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Barbie Butz is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email her at barbiewb@hotmail.com.

I know the weather has been unseasonably hot, and who feels like cooking when it’s 100+ degrees? It’s too hot to use the oven. Too hot to be outside firing up the grill. Too hot to fuss with charcoal. So what’s left? Stovetop, microwave or one of the “pots” like the Insta-pot, etc., etc. I love my slow cooker, and the idea that I can fill it up and walk away and have something great to serve for dinner makes me a happy cook.

Now the word is we are going to cool down for a few days, so I found a couple of recipes using a slow cooker I’ll share. Serve both recipes with a “cool” green salad and warm tortillas, and you’ve got it made! For something sweet after dinner, just serve a scoop of lemon, lime, or pineapple sherbet with a shortbread cookie.

Mexican Green Chile Pork Stew

Ingredients:
1½ pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium baking potatoes or sweet potatoes, (or one of each) peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup frozen corn
1 can (4 ounces) diced mild green chiles
1 jar (16 ounces) salsa verde (green salsa)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cumin or chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Hot cooked rice
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Getting through this together, Atascadero

Directions:
Combine pork, potatoes, onion, corn, and chiles in slow cooker. Combine salsa, sugar, cumin or chili powder, and oregano in a small bowl; mix well. Pour over pork and vegetables; stir gently to coat. Cover; cook on LOW 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH 4 to 5 hours or until pork is tender. Serve with rice; garnish with cilantro. Serves 6.

Chicken In Enchilada Sauce

Ingredients:
1 can (about 14 ounces) diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 can (10 ounces) enchilada sauce
1 cup frozen or canned corn (drained)
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
½ cup (2 ounces) shredded pepper jack cheese
Sliced green onions for garnish

Directions:
Combine tomatoes, enchilada sauce, corn cumin, red pepper flakes, and black pepper in slow cooker. Add chicken; mix well. Cover; cook on LOW for 6 to 7 hours. Stir in cilantro. Sprinkle each serving with cheese; garnish with green onions. Serves 4.

Try this combination for a “cool” salad to serve with both recipes.

Arugula and Orange Salad with White Wine Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
2 large navel oranges, peeled and prepared in segments
3 bunches arugula, tough stems removed
1 small red onion, cut into thin rings

For the Vinaigrette:
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
Ground pepper to taste

Directions:
Prepare orange segments. Place cleaned arugula, sliced onion (separated into rings), and oranges into a salad bowl. Whisk vinaigrette contents just before serving. Drizzle over the arugula mixture and toss. Serves 6

Enjoy the “cool-down.”

Cheers!