Saturday, December 10, 2016

SkinnyTaste: Fast and Slow - Cookbook Review + Recipe

Between all the crazy events and calorie laden foods of the season finding recipes for meals that are fast to prep and healthy to eat is super important for me right now - and if it's tasty as well that's pretty much the jackpot.  Knowing that I'm going into the season of eating which starts for me in about mid-November and runs through the first half of January I was delighted to see Gina Homolka's new cookbook - SkinnyTaste: Fast and Slow cookbook on Blogging for Books earlier this month.  I requested it as soon as I saw it and counted the days until it finally arrived and I must say this is a cookbook that I can see getting a lot of use out of!  

This cookbook is a mix of slow cooker recipes and quick prep recipes with a focus on main courses.  There are chapters that tackle breakfast, soups of all kinds, one bowl meals, pasta, taco night, poultry dishes, meat dishes, and seafood and meatless dishes.  There are 2 short chapters of side dishes and desserts but this is really geared towards main dishes.  At the beginning is the usual chapter of pantry products as well as some discussion about cooking in season, making menu plans, and getting the most out of your slow cooker.  She also has a whole month of menus already prepared with 3 meals, plus snack and a treat as well as factoring a dinner out once a week.

Some of the recipes weren't for me because they require a pressure cooker which I don't own and am afraid of because apparently fears are genetic - my Grandmother was terrified of them too.  Some in the taco or one bowl chapter feature shrimp which I can't eat.  There are also some (like the Cauliflower-Potato Tacos with Lime-Cilantro Chutney) which just don't appeal to me.

However, many more do sound tasty like the Asiago-Crusted Chicken Breasts, or the Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala.  The Zucchini Wedges with Lemon and Fresh Oregano sounds like a wonderful and different way to use up bumper crops of zucchini and the Pasta E Fagioli sounds pretty tasty on a cold evening.  With the 2 recipes I've made (the Asiago-Crusted Chicken Breasts and the Tomato Soup listed below) both were tasty but I'm not sure that I would label them as super fast.  These aren't dump and bake recipes and there is a decent amount of prep involved.  It still qualifies as pretty fast but if you're looking for less than 30 minutes from start to dinner you might be disappointed.

Since winter has decided to show up here in North Alabama I thought it was the perfect time to try out this Slow Cooker Creamy Tomato Soup recipe.  I'm a big fan of tomato soup and really anything made in the slow cooker!

Slow-Cooker Creamy Tomato Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped carrots
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
3 1/2 cups reduced sodium or chicken broth
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish 
1 bay leaf
Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese rind (optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup 2% milk, warmed
1/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add the oil, celery, carrots, and onions, and cook, stirring until soft, 7 to 8 minutes.  Transfer to a slow cooker.

Pour the juice from the tomato can into the slow cooker.  Roughly crush the tomatoes with you hands as you add them to the cooker.  Add the broth, thyme, basil, bay leaf, and cheese rind.

Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.  Remove the bay leaf and cheese rind.  Puree the soup in the cooker with an immersion blender until smooth (or in a stand blender, in batches)

In a large skillet, melt the butter over low heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the flour becomes golden, 4 to 5 minutes.  Slowly whisk in 1 cup of the hot soup.  Add the warmed milk and stir until smooth.  Pour the mixture into the slow cooker and stir.  Add the Romano, salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and cook on low for 30 more minutes.

To serve, divide the soup among 6 bowls and garnish with basil.

My Results: This was a tasty tomato soup which definitely had a bit of a creamy touch.  The one thing I will do differently next time is make sure the vegetables are REALLY finely chopped.  I got a bit bored with the immersion blender after a few minutes and while it was mostly smooth there were a few tiny chunks that made the texture a little weird.  I think if I had started with smaller pieces it would have been easier.  I served this with cheese bread (recipe for another day - definitely NOT on the SkinnyTaste menu plan) and it was delicious.

I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads


  1. I love her website and her first cookbook. I have this one on my christmas wish list. My mom is scared of the pressure cooker and was scared when I got mine lol. But the new electric kind are super easy and a total game changer!! You should really look into it!

  2. Everyone raves over Skinnytaste and I *still* haven't given the site and cookbooks a try. I think I'm going to have to get this. I am HUGE pressure cooker fan (traditional stovetop and electric), so new recipes are always welcome.

  3. I'm glad you liked this on, I love my copy! Thanks for telling me about the tomato soup, it has been on the radar and now that Doug is feeling better I will try it.

  4. It's hard, isn't it, to find cookbooks that are rather healthy but also don't take forever or have a laundry list of unique ingredients!

    Usually there is a compromise that goes either way. I love tomato and tomato-basil soup and asiago cheese. Thanks for sharing your opinion!

  5. I just bought a counter top pressure cooker. It's been an adventure.
    I do love a good tomato soup.

  6. I've used my pressure cooker for years, though not frequently. Sounds like you're going to get your money's worth from this book.

  7. This recipe is for the slow cooker, not a pressure cooker, right? Hope so, because I don't have a pressure cooker and I love tomato soup! I have this book on hold at the library and it has a long waiting list, so it's nice to have this recipe to try in the meantime.

  8. The number of new cookbooks published each month is staggering!

    Best.. mae at

  9. I love soup recipes, and I need to start using my slow cooker, so this was a good choice of recipe for me! I also am horrified by the thought of using a pressure cooker, and my mother is, too! :)

  10. Ha. I'm a little afraid of pressure cookers, too. :)

  11. I"Lil have to try making soup in the slow cooker - when summer ends. Although a chilled soup would be good. Have a great week. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

  12. I like her website, this looks like a good cookbook. :)

  13. I don't use a pressure cooker for cooking but I do have one that I use for canning. I always have to look for things I can make or adapt when I look at cookbooks because of special diets in my house. This one does sound like a good one to try. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  14. This looks like a wonderful cookbook.

  15. I don't have a pressure cooker or a slow cooker, but am mildly interested in both. I need to clear out some of the other stuff in my kitchen to make room though- I think I would find a slow cooker handy- I really like the idea of dinner ready and waiting for me at the end of a day.

  16. I used a pressure cooker when our kids were still at home and I needed to cook in a hurry :) Now its just my husband and me and I love to cook in the oven at a low temp for a long time - ha funny how life changes in that way! I follow SkinnyTaste on Pinterest and subscribe to the newsletter - she has some good recipes.

  17. Oh I loved the first one. I'll have to check this one out next time I'm at the store :D

  18. I made Ina Garten's Tomato Soup recipe this week and it was perfect for a chilly day.

  19. I saw my BFF's this weekend and they were talking about that instant pot/pressure cooker. They tried some meat recipes, wanting that tenderness but moisture the meat emits can be an issue. I don't think I'd get one because I have enough machinery here.

  20. I think this would be easy to adapt to pressure cooking. We have an electric one, which does not scare me. I am learning to put my big girl pants on and use the stovetop model...