Slow Cooking Creates Free Time

Who couldn’t use a little more free time in his or her day? Slow cookers can create that by enabling home chefs to set their ingredients to simmer early in the day and then head to work, school, recreational activities — pretty much whatever they need to get done — as the food cooks. Not being beholden to the kitchen is a benefit slow cookers offer.

Since slow cookers cook foods slowly at low temperatures, they are quite handy and even can help people save money. Tougher cuts of meat or poultry tend to cost a little less, and they can be cooked to perfection in the slow cooker. The long, moist cooking environment tenderizes the ingredients during the cooking process.
Stews and slow cookers often go hand-in-hand. Enjoy this recipe for “Chicken Stew with Herb Dumplings” from “Crock*Pot® 365 Year-Round Recipes” (Publications International, Ltd.) by the Crock*Pot Test Kitchen.

Chicken Stew with Herb Dumplings
Makes 4 servings

2 cups sliced carrots
1 cup chopped onion
1 large green bell pepper, sliced
1⁄2 cup sliced celery
2 cans (about 14 ounces each) chicken broth, divided
2⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large red potato, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
6 ounces mushrooms, halved
3⁄4 cup frozen peas
11⁄4 teaspoons dried basil, divided
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
3⁄8 teaspoon dried tarragon, divided
1⁄4 cup heavy cream
3⁄4 to 1 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup biscuit baking mix
1⁄3 cup reduced-fat (2%) milk

1. Combine carrots, onion, bell pepper, celery and all but 1 cup chicken broth in the slow cooker. Cover; cook on low 2 hours.

2. Stir remaining 1 cup chicken broth into flour in small bowl until smooth. Stir into vegetable mixture. Add chicken, potato, mushrooms, peas, 1 teaspoon basil, 3⁄4 teaspoon rosemary and 1⁄4 teaspoon tarragon. Cover; cook on low 4 hours or until vegetables and chicken are tender. Stir in cream, salt and pepper.

3. Combine baking mix, remaining 1⁄4 teaspoon basil, 1⁄4 teaspoon rosemary and 1⁄8 teaspoon tarragon in small bowl. Stir in milk to form soft dough. Add dumpling mixture to top of stew in 4 large spoonfuls. Cook, uncovered, 30 minutes. Cover; cook 30 to 45 minutes or until dumplings are firm and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve in shallow bowls.

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