned this restaurant and exclaimed "Oh! They have the BEST Chinese food!" I bit my tongue. Maybe things have improved, but I won't be finding out any time soon. As far as I know the same people that owned it in the other town still own it now so maybe it is a nostalgia thing like someone else mentioned "I ate it growing up and I'll continue to eat it even though it sucks!" Those are not words I choose to live by!

I ❤ my family even if I am going to serve takeout--Dinner 1/5

Last night was potato soup which TOTALLY hit the spot since temps have been in the 20s 'round here for a few days.

Tonight: hamburgers and fries at the request of the husband. He's 37 today but doesn't act a day over 12.

Is Worst Cook in America the Worst Show in America?

@WickedGood- "There's no education, it's all just conflict, drama and entertainment." Exactly! I'm wondering how much they're being taught. If the chefs aren't working with them on what they did wrong how will anyone progress enough to be delcared a winner? I guess I need to watch the entire first episode so I understand what is expected of the contestants.

But I suppose watching someone learn doesn't fit the criteria for todays' reality shows, right? There's obviously no fun or money in seeing someone learn an actual skill when they could be scheming to get their cast mates voted off the island/bachelor/homemade weather balloon.

Must-visit hometown haunt bucket list

Sadly I've only been to one- Pappadeaux- but I think I've been to 3 different locations if that ups my street cred any....

Wait, I think I sat in a Skyline in the Dayton 'burbs while my 1st husband scarfed a 5 way. I wasn't hungry and wasn't as intrigued by Skyline as he was. I'll take half a point for that one! :)

My Mother was a _____ Cook.

Mom was the main cook when we were growing up and she was a good one. She wasn't adventurous but the food was good and if we were ever low on funds it was never reflected in our fridge. She kinda slacked off after my sister and I started getting involved in sports and other school activities. I didn't realize at the time what an impact the home cooking and family meal time made on me.

Dad didn't cook much back in the day but he has really come in to his own in the past 10 years. He makes killer scrambled eggs, a spicy turkey soup from the carcass of Thanksgiving bird, an even spicier chili that he makes a day ahead of when he wants to eat it because "it tastes better after it sits" and has figured out how to grill chicken without turning into carbon. He frequently gives me recipes to try and offers suggestions on my dishes even if I don't ask for them. :) We have to watch it when he adds heat to his food because sometimes he gets heavy handed and the rest of us can't eat it! He is 65 and I'm pretty sure his tastebuds have lost some power so if he thinks it isn't hot he goes a little higher on the Scoville scale...and we break out the tissues as our sinuses drain.

Foodie gifts gone right/wrong. What did you get for the holidays?

My biggest yay was also a nay: got a Tassimo coffee machine (yay!) but it won't work (damn!). I'm calling customer service this afternoon.

Also got a set of teeny glass bowls with lids and a wicked cool skinny scraper, both from Pampered Chef, in my stocking from the MIL.

@chiff- My MIL bought my SIL knives ( a Paula Deen set...I'm skeptical) and included a dollar bill and a note about her having to "buy" the knives because you're not supposed to gift them. The MIL's MIL did the same thing for her wedding shower 40 years ago so it was kinda neat that she passed it on.

Worst meal of your life

@hungrychristel- oh gag!

We attended my husband's company Christmas party a week ago and were treated to a pathetic meal. It was at a bowling alley, and I guess I'm spoiled from watching Diners, Drive ins and Dives, but I was optimistic that the food would be good. Or at least edible. What we got was:
- instant mashed potatoes with the consistancy of Play-doh
- unseasoned corn and green beans
- overcooked fried chicken (which is better than vomit-inducing undercooked chicken, I suppose)
- overcooked to the point of being dry roast beef
- over salted gravy (from a mix because OBVIOUSLY there were no dripping from the dried out beef to make it from scratch. Heh.)
- a pathetic 'salad bar' of iceberg lettuce, two or three dressings, ham chunks, boiled eggs and shredded cheese.
- coffee and water located on the far side of the room that NO ONE could get to because we were crammed into the room. We had to buy our own soft drinks. I was pissed. I can understand buying our own alcohol but they could have at least provided one soft drink with the meal.

