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I want to love my slow cooker, can you help?

Santa brought a new slow cooker to our house, and I'm thinking it will be helpful in getting dinner on the table, but in my searches I'm wondering if it's really any easier than cooking on the stovetop or oven. I've seen warnings about leaving it on all day, or even if I do, most recipes call for only 5-6 hours of cooking time and I'm out of the house for closer to 10. And while I understand that browning will improve flavor, the whole point is that I don't have time to stand at the stovetop cooking. So help me fall in love with it.

So far, I'm seeing pulled pork as a great option - anything else?

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  1. Countless stews and soups can be made in it, as well as apple sauce if you're short for time.
    Umm, chicken and barley is always good.
    Going to go out on a limb, but this site may be helpful: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

    2 Replies
    1. re: catcherinthewheat

      The link above has been my main source for crock pot recipes.
      I rely on mine for getting dinner served all the time since I work a lot of evenings.
      You can make lasagne and it's good! Also chuck roast with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and sugar... Cooked all day and shredded... Teriyaki bowls!

      1. re: iheartcooking

        The link has become a book: http://www.amazon.com/Make-Fast-Cook-...

        There's also a sequel. I have the first, haven't tried the second. I like it, a lot. Easy recipes, mostly very successful. A note. Some of the recipes call for different-sized Crock-Pots -- 6, 4, or 2 quart. I have a six and a four. I went through the book and used those little 3M post-it tabs to code the recipes that interested me. My 4-quart is red, so I used that color tab for recipes calling for that particular unit.

        Good soups, great stews, and even Buffalo Chicken Lasagna -- in which you later the meat, seasonings, etc., with regular UNCOOKED lasagna noodles. A staple at my house now.

        The writer's style is a little precious ("Oh, my little pony I love this", "I puffy-heart love chicken wings"), and she talks a lot about her kids and husband and their reactions. But it's OK -- nice work. I use this book a lot.

    2. there are hundreds of recipes in the "slow cooker recipe book" that I have. Stews are great and can stay on low heat for 10 hours.Spaghetti sauce (homeade) develops a great depth of flavor if it sits for a longer period of time, I also use it for fondue type sauces.or for keeping chocolate sauce warm. I cook whole chickens in it with water and then use the chicken for quesadilla's, or soups, or I slice the chicken, give it a quick fry/saute in the skillet for rice or salads, or make a chicken salad out of it. I save and freeze the "broth" for soups , rice etc. I have even seen people use it for baking (though I have never tried it). It is a very versatile item to have.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ROCKLES

        just a week ago we used the crock pot to keep mashed potatos hot while we took them to a pot luck supper. could be used similarly for a holiday buffet.... i've also done a pot roast in it after searing off the meat; threw it in crock with carrots, onions, tomatos, bay leaf; but my fav. is (sorry for the repetition, those who read these posts alot) throw a can of whole tomatoes in with thinly sliced pepperoni whole stick, cook in crock until pep melts into sauce, serve on good bread or rolls or even pasta.

        1. re: betsydiver

          the tomato sauce + pepperoni sounds fantastic! How long does it generally take? (not sure I could wait too long, since I'm a pepperoni junkie)... I think I'd have to melt some cheese on top to take it OVER the top!

      2. MG, take a look at this thread...Janniecooks' Thai-flavored Thighs are very very good...have made them a number of times, scroll down a bit plus there are other nice suggestions...with winter upon most of us (I'm in SWFlorida)...bean stews are fab in SC...catcherinthewheat gave you a very good link also!

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/590723

        1. I make chicken broth in it all the time, but if you are looking for actual dinners, I make a decent chili in it. If you don't have time to brown everything, it will still be good, just not as deep in flavour. Add a thickly sliced onion, a carrrot (diced), and a few celery stalks (diced) to the pot, very lean ground beef, a can of tomato puree, a can of kidney beans (rinsed), and a can of Navy beans (rinsed), ground cumin, ground chili powder, and either chipotles in adobo or sriracha for heat. Cook on low for 10 hours, and you should be good to go.

          1. Somebody gifted me the "Slow Cooker Revolution" cookbook, and the recipes in that have really helped me to appreciate my slow cooker a little more!

            You are right that it is difficult to find things that can be OK in the cooker for 10+ hours (I'm in the same boat). I actually use mine a lot more on the weekends. I make a lot of chili, have made lasagna, some soups, a pulled pork dish, and a few other things that aren't coming to mind at the moment.