I started using a slow-cooker regularly in 2011. You see, I was bored in Alaska and I started reading food blogs. Stephanie O'Dea's A Year of Slow-Cooking was one that I read from start to finish and I still read it today. I've tried, I'd say, over 1/3 of her recipes. Rarely have I been disappointed. She provides the perfect recipes: easy to follow, easy to find ingredients, and I love reading her "verdicts". She can tell a story about a recipe without going into excruciating detail. Any cookbook of hers would be a winner in my opinion!
I was thrilled to be given an opportunity to check out 365 Slow Cooker Suppers right after it hit the store shelves on September 24th. These are the recipes I tried:
Buffalo Chicken Stew
Whoa. We loved this. I'm generally not a fan of buffalo-chicken-anything, but Stephanie's description made me want to try it and we fell in love. Depending on how much wing sauce you add, it can be pretty spicy; ours was. I also added some cornstarch to a bit of the broth at the end of cooking time to thicken it up a bit. I didn't have celery and was too lazy to cut up carrots. Scott's opinion was that the smaller potato chunks were the best ones, so cut them up small! We topped it with just mozzarella because, again, something about venturing to the store for bleu cheese didn't appeal to me.
This stew was warm and comforting on our first 50 degree night this month. The changes I made are in parentheses.
1 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (The cookbook says to dice the chicken. I put the whole package in without dicing, and then shredded it 30 minutes before the cooking time was up.)
1 small onion, diced
4 red potatoes, diced (I used about 8.)
1 cup chopped baby carrots (I skipped the carrots.)
1 cup celery, diced (Didn't have any celery)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 packet ranch dressing mix (powdered)
6 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup buffalo wing sauce
Combine everything but the cheese in a 6 quart slow-cooker. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 5. I've made this twice, using both the high and low cooking times. Both work well! Just adjust for your needs.
Serve with cheese on top. (You could even put this in oven-proof bowls and broil the cheese with croutons on top a 'la French onion soup.)
Lazy Sunday Pot Roast
I made this on a Sunday, of course. I like the idea of making dinner without really "making dinner", or being home all day with the oven on. I put this in the crockpot at 10am and it was done at 6pm. It was probably done at 5:00, but I let the eight hours run out. I figured it wouldn't hurt; more time equals more tender, right?
It was tasty.
Scott requested this potato soup. I liked the roasted garlic part and he really is drawn to vegetable soups. This would be a great soup to customize and perfect for a large group.
We went through this phase a few years ago where we ate a lot of roasted garlic. A restaurant in Anchorage used to serve it with a dense chewy bread, and it spread like butter. Top it with tomato and wow. ...I think I need to share that recipe...
Anyway, the garlic "roasts" in the slow-cooker and gives this soup a terrific, sweet flavor. I think next time I'll add some corn too. We ate it with BLTs, but you can skip that step and just load that soup up with crumbled bacon!
(I was sent a cookbook to check out via digital download, but all opinions are my own. I've already bought hard copies to give as gifts this Christmas. I'm a believer in the crockpot and a huge fan of Stephanie O'Dea's...totally in a non-creepy, blogging kinda way :)