Oh the crock pot!  There is nothing like coming home to the aroma of a meal slowly cooking all day!  This is one my favorite slow cooker recipes!  Perfect for cold, winter days.  

Source: Real Simple magazine (with changes) 
Serves 6| Hands-On Time: 15m | Total Time: Varies
  • 1 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into chunks
  • 2 sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch-thick half-moons
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 large red onion, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • kosher salt
  • 1 10-ounce box couscous (1 1/2 cups) (garlic flavored is my favorite)
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 2 cups baby spinach (1 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped
  1. In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the beef, tomatoes (and their juices), onion, apricots, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup water.
  2. Cook, covered, until the meat is tender, on high for 4 to 5 hours, or on low for 7 to 8 hours.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes part way through to avoid overcooking them.  If you're cooking on high, add them after two hours.  If you're cooking on low, add them after 4 or 5 hours.  
  4. Ten minutes before serving, prepare the couscous according to the package directions.
  5. Add the chickpeas to the slow cooker and cook until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the spinach. Serve with the couscous and sprinkle with the almonds.
  6. To freeze: Omit the couscous and spinach. Cool the beef to room temperature and divide among freezer containers or bags. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  7. To reheat: Thaw in a bowl of cold water or overnight in the refrigerator. Cook in a pot, covered, stirring occasionally, until heated through, 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in the spinach. Serve with the cooked couscous.

My favorite crock pot:

Everything you want in a slow cooker for $50!  If you are like me, when you go to work, you are out of the house for well over 8 hours.  With this, you can program the pot for a certain cooking time.  After it reaches that time, it will switch to a "keep warm" setting.  Otherwise, you can insert a probe into the meat and when the desired temperature has been reached, it will switch to the warm setting.  The snaps on the lid make it easy to take to a pot luck.  This also received great reviews on Consumer Reports.  

Slow cooking tips:
- Don't peek! I've heard tale that when you take the lid off, it will increase your cooking time by 30-60 minutes.
- Don't worry! You won't burn the house down (really)!
-Get a pot that is about this size (6 qts).  Otherwise, you will tend to overcook your meals if it is too small and most recipes call for a medium size crock.
-Consider adding some ingredients part of the way through (if you're home).  For example, we add the sweet potatoes, chick peas, and spinach later in the recipe above.  Add beans an hour or so before serving when making chili.
-Reynolds makes slow cooker liners that you may insert into your slow cooker before adding your food.  This certainly makes clean up almost instant.  However, I'm not sure how I feel about plastic being heated along with my food for hours at a time.  I'm holding off on using them for now.  
-Cooking times are really approximate when using slow cookers.  An hour here or there on low can really be insignificant at times, which is the glory of slow cooking.  Also, don't be afraid to play around with the settings and times.  For example, you could cook on low for 5 hours and then on high for 2 to speed things along. 
10/1/2013 05:39:41 am

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