Sunday, November 11, 2012

Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook Review

During the cooler months of the year, there is nothing better than a nice slow cooked meal. It is a no fuss, easier way to have dinner ready and waiting at the end of the day and as an added bonus will fill up your house with the most amazing smells.

I was very excited to get the opportunity to review The Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook from Robert Rose publishing. Even just thumbing through the book, I had to dog ear about half of the pages for recipes I knew I would want to try. I have tried several since and I can honestly say there is not one recipe in this book I have tried so far that my family and I didn't love.

You might be wondering about whom the title refers to. In 1975 a group of women on a friends getaway had an idea- to compile a cookbook with the best recipes that their decades old Bridge group had so enjoyed at their meetings. The result was that the books "The Ladies of the Best of Bridge" came up with went on to be one of the best selling brands in North American Publishing.

Fast forward to present day- over thirty years later- the ladies are headed to retirement, but want their legacy to live on. They have teamed up with nal Sally Vaughan-Johnston. The majority of the recipes in Slow Cooker are Sally's, but the Ladies all approved after each appraising and critiquing these recipes to make sure they were the best of the best.

Now back to the recipes- there are so many good ones in this cookbook, it was difficult for me to narrow down which ones to share with you, so what I did was choose some from several different categories.

From the appetizer category (Nibbles, Dips and Drinks) my family really enjoyed the Cranberry Party Meatballs. It is a great fall twist on a people pleasing favorite. There was not a single morsel left on any plate the night I made these for dinner.

Cranberry Party Meatballs (page 38)
They’ll ask for this again!
2 cloves garlic, minced 2
1⁄4 cup fresh bread crumbs 60 mL
2 tbsp dried cranberries, finely chopped 30 mL
1 tsp crumbled dried sage 5 mL
1 tsp salt 5 mL
1⁄4 tsp pepper 1 mL
1 egg, lightly beaten 1
1 lb lean ground turkey 500 g
1⁄2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans 125 mL
1 tbsp vegetable oil 15 mL
1⁄4 cup grated onion 60 mL
1 cup jellied cranberry sauce 250 mL
1⁄4 cup chicken broth 60 mL
2 tbsp tomato paste 30 mL
1 tbsp Dijon mustard 15 mL
1 tbsp cider vinegar 15 mL
Use a 31⁄2 to 4-quart slow cooker. In a large bowl, combine garlic, bread crumbs, cranberries, sage, salt, pepper and egg. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add turkey and pecans. Mix well. Using about 2 tsp (10 mL) for each, shape into meatballs. In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown meatballs in two batches. (The meatballs might still be pink inside. Don’t worry; they will finish cooking in the sauce). Transfer to slow cooker. In a saucepan, combine onion, cranberry sauce, broth, tomato paste, mustard and vinegar; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Pour over meatballs. Cover and cook on Low for 5 to 6 hours or on High for 21⁄2 to 3 hours, until meatballs are no longer pink inside and sauce is thickened. Set the slow cooker to Keep Warm and let guests help themselves.
Makes about 30 meatballs.
Tip: Be sure to use crumbled dried sage and not ground dried sage, which has an intense and overpowering flavor.
Tip: We use tomato paste in many of our slow cooker recipes because it greatly boosts flavor and richness. The long, moist cooking dulls other aromatic ingredients, such as onions, garlic and herbs. Microwaving or browning a dollop or two of tomato paste with these ingredients makes all the difference.
Excerpted from Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook by Sally Vaughan-Johnston & The Best of Bridge Publishing Ltd. © 2012 All rights reserved: May not be reprinted without publisher permission.
As you can tell from the cooking directions, this is meant to be a party dish. My family enjoyed it as a dinner and it is highly possible that I will take this to our Thanksgiving gathering with family. It is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Another more run of the meal recipe in the soup section is Tuesday Tortilla Soup. I don't know if it is just my friends and family or the fact that we live in Texas, but I don't know a single person who does not make tortilla soup on a regular basis. The recipe in Best of Bridge Slow Cooker is fantastic and will definitely continue to be made at my house. This may even be a great recipe to bring to a friend who has been sick or just had a baby or someone else you might otherwise bring a meal to.

