09 November 2012

CrockPot Gourmet for the Frantic Chef: Meatball Stew & Pumpkin Souffle

If you know me at all, you know I'm in love with my Crock Pot. I have six of them in varying sizes (from 2.5 quart to 7 quart), and on occasion, I have been known to use all six of them simultaneously!

Recently, in a twitter conversation with Summer Heacock, Emily McKeon and Jessica Sinsheimer, I started talking about the yummy recipes I've invented for my Crock Pot.... Which led to the suggestion that I should share these yummy recipes... which led to the creation of this blog post (a new regular feature on my blog, for as long as I feel like continuing it)!

I think most everyone knows that you can make stews and soups in a Crock Pot. One of my favorites is a really super-simple stew that I can throw into the pot in five or ten minutes before I leave the house in the morning and have dinner ready and waiting when five o'clock rolls around.

For a printable version of this recipe, click here.
For a printable version without pictures, click here.

Start by gathering your ingredients. I used a 7-quart Crock Pot for this, in order to make enough to feed my family of 6 (all 4 kids are in the middle of a growth spurt right now - I used to get two full meals and maybe a lunch for me out of this amount, but now it's just enough for one dinner.) If you have a smaller family, or your teenagers aren't eating you out of house and home, this is a very easy "recipe" to cut down to fit whatever size Crock Pot you have! Your dish should be about 2/3 to 3/4 full when you're finished, for optimum cooking efficiency.

First, I dump about 1 1/2 pounds of carrots and a 1-pound bag of frozen (fully-cooked) meatballs into the bottom of the pot. (Any variety of meatballs works for this. I usually use turkey meatballs, because those are my favorite.)

Then, I add about a pound of frozen french fries (the thicker-cut the better)... and yes, you can cut up real potatoes to use instead, but I often use french fries, because it's less chopping and cutting (which means less total prep time) for me.

 Speaking of cutting and chopping, that brings me to my next step: cut into large chunks (1 to 1 1/2 inches): 1 onion, 2 bunches celery and 1 green bell pepper. Or, you can use 2 onions, 2 peppers and only 1 bunch of celery... or no onions, 3 peppers, 1 1/2 bunches of celery... You get the point, I hope. This recipe is totally flexible. You can adjust it to fit your personal tastes! - And if you don't want to chop anything, it's super-easy to find pre-chopped veggies in your produce or freezer section!!

(It goes without saying, but maybe I should point out that the carrots and potatoes can also be substituted or omitted. Feel free to use sweet potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, parsnips or any other veggies you like in your stew! I usually use whatever veggies are on sale in any given week.)

Your Crock Pot should be about 2/3 to 3/4 full.

Add 6-8 bouillon cubes and sprinkle in 3 Tbsp corn starch.

Add 8 cups of cold water (if you pour hot water over the corn starch, it might gelatinize and give you lumpy stew) and stir everything together.

Cook on the "Low" setting for 5 hours (or longer - this is one recipe that can simmer all day long without hurting it - the flavors get richer the longer it simmers, and the long, slow cooking time is why you want the veggies cut into rather large chunks, so they don't fall apart).

Serve with rolls or tortillas... or just enjoy it by itself!

* If you're using a 5-quart Crock Pot, you'll probably want to cut all of the ingredient quantities by about 1/3, so you won't overfill your dish and end up with spillover. For a 3-quart Crock Pot, cut the ingredient quantities in half.

But wait! There's more!! Stew is delicious and perfect for this time of year, but it's not exactly Crock Pot Gourmet, is it? For this, my inaugural Crock Pot Gourmet blog post, you get TWO recipes for the price of ONE!!

Here is the recipe that started all of the madness: Pumpkin German Pancakes!!

German pancakes (or "Puffy Oven Pancakes" as one of my little 4-year-old friends calls them) are more like a souffle than a pancake, and they can be finicky to get just right. A little over a year ago, I had a mad craving for them, but it was the middle of the summer, and I didn't want to heat up my house by turning on the oven, so I played around a bit to see if I could adapt the recipe to my favorite cooking appliance... And it worked so well that when pumpkin season (aka "fall") rolled around, I thought I'd try it with a pumpkin-pie twist!

For a printable version of this recipe, click here.
For a printable version without pictures, click here.
You'll need: 6 eggs, 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, 1/8 tsp. each: cloves, allspice & cardamom (or omit these spices & just use 1 full tsp. pumpkin pie spice), 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract, 1 (29oz) can pumpkin (make sure it's pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie mix!), 1/2 c. sugar, 1/4 c. oil, 1 c. powdered milk, 4 c. water and 4 c. flour (I like the fuller flavor of whole wheat flour, but you can use all-purpose if you prefer) - Update!! You can make a gluten-free version of this recipe by grinding 2 1/2 c. quinoa into flour (see a quick how-to on this here) and using that plus 1/2 c. cornstarch instead of the 4 c. flour!

In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, spices, vanilla, salt and oil. Beat until frothy.

Add pumpkin, sugar and powdered milk (or you can omit the powdered milk and use milk instead of water in the next step - I use powdered milk for cooking, because it's usually less expensive and you don't notice a taste difference in products that are going to be cooked anyway).

Drizzle in 4 c. water, one cup at a time, while mixing on the slowest speed.

Do the same with the flour. Keeping the mixer on the slowest speed, sprinkle in the flour one cup at a time. Make sure to turn off the mixer as soon as the last of the flour is incorporated into the batter, so that you won't run the risk of over mixing!

Spray your Crock Pot dish with a thin coat of cooking spray. (I use my 5-quart Crock Pot for this recipe, although you can cut the recipe in half, if you'd like to make a smaller batch in a 3-quart Crock Pot instead.)

Pour the batter into the crock, cover and cook on "Low" for about 5 hours, until the pancake is set. (You can test by sticking a knife down into the center. If it comes out clean, your pancake is ready.)

Serve warm. You can eat it plain and simple...

Or you can drizzle with honey or caramel sauce.
(I tried chocolate raspberry this time around, and it wasn't bad).

My favorite is to top it with caramel and whipped cream!

Let me know what you think! I'd love to hear about it, if you try these recipes at home. - And if you have a particular recipe you'd like me to share, or a favorite food that you'd love to see adapted to Crock Pot cooking, please leave me a comment with your requests!

Note: Taking pictures of food (trying to make it LOOK as good as it TASTES) is HARD! If anyone has any tips for me, I'd appreciate it!


  1. Awesome! I love the Meatball Stew idea. I have a sneaking suspicion my kids will, too. ;-)

  2. Thanks! You'll have to tell me what your kids think of it :)

  3. I am going to make the hell out of that pumpkin AWESOMENESS up there.


    I am sensing a strong addiction to these upcoming blogs...

    1. Summer, thanks for convincing me to do these blog posts! I hope you enjoy the recipes!

  4. It would be awesome if there was a link to a printable for your recipes. And these are super-duper yummy!! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Oh, that's a good idea. I'll see if I can figure out how to do that. I'll let you know when I get it figured out!

      I'm so glad you're enjoying the recipes so far! <3