On your mark, grab the slow cooker and let it do the cooking.
Most folks are time-starved. I hear friends and acquaintances say, "I don't have time to cook." That's where the slow cooker comes to the rescue. Most slow-cooker recipes require no more than 10 minutes of preparation time. The slow cooker does the rest.
Last week, I had a sick grandbaby and didn't have time to spend in the kitchen. I put a jar of salsa, a package of taco seasoning mix, cilantro and onion in the bottom of a slow cooker. I added two large chicken breasts that had been seasoned with garlic powder, freshly ground black pepper and a little salt -- not much because the taco seasoning and salsa contain salt. I plopped on the lid and let the meat cook for four hours on high. When done, I shredded the chicken and mixed with the sauce. The chicken makes great tostados, tacos, salads or burritos.
The first night, I made tostados; the leftovers became spicy chicken with Spanish rice and refried beans and flour tortillas on the side. My daughter made a burrito with hers.
Four readers, including Dawn Adams who requested pear cake recipes, have sent in their favorite slow-cooker recipes. It will take a couple of columns to publish the recipes. With all these ideas, there is no reason not to have a hot evening meal.
"You asked for slow-cooker recipes. A good friend mailed me a great new cookbook called 'In A While, Crocodile: New Orleans Slow Cooker Recipes,'" Adams said. "I've tried this recipe, and it is easy breezy and delicious."
PONTALBA PORK CHOPS
1 (14-ounce) bag of herb-seasoned stuffing (I use Pepperidge Farm or Stove Top)
4 boneless pork chops
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup butter, cubed
Grease the slow cooker.
Spread a thin layer of stuffing (1/3) along the bottom of the slow cooker. Place two pork chops side by side on top of the stuffing. Add another layer of stuffing, (1/3) then add the remaining pork chops. Top with remaining stuffing.
Evenly pour the chicken broth over the top layer of stuffing and top with cubes of butter.
Cook on low heat for 3 to 4 hours or until stuffing forms a crust and the center of the pork chop turns white.
-- Submitted by Dawn Adams from "In A While, Crocodile: New Orleans Slow Cooker Recipes"
Retired Lt. Col. Robert Petersen sent two easy-does-it recipes.
"Here's two our family has used for years, both excellent, although I admit they don't sound that good. Try them, you'll love 'em!" Petersen said.
CHICKEN LICKIN' GOOD PORK CHOPS
5-6 center cut or mixed cuts of pork chops, but not pork steak
1 can undiluted chicken and rice soup (chicken noodle, chicken noodle Os, or any kind of chicken broth soup, normal sized can; chicken/rice preferred)
Coat pork chops in 12 cup flour seasoned with 12 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon salt and 2
teaspoons dry mustard powder.
Heat vegetable oil in skillet until hot. Coat pork chops with flour and sear outside quickly in oil (may put flour, etc., in large closed top plastic bag and shake to coat).
Once browned, place pork chops in slow cooker. Add undiluted soup. Do not stir. Cook on slow cook setting all day.
-- Submitted by Robert Petersen
MOM'S SLOW-COOKER CHUCK ROAST
1 (4-5 pound) chuck roast (it must be chuck roast; do not substitute)
2 tablespoons cooking oil (we use olive)
1 envelope dried onion soup mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Fresh ground black pepper
Sear all sides of roast in oil and then place roast in slow cooker. Shake well and sprinkle 1/2 (no more, as it gets too salty) of package of dried onion soup mix over top of roast. Spread, like icing, entire undiluted can of mushroom soup on top of roast. Replace lid and cook for 8 hours on low heat in slow cooker.
When ready to serve, scrape remaining soup off roast, carefully take roast out of pot (it will be very
tender and falling apart; taking out in sections is fine).
Pour all liquid and "roast goodies" into bowl and whisk together to incorporate soup into mix. Serve as wonderful gravy for roast and suggested mashed potatoes for dinner.
-- Submitted by Robert Petersen
"You mentioned in the Bradenton Herald Aug. 17 that you are looking for slow-cooker recipes. The following one is so simple and sooo good," said Bobbie Altschul of Palmetto, Fla.
