The busier I get, the more indispensable my slow cooker becomes — and I need more good recipes to put in it.
Today I’m pretty pumped to share the work of two of my snarky, hilarious colleagues, both of whom are slow cooker freaks aficionados.
Stephanie Brandt Cornais of Mama & Baby Love is the bomb when it comes to going straight from the freezer to the slow cooker and not looking back. She keeps things simple, no extra steps, and gives working parents (and busy people everywhere) a superb new option for getting real food on the table realistically by dinnertime, every night.
Stacy Myers of Stacy Makes Cents (link no longer available) is not only the funniest Southern girl I know but also one of the smartest with money and living debt-free, and I think she can make just about anything in a crockpot. Maybe even money, but I kind of doubt it.
- Crock On! by Stacy Myers
- Keep Crockin’ by Stacy Myers
- From Your Freezer To Your Family, Slow Cooker Freezer Recipes For Every Season, by Stephanie Brandt Cornais
Although all three books clearly have something in common – they’re all slow cooker cookbooks – they’re remarkably different once you dig in. I can’t wait to tell you about each one.
Crock On! is subtitled A Semi-Whole Foods Slow Cooker Cookbook, but I think Stacy sells herself short on that one. It’s filled with real food in my opinion, no semi- about it, and it truly is one of my favorite books to cook from, including all my digital and hard copy cookbooks. I use it at least a few times a month, and one of her recipes (Southern BBQ Chicken) is even in The Healthy Lunch Box, one of my own books. You can see a sample recipe for the book, Cheesy Sausage Potatoes, by clicking HERE (link no longer available) to download it.
Keep Crockin’ is Stacy’s second slow cooker book with 55 all new recipes, never published on her blog or anywhere else. You can feel Stacy’s shift in eating habits between this and her first book, as there is far less gluten and grain, more low-carb meals in general and more variations to adapt recipes. I’ve tried two from this new book, and so far, so yummy! Check out the sample download, Chicken Tiki Masala (link no longer available) (will download immediately).
The concept behind From Your Freezer to Your Family: Slow Cooker Freezer Recipes for Every Season took Pinterest by storm on Stephanie’s site a few years ago, and she realized that people were hungry for simplicity on both sides of the freezer – simple to prepare and freeze, simple to cook. We are busy people! Every recipe in the book is written for double portions right from the get-go, and readers are encouraged to make 3-4 recipes at a time for 6-8 meals in the freezer, all in an hour or two of work. Then the frozen meals go directly into the slow cooker in the morning and on the table for dinner.
This is Stephanie’s second book and it includes the best recipes from the first book (which is now off the market) plus many new ones for a total of 70 recipes.
My Honest Thoughts
I get a bad taste in my mouth when I read a gushing, overly positive review. Maybe I’m just cynical, but I always think, “Wasn’t there something negative or questionable to say about the (whatever-it-is)?”
So I’m not like that.
I’ll help you figure out exactly what book will be best for you by listing advantages and disadvantages to each – honestly.
- Totally recognizable ingredients and spices – Stacy uses really normal stuff, and her family and ours mutually agree that we enjoy cumin, chili powder and garlic in our dinners, I think.
- Simple recipes – not a ton of prepping or chopping
- American fare – plenty of Mexican and Asian food here, but by “American” I mean that most Americans would recognize and enjoy the food. Think of slow cooker recipes that include canned cream soups, but without the cans.
- Stacy will make you laugh, guaranteed.
- She’s all about full fat dairy, butter, and the good stuff.
- Sometimes I feel like there’s more sweetener than needed in a recipe (so I just cut it) and there are a decent number of recipes with flour, corn, or other starchy carbs.
I really do use this book all. the. time. Here’s the list of all the recipes we’ve tried and enjoyed:
- Stuffed Pepper “Stoup” (multiple times, have shared with company)
- White Beans & Ham (my new go-to when I have a ham bone)
- Chili Pork Wraps (a few times)
- Caroline Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches (many times, served to company too)
- Beef and Broccoli (this was Christmas Eve dinner for us a few weeks ago – it cooked while were at Mass. Voila!)
- Maple Sesame Chicken (a few times)
- Sloppy Chicken
- Broccoli Casserole
- Garlic Smashed Potatoes
- Plus I have about 4 more on my “must make someday!” list.
- More simple recipes, just like the first book
- Breakfasts included in this one!
