One of the best inventions for today's cooks, in my opinion, is the crockpot or slow cooker. You can put your meal on and go to work, run errands, or whatever your day requires. When you get home your house smells delicious and your meal is basically ready. What could be easier? Another advantage for busy families is that the food stays warm and available when meals cannot be eaten together. And even better, especially in the economic environment of today, you can buy less expensive cuts of meat and the slow cooking renders them as tasty as the expensive cuts. Today's article shares a couple of poultry recipes, very different but both tasty.

vegetable cooking spray
2 lbs ground turkey (read label for ground without skin)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (16-oz) stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 can (10-oz) tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
2 cups tomato juice
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 can (15 to 16-oz) chili beans, drained

Coat a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Add the turkey, onion, bell pepper, and garlic; saute over medium-high heat until the turkey loses pink color. Transfer mixture to the slow cooker or crockpot. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Add cover to pot and cook on low heat for 3 to 4 hours.

2 tsp canola oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
3/4 tsp salt
1 (14 1/2-oz) can stewed tomatoes
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp fennel seeds
8 chicken drumsticks
2 cups orzo*

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers, onion, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer bell pepper mixture to crockpot or slow-cooker. Stir in tomatoes and broth.

Combine rosemary, fennel, and the remaining salt in large bowl. Add chicken; toss to coat. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon of oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to slow cooker and press down into the peppers mixture. Cover and cook until chicken and vegetables are fork tender. This should take 3 to 4 hours on high or 6 to 8 hours on low.

About 20 or 30 minutes before serving, cook the orzo according to package directions. Serve chicken and sauce with the orzo.

Yield: 8 servings
*This could be served with noodles, if you prefer.