In addition to working full time in real estate trying to keep her two girls in shoes (and hair accessories), my step sister, Meagan, volunteers for several charities, manages to get her kids to hither and yon for various activities, and always has on a fantastic pair of heels. She’s busy. And like most of us, finds getting dinner on the table (again and again) a mighty task. Recently, she told me she bought a slow cooker months ago but hasn’t cracked open the box; she needs a little guidance on the subject. Indeed, Meagan is one of many moms who’ve been asking for crock pot advice and recipes since I started this blog.

I didn’t have much in the way of either since I’ve been a little slow to the crock pot table. The few times I’ve played around with the thing, it was borrowed from a friend. Frankly, since my kitchen is effectively my office, I haven’t felt the need. It’s easy for me to let something bubble on the back of the stove in my giant cast iron pot (which I’ve always sort of considered my slow cooker anyway) while I work on some other cooking or writing project.

But knowing how many moms rely on slow cookers and are seeking good recipes, I thought I’d finally commit. I bought a basic Crock Pot brand version and have been putting it work ever since. I have to say, I get the appeal: throw all of your ingredients in, flip the switch, come home to a warm meal. Done. It’s feel a little bit like magic.

It’s no wonder crock pots are so popular. Whether you are the mom running after a toddler all day, or the one running out the door for the office (or just don’t want to fuss in the kitchen), the slow cooker makes it (practically) effortless to get family dinner from fridge to table. And really nourishing food thrives in the crock pot, notably beans, legumes, and sturdy vegetables.

Since I’m forging new territory here, I asked a few moms whom I know are crock pot die hards for their favorite resources and recipes. One friend handed me a copy of Make it Fast, Cook it Slow by Stephanie O’Dea, a gal who committed to cooking out of her crockpot for an entire year, and chronicled it with recipes here.

I figured a year of slow cooking? She’s got to know her craft. Today’s recipe is hers, with a few tiny tweaks of my own. Vietnamese Chicken may sound sort of exotic for the preschool set, but the only prerequisite is a fondness for soy sauce. If bok choy is new to you, I wrote about it in this post a while back. Feel free to use another vegetable or two instead, and just adjust the cooking time accordingly: any dark leafy greens, broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, you name it.

When I emailed Stephanie to ask permission to use her recipe, shes graciously offered to donate her newest book, More Make it Fast, Cook it Slow for a giveaway. How sweet is that? Leave a comment below today’s post sharing your favorite crock pot eats and you’ll automatically be entered to win the book (giveaway ends Sunday October 2nd, midnight PST).

I served Vietnamese Chicken with brown basmati rice and a little side dish of sliced cucumbers and red onions doused with seasoned rice wine vinegar. My kids loved the dinner, and it made a great leftover lunch for me the next day.

Vietnamese Slow Cooker Chicken with Baby Bok Choy

• 6 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
• 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
• 1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce*
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• 4 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 tablespoon canola oil
• 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar. divided
• 1 ½ pounds baby bok choy

Lay the chicken thighs in the slow cooker with the fleshier side facing down. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, fish sauce, black pepper, garlic, canola oil, and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar. Pour over the chicken, put on the lid, and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours. The time may vary a little depending on the size of the chicken thighs.

When the chicken is nearly done, cut the heads of baby bok choy in half down the center and remove the little wedge of core. Roughly chop the bok choy and wash thoroughly. Five or 10 minutes before the cooking time is up, remove the chicken from the pot. Stir the second tablespoon of brown sugar into the sauce and add the bok choy, immersing it in the cooking liquid. Set the chicken back in the pot on top of the bok choy and replace the lid. Set the pot to high and cook until the bok choy is tender (about 8 minutes or so). Serve.

* Fish sauce, also known as Nuoc Cham or Nam Pla, is available in the Asian section of most supermarkets

Adapted from Make it Fast, Cook it Slow by Stephanie O’Dea.

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  1. Dale
    09.26.2011 at 9:06 AM #

    With the wife headed abroad for 10 days, #1 daughter suggested dinner for us should be from a foreign cuisine each night. This is timely and will be tonight’s menu. Many, many thanks!

