There’s a love affair between Canadians and their slow cookers. I’ve heard them called everything from a “lifesaver” to a “marriage saver.”

While I’m not sure I’d go quite that far, the slow cooker certainly has earned a spot in a growing number of kitchens. Bubbling away on the counter, it delivers reliably delicious braised and pot roasted dishes, sustaining soups, chilis, curries and pasta sauces, vegetables and much more. It even makes drinks, comfy desserts, dips and spreads.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Artichoke Dip

This is a perennial party pleaser, one that’s easy to make with pantry staples. Serve with a variety of crackers, pita chips and vegetables.

Makes 3 cups

• 1 can (14 oz/398 ml) artichoke hearts
• 1 pkg (8 oz/250 g) cream cheese, cubed and softened
• 1/2 cup (125 ml) each sour cream and mayonnaise
• 1/4 cup (50 ml) grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 cup (50 ml) chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1/4 tsp (1 ml) pepper
• 2 tbsp (25 ml) chopped green onion

Drain artichoke hearts; pat dry and chop. Add to 1 1/2-quart (1.5 L) slow cooker along with cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, Parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and pepper; stir to combine.

Cover and cook on low, stirring twice, until blended and hot, about 2 hours. Sprinkle with green onion.

Chicken Squash Curry

Makes 4 servings
Prep time:
8 minutes
Cook time: 26 minutes

• 2 tbsp (25 ml) vegetable oil
• 1 lb (500 g) boneless skinless chicken thighs, cubed
• 1 onion, chopped
• 2 hot green peppers, seeded and chopped
• 2 cups (500 ml) cubed seeded peeled butternut squash (about 1 lb/500 g)
• 3 tbsp (45 ml) mild Indian curry paste
• 1 can (28 oz/796 ml) diced tomatoes
• 1/4 cup (50 ml) chopped fresh coriander

In Dutch oven, heat half of the oil over medium-high heat; brown chicken. Remove to plate.

In same Dutch oven, heat remaining oil over medium heat; cook onion and hot peppers, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add squash and curry paste; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add tomatoes and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits. Return chicken and any juices to pan. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with coriander.