GIVEAWAY: West Bend Versatility Cooker

Have you seen my Facebook page? No? You should. It's pretty awesome. It's the mecca of all the behind the scenes fun that I don't post on the site. I can't write about everything that comes to mind, believe it or not, and often have to be pretty selective. Oh, and I'm also giving away a slow-cooker on it.
West Bend sent me an awesome slow cooker for the winter and is also providing one for a very lucky reader. Details for the giveaway are at the bottom, but here's my scoop on all things slow. Like I said, the Facebook page exists solely for me to show off my leftovers and creepy creations to the general public without being the recipient of a restraining order. One of my favorite recent posts was the onslaught of tacos I made back in November- simple, easy homemade masa tortillas with shredded chicken and the best salsa in the world. I can easily eat six at a time, for I am the great taco destroyer.
With the Versatility Cooker featuring a slow cooking function and a griddle, making these was a no-brainer. They're easy and deeply spicy, with a heat that threatens to vanquish even the most clogged nose or sorest throat. Chicken soup v2.0, if you will. Setting up the cooker was pretty easy, and the parts came apart for simple assembly and later storage. There are a few neat customizable settings on the cooker- low heat, high heat, keep warm, and griddle, as well as a timer so you can set your own time should you so choose.
I found that my recipe, which made roughly three servings of shredded chicken, definitely didn't require the five hours allotted for the high heat setting or the nine hours for the low heat. The preprogrammed cooking times are definitely formatted for larger quantities of food. Not necessarily a bad thing, but also a little much for a smaller recipe. I chose not to fiddle with the customized timing and just set my tacos on high, checking periodically and stopping about two hours in when I felt it was finished. There's a reason why "set it and forget it" is so appealing- a few hours later, dinner was ready. The cooker is perfect for multi-taskers with limited space. While the chicken cooled, I cooked the tortillas on the griddle.
Everyone loved them.
Yes, everyone.
Clean-up is a little unwieldy as the griddle cannot be removed from its base, so you're limited to the space around you to clean it in. Scratching is also a hazard. It includes a stainless steel roasting rack, another feature that slightly worries me with the metal-on-nonstick friction, never a good sign. While the pot can be cleaned in the dishwasher, I'm leery of trying it out as I'd hate for the non-stick finish to get warped or scratched in any way. That, and the somewhat harsh beeping the cooker makes when it is turned on or any setting is changed, are the only two features I wasn't keen on. It's a fantastic appliance for anyone with limited space or time and is incredibly easy to use.How do I win this awesome device? Easy. If you're already a fan of my Facebook page, you're ahead. Simply email me at detailing the next recipe or idea you think I should use with my cooker and you'll be entered into the running. I'll pick the best recipe on Sunday, January 15th, and follow up with a feature post!
Chicken Tacos Verde
Ingredients (serves 3)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 boneless chicken thighs
2 cans or 6 whole roasted jalapeno peppers
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1/4 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, or one garlic clove
1/8th cup of Cognac
1/4 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 teaspoon of orange zest
2 cups of water
Salsa verde and tortillas to assemble
1. Put all ingredients (with the exception of the salsa and tortillas) in a slow cooker or pot on the stove, allowing the mixture to slowly simmer for four hours.
2. Remove chicken and shred with two forks.
3. Serve with tortillas and salsa and enjoy!

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