Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us, and I, for one, could use a few more hours in my day. I’ve never been especially good at multi-tasking – I make fewer mistakes focusing on one “to-be-done” at a time. But with the help of my trusty slow cooker and Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Family Favorites by Beth Hensperger, I’ve found that I can go to work, shop for gifts and/or visit with friends and still have a good, healthy meal ready to serve.
My first task with a new-to-me cookbook is to read through the recipes. Do the ingredients sound appealing? Are they readily available at the grocery store? How many steps are involved, start to finish? How long will the prep work take? Can the recipe be easily halved or doubled, depending on how many folks I’ll be feeding? Will the finished product hold up well for a few days in the fridge or a few weeks in the freezer?
My first “read” of Family Favorites yielded 11 recipes that fit my requirements, and in the past week, I’ve tried three of them. The hint of chill in the air had me ready for soup, and Hensperger’s Vegetable, Beef and Barley Soup and Split Pea Soup with Bacon did not disappoint. The beef and barley combination was rich and hearty, and substituting bacon for ham took the split pea soup to a whole other level of delicious. Roast pork is also a fall/winter favorite of mine. Crock-Roasted Pork Tenderloin offered a new and extremely easy oven-less alternative. The fork-tender meat and savory red wine and soy sauce gravy made a second helping impossible to resist.
With Thanksgiving only a few days away, the handiest recipe in the cookbook, yielding 10 servings, has to be Meg’s Sage and Mushroom Country Bread Stuffing. I’d never thought of using my slow cooker for stuffing, but it’s a great idea. I’ll have one less side to squeeze into my oven, and I’ll be able to serve my stuffing hot out of the pot!
I highly recommend Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Family Favorites for good, and good 'n easy, recipes to save you time well into 2010!