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Updated Jun 4, 2012 - 9:35 pm

Mother’s Day meals made easy

Men may feel pressure after they realize they are
responsible for making all three meals for Mother’s
Day. But dads need not fear. Below are some fool-proof
slow-cooker recipes from Karen Petersen’s “365 Days
of Slow-Cooking” (Covenant Communications, $25.99)
that will take the stress off of creating great meals for
the women they love.

*****

Breakfast: Waffle and Sausage Breakfast

1/2 pound bulk breakfast sausage, browned and drained

4 waffles, toasted and cubed

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

3/4 cup evaporated milk

4 ounce cream cheese

3 eggs

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

Maple syrup

1. In a slow-cooker, layer sausage, waffle cubes, and
cheese.

2. In a skillet, heat milk and cream cheese over low heat
until cheese melts

and mixture is smooth.

3. Remove skillet from heat; beat in the eggs, one at a
time, until smooth.

Stir in the dry mustard.

4. Pour contents of skillet into the slow-cooker.

5. Cover and cook on low for about 4–5 hours or
until eggs are set.

6. Serve with warmed maple syrup.

Makes 4–5 servings.

— “365 Days of Slow-Cooking,” by Karen Petersen

*****

Lunch: Pulled Pork Tacos

2 cups salsa, plus more for serving

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

21/2-pounds boneless pork butt or shoulder roast, trimmed
of fat

Corn or flour tortillas

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

3/4 cup sour cream

1 lime, cut into wedges

1. In a slow-cooker, combine the salsa, chili powder,
oregano, cocoa, and salt. Add the pork and turn to coat.

2. Cover and cook on low for 6–8 hours. Meat should
be very tender and should pull apart easily.

3. Using two forks, shred the pork and stir into the
cooking liquid.

4. Serve with tortillas, cilantro, sour cream, lime, and
extra salsa.

Makes 6 servings.

— “365 Days of Slow-Cooking,” by Karen Petersen

*****

Dinner: Chicken Parmigiana

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup dry bread crumbs

1–2 tablespoons canola oil

1 16-ounce can pizza sauce

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Hot, cooked pasta

1. Dip chicken into beaten egg; sprinkle with salt and
pepper. Roll in bread crumbs.

2. In a skillet, heat oil on medium heat; brown chicken on
each side for about 2 minutes.

3. Place chicken in slow-cooker. Pour pizza sauce over the
top. Sprinkle with cheese.

4. Cover and cook on low for 3–5 hours.

5. Serve chicken and sauce over pasta.

Makes 6 servings.

— “365 Days of Slow-Cooking,” by Karen Petersen

*****

Dinner Side: Parmesan Potatoes

2 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

Black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Layer potatoes, onion, oregano, salt, pepper, and
butter in slow-cooker.

2. Cover and cook on low for 3–5 hours.

3. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

— “365 Days of Slow-Cooking,” by Karen Petersen

*****

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup flour

3 tablespoons cocoa

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons melted butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

1 3/4 cup boiling water

Vanilla ice cream

1. In a medium bowl, mix 1 cup brown sugar, flour, 3
tablespoons cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Stir in milk,
butter, and vanilla; beat until smooth. Spread over the
bottom of greased slow-cooker.

2. In a small bowl, mix 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup
cocoa. Sprinkle over mixture in slow-cooker.

3. Pour boiling water over batter. Do not stir.

4. Cover and cook on high for 2–3 hours, or until a
toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

5. Serve sauce and cake warm with vanilla ice cream.

Makes 8 servings

— “365 Days of Slow-Cooking,” by Karen Petersen

Tips for using a slow-cooker

How it works

• The slow cooker uses an indirect heat and
doesn’t scorch! You don’t need to stir, unless
the recipe specifically states to do so.

• Don’t lift the lid (especially for the first
2 hours). Every time the lid is lifted the built up steam
escapes and it adds 20 to 30 minutes to the cook time.

• The slow cooker uses moist heat to cook the food
and is best for less tender cuts of meat. Look for cuts of
meat with lots of connective tissue. The simmering and
steam converts the collagen to gelatin and food becomes
fork tender.

• Look for inexpensive cuts of meat. No need to buy
the more expensive cuts. Some great cuts of meat for the
slow cooker are:

– Chicken on the bone or boneless, skinless chicken thighs
(chicken should only cook on LOW for 4-6 hours total). If
you end up using boneless, skinless breasts (which I
don’t recommend) be very careful on the cook time (3
or 4 hours). They don’t have enough collagen or fat
and they dry out quickly.

