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Cox: Pillsbury cookbook offers quick, cheap and hearty meals

‘Pillsbury Fast Slow Cooker Cookbook’

From the editors of Pillsbury (Wiley, $19.95)

The slow cooker has become one of the most important tools in the modern American kitchen. It can be a lifesaver when it comes to preparing great-tasting, home-cooked meals when time is in short supply. A new cookbook from the editors of Pillsbury serves up 140 recipes that get busy cooks in and out of the kitchen with as little as 15-minute prep time. The test with any cookbook isn’t necessary just the length of time to prepare recipes but how good they taste.

In addition to a short overview of the secrets of slow cooking success, there are six main chapters: Family Favorite Chicken & Turkey; Tasty Beef Main Dishes; Busy-Day Pork and Sausage; Stews, Soups & Chiles; Hearty Warm Sandwiches; and Great Sides & Starters. There are also a metric conversion guide and helpful nutrition and cooking information.

Most of the featured recipes are comfort foods. What sets this collection apart, however, is that by minimizing chopping and extra steps such as browning meat, prep time is dramatically cut. The ingredients are also accessible. For example, armed with a can of refrigerated biscuits or a jar of green salsa, Chicken Pot Pie and Chicken Tortilla Soup are a snap to prepare.

One of my favorite parts of this cookbook is a list of tips for adapting favorite family recipes to the slow cooker. There are also flavorful suggestions for dressing up a slow-cooked meal just before it is served at the family supper table.

In these economically challenging times, this cookbook is a true asset. It offers not only speed and convenience but money saving recipes and delicious recipes that will be family crowd pleasers throughout the year.

I tested two recipes from this collection: a hearty Hungarian Stew and a delicious Autumn Pork Roast dinner made with apple cider and sweet potatoes. Both were successful.

Hungarian Stew

Prep time: 15 minutes

Serves 8


2 pounds lean boneless beef chuck roast cut into small bite-size pieces

2 cups ready-to-eat baby-cut carrots

1 medium onion, sliced (1 1/2 cups)

1 medium green bell pepper, sliced

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt (I used sea salt)

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup chili sauce

1 can (14 ounces) beef broth

2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1 bag (16 ounces) uncooked wide egg noodles (10 cups)

1 8-ounce container of sour cream

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In a 4 quart slow cooker, mix beef, carrots, onion and bell pepper. Add flour, paprika, salt, thyme and pepper. Toss to coat. Stir in chili sauce and broth.

Cover, cook on low setting for 7-8 hours.

Stir mushrooms into stew. Cover, cook on low setting 20 to 30 minutes longer or until mushrooms are tender. Meanwhile, cook noodles per package instructions and drain.

At serving time, stir sour cream into stew until well mixed. Spoon noodles into individual shallow bowls. Top each with stew and sprinkle tops with parsley.

Tucsonan Larry Cox’s “Shelf Life” reviews of fiction and nonfiction books and his “Treasures and Trends” antiques column run Thursdays in Calendar Plus. E-mail: contactlarrycox@aol.com

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