Game day parties can be bigger than Thanksgiving, where the roasted turkey is substituted with chili and the pumpkin pie is traded out for a keg of beer. As opposed to Thanksgiving, game-watching parties are a way-better date day, as the pressures of meeting family are replaced with meeting excited, sports-loving friends.

Not everyone knows that the month leading into this week's food frenzy is National Slow Cooker Month. January is the perfect month to celebrate slow cookers, as they’re perfect culinary tools for making soups and stews on a chilly day. Keeping your date’s stomach warm and satisfied is definitely the surest way to his or her heart, and being an expert at slow cooking is a skill set worthy of having.

Combining the game festivities with a little slow cooker magic is the ticket to being a standout on the field. Meeting new friends, seeing old ones and cheering on your team makes for a fun date night, so why not make it just as flavorful? Serving something tasty and different that you made in your slow cooker makes for an appetizing and unforgettable date.

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Get ready for a New Jersey Date Night that’s sure to be a touchdown!

Gearing up for Game Day

Shopping for a new slow cooker is very similar to online dating — many candidates and lots of choices. Classic slow cookers are of course available; however if you want your new kitchen tool to have a few additional features and benefits you might want to consider a multi-cooker, which have functions such as sauté and pressure cooking as well as slow cooking. We all know our criteria when it comes to choosing potential dates, but here’s a reminder of what you need to keep in mind when selecting the perfect slow cooker:

  • Shape: Slow cookers are round, oval, or oblong. The oval shape can come in handy if you plan on cooking roasts and other large cuts of meat. Keep in mind that the bulkier the size, the more counter space you’ll need for use and storage and transport for the larger sizes can be cumbersome.
  • Capacity: Capacities can range from 1.5 to 8.5 quarts.  Some owner's manuals say to fill the pot 1/2 to 3/4 full to avoid over or under cooking and to prevent spillovers. As a rule, if you’re cooking for a family of four or plan on cooking a whole chicken, you’ll want a 6-quart or larger. 
  • Inserts: You’ll find that most slow cookers have ceramic inserts; however you’ll see a few with metal nonstick inserts. Regardless, cleaning is a breeze as both are typically dishwasher safe. To ensure easy cleaning, try using a slow cooker liner, which can be found in most grocery stores.
  • Lids: Glass or clear plastic lids allow you to watch the cooking process without removing the lid and releasing heat. A locking lid helps keep food from spilling while in transport.

A New Recipe for Your Playbook

When it comes to big game menus, chili always seems to get the most airtime. Seeing that everyone brings their version of this classic to the tailgate, why not try out a version of a classic that will leave your date and other fans wanting more? It can be a little challenging to grill out burgers in New Jersey in February, so why not try Bacon Cheddar Cheeseburger Chili? It’s super-easy to make, and cooking it slow gives you a flavor that takes you back to a summer barbecue.

Recipe: Bacon Cheddar Cheeseburger Chili

8 oz. sliced white mushrooms

8 oz. sliced cremini mushrooms

2 cans, 10.5 oz. each, condensed cheddar cheese soup

32 oz. beef broth

10 slices bacon

1 small sweet onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef

salt and pepper to taste

Add the sliced mushrooms, soups and broth to the slow cooker.

In a skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Transfer to a plate. When cool, break into 1” pieces and add to the slow cooker.

Remove the bacon grease from the skillet except for 2 Tbs. Add onions and sauté, stirring, until translucent. Add to slow cooker.

Add beef to skillet. Cook, stirring often, until browned, leaving as many chunky pieces as possible. When done, add to the slow cooker.

Do not stir.

Cover and set the slow cooker on low; cook for two hours. Season with salt and pepper. If desired, serve with a toasted bun.

A Bowl Sure to Score!

Your date will love that you’re the Most Valuable Player at the party because you served a dish made in your slow cooker. And they will definitely be coming back for more, so be on the ready to find a lot of other recipes sure to be touchdown worthy.  Looks like you’ll be giving your slow cooker a good post-game workout and celebrate National Slow Cooker Month all year long!

You’ll also be an MVP in the relationship department, too, by always remembering that slow and steady wins the race. Many newly formed couples feel the need to fast track their relationship when there’s really no need. Slow and steady allows you to enjoy every moment, building a foundation on which a long-standing partnering can thrive. Just like a great bowl of chili, when you let those flavors meld over time you’ll be serving up one savory relationship.

MORE: New Jersey Date Night: Keep the Ball Rolling

Craig Rogers is the guy who gets relationships write.  Author of The 49th Challenge, Craig has written countless articles on dating, relationships and breakup recovery. To learn more about Craig, please visit CraigRogers.nyc.

What’s your idea for a great New Jersey Date? Tell Craig all about it at crogersnyc@gmail.com.

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