Slow cooking: A boon for a fast-paced lifestyle

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 13 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

3/4 cup cilantro chopped

Place chicken, bell pepper, 1 cup of broth, soy sauce, garlic and red pepper flakes in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours.

Mix cornstarch with remaining 1/4 cup broth in small bowl until smooth. Turn slow cooker on high. Stir in green onions, peanut butter and cornstarch mixture.

Cover and cook 30 minutes or until sauce is thickened and chicken is no longer pink. Stir well.

Serve over vermicelli or rice. Sprinkle with peanuts or cashews and cilantro.

Options: Stir a little lime juice into the peanut butter mixture. You can also add more red bell peppers.

— Karen Petersen, www.365daysofcrockpot.blogspot.com

Caramel Chocolate Cake

3 ounces cream cheese, cubed

1/2 cup milk

1 cup sour cream

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 egg

2 (8.2-ounce) packages chocolate chip muffin mix

Nonstick baking spray containing flour

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping

1/2 cup water

In small microwave safe bowl, combine cream cheese and milk. Microwave on 50 percent power for 1 minute; remove and stir. Continue microwaving for 30 second intervals until cream cheese melts; stir with wire whisk to blend.

Place in large bowl; stir in sour cream, cocoa powder and egg. Mix well. Add both packages muffin mix and stir just until combined.

Spray a 3 1/2-quart slow cooker with nonstick baking spray. Spread batter evenly in slow cooker.

In small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, ice cream topping and water; heat to boiling, stirring until blended. Carefully pour over batter in slow cooker.

Cook on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Uncover, turn off slow cooker, top loosely with foil and let stand for 30 minutes.

Gently run a sharp knife around the edges of the cake and invert over serving plate until cake drops out. If any sauce remains in slow cooker, spoon over cake. Cool for 30-45 minutes before serving. Serve with ice cream.

— Karen Petersen, www.365daysofcrockpot.blogspot.com

Mashed Potatoes with Skins

5 medium potatoes

1 teaspoon garlic salt

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup sour cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut up potatoes (with the skins on) into little cubes. Place in slow cooker, along with the cream cheese and garlic salt. Stir to coat.

Cover and cook on low for 7 hours, or until very soft. Use a hand mixer to cream the potatoes. Blend in milk and sour cream. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with or without gravy.

Serves 5-7.

— Karen Petersen, www.365daysofcrockpot.blogspot.com

Slow-Cooked Peppers