In keeping with one of my favorite philosophies of food — "Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first!" — today's first super summer recipe is the easiest dessert ever. And it's most likely the best peach cobbler you and your family will have ever tasted — I mean, devoured. My advice is to make this every weekend, starting today, while fresh peaches are cheap and plentiful.
SLOW COOKER PEACH COBBLER
6 fresh, ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
1 white cake mix
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, soft
Place sliced peaches in bottom of 3- or 4-quart slow cooker. In a medium bowl, combine the dry, unprepared cake mix with the butter. Cut the butter into the cake mix with a pastry blender (or fork or potato masher) until crumbly. Sprinkle cake mix mixture over peaches. Place paper towel or dish towel on top of slow cooker, and seal with slow cooker's lid. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or on low for about 4 hours. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Servings: 6 to 8.
SLOW COOKER HAWAIIAN CHICKEN
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (frozen is OK)
1 (15-ounce) bottle sweet pineapple barbecue sauce (like King's Hawaiian Original Sweet Pineapple BBQ Sauce)
1 (20-ounce) can of pineapple, sliced or chunks, drained
Fresh cilantro (optional)
Hamburger buns (optional)
Place chicken in bottom of 4-quart slow cooker. Pour half of the bottle of barbecue sauce over the top of the chicken. Place pineapple slices around chicken. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. If chicken is frozen, it will be closer to 6 hours. Shred the chicken on a cutting board, and then return it to slow cooker. Pour the rest of the barbecue sauce over the shredded chicken, and stir. Serve chicken and pineapple over rice or on hamburger buns. If desired, garnish with cilantro. Servings: 4 to 6.
PESTO CHICKEN AND MUSHROOMS
2 large, boneless, skinless chicken breasts (whole or cut into bite-size pieces)
1/3 cup pesto sauce
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Place chicken in the bottom of a 3- or 4-quart slow cooker. Sprinkle well with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms over top of chicken. Spoon the pesto sauce over the chicken and mushrooms, in dollops. Sprinkle cheese over top. Cover and cook on low for 2 to 3 hours or until chicken registers 160 F on meat thermometer. If the chicken is already cut into pieces, stir a bit, and serve. If the chicken breasts are whole, slice them on a cutting board, and stir together with the pesto sauce and mushrooms to serve. Servings: 4.
FRENCH DIP SANDWICHES, CROCK POT STYLE
1 (4-pound) boneless beef roast
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 beef bouillon cube
1 bay leaf
3 whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
10 French rolls, sliced
Remove and discard all visible fat from the roast. Place trimmed roast in a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker. In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, bouillon, bay leaf, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and garlic powder. Pour mixture over roast, and add enough water to almost cover roast. Cover and cook on low heat for 10 to 12 hours, or until meat is very tender.
Remove meat from broth, reserving broth. Shred meat with a fork, and distribute on sliced rolls. Serve reserved broth for dipping. Servings: 10
PORK CHOPS WITH APRICOT-HOISIN SAUCE
6 boneless pork chops (about 4 ounces each)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup apricot preserves
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce (Asian foods aisle)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro or parsley (optional)
Sprinkle pork chops very lightly with salt and pepper, and place in 6- or 7-quart slow cooker; add chicken broth. Cover and cook on low until pork chops are tender, about 3 hours (longer if chops are larger). Remove pork chops, and keep warm. Turn heat to high, and cook 10 minutes; stir remaining ingredients into broth, stirring 2 to 3 minutes. Serve sauce over pork chops.
Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."
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