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Find Unexpected New Uses for Your Crock Pot

The counter-top slow cooker isn't just for main courses anymore.

Sure, you've used your Crock Pot for soups and stews. You probably own a cookbook, and you might even have sites like Crock Pot Girls bookmarked.

But have you made bread in a Crock Pot? Would it ever cross your mind to prepare veggies in one?

Pinterest, my new go-to corner of the Internet for recipes and kitchen inspiration, has more slow-cooker ideas than you could prepare in two lifetimes. Here are a few of my favorite you-can-make-that-in-a-Crock-Pot? recipes.

Lemon and garlic artichokes - I'm not sure why this spiky green veggie - a thistle flower, to be exact - gives people such pause. It strikes fear into the hearts of men. Most of you have had artichoke hearts on pizza or in dip, but I'd bet few of you have prepared them fresh. Why not? They're delicious and extremely healthy. This step-by-step recipe, with photos, should help take some of the fear out of preparing fresh artichokes.

Cheesecake - Prepare a perfect cheesecake in your slow cooker! The secret is a water bath, so you'll have to find a heat-resistant dish that fits into the Crock Pot. Prepare crust and cheesecake batter in the dish, then lower carefully into water bath in the Crock Pot. Bake two to three hours (but check after one). Chill for two hours.

Sourdough bread -Whether you use prepared dough, or make your own, you can have freshly baked bread, in under three hours, from the slow cooker! This is also a great way to bake without heating up the oven. (Hard to think about this now while it's 12 degrees outside, I know, but keep this in mind come July!)

Sausage and egg casserole - A complete breakfast! In a slow cooker! Prepared the night before! Does it get any better? Layer hashbrowns, cooked sausage, onions and cheese, then pour seasoned, whisked eggs over the whole thing. Cook on low for six to eight hours (overnight), and enjoy in the a.m.

Baked apples - All the goodness of baked apple pie, without the guilt of the crust (although, admittedly, the crust is my absolutely favorite part). Carve out the core of six apples and fill them with a mix of brown sugar, nuts, butter and cinnamon. Pour apple juice or apple cider into the Crock Pot, around the apples. Cook on high for two and a half to three hours, until soft. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Have a favorite slow cooker recipe? Share it with us below!

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