Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.
TIP Do not open the lid of the slow cooker during the first several hours: the temperature will drop, and it takes time to build it back up.
SLOW-COOKER CHICKEN WITH DATES AND OLIVES
4 pounds bone-in chicken thighs
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 cup pitted dates (about 11)
1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed olives
1 cup orange juice
1 cup red wine
1. Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and toss with the flour, salt and pepper until evenly coated.
2. Combine in the slow cooker with the garlic, dates, olives, orange juice and red wine.
3. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Pull or cut chicken into bite-size pieces and discard bones. Makes 8 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving 315 calories, 27 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 12 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 381 mg sodium
MEATLESS SLOW COOKER STUFFED PEPPERS
4 medium red bell peppers
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil and garlic, divided
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1. Cut the tops (including stems) off the red peppers; cut out the ribs and seeds to form a hollow "bowl."
2. Combine rice, beans, onion, cheese, 1 / 4 cup of the tomatoes, oregano and thyme; spoon the mixture into each pepper and place the peppers upright in the slow cooker. Place the remaining tomatoes over and around the peppers in the slow cooker; cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. (The peppers will be tender but hold their shape.)
3. Serve the peppers with the pan sauce spooned over the top. Garnish with additional cheese and fresh parsley, if desired. Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving 314 calories, 14 g protein, 50 g carbohydrates, 8 g fiber, 6 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 527 mg sodium
NOTE TO READERS: In my column on Feb. 9, I wrote a Valentine's remembrance to my mother, Jane N. Perry, and shared with readers her recipe for comforting and sweet strawberry frosted cupcakes. Your condolence emails to me have been overwhelming. Every letter I received was like an arm around my shoulder, a warm embrace of support. Many of you made the cupcakes in my mother's honor; some of you shared your feelings of appreciation and loss about your own moms; others of you baked with your children to celebrate your time together; you all sent me sympathy.
In the midst of my sorrow, my spirit was buoyed by your proof of human goodness. I miss my mother just as much, but I feel very fortunate to have the support of this wonderful community.