Convert Recipes for Your Crockpot

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Crockpot Orange Curried Chicken. Linda Larsen

It's easy to convert your favorite oven and stovetop recipes to your crockpot. It just takes a little imagination and some knowledge about how the crockpot works.

Crockpots, or slow cookers, work by surrounding a ceramic crock with heating elements. The lid fits securely, not allowing evaporation. The food cooks at a fairly low temperature, between 170 and 280 degrees F. This is warm enough to ensure food safety, but low enough so the food cooks very slowly.

When you're converting recipes to the crockpot, watch amounts carefully. Any cooking recipe is very adaptable. As long as you keep approximately the same proportions of ingredients, fill the crockpot between 1/2 and 3/4 full for best results. Since there is no evaporation, you should reduce the liquids by about 1/4, unless you are cooking rice or pasta in the crockpot. Those foods need liquid to cook properly, so make sure they are covered by liquid.

Enjoy these recipes this week, and experiment with your own favorites and your crockpot.

Wild Rice Chowder

Wild Rice Chowder is easily converted. I did not saute the onions, but layered all of the ingredients in the crockpot except for the half and half. I used cut up chicken breasts, adding them with the other ingredients. Instead of making a roux to thicken the chowder, as is done in the stove top recipe, I added cornstarch mixed with half and half at the end of cooking time.

Because this recipe makes a large amount, I reduced all of the ingredients by about 1/3. For the finished recipe, see Crockpot Wild Rice Chowder.

Chili

Stovetop Chili is quickly made with canned beans and tomatoes. To convert it to Crockpot Chili, I cooked the ground beef and onions and then combined everything in the crockpot.

Ground meat should always be browned and drained before adding to a slow cooker because they have too much fat when uncooked. Cornstarch was used to thicken the chili at the end. This is a good tip for converting any stove top soup or stew recipe that is thickened with flour.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Skillet Spaghetti is unique because the pasta cooks right in the sauce. This easy recipe does take a fair amount of time because you must frequently stir the mixture so the pasta cooks evenly. All in the Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs is made by combining all the ingredients and turning on the heat! The amount of water in both recipes is the same because pasta requires a lot of water to cook evenly. I did change the slow cooker recipe in the end because I like the texture of the pasta when it cooks for 30 minutes or so at the end of cooking time; it's more al dente.

Chicken Curry

Orange Chicken Curry is a wonderful dish that is converted very easily to the crockpot. To make Crockpot Orange Curried Chicken, I layered the ingredients in the crockpot, reduced the water a bit, and used cornstarch to thicken the sauce at the end instead of coating the chicken pieces in flour and sauteing them.

This was a real smash.

Enchiladas

Vegetarian Enchiladas are a wonderful quick meal. It is easily converted to Crockpot Veggie Enchiladas. In the crockpot recipe, tortillas are layered between other ingredients instead of enclosing them. This ensures that the tortillas soften evenly in the slow cooker. You can convert just about any enchilada recipe to the crockpot by using this tip. The amount of liquid was reduced slightly in the crockpot version because there is no evaporation.

Lasagna

Rich Lasagna is one of my favorite recipes. You can convert it to the crockpot by carefully layering ingredients and adding some more liquid. Leaving out the egg prevents curdling, and using all cottage cheese instead of cottage cheese and cream cheese makes the sauce smoother. Using mafalda noodles (mini lasagna noodles) instead of traditional lasagna noodles also ensures the pasta cooks evenly.

Crockpot Lasagna is the perfect recipe for entertaining.

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup with Cilantro Pesto is a wonderfully creamy and flavorful soup. It's easily converted to the crockpot by reducing the liquid a bit. You can serve it with the Cilantro Pesto as the recipe is written, or use purchased basil pesto. Try Creamy Slow Cooker Pumpkin Soup soon!

Meatballs with Orzo

Meatballs with Orzo is a simple skillet meal that adapts well to the crockpot. The amount of liquid is slightly reduced, and all the ingredients cook together in the crockpot. Crockpot Meatballs with Orzo is the result.