Kitchen Focus

Once relegated to the top shelf in the closet, crockpots are making a comeback. And why not? In a world in which there never seems to be enough time, the crockpot takes on a medley of ingredients and makes a meal while you pay attention to other things. Who can argue with the usefulness of an appliance that can present you with a hot homemade meal when you walk in the door from a hard day at work?

What's more, a crockpot deals best with tough cuts of meat that are often overlooked at the grocery store. In fact, they tend to be among the least expensive cuts of meat -- which means you're not only going to come home to a great dinner, you're also not going to pay a lot for it!

This month, I'm offering you a couple of simple crockpot meals for you to try in your own home. They are simple, satisfying and great ways to eat well without spending too much time in the kitchen. And with summer here, that's a good thing in my book!

Enjoy and, as always, I encourage you to share your own recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at .

Spicy Cranberry Chicken

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs -- trimmed of fat
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped scallions or onion
  • 1 can cranberry sauce -- not the jelly kind!
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Brown the chicken breast lightly in a skillet coated with cooking spray and place it in the crockpot. Sprinkle the thighs with the scallions. Mix all of the other ingredients and pour the mixture over the chicken. Cover the crockpot and cook on low for seven to nine hours.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: About 8 hours

Creamy Chicken and Wine

This simple dish combines great ingredients like capers, artichokes and prosciutto to make an elegant dish that's easy to make.
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 soup can white wine
  • 2 T. sun-dried tomato paste
  • 1 can 98% fat-free cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can (12 ounces) artichoke hearts -- cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon capers -- rinsed and drained
  • 1 oz. prosciutto -- diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the chicken breast lightly in a skillet coated with cooking spray and place it in the crockpot. Whisk the wine and tomato paste into the soup and pour over the chicken. Add the diced artichokes and capers. Cover and cook six hours on low, or four hours on high. Add the prosciutto and seasonings before serving over buttered noodles or rice.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: About 6 hours