Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cookbook Challenge - Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook

Continuing my challenge to thoroughly get to know and use one of my cookbooks, I chose Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook for October. My goal was to get out my dusty slow cooker and actually use it!

It was not an easy goal. Slow cooking means planning ahead. There was so many nights I stared at the slow cooker, knowing if I wanted to use it the next day I had to thaw the meat. I found myself resisting the need to plan ahead. I wanted to put off the decision. But when I exerted some will power, it was a delight to prepare a meal at breakfast and enjoy the aroma for the rest of the day.

My second challenge was my actual slow cooker. I've always known my slow cooker is hotter than it should be. Often, one side of the pan would be overdone, and sometimes almost burnt. I often only used the low setting and sometimes turned the insert in the cooker halfway through the cooking time hoping it would cook evenly. Finally after having several people tell me that food should NEVER burn in a slow cooker, I decided I needed a new slow cooker.

I didn't have to look far. I had another slow cooker in the closet that we had received for a wedding gift. I rarely used it because it was "smart cooker" and because of it's large size. Our family is growing and the large size may be an asset now. I needed to learn how to use the "smart" aspect of the cooker, which meant that it would turn to warm after a specified amount of time, but it wasn't that difficult.

I didn't realize how much I was used to a cooker that was always too hot. Several times this month, I was near to meal time with food still uncooked. Twice I had to dump the ingredients into a pan on the stove to quick cook them! That definitely destroyed any benefit of using a slow cooker. But gradually I've learned to use, and almost enjoy, this slow cooker. With a little more practice, I may love it.

Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook is a hefty book full of lots of tips for using a slow cooker. The authors have a adapted a huge variety of recipes for the slow cooker, including lots of ethnic recipes. The biggest failures were the bean recipes. I was determined to find some good ways to eat dried beans. Maybe we just don't like dried beans, but I haven't found any super ways yet, besides refried beans.

Our favorite recipes were the ones with chicken such as: Caribbean jerked chicken, lemon chicken, and peking honey chicken wings - Yummy! We also enjoyed Spanish rice, tamale pie, baked apples, and chocolate peanut butter pudding cake.

I'd love to hear about your favorite slow cooker recipes. I'd like to assemble a list of our family's favorite crock pot recipes to make meal planning with a crock pot easier. Besides Not Your Mothers, I own Fix It and Forget It and Crockery Cookery. I also found some crockpot favorites in Kay's Country Cookin'. If I had a list compiled with our favorite recipes in one place, maybe my slow cooker wouldn't gather dust.

And I can't talk about recipes without sharing one!

Tamale Pie
from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook

1 lb ground beef
2 small onions, chopped
3 T chili powder
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt
pinch cumin
16 oz can stewed tomatoes
2 cups corn
14 oz can black olives
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Brown ground beef and onion. Mix all ingredients, except cheese together and pour into greased slow cooker. Cook on high for 3-4 hours. Sprinkle with cheese. Cook on high for 10 minutes to melt cheese. Serve.


  1. I use my slow cooker at least 2 - 3 times per week. I love it. Some things I don't even use a recipe for - just put a roast with potatoes and carrots around it, season it and add some broth. Those are my no-brainers that are also no-fail. A great website to check out is Stephanie also has 2 slow cooker cookbooks out, but I'm pretty sure all of the recipes are on her blog. I use many of her recipes as stand-bys. Some of my favorites are; 20-30 clove garlic chicken and chicken makhani. My favorite roast recipe of hers can be used with pork or beef. You simply sprinkle on 1 Tbsp. dried onion, 2 Tbsp. soy sauce and pour over 1 can over whole cranberry sauce. Cook it on low all day and it's unbelievably good at dinner. Good luck to you on figuring out your new cooker!

  2. I use my slow cookers a lot. Yesterday I cut up a pumpkin and baked it for four hours. The flesh was perfectly done and ready to take a spin in the blender for puree. Now I am ready to bake pies.

    I uese it for roasts, chicken, spaghetti sauce, soups, stews, chili. You will love it and the cookbook sounds like a good one. Enjoy!

  3. Interesting post, Gina. Since I've started working parttime, I would like to get to know my slow cooker better. But there aren't many recipes that cook all day because most slow cookers are just too hot! I have a great recipe for Asian Roast that we enjoyed on Sunday (

    As for beans, my kids absolutely love black eyed peas cooked very plain with water, salt, and butter. We eat them with cornbread
    and maybe cooked greens. And I put black beans in almost any Spanish kind of thing - like the Tamale Pie recipe you posted. We use beans for taco salad instead of ground beef. We're going to have black bean/sweet potato burritos for supper tonight (Simply in Season).

    I hope you share more of your crockpot experiments! I made a cobbler once in the crockpot that we liked, but never a cake.

  4. Oo Oo I love slow-cooker recipes! Thanks for sharing. I agree with you, though; while the slow-cooker is so wonderful for having dinner started and out of the way early, that means planning ahead ... sometimes I like to stall too much ... Another way to "rush" a slowly cooking dinner can be to just toss the crock piece in a hot oven.

  5. I use our slow cooker about once a week- I do love the ease of it. I too have found that cooking beans from dry just didn't work too well. But if I use beans I've soaked and cooked to just tender (I keep them in the freezer), they work better. Here are two of our favorites:

    Slow Cooker Cassoulet:

    and Chicken Chili:

    Maybe your family will like one of these?

  6. Oh yum that recipe looks so yummy! LOVE Mexican foods.
    Yeah I'm not wild about cooking in slow cookers either. I don't like smelling the food for that long because I don't want it by the end of the day after I have smelled it all day long. lol OR cooking at night time with it it's much worse. I have 3 of them and just never use them hardly. I might have to try this recipe though. Thanks for sharing with us. :)

  7. I use my slow cooker for beans like this: before I go to bed, I pour a bag of dried beans into a casserole dish, rinse them, pick out the duds, and cover it with water to about an inch above the beans. Then I stick it somewhere to soak overnight. (Usually in the microwave because my cat is a bean hound. Believe it or not.) In the morning, I pour the beans into the crock pot, cover them to above an inch or so with water, add seasoning (but not salt, which makes beans tough) and let them cook all day on low. When I get home from work I drain them, let them cool, and put them in freezer bags to use as I need them just as I'd use canned beans.
    I also make a corn chowder in the crock pot that is deeelicious.

  8. I found this recipe in my cookbook and made it today. Before I prepared the meal, I checked for comments from bloggers on adaptations. I love your review, and it seemed you adapted little. Did you have a crust form on top? Mixing all ingredients together for me resulted in a big pot of meat with cornmeal on some of the pieces. Tasted ok, but not very pleasant to look at and not as satisfying to bite into as a good cornmeal crust.


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