Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Utilizing slow cookers during the holidays


Utilizing slow cookers is crucial for the holidays because oven space is always limited, especially when you’re the visitor. Fortunately, you can turn just about ANY recipe into a slow cooker recipe.

Cooking Time Conversions

The biggest change is obviously the cooking time.

Generally, one hour of baking in the oven at 350 degrees is equal to about 6 hours on the “low” setting of your slow cooker and 3 hours on the “high” setting.

Oven cooking time
Slow cooker setting on low (about 200 degrees F)
Slow cooker setting on high (about 300 degrees F)
15 to 30 minutes
About 4 to 5 hours
About 1 ½ to 2 hours
35 to 45 minutes
About 5 hours to 6 hours
About 2 to 3 ½ hours
50 to 3 hours
About 6 to 8 hours
About 3 ½ to 5 hours

There are a lot of slow cooker conversion charts online, but I’ve found that they seem to be a little off, as in the cooking times are much too long. I used to think it was just my slow cooker, but I have multiple slow cookers and it’s the same with each one. So just like anything, error on the side of caution, and check your food at the minimum suggested cooking time.


Don’t Peak

Try your best not to take a sneak peak before the cooking time is complete. The lid traps heat and when you lift up the lid, you break the seal and allow cold air in which affects the cooking time.

Moisture

Slow cookers create a lot of moisture and none of the moisture boils off because it stays in the sealed slow cooker.  To reduce the moisture, cut the amount of liquid in the recipe by 1/3.

Also, keep moisture from ruining your dish by placing a tea towel under the lid so the condensation doesn’t fall back on top of the dish.

Conversely, slow cooker recipes should start out with some liquid. If a recipe does not include any liquid, add 1/2 cup of water or broth before cooking. Moisture is needed to produce the steam that allows the slow cooker to reach appropriate cooking times.


Cleanup

For the easiest cleanup in all of cooking, use either a slow cooker liner or make your own makeshift liner with aluminum foil. Aluminum foil also serves a dual purpose by helping the food cook more evenly

Keep food warm

Additionally, you're slow cooker can be used to keep dishes warm. You can stick your mashed potatoes in your slow cooker on Thanksgiving and choose the “warm setting” and it will keep your potatoes warm throughout without drying them out for several hours.

Here are a few of my favorite slow cooker recipes that I will be serving this Thanksgiving!



Slow Cooker Corn Casserole
Yield: Makes about 8 servings
Ingredients
1 (15.25-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14.75-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 (8-ounce) package Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 cup low-fat sour cream
2 Tablespoons Challenge butter, melted
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions
Mix together whole kernel corn, cream-style corn, Jiffy corn muffin mix, sour cream, melted butter, and cheese.
Dump in slow cooker; cook on low for about 3 to 4 hours (check at 3 hours).


Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Casserole
Yield: Makes about 8 servings
Ingredients
4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 Tablespoons Challenge butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions
Peel sweet potatoes, chop into 1-inch slices, and add in slow cooker.
Add water, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cover and cook on high heat for about 4 hours or until sweet potatoes are very soft.
Mash sweet potatoes until smooth.
Add butter and milk, and stir until combined.
Sprinkle chopped pecans on top and serve.




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