Although it may not sound like it, a slow cooker is designed to make your life easier. By preparing a meal in the morning or the evening, your slow cooker can do its work all day and night and when you wake up or get home from work, a piping hot lunch or dinner will be ready.
Slow Cooker Tips
Use cheaper and leaner pieces of chicken: Crock pots work best when the meat does not have a lot of fat on it. The chicken will cook quicker with fat on it and may then turn rubbery and will result in an unpleasant texture. Also, remove the skin from your chicken before cooking it. For best results, use leaner pieces of chicken like the breast which will not only save money, but when cooked for a long time, will result in a tender juicy piece of meat.
Place ingredients appropriately: You need to play close attention to the order in which you add the ingredients to the crock pot. Generally, vegetables cook slower than meat so they should be added first and to the bottom and then the meat added on top.
Cooking times: You can easily adapt your favorite oven or stove based chicken soup, stew, or sauce recipes to the slow cooker. You simply need to adjust the cooking times and decrease the amount of water by about 1/3 or 1/2 (unless you are preparing soup) as the water will not evaporate while cooking. If your recipe requires between 15 and 30 minutes on the stove or in the oven then it will cook in 4 to 6 hours (low setting) or 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours (high setting); 30 to 45 minutes translates to 6 to 8 hours (low) and 3 to 4 hours (high); 45 minutes to 3 hours will be 8 to 16 hours (low) or 4 to 6 hours (high).
Slow Cooker Chili Chicken Soup
Makes 8 servings
1 pound shredded, cooked chicken
1-15 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1-10 ounce can enchilada sauce
1 onion, diced
1-4 ounce can green chile peppers, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups water
1-14 1/2 ounce can low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1-10 ounce package frozen peas
7 soft corn tortillas, cut into strips
1/2 cup sour cream
1. Combine chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chiles, and garlic to crock pot; add water and broth and sprinkle with cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and bay leaf; stir in corn and cover with lid.
2. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours.
3. When ready to serve, preheat oven to 200 degrees F and brush a baking sheet with oil. Place tortilla strips on baking sheet and bake 10 to 15 minutes or until crispy.
4. Top soup with sour cream and tortilla strips.
Makes 4 servings
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon canola oil
1-16 ounce jar Alfredo sauce
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1 cup frozen snap peas, thawed
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 pounds fettuccine, cooked
1. Quickly brown chicken in 1 tablespoon canola oil then place in slow cooker.
2. Combine Alfredo sauce, corn, peas, mushrooms, onion, water, garlic salt, and pepper in slow cooker; place lid on and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours. Serve over fettuccine.
Crock Pot Barbecue Chicken
Makes 6 servings
2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast
1-15 ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
6 round burger buns
1. Combine chicken, tomatoes, onion, water, chili powder, salt, pepper, ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire, garlic, and Tabasco in slow cooker. Place lid on and cook 5 to 6 hours on low or 2 to 3 hours on high.
2. Spoon chicken on buns and serve.