Slow Cookers For Dummies book cover

Slow Cookers For Dummies

By: Tom Lacalamita and Glenna Vance Published: 11-10-2000

The secret is out: That slow cooker that's been collecting dust in your kitchen cabinet is a wonderful and easy tool for making delicious entrees at the touch of a button. With new U.S. sales estimated at 6 million a year, more people are finding slow cookers indispensable in getting a home-cooked meal on the table. Besides tasting good, slow cooked meals are convenient and nutritious because you use fresh, wholesome ingredients.

Slow Cookers For Dummies is for working families, couples, single people, students, and anyone who is tired of takeout. Perhaps you love cooking but have little time to do it or want to decrease your reliance on prepared mixes or boxed convenience foods. Slow cooking may be right for you if you want to

  • Save money on food and utility bills
  • Control your sodium and fat intake
  • Free up your oven and cooktop for more holiday cooking
  • Take a hot dish to a potluck supper

If you already know how to use a slow cooker, the delicious recipes in this book can help you expand your repertoire beyond soups and stews. If you're thinking of getting a slow cooker, Slow Cookers For Dummies takes you from the basics of how these cookers work to preparing special occasion meals, to troubleshooting slow cooker problems.

Here's a closer look at what Slow Cookers For Dummies includes:

  • Guidelines on how to choose the right slow cooker for you
  • Techniques to help you slow-cook the right way
  • Easy recipes for snacks, beverages, chili, stews, and casseroles
  • Scrumptious recipes for roasting beef, pork, lamb, and poultry
  • How-to's on cooking and freezing in batches
  • Ways to adapt favorite traditionally cooked dishes for the slow cooker

In Slow Cookers for Dummies, food and appliance cooking experts Tom Lacalamita and Glenna Vance show that this classic cooking appliance is really a wonderful tool for making creative, delicious meals. With 75 recipes for making the most out of your slow cooker, you'll never put that slow cooker in your cabinet again.

Articles From Slow Cookers For Dummies

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24 results
Slow Cookers For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 01-31-2022

You can make easy and delicious meals in your slow cooker, with some helpful tips, you can even convert your favorite traditional recipes to the slow cooker. Make sure you use the slow cooker temperature guide to cook dishes thoroughly and convert temperatures, if necessary.

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Corned Beef and Cabbage in a Slow Cooker

Article / Updated 12-14-2020

Celebrate New Year's Day, St. Patrick’s Day, or any day you need some of the luck of the Irish with traditional corned beef and cabbage. Corned beef needs long, slow cooking for tenderness, but it's easy work with a slow cooker. In the morning, put everything in the pot, and you'll come home to a delicious, hot meal. Readily available in most supermarkets, corned beef is beef brisket that has been cured in a seasoned brine. Corned Beef and Cabbage in a Slow Cooker Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: Low 6 to 7 hours Yield: 8 servings 4 large all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices 2 carrots, scraped and sliced thin 3- to 4-pound thin-cut corned beef brisket 1 head of green cabbage (2 pounds), cut into 8 wedges 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns 1 bay leaf 1-1/2 cups water Lightly spray a 6-quart slow cooker with vegetable oil cooking spray. Layer the potato slices on the bottom of the slow cooker along with the carrots. Place the corned beef on top of the vegetables. Position the cabbage alongside the meat. Add the peppercorns, bay leaf, and water. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or until the meat and vegetables are fork-tender. Remove the meat and let it sit, covered, 15 minutes before slicing against the grain. Save any leftover corned beef for great sandwiches or chop it up and combine with potatoes and onions for hash.

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Finding a Slow Cooker That’s Right for You

Article / Updated 03-09-2017

A slow cooker is truly a pleasure to use. Manufacturers seem determined to outdo themselves in making slow cookers more user-friendly and convenient, so you have plenty of options when picking out a slow cooker: Shape: Slow cookers are available in two shapes: round and oval. The traditional round shape is perfect for making soups, chilis, and stews. The oval slow cooker can prepare larger pieces of food, such as whole chickens. Size: For convenience, slow cookers come in a wide variety of sizes ranging from 1-quart to 7-quart capacity. The most popular size units are the 4- and 6-quart versions. Heat-resistant glass cooking containers: Some new slow cookers have cooking containers made of heat-resistant glass that enables the user to brown over the stovetop and then continue cooking in the same container in the slow cooker. Nonstick coating: If you don’t want to have to spray your slow cooker’s container with vegetable oil cooking spray, get a slow cooker that has a nonstick coating on the cooking container. Divided container: You can find slow cookers that come with an inner pot that’s divided into two separate cooking compartments. This divided cooking system enables you to make two different dishes at the same time. Digital settings: You can now find some slow cookers with a digital display. With the simple push of a button, you can choose the cooking time and temperature you desire. Easy-transport innovations: You might want to get an attachment that anchors the lid to the base for trips in the car or an insulated carrying case.

