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Crock Pot Entertaining for the Holidays

Having friends and family coming to visit over the holidays or are you visiting them?  Why not try a new recipe as your crock pot slow cooker.  Try this Cheese and Bacon Dip and let it cook while you entertain your guests and its even easy to make and you can serve it straight from the crock pot itself which also means less cleaning up.  Crock pot entertaining couldn't be easier.

Cheese and Bacon Dip

16 oz (450g) cream cheese softened and cut into cubes
4 cups shredded cheese (Colby-jack or cheddar)
1 cup half-and-half
2 tablsp mustard
1 tablsp finely chopped onion
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
pinch salt
dash hot pepper sauce (to taste)
1 lb  (450g) bacon cooked and crumbled
Place cream cheese, Colby-Jack or cheddar cheese, half-and-half, mustard, onion, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper sauce in a smaller  (4 quart) crock pot.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, on low for 1 hour or until cheese melts.  Stir in the bacon and adjust the seasonings if needed. Serve with crackers, crusty bread or tortilla chips. Entertaining this holiday season can be easy with the crock pot.

Spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your family and friends.

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Crock Pot Slow Cooker Beef and Red Wine Stew

beefwithredwineThis Beef and Red Wine Stew recipe is fairly easy to make and if you like big serves then it will feed 2 people.  It's not as easy finding recipes for two for the slow cooker so finding this one was like gold. You can vary it by adding mushrooms or bell peppers.  You can also swap the onions with leeks for a slightly different texture and taste.

Crock Pot Slow Cooker Beef with Red Wine Stew

1 lb (1/2 kg) steak cut into bite size pieces
flour to coat steak
2 tabs olive oil
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 medium onion chopped
1 large clove garlic crushed
1 tab each chopped chives and parsley
1 small bay leaf
1 cup red wine of your choice
1 cup beef stock cube
1 tab instant gravy mix to thicken if required but recommended

Coat meat in flour and brown meat in oil.  Remove and put aside.  Add to the pan the onions, carrots and herbs and toss until softened a little.  Remove the vegetables and put into the base of the slow cooker. Place the meat on top of the vegetables.

Add the wine and stock to the pan and mix well together as this then combines the juices from the pan as well.  Pour into the crock pot slow cooker over the meat and vegetables. Put the lid on and cook on low for 6 hours.  Thicken with the instant gravy mix combined with a little water if you think the stew is too thin.

Serves 2 large servings or 3 medium ones.  I serve it with sweet potato mash but you can serve with rice or just some of your favorite crusty bread.  Get out your crock pot slow cooker and start cooking.

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Apple and date oatmeal breakfast

apple-and-date-oatmealCooking breakfast in the crock pot slow cooker is easy and convenient if you are short of time in the morning.  Apple and date oatmeal is nice served on the weekend also when you have more time to enjoy your breakfast.  My slow cooker cooks at a nice slow temperature but if yours cooks a bit fast (and you will know that from previous recipes) then you may have to reduce the time a little bit and you may need a little more liquid.

The advantage of making crock pot meals like this one is that your breakfast cooks while you sleep.

Apple and date oatmeal breakfast

1 cup regular oats
2 cups water
1 cup milk
1/2 small apple, chopped
1/4 cup chopped dates
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbs brown sugar
1/4 cup walnuts

Add all ingredients to your crock pot or slow cooker except for the walnuts.  Turn your pot on to low and cook for 8 hours approximately.  Add the walnuts 5 minutes before and stir well through the oatmeal mixture.  Serve with extra brown sugar and milk.  Makes 4 servings.

Variations:  you can substitute the dates with sultanas, you can use honey instead of brown sugar, and you can leave out the walnuts if you want.  I like this apple and date oatmeal breakfast though just as it is.

For more recipes check out the great variety of slow cooker recipe books at AMAZON.

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Using recipe bases with the slow cooker

recipebasesOK, you know by now I love my slow cooker and it saves me time cooking dinner at night because it has been already cooking during the day. But what if you really don't have the extra time to even prepare it properly or even if you just don't want to think about options and recipes?

This is when I get out the recipe base, one like McCormick has developed  for slow cookers.  I tried one called Country Chicken Casserole and I was very happy with the result.  A lovely meal but with very little preparation and fuss.

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