“Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy. Both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.” Michael Scott, “The Office.”
The enduring success of the TV show “The Office” always surprises me. Talk to any Millennial, and see if they can go more than two minutes without referencing Jim, Pam, Stanley or Kevin’s chili.
A few years back some friends and I did an “Office” bar trivia contest. The Millennials — as well as Generation Z — wiped the floor with us.
Oh well, let’s see them drive a car with manual transmission.
But I digress.
If you are not a Millennial, let me give you a brief history of “The Office.” The show tells the story about the employees at a small paper company in Scranton, Pennsylvania, that is led by the aforementioned Scott.
To describe Scott as incompetent is a vast understatement. He is the very embodiment of the “Peter Principle” (look it up) and is known for quotes like “I’m an early bird and a night owl. So, I am wise, and I have worms.”
Needless to say, Scott’s employees are less than motivated by their boss’ example. Kevin from accounting, for example, says: “I work hard all day. I like knowing there’s going to be a break. Most days I just sit and wait for the break.”
I’ve been fortunate in my life to have never worked anywhere like Dunder-Mifflin. While I have had bosses with whom I disagreed, none have ever been incompetent. Nor have they tried to motivate us with “clever” slogans about “working smarter” rather than “harder.”
Which makes me feel weird about the theme for this week’s column. With the semester coming to a close, I find my calendar getting busier and busier. Throw in church meetings and evening school events, and I find myself with very little time to eat supper.
So I thought, the key to a better work/life balance is to “live fast by slowing down.” Trust me, I groaned at that cliche statement as much as you did.
Still, the idea has merit, though it requires a bit of explanation. I don’t mean “slow” as in sitting back to relax, but as in “slow cookers.” The slow cooker — aka the crock pot — allows you to throw dinner together in the morning and have it ready when you come home at 5 pm
The other benefit is that there are so many great slow cooker recipes out there. No matter what your taste, there is a recipe for you. Check out my suggestions below, and you’ll see.
But should you ever find yourself feeling uninspired about going to work, just remember these words from Michael Scott: “An office is not for dying. An office is a place to live life to the fullest, to the max, to … An office is a place where dreams come true.”
True words have never been said.
Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken
This recipe from the New York Times cooking section is a little spicy, but it is delicious served over rice. Plus, the sour cream can help tame a bit of the heat.
- 1½ pounds boneless chicken thighs
- 1½ cups jarred salsa verde
- 1 (4 oz.) can chopped mild green chiles
- 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and diced
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 3 green onions (green and white parts), thinly sliced
- 1 small bunch cilantro, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- Salt to taste
- Lime juice, to taste
- Cooked rice
- Sour cream (optional)
Combine the chicken thighs, salsa verde, green chiles, chopped garlic, jalapeno, garlic powder, onion powder and cumin in your slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cook on low until the chicken is tender (5-6 hours).
Remove the chicken thighs from the slow cooker. Use two forks to finely shred the meat. Return it to slow cooker. Add the green onions and cilantro, and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and lime juice.
Serve over rice with sour cream (optional).
Root Beer Pulled Pork with Sassy Sauce
This is a go-to recipe in our house when we want something easy and good. Seriously, I know you can make pulled pork in more traditional ways, but I don’t care. This recipe from Food Network is fantastic. And please make the sassy sauce. It makes these sandwiches so very good.
- 2 pounds pork roast or ribs
- 1 tablespoon seasoning salt
- 1 can (12 oz.) root beer
- 1 bottle liquid smoke
- 1 cup sassy sauce (recipe follows) or any barbecue sauce
- burger buns
To make the pulled pork:
Place your pork in your slow cooker. Sprinkle with the seasoning salt. For the root beer and liquid smoke over the top. Place the lid on the slow cooker, and cook on low for 8 hours. Once the pork is done, remove it from the slow cooker and shred with forks. Place in a bowl and add the sassy sauce (or any barbecue sauce), as well as ½ cup of the juice from the slow cooker. Serve on hamburger buns.
- 1 cup ketchup
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup Dijon mustard
- ½ cup molasses
- ½ teaspoon garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
- 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Combine the ketchup, brown sugar and mustard in a medium saucepan. Stir in the remaining ingredients, and simmer over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with pulled pork sandwiches.
Slow Cooker Chicken & Dumplings
This recipe is from The Novice Chef Blog. It’s a slow cooker take on an old favorite.
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 cup carrots, diced
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 quarter chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 black pepper teaspoons
- Salt, to taste
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 12oz. evaporated milk
For the Dumplings:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ¾ cup milk
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
Combine the chicken, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, chicken broth, thyme, pepper and salt in the slow cooker. Cook for 3 hours on high or for 7 hours on low.
If not already set to high, set crockpot to “high.” Remove the cooked chicken from the slow cooker, and shred. Return chicken to the slow cooker.
Make a slurry. Place the cornstarch in a bowl, and stir in 2 tablespoons of the evaporated milk. Add more evaporated milk — 1 tablespoon at a time — until you reach 4 tablespoons total. Stir the slurry into the soup. Add any remaining evaporated milk to the soup and stir to combine.
Now make the dumplings. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, pepper, salt and thyme. For in the milk and butter and stir until a dough ball forms. If your dough is too dry, you can add an extra tablespoon of milk.
Scoop balls of the dough directly onto the surface of your soup. Gently press them down so that the soup runs over the tops of them.
Place the lid on your slow cooker and let cook for another hour. Check your dumplings by cutting one in half to make sure it is cooked through. If they are done, your dinner is ready. If not, cook for another 15 minutes.