Tuesday Tortilla Soup (page 92)
Quick to assemble — ideal for mad midweek mornings. It cooks all day; just add the finishing touches when you get home.
3 cloves garlic, minced 3
1 large onion, finely chopped 1
1 can (28 oz/796 mL) diced tomatoes, 1
with juice
2 cups chopped cooked chicken 500 mL
1 cup corn kernels (no need to thaw 250 mL
if frozen)
1 tbsp ground cumin 15 mL
1 tbsp dried oregano 15 mL
Salt and pepper
4 cups chicken broth 1 L
2 cups crushed corn tortilla chips, 500 mL
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro 15 mL
1 tsp chipotle chile powder (see tip, 5 mL
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice 30 mL
Shredded Tex-Mex cheese blend
or Cheddar cheese
Sour cream
In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine garlic, onion, tomatoes, chicken, corn, cumin, oregano, 1⁄2 tsp (2 mL) salt, 1⁄4 tsp (1 mL) pepper and broth. Cover and cook on Low for about 8 hours or on High for about 4 hours, until onions are tender and soup is bubbling. Stir in half the tortilla chips and the cilantro. In a small bowl, combine chipotle chile powder and lime juice until smooth. Stir into soup. Cook on High for 20 minutes, until tortilla chips are softened and soup is thickened. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if desired. Ladle into bowls and garnish with remaining tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream.
Serves 4.
Tip: Jars of chipotle chile powder are available in most supermarkets. The reddish-brown powder is made from dried smoked jalapeƱo peppers. It lends an authentic Mexican touch to soups, stews and chilis. Regular chili powder can be substituted if you prefer to not have a smoky flavor.

Excerpted from Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook by Sally Vaughan-Johnston & The Best of Bridge Publishing Ltd. © 2012 All rights reserved: May not be reprinted without publisher permission.

I save my favorite for last! I am usually not a huge dessert in the slow cooker kind of person, but the second I read the ingredients in the Banoffee Pie, I knew I would have to try it. One of the ingredients called for is Digestive Cookies, which come from Great Britain and are super delicious. Fear not, you can find them in the international section at your local Kroger (in the US anyway) and believe me, you should, they will be your new favorite cookie.

Banoffee Pie (page 300)
An irresistible British dessert. The toffee sauce is easy to make in the slow cooker.
1 can (14 oz or 300 mL) sweetened 1
condensed milk
Very hot water
2 cups crushed digestive cookies 500 mL
1⁄2 cup melted butter 125 mL
2 bananas, sliced 2
1 cup heavy or whipping (35%) cream 250 mL
Grated chocolate
Use a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Pour milk into a 2-cup (500 mL) glass measuring cup, cover with foil and place in slow cooker. Add very hot water to the slow cooker until it reaches the level of the milk. Cover and cook on Low for about 9 hours, until milk is very thick and caramel-colored. Whisk thoroughly, then let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine cookies and butter. Pat into the base and up the sides of an 8-inch (20 cm) pie plate. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Arrange bananas over chilled base. Pour toffee sauce over bananas. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until chilled, or overnight. In a bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Spread over pie. Sprinkle with grated chocolate. Serves 6.
Make Ahead: Transfer the cooled toffee sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Tip: For best results when whipping cream, be sure that the cream is very cold. Also, chill the bowl and beaters in the freezer for a short while beforehand. Use a deep bowl to prevent spatters. Recipes usually specify whipping the cream to soft peaks (which bend over slightly) or firm peaks (which are more pointy and upright). Be careful not to over-whip cream. If it starts to look grainy, you have gone too far. You may be able to rescue over-whipped cream by adding a little more unwhipped cream to the bowl and whipping on low speed.
Excerpted from Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook by Sally Vaughan-Johnston & The Best of Bridge Publishing Ltd. © 2012 All rights reserved: May not be reprinted without publisher permission.

Some other favorites from the cookbook are:

southwest brunch bake
unattended applesauce
turkey and wild rice soup
turkey meatball korma
butter chicken
black bean vegetarian tacos
peach cinnamon brown betty
maple orange glazed pears
rum pumpkin caramel sauce

And so many more! There are 200 fantastic recipes to choose from, giving you many new options to keep from getting bored with your menu.

You can purchase Best of Bridge Slow Cooker on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble.

*Disclosure- I was provided a complimentary copy of The Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook in hopes that I might mention it on my blog. I was not required to render a positive review and all opinions are 100% my own.
best ever banana bread


  1. wonderful review-very nice recipes...its always great to have a GREAT COOKBOOK!

  2. I'm going to save that Tortilla Soup recipe - YUM!!

  3. All of these recipes sound amazing right now!

  4. the photos look really yummy! great to see a new cookbook for the slow cooker too.

  5. I love a good crockpot cookbook! thanks!!

  6. Yum yum!! I love slow cooker books and this one looks/sounds like it has some awesome ones in it!!!

  7. The best thing about slow cooker recipes is that they are so easy to make. The tortilla soup looks yummy. I am just learning how to cook and am using a really great cookbook called, "Holly Clegg's trim&TERRIFIC KITCHEN 101: Secrets to Cooking Confidence" by author Holly Clegg as a guide. This a how to book on cooking, which includes tools, tips and recipes for anyone who wants to learn how to improve their cooking. Note: trim&TERRIFIC is all one word.
    The slow cooker recipe looks right up my ally! Thanks