Call me picky, but I've always found slow cooker cookbooks to be overly simple (buy a can of soup and meat, put in pot) or overly complicated (spend 1 hr prep, cook all day). This one finally seems to address both problems. Here are the highlights:
* Recipes are pretty easy to whip up, but don't rely heavily on pre-fab (read: canned soups, etc) components
* The book is chock full of delicious recipes! You can find the 'normal' recipes, but there are some great new ones in here as well
* Prep time is roughly 5-15 minutes for any given recipe. Truly recipes you can make in the morning before heading out (or the night before)
* All recipes have a 'verdict' that follows, giving you a quick idea about the final dish. This helps much more than I thought it would when trying to select something to cook!
I'm really happy with it. If you're looking for a great, easy-to-follow slow cooker cookbook full of recipes you'll actually want to make, I definitely recommend this one.
I received this from the author for testing and review and have shared my honest experience in this review.
on October 8, 2013
Synopsis: Ms. O'Dea is back with 365 dinner recipes focusing from the popular meat families such as chicken, beef, fish and pork. She even throws in some vegetarian selections. As with all her recipes, they are gluten free.
Recipes include tasty morsels such as:
+Funeral Potatoes (Be sure to watch The Pub and Grub Forum for this dish)
+Brandy Beef Stew with Cranberries and Squash
+Chicken Enchilada Soup
+Caribbean Black Beans
+Baked Beans with Rootbeer
+Honey Lime Chicken Soft Tacos
+KFC Inspired Chicken
+Reuben in a Pot
+Greek Spiced Pot Roast
+Pot Roast French Dip Sandwiches
+Saucy Steak Wraps
My rating: Nothin' but 5 Stars for this bad boy!
My opinion: Being a HUGE fan of Ms. O'Dea's cookbooks, I was giddy as a school girl going on her first date when I saw this book on Netgalley. I crossed my fingers when I requested it and delved right in when I was approved.
As usual, Ms. O'Dea did not disappoint. I could count on two hands the number of recipes which wouldn't work out for my family or that just didn't strike me as being appetizing.
She includes a nice selection of soups/stews, which have always been winners whenever I have made them. She has also added a sandwich selection, which had some nice, unusual selections.
I think my favorite part of this cookbook was that Mexican and Caribbean "themed" recipes were plentiful. I was drooling and meal planning as I was reviewing the book. Recipes, as usual, were well laid out and the pictures were plentiful.
Source: Netgalley for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (and purchased)
Would I recommend? : Ummm, YEAH! In fact, I already have. The second I saw this book was out, it went into my Amazon cart.
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone
on October 1, 2013
This cookbook is really great because true to her website's already well known "formula" she tells you how to make the meal (FAST) and then tells you how long to cook it (SLOW) and then she tells you the "verdict" of how well she and her family did (or didn't!) like the meal!
What I loved:
-beautiful pictures throughout the book
-how simple many of the recipes are
-how it doesn't call for crazy ingredients you don't have on hand
-that if you want it to be gluten free it can be
-that it is separated into sections (beef, pork, sandwiches, soups...)
Probably the only thing that could have made me love it more would have been a section on desserts :)
on January 3, 2014
I love slow cookers and have quite a few in different sizes. (My children even say, "Oh no, Mom, not another crockpot, not another slow cooker cookbook!") But the reason I love slow cookers is with a slow cooker and a little effort before bedtime, we can arrive home from work to a hot, home cooked meal that offers a quick healthy alternative to take-out foods. I own Stefanie O'Dea's first cookbook, Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking, which has dog-eared and stained pages. Her first book offered a wide variety of innovative recipes from appetizers to miscellaneous (i.e. beverages, yogurt, etc). It is a joy to use and own. I did not purchase her second book after reading a review stating it had many recipe repeats from the first book. However, I do check her slow cooking blog for ideas occasionally, which is where I learned about this new book. I was so excited! Mrs. O'Dea touted this book would feature all new recipes and took her two years to complete! So I put the book on my Amazon wish list and anxiously waited for Christmas. I received it as a gift from my son and was absolutely thrilled - until I opened it. Now I feel cheated. The recipes in this book feel very rushed, too many are too similar to each other, and also to recipes in her first book. Many of the recipes are noted as submissions from blog readers. There are no appetizers or desserts or beverages or anything special. There are way too many fish recipes for my family's taste (about 1/4 of the book!). There are very few anecdotal comments about whether recipes were enjoyed by Mrs. O'Dea's family. This is just a very disappointing, mediocre cookbook.
I hadn't really thought about using my slow cooker in the summer except for pork barbeque sandwiches until I received this book and had my 19 year old cousin and several of his friends visiting our house for several days this summer. This was wonderful for having meals prepared as they came in and out from their activities.
I started out trying O'Dea's version of Kalua pulled pork which was different than my normal barbeque based sandwiches, but still went over well. Some other versions that met with approval were the BBQ bean chili, cheesy lentil bake, chicken curry chili, barbeque chicken thighs - which is perfect for summer - cooking without heating up your kitchen, BLT chicken, honey-lime chicken - a another great way to prepare something without heating up your kitchen and allows you to have things ready after you come in from the day's events, pizza stuffed peppers was easy and much different than one expects to come out of a slow cooker.
I have 2 slow cookers, so sometimes lunch was being made and another cooker was doing the supper. We also really liked the brats in beer for an additional dish while we had a group for a cookout. Sometimes the slow cooker beats always throwing things on the grill I appreciate the fact there are quite a few dishes using recipes for the garden's supply of squash and zucchini.
There is lots of advice for gluten free. There are also lots of recipes for sandwich ingredients that go well in the summer like ratatouille sandwiches and pot roast French dip sandwiches.
