Balsamic Vinegar & Honey Pulled Pork Sliders

Pork that’s slowly roasted in the crock pot until it’s so tender it falls apart, and is then mixed with a sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar & honey barbecue sauce, makes for a crowd-pleasing platter of pulled pork sliders. Not only are they great party appetizers, but the sons tear them up when we have them for either lunch or dinner, and the left overs are just as yummy. I know, I know, the name makes them sound pretty fancy, but they couldn’t be any easier. Let the pork cook during the day and when it’s done it’s a snap to mix in the homemade sauce, making them a perfect option for any day, including those busy weekday meals. Got leftovers? This freezes beautifully to save for a later meal. Or you could always make up an entire batch and freeze that if you’re looking to have meals stocked on stand-by.

Balsamic Vinegar & Honey Pulled Pork Sliders

Balsamic Vinegar & Honey Pulled Pork Sliders

recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

2 1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder roast
1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
3/4 cup chopped green sweet pepper (1 medium)
1 tsp crushed dried thyme
1/2 tsp crushed dried rosemary
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp Worcestershire
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
20 slider buns
coleslaw, optional
sliced sweet or dill pickles, optional

Directions

1. First remove any excess fat from the meat. Place the trimmed meat in the crock pot, cutting to fit if necessary. Add in the onion and pepper, and sprinkle the vegetables and meat with the thyme and rosemary. Pour broth over the meat.
2. Cover and cook on low for 9 to 10 hours or on high for 4 1/2 to 5 hours.
3. Meanwhile, we’ll be making the bbq sauce. Combine vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, honey, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic, black pepper, and salt in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Let the sauce simmer, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until slightly thickened, while stirring occasionally.
4. Transfer meat to a cutting board. Use two forks to pull meat apart into shreds, discarding any fat, or use a stand mixer to do the job for you. Strain the peppers and onions and discard the liquid. Return shredded meat and vegetables to the crock pot. Stir in barbecue sauce until fully incorporated. Cover and cook for 1 more hour on low.
5. To serve, spoon the bbq onto the slider bun bottoms. Top with coleslaw and pickles, if desired. Cover with bun tops. Eat & enjoy!

Crockpot Rosemary & Olive Oil Bread

During the summer months, we will do anything to not have to turn on the oven!  The extra heat is one thing we just do not need in the house when the temperature outside is in the 100’s! Crock Pot Bread also comes in really handy for holidays, dinner parties, or anytime you need to free up oven space! Enter the crock pot.

Yes, you can cook just about anything in a crock pot these days, but bread?  Absolutely! This recipe is super simple to make!  Honestly? I actually like it better than most oven-baked breads.  Baking the bread in the crock pot keeps all of the moisture inside the bread ensuring it’s nice and fluff, while still giving it a crisp outer crust.

While it is fully cooked after the two hours and pleasantly crisp, the outside will still be a bit pale. I just pop it onto a baking sheet and set it under the broiler for a minute to give it that perfect toasty finish.

Crockpot Rosemary & Olive Oil Bread

4 Sons 'R Us: Crockpot Rosemary & Olive Oil Bread

recipe adapted from Host The Toast

3½ cups all purpose flour
1 packet dry active yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
1¼ cups warm water
4 tsp dried rosemary, divided
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt, divided
Parchment paper
Paper towels or a clean dishcloth

Crockpot Rosemary & Olive Oil Bread 2

Look at that gorgeous ball of dough, soon  to be bread. In. My. Crockpot. <Swoon>

1. In a large bowl, mix together the water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit 10 minutes. The mixture should become bubbly.
2. Stir in half of the salt (1/2 teaspoon), half of the rosemary, the 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and all of the flour. Mix until fully combined. Work it together with your hands, if necessary.
3. Lightly grease a large bowl and place the dough in. Cover it with a kitchen towel/ dish cloth and leave the dough in a warm, draft-free area. Let it sit and rise for 1 hour.
4. Remove the dough from the bowl and gently roll it into a ball on a floured surface. Let it sit for another 20 minutes.
5. Set the crock pot to high. Line the crock pot with two pieces of parchment paper, leaving at least 2 inches hanging out of each side of the crock pot. Place the dough in the crock pot and sprinkle it with the remaining salt and rosemary.
6. Drape paper towels or dish cloth over the top of the crock pot and then place the lid on. This should capture any moisture that would sit on the lid and prevent it from dripping back onto your bread.
7. Cook the bread for 2 hours, and remove from the crock pot. It will most likely still be a bit pale on the outside. It tastes great this way, but I like to put mine on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and put it under the broiler for a quick 3 – 5 minutes to get a crunchier, darker crust.
8. Let cool before slicing. Serve with extra olive oil drizzled on top or with dipping oil.

