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Too many slow cookers live at the back of our kitchen cupboards. Unloved, unused and probably rather dusty. That's a shame because they are a fabulous tool for creating an abundance of home-cooked food with a minimum of fuss.

One of the key benefits of a slow cooker is they act as one-pot dishes for most meals. Another positive is it cooks things slowly. That means you can prepare ingredients in the morning and return home later to a cooked meal.

Time to dust off that slow-cooker and get ready for some delicious creations.

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Sausage Casserole

This recipe serves four people and is the perfect welcome home after a walk in chilly weather.

Ingredients

  • 8 pork sausages
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 x 200g can sweet corn kernels
  • 350g squash, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1tbsp plain flour
  • 1tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 150ml meat stock

Method

  1. Heat some oil and fry sausages until brown. Depending on the type of sausage you may need to poke holes in them. Add the onion, sweet corn and squash and put into the slow cooker.
  2. Combine the flour, paprika and tomato puree together with the stock. Pour this sauce over the sausages.
  3. Place lid on slow cooker and cook on High for 2-3 hours or low for 7-8 hours.
sausage slow cooker martinturzak / Getty Images
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Vegan Vermicelli

This vegan recipe serves four people with a filling and healthy Italian inspired pasta dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 x 400g can diced tomatoes
  • 200 g frozen peas
  • 1 x 400g can cannellini Beans
  • 200 g carrots
  • 400g vermicelli Pasta
  • 1 x onion, diced
  • 2 x clove of garlic, diced
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • sprinkle salt and pepper

Method

  1. Simmer the onion and garlic in a little oil in a pan until the garlic browns.
  2. Pour the contents of the pan along with the remaining ingredients (except the pasta), into the slow cooker.
  3. Cook on high for three and a half hours, or low for seven hours.
  4. Add the pasta, and continue to cook for another 30 minutes. Serve with a sprig of parsley and season to taste.
vermicelli slow cooker petrroudny / Getty Images
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Easy Cheesy Chicken With Rice

Popular with kids and grown-ups, this easy midweek meal serves six and is simple to prepare.

Ingredients

  • 250g rice, rinsed
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 200g shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 x 400g can cream of chicken condensed soup
  • 1 200g can of corn, drained
  • 1250ml chicken stock

Method

  1. Place chicken breasts into the slow cooker and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle chopped onions on top.

  2. Mix the chicken stock and cream of chicken soup. Pour the mixture over the chicken.

  3. Add the washed rice.

  4. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours.

  5. Once cooked, shred the chicken using a fork then add the cheese and sweetcorn.

  6. Mix well and serve.

chicken slow cooker corners74 / Getty Images
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Bounty From The Sea

This seafood stew is easy to make in a slow cooker. Serve with potatoes and a salad for a delicious family meal for up to five people.

Ingredients

  • 700g fish cut into small pieces. Choose any fish or a combination Haddock, cod, salmon and flounder work well.
  • 200g large prawns, cooked
  • 300g mussels in their shells
  • 2 tbs butter, melted
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into pieces
  • 1 courgette, sliced
  • 1 x 400g can tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp dried leaf basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried leaf oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • sprinkle of pepper
  • 100ml dry white wine

Method

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a slow cooker. Stir gently.
  2. Cover and cook on high for between 4 - 5 hours.
  3. Garnish with parsley and serve.
seafood slow cooker Juanmonino / Getty Images
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Beef Bourguignon

This French dish is traditionally made with a full-bodied Burgundy wine. Serve with steamed greens and creamy mash for a satisfying meal for five people.

Ingredients

  • 600g casserole steak, cut into chunks
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 325g carrots, chopped
  • 300ml red wine
  • 250ml beef stock
  • 2 sprigs thyme

Method

  1. Heat some oil in a pan. Season the meat and brown in the pan for 6-8 minutes. Remove and put in a slow cooker.
  2. Add the onion and bacon. Fry for 4 minutes before adding the garlic and carrots and cooking for a further 3-4 minutes.
  3. Pour the red wine into the pan and stir Then add the stock.
  4. Pour the vegetables and liquid over the beef in the slow cooker.
  5. Add the sprigs of thyme and cook for 8 hrs on low heat, until the beef is tender.
beef stew slow cooker OlgaLarionova / Getty Images
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Comforting Cauliflower Cheese

