Most people think of slow cookers or crock pots as more of a kitchen tool for the winter to stir up comfort foods like stew, but these appliances are actually great to use during the summer so you don’t have to use the oven and create even more heat in your house. Slow cookers generate a lot less heat, and are more efficient in that they keep the heat better contained than an oven. Slow cookers also come with the added bonus of being able to start your dinner in the morning or afternoon, and have it ready by the time you are back from work or the pool. For best results when cooking, make sure to resist peeking at your food or stirring it more than necessary by keeping the lid on your slow cooker for the full amount of time so that the food can cook properly. Take your slow cooker out, prepare some of these meals or sides in advance, and enjoy a cooler kitchen!
Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken and dumplings are a comfort dish that is sure to please all palates, and is even better on a cooler rainy day!
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 packages refrigerated biscuit dough, torn into pieces
- 2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup
Put the chicken, butter, soup, and onion in the slow cooker, and fill the slow cooker with enough water to cover the ingredients. Cover and cook for 5-6 hours on high. About 30 minutes before serving, add the ripped dough pieces to the mixture in the slow cooker, and cook until the dough pieces are cooked through in the center.
A summertime classic and what is sur eto be a hit with the whole family, serve this pulled pork on hamburger rolls or kaiser rolls. Try using your favorite flavor of Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce for an even more mouthatering meal!
- 2 yellow onions, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 4.5-5lb boneless or bone-in pork shoulder (also known as pork butt), twine removed
- 2 cups barbecue sauce (optional)
Arrange onions and garlic in an even layer at the bottom of the slow cooker, and pour in stock or broth. In a small bowl, mix sugar, chili powder, salt, cumin, and cinnamon. Take the piece of pork and pat it dry with paper towels, and then rub the spice mixture over the pork. Place the pork in the slow cooker on top of the onions and garlic. Cover and cook until the pork is tender – about 6-8 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low. Then, strain out the liquid from the slow cooker, and put the pork on a cutting board. Remove the bone if the piece has one, and then use two forks to shred the meat into bite-sized pieces. Throw away any large pieces of fat. Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker and add barbecue sauce. Mix to combine, and add any additional salt to taste if necessary.
Rich and Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
Make more than just easy mac if you have a crowd coming over - try this tasty and super cheesy mac and cheese that won't require any baking or house-heating.
- 3 cups elbow macaroni
- 1 lb Velveeta, cut into cubes
- 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
- 2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
- 1 3/4 cups milk
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 3 eggs, slightly beaten
- 3/4 cup butter, melted
Cook macaroni according to the directions on the box, and drain. Put the macaroni in a slow cooker, and add all of the other ingredients. Stir them together slightly, then cover and cook for 2-3 hours or until the mix reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Stewed Cinnamon Apples
Make these soft cinnamon apples as a special dessert, or even as a side with dinner. You can even go the next step and use them as a start for an apple crisp!
- 4 medium Granny Smith apples, sliced and peeled
- 4 medium Braeburn apples, sliced and peeled
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup apple cider
Spray the bottom and sides of a 5- or 6-court slow cooker with cooking spray, then pour in the apples, butter, and lemon juice. Mix them together, then add brown sugar and cinnamon and toss the mixture together to coat the apples. Pour the cider over the apples, and cook on low for 3 hours and 30 minutes, or until apples are soft.