Military families aren’t always able to leave base and travel home for Thanksgiving. Instead, we find ourselves at a unit potluck, we partner with other military families, we host single soldiers, we dine at the DFAC, or end up doing something small and quiet at home.

My secret weapon to feeding a crowd, simplifying cooking, and multitasking in the kitchen is a slow cooker. I own three. I love the “fix it and forget it” concept, and using it on Thanksgiving — a holiday that revolves around food — frees up stove space for stuffing and vegetables, and oven space for rolls and pumpkin pie.

I invite you to work in a slow cooker recipe this holiday. My family has sampled these and I’m happy to share them with you, to help make your Thanksgiving feast simple and delicious.



cocktail-meatballsCocktail Meatballs. Although you are about to host the feast of the year, if you plan on socializing with guests while still cooking, consider offering light refreshments. You can substitute the pre-packaged frozen meatballs from your Commissary to simplify. These meatballs are a hit at all of my parties!




ciderHot Spiced Cider.  Imagine the delicious aroma in your home when your guests arrive! This cider can be made in either a coffee maker or in your slow cooker, simmering on low for 4 hours. Warm some hearts with this festive drink.




mashed-potatoesSlow Cooker Mashed Potatoes. These rich and flavorful potatoes will melt in your mouth and will pair beautifully with your turkey! They keep warm in your slow cooker to avoid that last-minute rush to mash the potatoes before everyone sits down.



Main Course

turkey-breastSlow Cooker Turkey Breast. Are you nervous about preparing your first turkey? Or are you only feeding a small crowd this year and don’t need an entire bird? Consider making this simple, moist turkey breast in the slow cooker. It’s easy enough to make year-round.




glazed-aplesSlow Cooker Glazed Cinnamon Apples. These delectable apples offer a delicious taste of fall and are scrumptious with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. This recipe is pretty sweet, so be sure to use tart Granny Smiths to balance out the flavor.



Jackie Toops Head ShotA self-described “Jackie of All Trades,” Army wife Jackie Toops is a mother of two and enjoys writing, travel, art, languages, slow cooking and peaceful parenting. She studied Interdisciplinary Humanities, Museum Studies and Nonprofit Management, and has overseen public relations for museums, galleries and universities. She is a contributing author for Wall Street International Magazine and has discussed her articles on-air with AFN Wiesbaden. She’s usually seen adventuring with her Canon, a coffee and two small children. Follow her on Twitter.



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