For Christmas three years ago I asked for a slow cooker. Mainly because I didn’t have one and Christmas is my usual excuse to pad out my cooking cabinet collection. So hubby researched and purchased, I thanked him, put it away and there it sat. For another year.
At the time, I was still cooking mainly from glossy magazines and family recipes and neither source gave use to the humble slow cooker. And when I went looking for crock-pot meals what I found tended to be not how we eat. Lots of stews, lots of meaty meat and way to many processed ingredients. So, there it sat.
Then the babies came and in a fit of needing to change I joined a weight loss program and learned how to cook all over again. And fell in love with my slow-cooker. For a while there I was using it two times a week. At least. It was a way I could actually put a nice hot healthy meal on the table and still get through diapers, bottles, and bed somewhat intact. I could cook in the morning when the girls were fairly happy to be left to their own devices for 1/2 an hour.
As the girls got bigger and our weeks became busier and busier, I would meal plan a slow-cooker meal for our longest day–which was Tuesday. I loved coming home from a long day of preschool, play, and music to a house filled with the smell of a home-cooked meal. I joked with John that without the slow-cooker, Tuesday would have easily become “Take-out Tuesday”. I also discovered some really fun recipes that were full of fresh ingredients that my family loved.
So I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite slow-cooker meals here. Our Tuesdays have changed, but I still always have a day in my week where it’s nice to prep in the morning and simply eat in the evening.
To kick things off, one of my very favorite dishes. Easy as anything to prep, and worth the wait to eat.
Cuban-Style Pork and Sweet Potato Slow Cooker Stew
Makes 5-6 servings
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1 lb)
- 1 pound(s) lean pork loin, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 14 1/2 oz canned diced tomatoes, with green chiles
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup(s) orange juice
- 2 medium scallions, chopped (green parts only)
- 1/2 tsp table salt
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 2 Tbsp cilantro, fresh, chopped
Place potato, pork, tomatoes, garlic, orange juice, scallions, salt, cumin and pepper in a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker; cover and cook on low setting for 7 hours.
Stir in lime juice and cilantro; cover slow cooker and cook for 5 minutes more. Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving (including some cooking liquid.) Serve with rice or couscous.