Disclaimer: I will be talking about specific brands and products in this blog post. I did not seek permission from these companies to mention their brands, however all opinions are my own. The pictures were simply taken from a google images search and the images belong to the company represented, not to me.
Let me start out by saying I adore my slow cooker. I use it at least once a week, often more than that. I would say the major reason why I love it so much is because I'm lazy. I love being able to throw a few ingredients together before work and have a meal ready to eat when I come home in the evening. Now I don't claim to be a great cook, in fact I know I'm just slightly better than mediocre. Fortunately my husband will eat just about anything and call it delicious. So I open a couple of cans of this and that, throw in some spices and add some meat and tada! I've got myself a meal.
I've asked around a few of my friends and found that almost everyone has a slow cooker but the problem is they don't really know what to do with it. So it sits in a cabinet, collecting dust, and my friends instead cook a full meal every night. Come on! Break that baby out, dust it off and start slow cooking! (And if you are one of the few who doesn't have one, I just checked walmart.com and they have a nice 6-quart one for only $30. Trust me, it is well worth it.) The next most important thing you can get is your Reynold's liners:
The greatest part about slow cooking is you can get really creative with recipes. I like to look up regular baking recipes online or in cook books and then just put it in the slow cooker. As far as my experience has gone, if it fits in the cooker and doesn't require too much liquid, it will cook up just fine. Soups, of course, being the exception. You don't want to add a lot of liquid to your recipes because slow cooking releases liquids from foods anyway. Example: if I'm feeling really lazy but know that I want some spaghetti, I'll put the frozen ground beef (extra lean because you won't be able to strain the grease out) and a jar of pasta sauce in the cooker all day. Then just boil up some noodles, toss it all together and serve. The general cooking time for frozen meats is about 8-10 hours on low. I don't advise cooking frozen meats on high because they don't turn out too well. If your meat is defrosted, you can cook it 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high. Basically until it looks done.
I recently discovered some new slow cooker sauces from Campbell's:
One thing I have not been successful with is baking desserts in the slow cooker. I found a recipe for peanut butter brownies that sounded amazing. Basically it involved a packet of peanut butter cookie mix and brownie mix and all the wet ingredients. They just didn't blend properly I think. I don't really know what the problem was but they turned into a gloppy mess. Maybe too many wet ingredients? Like I said, too much liquid in slow cooker recipes is a bad idea. So if anyone's been successful with that, I'd love to hear their tips. My next project I'm going to try is a flaky pastry with a Brie cheese wheel. Somehow this is supposed to be good in the slow cooker, but I am uncertain. We'll see how it turns out! Except I don't have any occasion to make this for and I don't want to be eating an entire wheel of cheese by myself...though god knows I could probably do it!
So, am I making you hungry yet?