Of course heavier cooking that you might want to try in the winter is included...ginger ale ham, garlic pork roast with balsamic vinegar and ranch fish Florentine.
Stephanie O'Dea gives lots of advice and examples of what she has done, including rescuing frost bitten roasts. She gives plenty of direction and help and also lists pantry and freezer staples.
There are no desserts, this is strictly main meals. It includes; soups and stews, beans, poultry, beef and lamb, pork, sandwiches, meatless main dishes, fish and seafood.
This book has been a hit in our family and with some very hungry young men who learned the joys of slow cooking.
I tried three recipes out of this book, two out of the seafood and one chicken. The recipes are not extravagant in terms of ingredients or directions, which is really nice because who has all day to look for exotic selections in grocery stores and spend an hour prepping a slow cooker meal. Anyone, beginner or seasoned cook, can follow these recipes. What I found most disappointing about these recipes was the lack of flavor. Yes, there are seasonings, and fresh ingredients, but when my stews or soups were done, they just fell flat. Salt and pepper is just not enough to make a chowder sing. Crushed tomatoes and cayenne pepper were not enough either. A kick without seasoning is still just bland.
Now the god thing is, you can use these recipes as a base and kick them up a notch if you are familiar with which herbs and spices would go best with crab or fish for example. For people that do like a lot of food with mild tastes, this recipe might be great for you. The author is very open about what she is offering. And while I am not the kind of person who wants my home made macaroni and cheese made with American cheese, which hardly makes me a "cheese snob", there are probably people out there who would love it.
There are some nice pictures in this book with the promise of more to come, the different sections or categories do include a nice meatless section, coming from someone who is not a vegetarian anyway. There is no nutritional information provide.
Oh one last snippet, the author has little bits of commentary throughout the book, in a section she calls "The Verdict" and sometimes it is simply what she likes about the recipe, other times there are suggestions to add a little spice for those who want more. She also mentions repeatedly she uses gluten-free products in the recipes so you know there are proven results for those products, not just suggestions. Gluten is not something I am especially concerned about, but i thought it was nice she actually used the recipes with those products.
I will say that while there are canned or shelf type products in here, there are tons of fresh ingredients as well which is really nice.
While i know this is not my kind of recipe book, even when I am in the mood to go the Slow Cooker route (I am not a regular Slow Cooker user), this will probably work for some people. I have an aunt and uncle who would be very satisfied with the recipes I made. This is their kind of affair, and I bet my aunt would love how easy these recipes are too.
365 Slow Cooker Suppers by Stephanie O'Dea is one of the better slow cooker recipe books out there. The author gets right to the point and doesn't rely on "filler stuff" (e.g. measurements, substitutions, glossaries, etc.). She goes full speed ahead into the meat and potatoes (in this case that is a literal) of what you bought this cookbook for.
Before I post a review I like to do a cross sections testing of what the book has to offer and let readers know how the end product turned out for me, an amateur cook in a less than glitzy kitchen. The book is divided into eight sections:
Soups and Stews - Sweet Corn Chowder - Tasty, a great Saturday night supper
Beans - Cheesy Lentil Bake - To me this would have been perfect without the cheese.
Poultry - Two Packet Chicken - Boneless breast - pack taco seasoning, pack ranch dressing, can tomatoes. Voila! It doesn't get easier than this.
Beef & Lamb - Bangers and Mash - I had this to celebrate William and Kate's baby on 7/22/13.
Pork - Funeral Potatoes - Tasty, filling and enough to feed a crowd
Sandwiches - Dr. Pepper Sloppy Joes - made with ground turkey, perfect for the kids sleepover.
Meatless Main Dishes - Lentil & Sweet Potato Curry - Filling. Perfect for those diet days.
Fish & Seafood - I haven't made anything from this section and was surprised to see fish featured in a slow cooker recipe book. O'Dea has reduced the cooking time on most in this section to 2 hours so I'm looking forward to trying a few.
All in all I was very pleased with how everything I tried turned out. If I had a criticism it would be that often in crock pot cooking it is necessary to brown some of your ingredients first to extract the most flavor. This was called for in some recipes but I'd personally include this process in others. This could turn out to be my one "go to" slow cooker recipe book.
I think what I like best about this book is that it pretty much sticks to foods that do well in a slow cooker. Crockpots are not my preferred method of cooking, but they are handy for the days you know you'll be too dead-tired to cook.
I have used several recipes including: Cheese-stuffed BBQ Burgers, Taco Casserole, Tropical Chicken, Coconut Chicken, Cream of Mushroom Chicken without the "can", and Overnight Vinegar Chicken.
I was skeptical about some, but proved wrong. The hamburgers were very similar to cooking them in a skillet. The Vinegar chicken was left with a tasty, CRUNCHY (!) panko topping.
There are many categories including the usual soups, stews, seafood, beef, pork, poultry, meatless and beans. The author also gives Gluten-Free substitutions for those of us who may need or want that help.
If you are looking for a quality slow cooking book, this one will not disappoint.
on November 20, 2013
I tried four recipes--chicken with creamed corn, beef stroganoff, chicken pot pie, pork chops--and they were EXTREMELY mediocre. I don't understand why this book has been rated so highly. The recipes were so bad that I felt compelled to return the book for a refund based on principle alone. I have since purchased the slow cooker book from America's Test Kitchen and have found their recipes to be quite delicious.
This is a great companion for your slowcooker. It has all the traditional recipes (chilis, soups, etc) with a few more adventurous ones. This is a bonus for me but may not be for you--this is very light on the fish category. Since my family doesn't love fish, this is fantastic but if you are looking for a lot of fish slow cooker recipes, you might want to keep shopping around.