Get (Slow) Cookin’!

Did you know January is dubbed National Slow Cooker Month? Slow cookers are beloved by many families around the world, especially during winter months. Their typically low preparation times can leave you with more time to spend with family. Whether it’s starting a recipe before you leave for work or using the slow cooker for to prepare for a party, it can be as simple as dumping all the ingredients in and pressing a button!



Why use slow cookers?

• They use less electricity than an oven.

• They allow for one-step preparation and can help to reduce clean up.

• Their long, low-temperature cooking can help to tenderize less-expensive cuts of meat.

• The options are endless; slow cookers can increase the variety of your meals.

• Meal prepping is easy! Slow cookers tend to make large qualities which may lead to leftovers. Freeze leftovers in single serving containers for easy meals.


Slow cookers and food safety:

• Always thaw poultry and meat before adding to the slow cooker.

• Vegetables cook slower than meat, so add vegetables to the slow cooker first.

• Don’t store leftovers in a large pot, such as the slow cooker. Instead, store leftovers in shallow containers.

• Refrigerate leftovers within two hours after cooking is completed.

• Reheating leftovers in a slow cooker is not recommended. Use the stove, microwave or oven to reheat leftovers.



Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Lasagna


Serves 8. Ingredients:

• 1 large egg

• 1 15- to 16-ounce container part-skim ricotta

• 1 5-ounce package baby spinach, coarsely chopped

• 3 large or 4 small portobello mushroom caps, gills removed (see Tip), halved and thinly sliced

• 1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced

• 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

• 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

• 3 cloves garlic, minced

• Pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)

• 15 whole-wheat lasagna noodles (about 12 ounces), uncooked

• 3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella, divided


Directions:

1. Combine egg, ricotta, spinach, mushrooms and zucchini in a large bowl.

2. Combine crushed and diced tomatoes and their juice, garlic and crushed red pepper (if using) in a medium bowl.

3. Generously coat a 6-quart or larger slow cooker with cooking spray. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the tomato mixture in the slow cooker. Arrange 5 noodles over the sauce, overlapping them slightly and breaking into pieces to cover as much of the sauce as possible. Spread half of the ricotta-vegetable mixture over the noodles and firmly pat down, then spoon on 1 1/2 cups sauce and sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella. Repeat the layering one more time, starting with noodles. Top with a third layer of noodles. Evenly spread the remaining tomato sauce over the noodles. Set aside the remaining 1 cup mozzarella in the refrigerator.

4. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on High for 2 hours or on Low for 4 hours. Turn off the slow cooker, sprinkle the reserved mozzarella on the lasagna, cover and let stand for 10 minutes to melt the cheese.


Nutrition Facts per serving:

413 calories; 14.5 g total fat; 7.9 g saturated fat; 67 mg cholesterol; 665 mg sodium. 847 mg potassium; 49 g carbohydrates; 7.4 g fiber; 9 g sugar; 27 g protein; 2678 IU vitamin a iu; 26 mg vitamin c; 78 mcg folate; 558 mg calcium; 4 mg iron; 103 mg magnesium; 1 mg thiamin.


Source: EatingWell Test Kitchen (http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/252492/slow-cooker-vegetarian-lasagna/)




Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie


Serves 8. Ingredients:

• 6 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, divided

• 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning

• 1 teaspoon salt, divided

• 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

• 8 ounces mushrooms, quartered

• 2 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

• 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

• 1 large onion, chopped

• 1 (1 pound) package ready-to-bake biscuits

• 2 cups frozen peas, thawed

• ¼ teaspoon ground pepper


Directions:

1. Combine 6 tablespoons flour with poultry seasoning and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a shallow bowl. Dredge chicken thighs in the mixture to coat completely; transfer to a plate.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken and cook until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side; transfer to a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Reduce heat to medium and repeat with another 1 tablespoon oil and the remaining chicken. Arrange the chicken in an even layer in the slow cooker.

3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup flour over the mushrooms and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute more. Add broth and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring, until hot and bubbling, about 2 minutes. Pour the mixture over the chicken in the slow cooker. Stir in carrots and onion.

4. Cover and cook until the chicken is falling-apart tender, 4 hours on High or 7 to 8 hours on Low.

5. Meanwhile, bake biscuits according to package directions. 6. When the chicken is ready, stir in peas. Cover and cook until the peas are heated through, 5 to 10 minutes more. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Halve the biscuits and top each serving with half a biscuit. (Save the remaining biscuit halves for another use.)


Nutrition Facts per Serving:

480 calories; 19.4 g total fat; 5.7 g saturated fat; 76 mg cholesterol; 881 mg sodium. 476 mg potassium; 44.1 g carbohydrates; 3.1 g fiber; 9 g sugar; 30 g protein; 4578 IU vitamin a iu; 9 mg vitamin c; 57 mcg folate; 40 mg calcium; 4 mg iron; 38 mg magnesium.


Source: EatingWell.com (http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/268038/slow-cooker-chicken-pot-pie/)



Blog Provided by Allysa Ballantini


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