Quick and Easy - How Crock Pots Simplify Your Hectic Life

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by Stephanie Larkin

Imagine getting home from work to the tantalizing smell of dinner, ready to dish out, hot and delicious. For a busy working mom, corporate couple or live-alone single, that's a dream that doesn't seem likely, unless you can afford your own chef. But it's not unattainable. All you need is one handy-dandy little appliance that will simplify your life and have you dishing up your dinner before you even kick off your good shoes.

They're an old standby from the '70s, and they're making a huge comeback. Crock pots, also known as slow cookers, are one of the handiest tools for a busy working woman - or man, for that matter. With a crock pot, you can spend 10 minutes of prep time before you leave for work in the morning, flip it on, and return home in the evening to a fully cooked meal - nutritious, delicious and far less expensive than takeout.

I grew up with a crock pot in the house, but it was seldom used. My grandmother was home full time, and it was far more common for her to slow cook on top of the stove. When I moved out on my own, those delicious, slow-simmered dishes that were a staple of my diet were out of reach. I didn't have time to stay at home and stir the pot. I turned to convenience meals and microwave cookery, but I missed the wonderful meals I grew up with - coq au vin, slow simmered spaghetti sauce, beef stew, stewed chicken and baked beans.

That all changed when I discovered a recipe for "Mom's Busy Day Chicken" in a recipe book offered by the La Leche League. The recipe was incredibly simple - just put one cut up chicken in a crock pot, add two cans of stewed tomatoes and an onion, and flip the crock pot to low, and then walk away for six to eight hours. I was skeptical, but I tried it - and the results quickly became a family favorite. The chicken was tender enough to fall off the bone, and flavored through and through with spices and tomato sauce. The sauce was thick and perfect for spooning over rice or pasta and best of all, it was nutritious and healthy.

Why is crock pot cooking so great?