2015-10-23 / Columns

Cooking on Purpose

Hurry up and get the slow cooker into action
By Connie Wendell Special to the Post

As the temperatures drop and drop and drop, we all need nourishing warmth. That can come from your slow cooker.

As the busy holiday season approaches us, our cooker will come in handy, as you just put all the ingredients together in the morning and come home to a hot satisfying meal. That will keep you going. Provençale chicken supper

4 (6 ounce) bone-in chicken breast halves, skinned; 2 teaspoons dried basil; salt and pepper to taste; 1 cup diced yellow bell pepper; 1 (15.5 ounce) cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained; and 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, undrained; basil sprigs.

Place chicken in an electric slow cooker; sprinkle with the basil salt and pepper. Add the bell pepper, beans and tomatoes. Cover with lid; cook on lowheat setting for 8 hours.

Serves four.

Tarragon lamb shanks with Cannellini beans

4 (half pound) lamb shanks; 1 (19 ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained; 1½ cups peeled and diced carrots; 1 cup chopped onion; ¾ cup chopped celery; 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced; 2 teaspoons dried tarragon; ½ teaspoon salt; ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper; and 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained.

Trim fat from lamb shanks. Place beans, carrots, onion, celery and garlic in slow cooker, stir well. Place lamb shanks on bean mixture; sprinkle with tarragon, salt and pepper. Pour tomatoes over lamb. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Reduce heat to low and cook 9 hours or until lamb is very tender.

Remove lamb shanks from slow cooker. Pour bean mixture through a colander over a bowl, reserving liquid. Let liquid stand for 5 minutes; skim fat from surface of liquid. Return bean mixture to liquid. Remove lamb from bones; discard bones. Serve lamb with bean mixture.

Serves 12.

Potato soup

3 bacon slices; 1 cup chopped onion; 3 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼-inch thick slices; cooking spray; ½ cup water; 2 (14.5 ounce) cans fat-free, lower sodium chicken broth; salt and pepper to taste; 2 cups 1% low-fat milk; 4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 cup) divided; ½ cup light sour cream; and 4 teaspoons chopped fresh chives.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in pan; crumble bacon. Add onion to drippings, sauté 3 minutes or until tender.

Place potato slices and onion in a slow cooker coated with cooking spray. Combine ½ cup water, chicken broth, salt and pepper; stir into mixture in slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until potatoes are tender.

Mash mixture with a potato masher; stir in milk and ¾ cup cheese. Increase heat to high. Cover and cook on high for 20 minutes or until mixture is thoroughly heated. Ladle soup into bowls. Top with sour cream and remaining ¼ cup cheese. Sprinkle with bacon and chives.

Serves eight.

Enjoy these slow cooker recipes and until next time, keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com.

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