If you’re on a budget, your slow-cooker could be your new best friend. Slow cooking foods is a fantastic way to stretch flavor and get more bang for your buck.
By slow cooking you can:
- Build flavors over a longer period of time
- Tenderize cheaper cuts of meat (like beef shins) that would be tough if cooked quickly
- Use cheaper staple foods (like dry beans) that more thinking ahead, but overall cost you less money
- Prepare a large quantity of food for very minimal effort
- Pair your slow-cooked dish with a quick-cooking starch (like rice or pasta) to strech your dollar even further
Recipes for the slow-cooked dish shown @ top of post:
Beef Shins cooked in Switchback (beer) and Stubbs (BBQ sauce)
- Mix together 1 cup beer, 2-3 Tbsp. bbq sauce, 1 tsp. each minced garlic, salt, chili powder, and 1/2 cup chopped onion.
- Add 1 cup water and stir gently.
- Add beef shins.
- Cook on low 8+ hours.
- Serve with slow-cooked beans and rice.
Mexican-Style Slow-Cooked Beans
Mix and soak overnight (covered):
- 1 cup dried beans (I use a mixture of chickpeas, beans, and brown or green lentils) – do NOT use red or yellow lentils because they will get super-mushy
- 2 cups cold water
- 1 rounded teaspoon salt
Drain beans in morning (but do not rinse).
Pick through to make sure there are no twigs or little rocks or other things that don’t belong.
Add to crockpot:
- drained beans
- 1/2 cup chopped onion (white or yellow is best here – red gives off a strange flavor sometimes
- 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder or paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups veggie stock or water
- optional: replace 1/4 cup of stock or water with salsa
- optional: add additional chopped veggies like carrots, celery or sweet peppers
Cook on low for 8 hours.
Stir well before serving over rice, pasta or quinoa.
Even more slow-cooker ideas and recipes from my blog:
Like many casseroles, the typical King Ranch has condensed soup of some kind, but we are not fans of that style of cooking. I’ve developed a version that is much more to our liking, is budget-friendly, makes for great leftovers, and includes many of my husband’s favorite flavors.
I don’t often measure ingredients when I’m cooking, but here’s the basic way to make it:
Kat’s King Ranch Casserole (sans condensed soup!)
- 2-3 cups crushed tortilla chips (but you could also use corn tortillas)
- 1 1/2 cups + salsa
- 1 1/2 cups + shredded cooked chicken (but you could do beef, pork or turkey – ground or shredded)
- 1 cup + shredded cheese
- creamy ranch dressing
This dish is all about layers, and making sure the tortilla chip layers have enough liquid to keep them moist. I do thin layers of everything until I run out.
Follow this order to build your casserole:
- spread a thin layer of salsa over bottom of dish
- sprinkle thin layer of crushed chips
- spoon salsa over top
- drizzle with ranch
- sprinkle cheese
- sprinkle shredded chicken over rop
- Repeat layers 2-6 until out of chicken & tortilla chips
- Finish top of casserole with dollops of salsa and a generous sprinkle of cheese
Cover tightly with tin foil and bake at 350F for about 40 minutes. Everything is cooked already, but you want to cook it for the full 40 minutes so that the tortilla chips can absorb all of the liquids and the flavors can get melded together.
Here’s what it looks like after it’s baked.
I know it doesn’t look like much, but this is a dish my husband and I can’t get enough of. It would make delicious leftovers…. if there were anything left. =)
This dish would be great topped with the typical taco toppings – fresh lettuce, tomatoes, fresh salsa and sour cream.