Crock Potting During the Yard Sale

After hosting a garage sale, you're beat -- not to mention starving.  Unless you've got a spouse or kid around who's a whiz at cooking, you may be forced to fend for yourself when it comes to the post-sale meal.  However, there is a great solution, one that will cost you just $20-$50 up front and will save you much more money in the long run, if you use it consistently: a crock pot, or slow cooker.  This great kitchen gadget can feed a host of people with very little effort -- and best of all, it can cook away while you take your customers' money and be ready to eat when you drag in the last unsold box of clothes.

Vegetables cooked in a slow cooker.

If you own a slow cooker, or need some convincing to get one, here are some great recipes that make excellent post-sale fodder.  Just put the ingredients together the night before or early the morning of, then plug them in and settle in to wait.  Your food will likely be ready right about when you're finished with the sale.  Eat up!

Simple Carnitas

 To serve six people, you will need:

- 2 pounds of pork (shoulder cut works great)

- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice

- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice

- 7 cloves of garlic

- 1/2 tablespoon salt

- 1 tablespoon cumin or chili powder

- 1/2 cup beef broth

- tortillas (corn or flour is your preference)

- sour cream, salsa, avocado slices, or other toppings you enjoy

Combine the salt and cumin/chili powder in a small bowl, then rub it all over the surface of the pork.  Put the meat into the crock pot, then toss in the garlic cloves (optional: add a chunked onion for extra flavor).  Pour the citrus juice and beef broth over the top, then cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Shred the meat with two forks and serve on warmed tortillas with liberal toppings.

Chicken with Black Beans and Cream Cheese

To serve four people, you will need:

- 4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

- 1 can of black beans

- 1 can of corn (or two cups frozen corn)

- 1 15-oz jar of salsa

- 1 8-oz package of cream cheese

Put the chicken into the crockpot, add the beans, corn, and salsa, and cook on high for 4-5 hours.  Drop the cream cheese on top and let it sit for half an hour, covered but with the heat off.  Serve with rice or on tortillas.

Vegetarian Taco Soup

To serve eight people, you will need:

- 1 can of black beans

- 1 can of pinto beans

- 1 can of navy beans

- 1 can of black-eyed peas

- 1 can of green beans

- 1 can of corn (or two cups frozen corn)

- 1 small onion, chopped

- 1 10-oz can of tomatoes

- 2 cups of water

- 1 package of taco seasoning

- 1 package of ranch dressing mix

For the vegetarians out there!  Also, this recipe requires a large crock pot.

Drain and rinse the canned items before placing them in the crock pot.  Add the other ingredients and mix well.  Cook for two hours on high (or four hours on low, if you need to stretch it out), then serve with sour cream, cheese, sauce, jalapenos, green onion, or tortilla chips.

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