Category Archives: Slow Cooker

Thriving In My Thrifty (Frozen) Week–Continuing to Use-It-Up–Jan. 17, 2024

We had a rare snow event here in our part of the Pacific Northwest. Then, it turned into a freezing rain/ice event. Hopefully, it will be over tomorrow morning and things can go back to normal. The birds were really, really hungry. We were not! They weren’t either, once Rob and Malcolm fed them. They continued to do that every day, until this morning, when they used up the last bit of bird food, including the bag I gave them as a joint gift for Christmas. Thankfully, things are melting as I write, and Rob plans to buy another bag tomorrow.

This picture was from the first morning of snow–Saturday. It snowed more than this, but it still was so exciting on that first morning, that yes…he is out there in his Christmas pajamas…

We made the decision to stay home during this storm. Saturday was a day off work, church was cancelled, and so forth. I haven’t left the house since I got home from work Friday night and this is Wednesday night. Choir was supposed to start back up again tonight, but the ice is so bad in the church parking lot, they cancelled all activities.

We did not suffer a bit. I had gone to the grocery store last week, as I mentioned in my last post. I wanted to work on using things up, still, so I made out very well with the things I gathered from the store, plus the freezers, pantries, and canning cupboards. We are down to 3 carrots, but that’s the only thing I can think of that is running low.

For breakfasts, we had omelets more than once, pancakes, oatmeal (for the oatmeal-loving boy), fruit (especially canned peaches), cereal, scrambles, fried potatoes, sausage from the freezer, and biscuits and gravy. Rob likes to make breakfast, so he does most days.

We had spaghetti pie using the rest of the spaghetti sauce and noodles from last week.

I cooked some quinoa that has been in the pantry for a long time. I used home-canned chicken broth and spices to make it more flavorful. I intended to make a salad or something, but instead, we ate it with a little butter on it, and in a chicken-taco bowl, using more of those frozen thighs I’ve been finishing up.

I pulled a roast from the freezer and cooked it in the crock pot with potatoes, carrots and frozen onions. The potatoes are some I got a few weeks ago and need to be used. I also made potato salad from them during the week. Rob has been frying them at breakfast as well.

We have eaten the beef in slices on a plate a couple of times. I also made a French dip sandwich with a home-made gluten-free bun, toasted in a frying pan with a slice of pepper jack cheese melted on it. I dipped it into some chicken bouillon I mixed up. Not traditional at all, but it’s what I had on hand and it was delicious!

We made some cut-out sugar cookies in the shape of snowflakes and hearts. I froze the hearts for closer to Valentine’s Day. We also made Krispie treats.

This is still the first day–we got even more after that!

The ice storm really got going yesterday afternoon. I really enjoyed the icicles that formed last night on the deck, as well as on the eves, birdhouses, and so forth. I also enjoyed the fact that we did not lost power, and it’s all melting already. Those ice storms can cause terrible damage around here.

We stayed as thrifty as we could during the storm. We used wood to heat our home most of the time, but did turn on the furnace at one point. The temperatures got very low.

Our nephew rode out part of the storm with us–schools were canceled, and our grandson had no preschool, so we spent each day planning fun things we could do here at home, such as reading aloud, listening to recorded (on Audible) Hardy Boys books, playing games, puzzles, cooking together, eating popcorn, watching t.v., and playing with Rob’s huge bins of Legos from the shop–the biggest hit of all. Rob played with them, and they had a blast. He just keeps those Legos out there for special occasions. They are some we’ve had for a long time so it’s nice to see them used.

Rob and I spent some time going through Malcolm’s toys and organizing them. We cleaned in his room a little. I cleaned the garage on 2 occasions. I did accomplish a goal of clearing out an area that needed organizing, making a place for my nephew to do puzzles and have a place to safely play his Pokemon cards, and for Rob to be able to more easily walk to the breaker box (his request!). There’s still lots to clean around here but I feel I made some progress.

We used no gas, as we did not drive anywhere and did all our cooking at home (obviously!). I was pretty tired on Saturday, and I think I slept 10 hours that night. I feel rested up now and ready for normal life to resume tomorrow, which it will. I’m glad I got some rest.

