The following article was featured in our February issue, on stands now.

Emily Hill, a writer, blogger and mother of four, whose blog isthisreallymylife.com, relects the ups and downs, joys and despairs of every day life. She remembers the exact minute she thought of her blog title. “One afternoon, the kids were fussy, the house was a mess, dinner nowhere near on the table and I exclaimed to my husband, ‘Is this really my life?’ But it cuts both ways—there is so much joy in what I do. Remembering to recognize it is key.”

One of the most popular sections of her site is called “Slow Cooking Anyday,” which features Hill-tested slow cooker recipes. The recipes come from friends, other bloggers, magazines, books—wherever.

Hill says her first slow cooker was a wedding present 15 years ago. Now, she owns a more sophisticated appliance, with lots of different settings and timers.

“I use it about once a week, maybe twice. Most slow cooker recipes use ingredients you have on hand—frozen chicken breasts, canned tomatoes, creamed soups. They are pretty family friendly .”

Her biggest challenge in using a slow cooker? “I still forget to start early enough.”


Hill’s Slow Cooker Tips

Remember to get the slow cooker going in time. I put a sticky note on my microwave, or an alarm on the phone to remind me.

Spray the pot inside to keep things from sticking.

Save some ingredients, like mushrooms, to add at the last minute for better texture.

Smaller slow cookers are great for dips.

Sometimes I use several slow cookers and serve different soups for family gatherings.

I make meat sauce in the morning and keep it warm all day.

Here’s a Hill family favorites. Like many popular slow cooker recipes, it makes liberal use of convenience ingredients.

Creamy Italian Chicken

4-5 frozen chicken breasts

1/2 cup water

1 package dry Italian dressing mix

1 8-oz. package reduced-fat cream cheese, softened

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 8-oz. package baby bella mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, drained (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Place frozen chicken breasts in the slow cooker. Whisk together dressing mix and water; pour over chicken.

Cook on high for 2 hours. Remove chicken, cut into bite-size pieces and place back in slow cooker. Combine cream cheese and cream of chicken soup. Pour over chicken. Cook on high another 3 hours and then reduce heat to low. Add mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook on low 1 hour. Serve over white or brown rice.

If you would like to share a slow cooker recipe with Hill's readers, write her at isthisreallymylife.com.

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