    • katiemorford
      09.26.2011 at 10:00 AM #


  2. Emily
    09.26.2011 at 9:10 AM #

    I love cooking a pork butt in the crock pot all day, then I shred the pork and combine it with BBQ sauce for Pulled Pork Sandwiches.

    • katiemorford
      09.26.2011 at 10:00 AM #

      Yum. Sounds like a good meal for football season.

  3. Chanda Slenk
    09.26.2011 at 9:23 AM #

    Adding this one to my crock pot recipe pile :)
    Here’s a new favorite of ours:

    Balsamic Chicken:
    4-6 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
    2 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
    1 onion thinly sliced (Not chopped)
    4 garlic cloves
    1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
    2 tblsp olive oil
    1 tsp each: dried oregano,basil, and rosemary
    1/2 tsp thyme
    ground black pepper and salt to taste

    Pour the olive oil on bottom of crock pot
    place in chicken breasts, salt and pepper each breast
    put sliced onion on top of chicken
    then put in all the dried herbs and garlic cloves
    pour in vinegar and top with tomatoes

    Cook on high 4 hours, serve over angel hair pasta

    • katiemorford
      09.26.2011 at 9:59 AM #

      Thanks for sharing that. Sounds delicious.

  4. Mitra
    09.26.2011 at 10:06 AM #

    will definitely try this! Here is my EASIEST stand-by crockpot recipe:

    chicken with olives

    A. 6 chicken thighs, bone in, skinless

    B. 1 can tomato paste
    1/2 a can of beer
    1/2 a jar of green olives, including the brine

    Directions: Put a in crockpot. Mix B together and pour over. turn on, cook 4 hrs, then serve over brown rice (and I like a dollop of yogurt on top, but that’s the persian in me).

  5. Pam
    09.26.2011 at 10:27 AM #

    Thank you–can’t wait to try this! Two of my favorites in the world of cooking are asian cuisine and crock pots so this has to be a winner. I appreciate the “exoticness” of the recipe too. I am Korean and ever since my daughter was a toddler, I’ve fed her everything from Indian-style vegetables to Korean kimchee to tofu pad thai. She would choose these things over grilled cheese and fries any day! Please feel free to keep the exotic dishes coming… ;)

  6. 09.26.2011 at 10:32 AM #

    My favorite thing to make in the crock pot (been doing this for over a year now) is Stephanie’s recipe for crockpot yogurt. Heat half a gallon of milk on low for 2 1/2 hours. Turn off the heat and let sit for another 3 hours. Stir in 1/2 cup of store bought plain yogurt with live cultures I’ve found Stonyfield organic makes the thickest yogurt. Wrap the crockpot in a towel, and let it sit overnight. Voila! Yogurt.

    • katiemorford
      09.26.2011 at 10:45 AM #

      Ooohh…that sounds like a wonderful idea. I will have to try it.

  7. Christi
    09.26.2011 at 10:39 AM #

    We just pop a whole chicken in there along with veggies and red skinned potato’s, season it up and add a little chicken stock to the bottom of the crock. Recently tried lentils instead of potato’s and the lentils turned out really well in the crock pot!

  8. Dale
    09.26.2011 at 10:49 AM #

    When do you add the second tablespoon of brown sugar?

    • katiemorford
      09.26.2011 at 10:51 AM #

      Thank you for noticing my omission. Will add it to the recipe asap!

  9. MaryBeth
    09.26.2011 at 11:31 AM #

    My favorite food to cook in a slow cooker is pulled pork (or beef). It’s pretty simple but my family always requests it. Thanks for a chance to win.

