(Family Features) - Slow cookers are a simple, no-nonsense solution to making delicious meals for a family on the go. With minimal prep time, you can walk away and let the slow cooker work its magic - welcoming you home to an aromatic, ready-to-serve dinner. Here are some tips for slow cooker success:
Brown your meat before you heat. The extra few minutes you take to do so will greatly enhance the flavor of your meal. If you dredge your meat in a little flour before browning, you'll also get a thicker sauce. While some foods will brown during the cooking process, they won't have the same color and flavor they get when browned first on the stovetop. If you can find the time for this step, the results are worth it.
Prioritize your ingredients. Hardy, fresh vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, or turnips for example, cook more slowly than meat. To avoid undercooking these types of veggies, place them on the bottom or sides and the meat on top. Add tender veggies (peas) and strongly flavored veggies like broccoli, cauliflower or onions in the last 15 to 60 minutes. Dairy products like sour cream, milk or yogurt, tend to break down in the slow cooker. To prevent this, add them during the last 15 to 30 minutes of cooking. However, prepared items such as the Bob Evans' Refrigerated Mashed Potatoes in this recipe can be added at the beginning. Stir in spices for the last hour of cooking. They will lose flavor if cooked with the rest of the ingredients for the duration.
Resist the urge to stir. Each time you lift the lid to do so, heat escapes, extending the needed cooking time by up to half an hour. Some recipes do instruct you to stir halfway through the cooking process or toward the end, but otherwise it's best to leave the lid closed. To check progress without lifting the lid, spin the cover until the condensation falls off. Then it's easy to see inside.
For more family-friendly slow cooker recipes, visit www.bobevans.com.
Here's a deliciously simple slow cooker recipe from Bob Evans Food Products that your whole family will love: