My crockpot and I are best friends. I absolutely love being able to throw a bunch of ingredients together and have a meal miraculously appear at the end of the day. The flavors from all of the ingredients stewing together for several hours all seem to be a bit richer. So I was very happy to be given the opportunity to review “Stock The Crock” by Phyllis Good.
As the author mentions in her introduction, when she first came out with cookbooks quantity was the key. Assembled into one cookbook would be 600 or 700 recipes. This came about mainly because slow cooker cooking was new and there weren’t a lot of recipes available. Now that there are a lot of recipes out there, this book focuses more on the quality of the recipe and provides 100 of the best.
With these new 100 recipes, you get a bonus, many easy-to-follow variations showing you how to customize the recipes to your dietary needs. In order to help you personalize the recipes, you are encouraged to write in the book itself. Notes about the length of cooking time (if it needed to be adjusted), any substituted ingredients, whether it worked, whether it didn’t, etc. You won’t have to remember what it was you changed if you mark your recipes as you go along.
The slow cooker “Fundamentals” pages are perfect if you need to buy, or have been thinking about replacing your slow cooker. This section will be invaluable as it discusses models, size, features, everything you need to think about before you purchase your new slow cooker. It even mentions other kitchen tools you may need.
A set of excellent little tips and tricks on how to use your slow cooker to its fullest potential follow. This kind of tips section definitely makes a cookbook worthwhile.
After the slow cooker tips, you get the “Slow Cooker Hacks”. These are very useful ideas which go above and beyond the traditional uses for a slow cooker. For instance cooking two recipes at once in your slow cooker and, using your slow cooker as a double boiler. These types of tips really make cooks better.
The first recipe category is “Soups, Stews, and Chowders”. These are your go-to classic recipes from around the world. “Vegetarian and Pasta Mains” is next. I really had no idea that you could put uncooked pasta into a slow cooker and actually get something edible. A risotto recipe in the slow cooker is included as well, very cool.
The “Poultry” section features some succulent chicken and turkey recipes. There is even a recipe for crunchy sweet chicken wings which I had no idea you can actually achieve crunchy in a crockpot. That will be tested next week for sure.
The next category of recipes is “Beef and Pork”. You’ll find a Pot Roast here with a Mexican twist. Included are Beef Roast, Short Ribs, even a Beef Barbecue. The “Holiday Ham with Apricot Glaze” looks like it just might be better than mom made. Don’t tell her I wrote that.
“Fish and Seafood” come next. Salmon, Snapper, Flounder, and even a nice Jambalaya. The “Sides” category gives you recipes that you can add to any of the above. From Green Beans to Corn, Cabbage to Baked Beans, there is a lot of selection. My favorite right now is the “Carrots and Apples Duet” which would be the perfect side to a pork meal. The recipe for “Homemade Hash Browns” seems incredibly easy, although it would be extremely time-consuming to make this recipe. I think it would be worth the effort.
For the sweet tooth, you have the “Sweet Treats” recipes. The first recipe for “Kirsch “Roasted” Cherries” would not only make a great hostess gift but I can really see myself topping some ice cream with this. After reading this category I’m absolutely salivating. There are recipes for “Fruit Crisp”, the “Peach and Berry Cobbler”, the “Hot Fudge Sauce” and more. If you really have a hankering for brownies, you can’t go wrong with these “Slow-Cooker Brownies” which you can create without an oven. In the summer when it’s just too hot to bake your slow cooker is your hero. The “Raspberry Chocolate Cake” looks good enough to enter a baking contest.
Make Your Own Basics
After all of the regular recipes, you get a number of “Make Your Own Basics”. These are recipes can be used in place of store-bought processed foods. For instance, make the “Homemade Chicken Bone Broth” in your slow cooker, instead of buying the processed broth you get in the supermarket. There is a “Quick and Easy Cream of Mushroom Soup” recipe I will be trying soon. Everything is here from “Tomato Paste” to “Ketchup” and “Chai Apple Butter”. If you’ve ever wanted to make your own “Yogurt” then your slow cooker will be your pal here too.
Throughout the book, many of the recipes include tips on how to make it easier. Some also include suggestions for making the recipe Gluten-Free, Palio-Friendly, or more palatable for Picky Eaters. Some of the recipes have variations for some of the ingredients, and others even have tips on how to make them just for two, if you don’t want to make leftovers. The variations and ideas on how to adjust the various recipes make this book invaluable. Each recipe mentions what size of crock pot you’ll need, as well as Serving Size, Prep Time, and Cook Time.
While I prefer cookbooks that have a photo for every recipe, there are plenty here. The layout of the book is such that the wide margins will allow you to make the notes suggested by the author in the introduction. Those notes will be very handy when going back to a recipe again.
The recipe I chose, The Raspberry Chocolate Cake, is both simple and impressive. Oh, and chocolate. Enjoy!
Raspberry Chocolate Cake
Uses: 5 or 6 quart round crockpot
- 1 15 1/4 ounce package chocolate cake mix
- 1 3.4 ounce package instant chocolate pudding
- 1/2 cups Water
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup cold milk
- 2 cups raspberries, fresh, or frozen, thawed, and drained
- 1 8 ounce container Whipped topping, frozen, thawed
- fresh mint, sprigs and leaves, optional
- Additional raspberries, fresh, optional
- Combine the cake mix, insert pudding mix, water, eggs, oil, and milk in a large mixing bowl. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Then beat on medium speed for two minutes.
- Grease the interior of a round baking dish that fits into your slow cooker crock. Pour the batter into the baking dish. Cover the baking dish, either with its own lid or with three layers of paper towels. Use a larger slow cooker to accommodate the baking dish, if you need to. Place the filled baking dish in the crock.
- Cover. Cook on high 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours, or until tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Using oven mitts, or a sturdy set of tongs, remove the baking dish from the cooker. Place it on a cooling rack so the cake can cool completely.
- Just before serving the cake, and using a clean bowl, fold 2 cups of fresh or thawed and drained raspberries into the thawed whipped topping. (The fruit may bleed into the whipped topping if you do this too far ahead of serving.)
- Serve the cake either with a spoon or cut into wedges. Or slide a knife around the cake in the baking dish and invert it onto a plate or cake stand.
- Top each serving with generous dollops of the raspberry – whipped cream mixture.
- Add fresh mint and a few more raspberries to each serving, if desired.
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup hot strong coffee
- 1 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract