A couple weeks ago, I decided it was time to buy a slow cooker: a Hamilton Beach Stay-or-Go 33162H, a ConsumerSearch Best Reviewed pick. Like a lot of New Yorkers, I'm too busy to stay home and prepare complex meals on a nightly basis, and especially in the summertime, who wants to turn on the oven and heat up the apartment? With a slow cooker, I can make healthy meals in a snap, and the apartment stays (relatively) cool.
But slow cookers won't make meals by themselves -- you need recipes for that. Several friends have turned me on to the blog A Year of Slow Cooking. Blogger Stephanie O'Day writes in a friendly, conversational tone that's easy to read. And she's honest: She lets us know which recipes work, which don't, which her kids hate (but she loves), and so on. What's great about this blog is that she illustrates every single recipe with several photos: all of the ingredients needed, as well as before and after shots. Better still, she's got recipes that run literally from soup to nuts, with suggestions for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Another resource I like is "The $7 a Meal Slow Cooker Cookbook: 301 Delicious, Nutritious Recipes the Whole Family Will Love!" by Linda Larsen, who is also About.com's guide for busy cooks. Larsen provides recipes for everything from breakfasts to desserts, soups to roasts, as well as vegetarian options. She also provides calorie, fat and protein estimates, in addition to cost estimates of every meal. That's especially helpful if you're counting calories as well as pennies.
Like any dish, not all of these recipes are guaranteed to work. But they're great resources for new (and experienced) slow cooker owners and well worth a look. Don't own a slow cooker? Check out ConsumerSearch.com's report on slow cookers, and maybe you, too, will become a fan of this time-honored kitchen appliance.