The Crockin’ Girls Slow Cookin’ Companion is designed to take you far away from the usual roast in a crock pot deal. Every meal is covered here as are snacks and desserts. 360 pages plus of colorful food goodness reside in this book.
After an acknowledgements page and a brief introduction to the book it is on to the recipes. The recipes are broken down into sections without chapter headings. The first section up is “Good Morning, Sunshine” and is all about breakfast. These are all recipes designed to cook overnight and start the day out right. That could be with “Nicole’s Crockin Breakfast (pages 14-15) featuring eggs, hash browns, cheese, ham, mushrooms, and more. Or maybe you would prefer “Banana Nut Bread” (pages 16-17), “Sunrise Pizza” (pages 22-23), “Crockin Oats” (pages 34-35) or many of the other dishes pictured and described here. While there is not any nutritional information with any of these recipes, there are simple to follow directions, detailed lists of ingredients, and plenty of large pictures to inspire you.
“Appetizers” are always important and 18 such items are next with most of them being dips of various kinds. In addition to “Faith’s Dip” on page 44-45 featuring Velveeta cheese, cream cheese, sausage, and chiles, among other things, there are other dips such as “Championship Bean Dip” (page 58-59) and “Spicy Crab Dip” (pages 64-65). If dips are not your thing, the recipes for “Sweet and Sour Meatballs” (pages 46-47), “Bacon Wrapped Smokies” (pages 50-51), “Not Your Mama’s Nachos” (pages 60-61) and “Finger Lickin Bites” (pages 72-73) among others might work for you.
Soups, stews, chili get their place in the section titled “Bowls of Goodness.” It begins with “Jenna’s Chicken Tortilla Soup” on pages 84-85 and ends with “New Year’s White Chicken Chili” on page 124-125. In between there are 19 more recipes that include “Taco Stew” (pages 92-93), “Tater Soup” (page 100-101) and “Gluten Free Chili” (pages 108-109) among others.
You can really have a real meal without a side of some type. “Sides” comes next and opens with the classic “Green Bean Casserole” on page 130-131. Also included are “Cheddar Mac” (pages 136-137), “Party Potatoes” (pages 146-147) --- which look amazingly like small chunky potato skins-- and “Creamy Hash Browns” (pages 172-173) among others. Not only are several varieties of mac and cheese in this book, there is a recipe for “Baked Potatoes” on ages 138-139 that will tell you how to skip the oven and use a crockpot to bake a potato. This was news to this reviewer who does love a baked potato and had no idea it was possible.
Beef comes next in the section titled “The Main Squeeze” which answers the question regarding what is for dinner. This section is further divided into sub-sections on beef, chicken and pork. At over 135 pages there is a lot here recipe wise and plenty to choose from.
Along with the expected roast recipes in the subsection on “Beef” (pages 178-233) there are ones for “Tula’s Carne Guisada” (pages 186-187), “Peppie and Pop’s Cabbage Tamales” (page 200-201), “Crockin Enchilada Casserole” (pages 202-203) and “French Dip Sandwiches” (pages 214-215) among many others. Like the rest of the book there is considerable variety in this area making the book very helpful.
Dish variety continues in the next subsection titled “Poultry” (pages 234-271). Whether it be “Chicken Pot Pie” (pages 238-239), “Best Whole Chicken” (pages 246-247) or “Creamy Apricot Chicken” (pages 258-259) there is something here for you regarding chicken dishes. Also included here is one turkey recipe for a “Lemon Pepper Turkey Breast” on pages 266-267. Unfortunately, there is nothing for duck or Cornish game hens.
A number of recipes for pork chops are present in the “Pork” subsection found on pages 272-311. Also included here is one for “Ham” (pages 280-281), “Sausage, Potato, and Onion-Stuffed Peppers” (pages 284-285), “Mexican Pork Roast” (pages 294-295) and “My Crock O’Ribs” (pages 308-309) among others.
“Easy Italian Crockin” is all about how you can go Italian style. Among the 8 recipes here are ones for “Crockin Girls Pizza” (pages 316-317), “Crockin Lasagna” (pages 320-321) and “Baked Ziti” (pages 326-327).
“Our Sweet Things” is all about “Desserts” (pages 334-371)” The section is primarily powered by that wonderful substance known as chocolate. A key ingredient featured in various recipes for cakes and brownies here such as “Peanut Clusters” (pages 338-339) and “Triple Chocolate Mess” (pages 362-363) among others here make clear. It isn’t all about chocolate though as “Apple Crisp” (pages 340-341), “Pumpkin Crumb Cake” (pages 342-343), “Nana’s Zucchini Bread” (pages 354-355) and “Tapioca Pudding” (page 358-359) among others are here.
A four page index brings the book to a close.
Like a number of cookbooks lately The Crockin’ Girls Slow Cookin’ Companion is a cookbook that clearly celebrates family through food and pictures. That is made clear by the subtitle Yummy Recipes from Family, Friends, and Our Crockin’ Community and the many pictures of family members. The pictures of husbands and children are a nice touch and make the point subtly that this is a cook book for regular people to use every day.
It is worth noting that many of the dishes in the book rely on soups and other ingredients that usually are very high on fat, salt, etc. This is a cookbook designed for convenience and not nutritional health. One would need to make substitutions to bring those numbers down. Also there is no mention of serving sizes regarding portions or the size of the crock pot needed for these dishes.
Despite the lack of any nutritional information, this is a well done cookbook well worth your attention. My copy from the library, while very new, is already showing a little damage along the spine. What that means for long term use in your household remains to be seen. But, The Crockin’ Girls Slow Cookin’ Companion is a cookbook that if you regularly or even occasionally use a crock pot would be a valuable resource.
The Crockin’ Girls Slow Cookin’ Companion: Yummy Recipes from Family, Friends, and Our Crockin’ Community
Nicole Sparks and Jenna Marwitz
The Five Star Institute
Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2012