Put your slow cooker to good use this New Year's Eve by using it to cook and serve party foods. Try one of these 10 sure-to-please recipes for your big bash, or take one to the bash you're attending. (Pro tip: Wrap your slow cooker in dish towels and transport it in a rolling cooler. It will keep everything warm and make getting the slow cooker from door to door easier.)
1. Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili: This recipe allows you to make the chili a little spicy or a lot spicy depending on your tastes. Serve with optional toppings of avocado slices, shredded cheese, sour cream and sliced green onions.
2. Spinach Artichoke Dip: This recipes makes a huge batch of a crowd-pleasing creamy dip. Have pita or tortilla chips, baguette slices and raw veggies nearby for dipping.
3. Pulled Pork Sandwiches: The pork cooks in the slow cooker, removed and shredded while the juices from the pork are incorporated into sauce on the stove top. Put them back together in the slow cooker and keep on warm for sandwich fillings. A basket of crusty rolls that can hold up to the sauce should go right next to the slow cooker.
4. Lentil Sloppy Joes: For the vegetarians and vegans at the party, this hearty sandwich filling with lentils,mushrooms, vegetables and quinoa can go in the crusty rolls instead of the pulled pork. It looks so satisfying, even meat eaters may dive in.
5. Salsa Verde Queso Dip: Skip the glowing orange food dye that's usually in quest dip and go with this dip that combines white cheddar, pepper jack, and American with salsa verde and a few other ingredients. Tortilla chips and raw veggies should be served for dipping.
6. Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Meatballs: A surprising mix of sweet, tangy and spicy ingredients go into the sauce for cocktail meatballs. (I find cocktail meatballs are always a hit at a party.)
7. Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese: Dump and mix your way into creamy mac and cheese - you don't even need to boil the noodles. The recipe can be doubled if you're having a big crowd.
8. Garlic Herb Mushrooms: Something a little unexpected, but something mushroom lovers will dig into happily. Mushroom are slow cooked in a creamy sauce. Have some baguette slices nearby for mopping up the sauce after the mushrooms are gone.
9. Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries, Pecans and Butternut Squash: This can be a side dish for a smaller sit down gathering, or just a healthy, colorful option on a party buffet table. Separate the vegetables from the sauce and keep refrigerated separately if making ahead, then add them back into the slow cooker and heat them up to serve.
10. Mulled Pomegranate Apple Cider: Don't forget the slow cooker can keep drinks warm. Lots of spices and no added sugar are in this cider. Keep a bottle of bourbon nearby for anyone who may want to spike their cider.
One very important thing to keep in mind: Make sure the slow cooker you're using can be put on the warm setting manually. Some slow cookers require going through an entire cooking cycle before automatically going to warm, but that type of slow cooker will be problematic for many of these slow cooker New Year's Eve party recipes.