By Michelle Edelbaum , March 31, 2010 - 11:59am
Since it’s spring, I’m doing all the traditional spring things: I’ve packed up my winter sweaters and I’m digging into spring cleaning. But I haven’t put away my slow cooker. Since it’s still light when I get home from work, I want to take a walk with my son and husband or play with our dog in the yard, not spend a half hour or more making dinner. Slow cooker recipes  that practically cook themselves are my answer to having it all.
So I’m still cranking away on my slow-cooker routine:
Now that it’s spring, I’m making fewer hearty stews and more of these lighter spring dinners in the slow cooker:
Barbecue Pulled Chicken:  This recipe is a keeper in my house—it’s REALLY easy, I nearly always have the ingredients in my kitchen and it tastes great over rice or on rolls.
Greek Chicken & Vegetable Ragout:  This recipe is filled with so many tastes of spring: new potatoes, artichokes, dill. Plus it uses one of my favorite cuts—chicken thighs—which stay moist and succulent during slow cooking.
Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew:  Here's a dinnertime warmer with a hint of spring's sweetness, designed for that day when you’d rather be outside raking the leaves from the garden, getting it ready for what's ahead, than slaving over the stove.
Barley Risotto with Fennel:  This convenient alternative to traditional stovetop risotto uses healthy, fiber-rich whole grains—either barley or brown rice—seasoned with Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and oil-cured olives. The gentle, uniform heat of a slow cooker allows you to cook a creamy risotto without the usual frequent stirring. Even better for time-strapped cooks like me!
Coffee-Braised Pot Roast with Caramelized Onions:  This recipe does break my no-browning rule, but it’s worth it: the flavors are reminiscent of a pot roast made with onion-soup mix (like my mom made for me as a kid), but the flavors are true and pure—and nobody misses the excess sodium.
What are your favorite meals to make in your slow cooker? Share them here. Tell us what you think below.