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Check It Out: Some quick ways to learn to slow cook

September 13, 2012|By Rebecca Lightfoot | By Rebecca Lightfoot

Slow cookers have gotten a bad reputation over the years for creating boring and bland meals using heavily processed foods and sauces. But not anymore. Slow cookers have undergone a makeover, and top-rated chefs are using them and sharing their delicious recipes.

Newport Beach's own chef Deborah Schneider of Sol Cocina has a new cookbook out called "The Mexican Slow Cooker." Sure to delight fans of both Mexican food and slow cookers, this book is chock full of Schneider's amazing Baja delicacies, like mole, enchiladas, carnitas and more. For an up-close demonstration of her slow-cooking techniques you can meet Schneider at What's Cooking at the Library on Sept. 22 at the Central Library. Her book will be available for purchase and personal signing. Information on tickets for this event, which includes the demonstration and tastings, can be found at http://www.newportbeachlibrary.org.

Did you ever think of using your slow cooker to make risotto or polenta? Michele Scicolone shows you how easy it is with her "Italian Slow Cooker." Dazzle family and friends with homey Italian dishes that you can whip up with little prep time but taste like you spent hours in the kitchen.

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Popular Food Network star Sandra Lee has made her name with her semi-homemade shows and cookbooks. Sandra's shortcuts help the busy cook prepare nutritious and delicious meals in less time but without skimping on flavor. She's also dedicated to helping the home cook save money, and in "Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade Money Saving Slow Cooking: 128 Quick-to-Cook Meals" she combines both her time and money saving techniques to create delicious meals sure to please the entire family. Everything from appetizers to desserts are offered in this colorful volume.

The folks at Fix-it and Forget-it have the same idea as Lee, and have created a line of slow cooker books filled with delicious recipes. One of their most popular volumes is "Fix-it and Forget-it 5-ingredient Favorites." Using five ingredients or less, these recipes are a surefire way to create comforting favorites using less time than you would imagine.

It seems like everyone's looking to cook a bit healthier these days, and slow cooker expert Judith Finlayson's "The Healthy Slow Cooker" will help you do just that. Finlayson uses fresh veggies and whole grains to create nutritious and delicious meals the whole family will enjoy, and without having to spend hours in the kitchen.

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