<br><h3> Chapter One </h3> <b>BEVERAGES</b> <p> <p> Serving hot beverages during a party, play group, or meeting is such a fun use for the slow cooker. Visitors will love lining up for their drinks, and the house smells marvelous while the beverage stays hot. When serving guests, provide a ladle and keep the slow cooker lid off with the pot turned to low. When the lid is off, the drink will not remain hot enough if on the warm setting. <p> CHAI TEA LATTE HOLIDAY PUNCH (NONALCOHOLIC) HOT BUTTERED RUM GINGERBREAD LATTE MULLED WINE PEPPERMINT HOT CHOCOLATE/ PEPPERMINT MOCHA PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE WASSAIL <p> <p> <b>CHAI TEA LATTE <p> <i>serves</i> 2 <i>to</i> 4</b> <p> <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Ingredients</i></b> <p> 4 cups milk 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves i/2 teaspoon ground ginger ] teaspoon vanilla extract 1 tablespoon sugar (I like baker's sugar because it dissolves nicely) 4 cinnamon sticks (or 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon) 4 cardamom pods 4 tea bags (black tea) <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Directions</i></b> <p> Use a 4-quart slow cooker. Put milk into the stoneware, and stir in the spices, vanilla, and sugar. Float the cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and tea bags on top. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, or until heated through. <p> <p> <b><i>The Verdict</i></b> <p> Of the different hot beverages I've made in the slow cooker, this is my least favorite, but it's because I'm just not a fan of tea. My husband, Adam, and I joked that a shot of espresso would really liven it up. But! If you like tea, and are spending $4 for store-bought lattes a few times a week, you should give this a try. I've gotten quite a few nice e-mails about this tea. Apparently it tastes just like the "real" thing. <p> <p> <b>HOLIDAY PUNCH (NONALCOHOLIC) <i>serves</i> 6</b> <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Ingredients</i></b> <p> 4 cups cranberry juice 4 cups pineapple juice 1/3 cup hot tamales candy 6 cinnamon sticks <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Directions</i></b> <p> Use a 4-quart slow cooker. Combine the juices in the stoneware, and add the hot tamales. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, or on low for 4 to 5 hours. Stir. The candy will pretty much dissolve, leaving just a hint of cinnamony flavor. Ladle the punch into mugs and garnish with a cinnamon stick if desired. <p> <p> <b><i>The Verdict</i></b> <p> This is the easiest hot drink I have made in the slow cooker, and the kids liked it the most. They drank two mugs each after school, and another after dinner. I really liked it a lot, too, and had two servings while watching <i>Oprah</i>. Adam only got a taste; he should have come home earlier! <p> <p> <b>HOT BUTTERED RUM <i>serves</i> 5</b> <p> <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Ingredients</i></b> <p> 4 cups warm water 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter pinch of salt (even if your butter is salted, go ahead and add it) 2 cinnamon sticks 3 whole cloves 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, plus more for garnish (optional) <b>TO ADD LATER</b> shot or two of rum splash of eggnog ground cinnamon (optional) <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Directions</i></b> <p> Use a 4-quart slow cooker. Add the water, brown sugar, butter, salt, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and nutmeg to the crock. Cover and cook on high for 1 to 2 hours, or until the butter has melted and the mixture is quite hot. Ladle into a mug with a shot or two of rum, and add a splash of eggnog. Garnish with a sprinkle more nutmeg and cinnamon, if you like. <p> <p> <b><i>The Verdict</i></b> <p> We had this on Christmas Day, and it was delicious. My mother-in-law even liked this, and she usually doesn't drink alcohol. Keep in mind that if your eggnog is right from the fridge, it will make the butter harden in the mug if you acid too much (ask me how I know this ...). It would be better to take a bit out of the fridge and let it warm to room temperature while the butter and sugar cook in the crock. My sister-in-law was pregnant, and she enjoyed plain eggnog with the butter and brown sugar. <p> <p> <b>GINGERBREAD LATTE <i>serves</i> 2 <i>to</i> 4</b> <p> <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Ingredients</i></b> <p> 4 cups milk 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 2 teaspoons ground ginger 1/2 cup sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1/2 cup strong black coffee, or 1 freshly brewed shot of espresso, per serving Cinnamon sticks, whipped cream (garnish) <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Directions</i></b> <p> Use a 2-quart slow cooker. Put the milk into the stoneware, and whisk in the dried spices, sugar, and vanilla. Don't add the coffee. