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With these slow cooker recipes, you can enjoy home cooked holiday meals without the fuss.

The slow cooker is one of my favorite appliances. I like that I can leave it on while I'm out of the house, and if I'm an hour late getting home, it's no big deal. There is a wonderful sense of comfort in knowing your dinner is cooking at home. And if there's a delay and you need to keep things warm for another hour, you can just keep the slow cooker on "Low" for another hour. It's that simple!

At this time of year, it can especially come in handy to have dinner simmering in the slow cooker while you run holiday errands or take part in fun holiday activities.

And, in keeping with the holiday spirit, why not use your slow cooker to prepare some festive favorites? Some holiday flavors and colors that come to mind are:

  • Orange and cranberry
  • Apples and spices
  • Green and red
  • Meat, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

The four recipes below feature each of these combinations. With these fix-it-fast dishes, you can enjoy festive, homemade meals this holiday season while spending very little time in your kitchen. Gotta love that!

Orange Cranberry Chicken

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 1 serving lean meat and moderate-fat meat with 1 tsp. fat maximum.

This dish goes great with steamed brown rice.

1 tablespoon less-fat margarine
1/3 cup reduced-sugar orange marmalade
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (if using broth powder, make it double strength by adding 1 cup of hot water to 2 teaspoons of broth powder)
6 skinless, boneless half breasts of chicken, cut into about 3 pieces each

  • Add all ingredients except chicken to the slow cooker; stir well with spoon.
  • Add the chicken breast pieces to the slow cooker, cover, and cook on HIGH for 3 hours or on LOW about 6 hours, or until chicken is cooked throughout.
  • Serve chicken pieces with the orange cranberry sauce from the slow cooker.

Yield: 6 servings

Per serving: 253 calories, 28 g protein, 25 g carbohydrate, 4.4 g fat, 1.1 g saturated fat, 73 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 210 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 16%.

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