Appetizers from the "Crotch pot"


Kate Roberts provides me with many stories for my newspaper columns – but one of my favorites involves tales of her housekeeper.  She’s the one that dusted the mantle at Christmas last year and replaced the blocks that spelled NOEL with LEON. She also begs Kate everyday to let her cook something in the “Crotch pot.”

So we’ve begun doing all our cooking in the “crotch pot.”

I’ve been looking for recipes for my new “appetizer sized” crotch pot and BINGO, received a few today.

spnach I liked the creaminess of this spinach-artichoke dip vs my old recipe. Easier to spread. I added 3 cloves crushed garlic (based on old recipe). I also think you can omit the sun-dried tomatoes which I’m not crazy about. They get lost among all the other flavors anyway. A good make-ahead recipe, then simply reheat in the microwave.

Also good made with asiago cheese,  replacing half the cream cheese.

Makes 5 1/4 cups dip (serving size: 1/4 cup dip and about 6 pita wedges)


  • 11  (6-inch) pita bread rounds
  • 1/3  cup  chopped sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil
  • 1  cup  boiling water
  • 1  (14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1  (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
  • 1  (8-ounce) tub light cream cheese, softened
  • 1  (8-ounce) carton low-fat sour cream
  • 3/4  cup  grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4  cup  fat-free milk
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
  • 1/2  cup  diced onion
  • 1/2  cup  fat-free mayonnaise
  • 1  tablespoon  red wine vinegar
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground pepper


1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Split each pita bread in half horizontally; cut each half into 6 wedges. Place pita wedges in a single layer on baking sheets; bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until toasted.

3. Combine sun-dried tomatoes and boiling water in a bowl; let stand for 1 hour or until soft.

4. Place artichokes and next 11 ingredients (through garlic) in a 3 1/2-quart electric slow cooker; stir well. Cover with lid; cook on low-heat setting 1 hour. Drain tomatoes; stir into dip. Cover and cook 1 hour. Serve warm with toasted pita wedges.

Thai ribs ( pictured on previous page) – you marinate all night and then slow-cook all day to get their incredible flavor.

Prep: 10 minutes, Cook: 6 hours, Other: 8 hours

Slow-Cooker Size: 6-quart


Makes 2 to 4 servings


  • 3 1/2  pounds  pork baby back ribs, racks cut in half
  • 1  (11.5-ounce) can frozen orange-pineapple-apple juice concentrate, thawed and undiluted (we tested with Welch’s)
  • 3/4  cup  soy sauce
  • 1/4  cup  creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4  cup  minced fresh cilantro
  • 2  tablespoons  minced fresh ginger
  • 1  garlic clove, pressed
  • 2  teaspoons  sugar
  • Garnish: fresh cilantro sprigs


Place ribs in a large shallow dish or zip-top freezer bag.

Combine juice concentrate and next 6 ingredients in a small bowl with a wire whisk. Reserve 3/4 cup mixture in refrigerator for dipping. Pour remaining mixture evenly over ribs; cover or seal, and chill 8 hours, turning occasionally.

Remove ribs from marinade, discarding marinade. Place 1 rack of ribs in bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker; stand remaining rib racks on their sides around edges of slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 1 hour. Reduce heat to LOW, and cook 5 hours.

Microwave reserved 3/4 cup sauce in a 1-cup glass measure at HIGH 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring once. Serve with ribs. Garnish, if desired.

Stand Your Ribs: Standing these ribs along the sides of your slow cooker gives them direct contact with heat, so they’ll have crispy brown edges like ribs that have smoked for hours.

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