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours, or high for 1 to 2 hours. The milk should be quite hot, but if your slow cooker tends to get hot enough to boil, keep an eye on it. Don't let the milk boil. Pour into hot coffee or espresso. Garnish with whipped cream, a sprinkle of nutmeg, and a cinnamon stick. <p> <p> <b><i>The Verdict</i></b> <p> I think this might be my favorite coffee drink I've made. It really hit the spot on a cloudy day around 3:00 p.m. when I really, really wanted to climb into bed for a nap, but didn't have the time. After four or five sugar cookies and a latte, I was wide awake until 1:00 a.m. With any luck, you can have the same experience. The kids both had a cup of the warm milk mixture with whipped cream and were delighted. Adam didn't get to try any, but I did save my mug for him to smell-I'm thoughtful that way. <p> <p> <b>MULLED WINE <i>serves</i> 10</b> <p> <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Ingredients</i></b> <p> 2 (750 ml) bottles dry red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon) 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3 oranges) 3/4 cup sugar 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 4 cinnamon sticks 4 whole cloves 2 more oranges (one to float on top, and one for garnish wedges) <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Directions</i></b> <p> Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Pour the wine into the stoneware, and squeeze the oranges to get 1 cup of juice. I'm sure you could get away with using store-bought juice, but the pulp floating around is what's kind of neat about mulled wine; it's more rustic this way. Stir in the sugar and ground spices. Float the cinnamon sticks and whole cloves on top. Slice one of the oranges in rings and float on top. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, or on low for 4 hours. You want the wine to get as hot as a traditional hot beverage. Ladle the wine into mugs, and serve with a fresh orange wedge. When serving, leave the lid off and the slow cooker on low. <p> <p> <b><i>The Verdict</i></b> <p> I liked this a lot. An awful lot. Maybe even a bit too much. The guests I've served this to have all been equally impressed. I like that you can use cheap wine (the wine I've used is between $2 and $4 per bottle) and it still wows even the toughest wine snob. <p> <p> <b>PEPPERMINT HOT CHOCOLATE/ PEPPERMINT MOCHA <i>serves</i> 10 <i>to</i> 12</b> <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Ingredients</i> <p> FOR THE BASIC PEPPERMINT HOT CHOCOLATE</b> 3 cups nonfat dry milk 1 cup confectioners' sugar 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 cup milk chocolate syrup 1 to 2 teaspoons peppermint extract 7 cups water marshmallows and candy canes, for garnish <b>FOR A "MOCHA"</b> Pour the cooked hot chocolate over a shot of espresso or a half cup of very strong coffee. <b>FOR AN "ADULT DRINK"</b> Omit peppermint extract and pour the hot chocolate over a shot of peppermint Schnapps. <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Directions</i></b> <p> Use a 4-quart slow cooker. Combine the dry ingredients in the stoneware and stir with a spoon. Squeeze in chocolate syrup, and add the peppermint extract. Add water a cup at a time, and stir well. The chocolate mixture will be bubbly and look powdery. It's okay-I promise it will cook together. Cover and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours, or until completely hot. Serve with marshmallows and candy canes. If guests serve themeselves, keep the pot on low with the lid off, and provide a ladle. <p> <p> <b><i>The Verdict</i></b> <p> Very tasty. I tried it plain, and with a half cup of strong