Crock Pot Meatloaf

This family favorite is now even easier to make!

This family favorite is now even easier to make!

This recipe requires no lead up. You know it, you like it, you probably have had it a million times with just as many little variations. Let’s go simple and make a flavorful loaf for dinner that will please the whole family. Meatloaf also reheats and freezes well, so if you happen to have leftovers (yeah right!) go ahead and have a meatloaf sandwich for lunch tomorrow.

One note: You can make this with a mix of meats, if you prefer. Try half beef, half turkey or a mix of beef and bison. The directions stay the same, but the flavor and texture with change slightly. 




Crock Pot Meatloaf

(serves 4-6)

1 pound 90/10 ground beef

1 egg

2 T. minced sweet onion

1/2 c. panko bread crumbs

1 T. brown sugar

1 T. ketchup (one good squirt!)

1/2 t. dried dill

1 t. fresh thyme leaves









Mix all ingredients together and form into a loaf shape. Put in crock pot or on trivet insert if you have one available. Cook on low for 4 hours.

(If you need a trivet for your crock pot, try this one:


Crock Pot Cauliflower Curry

Crock Pot Cauliflower Curry is a delicious side dish that packs a lot of flavor!

Crock Pot Cauliflower Curry is a delicious side dish that packs a lot of flavor!

Sometimes I just want a side dish with a little kick and not a lot of calories. I was raiding the pantry the other day and found a can of coconut milk that I didn’t remember buying. Funny how that happens, right?! Like, who else would have bought this random item that I don’t usually purchase? I must have had an intention for it, but the whim passed and I was still stuck with the can of curious origins.

Then, while trying to decide what to do with it, I debated the cauliflower I bought on a whim as well. I don’t know about you, but I find so many recipes online right now reinventing the cauliflower and I go, that sounds good, let’s try it! But then I pin 17 other things and forget where I started from. Maybe that’s how I wound up with the coconut milk, too!

This dish is QUICK to put together– like five minutes– and is a great way to try a new ingredient or two. Warning- red pepper flakes can be spicier than you anticipate, especially after they fester with the other flavors in the crockpot! Add them timidly the first time you make this dish.  It’s a side, not a fire!

Crock Pot Cauliflower Curry

Makes 6-8 side dish servings, depending on the side of your cauliflower

1 cauliflower, washed, core removed, chopped into bite-size pieces

1 red pepper, sliced or 6-8 multi-color small peppers, sliced

1 inch of ginger root, peeled and diced

1 yellow onion, sliced thing

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 can coconut milk

1 T. ground curry

1-2 t. red pepper flakes

With just a few ingredients you probably have on hand anyway, you can make this kickin' crock pot side dish!

With just a few ingredients you probably have on hand anyway, you can make this kickin’ crock pot side dish!

Add all ingredients to crock pot and cook on low for 4 hours.  Cautious of the spice level until you try this for the first time!


Crock Pot Chicken and Artichokes

This easy and delicious dish can be made with just a few items from your pantry!

This easy and delicious dish can be made with just a few items from your pantry!

Happy Valentine’s Day, crock pot lovers! I hope you’ve enjoyed the day and if you care nothing about this Hallmark holiday, I hope you had a fabulous Saturday.

I thawed out some chicken a couple days ago and didn’t decide what to do with it until today. I wanted something easy that even the kids would eat, and didn’t want to go to the store to get any supplies.

One of my favorite pantry items that I always keep stocked is a small jar of artichoke hearts in a marinade. They are great on fresh salads, complement tomato-based sauces on pasta, or create a delectable antipasto plate when you need a quick appetizer. The dressing is also a fabulous sauce.

I also had a basket of fresh cherry tomatoes from a local farm that I needed to use before they went soft. Even in North Carolina, it’s cold at this time of year, but I love that I can get fresh tomatoes that were greenhouse grown.

With a few basic ingredients you really can put together a delicious dinner without needing a trip to the grocery store.  Happy Love Day!

5-6 boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 pint cherry tomatoes

6 oz jar of artichoke hearts in marinade (DO NOT DRAIN!)

3 cloves garlic

1/2 sweet onion, sliced

Put all ingredients in crock pot and cook on high for 4 hours. Serve alone as an entrée or over pasta or rice.


Crock Pot Beet Borscht

Dre’s got nothing on me–my beets are fresh! Ha! Get it? See what I did there.


Beet borscht tastes great with a few boiled potatoes and a scoop of cold sour cream.

