Without a doubt, my mother is reading this post with a smug grin on her face. Let me back up– as a teenager, I harbored inexplicable disdain for anything prepared in a slow cooker. When the “crock pot” came out of the cupboard, it was usually accompanied by many groans and eye rolling on my part (next time you see Lin-Babes, make sure to ask her about what a cute teenager I was). Then I grew up. And got a job. And so….my love affair with the slow cooker begins.
I’ve mentioned this book in my WFDW posts, and I’ll say it again: it is an excellent source for anyone who works all day and wants dinner DONE when (s)he gets home. Brought to us by the cooks at America’s Test Kitchen, it is loaded with fool proof recipes. Of course, in typical Test Kitchen style, they are not all simple “throw it in the cooker” recipes. Therefore, I sometimes do the prep work the night before. The pages have “Easy Prep” tabs to indicate meals that can be thrown together the morning of. So far, our top five favorites (in no particular order) are:
1. Loaded Baked Potato Soup (p. 30) Tips: I used the full 8 ounces of cheese (weigh it, don’t measure it) and I mashed more than 2 cups of potatoes to achieve desired consistency. This prep takes longer than others, so do it the night before–or make it on a day that you’re not working. It’s an artery clogger–but so worth it!
2. Japanese Pork and Ramen Soup (p. 23) — Easy prep for a weeknight!
3. Tortilla Soup (p. 11) — I did the prep the night before. The recipe calls for ladling the soup over tortilla chips, but this resulted in soggy chips. I would put the chips on top next time.
4. Everyday Shredded Chicken Tacos (p. 202) — Easy prep for a weeknight.
5. Ground Turkey and Chipotle Tacos (p. 212) –Easy prep, good for a crowd.
I’m still making my way through the book, so this list barely scratches the surface! Next up: Short Ribs and Red Wine Sauce (p. 170), North Carolina Pulled Pork (p. 145) and Chocolate Pudding Cake (p. 293)–that’s right, there’s a dessert section. If you have the book, I’d love to hear your favorites!
*Update: Some of you have expressed apprehension about this book after reading negative Amazon reviews. My two cents: do not expect a cookbook from ATK that requires zero prep on your part. Personally, I save the dishes that require more prep for the weekends, when I have more time. The second thing to consider is that ATK is very scientific. If you want the recipe to be PERFECT, then follow their recipes to a “T”. But it’s not always necessary to do so. I do not always precook things before putting them in the cooker and I’ve left the chicken recipes in for longer than the recommended 4-6 hours….and it turns out fine. I’ve used it as a guide and I’ve been very pleased with it.