“Cooking with Claire” is an introduction to dining beyond the dining hall using easy, fast and cheap recipes.
To be honest, up until now I’ve been more talk than action. Everything I’ve cooked so far for this column I have made in the past. This time, I thought I would make something I haven’t before. I also thought I would cook with a tool I haven’t used before- a crockpot. I believed the food bloggers who said cooking with a crockpot is the easiest way to cook. Thankfully, it’s true- I didn’t lie to my readers.
I found a recipe on Pinterest that would use up the frozen ground beef in my freezer, the potatoes on the counter and the cheese in my fridge. I’ve adapted this recipe from familyfreshmeals.com. The recipe called for a four-six quart crockpot, but I used a three quart crockpot and it worked fine.
Cheesy Crockpot Cowboy Casserole
- One quarter cup diced onion
- One half teaspoon pepper
- One teaspoon salt
- One half teaspoon Mrs. Dash (Mrs. Dash is basically onion, pepper, parsley, basil, bay, marjoram, oregano, thyme, coriander, cumin, mustard, rosemary and garlic. Add a pinch of whatever you have if you don’t own Mrs. Dash Original)
- One pound small red potatoes, sliced thin (about four-five small red potatoes)
- One (15 oz.) can of cream of mushroom soup
- One pound ground beef browned and drained
- One (14.5 oz.) can of diced tomatoes, drained
- One (15 oz.) can of corn, drained
- One (15.5 oz.) can dark red kidney beans, drained
- One cup of shredded cheddar cheese
1. Place all of the ingredients except the cheese in a three-six quart crockpot and stir well.
2. Cover and cook on high for four hours or on low for seven-eight hours, depending on the size of your crockpot. Uncover crockpot and sprinkle shredded cheese over top and recover and let cook an additional 30 minutes.
Because you cook the beef beforehand, the only thing that really needs to cook in the crockpot are the potatoes. I assumed the recipe would cook faster in a smaller crockpot. I was mostly right. I planned to cook the mixture for four hours on low. At three hours and 15 minutes, the potatoes were still rock-hard. I upped the temperature to high for the next 45 minutes, and then back down to low while the cheese melted. It turned out perfectly. When I make this again, which I definitely will, I will either cook it on high for two and a half hours or on low for five hours.
I had two complaints with the recipe. My roommate and I both thought the recipe was a little too soupy. The original recipe called for diced tomatoes with its liquid. Next time, I’ll drain all the veggies. Secondly, and this is probably just a problem to me, I don’t like the name “Cheesy Crockpot Cowboy Casserole.” For one, it’s not a casserole. Second, where did the cowboy part come from? I’ll title this recipe in my recipe book “Cheesy Crockpot Chili.”
I’m also not sure I would make a crockpot recipe with ground beef again. In my opinion, using a crockpot should mean “dump, stir and cook.” Cooking and draining the ground beef was one step too many. Next time I might try a recipe with something that doesn’t need to be drained, like pork or seafood.
A huge part of cooking is trial and error. Since this was my first time making this recipe and using a crockpot, I learned a lot for next time. If you do happen to botch a recipe, remember it’s not the end of the world. There’s always next time.
Claire Galvin is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.