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

This meal is easy and perfect for our busy nights. The chicken comes out cooked to perfection with the perfect kick. Customize your ‘kick’ by adding less buffalo sauce or more, to taste. Don’t have buffalo wing sauce? Substitute hot sauce. I heart a flexible recipe!

You’ll want good bread. Life is far too short and unpredictable to suffer through bad bread. Trust me on this. Don’t go sale, don’t go clearance. Go fresh. We made ours using a nice fresh loaf of sour dough, the slices toasted to perfection.

Good butter goes with good bread. Turn these into a delicious grilled cheese version by buttering the outsides of both slices, adding some shredded cheddar and/or blue cheese crumbles to the inside, and ‘grilling’ on a hot griddle until the outside are nice and crisped with melted cheese inside.

These sandwiches are perfect for any occasion: a delicious dinner, a game day snack, you name it!

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

4 Sons 'R' Us: Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 (12 oz.) bottle buffalo wing sauce
2 tablespoons ranch mix seasoning
2 tablespoons butter
1 loaf of sour dough bread, or other crusty bread
shredded cheddar cheese or blue cheese crumbles (optional)
ranch dressing (optional)

Directions

1. Place chicken breasts in a lightly greased slow cooker.
2. In medium bowl, combine the buffalo wing sauce and ranch seasoning.
3. Pour hot sauce mixture over chicken in slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
4. Shred chicken breasts in the slow cooker, or use your paddle attachment and easily shred them in a stand mixer. Stir in butter until melted.
5. Pile buffalo chicken onto toasted slices of crusty bread. Top with cheese and/or ranch dressing, if desired.

Crockpot Maple-Glazed Walnuts

The countdown is coming to a close. Christmas is coming in just a few days. I’m already looking forward to the food, family, and fellowship. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that no holiday is complete without some nuts. Whether it’s quirky cousin Larry, or the edible kind. These are the nuts you want. Trust me, you want these walnuts at your festivities. They’re A-mazing. As soon as I had them spread out and drying, mouths were watering. At least half of them disappeared before packaging. The pilfering was getting a little out of control. I had to put them up. For the kids sake, as well as my own. I don’t even like walnuts all that much, and I could have easily eaten the entire batch. But I didn’t. (You have no idea the amount of self control that required)

Is there a foodie in your life? In your family? If you can resist the temptation to gobble them all up, give them as a gift of love (that’s sure to be a hit). That or bring a batch to share at the table. On second thought, bring two batches. They certainly won’t last long.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Crockpot Maple Glazed Walnuts

These are my new addiction. Sprinkle them over ice cream for a dessert that is to die for.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Crockpot Maple Glazed Walnuts 2

recipe adapted from Vegan In The Freezer

1 lb bag of shelled walnuts, whole or halved
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

1. Put the butter, syrup, and vanilla into your crockpot. Turn on low and allow the butter to melt completely (only takes a few minutes).
2. Mix in the walnuts and mix from the bottom so all of the coating is all over the walnuts and not on the bottom of the pot.
3. Cook on low 1 hour then stir. Cook another one half hour to one hour more.
4. Turn out onto wax paper and let cool – completely.
5. Pack in an airtight container. The walnuts will keep in the fridge about 6 weeks and will keep in the freezer for about 3 months.

Crockpot Pizza Dip

Black Friday: The day after Thanksgiving. Millions of people run around like chickens with their heads cut off, scouring stores for great deals and irresistibly good prices. Occasionally, myself included.

That being said, I have a minor obsession with the day after Thanksgiving for a different reason. In our home, that’s the day we go to the tree farm and carefully pick out and cut down our Christmas tree for the year. We roast marshmallows, we sip apple cider, and then we load up and head home to deck our halls. It’s one of my favorite days of the entire year. It’s also typically a big production, and I don’t want to waste a minute I don’t have to on anything else, including dinner. So usually that day, dinner is a fend for yourself night, or a snack supper. Last year, I made this recipe as part of our snack selection, and I am happy to say it will be returning again this evening. Easy for me, and a total kid favorite. Happy Mom, Happy Sons. All is merry & bright.

Whether you’ve been out fighting the crowds and shopping until you drop, you’re too busy bringing in the good cheer, or you’re hosting a family & friends this appetizer is sure to please your hungry crowd with hardly any effort at all on your part.

