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When it comes to pure efficiency, convenience and delicious food, there is nothing like crock pot cooking. A slow cooker (also called a Crock-Pot) is a great thing for those who like wholesome home cooking, but don”t want to (or can”t) spend a lot of time preparing elaborate meals.With crock pot cooking, all you have to do is load the slow cooker up with meat, seasonings and other ingredients in the morning, depending on what you want to cook. Then, just turn your slow cooker on and go about your business for the day. When dinnertime rolls around, your meal will be ready to eat!Because a crock pot cooks food slowly, at a low temperature, all day long, by the time you get home at the end of the day, your meal is fully cooked and ready to enjoy.

Crock Pot Cooking: The Advantages of Slow Cooking

Crock pot cooking offers all kinds of advantages to any household:

  • After hours of cooking at low temperatures, crock pot meals turn out more tender and juicier than they would if cooked on the stovetop or in the oven.
  • Because they cook at low temperatures, slow cookers are safe enough to be left on all day without you in the house.
  • Slow cookers are energy efficient.
  • They don”t heat up the kitchen because they cook at low temperatures (usually anywhere from 170?F to 280?F).
  • Crock pots thoroughly cook the food placed within them, allowing you to cook with less expensive meats and vegetables.

Healthy Aspects of Crock Pot Cooking

Convenience and money-saving benefits aside, crock pot cooking is truly a healthier alternative because:

  • Crock pot cooking is also lower in fat than other cooking methods because there”s no need to add extra fat sources, such as oil or butter. In a crock pot, the food cooks in its own delicious juices, resulting in tender, flavorful, mouth-watering and healthy meals!
  • The covered, steaming atmosphere of a slow cooker it destroys more food bacteria than other cooking methods.
  • While boiling or frying food drains food of its nutrients, cooking at a lower temperature in a covered pot helps food retain critical vitamins and nutrients.

Crock Pot Recipes for Everyone

Today, you can choose all kinds of slow cooker recipes to make crock pot cooking something you”ll always enjoy. The slow cooker is perfect for stews, chilis, soups, meatloaf, casseroles and more. You can even make dessert in your crock pot!

Easy-to-Make Slow Cooker Recipes

Whether you are a seasoned chef or a newbie to the culinary world, you can find a slow cooker recipe to suit your skills. There”s nothing better than coming home to dinner already prepared. Try these recipes in your slow cooker:

Turkey Chili

Crock Pot ChiliServe this chili at a potluck or your next Super Bowl party! This dish is also a good way to use your Thanksgiving Day leftovers.Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 2 lbs. turkey (cubed or cut into strips)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 c. chopped white onions
  • 2 c. chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 c. water
  • 2 c. canned tomatoes with juice
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ? tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 c. cooked pinto beans
  • 2 c. canned kidney beans, drained.

Directions

  1. Add all of the ingredients, except for the beans, into the slow cooker. Cook for 5 to 6 hours.
  2. Add the beans. Cook for 1 to 2 hours more. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and some grated cheese on top.

Traditional Meatloaf

This meatloaf recipe is a surefire win with parents and kids. Serve it for dinner on weeknights when you just don”t have time to slave in the kitchen and use the leftovers in sandwiches! Loaf Ingredients (serves 4 to 6)

  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ? c. red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • ? c. celery, finely chopped
  • ? can tomato soup (save the other half for the sauce)
  • c. red wine (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 c. bread crumbs
  • ? tsp. salt
  • tsp. pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten.

Sauce Ingredients

  • ? can tomato soup (other half from loaf ingredients)
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ? c. water
  • 2 tsp. mustard paste (not powder)
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • dash red wine (optional).

Directions

  1. Line the crock pot with long strips of foil that hang over the outside of the slow cooker. These strips that should entirely cover the bottom of the pot will be used to lift the loaf out at the end of the cooking process.
  2. Put all of the loaf ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Use your hands for faster, more thorough mixing.
  3. Shape mixture into a loaf that is ? inch smaller than your slow cooker.
  4. Place loaf in the crock pot, cover.
  5. Cook on low for 8 to 9 hours or high on 4 to 6 hours.
  6. When loaf is about 15 minutes away from being finished, combine all sauce ingredients thoroughly.
  7. Remove from pot using foil strips.

Slice the loaf and serve each slice with a drizzle of sauce. This dish goes well with steamed or roasted vegetables.

Delicious Bread Pudding

If you plan to cook an elaborate dinner, you may want to save time on dessert by using this slower cooker dessert recipe. Ingredients (serves 4 to 6)

  • 2 c. milk
  • 4 eggs
  • ? c. super fine sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ? tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ? c. white raisins (sultanas)
  • 4 slices of bread
  • pinch of salt.

Directions

  1. Butter each slice of bread on one side.
  2. Cut each slice into 4 equal pieces.
  3. Put all ingredients, except for the bread, into the slow cooker.
  4. Mix all ingredients thoroughly.
  5. Place bread, butter side up, on top of mixture with each piece overlapping slightly.
  6. Push each piece into the mixture so that the bread soaks it up.
  7. Cook for 8 hours on low.

You can serve this delicious bread pudding warm or cold with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 Posted on : September 18, 2013