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LifestyleColumnistsMarge Perry

3 Simple slow-cooker recipes

Simmer skinless chicken thighs, olives, dates, orange juice

Simmer skinless chicken thighs, olives, dates, orange juice and red wine gently in a slow cooker for simple, delicious meal. Photo Credit: Marge Perry

CHICKEN WITH DATES AND OLIVES

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives

1/3 cup (about 10) pitted dates

1 cup red wine

1/2 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 cup parsley, coarsely chopped

 

1. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a medium bowl; toss with the chicken to coat. Combine (along with the flour left in the bottom of the bowl) in a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker with the garlic, olives and dates.

2. Whisk the wine, orange juice and peel, honey and thyme until the honey is dissolved; pour over the chicken. Cook on low for 8 hours.

3. Sprinkle with the parsley just before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 348 calories, 27 g protein, 26 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 13 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 604 mg sodium

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BLACK BEAN AND BUTTERNUT CHILI

2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)

1 green bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomato with chili peppers

2 (15-ounce) cans low-sodium black beans

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 (2-pound) butternut squash, cut in 1-inch cubes

 

Combine onion, green pepper, garlic, tomato, black beans, cumin, chili powder, oregano and salt in a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Place the squash on top and cover. Cook on low for 8 hours. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 332 calories, 16 g protein, 69 g carbohydrates, 21 g fiber, 1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 620 mg sodium

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PASTA MEAT SAUCE

4 strips center-cut bacon

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 carrot, cut in 1/4-inch dice

2 ribs celery, chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

1 pound 93-percent lean ground beef

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup red wine

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

 

1. Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet until crisp. Remove from the pan, drain on paper towel and crumble.

2. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the beef, thyme, oregano, basil, salt, pepper and nutmeg and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add wine and cook 3 minutes. Transfer to a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker and stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste and crumbled bacon. Cook on low for 8 hours. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 270 calories, 22 g protein, 25 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 9 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 788 mg sodium

TIP: Do not open the lid to the slow cooker until the food is cooked: it operates at such a low temperature that even a quick peek can drop the heat too low, which can affect both the safety and cooking time.

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