"We like this chili with cornbread instead of crackers, but crackers work well also," Altschul said.
4 chicken breasts
1 (48-ounce) jar Northern beans
1 (24-ounce) jar salsa
1 cup shredded cheese
Put thawed breasts at bottom of slow cooker. Cover with jar of beans and jar of salsa. Cook on high 6 to 8 hours.
Remove chicken from the mixture and shred it and return it to the pot. I add water if the chili is too thick. Before serving, add cheese.
-- Submitted by Bobie Altschul
Nedra Baldwin of Biloxi sent several recipes for readers to try. I will share three of them today and more next week because they are all good ones.
Baldwin's recipes come from variety of sources. Two of the recipes Baldwin got off of notepads ordered in a Current catalog, the other from a flyer in her Mississippi Power bill. She is a true recipe collector.
1 pound lean ground beef, browned
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 cups frozen shredded hash browns
1 (16-ounce) jar Alfredo sauce
Crumble beef in slow cooker. Sprinkle with onion. Add hash browns and sauce; mix together. Cover; cook on low for 8 hours. Makes 4 servings. Serve with mixed vegetables and sliced tomatoes.
-- Submitted by Nedra Baldwin from Current catalog
OVERNIGHT HAM AND BEANS
1 pound prepared pinto or great Northern beans (see note)
3 pounds ham end or used leftover ham
1 onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
Place all ingredients in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 18 hours. Remove bay leaf, and if using ham end, cut up and stir into the bean mixture. Serve with cornbread.
Note: A "hurry up" way to prepare beans: Cover beans with water. Bring to a boil, and boil approximately 15 minutes. Add 1- 1/2 tablespoons baking soda. Let soak at least 2 hours. Rinse and cook, as above.
-- Submitted by Nedra Baldwin from Current catalog
ZESTY SLOW COOKER BARBECUE CHICKEN
6 frozen skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 (12-ounce) bottle barbecue sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Place chicken in a slow cooker. In a bowl, mix the barbecue sauce, Italian salad dressing, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the chicken. Cover and cook 3 to 4 hours on high or 6 to 8 hours on low.
-- Submitted by Nedra Baldwin from Mississippi Power Co.
Norma Shiero of Parrish, Fla., sent in several favorite recipes for readers to try. I will share her pepper relish one today and more next week that she sent for readers who asked for canning recipes. She also has a couple of requests for her fellow readers.
"Someone asked for canning recipes and freezing ones," Shiero said. "I always used 'The Ball Blue Book of Canning.' It also has freezing recipes for jam. I use Sure-Jell and make the frozen strawberry recipe on the Sure-Jell box."
Grind: 16 green peppers. Use a few red for color. 16 onions and 16 cucumbers.
Leave 4 hours or overnight in bowl with1/4 cup salt.
Drain and add these ingredients:
Simmer 5-8 cups sugar, 1 pint vinegar, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon celery seed and 1 teaspoon mustard seed.
Heat through good until very hot. Keep stirring. Do not let it boil much.
Put in hot pint jars. Put hot lids and rings on. (I put lids and rings on stove to boil.) Turn the filled jars upside down to cool.
-- Submitted by Norma Shiero
Now, Shiero needs readers' help.
"I was wondering if anyone has a banana cookie recipe," she said. "I am tired of banana bread and muffins. Also I would like a zucchini cookie recipe."
FYI, Shiero has a great pineapple zucchini bread to share with readers next week.
"Can anyone tell me how to fix the grilled chicken that Cracker Barrel has on its country plate?" she asked. "It is sliced. Someone told me to use Italian dressing and honey, but it doesn't taste the same."
OK, readers, please send in recipes for banana cookies, zucchini cookies and Cracker Barrel grilled chicken. Let's see what you can find for Shiero.
Pear cake request
"I am so grateful for the pear cake recipe," Dawn Adams said. "Mine also had a glaze, so this you shared may be the recipe I lost. Once I make it, I'll be able to tell."
Readers, in case the Aug. 17 pear cake recipe wasn't the right one, please send in your pear cake recipes. I know some of you make these cakes.
Andrea Yeager, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and takes contributions or requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.