Halfway through the meal my husband whispered that we WOULD be stopping at gas station on the way home for a "pizza puff" because this low-grade dog food wasn't doing it for him. And while we were bowling the owner of the company ordered from the snack bar so he must not have gotten enough to eat, either. The bowling part was awesome but the food totally sucked.

I hope it doesn't show up again this year.

@Sadiepix-- I've seen a recipe for a 'reuben casserole' but I don't recall any Miracle Whip in the list of ingredients. Your description kinda made my stomach churn... :)

I can't think of any negative dishes/foods from our family gatherings. I'm either extremely fortunate or have a very bad memory! One year, and only one year, my aunt brought jalapeno jelly and dumped it over a brick of cream cheese. I think she served it with crackers but I honestly don't remember. I didn't try it. I like hot n' spicy but I have to draw the line somewhere.

Do you eat "bad food"?

@AliceBlue re: salty food at Chili's. That's the reaction I had last time I ate at Applebee's (had a gift card. should have regifted)- all I taste is salt!

If I brought leftovers that don't taste as good the 2nd time around, or make an unfortunate purchase from the vending machine I will eat it because chances are I have nothing else to eat. But if I have other options I will toss the offending food and pick something else.

Dining Etiquette: Eating Out, and Who Pays

I've never understood the concept of splitting a check unless several individuals are chipping in to pay for a group celebratory meal and don't want the guest(s) of honor to contribute. I pay for what I ordered and ate. You pay for what you ordered and ate. Easy as pie. If we split an app I'll happily pony up half or maybe even buy the whole thing if it was my idea, even if my partner(s) eat more than me.

Can you request a separate check from your server next time you dine with this friend? Maybe if you have two checks he'll get the hint.

The Burger Lab: Salting Ground Beef

The salted-grind burger looks absolutely disgusting. I can't imagine the mouth feel. Did you take a bite? Did it taste different from the other patties? This is interesting!

Need suggestions for an 8qt stockpot purchase

Thanks everyone! I want to get her a good pan that will last a long time and I think my price range is around $100. I would LOVE to get her Le Creuset but a quick Amazon search only turned up the enameled steel- I want the cast iron even if I'm not buying it for myself! :)

I'll take note of these brands and do some comparison shopping. I knew I'd get good suggestions from Serious Eaters...shout out to Jerz and Wookie! Thanks ladies!

Funniest Thanksgiving

One year my sister volunteered to make a pumpkin pie. It turned out great except she forgot the sugar. The only person who willingly ate it was our diabetic cousin. She was thrilled there was actually a dessert she could eat! We still razz my sister about it and I think it has been at least 10 years since it happened. Nothing like harping on past mistakes to show your love.

What's a good word to replace "garlicky"?


Garlicicent? Like magnificent.

What cooking skill have you recently acquired?

I just learned how to truss a chicken. I admit that I have never trussed a chicken until about 5 minutes ago, and I had to look it up on the internet. Trussing seems like a skill that all home cooks should know and sadly, I was lacking that skill. But now? NOW I can truss. I might practice on the dogs.

I decided to make Thomas Keller's roasted chicken after Adam Roberts' glowing review, but I subbed sweet potatoes and parsnips for rutabagas and leeks. My local grocery gets a F+ for not having rutabagas and leeks.

Here's the video I used to learn how to truss:

What have you learned lately?

Is Worst Cook in America the Worst Show in America?

I just read a review on Entertainment Weekly and it isn't pretty. I didn't watch the whole episode so I won't add my two cents until I totally understand what they're doing. They all seemed pretty clueless and I think I'd be afraid to taste their foods. I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts.

Here's the review I read:

Need suggestions for an 8qt stockpot purchase

The MIL has requested an 8qt stockpot for Christmas. She has one of those flat cooktops- not induction...I can't think of the name. Radiant top? Anyhow, she can't use just any pot, it has to be perfectly flat so it will rest on the cooktop correctly. Can anyone recommend a brand that will work? Needs to be durable and easy to clean. No non-stick, please. Stainless/hard anodized would be best.


Upcoming documentary on food, its origins and effects on health

I found this on today while searching for a movie to be released in May (the new Star Trek one, if anyone's interested..yeah, I'm a geek)

Info was gleaned from Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and SE favorite Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma).