There is nothing that makes me think of the my family history more than a steaming hot bowl of neon pink soup. No, this isn’t a serving of chemical warfare, it’s a fresh and sweet, soothing bowl of beet borscht.  My grandma still makes this and at most Jewish Deli’s you can usually find it on the menu right next to corned beef, chopped liver and matzah balls. What can I say? My roots are authentic and so is my cuisine. Except grandma never made this dish in the crock pot!

Now if this was truly home cooking, I would use fresh beets, but I’ve found that the canned version works just as well and the pink juice adds a certain flavor feature as well. Grandma taught me to cut sliced beets into strips instead of buying the canned variety of matchsticks. Somehow the matchstick ones are too mushy. (According to grandma, of course.)  Authentically, I would hand slice some cabbage, but I love the fine style of angel hair cabbage that I can purchase at my grocery store. It cooks up quicker and doesn’t contrast the texture of the beets as much.

Keep a few of these items on hand in your pantry and you can have beet borscht anytime you want!

Keep a few of these items on hand in your pantry and you can have beet borscht anytime you want!

If you make this dish with fresh beets, just clean, peel and shred them before throwing them in the crock pot. The taste is very similar to this recipe, but the beautiful pink broth cannot be matched! It truly is extraordinary. But that pink color will most likely stain your cutting board. And your fingers. And your countertops, before you even realize the glow has been dripping!

This soup can be made vegetarian or meat-based. In fact, try cooking down beef bones or chicken bones to make your broth instead of using store bought. I know, I know… this meal is so “processed”, but hey, it’s a weeknight, and sometimes even the Crock Pot Queen needs a a quick meal to fix.

Give this a try and keep an open mind. Put on those Dre headphones and drop the beat. But not the beet. It will probably stain.

Crock Pot Beet Borscht

Serves 8

2 15 oz. cans of sliced beets (do not drain)

1/2 sweet onion, sliced thin

1 package finely sliced cabbage (approx. 6 cups)

2 bay leaves

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 32 oz. box vegetarian stock

8 redskin potatoes

8 T. sour cream

Slice the onion and put in the crock pot with the cabbage, bay leaves, and garlic cloves. Drain the cans of beets into the crock pot and then cut the sliced beets into strips. Add stock and cook on high for 3-4 hours. Clean and quarter the potatoes and bowl separately. To each serving of soup, add a few chunks of boiled potatoes and a dollop of sour cream. Borscht is also refreshingly delicious served cold.

Crock Pot Cheese-Stuffed Meatballs

Meatballs in Sauce

Already looking good!

While on vacation over the holidays, we stayed at the Happy Pelican, a wonderful beach house on the North Carolina coast. I love the delight of staying somewhere with a fully-stocked kitchen AND a beautiful view. My sister-in-law and I figured out a week’s worth of menus, split the to do list, and prepped easy meals to enjoy that required minimal kitchen time and maximum beach time. It was so much easier to dine all together at the house instead of trying to coordinate eating out!

Cheese-Stuffed Meatball Sub, broiled to perfection!

Cheese-Stuffed Meatball Sub, broiled to perfection!

But with eight healthy appetites to satisfy, we needed to cook mass quantity. By the end of the week, we were down to hamburger meat, string cheese and a few wrinkly vegetables. Easy enough! Just what I needed for these cheese-stuffed meatballs. It takes a little more handy work than our normal crock pot meals, but it was delicious! The kids loved the meatballs and the adults enjoyed meatball subs broiled to a crusty perfection.

Forget the bun and just enjoy the cheese-stuffed meatballs!

Forget the bun and just enjoy the cheese-stuffed meatballs!

If you go on vacation and the house isn’t well-equipped with small kitchen appliances, I highly suggest bringing your crock pot along. Enjoy!







Crock Pot Cheese-Stuffed Meatballs

Serves 8-10

2 lbs ground beef

2 eggs

1 c. panko bread crumbs

1/2 c. shredded parmesan

1 c. shredded carrots

2 T. Fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 sweet onion, diced

1 32 oz. jar spaghetti sauce

6 individually-wrapped string cheese

4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

8 hoagie buns

Unwrap the string cheese and cut each log into 5 pieces (30 pieces total). Set the cheese aside. You are going to make approx. 30 meatballs.  Mix together the meat, carrots, onion, eggs, parsley, parmesan,  and panko. The mixture should not be liquidy. If it is, add a little more bread crumbs. Eggs are not always the same size (did you know that?!). Take about a golf-ball sized portion and roll into a ball. Flatten it between your palms. Place a cut piece of string cheese in the middle of the patty and then carefully form the ball back around the cheese. You want the cheese to be completely surrounded by the meatball mixture. Place it in the crock pot and repeat 29 more times, approximately, or until the meat mixture is gone.

Wash your hands. Don’t be gross.

