Ah, the crock pot—you can pile things in, turn it on low, program time and temp, and deal with the dozen things you need to accomplish even before you set foot in the office. Or, you can use the slow cooker as a weekend enhancement: same piling stuff in and setting to low, same freedom to walk away while it produces something amazing. Only, instead of rushing, you’re free to make a fully fleshed-out family supper. Behold, a four-dish dinner with a delicious slow-cooker chicken taco center, bolstered by Mexican-style corn, beer-braised beans, and slice-and-bake cookies.

1. Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, that ubiquitous and potentially bland protein, find ultimate expression in Chris Rochelle’s patiently simmered braise with fresh poblano peppers, onion, garlic, and habanero chile. Cumin, apple cider vinegar, and orange juice keep things lively.

2. Corn with Roasted Garlic Aioli, Lime, and Smoked Paprika

This is the perfect solution for less-than-peak-season corn on the cob: a full-flavor slathering with homemade mayo spiked with Dijon mustard and roasted garlic, sprinkled with lime zest and smoky Spanish pimentón.

3. Black Beans with Mexican Beer

Slowly simmered black beans are delicious pretty much as is. Adding a seasoning paste of ancho chile, tomato, Serrano pepper, dried oregano, and beer takes them over the top.

4. Mexican Chocolate Slice-and-Bake Cookies

Ground cinnamon, brown sugar, and a touch of cayenne give these easy chocolate cookies the irresistibly warm quality of Mexican hot chocolate. Best part: You can mix the dough and roll into logs that you’ll be able to freeze for up to a month.

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