A slow cooker is a great way to prepare a meal and make for an easier evening! It eliminates the temptation to order carry-out which is often less nutritious and more expensive. Since you are placing all the ingredients in the slow cooker, it saves prep time and cuts down on clean up!
Many people think of a slow cooker as a winter option – coming home to the aroma of hot soup is so warming on a cold winter day. But it’s also great for summertime use as a slow cooker or Crock-Pot does not heat up the kitchen the way your oven might. It also uses less electricity than an oven.
As a result of the long, low-temperature cooking, a slow cooker brings out the flavor in foods and helps tenderize less expensive cuts of meat.
Here are some basic tips about using a slow cooker or Crock-Pot:
- Slow cooker liners make cooking even easier. Find a liner that fits your cooker and clean up is a breeze. If you don’t use a liner, for easy clean up, rub the inside of the stoneware with oil or spray it with nonstick cooking spray before adding your ingredients.
- Always thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator before cooking it. This ensures complete, even cooking.
- Because vegetables cook slower than meat, place the vegetables in the slow cooker first. Place the meat on top of the vegetables and top with the liquid suggested in your recipe (broth, water, sauce).
- If you are using a recipe that is not made for a slow cooker, reduce the liquids by one half to one third because the liquids do not boil away in the slow cooker.
- Keep the lid in place during cooking. Removing the lid slows cooking time. Every time the lid is lifted, about 15-20 minutes of cooking time may be lost.
- It is probably best to cook rice or other grains separately to avoid them becoming mushy.
- To prevent curdling, add milk, cheese or cream during the last hour.
- Soft vegetables such as tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini may be added during the last 45 minutes of cooking time to avoid becoming mushy. Unless, you want them as part of your sauce.
Now that you know of the many benefits of cooking with a slow cooker or Crock-Pot, let’s get started with a delicious anti-inflammatory recipe!
Slow Cooker Jambalaya
- 1 Slow Cooker or Crock-Pot
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 lb smoked chicken or turkey sausage sliced in half-inch pieces
- 2-3 Tbsp creole or Cajun seasoning
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cans (14.5 oz each) petite-diced tomatoes (with onion, celery and green pepper if desired)
- 2 medium red green or yellow peppers, seeded, cored and cut into strips
- 2 medium onions diced
- 2 medium yellow squash or zucchini cut into bite size pieces
- 1 lb pre-cooked deveined and peeled shrimp
- 24-32 oz hot cooked cauliflower rice
- 4 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
- Nonstick cooking spray or a slow cooker liner
- Line a 5 – 8 quart slow cooker bowl with a slow cooker bag or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place chicken and sausage in the bowl. Sprinkle with seasoning. Pour in diced tomatoes. Top with vegetables. Cover and cook 7-8 hours on low OR 3-4 hours on high, until chicken is done.
- Carefully remove lid to allow steam to escape. Add cooked shrimp and stir to combine. Cook 10 minutes longer on low.
- To serve, evenly divide cauliflower rice between bowls. Spoon Jambalaya directly from slow cooker into bowls of rice. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
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