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Tips for Cooking in a Slow Cooker

Video / Updated 03-28-2016

Discover tips on how to use a slow cooker the right way to create flavorful, one-pot meals. With this video, slow-cooker tips on browning meat, liberal seasoning, and keeping the lid on help you create easy, slow-cooked dishes.

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How a Slow Cooker Works

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

An authentic slow cooker is a simple, uncomplicated appliance with no moving parts. Even though you most likely know what a slow cooker looks like, this list breaks down the parts of every slow cooker: Transparent cover: Most slow cookers have a heavy glass lid, but some are plastic. Always cover the slow cooker when cooking, to retain heat. The clear lid lets you look in, eliminating possible heat loss from having to remove the lid. The heavy weight of the lid creates a tight seal. Highly glazed stoneware insert pot: In keeping with the original Rival Crock-Pot design, most true slow cookers have a removable, highly glazed, thick round or oval ceramic stoneware pot (called a crock). Wrap-around heating elements: The low wattage, wrap-around, electric heating elements are encased between the outer and inner metal housing and never make direct contact with the stoneware crock. Metal wrap-around housing: The base of the slow cooker is made up of a double-walled metal housing that contains the heating elements. Because the heating elements never make direct contact with the stoneware insert pot, there are no hot spots, eliminating the need for stirring. Variable controls: All slow cookers have dial controls on the front. They usually include off, low, high, and perhaps auto or keep warm.

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Greek Egg-Lemon Chicken Soup

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Egg-lemon chicken soup dates to the days of the ancient Greeks and is enjoyed around the Mediterranean. In traditional egg-lemon chicken soup, the egg adds body and silkiness, while the lemon adds a nice tang to the broth. Preparation time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 8 to 10 hours on Low, plus 25 minutes Yield: 6 servings 1 chicken (4 to 5 pounds) 4 chicken wings 1 clove garlic 1 large onion 2 carrots 2 stalks celery 1/2 bunch parsley 1 bay leaf 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns 1 chicken bouillon cube 4 quarts cold water 1/3 cup uncooked rice 3 large eggs 1 large lemon Salt Cut the chicken into quarters. Peel and crush the garlic. Peel the onion. Scrape the carrots and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Cut the celery into 1-inch pieces. Wash the parsley and tie it together with string. Place the chicken quarters, chicken wings, garlic, onion, carrots, celery, parsley, bay leaf, salt, peppercorns, and bouillon cube in a 6-quart slow cooker. Pour the water over the chicken and vegetables. Stir the ingredients together. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours, or until the chicken and vegetables are tender. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker with a slotted spoon. Skin and debone the chicken. You can cut the chicken into chunks and freeze it for later use. Remove the parsley and bay leaf, and discard. Pour the broth and vegetables through a fine mesh strainer. Press out as much liquid from the vegetables as possible. Discard the vegetables. Taste the broth and season with additional salt, if needed. Place 6 cups chicken broth in a pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower to a simmer. Add the rice and cover the pan. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Separate the eggs, placing the whites in a large mixing bowl and the yolks in a small bowl. Juice the lemon. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Add the egg yolks and beat until light. Gradually stir in the lemon juice. Slowly pour 2 cups of the simmering broth into the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Pour the beaten-egg mixture into the broth, stirring constantly. The constant stirring prevents the egg from curdling. Continue stirring for 1 minute. Adjust the seasoning with salt. Serve immediately. Per serving: Calories 101 (From fat 27); Fat 3g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 107mg; Sodium 751mg; Carbohydrate 10g (Dietary fiber 0g); Protein 7g.