- Recipes tested and reviewed right on the page
- If you’re NOT grain-free/gluten-free or sugar-free, you’ll see a lot of ingredients that you might not have in your house: almond flour, arrowroot starch, stevia, and some other unique foods. Some have substitutions, some don’t. This book also includes many dairy-free alternatives. For some of you, all this might be an advantage!
- Recipes can be on the small side in my opinion. Just be ready to double if your crock can handle it if you like leftovers.
- The photos are only okay – I should be talking, mine aren’t so hot either – but this isn’t food porn. It’s simple fare.
I tested a recipe for Stacy, the Curried Chicken Soup. It was delicious, even though I think I forgot to add the thickener an hour before the end (I do that all the time when anything has to be added to a crock). My only problem? It only called for 2 cups chicken broth and 1/2 cup. milk. I thought I might starve my family if I didn’t double it immediately!
The recipe we tried this week was Lentil Lasagna Soup, and I increased the amount of some of the ingredients (but not all of them). This one had 4 cups of broth. It turned out really thick, like a “stoup,” but I liked that about it. Jonathan, the 2-year-old who often declares, “I no like soup!” (except the “s” is a “p” sound, which is pretty awesome), ate 3 or 4 bowls of it. Hooray! The only problem was when my reminder popped up to take a photo for this post the next day, here’s what was in the fridge:
That’s a 2-cup bowl but totally could have been a 1-cupper. User error.
The other recipe I planned to try was Pumpkin Chip Breakfast Pudding. The “chip” is for “chocolate chips” so I planned to make it as a fun Sunday night dessert. When I got down to it Sunday after lunch, I realized that it had to cook in a loaf pan in water in the crock…and mine didn’t fit.
I was going to switch to the Maple Pecan Pie, but when it came time to start that one 2 hours before dinner, I was way too busy with something that must have been important. I have Pizza Sandwiches from the book planned for this Sunday, and I have to say I’m so excited about that recipe – ground sausage with spices, which I make homemade and love, as the foundation for sandwiches that taste like pizza? I have a feeling this one will be a hit.
So bottom line, as long as some “different” ingredients don’t turn you off (Stacy offers “normal” substitutions for almost all of them) and you know what quantity your family will need, this is a very versatile and comprehensive slow cooker cookbook for just about any real food kitchen.
From Your Freezer to Your Family: Slow Cooker Freezer Recipes for Every Season
- If you’re grain-free or gluten-free, you’ll love that the recipes hardly have any in them – nor dairy.
- Gorgeous photography and layout
- Stephanie has so much grace for busy moms and so many shortcut suggestions! I love that!
- Lots of vegetables – when Stephanie shares a meat-centric meal, there is almost always still a few different kinds of veggies included.
- For our family, Stephanie uses fruit with meat or spices like cinnamon with meat too often, but that might be an advantage to some. There’s also lots of sweet potatoes, so I’ve skipped many recipes so I don’t get the stink eye from my husband (I like them, he doesn’t) but I just realized I should try simply subbing white potatoes!
- This girl is not afraid to be heavy on the spice – if your family would be best described as “mild,” you’ll want to automatically cut down anything spicy by half, or even a fourth, because there’s generally no warning if something will be spicy. (We love it, but our kids haven’t been able to eat a few of the things I’ve made!)
- Recipes aren’t listed in the table of contents, so navigation is trickier than I’d like.
- Not all ingredients are everyday ingredients in my kitchen, but they probably wouldn’t throw everyone (lamb, eggplant, mango, duck, shrimp)
I have to admit, I haven’t done the “freezer” part of the cookbook, just the slow cooker part. Call me crazy. It would probably be a good thing, but I have two reasons for not trying it:
- Sometimes I’m behind enough that I don’t have the extra time to plan to make a few extra meals for later.
- I don’t always have enough meat for a double batch of meat-centric meals.
- Cumin beans (really good, but spicy)
- Ginger Beef (seriously yummy, but spicy) I was going to take a photo of this one for this post, but the week just flew by! It’s really pretty with red peppers, scallions, and pea pods…and since my husband forgot to take the rice with it when he packed it for lunch, we can also say with certainty that it’s a delicious soup.
Disclosure: I received products for my review at no charge, which of course did not affect my opinion in the least. I am an affiliate for both eBooks, which also doesn’t change my opinion. See my full advertising disclosure here.