  10. Meghan
    09.26.2011 at 11:41 AM #

    I make big batches of oatmeal in my crockpot (for the whole family- a 2 year old and for my husband to tote to work etc.) I simply use old fashioned oats (about 2 cups) and water (about 4 cups) add flax seed meal, a bit of brown sugar a pinch of salt and let it cook for a few hours. Sometimes I put in vanilla and a bag of frozen berries (mixed berries, blueberries or strawberries- even apples & cinnamon at times) and allow that to cook into the mixture. Once it gets cooked and delightfully mushy, I put in individual containers for the week, then heat up and eat!) It is much easier than making a batch each morning, and healthier than the instant packages (less pacjaging waste too!) The fruit version often feels like a warm dessert cobbler!

    • katiemorford
      09.26.2011 at 11:46 AM #

      This is great. I love the idea of making a bigger batch and packing them up for the week

  11. Bliss
    09.26.2011 at 1:13 PM #

    bone-in chicken thighs should be easy enough to find, right? Sadly, Trader Joe’s where I regularly shop does not sell them.

    I am so happy to have not only Katie’s, but the other slow cooker recipes as well.
    Thank you!

    • katiemorford
      09.26.2011 at 1:29 PM #

      Any butcher will have them. You may need to ask them to separate thigh from leg and to remove the skin. Regular supermarkets should have them as well. If sold with skin on, it is not hard to pull off.

  12. Natalie
    09.26.2011 at 2:59 PM #

    Love all these ideas!!! Thank you all. I’ve been making batches of butternut squash soup in my crock for weeks. Looking forward to trying some of these.

  13. Angel
    09.26.2011 at 3:55 PM #

    My fave is pulled chicken barbeque sandwiches. Tomorrow, I am trying a recipe for chicken fajitas. As long as I don’t have to brown the meat first, I will try it! Looking forward to trying this recipe as my husband just asked for more Asian foods for dinner! Thanks!

  14. 09.26.2011 at 4:30 PM #

    Thanks for this, Katie. By the way, I just learned that the vegetarian companion to the original slow-cooker book I recommended is out: The Vegetarian Gourmet Slow Cooker. I have ordered it from the library. I’ll let you know how it is!

    • katiemorford
      09.26.2011 at 4:49 PM #

      Great. Let me know how you like it.

  15. Alison
    09.26.2011 at 9:13 PM #

    I am so happy to see the post about the vegetarian companion book. We are trying to eat less meat and it is hard to find good Vegetarian slow-cooker recipes. Thank you.

  16. Pam
    09.26.2011 at 10:18 PM #

    This sounds great! Please post more slow cooker recipes. I’m looking for dishes for weekdays that ideally have an 8-10 hour cooktime so I can start it before I leave for work and not have it overcooked when I get back 9ish hours later. Or do you know if you really can leave a dish on the “keep warm” cycle for extra hours post cooking without ruining it?

    I bought The Best Recipe slow cooker book at Costco and have enjoyed reading through it. My mother-in-law bought the book too and my girls cooked the rice pudding from it. So, I was begged to do a reprise and make it as well. It wasn’t that healthy (lots of half and half and milk), but it was delicious. They test their recipes a lot so they’re pretty reliable. With winter coming, I’m looking forward to trying more.

    • katiemorford
      09.26.2011 at 10:47 PM #

      Interesting challenge. If something will be spending a couple of hours on “warm,” you would likely want to scale back the cooking time. As to how to adjust timing, I suspect it’s a matter of trial and error. Here is some good info regarding cooking times and temperatures that may be helpful As i said, I’m new to the crock pot myself. Maybe other readers can weigh in on this one.

  17. Christine
    09.27.2011 at 7:13 AM #

    I like a super easy roast cooked until super soft, shredded and then mixed with a bottle of BBQ sauce for quick and easy BBQ beef sandwiches.

  18. Suzanne
    09.27.2011 at 7:47 AM #

    I was the lucky recipient of the Vietnamese Chicken leftovers – YUMMY!!!! I have never had much luck with chicken in the crock pot, this recipe gave me hope :)

  19. Kristen M.
    09.29.2011 at 2:42 PM #

    I’ve checked out Stephanie’s book from my library but would love a personal copy. My most recent crock-pot recipe was pear/apple sauce which couldn’t be more easy peasy. Simply dice/cut up a bunch of pears and apples, add a tiny bit of water, lemon juice to keep the fruit from browning, a small amount of sugar (if desired), and a liberal sprinkling of cinnamon. Cook until soft. Keep chunky, mash with potato masher or use stick blender to puree.