Pour the jar of spaghetti sauce across all of the meatballs and then cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6 hours. Your sauce will be a little more watery when it’s done because of all of the juices escaping the meat and veggies. These meatballs are now ready to serve.

If you want to make meatball subs, put 3-4 meatballs in each hoagie bun, cover with some shredded cheese  and place on a cookie sheet. Broil in the oven until the cheese is melted and starting to brown, but not burnt. That would be gross.

Cooked meatballs will fill refrigerate well and freeze well, but be careful reheating as the cheese may ooze out. It will all still taste delicious, it just might not be as pretty.


Crock Pot Dirty Rice

Do you ever stock up on meat when it’s on sale and freeze it, only to then have to come up with a meal that specifically uses that “great deal” before it gets freezer burnt?! Yeah, that’s what I’m going through today. I thawed out a package of sweet italian ground sausage. I’m sure I bought it with some sort of intention…. but then it got buried in the freezer under half a dozen packages of frozen vegetables. After making winter vegetable soup, I found my meat stash and now had to face the task of figuring out what to make with the ground sausage.

Normally, you can substitute ground sausage in most ground beef or ground turkey recipes. It makes great chili, an incredible lasagna and even is creative in meatloaf. But I wanted to work on a recipe that truly highlighted the spices of the sweet italian sausage. You can use any variety of sausage, just understand that the flavors will ultimately completely change up the overall dish– so if you want hot sausage or you want to un-case a beer bratwurst, that’s totally fine. You can play with the flavors by changing up your meat selection– or using up something you find in the bottom of your freezer!  

So tonight, we’re having crock pot dirty rice. I love that this dish uses the word “dirty”, but it’s so true. This is the antithesis of steamed, white rice. It muddles together all the flavors from the spicy meat and the sweet vegetables and somehow the tomato paste marries it all together. Yes, that’s what this is– a “dirty” “marriage” of flavors. Ha! I hope you enjoy this classic spicy one-pot meal and that it warms up your winter night.

1 lb sausage, crumbled and browned

3 cups water

1 cup uncooked long grain rice

1/2 large onion, finely chopped

1/2 large red bell pepper, finely chopped

1/2 large yellow bell pepper, finely chopped

3 stalks finely chopped celery

1 15 oz. can kidney beans, not drained

1 6 oz. can tomato paste

1 beef bouillion cube

1  tsp salt

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 T. chopped fresh parsley

Brown meat and put in crock pot first. Then using same pan, brown onions and peppers until soft, then add to crock pot. Add remaining ingredients, except for parsley. Stir. Cook on low for 4 hours.  Serve into bowls and sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Crock Pot Turkey Pot Roast

This afternoon, I went with my family to an apple orchard to pick fresh, local produce to enjoy. It felt organic. Not in the “lacking chemicals and pesticides” way, but in the “feeling connected to the earth and supporting something good”. My kids loved picking the fruit and sampling all the different kinds of apples.  I am eager to make my escalloped apples recipe as soon as possible.

 But the best part of the day was coming home to dinner already made and a very hungry family to feed!

One of my favorite meals to cook and eat is pot roast– meat, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions… all the basics. It’s so filling and full of great nutrients. One crock pot is a whole meal. But sometimes I like to vary it up a little.  I made a very similar recipe today, but instead of beef, I used three turkey legs as our protein.

The meat becomes so tender it falls off the bone. I used whole carrots because they make such a nice presentation and they don’t get soggy when they cook.  The key to keeping the meat tender is to use the meat rack for the crock pot and keep it elevated. It still absorbs all the flavors as it cooks, but it doesn’t deteriorate as it cooks.

I highly recommend making this dish for a family dinner or even for the holidays! Trust me– I’m sure you can think of 100 other ways to spend a weekend afternoon than staying in the kitchen cooking. Get out there and enjoy life a little, then come home for a great meal. Enjoy!

3-4 turkey legs (2-3 lbs)

6 whole carrots, peeled

1/2 sweet onion, cut into chunks

4 stalks celery, cut into 2-3 inch sections

1 t. minced garlic

1 white potato, cut into chunks

2 c. chicken broth

1 T. olive oil

1/2 t. salt

1/2 t. black pepper

2 t. Mrs. Dash seasoning

Put all produce (carrots, onions, celery, potato) in crock pot and arrange in bottom. Using an oval shaped crock pot is best. Put crock pot meat rack in so that the meat will sit just above the produce. Pour chicken broth in, but do not let the volume of it reach the meat rack. Place turkey legs on meat rack. Brush meat with olive oil and then sprinkle with seasonings. Cook on low for 6 hours. 

