My Crock-Pot and I are in the midst of a grand love affair. I put a little work in during the Turtles' naptimes and it rewards me with delicious meals and minimal clean-up. I've baked cakes and made super easy tapioca in it. It has provided me with many bowls of soup throughout the winter and works wonderfully at cooking beans or making stock. Much like my stroller, I will forever sing the praises of the slow cooker.
What I will not sing the praises of, however, is Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking by Stephanie O'Dea. Despite numerous recommendations and a few recipe attempts, I have been thoroughly unimpressed with this cookbook. To be fair, we don't eat meat so perhaps the meat recipes are better but the Tamale pie I tried was mediocre at best. The Quinoa Casserole was my first ever Crock-Pot disaster. I found myself cooing to my machine, "Don't worry slow cooker. It's not you. It's the horrible recipe." What can I say? I needed to make amends.
So, for all of you who are busting out your Crock-Pot in an attempt to make your lives a little easier, let me recommend my favorite slow cooker cookbook. It is 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson. And here is one of my absolute favorite recipes from her book:
Sweet Potato Barley Risotto
1 T. Vegetable Oil
2 Onions, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 t. dried Rosemary leaves (I use several handfuls of fresh from our plant which I mince)
1 1/2 cups Pearl Barley, rinsed
3 cups Vegetable Stock (although I'm sure you could sub chicken stock here too)
2 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened. Add garlic and rosemary and cook, stirring, for one minute. Stir in barley until coated with mixture. Add stock and bring to a boil.
2. Place sweet potatoes in slow cooker stoneware. Cover with barley mixture and stir to combine.
3. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours or on HIGH for 4 hours, until barley and sweet potato are tender. Stir in parmasan and serve immediately.
This dish can be prepared through Step 2 the night before. Refrigerate until ready to cook. Delicious!