coffee. I did not try the Peppermint Schnapps version, but assume it would taste good (it was 10:00 a.m.). The kids thought that the 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract was too strong, but that 1 teaspoon was perfect. I recommend starting with 1 teaspoon, and adding 1/4 teaspoon at a time to taste. <p> <p> <b>PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE <i>serves</i> 2</b> <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Ingredients</i></b> <p> 1/2 cup brewed espresso or 3/4 cup strong coffee 2 cups milk (I used 1 percent) 2 tablespoons canned pured pumpkin 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon cloves, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, and a teeny tiny pinch of ground ginger 2 tablespoons sugar 2 tablespoons vanilla extract whipped cream (optional garnish) 2 cinnamon sticks (optional garnish) <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Directions</i></b> <p> Use a 2-quart slow cooker. Add coffee/espresso and milk to the stoneware. Whisk in pumpkin, spices, sugar, and vanilla. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Whisk again. Ladle into mugs, and garnish with whipped cream and additional cinnamon. You can add a cinnamon stick to be fancy. <p> <p> <b><i>The Verdict</i></b> <p> This recipe really does taste like the real thing-except it doesn't leave a fluorescent orange stain when you dribble it down your sweater. I also learned that coffee-house pumpkin spice lattes may contain gluten, which is another reason to make them yourself! <p> <p> <b>WASSAIL <i>serves</i> 8</b> <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Ingredients</i></b> <p> 2 quarts apple cider 1 cup pineapple juice 1/2 cup honey 3 cinnamon sticks 2 whole cloves 1 orange, cut into rings brandy (optional) <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Directions</i></b> <p> Use a 4-quart slow cooker. This makes 9 cups of spiced punch. Put the cider, juice, honey, cinnamon, and cloves into the cooker. Wash the orange well, and cut off each end. Slice the rest into rings, and float on top of the punch. Cook on high for 2 hours, or on low for about 4 hours. You want the punch to be completely hot, and the flavor of the cloves and the cinnamon to have permeated the juices. <p> Ladle the punch into mugs. If you are going to add the brandy, put a shot into each mug, then top with the hot punch. If guests will be serving themselves, provide a ladle, and keep the slow cooker turned to low and the lid off. <p> <p> <b><i>The Verdict</i></b> <p> Delicious and soothing. One of my kids had a sore throat, and she drank a lot (minus the brandy), and was happy with how it made her throat feel better. We drank our wassail out of mugs while we watched a <i>Murder, She Wrote</i> marathon on TV. I love Jessica Fletcher. <p> <p> <h3> Chapter Two </h3> <b>APPETIZERS</b> <p> <p> Entertaining with the slow cooker is such a breeze. I love having a few little cookers plugged in with a variety of dips for guests to sample while I'm finishing up the main meal. The variety of slow-cooked appetizers is extensive. You can make the old standby of Cream Cheese, Sausage, and Rotel Dip (page 28) for the big game, wow visitors with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese with a Cranberry Balsamic Syrup (page 39) at a fancy dinner party. <p> * * * <p> BACON AND CHEESE DIP BAKED BRIE BLACK BEAN AND GOAT CHEESE DIP BRIE WITH APRICOT TOPPING BRIE WITH PECANS AND CRANBERRIES BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP CHICKEN NACHOS CRAB DIP CREAM CHEESE, SAUSAGE, AND ROTEL DIP HOISIN CHICKEN WINGS HOT AND SPICY ARTICHOKE DIP JALAPEO POPPERS NOT-TOO-SPICY BEAN DIP ROASTED GARLIC SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP SUN-DRIED TOMATO DIP SUPER DUPER GARLIC DIP SWEET AND SPICY CHICKEN WINGS TERIYAKI DRUMETTES TOMATOES AND GOAT CHEESE WITH CRANBERRY BALSAMIC SYRUP TURKEY MEATBALLS WITH CRANBERRY BARBECUE SAUCE WHITE BEAN AND PESTO SPREAD <p> <p> <b>BACON AND CHEESE DIP <i>serves</i> 4</b> <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Ingredients</i></b> <p> 1/3 cup milk (I used soy milk) 1 teaspoon gluten-free Worcestershire sauce 2 slices American cheese 2 slices cheddar cheese 5 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Directions</i></b> <p> Use a 1-quart or