The Crowd Pleaser
Are you ready to fix a meal that everyone will DEVOUR and be coming back for more? Well look no further as this chapter, The Crowd Pleaser, in our new book, It’s Our Crockin’ Life, has many delicious recipes or as we like to call them…..Our FAVES! And you want an added bonus?! These meals feed more than a few!!
In creating the different chapters throughout our new book, I was able to take a walk down memory lane. You see, for our family, get togethers always consist of FOOD….. a lot of food! (We always said my Nanee could feed an army!)
Whether we are getting together for a birthday celebration, an actual holiday, or just getting together to eat (which we like….ok, LOVE to do often) there is always plenty of food, food, and more FOOD! We love all kinds of food, but I am southern and I was raised on southern food. If my Nanee were here today and asked me what I wanted her to fix, it would be fried venison backstrap and homemade biscuits and gravy…..THAT’S JUST HOW SOUTHERN I AM Y’ALL!
When your favorite food is made, it just makes you feel all comforting inside. Makes you feel loved and cared about! That’s how my Nanee made me feel every time I visited her and Pop.
Gracie girl and her cousin, Cross, all cuddled up drinking their hot tea!
My mom can whip up our favorite meals too!I can always expect my absolute favorite chocolate cake for my birthday, which I finished up in no time this year and didn’t share much….shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone!
My mom and I in the kitchen after our Christmas Eve program at church-2014!
And now that I am a wife and mother, I LOVE doing the same for my little family!
Take my hubby, Kris, for instance….the man LOVES, LOVES, LOVES, the French Dip Sandwiches in our book, Slow Cookin’ Companion. Pair them with mac & corn and you have not only just made his day, but his week too! Love this man with all I have!
My sweet Gager boy loves him some homemade chicken pot pie. I’ve never seen a kid eat so much food. I love seeing his precious smile when he smells the aroma and says, you made CHICKEN POT PIE!!!! Thanks mom! He is a basketball playing fool! We surprised him with Spurs tickets and you would have thought he won the lottery!
Oh and my Gracie girl can put away anything sweet of course, but when I fix her pork chops, she just rants and raves about that “chicken”, LOL! Speaking of chicken, she loves Chicken in a Hurry toooooo! How I can forget that one I do not know, as she says we eatin’ that chicken on the bone?! I love it when Gracie looks through the cookbook to find something for me to make!
I don’t know if y’all have a ritual or not when it comes to cooking and food, but my family sure does. You cannot have meatloaf without mac & cheese and green beans! Hamburgers, baked beans, and mac & cheese or macaroni & tomato. Campfire stew will NOT be eaten without each saltine cracker buttered and individually placed in the bowl to be broken in half and then gobbled up. Taco Stew has to be accompanied by shredded cheese, sour cream, fritos, and guacamole, and in making casseroles they have to be accompanied with a big, huge, fresh green salad loaded with lots of veggies! YUMMY!
Don’t forget to checkout our new cookbook, It’s Our Crockin’ Life, hitting shelves August 2015 for all brand new delicious recipes!
Happy Crockin’ Y’all,
Woo Hoo! We are so excited to get this to y’all! We have been asked more times than we can count, “Which slow cooker we recommend.” Since we have been at this for three years now the answer has changed a few times! We did a crockin’ review a couple of years back but since then two of our favorites have been discontinued (pause for a moment of silence as we shed a few tears, lol). The GE non-stick slow cooker really opened our eyes to the “new wave” of slow cookers. Before we started using it all we knew were ceramic crocks but boy does that non-stick insert really help with casseroles and desserts! The older model of Kitchen Aid that we fell in love with was really pretty, cooked evenly, and cleaned well too even though it was ceramic. It was programmable with the switch-to-warm feature. These two crocks have a special place in our hearts but neither are available for our crockin’ community to get their hands on any more. So, we felt it was our duty to do some research for y’all! We have been on a mission to find something we love as much as our two favorites and we found some pretty close contenders! Here is a list of features that we LOVE to see in our slow cookers and this is what we based our review on.
Programmable – We love the fact that slow cookers with this feature pretty much do all but the chopping! Having a programmable slow cooker means it probably has the auto switch-to-warm feature which buys an extra 4+ hours. Most programmable crocks will allow cook times to extend to around 14 hours with the warm feature but one of our testers allowed 24 hour programming! Keep an eye out for that special crock! Programmable cook time is a must for those who are too busy, or work long hours. With this feature you don’t have to be home when the cook time is up!
Non-Stick Insert – This is a fairly new feature in slow cookers and one that we LOVE! A non-stick insert will help you make desserts with ease and cleanup is a breeze! What more could we ask for! Some of these non-stick inserts allow you to place the insert directly on the stove top to brown/sauté vegetables and meats which eliminates the need for a skillet! Most of these are lighter and easier to handle than the ceramic and you don’t have to worry about cracking or breaking them. The main concern with using a non-stick insert is that it can be scratched so you must be careful about what utensils you use.
