Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Cookbook Review: Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade slow cooker recipes 2
I borrowed this cookbook from a friend because I <3 the crock pot. What's not to love--you throw stuff in, walk away, and come back to a finished meal. Apparently, however, I do NOT <3 semi-homemade.
This could be my fault. See, I am cheap, so when a recipe in this book called for "bacon crumbles, Hormel," I'd think, "doubtful" and just make some bacon and crumble it myself. Or when I was supposed to use diced frozen onions, I'd just dice an onion instead. Maybe that contributed to my disapointment in these recipes. But I think the main issue is that I like food that tastes good (and fresh). And you can't do BOTH "semi" homemade and fresh in the crock pot.
I'm not accustomed to drowning my chicken in cream-of-whatever soup. And you know, I don't care for the flavor of cream-of-whatever soup. I was surprised by that, because I ate plenty of chicken doused with cream-of-whatever soup growing up. But now, it's just not my thing.
The first recipe I tried was for red beans and rice with Andouille sausage. It actually tasted pretty good, although I ended up with red beans and mush. This, though, was most likely my fault for two reasons. First of all, the recipe called for "converted" rice. I foolishly used REAL rice. Second, I let it cook for WAY longer than it was supposed to, because that's how things worked out that day. Still, it tasted good even if the texture of the rice was WAAAY off. I have to say I'll try this again on the stove without any particular recipe.
The second I tried was tukey cutlets with green chili scalloped potatoes. I know, right? Sounds good. However, my grocery store didn't have the cream-of-chicken verde soup that was needed. I tried to improvise by using cream-of-chicken and then tossing in a bit of salsa verde. Either that didn't work out or the recipe sucked, because the potatoes are still in my fridge a week later. I tried to throw them away last night, but they are glued to the container and I'd already started the dishwasher and didn't want to dirty another utensil. Maybe tonight.
At this point I should have given up. But I'd already purchased ingredients for another dish, cheddar beer chicken. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good. The recipe used a prepared cheese soup, but would have been better with actual cheese. Also, there was FAR too much liquid in the pot after it cooked. But the chicken was very tender and I liked the beer flavor (even though I don't like beer--go figure).
The most annoying thing for me was the way she tacks a specific brand onto every damned ingredient. I realize you don't really have to use that brand, but still--someone BOUGHT the cookbook, do you have to advertise in it, too? If you're going to use your cookbook to sell endorsements, you should give it away for free.
In addition, the cook times were not good for most crock pot cooks. Most people using the crock pot want to put stuff in before they go to work (or start their day), and then not come back for 8-10 hours. This book contains a lot of recipes that only cook for 3-4 hours, plus (and this is SUPER inconvenient), ones that cook for an hour, then need more ingredients, or have to rest, or change from "high" to "low" or whatever. If I'm going to have to be that involved with my crock pot, I'll just use the stove or oven.
I know a lot of people like Sandra Lee, and I appreciate that many cooks are busy and just want to do things quickly. But really, buying so many "convenience" items is super-expensive, and it would probably cost about the same amount (and taste much better) if you just went out to dinner. I'm giving this one back to my friend.
Final rating: 0 of 5 Bytes.