Slow-Cooker Showstoppers

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food stylist: Jamie Kimm prop stylist: Marina Malchin

The beauty of the slow cooker is endless. With this trusty, must-have kitchen gadget, you’re able to create bold dishes in just one pot, achieve flavors that normally require constant monitoring without the time-consuming commitment to them, and can essentially let it do the cooking for you. For a taste of the slow-cooked life, try our easy recipes below that can be quickly prepped in the morning and enjoyed at night.

This veggie-friendly Slow-Cooker Squash Stew from Food Network Magazine is perfect for an easy Meatless Monday main dish or healthy lunch any day of the week. Leafy Swiss chard, hearty butternut squash and chickpeas combine to create a warm, comforting stew, while a final squeeze of lemon juice brightens up the bowl.

Cooking Channel’s Kelsey Nixon uses her slow cooker to simmer seasoned pork shoulder in a tomato sauce with brown sugar, chili powder and cumin for her Slow Cooker Shredded Pork recipe. After a few short hours in the slow cooker, the pork becomes fork-tender and has adopted the spicy flavors of the sauce. Pile the pork atop a lightly toasted bun for instant sandwiches or serve with Food Network Kitchens’ Cornbread to enjoy a barbecue feast.

Serve an Italian supper without boiling a pot of water for pasta. This Slow Cooker Ravioli Casserole recipe from Food 2 lets the slow cooker do all of the work in melding tomato sauce, beef ravioli and creamy mozzarella into a family-friendly dish.

Put down that Chinese takeout menu and opt for Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken from instead. Boneless skinless chicken breasts are simmered, not deep-fried, with pineapple chunks, bell peppers and onions. Brown sugar, vinegar and soy sauce are mixed in to craft a smooth, thick sauce that coats the chicken and vegetable. Serve with white or brown rice for a traditional takeout-style dish without the extra cost.

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