Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Spaghetti in the Crock Pot

Today’s recipe for Spaghetti in the Crock Pot is exactly what we need for our “Nothing But Easy Summer”! The weather’s been pretty cool so far this spring, and we’re just not that into the grilling thing yet. I am still wanting things to be easy, so one weekend when we had a lot of yardwork to do, I decided to give this a try. It was worth a shot, why not? I think it turned out pretty well, and it’s great when you don’t want to think about dinner later in the day. This is another recipe that’s really not a recipe, unless you want to make everything from scratch. You can sure go ahead and do that, but that defeats the purpose. This is supposed to be easy. I’d rather be outside reading a book on the deck, or out on the lake in the boat, or using an entire day to clean out the garage, or swimming at the beach all afternoon. See where we’re going here? Ok – let’s give this a try.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Spaghetti in the Crock Pot

Put into crock pot:

2 jars of your favorite jarred spaghetti sauce (I used two bags of frozen Marinara Sauce that was still in my freezer)

1  pound of lean ground beef, browned (or maybe just put it in without browning it – we want this to be easy!), or some frozen meatballs – even easier!

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can water (using the can from the tomatoes – this helps the pasta cook)

Heat until an hour before you’re ready to serve.

An hour before serving put in:

1 pound of spaghetti, broking into thirds (for ease of serving)

Serve hot with parmesan cheese, a green salad, and a nice loaf of bread.

I’m so glad I had Marinara Sauce in the freezer – how easy is that?

An hour before serving add the pasta. This is where I added an extra can of diced tomatoes and water to make sure the pasta would cook ok. I stirred it about every 10 minutes so I could keep an eye on the pasta. An hour is about right.

I have to admit that the pasta texture wasn’t the same as when you cook it in a pot of boiling water, but in a pinch and if you’re in a hurry, this is a great way to have dinner ready without too much trouble. My crock pot is kind of hot, so I could even turn it on at noon and it would be ready by dinner. I’m glad I now I have this Spaghetti in the Crock Pot to add to the “Nothing But Easy Summer” arsenal!

 

 

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Tiny Meatballs

This recipe for Tiny Meatballs comes from the early 1980’s. I got this from one of my sisters-in-law when I first started dating my now husband. It uses the funny “classic ingredients” of grape jelly and chili sauce. This was another recipe that I had lost, but when looking through my mom’s recipes, she still had it. This is an oldie but a goodie (totally going under the “Retro Oddities” category), and is perfect for your New Year’s Eve party. How much easier can we make it? You just put the meatballs into the sauce in a slow cooker! Yes! At this time of year, we’re tired of making holiday treats and just want something EASY to do. It can’t hurt if it’s ridiculously delicious at the same time!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Tiny Meatballs

Combine:

2 pounds extra lean ground beef

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

1 teaspoon salt

Shape in tiny balls, about the size of a walnut (or even smaller).

Combine in a skillet:

1-18 ounce jar grape jelly

1-12 ounce jar chili sauce

2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice

Heat until smooth.

Add meatballs and simmer 1 hour.

The sauce is just 3 simple ingredients: grape jelly, chili sauce, and lemon juice. I put the ingredients right into my cast iron pan. I didn’t try these in the slow cooker, but if you’re going to do that, maybe do it in the morning for an evening party. It’s so easy to do, it might be just as easy to make them in a skillet and then just keep them warm in a slow cooker.

Meatballs are simple, too, just beef, egg, salt, and onion.

When making small meatballs, you need the onion to be chopped small. I could have chopped the onion smaller. Of course, as usual, I also made the balls bigger than they should have been. I got 34 balls and the card says that it makes between 50-60. I guess make them half this size?

The smell of these meatballs cooking? Oh. Em. Gee. Whoa. Amazing.

Delish. These meatballs are a great addition to your hors d’oeuvre or appetizer repertoire. See how I used the fancy pants French words there? I had to ask my daughter (who has some high school French) how to spell those. These were made ahead of time and then I put them into the freezer to have later – that’s when I put them in a slow-cooker to warm up. It worked perfectly. This recipe is so retro and so easy and so good. You really should try a batch of these Tiny Meatballs for your New Year’s Party or maybe even your Super Bowl party – and don’t forget the toothpicks!

 

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Chili

I have been making this Chili for as long as we’ve been married. It came from my old red Betty Crocker cookbook, and it was a staple during my kids’ growing up years. I’ve made it hundreds of times. Seriously – HUNDREDS of times. I usually double this recipe because we always want leftovers, and chili is great for lunches the next day. It’s great to have in the slow cooker ready for warming up after any winter outdoor activity: Skiing, sledding, skating, snowman making. It thaws the icicles hanging from noses and mustaches after said outdoor activities. Perfect. The Super Bowl is in Minnesota this year, and it’s going to be cold – single digit cold – so this would be great to serve at your Super Bowl party. Just keep it warm in the slow cooker and line up the fixins. This is another very easy recipe and it’s ridiculously delicious.

This is so good on a cold winter day OR night!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chili

Cook and stir in 3 quart saucepan until light brown:

1 pound ground beef or turkey

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Drain, if necessary.

Stir in:

1 (16 ounce) can whole tomatoes with liquid

2 medium stalks celery, sliced

2-3 Tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (I used red pepper flakes)

Heat to boiling.

Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour.

Stir in beans, heat to boiling, simmer 15 minutes until hot.

