Browsing through the farmer’s market and seeing the apples, squash, pears, and Vidalia onions that are available now, I’m ready to enjoy the season’s produce – and the cooler temperatures – by digging out my Crock-Pot and cooking up some fantastic one-pot dishes.
Slow cookers are ideal for busy people. Prepare as much as you can the night before – especially the peeling and chopping of vegetables – and by sparing just 10 minutes in the morning to put it all together, you can have dinner cooking before you leave for work. Come back to your apartment in the evening and be greeted by the wonderful aroma of a home-cooked meal.
If you’ve never tried using a slow cooker, you may have some questions. How much liquid should you include? Should you use the auto timer? Is slow-cooking safe? The answers may surprise you. For example, the liquid depends on the recipe. Some recipes won’t require adding any liquid — especially if vegetables are being used (they develop their own juices). The timer is helpful when you have a recipe that should cook for six hours but you won’t be home for eight. Use the “keep warm” feature if you have one, and don’t allow the food to stand more than two hours after the cooking time ends. And yes, as long as your slow cooker is working properly, slow cooking is perfectly safe.
With fall get-togethers (such as football parties, tailgating, and block parties) on your agenda, the slow cooker is a great resource. Don’t spend all day cooking when you can make a spectacular pulled pork or melt-in-your-mouth ribs for your guests. Make a hearty pot roast in the morning and your fellow football fans will think you spent all day in the kitchen. Many slow cookers are also portable, so you can take it to a friend’s house and plug it in, keeping your dips and appetizers warm for the entire party. Make a hot apple cider in your slow cooker and it will make your apartment smell wonderful – and guests can enjoy the hot drink all evening long.
Don’t think the slow cooker is just for hearty soups and stews. From a delicious egg casserole for breakfast to a tasty dessert to vegetarian dishes, the slow cooker delivers easy, one-pot meals. And if you select a slow cooker with a removable liner, clean-up is a breeze.
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