Pinto Beans in the Slow Cooker Saturday


I was able to get some pinto beans cooked up today.  When I unpacked my boxes, I found many, many beans of all sorts.  I buy them in bulk, usually in 25 pound bags.  We enjoy eating beans, and I was eager to get some of them into meals.  I soaked about 1/2 gallon of pinto beans over night in plenty of water.  I used my slow cookers so that they could just cook away while I visited with my good friend who was visiting today.


I’ve got the food storage unpacked and organized now, and am eager to start using it.  I’ve missed having all these ingredients at my fingertips.  My freezers are still not here, as the plugs-ins are not finished, yet, in the shop.  There are many more containers of dry beans that are not showing up in this photo.  I have a  couple of shelves dedicated to home-canned items and the rest will be stored in the shop and brought in as needed.  Rob has 1 of the 2 shelves needed already built out there and we spent a morning unloading boxes to fill it up, making those jars accessible to me!

I made one slow cooker full of chili.  It turned out great.  I used a jar of tomatoes I unearthed, a pint of beef broth, along with celery, bell peppers from the garden, onion, beans, salt, pepper and chili powder. It turned out great and we scarfed a lot of it down at dinner.

The second one was filled with peppers and beans for refried beans.


These beans, peppers and onions are waiting to soften a bit more, and then I will blend them with my immersion blender.  I put in several peppers from the garden.  I always use whatever I have on hand, fresh or frozen, along with some onions–red, yellow or white.  This is a mixture of Jalepenos, Holy Mole and Italian frying peppers.  They are pretty mild this year, but once I blend them, the beans have a wonderful flavor.  Obviously, some batches are quite a bit spicier than others, but I anticipate that this batch will be quite mild.  My children love homemade refried beans.  They will eat them several times a week if I let them.  I try to keep some frozen at all times.  The way I make them is a lot runnier than the ones in a can, and they have so much more flavor, in our opinion.  I don’t have much freezer space in the small one over the fridge, so I didn’t make a huge batch.  This will keep everyone happy for a few weeks, though.

The third thing I did was boil up the rest of the soaked beans in water, with salt, on the stove in a pan until they were soft.  We ate some of those in tortillas for lunch, with cheese and taco sauce.  There were 2 bags to freeze for later.  I will use them in recipes that call for beans instead of opening a can.

It was a rewarding, and yummy Saturday.  By using the slow cookers, I had a great visit with my friend, and got economical, yummy meals at the same time.



Slow Cooker Taco Soup


Yesterday, I decided to make taco soup in the slow cooker.  It is heavy on the pinto beans, as my husband got a 50 pound bag last summer for only $22.

I spent quite a bit of time trying to burn a slash pile with the family, and we were all glad for a hot meal at the end of a long afternoon.  Sadly, it did not burn all the way up.  We got some of it burned, but not all.  Bummer.  The soup was still excellent.  This turned out quite thick and some family members chose to fish out the beans and turn it into nachos instead.

Taco Soup

2 quart-sized bags of cooked pinto beans (soaked, cooked and frozen previously)  Probably 4-15 ounce cans would work

1 onion, chopped

2 Anaheim peppers, diced

1 Jalepeno pepper, diced

1 quart home-canned tomatoes (a 32 ounce can would work)

2 cups beef broth (I had frozen I had made, but you could use 1 15-oz. can)

1/2 pound cooked, leftover turkey taco meat, seasoned with taco seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

Extra taco seasoning, or cumin, if desired

Sour cream, cheese, and olives to garnish (optional)

Put all ingredients in crock pot.  Turn on “low” and leave for 6-8 hours. My slow cooker will automatically turn to “keep warm” when the time is up, and I left this on all day long, probably about 10 hours, until we were ready to eat.  Since everything is cooked, except the vegetables, there would be no danger if you needed to eat it sooner.  It also holds a long time  if your dinner time gets pushed off.  Makes 10-12 servings.  (Actually the 5 of us didn’t have much left last night, but we had been outside working hard for several hours and ate more than 1 serving each, I’m pretty sure!)