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Apple Brown Betty

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Whoever Betty was, she must have been a creative, thrifty cook with some day-old bread, butter, and apples on hand. Apple Brown Betty transforms simple ingredients into a really cozy, homey dessert. Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours on High Yield: 6 servings 5 medium Granny Smith apples 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter 3 cups fresh white bread crumbs 1 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg Peel and core the apples. Cut the prepared apples into cubes. Lightly spray a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker with vegetable oil cooking spray. Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bread crumbs. Cook until lightly browned and toasted, stirring frequently. Remove immediately from the pan and place in a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Sprinkle 1/3 of the buttered crumbs in the slow cooker. You want to cover the bottom of the slow cooker with the crumbs. Cover with 1/2 the apples. Sprinkle the apples with another 1/3 of the crumbs. Repeat Steps 11 and 12. Cover and cook on high for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the apples are tender. Per serving: Calories 324 (From fat 81); Fat 9g (Saturated 5g); Cholesterol 22mg; Sodium 291mg; Carbohydrate 60g (Dietary fiber 3g); Protein 3g.

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How to Wash Your Hands Thoroughly

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Thoroughly washing hands is one of the most effective ways to prevent contamination. Although most people know that they should wash their hands well before handling food, many people don’t follow that safety guideline. Most germs and bacteria are passed from one person to another by hand contact. You shake hands with someone, or someone touches something you eat and — bingo — you wind up getting contaminated. Wash your hands well for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap before touching and preparing food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets. As logical as this may seem, not everyone takes the time to do so. Sure, people may wash their hands, but is it as thorough as it should be? Probably not. Take the test yourself. Set a kitchen timer for 20 seconds and begin washing your hands immediately. Doesn’t it feel like the longest 20 seconds of your life? If you don’t have a watch or clock close by, try this technique to ensure you wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds: Sing one slow round of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” which is about 20 seconds long. When you try this for the first few times, watch the clock as you sing so you can recognize the pace that it takes for a full 20 seconds to pass. Even though you wash your hands before preparing food, you must also wash them well after touching food and before moving on to another food. For example, if you handle raw chicken that has salmonella and then handle salad makings without washing your hands well, you most likely will contaminate the salad and ingest salmonella when you eat it, even though it will be killed off in the chicken when it is done cooking.

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Adapting Recipes for the Slow Cooker

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

You can adapt a lot of standard recipes to work in your slow cooker. Recipes that do work in the slow cooker do require some changes in relation to ingredients, the amount of liquids, and length of cooking: Vegetables: To ensure that vegetables of the same type cook evenly, cut them into uniform, equal-sized pieces. Quick-cooking vegetables can be added 20 to 30 minutes before the recipe has finished cooking. Dairy products: Milk and most dairy products tend to curdle in the slow-simmering slow cooker. Add them during the last 30 to 60 minutes of cooking. Pasta and rice: Uncooked pasta and rice become pasty and starchy in the slow cooker. Cook pasta and rice on the stove and then add them to the slow cooker a few minutes before serving, or add them uncooked 30 to 60 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Seafood: Fish and shellfish tend to overcook and fall apart in a slow cooker. Add them toward the end of the recipe, 30 to 60 minutes before the dish is done. Liquids: Use approximately half the liquid called for in the traditional version of the recipe. Because the slow cooker cooks covered at low heat, liquid doesn’t boil away as quickly. Cooking times: When looking for recipes to convert, choose those that take at least 45 minutes to 1 hour to make. These recipes usually contain ingredients that hold up well to long cooking times. Use the times listed in this table as a general rule when converting cooking times. Converting Cooking Times Traditional Recipe in Minutes Slow Cooker Low Setting in Hours Slow Cooker High Setting in Hours 45 6–10 3–4 50–60 8–10 4–5

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Chocolate Custard

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Creamier than traditional chocolate pudding, this chocolate custard is smooth on the tongue and rich in taste! Making chocolate custard in your slow cooker makes for a rich pudding experience. Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: High 2 to 2 1/2 hours Yield: 6 servings 2 cups water 2 cups milk 1 square unsweetened chocolate 3 large eggs 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed 1/8 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, or 1 teaspoon dark rum Bring the water to a bowl in a small saucepan. Place a metal cake rack or trivet in the slow cooker. Add the boiling water to the slow cooker. Heat the milk in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. When the milk begins to simmer, add the chocolate. Remove from heat and stir until the chocolate melts. In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Slowly add the hot milk, stirring constantly. Pour into a 1-quart baking dish. Cover the dish with foil. Place in the slow cooker on a trivet. Cover and cook on high for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the custard is set. Remove and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before serving. Per serving: Calories 130 (From fat 60); Fat 7g (Saturated 3g); Cholesterol 117mg; Sodium 123mg; Carbohydrate 13g (Dietary fiber 0g); Protein 6g.

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