Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Guest review: Fix-It and Forget-It Christmas Cookbook, by Phyllis Pellman Good (reviewed by Valerie Phillips)

Fix-It and Forget-It Christmas Cookbook, by Phyllis Pellman Good
Good Books: 2010

Guest reviewer: Valerie Phillips

Crock pots and busy moms go together like peanut butter and jelly, so I was happy when the publisher offered Dan a review copy of Phyllis Pellman Good’s new slow cooker cookbook called Fix-It and Forget-It Christmas Cookbook.  Over the past few weeks we have enjoyed sampling several of the 600 recipes.

If you are familiar with Ms. Good’s other crock pot cookbooks, you already know what to expect from this addition in the series.  It is a compilation of recipes from cooks all over the country.  There are several recipes for chili; multiple recipes for vegetable beef soup;  and an entire section on turkey!  It’s very handy when you are short on ingredients – just read over the next column or two and you’re bound to find a similar recipe that fits the contents of your pantry. Recipes are laid out in a columnar fashion with three to a page.  Titles are in bright Christmas-y red with little green slow cookers above. Many pages have holiday anecdotes or tips from contributors.

The book’s categories are:  Appetizers, Snacks and Spreads;  Breakfast and Brunch Dishes;  Soups, Stews and Chilis;  Beef Main Dishes;  Pork Main Dishes;  Chicken Main Dishes;  Turkey Main Dishes;  Meat and Bean Main Dishes;  Other Main Dishes;  Vegetables;  Beverages;  and Desserts and Sweets.

Something I especially liked in this cookbook was the addition of the “Ideal slow cooker size” to each recipe.  Having inherited 2, 4 and 6 qt. crocks, it helps me know which one to pull out of the cupboard.  My 1st edition Fix and Forget-It didn’t have that information or the general guide to slow cooker cookery that opens the book.

While this is called a “Christmas Cookbook”, the majority of the recipes are suitable for everyday sorts of meals.  The book has recipes for wassails, sweet potato casseroles, artichoke dip, stuffing, “Christmas smells,” and other holiday favorites.  The section on Breakfast is disappointing for a Christmas cookbook.  I was expecting breakfast casseroles that I could assemble the night before and serve Christmas morning.  It does have a few recipes of this sort, but mostly recipes for oatmeal, whole wheat, grits, applesauce, etc.

We sampled Salsa Chuck Roast, White Chili, Ham n’ Cabbage Stew, Hamburger/Green Bean Dish, Apple Chicken Stew, Scalloped Pineapple and Caramel Peanut Butter Dip.  Now before I tell you what we thought, I should tell you that my boys (yep, that includes the big one) are not big stew/soup fans and amongst them it can be tricky to put dinner on the table.  Cooked carrots, cabbage prepared any way, potato chunks, mushrooms, tomatoes, and more do not belong in any kind of dish I put before them.

But guess what? All these ingredients were found in my test recipes.  The boys thought I was going to poison them with the Ham n’ Cabbage Stew the other night, but in the end everybody thought it tasted much better than it was making the house smell.  Not a one ran gagging from the room. That’s a high endorsement!

I assembled the recipes per the instructions and didn’t add or subtract, in order to get a true idea of their yummyness.  OK, I did add cheese to the top of the mashed potatoes in the Hamburger/Green Bean Dish and I didn’t have apple juice, so I substituted chicken broth in the Apple Chicken Stew.  The consensus was that the recipes ranged from good to scrumptious.  The one I least liked, my DAOD loved.  Dan, the boys and I all raved about the Salsa Chuck roast, the Scalloped Pineapple, and the Caramel dip for apples.

Having one of Ms.Good’s slow cooker cookbooks, I’m not sure if I would have purchased this, but it is definitely a wonderful resource and the recipes are tasty.  If you need a crockpot cookbook, this is an excellent compilation.  Buy, eat, enjoy!


GrammaMack said...

Thanks for the review, Valerie! I have the 2000 edition of Fix-It and Forget-It. But our Christmas morning staple is a ham and cheese strata that I assemble the night before and then bake in the morning while everyone is opening their stockings. It's called Christmas Morning Wife Saver, and my family loves it!

~Mark said...

Cool review! I'm a single guy in school full time and working full time 6 days a week and I'm verging on proposing marriage to my slow-cooker she's been so good to me! 8-D

Your review is very helpful, thanks!

