You Need a Kitchen Assistant

Professional chefs have sous chefs to do all the hard work and to see that meals get to the table in a timely manner. While I wouldn’t characterize myself as a chef, I do have a home kitchen assistant, and quite frankly I just don’t know what I’d do without her.

Three or four mornings a week, I hastily give her my plans for dinner and head to the office. She oversees the meal, does all the hard work while I’m gone and without fail has that meal ready to go when it’s time for dinner. Even better, she never complains and costs me less than 2 cents an hour.

Perhaps you’ve already figured out my assistant is my trusty slow cooker. While she’s a good worker, her results are only as good as the techniques I follow and the recipes I assign to her. Like these for example, both using a 6-quart or larger slow cooker:



3 pounds skinless, bone-in chicken thighs

1/4 cup hoisin sauce*

1/4 cup plum chutney or plum sauce*

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 medium piece (about 2 inches) fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced or grated

Juice of 1 whole fresh lime

3 tablespoons corn starch


Mix all ingredients except the chicken in a bowl. Add the chicken pieces and coat well. Place everything, including the marinade, in the slow cooker. Cover well. If your lid doesn’t fit tightly, seal the opening with either foil or heat-resistant plastic wrap first, then apply the lid. Cook five to six hours on the low setting. Do not peek. Serve with rice. Yield: 4 servings. Amazingly good!

*Available in the Asian aisle of most supermarkets.



6 boneless skinless chicken breasts

6 pieces ham

6 slices Swiss cheese

1 can any cream soup (mushroom, chicken, celery, etc.)

1/4 cup milk


Pound chicken breasts very thin with a flat-sided mallet (not the tenderizing side). Place a slice of ham and cheese on each piece. Roll up and secure with a toothpick. Place three rolls in the slow cooker so it looks like a triangle. Layer the rest on top. Mix soup with milk, then pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for four hours or until chicken is no longer pink. Serve with the sauce. Fabulous! Yield: 6 large servings.



4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Bottled Italian dressing


Place the chicken in the slow cooker. Pour Italian dressing over the top of the chicken, enough to cover but not so much the chicken is drowning. (You really can’t go wrong here.) Cover and cook on low heat for seven hours, or on high heat for three-and-a-half hours. Ridiculously easy and so delicious! Serve over rice or noodles, or alongside a baked potato. The possibilities are endless. You’re welcome.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, for just the cost of three or four dinner takeouts, you can buy a very nice one. Then put your kitchen assistant to work. You’ll be a hit with your family and wallet, too.

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