Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"The Vegan Slow Cooker" Review

I cannot say enough fantastic things about Kathy Hester's awesome new cookbook, "The Vegan Slow Cooker."  It's so nice to see a Cookbook that's easy to follow and uses fresh and healthy ingredients in a very user-friendly way!

You do not have to be Vegan to enjoy this cook book!  We're totally not Vegan in my house!  If you HAVE to have meat, you can add it to many of the recipes.  So, please don't stop reading here just because you're not Vegan or a Vegetarian! :)  This book has so much to offer.....

The book starts with some Slow Cooking Basics and Slow Cooker Q&A.  Who can't use a few new tips on their slow cooker?  It then goes into a chapter on making your own bouillon, sauces, beans from scratch, etc.  This is a great way to stock your freezer with things you're going to use later in her wonderful recipes.  (And as always, making these things from scratch is much cheaper than buying them from the store!)

After this, Hester's book goes into Chapter after Chapter of DELICIOUSNESS; including Simmering Soups, Casseroles, Meatless Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Breads, Desserts and many more!  Every page you turn leads you to more and more mouth watering culinary ingeniousness!

One of the things I love about Hester's recipes is she gives you options!  I love options.  As you all know, I like to take recipes and make them "my own."  "The Vegan Slow Cooker" helps you become the star of your kitchen by making each recipe into your own creation.  I also love that she gives you tips on what to prepare the night before and then the morning of, to help get you out the door quicker in the morning!  (You know I do almost all of my prep work the night before and do the bare minimum the morning of!)

It was incredibly difficult to do, but I chose two of her mouth-watering recipes to make for my family this past week.  I chose to make the Citrus Black Bean Soup and Acorn Squash Stuffed With Cranberry-Pecan Rice.  Don't they sound heavenly?!!!!  I'm here to tell you, they were JUST as heavenly as they sounded!

Kathy has graciously given me permission to post two of her recipes, so you are in luck here!  After you see these recipes, you're going to want to rush out and buy a copy of her book!

Don't miss out on this awesome cookbook!

*The text in purple are my changes to this recipes.

Citrus Black Bean Soup

2 cloves garlic (I used 2 tsp. garlic powder)
4 cans (14.5 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed or 6 cups homemade (which there are directions for in the book). (I used 3 cups of dried black beans, soaked over night)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes or 1 1/2 cups Preserve the Harvest Diced Tomatoes (which you can find in the book)
1 Tbsp. Jerk Seasoning (I did not use this since I have a little one)
1 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Chipotle Chili Powder (I used 2 tsp. of my Pampered Chef Chili Lime Rub)
1 tsp. Liquid Smoke (I left this out since I don't have it in my pantry)
1 tsp. - 1 Tbsp. hot sauce (I used about 4-6 dashes)
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 orange
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
4 cups water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 onion, chopped


The Night Before: Mince the garlic and store in an airtight container in the fridge.  I soaked my beans the night before and chopped my onions.

In the Morning: Combine the garlic, beans, tomatoes, jerk seasoning, cumin, chipotle, liquid smoke, hot sauce, lime juice and orange juice in the slow cooker.  Cook on low for about 8 hours.  I added the onions, water and bouillon cubes to this.  I wanted my soup to be thinner, plus, I needed the water for my beans to cook since they were not pre-cooked.

If desired, puree the soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a countertop blender, being careful of splatters of hot soup, until smooth, or leave the soup chunky.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.  Serve topped with the chipped cilantro.

My Review: I found this soup to be delicious!  There was a hint of citrus and just a slight kick from all of the wonderful spices!  The fresh cilantro on top REALLY made this soup special though!  My husband, daughter and I all finished our bowls!  (And there were PLENTY of leftovers!!!!!)

Acorn Squash Stuffed With Cranberry-Pecan Rice

1 medium size Acorn Squash (I used 2)
Olive oil, for rubbing
1 cup cooked brown rice, or other pre-cooked grain (I took 1 cup dry wild grain rice and cooked it according to the package directions)
1 15 oz. can lentils, white beans or kidney beans, drained and rinsed or 1 1/2 cups homemade (which there are directions for in the book) (I used 1 can Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained)
1 Tbsp. chopped dried cranberries (I used 1/4 cup whole dried cranberries)
1 Tbsp. chopped pecans (I used 1/4 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced (I used 1 tsp. garlic powder)
2 sprigs fresh thyme, minced
1 tsp. fresh chopped rosemary (I only had dry, so I used about 1 tsp.)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped onion


The Night Before: Cut the acorn squash in half and remove the seeds.  Lightly run the exposed flesh with a little olive oil.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge.  In a bowl, combine the rice, lentils, cranberries, pecans, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and salt and pepper, stir to mix.  Add some water or broth if the mixture is too dry.  Cover, and store in the fridge.  I have zero time in the morning getting two kids out the door, so I stuffed the acorn squash the night before and put them in the crock.  I then put the crock in the refrigerator overnight.

In The Morning: Pour about 1/2" water in the bottom of your slow cooker. (I did not do this) Crumple up some aluminum foil and place under the squash halves to keep them from turning over and spilling out the stuffing.  (I totally ran out of foil, so I did not do this either.  My squash did not fall over and stayed stuffed!)  No aluminum foil?  Cut a little off the bottom side of the squash half to get it to sit straight. (Again, another step I just skipped over.  I'm not fancy, LOL!)  Fill the squash with the stuffing and round it over the flesh, if possible.  Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork.  So, all I did in the morning was put the crock into the base, plug it in and set the time!  I cooked mine for 8 hours on LOW, but it was on Warm for another 2+ hours after that until I got home.  

My Review:  We REALLY, REALLY enjoyed this!  The wild rice looked SO pretty!  The cranberries and onions added the perfect amount of sweetness.  The crunchiness of the pecans were the perfect contrast to the soft rice.  And the fresh thyme....I just can't say enough about.  Genius!  Mix this all together with the soft, tender, buttery flesh of the acorn squash and you have perfection!  I will be making this again!!!

*The opinions expressed here are solely my own. I was provided with a free copy of The Vegan Slow Cooker in exchange for an honest review.

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  1. I have a number of recipes that I'm wanting to make and I am a fan of the slow cooker. I like that there are a great variety of recipes. For our family this book is a keeper.

  2. Oh, gosh, these look incredible! I love, love black bean soup... sounds perfect :)

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