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Liner bags end monotony of slow-cooker leftovers

By Betty Shimabukuro

LAST UPDATED: 1:33 a.m. HST, Dec 20, 2013

Typical complaint from people who have slow cookers but don't use them: They make too much food at one time. Leftovers are tiresome — just how much pot roast can a mere mortal consume? 

If that sounds like you, here's a new cookbook you can wrap your brain around: "Slow Cooking for Two," by Cynthia Graubart (Gibbs Smith, $19.99).

It's not the first cookbook to take up the less-is-more theme through recipes scaled for smaller cookers (3-1/2-quart as opposed to the typical 5- to 7-quart cookers). But one chapter — "Double Dinners" — offers the ingenious suggestion of making two dishes at the same time using slow-cooker liners. So simple, so sensible, and why didn't I think of it?

These liners are plastic bags designed to stand up to heat and make cleaning the cooker easier. With two bags you can pick any two recipes that share the same cooking time, prep one in each bag, drop both into the cooker, turn it on and walk away.

Graubart offers paired recipes for beef and pork roasts, flank steak and turkey tenderloin. Her double pot roast calls for cutting a large roast in half, placing each piece in a bag, then adding different seasonings. After eight hours you'll have two roasts. Eat one tonight; save one for later. It won't taste like leftovers.

Look for "Slow Cooking for Two" in bookstores or online. It is also available for the Kindle through Slow-cooker liners are sold in grocery stores and discount stores usually in the same aisle as plastic sandwich bags.


2 to 3 pound chuck roast
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 slow-cooker plastic liner bags

» Lime with Tomato Sauce:
Zest of 1 lime
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup beef broth
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 (14-1/2 ounce) can crushed tomatoes

» Vinegar Braise:
1 small onion, sliced
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

Cut roast in half. Sprinkle each half liberally with salt and pepper. Place half in each liner bag; stand each bag in a bowl to keep it upright.

Pour Lime with Tomato Sauce ingredients over roast in one bag and Vinegar Braise ingredients over roast in other bag. Place bags side by side in a 6- or 7-quart slow cooker. Drape liner bags away from each other so that edges extend outside the cooker, arranged so the slow cooker cover holds the bags closed. Cook on low 8 hours, until meat is very tender.

Carefully lift each liner and its contents out of cooker and place in separate bowls. Open bags and let cool slightly.

If desired, remove meat from bag and pour juices into large measuring cup or gravy separator. Skim fat, then pour over meat. Serve 1 roast; store the other for another meal. Each recipe serves 2 (or 4 smaller eaters).

Approximate nutritional analyses, per serving (not including salt to taste, without skimming fat):

» Lime with Tomato Sauce: 920 calories, 62 g fat, 25 g saturated fat, 310 mg cholesterol, 800 mg sodium, 19 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 71 g protein

» Vinegar Braise: 880 calories, 63 g fat, 26 g saturated fat, 305 mg cholesterol, 220 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 66 g protein


Nutritional analysis by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S. Write "By Request," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or email requests to


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