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The Instant Pot may be the current king of kitchen gadgets, but that doesn’t mean your slow cooker should be collecting dust. Here to reignite your love affair with your Crock-Pot is 3-Step Slow Cooker Cookbook ($22) by Drew Maresco, featuring 75 recipes for easy, hearty, fix-it-and-forget-it slow-cooker meals. Fill your kitchen with the aromas of gently bubbling chicken pot pie soup or caramelized onion pot roast, and your slow cooker just might earn a permanent nook on your countertop. While your cookbook is in the mail, whet your appetite with Maresco’s mozzarella-stuffed chicken meatballs. Go ahead and double the recipe below; there definitely won’t be leftovers otherwise.

Far too many slow-cooker recipes defeat the purpose of using a slow cooker; they’ll ask you to sauté ingredients or prepare sauces in a separate pan before you actually get to the Crock-Pot part. That’s not the case with 3-Step Slow Cooker recipes, most of which come together with a simple stir and a few hours of heat. You’ll even make dishes you didn’t know could be slow-cooked, like old-school meatloaf and a whole “roasted” chicken that tastes just like the rotisserie kind but without the fuss.

If your biggest hurdle in the kitchen is deciding what to make, you’ll plan menus with ease while flipping through 3-Step Slow Cooker. The book is organized into themes, like comfort food, Asian, Italian, and barbecue, so you can identify your craving and hone in on the best dish to satisfy it. Love Mexican but have a vegetarian friend coming over? Flip to the veggie section and land on a recipe for enchilada pie made with black beans and quinoa.

Maresco’s approachable, crowd-pleasing recipes prove that families don’t have to survive solely on pizza and mac and cheese. No kids’ table would turn down a plate of slow-cooker orange chicken or beef stroganoff with egg noodles, while even the pickiest eater could come around to the more sophisticated lemon-basil chicken with orzo. Perhaps the biggest crowd pleaser of all? Maresco’s addictively cheesy mozzarella-stuffed chicken meatballs. Whip them up with the recipe below, and you’ll vow never to eat a non-cheesy meatball again.

mozzarella-stuffed Chicken meatballs RECIPE

(Serves 4)

Spaghetti and meatballs are a classic. Using ground chicken to make these meatballs a bit leaner and stuffing them with fresh mozzarella makes this a satisfying meal your whole family will enjoy. Use whole-wheat pasta to give your meal a good fiber boost as well!

Ingredients:

Sauce:

  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 medium onion, grated
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (Unseasoned regular breadcrumbs would work just fine.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into roughly 1/2-inch cubes
  • 16 ounces spaghetti, cooked, for serving

Directions:

1. Stir together the tomatoes, onion, wine, tomato paste, garlic, basil, oregano, and salt in your 6-quart slow cooker. Combine the chicken, egg, parmesan, breadcrumbs, basil, oregano, garlic powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Be sure not to over mix this, as it can make the meat tough.

2. Scoop out 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture, form it into a disk, place a mozzarella piece in the center, and wrap the meat around the cheese, rolling to form into a ball. Repeat with the remaining meat and cheese. Carefully place the meatballs into your slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 6 hours.

3. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Serve meatballs over cooked pasta.

For more succulent slow-cooker meals, follow Brit + Co on Pinterest.

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(From 3-Step Slow Cooker Cookbook by Drew Maresco, Page Street Publishing, copyright 2018. Photo credit: Jennifer Blume)