The very first year I was married, we lived in a tiny one-bedroom brick duplex with absolutely no insulation — we called it our little brick oven.  That summer Texas also happened to experience record heat. Where we lived in Abilene, we suffered through more than 100 triple-digit days in a row. We were always hot and always uncomfortable and our electricity bill was pushing $300 a month.

It didn't take long for me to quit using the oven. The old gas stove only made our home hotter. So I started looking for alternative cooking options. We certainly made good use of our microwave and grill, but the slow cooker ended up being my go-to appliance.

If you're looking to keep your home cool and save energy, try one of these easy recipes.

Ham steak

This recipe could honestly not be easier — you only need two ingredients. Pick up a ham steak at your local supermarket (it looks like a giant slice of ham and typically runs about 2 pounds) and a jar of Boar's Head brown sugar glaze and follow these directions.

  1. Put ¼ cup water in the bottom of your slow cooker.
  2. Cut the ham into pieces that will fit in your pot—or into portions.
  3. Smear the ham with the glaze.
  4. Drop it in the slow cooker and cook on low for six hours.

Roast

This is one of my favorite recipes because you can pop it in the slow cooker before work and come home to a scrumptious fully cooked meal. It also takes very little prep time so it's perfect for days where you're in a rush.

All you need is roast, carrots, potatoes and onion soup mix.

  1. Put ¼ to ½ cup water in the bottom of your slow cooker.
  2. Add in the roast, 2-3 pounds is usually perfect.
  3. Pour one package of onion soup mix on the top.
  4. Toss in some baby carrots and potatoes.
  5. Cook on low for eight hours.

Cashew chicken

Full disclosure, this recipe takes a little more work. You can't just throw everything into the slow cooker at once, but it's still a relatively easy and very delicious dinner option.

Here's what you'll need:

1 pound boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces

2 cups of baby carrots

½ cup chicken broth

4 tablespoons of soy sauce

8 ounces of snow peas

16 ounces of pineapple tidbits, with 2 tablespoons juice reserved

1 red bell pepper

3 tablespoons of corn starch

½ cup of cashews

 

  1. In the slow cooker bowl, stir together the chicken, broth, carrots and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.
  2. Cover and cook on high for three hours, or low for five hours.
  3. Remove the cover and add in the snow peas, pineapple tidbits and sliced red bell pepper.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, the pineapple juice and corn starch.
  5. Pour mixture into the slow cooker bowl and stir.
  6. Mix in the cashews and allow the dish to cook for another 10 minutes or until the liquid has thickened.
  7. Once it's finished, you can eat it by itself or serve it over rice.

 

 

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