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Stay Cool in the Summer With Crock-Pot Cooking

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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

slow-cooker-summer-cooking

When the temperature is up, we need to go low. Low and slow cooking. Yes, we can grill outdoors (unless, like me, you happen to live in an area where the air-quality index is so bad that all outdoor burning is banned).

And that is where the crock pot comes to the rescue. You probably use your crock pot for slow-simmering winter soups and stews. But have you thought of using it in place of your oven during the summer? I have some recipe ideas to get you started.

Recipes Included in This Article (Yes, All of These Are Cooked in a Crock Pot)

  • baked potatoes
  • meatloaf
  • spaghetti
  • roast chicken
  • lasagna
  • enchilada quinoa bake
  • cheesy chicken, bacon, and tater tot bake
  • honey garlic chicken and veggies
slow-cooker-summer-cooking

Baked Potatoes

First allow me to make a brief disclaimer. I know that baked potatoes should not be cooked in foil. However, today it is 96 degrees outside and the air is so full of particles from forest fires that our indoor smoke detector has gone off four times. Sometimes a gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do.

Ingredients

  • 4 to 6 russet potatoes
  • olive oil
  • aluminum foil
  • toppings of your choice (suggestions follow)

Directions

  1. Scrub the potatoes with a stiff vegetable brush and then dry thoroughly.
  2. For each potato, tear off a square of foil large enough to enclose it completely.
  3. Poke each potato several times with a fork. Place in the center of the foil, and then drizzle with oil.
  4. Wrap the potato in the foil (make sure it is completely covered) and then place in the crock pot. Don't add water!
  5. Cover and cook on low 8 hours (or on high 4-5 hours). Remove from the crock pot and carefully unwrap (it will be hot).

Suggested toppings:

  • canned (or leftover homemade) chili con carne, grated cheese
  • spaghetti sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni
  • crumbled cooked bacon (you can cook it in the microwave on a plate in a single layer, 1 minute per strip, covered with 2 paper towels)
  • For more ideas check out my article on turning your baked potato into a meal.

Slow-Cooker Meatloaf

Melissa is the creator of the blog Number-2-Pencil and has devised a method for baking a meatloaf in the crock pot. The low-temperature insures that it cooks thoroughly but does not dry out. This has been a life-saver for me.

Crock Pot Spaghetti

Sarah made spaghetti in her crock pot, and says it tastes even better than the "traditional" way because the pasta simmers in the sauce and soaks up all of those wonderful flavors.

Be warned, this not a "dump in the pot and forget all day" type of crock pot dish. It does require some stirring, especially in the last hour, but it you can keep the heat in a little cooker rather than filling your life with the steam from a large pot of boiling water, I think that's a winner.

slow-cooker-summer-cooking

Read More From Delishably

Slow Cooker "Roast" Chicken

Ingredients

  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 (5 lb.) chicken
  • 3 teaspoons kosher (not table) salt
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Spray inside of slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Pat chicken dry with paper towels.
  3. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients except chicken.
  4. Rub chicken thoroughly with the mixture, including inside cavity.
  5. Place chicken in slow cooker.
  6. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. DO NOT ADD WATER.

Stuffed Peppers

Do a Google search for crock pot stuffed peppers and you will be amazed at the number of hits. (I tried and got 3,780,000). But, most of them begin with "Boil water and simmer rice until cooked...."

The reason I want to use my crock pot is to get away from using the stove. A few minutes of sauteing ground turkey or beef is OK (especially if I can do it early in the morning), but standing over a pot tending rice is not my cup of fun on a hot summer day.

This paleo recipe for Sausage Stuffed Peppers solves that problem. Cauliflower rice stands in for the traditional white or brown rice, and it absorbs all of those wonderful flavors too.

Slow-Cooker Lasagna

Ali provided this recipe for lasagna on her blog GimmeSomeOven. It's a fabulous, well-organized website with tons of recipes, all beautifully photographed and with detailed instructions.

On this particular recipe note that one reviewer had a problem with cooking for the full 8 hours on low; she said that her lasagna burned a bit at the edges. Another reviewer asked if it was necessary to use no-boil noodles in this recipe. One comment said that regular noodles actually result in a more al dente (traditional) texture. I have not tried this recipe yet so cannot provide any advice.

Enchilada Quinoa Bake

Jaclyn is the creator of CookingClassy, and devised this meal-in-a-dish enchilada bake that is colorful, full of flavor, and can simmer all day but keep you and your kitchen cool. Garnish with fresh cilantro, sour cream, and diced avocado for added flavor and texture.

Cheesy Chicken Bacon and Tater Tot Bake

This recipe is almost a complete meal in a dish and only takes a few minutes to toss together. Frozen tater tots are layered with diced raw chicken breasts, cheese, and crisp crumbled cooked bacon to make a tasty meal that can be ready in 3 hours. Just toss a salad or slice some fresh vegetables to have on the side. Thanks to RealHouseMoms.com for the great idea!

Honey Garlic Chicken and Veggies

Chungah uses simple, fresh ingredients to make amazing-tasting meals for friends and family. This chicken dish is flavored with honey and garlic; potatoes and vegetables simmer in the same pot so your entire meal is done at once.

Do You Need a New Crock Pot? Here's How to Select the Best One

  • Look for a cooker large enough to use for casseroles or whole chickens. Six- to 7-quart is ideal.
  • Expensive is not necessarily better. Look for a slow-cooker with controls that are easy to understand.
  • Consider that small, hard to grasp handles might pose a burn risk if they are set too close to the hot rim. Larger handles that are easy to grasp are a wise choice.
  • Glass or clear plastic lids are preferable so that you can see your food without removing the lid.
  • My personal preference is a cooker that is dishwasher safe.

© 2017 Linda Lum

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