The days of summer are upon us and we want to spend more time outside, and less time in front of a hot oven. Making a crock pot meal in the morning and then letting it simmer all day leaves you plenty of time to enjoy the great outdoors, the pool, or an afternoon nap to escape the heat. If you thought crock pot cooking and cold weather went hand in hand, just give these recipes a try and you will find that your crock pot can be a year-round way to get a delicious meal on the table! Crock Pot Chickpea Stew with Balsamic Caramelized Onions 1.  Crock Pot Chickpea Stew with Balsamic Caramelized Onions - This recipe is packed with healthy, flavorful ingredients and is accented with a Mediterranean flare. Chickpeas, which are tasty enough to be mentioned in Charlemagne’s Capitulare de Villis, are rich in fiber and protein and after you down that third ice cream sandwich to ‘cool off’, perhaps these hearty little legumes are just what you need to satisfy your taste buds and pack in the vitamins! Tortilla Soup Recipe 2.  Tortilla Soup Recipe - There is nothing like a zesty Tortilla Soup to enliven your dinner routine. This recipe has directions for both ingredient short-cuts (i.e. using taco seasoning packets) as well as the from-scratch route (i.e. using left over roast chicken and homemade stock from the carcass) so you can adjust the recipe to fit the time you have. Shredded BBQ Pork Recipe 3.  Shredded BBQ Pork Recipe and several ways to use it -  This simple Pulled Pork is just the ticket to several family pleasing dinners in a jiffy! Again, you can go the quick route or the homemade route for the BBQ sauce, but either way this juicy meat is sure to work in a variety of meals. Here are several recipes that are suggested to showcase the pork: http://www.phemomenon.com/easy-back-to-school-meals-4-shredded-bbq-pork-pizza/ http://www.phemomenon.com/easy-back-to-school-meals-2-shredded-pork-spring-mix-salad-with-blackberries-and-chevre/ Crock Pot Rice Pudding 4.  Crock Pot Rice Pudding - Who knew you could use a crock pot to whip up this traditional Sunday desert favorite? All you need are few savory ingredients: cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg, some always on-hand rice, a little extra room in your belly after dinner, and voila –comfort food via crock pot! Recipe: Chocolate Chip Chili with Sausage 5.  Chocolate-Chip Chili Recipe - Chili is always in season and when you add chocolate, well, that makes it all the more enduring! Based on the traditional Mexican combination of spices and chocolate, this chili will knock your flip flops off and undoubtedly start some conversations at the dinner table. Cedar Planked Salmon in the Crock Pot Recipe 6.  Cedar Planked Salmon in the Crock Pot Recipe - Tender, flaky, and flavorful, this recipe will leave you wondering why you never before tried ‘fishing a different pond’ by cooking salmon in the crock pot! The cedar plank adds the perfect balance of smoky and woodsy and it also provides a unique way to serve up the fish. So give your other cooking appliances a little break one night and show that oft-neglected crock pot some warm-weather love!

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Hello everyone! My name is Stephani Teran and I am food enthusiast to say the least. Food and I go together like a poached egg on whole grain toast with goat cheese, drizzled honey, and peppercorns…see what I mean? It is family tradition, many generations back, to revere cooking and baking as an honorable art from and more of a privilege than a chore. I am more heart than expertise in the culinary arts, but boy do I have fun attempting ‘foodie’ status. I hope I can help you ditch that silly rule about not playing with your food –I say the more play, the better! Stay connected with more creative tutorials on Tip Junkie's Facebook page!