Welcome summer slowly

Published the week of June 20, 2016

When it comes to cooking in the summer, the heat is on! Ovens and skillets add heat in the kitchen to days that are already warm. And while grills are great for keeping the heat at bay, sometimes a change is necessary from grilled foods. When it’s hot, use your slow cooker. It won’t heat up the kitchen, and since you assemble it in the morning, you’ll end up with more free time in the evening.

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This beef works well served on toasted rolls. If you want to add cheese, opt for provolone.

Slow Cooker Italian Beef for Sandwiches

3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 bay leaf
1 0.7-ounce package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
1 5-pound chuck roast

Combine water with salt, ground black pepper, oregano, basil, onion salt, parsley, garlic powder, bay leaf, and salad dressing mix in a saucepan. Stir well, and bring to a boil. Place roast in slow cooker, and pour salad dressing mixture over the meat. Cover, and cook on Low for 10 to 12 hours, or on High for 4 to 5 hours. When done, remove bay leaf, and shred meat with a fork. Makes 10 servings.

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If you really want the browned skin of an oven-baked chicken, you can brown the chicken in a skillet with oil before putting it in the slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Baked Chicken

1 2- to 3-pound whole chicken
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon paprika

Wad three pieces of aluminum foil into 3 to 4 inch balls, and place them in the bottom of the slow cooker. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Season the chicken with the salt, pepper and paprika, and place in the slow cooker on top of the crumpled aluminum foil. Set the slow cooker on High for 1 hour, then turn down to Low for about 8 to 10 hours, or until the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear. Makes 6 servings.

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Pantry Pointers

While it’s tempting to keep opening the lid of the slow cooker to check on your meal, you shouldn’t do it. Opening the slow cooker lets heat out and delays the cooking process. Only open it near the end of cooking to check if the meal is done.