Mother's Day meals made easy

By Kelly Smurthwaite-Schumacher

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, May 8 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

— For a large family, or for entertaining groups of people, opt for a 7-8 quart slow cooker

• If you only own a very large slow cooker and are cooking for a small group simply place the food into an oven safe dish that fits inside your slow cooker. Place the dish on the bottom of the slow cooker and cover and cook. This will ensure that the food cooks the way it is supposed to.

• Simply fill the cooled slow cooker insert with warm, soapy water and let soak Clean with a soft rag. Don’t use an abrasive cleaner or a metal pad, it will scratch the surface.

• If you have stains on your slow cooker simply fill up the slow cooker with water and add in 1 cup of white vinegar. Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 hours.

• The ceramic insert in a slow cooker can crack if exposed abrupt temperature shifts. Make sure it is cooled before placing it in a cold sink. Don’t put your slow cooker on top of the stovetop or in the microwave. Read your slow cooker manual to see if it is microwave safe.

• Spray the inside of the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray to make cleanup easier. Or, for easier cleanup, use slow cooker liners.

Get to know your slow cooker

• Every slow cooker cooks differently! Get to know your slow cooker and how to adjust the recipe cook times according to how fast/slow your cooker cooks.

• If you want to test to see if your slow cooker is cooking too hot this is how you do it:

• Fill your slow cooker 2/3 full with room temperature water.

• Cover and cook on HIGH or LOW for 6 hours. (Some cookers run hotter on low and some cookers run hotter on high, so you many want to test both settings).

• Use a thermometer at the end of the 6 hours. The water should be 195 – 205 degrees. It is much higher (or lower) than that you will have to adjust the recipe cook times to fit your slow cooker.

Foil Collar and Foil Sling

• Most slow cookers have a hotter side that can cause casseroles and other dense dishes like meatloaves to burn. Line with a foil collar: Layer and fold sheets of heavy duty foil until you have a six layered foil rectangle. Press the collar into the back side of the slow cooker insert; the food will help hold the collar in place during cooking.

• For recipes that you want to lift out of the insert intact, like lasagnas, breakfast casseroles, meatloaves, some desserts make a foil sling. Line the slow cooker insert with a foil collar. Then fit two large sheets of foil into the slow cooker, perpendicular to one another, with the extra hanging over the edges of the cooker insert. Before serving, these overhanging edges can be used as handles to pull the dish out fully intact.

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