I'm hoping it is informative, factual and eye-opening. It may be the catalyst this country needs. If anyone has any more info/insights on this film please share!

Unsalted natural peanut butter- what can I do with it?

I like natural peanut butter but prefer the salted variety. I mistakenly bought a jar of unsalted (bleh) and just can't bring myself to eat it. I might be able to choke it down with jelly or honey but I don't know if I can make it through the whole jar before it goes bad.

Can I use it in cookies or other baked goods just like regular peanut butter? I'm assuming it is an even swap but just want to make sure they are interchangeable without a loss of quality in the final product. I would welcome killer pb recipes to help me use this stuff up. Thanks!

The workplace potluck/carry-in: like or loathe?

We had a carry-in this week to say farewell to a co-worker. There are 10 of us and I think there was enough food to feed 2 or 3 times that number of people!

Everything was great, from the chicken wings and homemade summer sausage to the meatloaf and authentic flautas. We had a wide range of foods and everyone was stuffed to the gills.

So what's the consensus? Do you dread choking down your cubicle mate's "famous jello salad" or can your co-workers lay out a mean spread like mine?

If money were no object....

Where would you do all of your grocery shopping? Whole Foods? Trader Joes? A local store that you would love to support but just can't afford?

I would probably frequent my local health food stores more often since I don't have a WF or TJ anywhere near me. But I guess if money were no object I could afford to drive an hour to shop at Fresh Market! Wishful thinking....

Announcing the arrival of Hayden Jefferson Brown

Hello Serious Eaters. I wasn't sure where to post this but figured since I'd been "baking" this little one for the past 9 months perhaps the Cooking and Baking section would be most appropriate.

Little Hayden joined us 2 weeks earlier than expected last Saturday, August 30 at 8:46 pm. He was a mere 5lbs 6oz and almost 19 inches long. Much to our suprise and delight he has beautiful blonde hair- both of us were bald as bowling balls when we were born so we figured our offspring would be bald as well.

We're all doing fabulous. Hayden, or "Niblet" as his father has started calling him, is snoozing peacefully right now and eats like a champ...but did we expect anything else from the child of a Serious Eater? I think not.

Funny food word pronunciations expanded

The "how do you say yolk" thread inspired me to post something I've been thinking about for about a week. Did you or any of your offspring, siblings, etc. have weird pronunciations for foods? Here are my favorites and their origins:

Husband's niece called ice cream "arse cream" and abbreviated dessert to "zert". We use both terms frequently. I believe this same niece also said "marshoos" instead of marshmallows.

My niece said "college cheese" instead of cottage cheese.

I called water "wally-wally" when I was a tot. I have no idea why.

A friend's daughter called oatmeal "opey-no"

Those are the ones that I remember right now. What are your favorites, and do you still use them even if the person who coined the term is 25 years old and doesn't think it is funny that you remember something they said 20 years ago?

Sugar-free Peeps.

I found this blurb while thumbing through a trade mag today at work:
"Just Born Candies will offer 3-count Peeps Sugar Free Pumpkins and Ghosts for Halloween 2008." (Candy Industry July 2008 Issue)

There is a picture of 3 cute little ghosties all snuggled together in their package.

Peeps. Without sugar. Sugar. Free. Peeps. I'm having trouble grasping the concept. The picture isn't very big so I can't verify my theory, but I'm assuming they don't have their traditional sugary coating and are made with a sugar substitute. Bleh. This definitely falls into the category of "Yeah it can be done, but should it be done?" A little of the real thing HAS to be better than a lot of its faux counterpart.

For the record, I can't stand Peeps. I just wanted to share this with my fellow Serious Eaters and see what you thought.

Black raspberries- I'm bragging with no shame

My inlaws have several hundred acres of farmland. On said farmland one can find black raspberries. Lots of them. And if one treats one's husband right, said husband will pick said raspberries even though he can't stand them and bring them home for one to fashion into a pie.


I have 4 cups of FREE black raspberries sitting in my fridge. :P They will become pie tonight. Ain't life grand?

Ok, they weren't entirely free since the husband scraped the hell out of his arms getting them for me and I have to make a cobbler as payment. But it sure beats paying $5 for a 1/2 pint at the store.

Anyone else have a fabulous produce windfall this summer?

