Dinner has always been a special occasion in my family. It’s almost always served at the dining room table with records being played in the background. It helps us unwind from our day, and we’re always cooking something from scratch.
The biggest challenge in cooking for us, as well as many families, is time. I leave the house at 6:45 and don’t get home until after 5:30. Then it’s a hustle to think of what to cook, make it, serve it, clean it up and then the next thing you know it’s 8pm and I’m haven’t had a chance to sit (other than shoveling food in my face). I’ve found some time savings with delivered meals like Home Chef, but that’s a luxury we can’t always rely on.
With the onset of fall, I want something warm, delicious and ready to eat when I come home. This way, I can enjoy family time outside of the kitchen. Slow cookers are a great solution for people with schedules like mine. The only reason why I didn’t rely on a slower cooker more often was because mine was 30+ years old. While it worked like a charm, I would be out of house longer than the 4-6 or 6-8 hours most recipes called for. Then I found Hamilton Beach’s Set & Forget It 6 quart slow cooker, with its programmable timer and meat thermometer that put me in slow cooker heaven!
My favorite type of food is Indian, and I’ve had a Indian slow-cooker cookbook for years that was just collecting dust on my shelf. Why? Every recipe needed only 4-6 hours which wasn’t going to work with my schedule. Yeah, I could’ve bought a timer… and at one point I did, but I couldn’t figure out how to work it! I didn’t want to arrive from work one day to see my home burned to the ground, so the cookbook remained on the shelf.
The first recipe I tried with my Set & Forget slow cooker (mind you, I’ve used this three times in 10 days – that’s how much I love it!), was a traditional yellow dal recipe. I put all the items in the cooker, used the locking mechanism to keep the heat in and cover in place. I’m not one to read the instruction manual, but I easily figured out how to program the slow cooker. In addition to the timer, this slow cooker offered low, medium and high settings, which was a nice change from my low/high settings. Five hours later and wa-la! Perfect dal for dinner. I now have a bunch of Indian slow cooker recipes earmarked to make over the next few weeks.
The locking mechanism on the Set & Forget (best name ever) slow cooker helps keep the heat in, so the food inside seem to self-baste. If your recipe calls for water or broth, I’d recommend using half of what they recommend; you’ll have a much thicker soup/gravy/sauce/what-have-you.
Two days later, I satisfied my carnitas tooth (yes, I do have one), with Rick Bayless’ Garlickly Carnitas Slow Cook Sauce and some pork shoulder. Married to a vegetarian, I whipped up some tofu taco meat for him, and we were ready for dinner in about 20 minutes. Perfect after a long day. I loved the smell of the carnitas cooking when I came home, but my husband, said vegetarian, wasn’t a fan of the pork goodness wafting throughout the house.
Tonight’s meal (counting down the hours till I get to try it), uses rump roast I had in the freezer. I didn’t know how to cook it, so I went to the trusty interweb for some ideas. The website PaleOMG had a great recipe which featured mushrooms, onions and garlic. I prepared everything in about 15 minutes before I got into the shower.
As I mentioned, my husband doesn’t eat meat, so I “Set & Forgot” about it on our back porch this morning to minimize the meat smells. I wanted to use the meat probe to gauge when to turn the slow cooker off, but I didn’t know what temperature I needed the meat to be. Maybe if I had read the instruction manual I could’ve found the answer (!), but I needed to get into the shower! Instead, I set it for 7 hours on low and am confident there will be a delicious dinner waiting for me at home.
With school starting, daylight fading and the temperatures dropping, I cannot think of a better way to be inspired to cook a delicious, healthy meal for my family than with Hamilton Beach’s Set & Forget Slow Cooker. The 6 quart size is big enough for any large family and perfect for my small family of three. I love this product so much, I’ll be giving one Hamilton Beach Set & Forget slow cooker to one lucky Grocery Gal reader! To enter, leave a comment saying what you would want to make with your Hamilton Beach slow cooker. Get two entries if you attach a recipe/link to recipe! Contest is open until October 15, 2014. One entry per email.