Travel Features – Cord storage, locking lid, weight of slow cooker, sturdiness, and a few other things all influence whether or not your slow cooker is made to be “on the go.” We love to entertain at home but we also don’t like to arrive empty handed to a party or pot luck! Making and taking meals with the slow cooker is made much easier with some genius ideas of convenience some of these slow cookers have!
Price – You can find slow cookers priced anywhere from under $20 to the $300 range, depending on features, quality, and brand. We always try to bring you a little taste of crockin’ using slow cookers in all price ranges. One thing we do tell our crockin’ community is that we do not typically use the ones in the under $30 range because most of the time they are lacking in features we love and they tend to burn and dry out your food – that is just a BIG no-no.
Size – When crockin’, sometimes size matters. We typically do not buy anything less than a 6 quart slow cooker, unless we are buying it for appetizers. If you are short on storage then we highly recommend a 6 quart since it can be used pretty much universally with our recipes…. However, if you have shelves to spare you may like to start a collection like we have!
Temperature – So many crocks now will boil on LOW. This is why some people end up having so many flops in slow cooking. It is rare to find a slow cooker that is true to its word and cooks dependably on LOW and HIGH, instead of boiling on no matter what temperature. Our favorite method in crockin’ is LOW AND SLOW when possible so cooking too hot is a big no-no. We want to be able to trust that our slow cooker is going to cook our food how we want without having to be there to baby it all the time. We are so disappointed when we come home to a dinner gone wrong because of what we like to call a “hot crock.”
Kitchen Aid – Since the older model Kitchen Aid is one of our FAVORITES, trying this new one made us a little nervous! What if it didn’t compare? One thing we loved right out of the box was that it was a little more compact and light weight. The old Kitchen Aid at 7 quarts was nice but a little bulky. The new one is a 6 quart crock which still works for us as most of our recipes are cooked in a 6 quart. A unique feature of the Kitchen Aid is its rectangular shape. This is ideal for pizza, lasagna, and some fun desserts. It also gives a little extra room if you are wanting to double recipes or cook for a crowd! The programmable feature on this model allows a 24 hour option – this is the longest time we have seen! It auto switches to warm also. We love the Kitchen Aid because it cooks evenly and the temperatures are dependable. Although the crock is ceramic it cleans very easily. This model also includes a minimum fill line and a maximum fill line to help you know how much to fill it in order to ensure even cooking! This slow cooker comes in right at the $100 price range. We found it on amazon.com.
– 6 quart
– programmable up to 24 hours
– auto switches to warm
Crock-Pot Casserole Crock – The Crock-Pot brand is not what we usually buy because this brand often boils our food and cooks unevenly; however, this model really interested us because of its unique shape and size. This is basically like a 13” x 9” baking dish but it is a slow cooker insert! It is rectangular which makes it perfect for casseroles, and just screams, “Take me to a pot-luck!” With it being ceramic and a Crock-Pot brand we had fears that it may burn our food but we had a good experience with this particular model. We only had one corner of a macaroni dish get a little stuck and burned but the overall outcome was great! The insert was easily cleaned as well. This slow cooker is not for you if you plan on having just one slow cooker because it is pretty specific to casseroles since it is shallow. It will not cook a roast or stew very easily so keep that in mind. The locking lid and sturdy rectangular shape make it ideal for travel! This slow cooker can be found for around $40?
– 3.5 quart
– not programmable
West Bend – What a DANDY little slow cooker! Nicole’s first hand-me- down slow cooker her mom gave her was a West Bend. In fact we were still crockin’ in it when we began our Crockin’ Girls journey! We knew they were dependable and that the old one cooked evenly. We were hoping the same would be true more than 30 years later and we were definitely pleasantly surprised! The new West Bend that we just recently ordered still has the same style and light weight, space- saving design which is perfect for those short on storage! So many slow cookers now cook entirely too hot and will boil even on LOW so we were so excited to see that the new West Bend cooked with the same trustworthy, even temps that are sure to lead you to many crockin’ successes! When we did the “Macaroni” challenge, the creamiest result came from this slow cooker. This slow cooker is a little smaller than our others in that it is only 5 quarts but it can still handle most of our recipes. It would be a great 2nd crock to have in your home! BONUS FEATURE: When you remove the crock, the base is actually a griddle, making this the best answer to a soup and grilled cheese combo that we have ever seen! We are in LOVE! The only thing missing from this slow cooker is the programmable feature but we feel totally safe leaving our food in this crock without a timer and trusting it will not burn it! You can find it for around $30.
