Don't buy more appliances. Just use your slow cooker.
Your slow cooker is more than just a handy appliance that cooks foods while you're away. It can also be used as a double boiler, steamer and a bread maker.
You can turn your slow cooker into a double boiler for melting chocolate, cheeses and more using items you probably already have around the kitchen. First, find a metal or ceramic trivet that will fit into the bottom of the slow cooker crock. Then, find a ceramic bowl or metal pot that will fit inside the slow cooker on top of the trivet.
To start the warming process, fill the crock one-quarter of the way with water. Set the trivet into the crock, then set the smaller bowl or pot on top of the trivet. Place the food you want to melt into the inner bowl or pot.
Set the slow cooker on high until the food item is melted and then turn it on low to keep it that way. This is a great way to set up a fondue station at a party without buying or renting a fondue pot.
If steamed veggies are on the menu -- but you want to slow cook them while you do something else -- there are two ways you can use the slow cooker as a steamer.
The easiest way is to place a steaming basket in your slow cooker and pile the vegetables on top. Add just enough water to the bottom of the crock to keep the veggies above the water level. Put the lid on the cooker and turn it on high for 2 to 4 hours or until the veggies are tender.
If you don't have a steaming basket, add half a cup of water to the slower cooker. Then, wrap your veggies in foil. Place them in the cooker on high, with the lid on, to keep the steam in. Just like with a steaming basket, the vegetables will take around 2 to 4 hours to get tender.
Your slow cooker can make bread making so much easier. Simply make your yeast dough the way you normally would, then place it on a square of parchment paper. Don't worry about proofing, the slow cooker will proof and cook the bread for you.
Place the dough and the parchment paper inside the slow cooker and turn it on high. Be sure to keep the lid on while your bread cooks.
In 1 to 2 hours the bread should be done -- crispy on the outside and tender in the middle. You may need to experiment with cook times since each slow cooker can vary in how hot the high setting actually gets.
Want more tips? Here are some new ways to use your slow cooker that don't involve food. When you're done, use this quick tip to clean your slow cooker without scrubbing.