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My Stress Relief is a Crock(pot)

My Stress Relief is a Crock(pot)

donna sept

This is the perfect time of year to use a slow cooker! Personally, I’m avoiding turning on the oven because I live somewhere that it’s still ridiculously hot. If you’re starting to feel fall crispness in the air where you live, then using a slow cooker will give you more time to enjoy the nice weather! Also, with school and activities starting back up, we’re all busy, so I love anything that helps me get food on the table easier.

Do you have a slow cooker? I like my 6 quart Hamilton Beach unit.  I love using mine to “batch cook” several pounds of chicken breasts at a time that I can parcel out for quick meals throughout the week. This saves me a lot of stress when I’m trying to figure out what I can have for lunch or make my family for dinner. I follow The Kitchn’s instructions and often double the amount of chicken, using the same amount of liquid and cooking time. I always use water and shake on a bit of salt and seasonings on top of the chicken and into the water. You can also pour on some salad dressing, like Italian or a vinaigrette!

When I’m busy or worn out, I love being able to plop a few things into my slow cooker and know that dinner is covered. Instant stress relief! I have a few favorite recipes for my slow cooker, and one of them is this easy pulled pork. Flavorful and hearty, this is recipe makes a lot! My family of 5 has no problem devouring the leftovers in a few days, but you can freeze small portions after cooking if you need to. You can also halve the recipe for smaller households.

donna sept 2

Donna’s Slow Cooker Pulled Pork                                       

You can prep this the night before, and throw the crock in the fridge. The next day, put the crock back into the unit, and start the slow cooker! To get an idea of the “sauciness”, note that I used the full 32 oz of tomato sauce for the batch pictured. If you don’t like pork, you can sub other meats! Check out the recipe notes below.

24 to 32 oz no-sugar-added, low/no-sodium tomato sauce (amount depending how “saucy” you like it)

½ C applesauce, natural & unsweetened

3 TB maple syrup or honey

1 TB garlic powder

1 TB onion powder

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

½ tsp smoked or regular paprika

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

½ tsp salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp liquid smoke OR 2 TB Worcestershire sauce

4 to 4.5 lb pork loin roast, pork shoulder, pork butt, OR boneless pork chops – fat well-trimmed **

3 TB flour (whole wheat or regular) OR 2 TB cornstarch

In a large slow cooker (5-6 qt), add all ingredients–except meat and flour. Whisk to combine. If using cornstarch, add in now and whisk well! Place pork in slow cooker; spoon sauce over it. It’s okay if the meat isn’t completely submerged.

Cover slow cooker; cook on LOW for 5-7 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours. Remove meat from slow cooker; shred with 2 forks. If using flour, add flour to the slow cooker now; whisk to combine. Return meat to slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cover and cook for another 10-20 minutes.

Serve warm on a bun, over slabs of cornbread, over fried or scrambled eggs, on a bed of brown rice/quinoa, or on a baked potato (regular or sweet). Also good on its own with a green salad or steamed/roasted veggies on the side.

**You can sub the pork for 4 to 4.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs… (same cooking time) OR 4 to 4.5 lb. beef (boneless shoulder roast, boneless arm chuck roast, boneless blade chuck roast, or boneless chuck roast – fat well-trimmed). Cut hunk of beef in half before placing in slow cooker. Beef may need more cooking time than pork (LOW 7 to 10 hours or HIGH 4 to 6 hours).

Click here for printable recipe.

READERS: What’s your favorite slow cooker recipe?

Click here to read more from Donna!

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