Time-Saving Slow Cookers

From p. 64 of the November/December 2007 Issue
of Simple & Delicious

Sausage Pasta Stew Recipe

Sausage Pasta Stew Recipe

These recipes offer a variety of uses for your slow cooker. From dips to stews—even a cake recipe—you're sure to find one that pleases everyone. And below, find more ideas in Slow Cooker Tips.

Hot Bacon Cheese Dip

"This thick dip has lots of bacon flavor and keeps my guests happily munching before dinner," says Suzanne Whitaker of Knoxville, Tennessee. "I serve it with tortilla chips or sliced French bread."

Sausage Pasta Stew

"I rely on my slow cooker to prepare this chili-like specialty," says Sarah Bowen of Upland, California. "It's packed with turkey sausage, pasta and vegetables."

Slow Cooker Barbecue Beef

"This is so popular at summer gatherings. The tender meat is slow-cooked in a savory sauce that includes tomato paste, brown sugar, molasses and chili powder," shares Colleen Nelson from Mandan, North Dakota.

Southwestern Pulled Pork

Bottled barbecue sauce, canned green chilies and a few other kitchen staples make preparation fast and easy. "We like to wrap the seasoned pork in flour tortillas," says Jill Hartung of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Butterscotch Apple Crisp

"Sliced apples are sprinkled with a tasty topping made with oats, brown sugar and butterscotch pudding mix," explains Jolanthe Erb of Harrisonburg, Virginia. "Served with ice cream, the sauce dessert is always well received."

Hot Fudge Cake

A cake baked in a slow cooker may seem unusual. But chocolaty smiles around the table prove how tasty this cake is. "Sometimes, for a change of pace, I substitute butterscotch chips for chocolate," says Marleen Adkins of Placentia, California.

Slow Cooker Tips

  • We feed a lot of people at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, so my sisters and I always set up a big buffet on the kitchen counter. We put each side dish in a slow cooker (mashed potatoes, scalloped corn, squash, gravy and so forth) to keep everything warm. Guests bring the breads, rolls, salads and pies. If someone arrives late, they still can have a hot delicious meal. —Marla C., Smyrna, New York
  • Slow cookers vary, so refer to the instruction manual provided by the manufacturer first. But in general, set your slow cooker at 200° for the "low" setting and 300° for the "high" setting. —Test Kitchen
  • I put leftover Thanksgiving turkey in a slow cooker and add some minced garlic, barbecue sauce and a dash of hot sauce. When it's heated through, I serve the meat on warmed hamburger buns. My family looks forward to these sandwiches every year. —Stacy A., Twin Falls, Idaho
  • I use a clean milk crate to transport my slow cooker to potlucks. I line the crate with a towel, take the cover off the slow cooker and put foil over it. I set the cooker in the crate with my serving utensil. The crate keeps the pot from tipping and catches any drips. And when I leave, I don't have to look for my lid! —Helen P., Horseheads, New York
  • The slow cooker should be filled at least half full, but never more than three-fourths full. Unless the recipe instructs you to stir in or add ingredients, refrain from lifting the lid while the slow cooker is cooking. The loss of steam can mean an additional 15 to 30 minutes of cooking each time you lift the lid. Be sure the lid is sealed properly—not tilted or askew. The steam creates a seal. Remove food from the slow cooker within 1 hour after it's finished cooking. Promptly refrigerate leftovers. —Test Kitchen
  • To add flavor and richness to my beef stew when I make it in the slow cooker, I stir in a can of tomato soup right at the start of cooking. —Carol F., Landers, California
  • When entertaining, I like to prepare a boneless ham in my slow cooker. I drizzle honey and pineapple juice over the ham before piercing it with some whole cloves. Then I cook it on low for 6-8 hours or until it's done. The results are always juicy and delicious, and I have plenty of time to tend to other things. —Vicki W., Camden, Tennessee
  • When you are preparing mashed potatoes for a crowd, mash them an hour or two ahead of time, then put them in a slow cooker on low. They'll stay piping hot until serving time. —Rachel K., Lewisburg, Pennsylvania