“Holiday Slow Cooker: 100 Incredible & Festive Recipes for Every Celebration” by Leigh Anne Wilkes, Page Street Publishing Co., $21.99, 191 pages, paperback

Many people love the convenience of the slow cooker, but I rarely pull mine from the back of a lower cabinet. After trying a couple of the flavorful recipes in food blogger Leigh Anne Wilkes’ new cookbook, “Holiday Slow Cooker: 100 Incredible & Festive Recipes for Every Celebration,” (Page Street Publishing Co. 2017), I just may use my slow cooker more often.

Side Dish: Recipe for Simply Chili

Wilkes, creator of the blog “Your Homebased Mom,” says her book’s recipes are perfect for both special occasions and everyday use all year long. She notes the slow cooker is especially useful when entertaining since it frees the oven for other dishes.

Her cookbook is divided by menus for eight holidays — Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s, Chinese New Year, Easter, Cinco de Mayo and Fourth of July — plus a chapter with breakfast dishes and another for sandwiches and starters. Many, but not all, recipes are accompanied by full-color photographs of completed dishes.

She suggests ringing in the New Year with a soup party, offering guests several options such as Italian Beef and Barley Soup, Fresh Tomato Pesto Soup and Pork Verde Stew. That’s where I discovered her delicious chili recipe, which will be welcome on any chilly night or at football-watching get-togethers. Be sure to use the cilantro, both in the chili and as garnish. It gives a refreshing brightness to the finished dish. Wilkes doesn’t call for it, but I also topped servings with shredded sharp Cheddar cheese. If you can’t find dried Mexican oregano (I located some at Winn-Dixie), just use regular oregano.

If you’re looking for a gift for a slow-cooker enthusiast, you can’t go wrong with giving a copy of “Holiday Slow Cooker.”


Cheramie Sonnier is a food writer and columnist. Contact her at sonnerfood@gmail.com, and follow her on Twitter, @CheramieSonnier.