This is what it looked like as a nacho.  They did drain out the liquid from the beans before they dumped it on the chips.  We get the mega-bag of chips from Costco, divide into zip-topped bags, and can enjoy corn chips for a reasonable price, without them getting stale, for several weeks.

Easy Chuck Roast With Potatoes and Carrots in Slow Cooker


Today, I had another busy day.  We were trying to burn slash piles from the logging that was recently done on our property.  I wanted to take a meal to friends  this evening, so I chose to use my trusty slow cooker.

I thawed a chuck roast overnight.  This morning, I put the roast into the slower cooker.  The roast was sprinkled with onion soup mix.  I buy it in a large bulk package from Azure Standard and just dip out what I want with a spoon.  It tends to clump up after a while, so if it is that way, I break it apart.   It still works fine.  One package can last me for several months, and it tends to draw moisture, especially when the zip-topped bag doesn’t get closed well:) I got some of the 50 lbs. red potatoes I recently bought for $10.  Red potatoes tend to go bad sooner than I’d like, at least around here, so I’m pretty committed to using them up in a timely fashion.  I cut off any bad or ugly spots, but just left the peels on the rest.  I peeled a bunch of carrots and threw them on top.  3 small “squiggly” peppers were in the fridge, so I cut them up and added them.  I sprinkled it all with a little salt and pepper.  I poured in about 1/2 cup water, and was good to go.

I turned the cooker on high for 2 hours to give it a jump start.  I wanted to take the meal mid-late afternoon, so I wanted it to cook a little faster than normal.  Then, it was turned down to low for about 6-7 hours.  It was very easy, tasty, and much appreciated when Rob took it over to them.  Exactly the kind of recipe I like to make on busy days!

We rounded out the meal Rob took over  with green salad, and a bunch of items that the 4Hers cooked yesterday–some stuffed shell pasta, stuffed sweet potatoes, and Dutch oven peach cobbler.  Our family ate more of the leftovers, plus some of us ate Crab Louie from 4 Dungeness crabs friends sent over from their recent catch.


Each fall, we buy a 1/2 beef from a friend of my sister.  The beef is pasture fed, then finished on grain.  When you buy so much, the price is much cheaper than in the store and you get roasts, steaks, hamburger, soup bones, etc.–all for the same price per pound.  This year, it was $3/lb.  However, that is hanging weight, so it is actually more than that, plus we paid cut and wrap.  I save all year for this purchase, putting some aside each month so it isn’t such a big expense all at once.  Once we have it in the freezer, we eat it frequently because it’s already paid for and tastes great. Because of health issues, my diet is supposed to be mainly protein and veggies.  (A gluten-free diabetic is hard to cook for at times)

It was also nice to be able to use up so many leftovers from the fridge–it saves so much money!

Slow Cooker Swiss Steak

FullSizeRenderWhen I need dinner in a hurry, I turn to my slow cooker.  This happens several times a week, because I am always in a hurry!

Recently, someone gave us some round steak.  So, I decided to make Swiss Steak.  I cut the steak into cutlets and laid them in the bottom of the crock pot.  I seasoned it with salt and pepper.  I chopped one small onion and 2 tomatoes onto the top.  I still have a few tomatoes left from the garden, so I used those.  When I don’t have any from the garden, I use canned.  I put a carton of cream of mushroom soup on top and turned it on to low for 8 hours.  My sister had ordered a case from Amazon, and shared several cartons with me.  I can’t tolerate any gluten, so the Pacific Foods brand is the one I use.

That evening, we had the Swiss Steak with cauliflower from the huge box a friend gave me a couple of weeks ago.   Tonight, I thickened the juices with sweet rice flour to make gravy and we had the rest of it with mashed potatoes and home-canned green beans.  I’m looking for ways to use the 50 pounds of red potatoes I bought for $10 a week ago.  I was delighted to get 2 dinners for almost free and they were really tasty, too.IMG_1651