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Having friends and family over for good food and celebration is one of the greatest joys of my life. And like all busy cooks, I can always use the help the slow cooker provides in putting on a party. Whether you’re hosting the holidays or another kind of gathering, these recipes for drinks, appetizers, main dishes, side dishes, and desserts (including a slow-cooked Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake!) allow you to have fun too.
4 sticks cinnamon (plus more for garnish [optional])
In a 4-quart slow cooker, stir together apple cider, cranberry juice cocktail, rum, schnapps, and cinnamon.
Cover and cook on Low heat setting for 1 to 2 hours. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks.
Serve hot toddy warm in clear, footed coffee mugs with fresh cinnamon stick swizzles (optional).
In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper until combined.
Coat a 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Place pecans in slow cooker. Pour melted butter over pecans and toss to coat. Sprinkle spice mixture over pecans; toss until well coated.
Cover and cook on Low heat setting for 3 hours, stirring once every hour. Turn slow cooker to High heat setting. Remove lid and cook for 30 minutes more.
Serve immediately or turn slow cooker to Warm heat setting; keep warm. Sprinkle with parsley (optional).
Coat a 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In slow cooker, stir together cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and marmalade until combined. Add cinnamon stick.
Cover and cook on High heat setting for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring at least once.
Remove and discard cinnamon stick. Remove cover from slow cooker; let sauce cool.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray; set aside. Unroll puff pastry sheet and lay flat. Place Brie wheel in the center of puff pastry. Bring ends of puff pastry over cheese toward the center of wheel. Securely fold ends under; lay wrapped wheel, fold side down, on prepared baking sheet. Brush pastry with egg wash. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Place baked Brie on serving platter. Spoon cranberry-orange sauce over top. Serve warm with assorted crackers.
In a 4-quart slow cooker, whisk together evaporated milk, chocolate liqueur, and peppermint schnapps. Add chocolate chips.
Cover and cook on Low heat setting for 2 to 3 hours, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes.
Top each mug of hot chocolate with a spoonful of whipped topping (optional) and place a candy cane (optional) on the lip of the mug.
In a 5-quart slow cooker, toss together potatoes, carrots, onion, celery, and garlic-herb seasoning. Sprinkle both sides of roast with onion soup mix. Place on top of vegetables in slow cooker.
In a small bowl, stir together gravy and garlic. Pour over roast in slow cooker.
Cover and cook on Low heat setting for 8 to 10 hours.
Transfer roast to a cutting board; let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve sliced roast with vegetables and gravy.
In a 5-quart slow cooker, combine onions and celery. Sprinkle roast with steak seasoning; place on vegetables in slow cooker. In a medium bowl, stir together cranberry sauce and wine until combined. Spoon over roast in
Cover and cook on Low heat setting for 5 to 6 hours.
Transfer roast to a cutting board; let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, over high heat, bring vegetable broth and butter to a boil. Stir pork stuffing mix and dried cranberries into pan. Cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
To serve, mound some stuffing on center of plate. Spoon a portion of celery, onions, cranberries, and accumulated juices from slow cooker over stuffing. Top with sliced roast.
Yields: 6 servings
Preparation Time: Prep 15 minutes Cook 5 to 6 hours (Low) Stand 15 minutes
In a 5-quart slow cooker, toss together carrots and cinnamon sugar. Place ham on top of carrots. In a medium bowl, stir together marmalade, apple juice, and cinnamon until smooth. Pour over ham in slow cooker.
Cover and cook on Low heat setting for 5 to 6 hours.
Transfer ham to a cutting board; let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve sliced ham with carrots and glaze.
Yields: 6 servings
Preparation Time: Prep 10 minutes Cook 5 to 6 hours (Low) Stand 10 minutes
Coat a 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In slow cooker, stir together mexicorn and creamed corn.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, evaporated milk, muffin mix, melted butter, and bourbon until combined. Pour over corn in slow cooker; stir until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cover and cook on High heat setting for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until set.
Coat a 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In slow cooker, stir together green beans, mushrooms, half of the french-fried onions, the bacon, and seasoning until combined.
In a medium bowl, stir together mushroom soup and processed cheese until combined. Pour over vegetables in slow cooker.
Cover and cook on Low setting for 3 to 4 hours.
Thirty minutes before casserole is done, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On a baking sheet, spread the remaining french-fried onions in a single layer. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Before serving, sprinkle onions
2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups miniature marshmallows
Coat a 5-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In a large bowl, stir together sweet potatoes, pecans, butter, and orange juice concentrate until combined. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and cayenne pepper until combined. Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture; stir until combined. Spoon into slow cooker.
Cover and cook on Low heat setting for 2 to 3 hours.
Sprinkle marshmallows over top of sweet potatoes in slow cooker. Cover and cook on Low heat setting for 15 minutes more or until marshmallows are melted.
Coat a 5-quart slow cooker with cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl, toss together stuffing mix, chicken broth, onions, celery, melted butter, walnuts, and bacon until combined. Fold in cranberry sauce. Pour into slow cooker.
Cover and cook on High heat setting for 1 hour. Switch to Low heat setting and cook for 3 to 4 hours.
1 loaf (16-ounce) cinnamon bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 can (21-ounce) apple pie filling
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 can (12-ounce) evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons butter, cut into tiny pieces
3/4 cup caramel topping
2 tablespoons bourbon
Whipped dessert topping, thawed (optional)
Coat a 5-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In a large bowl, stir together bread, pie filling, and pecans until combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk together evaporated milk, cream, eggs, brown sugar, allspice, and salt until combined. Pour over bread mixture; stir gently until bread is saturated. Pour into slow cooker and dot with butter.
Cover and cook on Low heat setting for 3 to 4 hours.
In a small microwave-safe bowl, stir together caramel topping and bourbon. Cover and microwave on High setting (100 percent power) for 1 to 2 minutes or until warm. Serve bread pudding topped with caramel-bourbon sauce and whipped topping (optional).
Coat an 8 1/2-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Wrap foil around the bottom of pan. Crumple additional aluminum foil to create a “ring base” about 5 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Set aside.
In a food processor, process gingersnaps and sugar into fine crumbs. Add melted butter; pulse until mixture comes together. Press crumbs into bottom of prepared springform pan.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Add sugar, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice; beat until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add sour cream; beat until combined. Pour over crumb crust in springform pan.
Place foil ring in bottom of slow cooker; pour 1/2 inch of hot water into bottom of slow cooker. Using 2 long strips of foil, make an “X” over foil ring and bring it up along the sides of slow cooker to assist removing springform pan from slow cooker. Place springform pan on top of ring and the “X” in slow cooker. Stack 6 paper towels; place over top of slow cooker (to absorb moisture). Secure with lid.
Cook on High heat setting for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until cheesecake is set with a wet-looking center. (Do not lift lid for the first 1 hour of cooking.) Turn off heat and let sit, covered, for 30 minutes.
Use foil strips to lift springform pan from slow cooker. Place pan on wire rack; let cool to room temperature. Chill in pan for at least 4 hours. Just before serving, remove cake from pan.
Yields: 8 servings
Preparation Time: Prep 30 minutes Cook 1 1/2 to 2 hours (High) Stand 30 minutes Chill 4 hours
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