The Neely's have ANOTHER show..WTH??

Am I the only person who thinks they didn't deserve the first one? Last night I saw an ad for their new "on the road" show. I won't be watching. Anyone else care to join me? Maybe I'll DVR Anne Burrell's show since I'm working at 9:30am, then I can watch it instead of the Neelys....

Ham shanks

What's the best way to prepare ham shanks? I snagged some locally grown green beans and red potatoes and want to add some rich hammy flavor but I'm not sure how to prepare the shanks. Can I boil them with the vegetables? Should I cook them separately and shred the meat? Suggestions would be appreciated!

Waiter, could I get some veggies in my vegetable soup?

Last night we gathered with a group of friends to bid farewell to my husband's best friend. I wasn't particularly hungry so I ordered a bowl of sirloin vegetable soup. We'd been to this bar several times and the food has always been good so I had no reservations. I was very much disappointed to see that my bowl of "vegetable soup" consisted mainly of diced tomatoes with about 2 kernals of corn, a couple slivered green beans and some chunks of potato and carrot. I DON'T LIKE TOMATOES so I was deflated from the start. The broth was flavorful. The sirloin was tender and not chewy or gristly. But where were the vegetables!?!? I ate what I could before it was down to basically nothing but tomatoes. To top it all off, we had a crabby server so I didn't think I'd get too much sympathy if I had asked for another serving.

If you were faced with something like this would you have asked for another bowl/plate of whatever you ordered? I didn't, but I'm wondering if I would have been out of line if I had. It wasn't just that I don't like tomatoes , but the fact that I ordered VEGETABLE soup, not "diced tomato soup and whatever scraps of vegetables we can find". Tell me if I'm being petty. I can take it!

The first time I tasted ____ it was so vile I spit it out

I have two and both of them originated from the same animal: goat. I tried goat cheese at a trade show a few years ago and couldn't wait for a sample of something - anything - that would get that horrid taste out of my mouth. Fast forward to this past weekend. I went to my local dollar store hoping they'd have some caramel ice cream topping for my son's birthday cheesecake. They didn't, but they had Mexican caramel sauce made with goat milk. Long story short, I tasted a tiny bit and wanted to die. I rinsed my mouth out with hot water and brushed my teeth as soon as I was sure I wasn't going to vomit. Then I made the 10 minute drive to the nearest grocery (which I REALLY should have done in the first place) and bought what I needed.

So what your worst taste scenarios? Are you willing to try it again to see if your tastes have changed? I've sworn off anything goat-related!

A surprise hit

My husband hates round steak. HATES IT. I wanted to get a frozen, cubed round steak used up so I decided to make it last night. His biggest gripe is that round steak is tough so I was bound and determined to change his mind. And I did.

Long story short, he loved it. "Remember this recipe!" He declared. I laughed at him. It was lightly floured, pan fried, then baked for about 30 minutes. No recipe needed. Served with mashed potatoes, peas and a respectable gravy (I SUCK at gravy, but this was actually edible.), it made for a great meal.

Have you converted anyone from "Yuck! I won't eat that!" to "Could you make that again?" Did you switch it up in a major way or just prepare it in a manner that made it more palatable?

_________ gives me heartburn

What gets your digestive juices flowing the wrong way? I have several, tho in a few months I'm sure plain tap water will be reflux-inducing as junior starts pushing my internal organs sideways and upwards. thighs and my esophagus will never be the same....

Here are my offenders::
Legumes (I REALLY don't know why, but beans give me the burn bad)
Some tomato sauces
Some spicy foods
Cheap coffee
Cinnamon on occasion

Is there anything you love but avoid because of the after effects, or do you self-medicate before or after so you can continue to enjoy your favorites? I'm curious to see how many of us plow through that plate of nachos topped with jalapenos and habenaro salsa with a devil-may-care attitude only to curse ourselves at bedtime!

Pizza cheese

I'm bored with just mozzarella. What else can I combine with the standard mozz to make a knock out pizza? I'll be shopping at a CRAPPY little Kroger store in my hometown so I don't know what kind of variety will be available, but let me know your faves and hopefully I can track them down.