(I usually do this in a crock pot or slow cooker – I still brown the beef, onion, and garlic but put all ingredients – even the beans – into the slow cooker all day on low until we’re ready for it.)

This batch was done in the crock pot and I just put all the ingredients right in.

Here we are – ready to go. Turn it on low and let it go. If you need it faster, obviously turn it up to high.

We like sour cream, shredded cheddar, and green onions for fixin’s on our chili. The possibilities are endless: crushed tortilla chips, Frito chips, additional hot sauce, pickled jalapeno, etc. On and on.

It’s going to be cold this weekend, people. You need to have a Super Bowl party, invite some friends and family, and let them thaw out with this delicious, warming bowl of comforting goodness. Try this Chili and you’ll see that it’s one of those recipes that’s a “lifer” that you’ll make hundreds of times!

 

 

 

 

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Whole Chicken in the Crockpot

This Whole Chicken in the Crockpot has become a family favorite. I have served this for dinner, but I usually make one of these and keep the chicken for using in other dishes. This is perfect for when you’re busy and don’t want to take the time to make anything complicated – which is a lot of the time, for me. Put a chicken in the crockpot with your favorite seasoning, go on with your day, and when you’re ready for dinner, the it’s ready. Serve this with a nice salad and a loaf of take-n-bake bread and you’re good! This is a delicious rub that I use on chicken in the crockpot, but I also use this rub when we make a chicken in the smoker. You can make it as spicy as you like. My family likes it a bit spicy, and that’s saying something for Scandinavians. This is ridiculously easy to do, it’s quick to pull together, and it’s darn good.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Whole Chicken in the Crockpot

1 whole chicken, drained and patted dry

Spice Rub:

1 Tablespoon paprika

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you like it

Rub the chicken, inside and out, with the chicken rub.

Put chicken on top of 4 foil balls (or anything that will keep the chicken up off of the bottom of the crockpot, like onion slices, or lemon halves) in crockpot.

Cook on low for 6-7 hours.

There are such simple ingredients in this rub, but it makes a very flavorful chicken.

You can use an organic chicken, or fresh, but I just keep an eye out for bargains on bagged whole chicken at my store, and sometimes you can find a very good deal. This one was $3.68!!!

I normally wouldn’t use the foil balls, but I was totally out of anything else I could use to keep the chicken up off of the bottom. You don’t have to do this, but it keeps the chicken from stewing in its own juice. There will be a lot of liquid left when the chicken is done cooking – I just put it in a freezer container and put it in the freezer for the next time I want to make soup.

You don’t have to put on a rub – good old salt and pepper is delicious, too. You can try all kinds of different seasonings, but if you ARE going to use a rub, make sure to get the it into all the nooks and crannies!

It fits snuggly in the crockpot. Put on the lid, turn it on low, and go about your business for about 6 hours.

At the end of the cooking, the chicken comes out tender and delicious! It will be falling off the bone, and I can’t believe I got this one out of the crockpot without it falling apart! You can serve it for dinner just as it is, or you can pull off the meat and use it for all of the things you would use a rotisserie chicken for: chicken salad, chicken hotdish, or chicken sandwiches. I used this one for putting in a batch of Chicken Salad. You’re going to love making a Whole Chicken in the Crockpot – it’s perfect for a busy weeknight or weekend.

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Creamy Vegetable Soup

It’s that time of winter. You’re starting to get a bad case of  “cabin fever” if you live (like me) in a cold climate like Minnesota, and the best thing to do is get outside and play in the cold and snow. It’s absolutely necessary this time of the winter, to get outside and blow off some steam, and get some much-needed fresh air. I had to share this photo of my mom and her cousin (my godmother), when they were about 3-4 years old, playing on a sled in the snow. I’m sure their mothers told hem to go outside and get some fresh air. They are definitely bundled up for the weather and ready to go!

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This is just so stinkin’ cute! I hope they found one of the dads or uncles to pull them around on that sled!

Today’s recipe is perfect for when you’ve been outside playing in the cold and snow and it’s time to come in, warm up, and have a nice warm bowl of soup. This Creamy Vegetable Soup recipe comes from an old neighbor of my mom’s from years ago. You can get this set up in the crock pot early in the morning and play outside all day!

creamy-vegetable-soup

This makes a big batch!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Creamy Vegetable Soup

Put into crock pot:

1 1/2 quarts water

6 cubes of chicken bouillon (you could probably use chicken broth, but I think the bouillon cubes give it a bit of a more intense flavor)

1/2 of an onion, chopped

2 1/2 cups chopped potato

1 cup diced carrot

16 ounce package of frozen vegetables

Cook on low 7-8 hours.

1 1/2 hours before it’s finished cooking add:

3 cans cream of chicken soup

1/2 to 1 pound Velveeta Cheese, diced

When cheese is melted, soup is ready.

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It doesn’t take long to chop all the veggies and get the soup ready to go.

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When it’s time to add the Cream of Chicken Soup and the Velveeta Cheese, it does need time to melt.

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Oh boy, this is so good!

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All you need is some crackers or bread or maybe a nice green salad to go with this soup.

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This soup is delicious and warming and easy and ready right when you need it. Now get your crock pot ready, make up a batch of this soup, then go outside and blow off some steam. Build a snowman, go skiing, do some ice skating, play hockey, or get some snowshoes on. The possibilities are endless. Go ahead – get outside and get some fresh air before real bad “cabin fever” sets in! Then come on inside and dive in to that bowl of warm, delicious soup.

 

 

 

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