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Slow cookin’

Recreate smells and tastes from your childhood

Whether it’s family dinner or dips, pot luck or tailgating, Lena Reese is likely to reach for a slow cooker to make a variety of signature dishes she’s known for. 

Like the apple crisp she’ll make for functions at Ashland Independent Schools, where she works. “That’s one of the easiest” recipes, she says. She puts two cans of apple pie filling in the cooker along with a box of spice cake mix and eight ounces of butter. Then it cooks for 2 to 2 1⁄2 hours.

Lena Reese Photo: Peg Fisher

A Wildcat football fan, Lena has perfected a Buffalo dip made in her small dip-size slow cooker for tailgating or watching games on television. “A can of chicken, a block of cream cheese, a cup of ranch dressing and 1⁄2 cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce; cook it on warm for an hour or two,” she advises.

Lena grew up in a family of five and her mom, a professional cook and baker, cooked family dinner every night. Using a variety of sizes, Lena says she can make home-cooked meals every day in a slow cooker— even when she’s been working all day—and recreate the smells she remembers coming home to as a child.

“It’s almost like a hug when you come in the door,” she says.

Slow Cooker Jambalaya

Sarah’s Mediterranean Dip


More easy recipes for slow-cooker cooking courtesy of Lena Reese:

  • Frozen chicken piece can be cooked in a slow cooker on low for 8 hours. Lena cooks hers with Sweet Baby Rays barbecue sauce. At the end of the day when she gets home from work, she shreds the meat and serves.
  • Chicken and dumplings, Reese style: “You actually use canned biscuits,” she says. Cook chicken breast with broth and cream and any vegetables you like. Shred the chicken, return it to the pot, quarter the biscuits and add them. They’ll cook in about an hour.
  • Lena makes a knock-off Wendy’s chili with ground beef, pinto and kidney beans, diced tomatoes, bell pepper, celery, onions, oregano and some spices. Sometimes she’ll chop the veggies the night before, then combine all the ingredients before she leaves for work to cook all day.
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