All Entries For slow cookers
Using a slow cooker is like magic: pour in the ingredients, set the heat level, and then shift focus to your to do list, all the while your slow cooker does the heavy lifting. Chicken is one of my favorite ingredients to use in a slow cooker, since it’s a flavorful source of lean protein and it requires little effort to cook. These are some of SparkPeople’s favorite slow cooker chicken recipes.
Slow Cooker Marinara Chicken and Vegetables (Chef Meg's Makeover)
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Welcome in the new year with these winter slow cooker soup recipes. As a busy mother, wife and writer, I have to plan ahead if I’m going to achieve my health goals. When I utilize my slow cooker, I’m able to quickly and easily prepare family meals. These hearty soup recipes will warm you on a cold night and support you nutritionally too. Begin 2013 on a strong note with these soup recipes. Read More ›
School started last week, the family calendar is filling up, and it's already getting hard to prepare healthy dinners each night. One strategy I turn to when the going gets tough is to pull out the slow cooker. Each morning I throw in healthy ingredients and by dinner time there's a delicious homemade meal that the whole family loves. I often double the recipe so that we have leftovers and hot lunches for the whole week. Call on the convenience of your slow cooker and enjoy these SparkRecipes.
Slow Cooker Pork with Greens and Beans
Slow Cooker Provencal Chicken and Beans
Slow Cooker Vegetable Curry Read More ›
Who can pass up a moist and tender barbecue sandwich, pulled chicken simmered in a slow cooker until it's falling apart, or, my favorite, Kentucky Burgoo, with several tender cuts in one bowl.
These recipes, while quite different in ingredients, are all ideal for the slow cooker, and they yield the same fork-tender, falling-apart meat. What's the secret?
What do all three of these recipes have in common? What's the common thread?
Let's shift from the art of cooking to the science for a moment. That common thread is collagen, the connective tissue in meat.
We all know that meat is basically bundles of muscle cells, with fibers embedded within that allow the animal to move. Connective tissue connects cells and tissues within the meat, like support hose or an athletic bandage. As you move, the fabric stretches and moves with you, supporting your movement. As the animals grow the muscle bulks up and the connective tissue toughens, offering more support. Read More ›
Nothing makes me crazier than investing money and time in a recipe only for it to fail. Even chefs aren't immune to kitchen disasters. I took upon a challenge to come up with some simple recipes for cooking grains in the slow cooker. Well, after lots of testing, reading about how other people do it and talking to my "chef" friends, I've come to the conclusion that cooking plain rice or pasta all day long in the slow cooker is not a good idea.
But if you're a slow cooker lover, don't fret. Not all hope is lost. I was able to cook brown rice in the slow cooker using a "stalling method," and I found that oats and quinoa steam nicely in the slow cooker, too.
The slow cooker provides a moist environment for cooking. It's wonderful for simmering cheaper cuts of meats that have tough connective tissue; I love it for keeping warm mashed potatoes, and its genius for making soups that are waiting for you as you walk in the door after a long day.
That cozy, warm, moist environment is exactly what made it a bad choice for cooking whole grains. Brown long grain rice after three hours was sticky and clumpy--a real mess. Read More ›
You have just had a long hard day at work or school and thoughts of what to make for dinner overwhelm your brain. Suddenly you remember: "I put a stew in the slow cooker this morning. WooHoo!" As you enter your kitchen, you can smell the savory delight and hear the bubbling sound of juices. Dinner is ready.
To be a good slow cooker you first need to understand the equipment and just how that crock traps all the flavors and creates an amazing stew, soup, or even dessert. The crock pot simmers food for an extended period of time. Depending on the recipe, the dish may be ready in 4 hours or 10. Most slow cookers have three temperature settings: low, high, or keep warm. On average, most cookers run at 180 degrees F for low and 250 degrees F for high. A word of caution: Several studies have found that these numbers can vary as much as 40 degrees either way. Just remember that even if you're in a rush, you need to check the internal temperature of the food to ensure that the proteins are cooked to proper temperatures. Dark meat poultry should be cooked to 180 degrees, white meat poultry to 165, beef to 160, and pork, 145 degrees.
Easy clean-up is an added bonus with slow cooking. I always spray the inner liner with non-stick pan coating. Wait until the inner liner has cooled slightly before washing; the extreme change in temperature could cause it to break. When storing your slow cooker, leave the lid ajar to avoid a "funny" smell.
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