I can't get too wild and crazy because the husband LOVES pizza and prefers it unadulterated. I'm game for anything except for pungent varieties (i.e. bleu cheese) and I need it to be either pastuerized or a cheese that can be heated/melted to lessen my risk of ingesting bacteria and other nasties. Being pregnant is SO much fun....

And because said husband is such a pizza purist, the other toppings will include the usual sausage, pepperoni and possibly some vegetable matter if I'm ambitious. No pineapple or other exotic items on our pie. :(

Frozen or shelf stable meals. Do good ones exist?

What are your go-to freezer or shelf stable meals when life catches you off guard?

I didn't want leftovers for lunch today so I stopped at the store on my way to work and bought a Lean Cuisine meal- here's the description for the "Salmon Mediterranean": wild salmon with zucchini, peppers and whole grain pasta in a garlic tomato sauce. I'm sure none of you will be surprised to know that is wasn't very good.

I brown-bag it 95% of the time so I only buy pre-packaged meals out of desperation, but I'd sure like to avoid a catastrophe like this again. Suggestions would be most appreciated!

Salad Master cookware

I'm totally piggy-backing off the post of dsd1000. By the time I thought of posting about Salad Master the All Clad query was already up!

Does anyone currently use Salad Master cookware, or have you in the past? What are your thoughts? My co-worker SWEARS by it. I think he'd give up an appendage before he'd ever surrender his set. I'm curious to know what more serious cooks (he's single and doesn't cook a whole lot- he's had the set for 20+ years) think of it. Is it worth the investment?

Mail order food: yay or nay?

A co-worker swears by Omaha Steaks but I can't bring myself to try them. I just flipped through a food catalog from Pfaelzer Bros. and have a Chesapeake Bay catalog to look at next. I've never order food from catalogs (except for cookies that I sent as a gift one year) so I'm curious if any Serious Eaters do so on a regular basis. If so, what do you buy? What was your worst experience? Let's exclude specialty ingredients- spices, flours, chocolate, etc. this time- that can be a topic for another post!

Morning sickness!

I'm expecting my second child in September and started experiencing serious nausea last week.- yippee! Anything sweet or seasoned makes me want to hurl. I can't even bring myself to eat chocolate! My appetite is nearly non-existent (totally, completely unlike me!) so finding something to eat has been difficult.

So what foods did you, or your significant other, run from while pregnant? What could you or your sig. o. eat without trouble?

Holiday failures

So what have you screwed up so far this year? I have made 4 batches of fudge that will probably go in the trash, a batch of sugar cookies that are edible but won't be given away, and Danish kringle which turned out ok except most of the almond filling oozed out during the baking process. I'm giving one of the kringles to a friend, the other will probably be gone by the time I get home.

Anyone else having a tough time in the kitchen this year? Please tell me I'm not alone. The only treat I've made and deemed gift-worthy was pretzel bark, and that barely counts as 'baking'!

I'm on the verge of giving out Hickory Farms baskets instead of attempting anything else so please share your disasters with me so I feel better. And maybe, just maybe, I'll try to make those damn buttermilk cookies for my husband.

A new found love for Fage!

I purchased two containers of Fage over the weekend and I just ate one of them. I am hooked! If there is a 12-step program for yogurt addiction I'll have to sign up soon.

My first taste was 2% with strawberries- divine! The strawberries taste like strawberries! The schnozberries taste like....wait a minute....I'm getting off topic.

Anyhoo- after consuming nearly the entire container I read the side and found out I was eating it incorrectly. I stirred it despite the gentle warning against stirring. Can anyone offer some insite as to why we're not supposed to stir it? Especially when the delightful strawberries cleverly stored in the little "side car" are just begging to mingle with the creamy goodness next door?

Finally, thanks to all who listed Fage as one of their favorite eats. I may have to take a 2nd job to pay for my 'habit'!

True Confessions of a Trader Joe's Virgin

I FINALLY got to visit a Trader Joe's store this past Wednesday. I couldn't buy anything cold because I was on a business trip and HAD NO COOLER. Damn the luck.

Here's what I bought. I had to control myself:
Two flavors of scones: cinnamon chip and harvest cranberry
Two strawberry fruit leathers
One jar of capers
One small Toblerone bar- for my son

Do you remember your first trip to TJ's? Do you remember what you bought? Share your memories- I'd love to hear your experiences!

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