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Crock-tober! Slow-Cooker Tips and Recipes for Fall

With the weather finally cooling off, many of you are digging out your trusty slow cookers. A slow cooker can be a mom's best friend when it comes to set-it-and-forget-it meals, food prep, and easy overnight cooking for a no-mess breakfast. Browsing Pinterest for new recipes can be time consuming. Once you pick a recipe, how can you trust that it is one your family will actually enjoy? The following recipes are husband and toddler approved!

Food Prep

Make shredded chicken in your slow cooker to easily add into salads or add to broth with noodles and vegetables for a quick and easy homemade soup. Place one or two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts in your slow cooker. Add one cup of chicken broth and your desired seasonings. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Shred chicken with two forks, and enjoy!

You can also use your slow cooker for an easy way to cook a spaghetti squash. Place the squash in your slow cooker on low for 8 hours. If the squash prevents the lid from closing, use aluminum foil instead. After removing the spaghetti squash from the slow cooker, cut in half and remove seeds. Use a fork to remove the squash flesh for your desired recipe.

Breakfast

Oatmeal and pumpkin go hand in hand when the weather is cooler. This Overnight Pumpkin Oatmeal makes a breakfast that is easy to reheat and eat all week long.

· 5 cups of water

· 1 cup half and half or milk

· 1 cup pumpkin puree

· ½-1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

· 2 tablespoons butter

· 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

· 1 teaspoon cinnamon

· ½ teaspoon salt

Stir all the ingredients together in the slow cooker, cook on LOW overnight, about 8 hours. Stir thoroughly before serving.

Dinner

Your slow cooker can come to the rescue for Meatless Monday, with this recipe for Chili Bean Stuffed Peppers.

· 4 yellow, green or red sweet peppers

· 1 15 ounce can chili beans, undrained

· 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce

· 1 cup cooked rice

· 1/3 cup finely chopped onion

· ¾ cup Monterey Jack cheese (or shredded cheese of choice)

Cut tops from peppers and remove seeds and membranes. Chop and save 1/3 cup of the tops. Mix together beans and rice, spoon into peppers. Pour tomato sauce, onions and reserved chopped pepper into the slow cooker, placing stuffed peppers on top. Cook on low for 6 to 6 ½ hours or on high for 3 to 3 ½ hours. Before serving, sprinkle with cheese.

Let your slow cooker do the heavy lifting for everyone’s favorite night-Taco Tuesday. Just like with the shredded chicken above, place one pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast in your slow cooker. Choose your taco variation from the list below. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Shred the chicken and serve over rice or in taco shells or tortillas of choice.

Variation 1:

· 1 jar salsa

· 1 15 ounce can of black beans

· 1 cup of corn

· Optional, mix in cheddar cheese and ¼ cup sour cream before serving

Variation 2:

· Season your chicken with one packet of your favorite taco or fajita seasoning before cooking

Variation 3:

· 1 jar salsa verde

· 1 small onion, diced

· 1 cup of corn

If you are looking for something a little fancier-try these Maple Mustard Sauced Turkey Thighs. Set it and forget it, for sure! This is almost a meal in one pot, all you need to add is a salad.

· 1 pound tiny new potatoes, quartered

· 4 turkey thighs (2-2 ½ pounds), skin removed (you can substitute chicken thighs)

· 1/3 cup coarse ground brown mustard

· ¼ maple syrup

· 1 tablespoon quick cooking tapioca

Place potatoes in large slow cooker, placing turkey thighs on top of the potatoes. Mix together mustard, syrup and tapioca before pouring over turkey. Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or on high for 3 to 3 ½.

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