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9:35 AM Sat, Sept. 22nd

Using slow-cooker is like having a personal chef

I have a good friend who calls her slow cooker her personal chef because it makes her cooking so easy! She says if the entrée is done, then the meal is 90 percent fixed. Here are some slow-cooker recipes so you too can enjoy the services of a personal chef!

Spaghetti and meatballs

1 1/2 lb. ground beef chuck (15 percent fat)

1/2 lb. ground pork (the combination of these two gives a nice meatball)

1/4 cup each dry bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese (and extra at serving time)

1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 large egg, lightly beaten

3 cloves garlic, 2 well crushed and 1 thinly sliced

1 tbsp. olive oil

salt and pepper

1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes, drained

1 can (14.5 oz.) tomato puree

2 springs fresh basil (may use dried)

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

12 oz. spaghetti

In large bowl, with hands, combine beef, pork, bread crumbs Parmesan, parsley, egg, crushed garlic, oil, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper until well mixed. Form into 24 (1 1/2 in.) meatballs. They may be refrigerated overnight.

In 6-qt. slow cooker (i.e. personal chef) bowl, place tomatoes. With hands, crush tomatoes into small bits. Stir in tomato puree, basil, red pepper, sliced garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. freshly

ground black pepper. Gently stir in meatballs.

Cover and cook on low 6 hours or on high 3 hours. Prepare spaghetti as label directs. Divide among serving dishes. Transfer 12 meatballs and half of sauce to container; refrigerate up to 3 days (for second recipe). Top spaghetti with remaining meatballs and sauce. Serve topped with more Parmesan. Serves 4 as main dish.

Meatball subs (With remaining 12 meatballs) Also 4 servings second meal

Arrange oven rack 6 inches from broiler heat source. Preheat broiler. Line baking pan with foil. Heat meatballs and sauce in 4-qt. saucepan on medium-high 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Split 4 (5-inch long) Italian rolls. Rub 1 clove garlic halved, onto cut sides. Place rolls on prepared pan, cut sides facing up. Broil 2-3 minutes or until just golden. Divide meatballs and sauce among rolls. Top with fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Make a side salad and another dinner is done.

New Mexican green chili pork

1 (4 lb.) bone in pork shoulder roast (may be called Boston butt) OR may also use lower part of

shoulder.

1 tbsp. chipotle chili powder

1 tbsp. packed brown sugar plus salt and pepper

2 lbs. fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed and each cut in half

1 jumbo white onion (about 1/4 lb.) cut in 1 inch chunks

4 cloves garlic, peeled

2-3 jalapeno chiles, each cut in half, seeds and ribs removed (using rubber gloves)

1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro with stems, plus leaves for garnish

1/3 cup lower-sodium chicken broth

3 cups cooked brown rice, for serving

Lime wedges for garnish

Arrange oven rack 6 inches from boiler heat source. Preheat broiler. Line 18 x 12 jelly-roll pan

with foil. Place pork in 6 qt. slow cooker bowl. In small bowl, combine chili powder, sugar, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper. Rub all over pork in bowl.

On prepared pan, spread tomatillos, onion, garlic, and jalapenos in single layer. Broil about 7 minutes or until partially blackened and blistered in spots; stirring twice in the 7 minutes. Immediately add to the slow cooker bowl along with cilantro and broth. Cover with lid and cook on low 8 hours.

With tongs and large serving spoon, transfer pork to cutting board. Remove and discard bone and excess fat. Cut off one-third of meat; transfer to container and refrigerate up to 3 days. With large serving spoon, transfer all vegetables to blender. Puree until smooth. Thin with additional cooking liquid if desired. Transfer one-half of sauce to container; refrigerate up to 3 days. Discard remaining liquid in slow cooker bowl. Cut remaining pork in slices across grain. Divide among serving plates, along with rice and lime wedges. Spoon remaining sauce over pork and garnish with cilantro leaves. 6 main-dish servings.

Green chili pork tacos

(Second meal - also 6 servings)

Combine 2 bunch radishes, chopped, 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped; 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice; and 1/4 tsp. salt in medium bowl.

Cut reserved pork into 1-inch chunks. Reheat reserved sauce until hot. Heat 1/2 tsp. canola oil in 12-in skillet on medium. Add pork and cook 4-5 minutes or until browned and heated, stirring and scraping up browned bits. Add 1/2 cup reserved sauce and cook 1-2 minutes or until heated through, stirring. Divide among 12 corn tortillas, warmed; top with radish mixture. Serve with sauce and lime juice.

Tangy BBQ chicken

NOTE: For a thicker sauce, boil in saucepan until thickened.

1 cup ketchup

2 tbsp. each spicy brown mustard and balsamic vinegar

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 clove garlic, pressed

1/4 tsp. smoked paprika plus salt and pepper

4 bone-in chicken breast halves (3-3 1/2 lbs.) skin removed

4 chicken drumsticks (skin removed)

Cole slaw for your side dish

Spray 6-qt. slow cooker bowl with nonstick cooking spray (Note: I always do this for easy cleanup).

In medium bowl, with wire whisk, stir together ketchup, mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, smoked paprika and 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper; transfer half of sauce to slow cooker bowl.

Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper; add to slow cooker bowl. Spoon remaining sauce over and around chicken to coat. Cover with lid and cook on high 4 hours or until chicken is no longer pink. Transfer 2 chicken breasts to container; cool and refrigerate up to 3 days. Place chicken on serving dish. Whisk cooking liquid until well mixed; drizzle over chicken. Serve with coleslaw and any remaining sauce.

Salad with apples and cheddar

4 servings

Remove and discard bones from reserved chicken; shred meat. In large bowl, whisk 3 tbsp. olive oil, 2 tbsp. cider vinegar, 2 tsp. Dijon mustard, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Add to same bowl: 1 head red leaf lettuce, chopped, and 1 small red pepper, thinly sliced; toss until well combined. Divide among 4 plates; top with 1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced; chicken, 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped, and 2 oz. extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated.