A slow-cooker often referred to as a crock-pot offers cooks an easy and less time consuming way of preparing food hours ahead of time. After the prep work in done, tossing the food into the slow-cooker, putting the lid on and turning on the power you are basically done with dinner. Cooking doesn’t get much easier than using one of these useful cooking devices. Often thought of as useful for making a savory stew, a slow-cooker does much more than that. Slower cookers can cook pretty much any type of food from chicken to beef to fish to vegetables – you name it and you can cook it.

slow-cookers come as basic, simple electric devices with setting of low, medium and high. Some slow-cookers are digital and keep a temperature watch on your food. Some are sophisticated enough to set a timer and they will begin the cooking process and stop the cooking at the touch of a button. You don’t even have to be there.

Making Cooking Easy With a slow-cooker

If you know you will be in a pinch for tie, chop your meats and vegetables the night before and store them in the refrigerator.

The next morning spray the inside of the crock-pot – not the metal parts – but the section you put food in with a non stick cooking spray. If you would prefer not to use a non stick cooking spray, buy a crock-pot liner. crock-pot liners are disposable and make clean up a snap.

Fill the crock-pot with the meats and vegetables and water, stock or broth. Avoid overfilling the crock-pot. A filled crocked pot has vegetables, meats and broth or water about 2/3 of the way. Filled higher than 2/3 of the way can cause the foods to spill over the sides.

Put the lid on your crock-pot and set it to the desired setting. Avoid removing the slow-cooker lid during cooking because you will release the heat and extend the cooking time each time the lid comes off.

The best part about using a slow-cooker or crock-pot is you can use less expensive cuts of meat and they will turn out tasting like the better cuts because of the long cooking times and constant heat.

If you are adding vegetables such as tomatoes or other soft type vegetables, wait to add them until the last hour or so of cooking so they don’ turn to mush. If you want the tomatoes to become a part of the sauce then go ahead put them in right from the start.

crock-pots and slow-cookers Are for More Than Just an Everyday Meal

If you are hosting a party or celebrating a holiday where food is king – use your crock-pot or slow-cooker.

Typically parties and holiday celebrations are filled with food. Sometimes it is difficult to time all the foods so they are done at the same time or maybe you don’t have enough room on your stove to cook everything at once – don’t worry there is an easy solution to this dilemma.

After cooking and while the food is still hot transfer it to the crock-pot and place the lid on it. Turn the crock-pot on and your food will keep warm.

Perfect Foods To Keep Warm in a crock-pot

Soups                  --            Mashed Potatoes           --            Chili

Vegetables         --            Turkey or Chicken           --            Meatballs

Sausage              --            Stuffing               --            Beef Stroganoff

Gravy                  --            Sauces                --            Bread Pudding

If you are doing a large breakfast or brunch – put the scrambled eggs in the crock-pot to keep them nice and warm.

If you decide to host your party or holiday celebration buffet style, leave the food I the slow-cooker and let guests help themselves. If you are having a sit down dinner, simply transfer the foods from the crock-pot to the serving dish just before sitting down. Food stays hot and tasty and you aren’t stressed for timing or worried about cold food.

Use Your crock-pot For Appetizers or a Casual Snack for You and Your Guests

Love Fondue, but don’t have a Fondue pot? Don’t worry your crock-pot or slow-cooker can do double duty.

Place the fondue ingredients in the crock-pot about an hour before your guests are due to arrive. The crock-pot will melt the cheese to the perfect temperature.

Place Fondue forks around your crock-pot along with places and bread chunks, vegetables or cooked beef, pork, chicken or seafood.

Kitchens that have limited storage space have much benefit from a crock-pot because you do not have to store multiple electric cooking appliances – you only have to store one – the slow-cooker. Just make sure you don’t bury this handy device because the more you learn about them, the more you will use them.

How About a Great Dessert Option for Your slow-cooker

Place one of the following in your crock-pot chocolate, caramel or marshmallow, put the lid on and turn the slow-cooker on. Let the chocolate, marshmallow or caramel to melt until it is smooth and creamy.

Place cut pieces of fruit on a platter and chunks of pound cake or angel food cake, a big stack of plates and long handled forks or wood skewers next to the plates.

Put some chopped nuts, white chocolate chips, crushed oreos or shredded coconut in small bowls around the table.

Spear your fruit or cake and dip it into the chocolate, caramel or marshmallow.

Roll the gooey goodness through the nuts, shredded coconut, crushed oreos and enjoy.

If you can’t make up your mind between the marshmallow, caramel or chocolate – borrow a crock or slow-cooker from your mom, sister or best friend and put one ingredient in each.

slow-cookers and crock-pots have been around for years. Some people can’t live without them and some people have always wanted to try one. If you’ve never used a slow-cooker, try it. They are well worth the investment.

crock-pots have a multitude of uses – put yours to use.

If you are planning on buying a slow-cooker or crock, buy the largest one you can.