Holiday Helper Hints: The Crock Pot

Feeling the hustle and bustle of holiday planning? I know I am. With so many things on my to-do list it can sometimes be difficult to enjoy the wonder that the holiday season brings, not to mention finding the extra time to shop for the perfect gifts for everyone on my list. So I decided to break out the good old trusty Crock Pot. Spend less time cooking and more time enjoying those priceless moments that make holiday merriment memorable.

Crock Pot

I seem to forget that I have a slow cooker sitting on my kitchen counter, just waiting to be used.

While I was hanging out with some of my girlfriends at our local Barnes & Nobles a couple weeks ago, I wandered upon a Crock Pot recipe book that was geared for the Holiday season. The book was Phyllis Pellman Good’s “Fix-It and Forget-It Christmas Cook Book 600 Slow Cooker Holiday Recipes Recipes.” While some of the recipes were simple slow cooker meals that can be found in Good’s other “Fix-It and Forget-It”crock pot recipe books, a few recipes were perfect for this busy holiday season (I will share 2 recipes in this post).

So I rolled up my sleeves, cleaned off my crock pot and gathered my ingredients. One simple recipe I want to introduce you to is the “Christmas Meatloaf.”

Christmas Meat Loaf

Ingredients:

  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 envelope dry onion soup mix
  • ½ cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup chopped dried cranberries (I didn’t chop mine)
  • 1 tsp. parsley
  • 1 ½ lb ground beef

Sauce:

  • 16 ounce can whole cranberry sauce (I made mine from scratch)
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. finely chopped onion (I used French onions, because I forgot to buy an onion)
  • 2 tsp. cider vinegar

• Mix all the ingredients for the meat loaf into the meat, and shape the meat mixture into a loaf. Place the loaf into your crock pot… I added cubed red potatoes and about half a bag of baby carrots so that this would make a whole meal.
• Mix the sauce ingredients and pour over meat (and potoatoes/carrots).
• Cook on high 4-5 hours, low 8 hours (I cooked it on high for 5, because of the potatoes and carrots).
• Let the dish stand 10 minutes before serving.

Meatloaf cooking in slow cooker

This meal was wonderful. The smell filled our apartment. The taste was like a mixture of Christmas dinner, with the tart and sweet carrots balancing out the moist meat. The potatoes were the perfect tender yet firm doneness that I prefer and rounded out the meal with their subtle flavor. I was able to ladle the sauce over everything in a big bowl.

I stored the leftovers in the fridge. It tasted just as good after reheating.

I love the idea of setting my food and not having to worry about basting or monitoring the preparation. Granted I made my own cranberry sauce, which took less than 20 minutes and I’m sure could be made ahead of time, but that’s my preference. Feel free to make modifications as you see fit. I have seen this same exact recipe used for meatballs, which I am sure would be great too.

Another Crock Pot recipe I tried was “Christmas Sugared Walnuts.” This is a perfect seasonal snack that you can make and have to share at any holiday event.

Christmas Sugared Walnuts

Christmas Sugared Walnuts

Ingredients:

  • 1lb walnut pieces
  • 1 stick (8tbsp.) unsalted butter (melted)
  • ½ cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon (ground)
  • ¼ tsp. ginger (ground)
  • ¼ tsp. allspice (ground)
  • 1/8 tsp cloves (ground)

Directions:

• In slow cooker, stir nuts and butter together until combined.
• Add sugar, stir to coat nuts evenly.
• Cover crock pot and cook on High 15 minutes.
• Reduce Heat to Low and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 2 hours, until nuts are coated with crisp glaze.
• Put nuts in a bowl. Combine spices and sift over the nuts.
• Cool nuts completely before serving.

These are delicious. The smell of the spices just makes you feel all “holly jolly.” I added some pecans to my mix, and tossed the spices with the nuts to get a move even coating of spices. They are a fun little snack. Since this recipes makes a whole batch, it’s perfect for taking to a party. You really don’t have to stir it that often, probably every 10-20 minutes. But I do recommend cleaning your crock pot immediately after finishing cooking, because the sugar sticks really well to the pot as well as the nuts.

So if you are like me, and have forgotten that little slow cooking friend, pull out the crock pot and get to cooking. You can fix breakfast the night before and have it be ready when you wake up, or fix dinner before you leave for work, where it will welcome you when you return. During this busy season we sometimes need to shave off a few minutes in order to give us the extra time to fit it in all that wonderful Holiday Spirit we have planned.

I hope your crock pot endeavors go well. If you have a recipe you would like to share feel free to leave it in the comment section bellow or on facebook.

~Creative Crafting Everyone and Happy Holidays!

Here’s a sneak peak at the next Holiday Helper Hint: Charming Décor
Penguin Charm on Tree

Charms and Christmas Ornaments made by me can be found at my Etsy Shop.

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