(If you like gravy, put the remaining liquid in a pot on the stove and bring it to a boil. Add 1 T. corn starch that has been dissolved into 1/4 c. warm water. When gravy thickens, serve with turkey pot roast.)

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

The morning is half over and my whole family is still wearing pajamas. Yay for snow days! But since  it’s dreadful and cold outside, I need something hot and satisfying to fill our bellies. I decided that we should head south of the border tonight and enjoy some Mexican fare, so today I am sharing my recipe for chicken tortilla soup.  This recipe is simple and easy (and note– it freezes well, too!) and you can definitely vary the spiciness of the dish, depending how much heat your mouth can withstand.

I am sharing my basic recipe for this soup, but feel free to add any of the following to the pot for additional spice. I would recommend only picking one or two of these things as each one packs a punch:

1/2 t. cayenne pepper OR

1 chopped jalapeno pepper OR

1 t. Tabasco sauce

You can also decorate your chicken tortilla soup in a variety of ways. Try sprinkling some fresh, chopped cilantro on top, or a few slices of avocado. If the spice is more than you anticipated, cut it with some shredded monterey jack cheese or a dollop of sour cream.  Most restaurants serve this soup with tortilla strips– you can crumble regular tortilla chips on top for the same effect. Or just like an old scantron test, you can select E. All of the Above (that’s the correct answer!!)

We might be skating on the lawn and building a snowman on the porch, but at dinner tonight, we’ll all be saying “Ole!”

1 28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes

2 10 oz. cans diced tomatoes with green chiles

1 15 oz. can sweet corn, no salt added (drained)

1 lb. frozen chicken breasts or tenders

1/2 medium onion, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 T. chopped fresh cilantro

1 bay leaf

1 t. chili powder

1 t. cumin

1/2 t. black pepper

1/2 t. salt

Put all ingredients in crock pot and stir so that the spices mingle with all of the solid foods. Cook on low for 6 hours. Remove chicken, shred it and then put back in crock pot for one hour. Serve with any of the additional spices or toppings outlined above.

Crock Pot Beef and Barley Stew

Here’s your history lesson for today, folks… let’s learn about barley. If you are a “meat and potatoes” kind of person, barley is a great item to add to your grocery list. Barley rations go all the way back to biblical times, I think, it’s healthy, hearty and inexpensive;  is one of the world’s top harvested grains; and here’s a fun one– one of its main purposes is for producing beer and malted beverages.

Now that you’ve done your studies, let’s prepare your eats! This stew is meaty and thick and satisfies the hungriest belly. It is a meal in itself, but I prefer a small bowl of it with a side salad— and a beer, so I can be consuming barley in multiple forms. 🙂 This is a nice variation to the common beef stew.

On a nice fall day like today, your house will be filled with the warm smell of meat, vegetables and an easy dinner. Enjoy!

1 lb. beef stew meat chunks

1 c. baby carrots

4 stalks of celery, cut into chunks

1/2 medium onion, diced

3-4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, NOT drained

1 cup pearl barley

3 c. water

1 t. black pepper

1 t. salt

1 t. celery seed

Add all ingredients to the crock pot in this order. Give a little stir, just enough to promote mingling. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Crock Pot Vegetable Soup For Men

I am fortunate to have a husband that loves my cooking and loves to eat.  He tries everything I make and is very agreeable about most of it. But today, I had the privilege of watching my husband cook his first crock pot meal. And it turned out great!

Today’s soup includes a lot of produce, but unlike my normal vegetarian vegetable soup which has small bits of lots of vegetables, my hubby’s recipe includes chunkier cuts of vegetables and not as much variety. The real kicker of this soup is the topping– add a few jalapeno peppers and you’ve got a treat to eat without any meat! 🙂

I definitely encourage you to offer the crock pot up for family cooking adventures. It’s great to take with you on road trips to save money instead of eating out. It’s a great way to teach kids about cooking because there’s less risk of burning food or fingers. It’s also a great way to add healthier meals into your busy lives.

So kudos to my husband for coming up with this great recipe. Maybe he’ll do the dishes, too. Enjoy!

2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes

1 15 oz. can sweet kernel corn, drained

1 zucchini, chopped

4 stalks celery, cleaned and chopped

1 medium onion, diced

2 medium potatoes, skins left on and diced

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 t. celery seed

1/2 t. salt

1/2 t. black pepper

1 T. dried parsley

TOPPING: jar of jalapeno pepper slices

Add all ingredients (except jalapeno slices) to pot and stir. Cook on high for 4 hours. When serving, add a few chilled jalapeno pepper slices straight from the jar, to each bowl. If your man likes it hotter, try a few shakes of Tabasco sauce, too!