Crock Pot Pork Chops & Barley

Crock Pot Pork Chops & BarleyWith the cooler weather today in Michigan I had the urge to get out my crock-pot and cook comfort food. Maybe it was a nesting impulse in preparation for the fall season. All I know is the aroma throughout the house was intoxicating as pork chops simmered in the crock.

Potatoes were eliminated as a starch dish due to the over-abundance of potato soup I made last week (enough for an army). Instead, I opted for barley and I’m glad it did. It was Brown chops in olive oila perfect pairing with the au jus used for the pork.

You don’t necessarily need to cook these chops in a crock-pot; you could simmer covered on a stove top. I was working outdoors and didn’t want to concern myself with stove top cooking.

Here’s what you need:

  • 6 thin sliced boneless pork loin chops (you can use 4 thick cut boneless pork chops, but you will need to bump up the cooking time to 4 hours on low or 6 hours on high)
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (I used organic). You can also use chicken broth.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash Original blend (found in the spice section)Whick together oil, broth & oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 large basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Quick cook barley


In a large skillet, brown chops in olive oil. Remove from heat and transfer to crock-pot. If you are using thick cut chops, be sure to cut a couple of thin slits in each chop with a knife. This will help them cook evenly throughout. Set aside.

Pork chops cooking in au jus

Pork chops cooking in au jus

In a large whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over chops in the slow cooker. Cover and slow cook on medium for one hour (thin cut).

Once chops are done, turn off slow cooker. Drain off the au jus into the pan used to brown pork chops. Thicken with a roux to a medium consistency.

Prepare barley per package directions. Use an ice cream scoop to plate the barley. Arrange chops and barley on plate. Drizzle both with the roux mixture. Garnish with sprigs of basil or parsley.

Optional: serve a side of au jus for dipping

Two thin cut chops with two scoops of barley and 1/3 cup au jus is in the neighborhood of 345 calories. Serve with a mixed green salad.

Pork Pot Roast in a Crock

Pork Pot Roast in Crock Pot

With the record breaking snow in Michigan this winter, comfort food in a crock pot remain tops on my list. I toss everything in the crock pot before I start my work day and it is ready by dinner time. Convenient, easy and there is little clean-up.

Prep time is around 20 minutes. You will want to use a 5-6 quart crock.


  • 1 large white onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 cup frozen cranberries
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large pear, cored and cut into wedges
  • 1 large apple, cored and cut into wedges
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • Center cut pork roast (2 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 cup chicken broth (I use the broth in the box)
  • 6 ounces Brie cheese, cubed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt

Crock Pot Pork Roast


Place fruit, celery and onion in the bottom of crock pot. Cover with thyme, sugar and 1 tsp. salt.

Place pork roast on top and pour chicken broth over top. Sprinkle remaining salt over the roast.

Center Cut Pork Roast

Place cover on crock pot and cook on low for 6 hours. Drop cubed Brie cheese on roast. Cover and cook for an additional hour.

Remove meat to platter and arrange fruit and vegetables around the pork.


TIP: You can brown the pork roast before placing in the crock pot. Pour 1/4 cup olive oil into a skillet and brown both sides of the meat for about 2 minutes.

Any liquid left in the crock pot can be thickened and served as sauce.


Apple & Red Cabbage Salad


I love cabbage, but not when it is cooked. However, this red cabbage salad was an exception. I love the contrast of the plum color on a white dinner plate, not to mention the semi-sweetness of the apples. When served with BBQ pork or beef ribs, it’s outstanding; the flavors really compliment the meat.


  • 1/2 head of red cabbage, chopped
  • 1 large apple, grated
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup turkey bacon, cooked and diced
  • Fresh apple slices to garnish, optional


Place chopped cabbage, shredded apple, vinegar, sugar and cloves in crock pot. Cover and cook on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove to serving dish, add diced turkey bacon and garnish with apple slices.

IMG_8238The tang and sweetness of this salad is a great replacement for traditional green salads.

This recipe will serve 6 people as a side dish. A half-cup serving with an apple slice garnish is in the neighborhood of 115 calories.



Crock Pot Baby Back Ribs


One of the top foods on my ten year old grandson’s list is BBQ ribs. He isn’t a fan of dry-rubbed ribs, but that is what the wine guy prefers. So, I did a combination of a dry rub and tangy sauce to suit both tastes.

Lately, my lifestyle has become way more complex and I have little time to prepare meals. Crock pots have become a life-saver for meat dishes. Sides dishes are easy enough to prepare at the last minute. Meat dishes, however, especially ribs and roasts take considerable more time.

Prep time for the ribs was minimal (around 15 minutes). Plan on 3 hours of crock- pot cook time. Here is what you need to make these fall-off-the-bone ribs.


Dry rub:

1/4 cup paprika
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

The Rest:

2 1/2 pounds pork baby back ribs
2 cans of beer (24 ounces), or unsalted beef brothIMG_8195
18 ounces BBQ sauce
1/3 cup honey
5 quart crock pot
1/4 cup olive oil
Large skillet


Add olive oil to skillet and heat over medium heat. While it heats, generously rub the ribs with the dry rub. Place them in the skillet and brown for 3 minutes on each side.

Cut ribs into sections (3-4 ribs per section). Place in crock pot and coat with beer. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours. NOTE: Shave139 calories per serving by using unsalted beef broth instead of beer.

Blend BBQ sauce and honey and pour over ribs. Place cover on crock pot and cook ribs for an additional 1 1/2 hours on high heat. Remove ribs to a serving platter. Thicken leftover crock pot juices and serve as sauce on the side.

IMG_8204This recipe serves four. A five ounce serving (about 4 ribs) is in the neighborhood of 505 calories.

To keep the calorie count to a minimum, it is best served with a salad or green vegetable. If you feel the need to add a starch, consider a 1/2 cup scoop of wild rice (150 added calories).