smaller slow cooker. Add the milk to the crock, then add the Worcestershire sauce. Crumble in the cheese slices, and add the cooked bacon. Cover and cook for 1 hour. Stir to blend and serve with tortilla chips, bread cubes, or sliced vegetables. <p> <p> <b><i>The Verdict</i></b> <p> We ate this at 9:15 a.m. on Mother's Day. I had just received the Little Dipper Crock-Pot as a gift from my mother-in-law, and was eager to test it out. Our dip had a great smoky flavor without being too greasy. <p> <p> <b>BAKED BRIE <i>serves</i> 8</b> <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Ingredients</i></b> <p> 1 can refrigerated crescent rolls (If gluten-free, use the recipe listed on page 404 for crescent dough) 1 (16-ounce) wheel brie <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Directions</i></b> <p> Use a 4-quart stow cooker, with an oven-safe dish inserted for easy brie removal. Roll out the chilled dough or crescent rolls on a cutting board. Don't tear apart the little crescent roll triangles. I didn't use an actual rolling pin, I just squished the dough down with a piece of plastic wrap. Place the wheel of brie in the center of the dough and fold the edges of the dough together. If you have enough dough to cover the top, go for it. I did not, and left a peek-hole. Put the wrapped brie into the oven safe dish, and insert into the stoneware. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours, with a toothpick wedged in the cover for just a bit of a vent. Your brie is done when the dough has browned on top, and begun to pull away from the sides of the dish. <p> <p> <b>BLACK BEAN AND GOAT CHEESE DIP <i>serves</i> 4</b> <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Ingredients</i></b> <p> 1 cup refried black beans 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice 2 garlic cloves, chopped 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon ground cumin 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves 3 to 5 slices goat cheese <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Directions</i></b> <p> Use a 1-quart or smaller slow cooker. Put 1 cup of refried black beans into your cooker. Add the lime juice. Top with the garlic, cayenne, cumin, and cilantro. Stir. Add the goat cheese. Cover the cooker and plug it in. Cook the dip for 1 to 2 hours, or until the goat cheese has melted and the beans are warm and gooey. Serve with corn tortilla chips. <p> <p> <b><i>The Verdict</i></b> <p> Very tasty. I was quite pleased with the kick the dip had, and loved how the goat cheese was creamy and mellow. The cilantro gave a "freshness" that I really appreciated-it didn't just taste like a canned bean dip. The kids scooped most of the goat cheese off the top, but did try enough of the black bean dip to declare it spicy. <p> <p> <b>BRIE WITH APRICOT TOPPING <i>serves</i> 6</b> <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Ingredients</i></b> <p> 1 (16-ounce) round or wedge brie 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar 2 tablespoons brown sugar 2 tablespoons water 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary 1/2 cup chopped walnuts <p> * * * <p> <b><i>The Directions</i></b> <p> Use a 2-quart slow cooker. If your brie has a really hard rind, cut the top part off and discard. Put into the stoneware. In a bowl, mix apricots, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, water, and rosemary together. Spoon on top of the brie. Sprinkle with the walnuts. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours, or on high for 1 to 2 hours, checking after 1 hour. Serve with your favorite crackers or apple slices. <p> <p> <b><i>The Verdict</i></b> <p> I couldn't wait to dig in, so I removed the stoneware from the base, wrapped it up in a beach towel, grabbed a sleeve of crackers, and plopped on the couch in front of the TV. When Adam or the kids got near, I snarled and batted them away with my arm. This couldn't possibly taste any better. The flavor is delicious, and the brie got so gooey and amazing-I think I just drooled a bit, remembering. <p> <i>(Continues...)</i> <p> <p> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>MAKE IT Fast, COOK IT Slow</b> by <b>Stephanie O'Dea</b> Copyright © 2009 by Stephanie O'Dea. Excerpted by permission.<br> All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.