The ultimate comfort food, serve this cauliflower cheese as a side dish or an indulgent meal for four people.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium heads cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 x 400g can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 200g shredded cheddar cheese
  • 150g cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 40g butter, cubed
  • 100g dry bread crumbs

Method

  1. In a slow cooker, combine cauliflower, soup and cheese.
  2. Cook, covered, on low until cauliflower is tender, 5-6 hours.
  3. Stir in sour cream, salt and pepper.
  4. In a small skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add bread crumbs; cook and stir until golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle over cauliflower and serve.
cauliflower slow cooker JoeGough / Getty Images
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Sticky Chinese-Style Pork

This sticky pork dish works well in a slow cooker, making a delicious sauce. Serve with rice to feed six people.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.8kg boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 tbsp five-spice powder
  • 60ml peanut oil
  • 5 spring onions, trimmed, halved, plus extra sliced to serve
  • 10cm piece fresh ginger, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 garlic cloves, bruised
  • 230ml Chinese rice wine
  • 120ml cup soy sauce
  • 230ml chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey

METHOD:

  1. Rub pork with five-spice powder. Heat oil in a pan and cook pork on each side until browned.
  2. Combine onion, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, wine, half the soy sauce, stock and sugar in a slow cooker. Place pork in cooker. Cover, cook on high for 4 hours 30 minutes.
  3. Transfer pork to a baking tray. Combine honey and soy. Brush pork with the mixture. Bake for at 200C for 6 minutes.
slow cooker recipes GMVozd / Getty Images
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Vegetable Lasagne

Make this low-calorie vegetable lasagne as an alternative to the traditional bake.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 courgettes, diced
  • 1 red and 1 yellow pepper deseeded, sliced
  • 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tsp vegetable stock
  • 15g fresh basil
  • 1 aubergine sliced across lengthways
  • 6 whole wheat lasagne sheets
  • 125g mozzarella, chopped

METHOD:

  1. Heat oil in a pan and fry onions and garlic cloves until softened.
  2. Add diced courgettes, pepper, tomatoes with tomato purée, the vegetable stock and basil. Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Slice 1 large aubergine. Lay half the slices of aubergine in the base of the slow cooker and top with 3 sheets of lasagne.
  4. Continue layering the lasagne, vegetables and aubergine.
  5. Cover and cook on High for three hours.
  6. Scatter mozzarella over the vegetables then cover and leave for 10 minutes to melt.
  7. Serve with salad.
lasagna slow cooker boblin / Getty Images
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Pleased As Mulled Cranberry Punch

Slow cookers are not just for food. Use cloves, allspice, cinnamon, and orange to transform cranberry juice into a warming mocktail.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 orange
  • 8 sticks cinnamon, broken
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 4 whole allspice
  • cheesecloth
  • 2.5-litres cranberry juice
  • 1-litre white grape-raspberry juice concentrate
  • 450ml water

METHOD:

  1. Peel the orange and then juice it.
  2. Make a spice bag by cutting a 6-inch square from cotton cheesecloth. Place the orange peel, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice in the square. Tie closed with cotton string.
  3. In a slow cooker, combine cranberry juice, juice concentrate, water, orange juice, and spice bag.
  4. Cover and cook on low for five hours or on high-heat setting for two hours. Remove spice bag and discard.
  5. Serve immediately or keep warm on low-heat setting for up to 2 hours.
wine slow cooker La_vanda / Getty Images
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Sticky Chocolate Dessert

A perfect party cake that is simple to make and tastes gorgeous.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 120g all-purpose flour
  • 80g granulated sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100ml milk
  • 80ml vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 120g chocolate chips

Fudge:

  • 180g granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • 300ml boiling water

METHOD:

  1. In a bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Add milk, oil, vanilla, and stir.
  3. Pour batter into the slow cooker. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over.
  4. In the bowl combine the fudge ingredients. Pour the mixture over the batter in slow cooker. Do not stir.
  5. Cover, cook on high for two hours.
  6. Best served hot with ice cream.
fudge slow cooker RapidEye / Getty Images

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