– 5 quart
– oven, stove top, and freezer safe
– mini griddle
– not programmable
Farberware – When our beloved GE was discontinued we began the search for something that resembled its features. We found the Farberware and had high hopes which were somewhat deflated when we started experimenting. Like the GE it is a 6 quart, cast aluminum (non-stick) insert. It is programmable and has one of our favorite slow cooker features – a retractable cord! However, the Farberware cooks very HOT. We will only be using the LOW option on this slow cooker and even doing that we know to expect things to cook more quickly. We will be limited to cooking soups and other recipes that are not prone to burning. Casserole-type recipes and desserts in this crock will not turn out great. The macaroni that came from the Farberware in our experiment was scorched and not edible. This slow cooker gave the macaroni dish a totally different texture than the other 6 slow cookers. The cheese almost looked curdled due to the high temperatures. This slow cooker was in the $30 range.
All-Clad – Are you looking at doing some SERIOUS crockin’? This may just be your crock! Coming in at a whopping 7 quarts, this heavy duty insert is able to go on the stove top or in the oven. This slow cooker was made to feed the masses! But don’t let this distract from the fact that it is also one of our prettiest slow cookers! If you have room, this stainless slow cooker would look great on your counter top. It is programmable with auto switch-to-warm and cooks very evenly. We are able to use this versatile slow cooker for all types of recipes from breakfast to dessert knowing that it is going to give us great results. Such great quality comes with a bigger price tag than most of the crocks on our shelves – look at spending close to $300. You still with us? I know that is more than most plan to spend on a slow cooker but if you have turned crockin’ into a way of life then it is totally worth it in our opinion. Look at it compared to what you spend on other appliances and know that it is an investment which can make your life a whole lot easier!
Hamilton Beach Stove Top – We finally found a Hamilton Beach that reached our standards! Through the years we have tried multiple slow cookers by this brand and found that they burned our food and cooked very hot. This slow cooker proved that you just have to keep searching sometimes! It is programmable and cooks evenly without having “hot spots” as found in previous models. The insert which is non-stick may be used on the stove top for browning purposes which is a nice feature. Its size and non-stick insert will allow you to cook the majority of our recipes with ease! Overall we like it a lot and recommend it. It is in the mid-price range at $60-$70.
– 6 quart
– stove top safe
Ninja – We have been wanting to get our hands on a Ninja (slow cooker, that is!) for a while now. We knew that this review would not be complete without it. We have heard nothing but praise about this slow cooker and it definitely made it on our favorites list. This particular slow cooker has some neat features including stove top and oven capabilities. It is programmable and the insert is non-stick – two features we LOVE! We know we will be using this one a lot as it will accommodate the majority of our recipes with its 6 quart size and non-stick insert! This slow cooker can be found in a price range of $100-$130 depending on where you shop!
– 6 quart
– auto switch-to-warm
All-Clad Deluxe 7 quart Slow Cooker –
Are you looking at doing some SERIOUS crockin’? This may just be your crock! Coming in with a whopping 7 quart heavy duty insert that is able to go on your stove top, or in your oven- this slow cooker was made to feed the masses! But don’t let this distract from the fact that it is also one of our prettiest slow cookers! If you have room, this stainless slow cooker would look great on your counter top. It is programmable with auto switch to warm and cooks very even. We are able to use this versatile slow cooker for all types of recipes from breakfast through dessert and we know that it is going to give us great results. Such great quality comes with a bigger price tag than most of the crocks on our shelves, look at spending close to $300. You still with us? I know that is more than most plan to spend on a slow cooker, but if you have turned crockin’ into a way of life then it is totally worth it in our opinion. Look at it compared to what you spend on other appliances and know that it is an investment that is making your life a whole lot easier!
– 7 quart
– non-stick aluminum
– stove top safe
One of the great things about crockin’ is the chance to be creative! It’s fun to just open up the pantry, start throwin’ things together, and discover a new recipe or two! To do this though, it’s important to keep some essentials in the pantry. Here’s a list of key ingredients we find helpful when it comes to making a variety of recipes. Keep these on hand and you’ll find crockin’ just became even easier!
- Diced Tomatoes
- Canned Beans (pinto, black, ranch-style)
- Cream of Chicken
- Cream of Mushroom
- Cheese Soup
- Canned Corn
- Tomato Sauce
- Jar of Salsa
- Jar of Spaghetti Sauce
- BBQ Sauce
- Variety of Tortillas
- Garlic (fresh cloves or refrigerated jar)
- Taco Seasonings
- Italian Dressing Mix
- Onion Soup Mix
- Ranch Dressing Mix
- Gravy Mix
- Variety of Spices and Herbs
Here are FIVE Recipes that are made easier with a well-stocked pantry:
Over the last year we’ve crocked a lot of delicious recipes! Our cookbook has over 150 slow cooker recipes that we personally tasted and tested and continue to make weekly. We also have new recipes we develop weekly for our Crockin’ Monday Videos. We thought it was time we added some of these recipes to our ever growing favorites list. For the full list, visit the FAVORITES recipe category. Get to Crockin’ y’all!
French Dip Sandwiches
Chicken in a Hurry
King Ranch Chicken
New Year’s White Chicken Chili
Cabbage Patch Soup
Little Meats and Gravy
Chicken Tortilla Soup
For the full list, visit the FAVORITES recipe category.