What Are You Cookin’ up for Crocktober Fest?

By ERIN TURNER

I can’t take credit for the cute term, “Crocktober”.  I saw it this week on Campbell’s Soup website.  I loved it because as the cooler fall days start to set in, I can’t help but want warm comfort foods.  While there are a vast number of great casserole recipes out there, the crockpot offers benefits of convenience and ease over the conventional oven. In the morning, you can simply plop a few raw ingredients into the crockpot and by dinner time you will have a steaming pot of yumminess without a whole lot of hassle.

So, the web has capitalized on this “Crocktober” thing and I was amazed at all the websites which featured crockpot recipes in celebration of “Crocktober Fest”!  If you don’t have a plethora of crock pot recipes, then just Google “Crocktober” and you will have, at your fingertips, every sort of crock pot recipe imaginable!  It really is amazing what you can do with a crockpot!  Breakfasts to desserts and everything in between.

I love crockpots for their convenience but I also have to admit the crock pot charms my frugal heart.The meals I make in the crockpot cost me only a handful of dollars, maybe even less.  Plus, since I usually start the crockpot in the morning I don’t have to worry about dinner the rest of the day. When 5pm rolls around I’m not panicked and caving to the “Oh, let’s just go out to eat” syndrome.  The other reason the crockpot is a frugalite’s dream is because usually a crockpot dinner creates a large amount of food which results in another dinner that week…two for one!!

Image (3)We are already in the middle of October but it’s not too late to pull out that crockpot and get it going for the month.  I know mine has already been cranked up and has provided us with our first roast beef from the steer which we raised this past year along with some applesauce.  But I have lots more plans for it in the next couple of weeks.  In between using it to render my homemade lard, I am planning to try a stroganoff recipe, a bacon potato chowder, pumpkin pie pudding, mulled cider for our butchering party and a slow-cooker version of chicken and dumplings.  Oh, and I’ll fit in time to whip up some yummy apple butter now that I’ve harvested all ourapples.

My crockpot is gonna be T-I-R-E-D by the end of Crocktober Fest but my family will be delighted with all the warm and nourishing meals, my budget will be happy with the cash I am saving and I will be blissful by all the time I saved using the crockpot!

Here are my two favorite crock pot meals which I can always count on for providing a great meal without much hassle:

Beef Roast (perfect for wild game too)

Place a roast in the crockpot.  Sprinkle 1 package of brown gravy mix, 1 package of Italian seasoning mix (dry) and 1 package of Ranch dressing mix (or 3 heaping tablespoons of homemade Ranch dressing mix) over meat.  Then pour 1 cup of water over the seasonings and meat.  Turn on low and cook for 6-8 hrs or on high for 4 hrs.  Remove from crock pot and slice before serving.  This is perfect with mashed potatoes!

Jamican Jerk Pulled Pork Sandwiches  

  • 2 lbs boneless pork shoulder roast
  • 1 Tbsp Jamican Jerk Seasoning
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme, crushed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice (I add lots more)
  • 6-8 Kaiser rolls
  • 6-8 lettuce leaves
  • 6 thinly sliced red pepper rings
  • 1 medium mango, peeled and sliced

Trim fat from meat.  Rub jerk seasoning evenly over roast.  Place meat in crockpot.  Sprinkle with the thyme.  Pour water over roast.  Cook covered on low for 4-5 hrs.  Remove meat from cooker, save juices.  Shred meat, discarding any fat.  Skim fat from juices.  Add enough of the juices to moisten the meat (I add quite a bit to keep it nice and moist).  Stir in lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.  To serve use a slotted spoon to place pork mixture onto rolls.  Add a ring of red pepper, red onion and a slice of mango to sandwich and enjoy!  I also like to spread lime mayo on the rolls before adding the meat.  Here’s how to make it: In a bowl stir together ½ cup mayo, ¼ cup finely chopped red onion, ¼ tsp lime zest (I usually add a little more) and 1 chopped clove of garlic.  Cover and chill until ready to serve sandwiches.

Well , I hope these recipes inspire you to get your crockpot heated up and cooking this month!  You won’t regret the time you save, the money you save and the comforting fall-inspired meals you create for your family.  Happy Crocktober Fest, Y’all!

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Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian. Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped, and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques, and trying to maintain a well-run, happy, and organized home for her family.

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