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Feeling Rushed? Time to Try the Slow-Cooker Way of Life

Photo by mediaphotos / iStock
Photo by mediaphotos / iStock

Between work, school, baseball practice, trombone lessons, gymnastics competitions, and errands to run, it can seem sometimes like there’s just not enough time in the day—and that can mean more dinners at restaurants than you would care to admit to. We get it—life is busy! But by eating at home, you up the odds of having time for your family to connect with each other in the evenings. It’s not easy: Dinners can be big productions prep can be time-consuming, and the resulting pile of dishes can reach Mount Everest-size proportions.

That’s why we love the slow cooker. Let us gush about this miraculous appliance for a minute: Not only does a slow cooker magically produce a meal with nary a pot or pan to be seen, but it also frees up evenings for family bonding time—and creates a wonderful aroma in your home.

True, it takes a little advance prep the night before, but once everything is in the pot on, say, a Monday night, Tuesday evening is all about your family. Your only job? Eat, talk, and laugh!

If you aren’t sure where to begin, we’ve got you covered with our rad recipe for red pepper chicken below:

Photo by Nadine Greeff / Stocksy United / 1209262
Photo by Nadine Greeff / Stocksy United

Easy-Peasy Red Pepper Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 pound raw chicken, diced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste

Directions

1. Place chicken in a slow cooker.

2. In a bowl, combine beans, peppers, tomatoes, onions, salt, and pepper.  Mix.

3. Pour mixture over chicken.

4. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or until internal temperature reaches 165˚F. Eat whenever you’re ready, and enjoy!

Tips for Slower-Cooker Success

  1. Cut the meats and vegetables into the same shape/size so everything cooks evenly.
  2. Make sure you add enough water/liquid, as much of it will evaporate while cooking.
  3. Never use your slow cooker to reheat leftovers; instead, cook leftovers on a stove top or microwave until they reach an internal temperature of 165˚F.
  4. Keep it safe! Always be up to speed on safety information for using a slow cooker.

More Ways to Embrace the Slow-Cooking Way of Life

  1. Want a hot to-go breakfast? The night before, add some oatmeal, dried fruit, and nuts to your slow cooker, and voilà! You’ve got a quick and simple breakfast to get your morning off to a good start. 
  2. Slow cook in bulk:  Preparing extra servings can be a lifesaver during your crazy-busy work week. All you have to do is make the extra portions, place them in a freezer-safe storage bag, and then freeze until you’re ready for them. Try this classic:  Brown two pounds of ground beef or ground turkey, add the meat and your favorite spaghetti sauce into the slow cooker, and let it do its thing.
  3. Experiment: It can always be a little intimidating to try a new recipe out on your family, but the slow cooker is the perfect way to do so. Since the food cooks for a long period of time, the flavors are mouth-wateringly enhanced–but if the flavor isn’t quite right, you can always add last-minute ingredients to tweak it.
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