Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hands-Free Cooking

Day 62.

It's soccer practice day. Have you ever seen a bunch of 5 & 6 year-olds playing soccer? It's really amusing, because all they do is run in a big herd around the field, trying to get a kick in. They all have a blast, learn a few skills, and get some physical activity in the process.

I love using my slow cooker to free up my Rush Hour time. I call it "Hands-Free Cooking" since my trusty Crock Pots (I have 2) do all the cooking for me. Rush Hour, at my house, is the period of time between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.: It's the time when all the papers come out of the backpacks, dinner is cooking and being served, lunches are being made for the next day, laundry is being sorted and put away, clothes are being ironed and prepared for the next day, money is being doled out for the latest PTO fundraiser, permission slips are being signed, pets are being fed... Get the idea? I know many of you have your own Rush Hours. What do you do to streamline things at your house? Here are a few hints from me:

  1. Unpack lunch boxes, clean them out, and make them right away. 4:00 comes and I'm wiping out the boxes and packing lunches. It only takes 5 minutes and it's done. I like being able to check things off my To Do List.
  2. Have a Landing Pad. Backpacks go there. Fill out all forms, dole out money, pack backpacks, et cetera at that one spot and no place else. This cuts down on lost forms and misplaced folders.
  3. Have a Touch it Once policy. Don't put things off. When you touch that permission slip, sign it and put it away. Don't take the stack of papers from the backpack and set them aside to review later. If you've touched them, deal with them right away. This is another way to avoid losing things.
  4. And finally, rely on your slow cooker. Especially on days when your children have activities.
Slow Cooker Meatloaf and Slow Cooker Twice-Baked Potatoes Casserole
serves 6 to 8


for Slow Cooker Meatloaf:
  • 1 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 box stuffing mix for pork
  • 1/2 cup minced white onion
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup water
for  Slow Cooker Twice-Baked Potatoes Casserole:
  • 8 medium baking potatoes, baked, cooled, then peeled
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup half & half (milk will do, too -- I had to use up some half & half)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 green onions, chopped
How it's Done:

for Slow Cooker Meatloaf:
  1. Spray your crock with non-stick cooking spray. Although this won't prevent all sticking, it will aid in cleanup quite a bit.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, place all ingredients except for 1/4 cup of ketchup. Mash it all together with your fingers, making sure all the ingredients are well combined.
  3. Press the meat mixture into a large slow cooker's crock.
  4. Cover with remaining ketchup.
  5. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
  6. Let meatloaf stand 10 to 20 minutes before cutting.
for Slow Cooker Twice-Baked Potatoes Casserole:
  1. Spray your crock with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Cut cooked, peeled potatoes into chunks, and place in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add sour cream, half & half, salt, pepper, and butter.
  4. Mash with a potato masher.
  5. Layer in a 2 quart slow cooker in this order: half of the mashed potatoes, half of the cheese, half of the bacon, half of the green onions. Repeat layers: the remainging mashed potatoes, cheese, bacon, and green onions.
  6. Cover and cook on low for at least 4 hours, or on high for 2 hours. I'm cooking mine on low all day. It will be fine on low.
For more slow cooker meal ideas, visit Dining with Debbie.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Good organizing advice, we do almost all of them, expect I wait until the morning to make lunches. I need to be better at the "OHIO" concept, Only Handle It Once. I do good with the kids papers, it's the grown-up papers that are a mess.

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