Tag Archives: slow cooker

Our Thanksgiving Plans — A step-by-step guide to avoiding a festive failure

About nine years ago I had the honor of roasting the turkey for my family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Until that dinner my father was always the main chef during this holiday meal, but that year I had learned a turkey tip from a friend that I really wanted to try, so I took the responsibility from him. I remember his taking a bite of my slaved-over bird and formally announcing he was passing the turkey scepter on to me; he could not make a better turkey.

This was, of course, before Alton Brown made famous the technique of brining a turkey. Now my father claims it’s the only decent way to prepare a Thanksgiving feast. I tried brining once, but it was too much effort for me. I don’t even like turkey!

So this year my parents are arriving home from Mexico on Thanksgiving Day. What with their being old and tired (no offense mom and dad!) I don’t want them to have to cook anything, so I’m taking on the entire meal, fixings and all. I’m even going to try to decorate — but we’ll see how it goes.

I thought I would share my plans for next week in case you are feeling completely uninspired (which I am currently feeling).

Turkey Day -- A step-by-step guide to avoid festive failure | Alaska Knit Nat

Continue reading Our Thanksgiving Plans — A step-by-step guide to avoiding a festive failure

Creamy Crock Pot Chicken

My son and I both had the day off (thanks Abe and George!) and by 1:30 p.m. I realized I hadn’t taken any meat out of the freezer for dinner.

I’ve seen slow cooker recipes where you put frozen chicken right in with a bunch of other “cream of” somethings and cook the hell out of it and get some sort of slop. Yes, I wanted to make that, mainly because I didn’t plan anything for dinner and I was way too lazy and tired to go to the store.

What I ended up with was just what most people describe on their “crock pot chicken” Pinterest posts — easy, creamy and delicious!

The secret to my dinner’s success was the homemade condensed cream of mushroom soup that I concocted because I didn’t have a can of it in my pantry. I followed this basic recipe from Pinch Of Yum, but sautéed 2 cups of sliced baby portobello mushrooms and 1/2 an onion, finely chopped, with half a stick of butter before adding the stock and milk. I also added smoked paprika, thyme and oregano to the recipe. It yielded quite a bit of thick soup and was perfect for my crock pot concoction, which was loosely based on this recipe from Coersfamily.com.

Creamy Crock Pot Chicken | Alaska Knit Nat

Creamy Crock Pot Chicken

Serves about 4

What you’ll need:

2-4 pieces frozen chicken (I used skinless thighs)

1.5 cups condensed cream of mushroom soup (or one can of the store bought stuff)

1 brick of cream cheese (I used neufchâtel)

1 bay leaf

1-2 potatoes, quartered

2 carrots, cut into large chunks

1 celery rib, chopped

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup dry egg noodles

1/2 cup chicken stock


Place your frozen chicken pieces in the slow cooker and surround it with the carrots, potatoes, celery and bay leaf. Pour over the cream of mushroom soup. Break up the cream cheese and add it to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. After a few hours, stir it and break up the chicken if you can.

Forty-five minutes before serving stir in the peas and egg noodles, making sure to coat them thoroughly. If it’s already looking a bit thick, add 1/2 cup chicken stock. Cover and cook on high.

Remove bay leaf and roughly cut up carrots and potatoes before serving.

Savor the fact that your entire family should adore this meal that took little effort and zero defrosting.

Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder Ribs over Creamy Polenta

My whole plan for this lazy Sunday was to slow cook some chicken, but when I got to the grocery store I found some pork shoulder ribs on sale. I’ve never cooked this type of meat before and I thought I should give it a try.

After a few Google searches for slow cooked pork shoulder ribs, I decided on this one from DadCooksDinner.com. This sounded easy, delicious, and I happened to have all the ingredients already. I used this fellow’s recipe for his BBQ dry rub and his BBQ sauce, but with the sauce I added some liquid smoke and a dollop of Dijon mustard.

My pork shoulder ribs looked wider than the ones in his recipe and I was only able to squeeze three ribs in the bottom of the Crock Pot, which was a perfect serving for my husband and me (and lunch tomorrow). I’m sure you could stack the ribs in the Crock Pot if you were feeding more. I also used more than 1 teaspoon of the dry rub. I didn’t measure; I just coated the ribs on both sides.

Although this was a BBQ-style dish, I just knew the juices from the ribs would be scrumptious over creamy polenta, so I made some of that too. The pork was falling off the bone and super flavorful. I will definitely be making this dish a staple in our household.

Here’s how you can make it.


DadCooksDinner.com’s dry BBQ rub

DadCooksDinner.com’s BBQ sauce, or BBQ sauce of your choice

2.5-3 lbs. pork shoulder ribs

kosher salt

2 cups water, divided

2.5 cups chicken stock

1 cup dry polenta, or cornmeal

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 cup half and half

salt and pepper



Coat both sides of your ribs with kosher salt and spice rub and place the ribs in your slow cooker. Pour 1/2 cup of water into the cooker, cover, and cook on low for 6 hours or so. Add 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce and cook another hour. I turned my slow cooker to high for the last hour, but I’m sure it doesn’t make a big difference.

When you have 45 minutes left on the meat, start boiling the chicken stock in a large saucepan. In a bowl, combine the polenta with 1.5 cups of water. When the stock is boiling, slowly add the polenta sludge and stir constantly until it’s smooth. Turn heat to medium low, cover and cook for 40 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. If polenta is getting too thick, add a couple of tablespoons of stock. Turn off the heat, add cheese, half and half, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside while finishing up the meat.

Transfer the ribs to a serving platter. Pour the juices into a measuring cup and remove as much fat as possible with a ladle. Reserve 1/2 cup of the juice and add 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce to it.

Serve the ribs on a big dollop of polenta and smother it all in sauce. Green beans make a great side.