Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Friend the Crockpot

Is there anything better than coming home from work to a wonderful aroma permeating from the crockpot all the way in the garage? Opening the car door and immediately being hit with the wafting smell of dinner? Knowing that it's all ready and you don't have to prepare anything? The only drawback is the unknown, whether or not this recipe was a winner or whether dinner will be a flop. If you're a planner like me, this is a travesty! I literally only buy the ingredients needed for my menu that week. I have NO extras. I can't just whip something up from the ingredients in my pantry. Some say this is unheard of, how could I possibly live and function like this? Waste not, want not is my motto and that's what I always try to stick to. I feel like I'm wasting if I have extra cans that I'm not using. Plus, these days I'm so forgetful that I wouldn't remember that I already had 2 cans of corn and that I didn't need to buy any for "x" recipe. Whoa, I got off on a tangent. Luckily, this recipe tasted almost as good as it smelled. With a few minor tweaks and another dash of salt and pepper, this could make it to my go-to list. Every time I use my crockpot it leaves me wondering, "Why don't I use this more often?"

I would post a picture but nothing in the crockpot ever looks picture-quality to me. You'll just have to trust me on this one.

Chicken and Dumplings
(from Better Homes and Gardens)

2 cups chopped carrots (I only used about 1/2 cup)
2 cups chopped potatoes (I used 2 medium potatoes)
1-1/2 cups chopped parsnips (I used 2 and they do add a good flavor)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried sage, crushed (I omitted and replaced with oregano - personal preference)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 14-ounce can chicken broth
1 10-3/4-ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1. For stew, in a 4- or 5-quart slow cooker combine the carrots, potatoes, parsnips, garlic, bay leaves, sage, the 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables. In a medium bowl gradually whisk broth into soup. Pour broth mixture over the chicken.
2. Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours.
3. If using low-heat setting, turn slow cooker to high-heat setting. With a wooden spoon, stir stew. Remove bay leaves; discard. In a small bowl combine water and cornstarch; stir into stew until combined.
4. For dumplings, in a medium mixing bowl combine flour, cheese, cornmeal, baking powder, and the 1/4 teaspoon salt. In a small bowl combine egg, milk, and melted butter. Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Stir with a fork until moistened. Use 2 spoons to drop dough directly on top of stew.
5. Cover; cook for 25 to 30 minutes more or until a toothpick inserted into a dumpling comes out clean. (Do not lift cover during cooking.)
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


  1. Funny you should mention only buying what you need for your menu - I do the exact same thing! (I like your motto.)

    In fact, tonight I hit a bump in our dinner plans as I had everything ready for your Argentinian casserole and was ready for the step with eggs when I realized I was out of eggs! (Due to a spur of the moment decision to make cheesecake bites last night - reinforcing what happens when I veer from the plan - oops!)

  2. It's always refreshing to hear someone else who shares your habits because it reminds me that I'm not crazy! Eggs are one of those ingredients that can just slip up on you because you always assume you have them - at least I do. My vote would go for the cheesecake bites any day over the corn casserole!

  3. I haven't had time to post about it yet, but we got the corn casserole in the oven late last night (after a trip to Kroger for more eggs) and had a few bites before putting it in the fridge for today - and I owe you a big THANK YOU! It was delicious! Both Mark and I really liked it (and the recommendation to keep the corn whole). It is definitely a go-to recipe for me now. Thanks!