Pin Up Girls: Fall is perfect time to utilize crockpot


Tessa Duvall

This time of the year and I have a very love-hate relationship.

I love the pumpkin-flavored everything on the shelves. I love that it’s tea-drinking and soup-eating weather. I love that I can cozy up in big sweaters and colorful scarves.

I hate that the sun sets at 4:30 p.m. I hate that I can’t get my favorite summer produce without giving up an arm and a leg. I really hate that all those class projects I once had months to do are suddenly due in less than two weeks.

It’s the most stressful time of the year for me, and I know some of you are right there with me. It feels like the day is over before you’ve gotten anything done — and you’ve got a lot to get done.

Luckily for you and me both, the ever user-friendly crockpot is especially handy this time of year.

I’ve successfully mastered a couple of super-easy crockpot dinners that cook while I’m in class or at the office. The best part is that they’re made with canned and frozen items, so I can stock up ahead of time.

One of my favorite crockpot recipes — Santa Fe chicken chili taco soup type stuff — evolves every time I make it, as the name might imply. What I make is loosely based off three pins, each of which is a slight variation from the other.

Here’s what they all call for:

  • 2 or 3 chicken breasts
  • 1 can of drained black beans
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 or 2 cans of diced tomatoes

If you want actual “Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken” you’ll also need:

  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

To make it more “Chicken Taco Chili” you’ll want to grab the following instead:

  • 1 can of drained kidney beans
  • 16 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning

From there, all you do is put your chosen variety of foods and seasonings in a crockpot and cook them for 10 hours on low heat (or six hours on high).

That’s it. Shred the chicken (by using two forks) before serving. Both recipes are great served over rice, topped with sour cream and shredded cheese, or maybe even both.

The last variation of the soup is the most different, but equally tasty.

For “Slow Cooker Cream Cheese Chicken Chili” you’ll only need these extra ingredients:

  • 1/2 packet ranch dressing mix
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 8 oz. cream cheese

Heat it for the same amount of time as the other recipes, but save the cream cheese for last and place it on top before cooking. Don’t forget to shred the chicken and stir in the cream cheese before serving.

There you have it. Three of the easiest dinners you could ever hope for.

Seeing as how I make one of these (or a combination of the three) about once a week, I can assure you they’re tasty. Feel free to experiment a little — sometimes I toss in diced green chilies, or I mix it up with the seasoning or veggies if I don’t have something on hand.

Even I haven’t been able to screw this up, and that’s saying something. It’s that easy. And most importantly, dinner is one less thing to worry about.

Have a pin you want the Pin Up Girls to try? Send it to [email protected], and we promise to give it our best shot!