    • katiemorford
      09.29.2011 at 8:18 PM #

      Thanks for the recipe.

  20. Belinda
    09.30.2011 at 7:24 PM #

    This book sounds great! I love my slow cooker! We use it a lot for pot roast and chili :)

    mikebelindaconnor at hotmail dot com

  21. Summer D
    10.02.2011 at 2:23 AM #

    We love stew at our house, so I make a lot of it. Pot roasts are the easiest for me on the days I work though.

  22. kathleen
    10.02.2011 at 5:32 AM #

    I love using my crockpot to “bake” potatoes because it keeps me from having to turn on the oven which seems to make my whole house hot! I also love cooking collard greens in the slow cooker

  23. Natalie
    10.02.2011 at 5:44 AM #

    We love any fall soups ! Thank you

  24. Amy W.
    10.02.2011 at 5:52 AM #

    Thanks for the chance. We use our crock pot a lot. I even use it to brown hamburger to freeze.

  25. 10.02.2011 at 6:58 AM #

    I recently asked for crock pot recipes on my blog. I received a ton of ideas from readers! The one we tried last night was the best and easiest so far:
    I put 2 lb. frozen chicken breasts, 1 jar of mild salsa, and a couple of spoonfuls (maybe2-3tsp?) of taco seasoning mix into the crock pot. Turned it on low for about 5 hours. I shredded the chicken with two forks, then layered it onto flour tortillas with cheese, sour cream, and lettuce. WONDERFUL!

  26. Marci J
    10.02.2011 at 7:50 AM #

    Thanks – I love to make quick stews in my crockpot. Beef, carrots, potatoes, corn, spices, and broth – can’t really go wrong! I just use what I have on hand. I make it in the morning and it’s ready by supper time (plus makes the house smell wonderful!)

  27. cw
    10.02.2011 at 8:22 AM #

    I like to do crockpot steel cut oats so it is all ready in the morning

  28. Brenda Witherspoon-Bedard
    10.02.2011 at 10:40 AM #

    Our favorite crock pot item is bbq ribs – yummy

  29. Jennifer Clay
    10.02.2011 at 10:51 AM #

    I love to cook beef stew in my crock pot! I am trying to learn how to cook more recipes and I would love to win this cookbook! Thanks for the great giveaway!

  30. Ashley H.
    10.02.2011 at 2:02 PM #

    My favorite is beef stew.

  31. Rebecca Williams
    10.02.2011 at 3:15 PM #

    My newest receipe for my slower cooker is cheesy chicken spaghetti…so good!

  32. katklaw777
    10.02.2011 at 6:08 PM #

    My go to crockpot recipe is my
    Salsa Chicken…
    4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    1 jar any kind of salsa
    peppers, any color, sliced
    onion, sliced
    Put onion and peppers in bottom of crock, place chicken breasts on top, pour jar of salsa over all. Add a little water to jar, cover, shake and add to crock.
    Cook 5 to 7 on high…8 to 10 on low.
    I serve over brown rice in a bowl…yum!

  33. Stephanie
    10.02.2011 at 8:24 PM #

    I made a Cheesy Artichoke Spinach Dip in my crock pot tonight for a small group get together. Everyone loved it, and it is so quick, easy and delicious!
    mrshud at cox dot net

  34. Tara Haidinger
    10.03.2011 at 10:41 AM #

    I love my crock pot! i recently started making whole chickens in it. You can season it any way you like, and it is so economical.

  35. daniel
    10.29.2012 at 9:46 AM #

    Many times fish sauce is only sold in very large quantities, especially since you usually only use a couple Tbsp of it at a time. A lot of people have Worcestershire sauce in their pantry already. If you don’t want to jump and buy a large thing of fish sauce, Worc. sauce will suffice 1 to 1. You will lose some of that ‘Asian’ taste, but its a pretty good approximation and is made from fish and soy.

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