Crockpot Pizza Dip

4 Sons 'R' Us: Crockpot Pizza Dip

recipe adapted from Real House Moms

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 jar (8 oz) pizza sauce, or you can substitute spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup diced pepperoni slices
1 /2 cup cooked, crumbled sausage (optional)

Directions

1. Put all the ingredients in the crockpot and cook on high for about 1 hour.
2. Once all ingredients are melted and stirred to combine, turn crockpot down to warm.
3. Serve warm with crusty bread slices.

{Crockpot} Perfect Baked Potatoes

It may come as a surprise in 2013 when everyone has gadgets and gizmos, whose-its and what’s-its galore for everything, but we don’t use, own, and probably couldn’t even operate a microwave. While I love a hearty baked potato, I’ve never had good luck making them in the oven. They’re either overdone, or more often than not, underdone and then I’m left checking them every 10 minutes until they’re cooked through. Meanwhile, with burns on my fingers and a growling stomach, everyone else has already finished eating every other scrap of their dinner. Hopefully, by this time the potatoes would finally be done. When a friend mentioned making them in the crockpot, I believe I said, ‘No Way!’

Yes, way! Every single time, my baked potatoes come out perfect. Hence, the name. There’s no longer any guess work involved and I can easily plan ahead, get them going, and set to be finished and edible when I’m ready to serve dinner. Added bonus: 1. I save money since I no longer need to heat up the oven. The general rule of thumb is that 8 hours in the crockpot only uses half the heat of 1 hour in the oven. 2. This same technique works great for sweet potatoes too! Loaded sweet potatoes have now become a new fall favorite of mine.

{Crockpot} Perfect Baked Potatoes

4 Sons 'R' Us: {Crockpot} Perfect Baked Potatoes

  • russet, yukon gold, or sweet potatoes (you don’t want to fill your crock pot more than 3/4 of the way full to prevent under/over cooking between the potatoes on top and the ones on the bottom)
  • olive oil (optional)
  • salt & black pepper, to taste (optional)
  • aluminum foil

Directions

  1. Wash and scrub your potatoes thoroughly. Remove any eyes or bad spots if necessary. Let the skins dry before proceeding (only takes a few minutes).
  2. Prick each potato with a fork 6-8 times per potato. Do NOT skip this step! The holes allow steam to escape as they cook. Exploded baked potato isn’t fun to eat or clean up.
  3. Drizzle a little olive oil onto each potato. Using your hands, rub into the skin all over the potato. Repeat for each potato. You can omit this step, but I like the extra crunchy skins the olive oil creates.
  4. Salt and pepper, to taste, the skins of the potatoes.
  5. Wrap each potato individually in aluminum foil, sealing them up tightly.
  6. Place the wrapped potatoes in the slow cooker, foil seam side up. There’s no need to grease the crock pot or add any liquids. Cook them ‘dry’.
  7. Cook them on low for 8 hours, or until tender when pressed with fingers. Slow cooker times may vary a little.
  8. Remove the potatoes. Remove the foil. Cut a slit in the top along the center of each potato to open them up, and serve with topping of your choice.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Crockpot Baked Potatoes4 Sons 'R' Us: Crockpot Baked Potatoes 2

Crockpot Hawaiian Meatballs

I’m always on the lookout for new things to do with ground beef. I buy two 6 lb packages of lean ground beef each month from Costco. One gets divided into 1lb packages to freeze and use for meals. The other gets divided and made into meatloaf and meatballs. My boys love meatballs with their spaghetti. They love meatball subs. But, that’s about as adventurous as they were willing to be when it came to the sacred ‘meatball’. That was until this recipe. They loved it. The sweet and sour sauce was rich and delicious. I love it when I can get fruit into any meal. They devoured it and asked for more.

These are by far, the BEST crock pot meatballs I’ve ever had. They’re simple. They’re easy. They’re filling. AND they’re budget friendly! All of which made this recipe a keeper for a busy Mom with a boat-load of growing boys to feed.

Really, this is a must try. No longer are meatballs only for Italian-style dishes. Or the typical, tried and true, bland crock pot ‘cocktail’ style recipes that have been done countless times before.

Crockpot Hawaiian Meatballs

4 Sons 'R' Us: Crockpot Hawaiian Meatballs

 

recipe from Six Sisters’ Stuff

  • 32 oz of pre-packaged frozen meatballs or about 2 lbs of frozen, homemade meatballs
  • 13.5 oz can of unsweetened pineapple chunks, drain and reserve juice
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

Directions

  1. Place meatballs in crock pot and top with green pepper and drained pineapple chunks.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix reserved pineapple juice, brown sugar, cornstarch, vinegar and soy sauce.
  3. Pour sauce over meatballs, pineapple and green peppers.
  4. Cook on low for 3-4 hours or until heated through.
  5. Serve over cooked white rice.