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A Crock-Pot® slow cooker is a versatile kitchen tool. There are a number of Crock-Pot® dishes, including meat entrees, soups, stews, breakfast entrees, and casseroles. Desserts can also be made in a slow cooker. Many people use these recipes because they are so easy to prepare. Most recipes call for all ingredients to be placed in the slow cooker and left to cook for several hours, and do not require attention from the person making them.
There are several breakfast options that can be made in a Crock-Pot®. One of the easiest recipes is oatmeal. The ingredients for this type of oatmeal can be placed in the slow-cooker at bedtime and the hot cereal will be ready when a person wakes up.
Some of the most popular Crock-Pot® dishes feature meat. All different types of meats can be cooked in a Crock-Pot®, including poultry, beef, pork, and lamb. Using a slow cooker can turn an otherwise usually tough cut into a tender, juicy piece of meat. To keep it moist and keep it from burning, a liquid, such as water, chicken or beef broth, or wine, is usually added. A lot of people like to use their Crock-Pots® to prepare pot roasts with vegetables.
Soups also cook very well in a Crock-Pot®. The long cooking time gives the ingredients time to combine and develop a rich flavor. There are many soup recipes that have been modified for a slow cooker, such as cream of potato, vegetable, and chicken noodle soups.
Stews are popular Crock-Pot® dishes, especially in the winter. These hearty dishes are usually thicker than soup and contain a protein as well as vegetables and a rich sauce. There are even vegetarian stew recipes for the slow cooker, such as chili made without meat.
Casseroles are some of the easiest Crock-Pot® dishes to prepare. These recipes can be influenced by Mexican, Italian, Chinese, or American cuisine. The appeal of a casserole is the fact that a whole meal can be made in one pot. A slow cooker casserole is a good first recipe for someone new to cooking, as these dishes are very forgiving to any preparation mistakes.
Some people may be surprised to know that desserts can be made in a slow cooker. These Crock-Pot® dishes are a good alternative to dessert recipes that require heating up the stove. Cakes and puddings are two desserts that bake very nicely in a Crock-Pot®, and there are also several cobbler-style dessert recipes available.
Here's something my wife found out about cooking meat in a crock pot. Let's say you are cooking meat that will need to be shredded later -- pulled pork or something like that. Add about a teaspoon of vinegar to the crock pot and it will make that meat a lot easier to shred. Believe it or not, the vinegar doesn't affect the flavor much, either.
Here's a tip about how to protect the "crock" part of your Crock-Pot. Let that sucker cool before you run cold water over it. It is amazing how cold water hitting one of those unusually durable ceramic pots can crack the thing right and half.
At my house, we found that lesson out the hard way. They need at least 30 minutes to cool before you can wash them safely. They retain heat like crazy and do take a long time to cool. Believe it.
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