Recipes and Reads: Culinary Labs

Culinary Lab workshops serve up comprehensive, culinary literacy programs that include hands-on demonstrations of food and nutritional literacy; food acquisition methods; food handling, hygiene and safety; culture and history of food; and consumer cost-saving techniques and meal stretching.  Each of the culinary lab workshops may include the use of fully stocked mobile, kitchen carts to aid in these food-related demonstrations.  The labs are strategically located at library branches throughout the county and serve all ages.  Registration may be required, at some locations, for Recipes and Reads: Culinary Lab workshops. 

Basic Cooking and Handling: Introduction to Slow Cookers

Does the thought of cooking a meal scare you? Don’t have the time? Don’t worry! Cooking meals in a slow cooker is an easy way to feed your family a full, nutritious meal.

What is a slow cooker? A slow cooker is an electrical appliance that is an energy-efficient piece of pottery with a lid used for cooking food at a low temperature for an extended period of time. Slow cookers usually have 2 temperatures, low and high. After cooking, the warm setting holds in the heat to keep the food hot.

What’s so special about a slow cooker?

  • The long cooking time can help tenderize less expensive cuts of meat.
  • Meals cooked in a slow cooker are less likely to burn.
  • Slow cookers don’t heat up the kitchen.
  • Slow cookers keep food warm.
  • Most slow cookers can be programmed to stop cooking.

Slow Cooker Tips:

  • Don’t Peek! You’ll need to add cooking time every time you take off the lid.
  • Food items similar in size to each other will cook at the same time, so it’s a good idea to cut ingredients to around the same size.
  • Slow cookers work best when they are at least one-half to two-thirds full.
  • Slow cookers are an electrical appliance, so be sure to follow the same safety rules as with any electrical appliance.


Slow Cooker Italian Meatloaf

Enjoy this hearty and moist meatloaf made in the slow cooker.


  • 1 large onion, cut into rings
  • 2 pounds 94% lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tbs Italian herb mix
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp ground fennel seed
  • 1 tsp crushed rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes, diced
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce


  • Large mixing bowl
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Whisk
  • Cutting board and knife
  • 6- quart oval slow cooker
  • Cooking spray


  1. Spray a 6-quart oval slow cooker with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with the onion rings.

  2. In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, Italian herb mix, oregano, red pepper flakes, fennel seed, rosemary, pepper, salt, diced onion, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes until well combined. Mold into a loaf shape and place on top of the sliced onions.

  3. In a small bowl, whisk the tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. Brush it over the top and sides of the meatloaf.

  4. Cook for 4-6 hours on low or until the meat is thoroughly cooked. Remove the meatloaf from the slow cooker and slice. Discard the onion rings and any juices on the bottom of the pan.

Information and recipe from The Everything Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook by Rachel Rappaport.

Recommended reads

The everything healthy slow cooker cookbook The everything healthy slow cooker cookbook by Rachel Rappaport.

Slow-cooker meals may save you time and energy, but they can also help you pack on the pounds. Thanks to this clever collection of deliciously good-for-you recipes, you can please your palate without sacrificing nutrition--or your waistline!

Reserve a copy

Fix-it and forget-itFix-it and forget-it by Hope Comerford.

From crowd-pleasing appetizers to comforting soups and stews, family friendly dinners to celebration-worthy desserts, you'll be amazed at all that you and your slow cooker can do.

Reserve a copy

Stock the crockStock the crock by Phyllis Pellman Good.

Stock the Crock brings together the expertise of America's most popular slow-cooker authority with a fresh collection of 100 essential, innovative, and easy-to-prepare recipes--each with variations allowing readers to customize the dish according to their dietary needs.

Reserve a copy

500 slow-cooker dishes500 slow-cooker dishes by Carol Beckerman.

500 Slow Cooker Dishes is a comprehensive guide to all the varying ways you can employ your slow cooker to make your life easier, and your cooking more cost efficient. There are recipes to suit vegetarians and meat eaters. You can even make bread in your slow cooker, and this book shows you how.

Reserve a copy

Gluten-free Crock Pot recipesGluten-free Crock Pot recipes by Mike Moreland.

A crock pot, or slow cooker, saves you a lot of time in preparing your meals. It is literally just set and forget. Simply put all the ingredients in the crock pot, let it cook for a few hours, and you have a healthy and delicious meal! 

Reserve a copy

Upcoming programs

All Recipes and Reads programs

Division of Library and Information Services Institute of Museum and Library Services

This project was funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Florida’s LSTA program is administered by the Department of State’s Division of Library and Information Services.