Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Cool Weather Crockpot Meals

It’s not quite winter yet, but damp days in the 50s are cold enough for me to get out the crockpot. Crockpot meals are the best thing for super busy people! It’s a meal in a pot that’s ready right when you get home. Here are three quick and easy crockpot meals anyone can do!

Oxtail/ Beef Shank Soup– Use either one of these meats for a hearty, beef vegetable soup. Brown the meat over medium high heat in vegetable oil. Place in crock pot and cover with one 28 oz. can of chopped tomatoes. Cook till the meat is falling apart tender (4-5 hours on high). Remove meat, let cool, and shred the meat; discarding the fat and bone. Return the meat to the pot. Add sliced baby carrots, celery, and onion. Cook till the veggies are crisp tender. Add one 15 oz. can each of diced potatoes and peas; cook till warmed through. For an extra punch of fiber, add ¼ cup of pearl barley along with the carrots.

Chicken and Dumplings is a great meal for cold days. Chop a large onion and spread over the bottom of the crockpot. Season well 1 ¼ pound of chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and oregano. Place on top of onions. Add two cans of cream of chicken soup and two cups of low-sodium chicken broth. Cook till the chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and shred. Return to the pot, along with sliced celery, carrots, and frozen peas. Top with refrigerated biscuits cut into pieces. Or you can make Bisquik dumplings and drop in by the spoonful. Cook till the biscuits/ dumplings are done on top and the vegetables are tender.

Pot Roast in the crockpot is always tender but not always so flavorful. Try using some conveniently packaged, popular seasonings to kick up that flavor! Place the pot roast in the crock  and cover with one envelope each of Hidden Valley Ranch and McCormick Au Jus Mix. Top with one stick  of unsalted butter. If you are fond of them, add several pepperoncini. Cook until tender and serve with mashed potatoes.