– For beef look on the label look for the words “pot
roast” or “simmering.” Most cuts work
from the chuck or shoulder: boneless beef chuck eye (or
just chuck) roast, top or bottom blade pot roast, cross
rib pot roast. You can also use brisket, short rib, or
lean ground beef. Many recipes call for stew meat. I
prefer to make my own. Not only does it save money but you
ensure that the meat is all from the same cut and so it
cooks evenly. My favorite is using a chuck roast and
cutting it into 1-inch cubes.

– For cuts of pork look for country style ribs, picnic
roast, shoulder blade (butt) roasts or pork steaks

Reducing fat

• If you want to reduce grease and fat make sure to
trim any fat from meat before adding it to the slow
cooker.

• Brown any meat and drain grease beforehand.

• If cooking meat with high fat content, place thick
onion slices underneath so the meat will not sit on (and
cook in) the fat or use a small rack that fits inside your
cooker.

• Let food rest at the end of cook time without the
lid for 10 minutes. Spoon off any grease that raises to
the top.

Food becomes runny

There is no chance for liquids to condense in the slow
cooker. Condensation constantly drips onto the food and
makes it more runny. Some ways to thicken sauces are:

• Remove lid and cook on HIGH for the last half hour
of cooking time.

• Add in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed until
smooth with 1 tablespoonof water and cook on HIGH without
the lid for 30 minutes or so.

• Add 1-2 tablespoon of quick cooking tapioca in with
the sauce at the beginning of the cook time. • Dredge
any meat in a quarter cup of flour before adding it to the
slow cooker.

• Lastly, you can make a roux on the stove or you can
transfer the liquid to a saucepan and reduce it on the
stovetop.

• Flavors become bland and muted after cooking all
day. Make sure to salt and pepper to taste and add in
additional spices to taste before serving!

When picking a slow cooker consider the following:

• Oval slow cooker cook more evenly and can
fit odd size cuts of meat.

• Buy one with a removable insert to make clean up a
cinch.

• If you’re going to be out of the house buy a
slow cooker with a timer that can automatically switch to
warm after the cook time is up.

• Buy a slow cooker according to the size of your
family. The crock should be at least half filled for best
results. When cooking soups or stews, leave a 2-inch space
between the top of the crock and the food so that the
recipe can come to a simmer.

— For a family of 2-3, buy a 2-4-quart

— For a family of 3-5, a 5-6-quart

— For a large family, or for entertaining groups of
people, opt for a 7-8 quart slow cooker

• If you only own a very large slow cooker and are
cooking for a small group simply place the food into an
oven safe dish that fits inside your slow cooker. Place
the dish on the bottom of the slow cooker and cover and
cook. This will ensure that the food cooks the way it is
supposed to. Care of/Cleaning

• Simply fill the cooled slow cooker insert
with warm, soapy water and let soak Clean with a soft rag.
Don’t use an abrasive cleaner or a metal pad, it
will scratch the surface.

• If you have stains on your slow cooker simply fill
up the slow cooker with water and add in 1 cup of white
vinegar. Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 hours.

• The ceramic insert in a slow cooker can crack if
exposed abrupt temperature shifts. Make sure it is cooled
before placing it in a cold sink. Don’t put your
slow cooker on top of the stovetop or in the microwave.
Read your slow cooker manual to see if it is microwave
safe.

• Spray the inside of the slow cooker with nonstick
cooking spray to make cleanup easier. Or, for easier
cleanup, use slow cooker liners.

Get to know your slow cooker

• Every slow cooker cooks differently! Get to
know your slow cooker and how to adjust the recipe cook
times according to how fast/slow your cooker cooks.

• If you want to test to see if your slow cooker is
cooking too hot this is how you do it:

• Fill your slow cooker 2/3 full with room
temperature water.

• Cover and cook on HIGH or LOW for 6 hours. (Some
cookers run hotter on low and some cookers run hotter on
high, so you many want to test both settings).

• Use a thermometer at the end of the 6 hours. The
water should be 195 – 205 degrees. It is much higher
(or lower) than that you will have to adjust the recipe
cook times to fit your slow cooker.

Foil Collar and Foil Sling

• Most slow cookers have a hotter side that can cause
casseroles and other dense dishes like meatloaves to burn.
Line with a foil collar: Layer and fold sheets of heavy
duty foil until you have a six layered foil rectangle.
Press the collar into the back side of the slow cooker
insert; the food will help hold the collar in place during
cooking.

• For recipes that you want to lift out of the insert
intact, like lasagnas, breakfast casseroles, meatloaves,
some desserts make a foil sling. Line the slow cooker
insert with a foil collar. Then fit two large sheets of
foil into the slow cooker, perpendicular to one another,
with the extra hanging over the edges of the cooker
insert. Before serving, these overhanging edges can be
used as handles to pull the dish out fully intact.

— Karen Petersen

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