My brothers and I all live several hours apart from each other, so each Christmas, my mother essentially works it out so that she has time at each of our homes to celebrate Christmas. This year, she’s spending it with one of my brothers, so we had an early Christmas together last weekend.
And although Christmas was only a couple of weeks away, I figured we should do the full-blown Turkey dinner and Christmas morning brunch, because, as far as I’m concerned, the only thing better than Christmas is doing it twice.
And, I decided, this was the perfect opportunity to test a cookbook, Holiday Slow Cooker, by Jonnie Downing and published by Ulysses Press.
The concept of this book is simple: Each U.S. holiday is represented with meals that can be made in the slow cooker. The book is organized by holiday, starting with New Year’s Day and ending with Christmas. There are several recipes per holiday – Valentine’s Day, Easter, Cinco de Mayo, Fourth of July, Octoberfest – it’s a long list of holidays. Even Mardi Gras is covered. As a Canadian, I don’t observe several of these holidays, but the recipes are still excellent in this book.
The Thanksgiving and Christmas sections had lots of turkey dinner recipes (basically everything except the turkey) so I decided that this was a great opportunity to see if (a) I could make this meal less stressful and (b) the recipes really are that good in a slow cooker as the author claims.
Prior to this dinner, I had made turkey drumsticks which were so good, we actually stood at the counter and ate them from the slow cooker and never actually sat down to eat dinner. They are delicious, fall-off-the-bone tender, and averaging $1-$1.50 per leg, they are incredibly cost effective.
I have also made the corned beef and cabbage (St. Patrick’s Day) and Kielbasa with Sauerkraut (Octoberfest). I had planned on leftovers for both of these recipes, but we polished off both dishes in one night.
This book is full of recipes that are dedicated to specific holidays, but obviously, you can make them any time.
This book has so many recipes that I want to try:
Bacon-wrapped cocktail wienies, Traditional Guinness Stew, Beer Baked Beans, Breakfast Quiche, Pulled Pork…there are so many recipes that I want to try.
A few days earlier, I had made Hot Apple Cider (recipe below), which is lovely.
For our big dinner, I made cranberry sauce that morning (recipe below). This is almost as easy as opening a can, it tastes infinitely better than canned with fresh tart/sweet flavours, and it impresses everyone.
I made the green bean casserole – which was served hot from the slow cooker when dinner was ready. (The recipe suggests canned beans – but I micro-steamed fresh beans).
I made my trademark mashed potato casserole in advance so it just needed to be heated through at dinner time. But I used the instructions from the book to cook the potatoes in the slow cooker instead of boiling them on the stove. This makes a creamy potato – not saturated as they get from boiling, and there was no cleanup, since the potatoes are wrapped in foil.
And my sweet potato casserole recipe – which again, I used the slow cooker technique from the book to cook the sweet potatoes in advance (sooooo good!), so then all I had to do was prepare the rest of the casserole and cook it through with the mashed potato casserole at dinner time. I will never cook sweet potatoes using any other method ever again. And honestly, the sweet potatoes are amazing this way, even if you do nothing else to them.
And of course, we had the turkey, which was not done in the slow cooker.
The potatoes, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce were all cooked in the morning, and then the casseroles were assembled and popped in the fridge until dinnertime.
The green bean casserole was prepared in the morning, and cooked in the slow cooker until dinner time.
(If you are wondering how I accomplished all of this, I have three slow cookers: a 3.5 qt, 5 qt, and 6 qt. And I used them intermittently for the recipes in this book…basically if the ingredients fit, I used it. Although all of the recipes in this book are based on a 6 qt slow cooker, which is a common size, and thankfully, means that you don’t have to have extra slow cookers, as I do.)
My husband drove to Toronto to pick my mother up, so I knew after a six-hour round trip drive, he would be looking forward to coming home to a turkey dinner. And my mother – well – she’s my mother, so I just wanted it to be special.
And I had not seen my mother for awhile so I wanted to be able to visit with her.
I had just popped the cranberry sauce, mashed potato casserole and sweet potato casseroles in the fridge, when I turned around and saw this outside our living room window. It was a prefect Christmas snow that would even get Scrooge in the mood for Christmas.
When my husband and mother arrived around 3:00, I had the Christmas carols playing, the turkey roasting, the green bean casserole cooking away in the slow cooker, and the mashed potato and sweet potato casseroles ready to roll until show time.
It was the most stress-free Christmas dinner I have ever hosted. There was no last-minute chaos of mashing potatoes. There were no pots and pans to work around. Everything was ready on schedule. And it was the most delicious Christmas dinner I have ever made.
The only issue was that of course I was taking advantage of this opportunity to photograph everything for the blog. And because it was dark, I was fussing with the flash when I took those pictures.
The very last photo I took was of my loaded plate. And after my mother quietly reached over to my husband and asked ‘Do you always have to wait for her to take pictures of her food?’, my husband (sort of) politely asked me to stop.
Courtesy of Ulysses Press, one copy of Holiday Slow Cooker is available as a giveaway. You really want to enter in this draw….this book rocks.
THIS DRAW IS NOW CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO CHRIS WHO WON A COPY OF HOLIDAY SLOW COOKER!
Entering is easy:
Simply answer this question in the comments below: Do you have a favourite holiday slow cooker dish?
- Open to residents of Canada and the U.S. only
- This draw closes on Thursday, December 20th at 6:00 p.m. EST.
- To enter, answer the question above in the comments section, using a valid email address as this is how the winner will be contacted.
- The winning name will be drawn randomly using Random.org.
- The winner must respond within 24 hours of being contacted. If no response is received, the next name drawn will be contacted.
This post is sixth in the 12 Days of Christmas series by One Cook, Two Kitchens. Daily posts offering recipes, tips, stories and giveaways will continue between now and December 24th.