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TheEat: Reintroduce yourself to the OG of kitchen gadgets — the crockpot

By Lindsey Hollenbaugh, The Berkshire Eagle​ ​ ​

Sometimes, you've got to dance with the one who brought you to the party. For me, that would be my trusty crockpot. 

I'm talking about the kitchen party, of course — because these days, is there really any other kind of party going on besides the multiple trips a day to the kitchen? ("Celebrate, it's lunch-time, come on!")

In my growing love affair with large kitchen gadgets, I've started to run out of precious pantry space, therefore relegating my 15-year-old slow cooker (you know the one, still sticky with some kind of mystery chili sauce and always smelling of the last thing you cooked in it?) to the basement. Between juggling my Instant Pot, air fryer and blender I wasn't missing it much, but then this week at David's preschool pick-up, I walked into the house and was hit with the delicious smell of dinner that had been cooking all day.

When I commented that it smelled great in there, David's teacher said, "just another good crockpot meal!" 

But a "good" crockpot meal can sometimes feel hard to find — the recipes all either taste the same, or require too much prepping in the morning for me to feel like I won any kind of no-fuss meal prize at the end of all the chopping, sautéing and stirring. I've got an easy chili recipe that never lets me down — dump browned ground turkey, two cans of diced tomatoes, 1 can of black beans, 1 cup of salsa, 1 tablespoon of chili powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin and a few shakes of Southwestern seasoning into the crockpot and cook on low for six hours — and this Three-Packet Slow Cooker Roast is always a crowd pleaser.

To reignite my love for the slow cooker, I turned to one of my first cookbooks from my early days of learning how to cook: "Crock-Pot Slow Cooker Recipes." Someone picked up for me at a Christmas Tree Store or something, and it's actually cut out in the shape of a slow cooker. I've used it so many times you can tell which recipes are my favorites by the splatters of tomato juice. My trusty chili recipe comes from there and so does this chicken stew that always tastes better than the simple ingredients hint at. 

Give yourself a break this week and dust off that crockpot for an easy dinner. 

CHICKEN STEW

Ingredients:

2 to 3 chicken breasts

1 can whole tomatoes

2 large potatoes cut into 1-inch pieces

1 can green beans (or can use frozen)

1 large onion, chopped

1 can (14 ounces) cream-style corn

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

Directions:

Combine chicken, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans and onion in slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken, shred it, then put back in slow cooker. Add corn, ketchup and barbecue sauce and cook on high for 30 minutes. 

TheEat byThe Berkshire Eagle

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