|4 qt. crockpot with oven liner|
One thing you need to know about me is that I tend to go all out on things. When the weather changes, I get on a crockpot kick. I don't mean I just make stew or chili one day to kick off the fall season--I mean I start trying to figure out a way to make breakfast, dinner, and dessert in the crockpot. Right now I'm in one of those phases.
That said, I've learned from years of crockery-cooking experience that there are some things that, in my opinion, just aren't as good in the crockpot. I prefer to cook certain dishes including meatloaf and spaghetti the old fashioned way, but a lot of other things are great in the crockpot.
Although I've been slow cooking since I was a newlywed, I've made very few desserts, so I am excited about experimenting in that area this crockpot season. As I am writing this I have a peach upside down cake going in--you guessed it--the crockpot. I'm not sure how it will look, but I have high hopes that it will be edible enough to eat alone late at night.
Get a crockpot cookbook at the thrift store
Get a larger crockpot or two crockpots
If you have a large family or like to entertain, you may want to invest in a six or seven quart crockpot. My seven quart crockpot is great for when I'm serving little smokies in barbecue sauce to a large crowd or on the rare occasions that I make a huge pork roast for tamales. Yes, we also have a giant tamale pot for steaming tamales on the stove. Remember, we are all about extremes in this house. Even though I usually don't come close to completely filling the seven quart crockpot, I love being able to have two crockpots going at once. Remember that each crockpot should only be filled about three quarters of the way full, which is why you may need a larger one or two of them.
Try this easy side dish idea
A few years back, I discovered that I could cook a bunch of foil-wrapped baked potatoes and halved corn on the cobs in the larger crockpot while cooking a meat dish in the smaller one. The potatoes will have a slightly different flavor than if you had baked them in the oven, but after applying a generous slathering of butter and sour cream, you'll hardly notice.
Save time with crockpot liners
Sometimes I like to splurge on crockpot liners to make clean up a breeze. The disposable liners are made of a heavy duty BPA-free plastic and are similar to "oven bags." You might be thinking that a crockpot is easy to clean, but it really depends on what you make in it. The crockpot liners are perfect for those days when you want to start on the next recipe right away, so there is no time to soak the crock in between. The store I went to last night only carried oven bags, but it turns out the large, turkey-sized oven bag worked well as a crockpot liner.
What do you like to make in the crockpot? I look forward to hearing your ideas in the comments!