Easy Slow-Cooker Dishes You Should Be Making Right Now

You know, when it's not really summer and not quite fall.

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Schools are back in session, tailgating season is officially here, and you might even be thinking about what spooky new treat you'll make for your friend's annual Halloween party. But if you're still wearing sandals and blasting the AC every time you get in the car, did that pumpkin spice latte you just downed even happen?

We get it: You're trapped somewhere between craving summery salads and comfort food. While you're not ready to devour heaping bowls of beef stew and potatoes yet, fresh tomatoes and basil just aren't as readily available anymore.

There's one handy kitchen appliance, though, that's ready to handle all your needs, no matter the weather; your slow cooker can help you ease into fall with dishes that are satisfying but not super heavy.

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FOODNETWORK_20081002_250.tif

Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos
Aren't we lucky that tacos are appropriate year-round? Simmer a boneless pork shoulder in chicken broth seasoned with a trio of peppers and aromatic spices for irresistibly tender and flavorful meat. Serve with warmed corn tortillas and your family's favorite toppings.

FNK SLOW COOKER CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP (comfort food) Food Network Kitchen Food Network Carrots, Celery, Onion, Parsley, Thyme, Bay Leaf, Chicken Thighs, Egg Noodles, Lemons

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Slow-Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup
That classic chicken noodle soup you know and love is about to get a whole lot easier to make, thanks to your slow cooker. Chicken thighs will remain juicy and give the soup extra flavor (and they'll give your wallet a break!).

Slow-Cooked Cuban Sandwich
Jeff Mauro's tangy pork starts with a citrusy marinade that he works into the meat and rubs all over it. Once the meat is cooked and ready to shred, smear a sub roll with yellow mustard, then layer on the Swiss, thinly sliced honey ham and the super tender slow-cooked pork.

MEXIJITA_CHICKEN

MEXIJITA_CHICKEN

©2012 Food Network

2012 Food Network

Mexajita Chicken
This recipe comes with stovetop and slow-cooker instructions, but why not let your slow cooker do all the work? Mexican diced tomatoes help this chicken become fall-apart tender, and fajita seasoning keeps your ingredient list to a minimum.

CHICKPEA_BUTTERNUT_STEW_11.tif

CHICKPEA_BUTTERNUT_STEW_11.tif

food stylist: Jamie Kimm prop stylist: Marina Malchin

Slow-Cooker Squash Stew
Don't throw away those Parmesan rinds — use them to infuse soups, like this fall beauty, with flavor and creaminess. Butternut squash is best this time of year, and it definitely deserves a spot on your table.

Photo by: Brian Kennedy ©(C) 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Brian Kennedy, (C) 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Slow-Cooker Cranberry-Walnut Stuffed Apples
Let's be real: When you've made it through five nights of making (OK, slow-cooking) dinner, you deserve a treat. Choose firm baking apples large enough that you can stuff with the nutty cranberry mixture so you're sure to have some in every bite.

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