I have discussed many times before my love of the slow cooker. I have 2 programmable ones, a 3.5 quart and a 6 quart. If you are a regular follower of my menu plans, you know that hardly a week goes by that I am not using one of them. Year round, I rely on my slow cookers to get dinner on the table, particularly as we delve into the world of week night activities and sports with my children.
A regular source for slow cooker inspiration is Stephanie O’Dea‘s blog, A Year of Slow Cooking. So I was thrilled when I saw she had a new cookbook coming out with primarily new recipes, 365 to be exact. (Hopefully it doesn’t take you as long as it does me to put 2 and 2 together there!) She has 2 other cookbooks, which cover recipes from her wildly popular blog. To be honest, I never bought those as I could access the recipes online.
As I said, the majority of the recipes in the cookbook are new. And there is certainly something for everyone in it. The book is divided into chapters by type of protein and of course there is a section for soups/stews and also sandwiches. Vegetarians will also be happy with the book as there are chapters devoted to both beans and meatless suppers. There is also a wide variety of flavors included; everything from Cajun and Mexican to Italian and Indian.
O’Dea keeps her same style in the book as on her blog, giving a verdict after each recipe on how it was received. I always appreciate her honesty in these, especially when it comes to whether her children ate the dish or not! The food photography is also mouth-wateringly gorgeous (the ones below are all mine).
This past week, I devoted my entire menu plan to trying out recipes from the book. As much as I do love my slow cookers, this was probably the first time that I cooked all meals using them all week. Glad I have two! It was fun to do and I made the four dishes below.
The Creamy Pumpkin Pasta was my favorite dish. I loved it, as did my family. I can’t believe I hadn’t thought to create a similar dish before. Definitely the epitome of fall and another way to satisfy my pumpkin fetish. Garnished with shaved Parmesan, it was heaven.
We all enjoyed the Tandoori Beef with Sweet Potato, though it isn’t exactly authentic in my view. My husband added hot chili flakes to his and E couldn’t stop gobbling it up.
The Cajun Shrimp Chowder did not turn out that well for me. It was WAY too peppery. Though that may have been my fault. I didn’t have any Cajun seasoning on hand so I followed O’Dea’s instructions on making my own, which just didn’t work for me. I keep trying to figure out if I did my math wrong on proportions or what. The pepper flavor was so strong, it burned. I tried to add some lemon juice and a little honey to help take away the overwhelming pepper flavor, as I’ve read this can help. It didn’t. As much as we love pepper, my husband and I could barely finish our bowls. I will try again with real Cajun seasoning though and see how it turns out.
The Classic Chicken (Crock) Pot Pie turned out pretty well, though I think the sauce amount needs to be doubled. We like our pot pies pretty saucy, and this was not. Since I am on a low sodium diet, I used this recipe for the biscuit topping. I should have added some herbs to the biscuit mix to give it more flavor though. But it was a super easy recipe and definitely one I will tweak and make again.
Overall, I really liked this cookbook and want to get a hard copy. Digital copies of cookbooks just aren’t the same for me. While I love to get recipes off the internet; for a cookbook I want it in my hands! I think there are some fantastic ideas in 365 Slow Cooker Suppers and there are many other recipes that I want to try as well as play with to suit our tastes. I’m sure you will be seeing them on my menu plans in the weeks and months to come.
Happy Slow Cooking!