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Slow Cooker Recipes Mu Shu for Two and Creamy Caramel Blondies

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All hail the crockpot. Yup. It’s back with a new attitude and a 21st century cookbook that is going to rock your world.

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Today’s recipes comes from the new cookbook Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes by Donna-Marie Pye. Slow cookers have come a long way since their introduction. I remember when only two heat settings were available and all cookers were housed in basic beige. Now they come in a rainbow of colors and several heat settings to emerge as a go-to partner in easy gourmet cooking… and they still only use the same amount of electricity as a light bulb.

For a pot that was originally designed to bake beans, who would have thought it could have evolved in to a tool that can produce juicy poultry dishes, savory chili, mouthwatering preserves and trendy desserts? All it takes for you to have a new relationship with your slow cooker according to the today's author is, “Some pre planning, forethought, a little organization and an array of fresh ingredients.” I agree …plus a cookbook that has grown up with the changing attitudes and needs of home chefs.

There are lots of tips to guide you along the way and I think you’re going to enjoy the nicely laid out recipes. They’re easy to read and understand. Many of the recipes have photos accompanying them. That is a b-i-g plus in my book. I like to know what the goal line looks like before I kick the ball. Just sayin’.

This cookbook has 200 recipes featuring the best of North American regional cuisine as well as globally inspired dishes. I am pretty sure no one is going to get bored reading, cooking, or tasting the offerings in this superb cookbook. And…I am giving author Donna-Marie Pye The Smart Cookie Award for understanding not all of us are cooking for a crowd or large family. Although most of the recipes feed anywhere from four to eight people, she has included a whole chapter on Meals for Two. What a woman.

Your recipes today are two of my favorites. They come to you courtesy of Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes by Donna-Marie Pye, 2014 © www.robertrose.ca. The song “Love Me Tender” may say it best when exalting the praises of the slow cooker,” Love me tender, Love me sweet, Never let me go. You have made my life complete.”

Enjoy!

Mu Shu for Two, page 277, meals for two

Makes 2 servings

This is one of my son’s favorite dinners. Since it only serves two, I originally made it on an evening when just he and I were home, and Jack loved it — any meal wrapped in a tortilla is fine by him. I served it with some lightly blanched asparagus spears, drizzled with an Asian dressing.

3- to 4-quart slow cooker

Ingredients

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs

1⁄4 tsp salt

1⁄8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp minced gingerroot (or 1⁄4 tsp ground ginger)

1⁄4 cup soy sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

4 10-inch (25 cm) whole wheat flour tortillas

1⁄4 cup hoisin sauce*

1 cup broccoli slaw mix

1⁄4 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

Method

1. Arrange chicken in slow cooker stoneware. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. In a small bowl, combine garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and 1⁄4 cup water. Pour over chicken.

3. Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 7 hours or on High for 3 to 31⁄2 hours, until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a fork. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a cutting board. Using two forks, shred meat. Return meat to sauce in stoneware.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Stack tortillas and wrap them in foil. Warm in oven for 10 minutes.

5. Spread 1 tbsp. hoisin sauce over each tortilla, then top with one-quarter of the chicken mixture, 1⁄4 cup of the broccoli slaw and red pepper. Fold or roll up tortillas.

Tip: There is no need to peel gingerroot before grating it. Simply scrub it and use a standard box grater with fine holes. You can wrap any unused gingerroot in plastic wrap and freeze it for up to 6 months, then grate the frozen gingerroot as you need it.

*Hoisin sauce is a thick, soy-based sauce that is regularly used in Chinese dishes and stir-fries. The typical ingredients are soybean paste, garlic, vinegar and various seasonings, such as chile peppers. The flavor is sweet, salty and spicy.

Creamy Caramel Blondies, page 346, desserts

Makes 4 to 6 servings

My son, Jack, and I are caramel and butterscotch fanatics! Blondies are often described as brownies without chocolate, which I find silly: blondies have their own unique, delicious personality. While brownies depend on chocolate for their flavor, with blondies it’s all about the brown sugar. This tasty dessert combines a cake top over a creamy caramel sauce. Be sure to serve with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

4- to 5-quart slow cooker

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1⁄2 tsp salt

1 cup packed brown sugar, divided

1⁄4 cup butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla extract

1⁄2 cup milk

1⁄2 cup soft caramels, wrappers removed

1 cup boiling water

Method

1. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.

2. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat half the brown sugar and butter until creamy. Stir in vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with milk, making three additions of each and beating well after each addition. Stir in caramels. Spread batter evenly in slow cooker stoneware.

3. In a glass measuring cup, combine the remaining brown sugar and boiling water, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour evenly over batter.

4. Cover and cook on High for 21⁄2 to 3 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Tip: It is best to use individually wrapped soft caramels, but you can substitute 1⁄2 cup butterscotch chips.

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