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How Slow Cookers are the Answers to A Busy Life

By Edited Oct 11, 2015 1 0

I experienced coming home tired from work, yet I still had to cook dinner. I also experienced miscalculating the time to slow-simmer a big chunk of beef to bring to a party. As the cook in our household, there were times I never wanted to come near a stove. I needed a break from the chopping, the boiling, the heat, the constant monitoring to make sure nothing is undercooked or otherwise.

Being in the kitchen can be a workout, especially if you are cooking large quantities of food. Much as I want to hire a personal chef, the budget wouldn't cut it. I had to find an alternative way to cook delicious meals without slaving away in the kitchen.

Then lo and behold, I was gifted with my first slow cooker. It's a 7 quart Crock Pot. After I unboxed it, the first thing my husband said was “Honey, could you make Pork Roast with it?" I never cooked with a slow cooker before. After going through a recipe, I chopped a few ingredients, dumped them all in the slow cooker, turned it on and left it alone the whole day. By the time dinner arrived, my husband and I were drooling because the house smelled so wonderful the whole day.

Thus started my addiction to anything slow cooked.

Benefits of Slow Cooking

Convenience. Most modern crock-pots are designed to be left cooking away unattended. When the slow cooker is on, ensure nothing flammable or highly dangerous when heated is near. To be on the safe side, be at home during the initial use of your slow cooker. That way, you can monitor its cooking progress the whole day, ensuring no appliance malfunction happen.

Frozen Foods are popular to cook with a slow cooker. These are foods that has been subjected to rapid freezing and is kept frozen until used. They're great time savers because you can prepare all ingredients in advance, put them in a ziplock bag, then put them in a freezer for storage. When it's time to cook, just dump contents of the bag into the slow cooker, turn it on and leave it alone to cook for hours until it's time to serve.

It Kills Bacteria. With the slow cookers moist cooking environment over a long period of time, it can kill common bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella and Botulism.

It Saves Money. Slow cookers are great for cooking cheaper cuts of meat (e.g. beef, brisket, pork shoulder, chicken thighs, etc.) You can have the option to bulk up with the vegetables and use less meat. The slow cookers can extract the meat flavour from the meat that permits the whole dish.

It Is Healthier. You can trim the fat off meat since oil isn't necessary for the slow cooker as long as there's enough moisture in there. This will give you healthier results and it'll still be tasty.

What Can You Cook in a Slow Cooker?

You can cook almost anything in a slow cooker. To give examples, here are some of my favourite slow cooker dishes. I cooked these myself.

Barbecued Chicken

Barbecued Chicken
 

Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium ketchup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium onion soup mix

Cooking Method

  1. Arrange chicken in slow cooker.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chicken.
  3. Cover and cook on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.

BBQ Spareribs

BBQ Spareribs

Yields: 3 to 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds pork ribs
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons seasoned salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar

Cooking Method

  1. Place pork ribs in a zip lock bag.
  2. Mix remaining ingredients together in a separate bowl. Pour everything over ribs. Seal bag and put in the freezer.
  3. When it's time to cook, empty contents of bag into slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.

Creamy Broccoli and Mushroom Soup

Creamy Broccoli and Mushroom Soup

Yield: 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 pounds broccoli
  • 20 ounces low-sodium cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 cups fat-free evaporated milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cooking Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker.
  2. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on hight for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Hamburger Casserole

Hamburger Casserole

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 potatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
  • 2 cups low-sodium tomato juice

Ingredients

  1. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Pork Chops with Mushrooms

Pork Chops with Mushrooms

Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces low-sodium cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 boneless pork loin chops

Cooking Method

  1. Mix soup, onions and mushrooms. Then stir in Worcestershire sauce. Pour half of this mixture into the slow cooker.
  2. Place pork chops in slow cooker. Cover with the remaining sauce.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours or until meat is tender but not dry.

Pot Roast

Pot Roast

Yields: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds beef roast (any kind, cut into large cubes)
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 4 medium sized potatoes, cubed
  • 3 to 4 carrots, sliced
  • Sprinkle of rosemary, oregano, thyme (or whatever seasoning you like)

Cooking Method

  1. Split all ingredients in half and place in bags. Freeze.
  2. When it's time to cook, pour all contents into slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Serve with green beans or salad.

Salmon Chowder

Salmon Chowder

Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds salmon fillets
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 12 ounces fat-free evaporated milk

Cooking Method

  1. Cut salmon into bite-size pieces. Place in slow cooker. Add onions, potatoes, water, and pepper.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 8 hours.
  3. Add evaporated milk. Continue cooking until heated through.

Vegetable Medley

Vegetable Medley

Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sliced onion
  • 1 cup celery, cut in 2-inch strips
  • 1 cup carrots, cut in 2-inch strips
  • 1 cup green beans
  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca

Cooking Method

  1. Mix all ingredients in slow cooker.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours.

Common Questions about Slow Cookers

How big should your slow cooker be?

It depends. If you are cooking for a small family of 2-3 members, a 3 1/2 or 4-quart slow cooker is enough. For a household of 4 to 6 members, a 5 quart will be good. For a huge family or large quantity of slow cooking, you can get anything over a 6 quart.

What is the average cooking time for slow cookers?

It is usually 7 to 8 hours on low and 3 to 4 hours on high. This can differ slightly depending on the kind of slow cooker you have. Always refer to your recipe for the right amount of slow cooking time.

Can you cook with frozen meat?

You can but you need to adjust cooking time to compensate for the frozen meat. It can entail addition 4 to 6 hours on low or 2 hours on high. Never put frozen meat inside a preheated slow cooker. The abrupt change in temperature can crack your slow cooker pot. You can add 1 cup of warm water into the slow cooker before adding frozen foods. This will act as “fusion" to prevent sudden changes in temperature.

Can you cook pasta in the slow cooker?

No. It's best used to cook pasta in boiling water. Add cooked pasta in the stoneware during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

Should you get Manual or Programmable slow cooker?

If you are the type that has an unpredictable schedule, buy a programmable one. This can automatically set itself to ‘warm' setting after the time you specify. If you are like me, who works from home, you can get a manual one. It's less expensive too.

In Conclusion:

A slow cooker is a very convenient kitchen appliance that could provide you additional free time, helps you save money, and provides healthier and bacteria-free meals. You can cook almost anything with it. This is one kitchen appliance you should own for those times you want to spend time for yourself or loved ones and not worry about monitoring what is cooking for dinner.

Savory Cuisine Slow Cooker Recipes, Easy-to-Cook, Affordable and For All Occasions

Savory Cuisine Slow Cooker Recipes Easy-to-Cook, Affordable and For All Occasions
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Oct 11, 2015)
In this book, "Savory Cuisine Slow Cooker Recipes Easy-to-Cook, Affordable and For All Occasions", you will discover simple but flavourful ways to maximize the use of your slow cooker using common ingredients that you could mix and match to come up with a variety of tasty dishes your family and friends will remember you for!
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