Slow cookers were introduced in the early 1970's, but have evolved over the years. When they first hit store shelves, the liner -- the insert that goes inside the slow cooker -- wasn't removable. This made clean up difficult and many slow cookers were pushed to the back of the cabinet. A few years later, slow cookers became available with a removable liner. A removable liner makes clean up a breeze since it can be washed in the dishwasher.
Slow cookers come in a variety of shapes and sizes ranging from one quart to six quart. The most common shapes are round and oval. The oval shape is wonderful for cooking something big like a roast. My 21 year old slow cooker has two settings: low and high. Newer models have more settings and some are even programmable.
My husband loves barbecue chicken. Although we live in a city where barbecue is king, rather than go out to eat, I fix barbecue chicken in my slow cooker. The first time I fixed it, my husband deemed the recipe a keeper. It's not so much a recipe, but a method. It's quick and easy and only uses two ingredients: barbecue sauce and chicken.
Put the desired number of boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the slow cooker. Pour your favorite barbecue sauce over the chicken, covering the top of the chicken with the sauce. If you're cooking several pieces of chicken, it's a good idea to put some barbecue sauce between the layers of chicken. Put the lid on and turn the temperature setting to low. Five hours later, your dinner will be ready. One advantage of using a slow cooker is it cooks with slow and steady heat, so it's ok if the chicken cooks longer than five hours.
With just a little bit of prep time, your entree will be cooked and the kitchen cool when you're ready to eat. If you want to keep your kitchen completely cool, round out the meal with a green salad and some fresh microwave corn-on-the-cob.