J♥Yce Burrows said...

Thanks so much for this helpful while also "real deal"(re: the Ham n' Cabbage Stew, house smell, and none running/gagging) review, Valerie!

Herding Grasshoppers said...


Cooked carrots, cabbage prepared any way, potato chunks, mushrooms, tomatoes, and more do not belong in any kind of dish I put before them.

Thanks for the Real World review. I have the other Fix/Forget book and pull it out frequently. My only caveat is that a lot of the recipes are big on prepared/processed (ie high fat/sodium) food, so we try to make some substitutions.

Still, sounds good and I think I'll put this one on my Christmas list :D

Thanks Valerie :D


DJP said...

Disclaimer: the biggest boy, and he alone, is A-OK with any quantity of mushrooms.

SolaMommy said...

Thanks for this review, Valerie! I used to have the other cookbook but found the recipes to be very bland...so I sold it on eBay. LOL! But this one sounds good :-)

DJP said...

SolaMommy, my dear wife can't access her account just now, but here's her response:
"I used to have the other cookbook but found the recipes to be very bland"

There are a lot of recipes that I much prefer the traditional cooking method over the crockpot. Something happens in the crockpot that changes the texture of the food. Lasagna and Shepherd's Pie are two examples. Oven method is much tastier, IMHO.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Again, how nice it is to hear from the woman behind the uber-famous DJP! And how wise of him to utilize his wife as his help-meet on the blog. (Mark--take note: your slow-cooker can't do THAT!) :)

Other than four tried-and-true recipe favorites, I don't use my slow-cooker nearly enough. Maybe I should consider that as a new-year's resolution. (Is it that time of year already?)

Merrilee Stevenson said...

And DJP, two words: Mushroom Pie.


Paula Bolyard said...

Thanks for doing this, Valerie. I really enjoy your reviews! I have a well-used 2000 version from this series. Would you say this adds a lot of new recipes or does it duplicate a lot from previous versions?

Although I love the cookbook, the one irritation I've always had has been the index, which lists the recipes by the (sometimes quirky) titles given by whomever created them. Some of them are descriptive enough that you can track them down in the index (ex: Chicken Corn Soup), but others make the index completely useless (ex: Mjeodrah or Esau's Lentil Soup; Louise's Vegetable Spaghetti; Tastes-Like-Chili-Rellenos). While I'm glad they give props to Esau and Louise, I'd rather be able to easily find their recipes in the back of the book when I'm in a hurry! I've resorted to just making a list of my faves with page numbers.

BTW, have you seen the blog of the woman who made a New Year's resolution to use her crockpot for 365 days straight? (a la Julie and Julia) Her poor family - haha!! It's called A Year of Slow Cooking.

She has some great recipes (and some not-so-good!) I like that she actually reviews them and tells if she would use them again and suggests what might make them better. Very helpful!

DJP said...

Aren't they great? Just to repeat myself: it's 99.9% pure Valerie. I barely touch them.

Paula Bolyard said...

My favorite slow cooker story is when we had dinner guests who hailed from Kenya. I had made a pork roast and the husband was just gushing about how wonderful the turkey was. When I told him it was pork didn't believe me. He had never had such tender pork. Funny, because it was really a rather inexpensive hunk of pork - the kind that comes wrapped in a fishing net....butt roast?? I don't remember.

He had been in the U.S. for nearly 10 years and had never eaten pork because of his memories of the wild pigs they ate in Kenya - apparently very tough and unappealing meat. He was an immediate convert. Valerie is right, some things are just better in a crock pot.

Pulled pork. Nuff said.

Susan said...

Yum, Mrs. DJP!! Ever since we've rediscovered the Crock Pot my parents bought when I was still a kid (yes, it's a made-in-the-USA Crock Pot, it's that old), we've been cooking with it here and there. Now I'm tempted to buy this book. Thanks for the review!! :)

Aaron said...

breakfast and casserole should never be in the same sentence.

Actually, I don't think casserole should be in the same sentence as food...but this is just my opinion where as the first statement is fact. ;)

SolaMommy said...

Paula, I've gotten some great recipes from that blog!

DJP said...

My dear wife, to Paula:

I checked and the recipes are alphabetized by name, but also categorized by ingredients.