Slow as Molasses

If you’re like me, you love to spend time in the kitchen.
But as much as I love cooking for my family, sometimes it becomes an annoying necessity to be in there three times a day. There are times I just need a break.

So, rather than selling out to a frozen lasagna block, I get my slow-cooker out of the pantry.
Slow-cooking is such a fun way to have dinner waiting on you instead of you waiting on dinner. There are a zillion slow-cooking recipes out there and the web is loaded with ways to use this “electric cooking counter top wonder.” But, when I think of slow-cooking, I’m thinking comfort style, full-meal ideas and no fuss.

Slow-cookers come in a variety of sizes ranging from the one-quart mini to the seven-quart mother load. I prefer the type with a lock-down lid so if I get the itching to take something over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house during the holidays, it doesn’t end up in gooey mess on my vehicle floor.
Most slow-cooking recipes are super simple and also kid friendly. My easy “Slow as Molasses Pot Roast” recipe is a crowd favorite and makes a great weeknight treat or Sunday afternoon feast.

When I’m in the mood for fajitas — but not in the mood to make all the mess — I make chicken fajita soup instead. It’s a warm, rich and familiar fall food that makes a great lunch or party feature.
There are endless reasons to get your slow-cooker out this holiday season. It can be used for everything from heating mulled cider or hot chocolate to melting caramel for a session of caramel apple dipping.
Let your slow-cooker do the heavy lifting for you when you don’t feel like getting lunch or dinner on the table.  It will free you up to do more important things like cleaning out your refrigerator. Plus, it will give you a mental break from cooking and you can ponder the essential things in life like chasing the dust bunnies from under your bed. Put your slow-cooker to work for you.

Slow-Cooker Chicken Fajita Soup
Serves 6-8
2 large chicken breasts, diced
2 small cans cream of chicken soup
1 can of Mild Rotel or diced tomatoes and chilis
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white corn, drained
1/2 onion, diced finely
1 package fajita seasoning mix
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
Grated Cheddar and pepper jack cheese, tortilla chips and sour cream to garnish
1. Combine uncooked chicken, soup (undiluted), Rotel or diced tomatoes, both beans, corn, onion, fajita seasoning mix, cumin, chili powder and broth into medium sized slow-cooker.
2. Stir all ingredients to combine and turn on high for 2 to 3 hours, low for 8 hours or until soup is hot, bubbling and chicken is completely cooked. If soup is too thick for your liking, simply add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chicken broth to thin.
3. Season soup for salt and pepper to taste. (I like to season the soup at the end because the flavors concentrate and you may not even need any salt)
4. Garnish soup with tortilla chips, sour cream and your choice of grated cheddar or pepper jack cheese.

“Slow as Molasses” Pot Roast
Serves 6-8
1 medium chuck roast (between 2-3 pounds)
1 pound Baby Yukon potatoes (cut in half or quartered)
1 pound baby carrots
2 tablespoons molasses or honey
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup beef broth
Salt and pepper
1. Place chuck roast at the bottom of the slow-cooker. Season with a pinch each or salt and pepper.
2. Cover with 1/2 cup of beef broth to moisten.
3. Pour 2 tablespoons molasses or honey over the chuck roast.
4. Place the potatoes, carrots and bay leaf on top of the roast and cover.
5. Cook for 4-5 hours on high, 8-10 hours on low or until the meat and vegetables are tender. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

Easy Peach Barbecue Crock-Pot Chicken
Serves 6-8
2-3 firm fresh peaches or 2 cups frozen peaches
1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce
6 to 8 pieces dark chicken meat
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 onion, small diced
1.   In slow-cooker pot combine peaches, barbecue sauce, hoisin sauce and onion. Stir to combine.
2.  Using tongs, place chicken meat into sauce and coat all pieces with sauce.
3.  Cook on high for 3 hours, on low for 8 hours or until meat is falling off the bone.
4.  Serve with roasted potatoes or salad for complete meal.

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