Slow Cooker Kitchen Necessities
Crock-pot-staples are a must-have. The best dishes are created from simple crock-pot-basics you should have on hand. Some basic ingredients in the kitchen will come in so handy, you will see.
Meal preparation and saving time is so important these days, especially in two income families. The time saved by having a meal ready when everyone gets home, makes the slow cooker an invaluable kitchen item.
To get the maximum use out of your slow-cooker, you should remember to have some basic food items on hand if you want to enhance the flavor of your meals. A small list of slow-cooker-ingredients go a long way.
Keep Beans On Hand
Beans are full of protein, inexpensive and easy to cook with. Each variety of bean has a distinct flavor all of it's own, and the spices you use with them, will bring out their unique flavors, which is enhanced by the spices you use to cook them.
Beans are good as a base with meat, or without, if you are a vegetarian. When shopping, add these types of beans to your grocery list: lentils, navy beans and black beans to present some delicious slow cooker meals to your family.
Basic Potatoes and Veggies
Most homes have potatoes on hand. Potatoes go such a long way, because they can be fried, boiled, stewed, or added easily to the slow-cooker.
Mashed potatoes can thicken a stew or soup so easily. Because of this, they can easily take the place of meat. If you are cooking meat in your crockpot, and most likely you are cooking some kind of cut, fibrous vegetables like zucchini, carrots, turnip and potatoes can be added to the slow cooker and cook for most of the day along with the meat without going mushy. In a mashed stage, these vegetables add great filler.
A Variety of Dried or Fresh Herbs
Very important basic of the crock-pot-staples
Depending on the herbs used, the taste of your meal can be from one extreme to the other.
Fresh or dried herbs enhance any meal, but fresh herbs tend to release their flavors much more strongly than dried.
If you have a sunny window, grow some yourself and dry them out.
You don't need alot of space, just some small flower pots with decent soil to start them in.
It's at the end of the cooking time, that herbs are generally added to the slow-cooker. At this point, the flavors are absorbed into the main item in your crockpot.
Vegetable or Meat Broth – You need a liquid to begin any crockpot cooking. Water isn't the only thing you can use.
Anything cooked in the slow cooker needs a liquid to start the process. Beef or a little chicken broth is good. Do you have a cupful of leftover soup? That will do. Do you have a cup of vegetable juice, or a little bit of spaghetti sauce? All of these items will do just fine and they cost very little. There will be spices already in most of these liquid crock-pot-staples and it's a great way to jump-start the flavors of your dish.
Flour and cornstarch can be found in most people's cupboards.
I mainly use it for gravey as a thickener and have been caught without one or the other. The great thing about both of these crock-pot-staples is that they can both be used for the same thing, which is mainly to thicken, or to saute something.
When sauteing meat first that has had a light dusting of flour, flavored pieces of the "taste-bits" can be added to the slow-cooker for that little extra. Cornstarch can be used to smooth a gravey for potatoes for example. This is the difference, though they both kind of do the same thing. They both thicken, but the cornstarch does the smoothing for a velvety sauce.
Your Favorite Cut Of Meat
Meat is definately thought of as one of the main crock-pot-staples.
You will find that though you don't always cook with meat, crock-pot meals usually have meat as the main item. The slower cooker can do meat such justice accompanied by only some basic and simple crock-pot-ingredients.
Try to have more than one of your best loved meats in good supply. The crockpot will tenderize this meat, if you usually find it dry and tough. If you are used to cooking in the oven, just once, gather up some crock-pot basics using other ingredients, and you will be pleasantly surprised at what a mouth-watering experience your cut of meat will be.
As long as you have even a small variety of the slow-cooker-ingredients available in your kitchen, you can turn plain oven-cooked dinners into a lovely taste experience. You will be able to produce something different constantly, and it will seem like you slaved over the stove in person all day long.
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