I have a special place in my heart for Stephanie O’Dea, food blogger and author whose new cookbook, 365 Slow Cooker Suppers, just graced my kitchen. Is it because we share the same name and both love to cook and blog about it? Is it the fact that her recipes are for the crockpot (my favorite kitchen appliance)? Or is it that I found her year-of-slow-cooking blog a few months after I’d begun my year-long-cooking blog?

In truth, it’s because her recipes are fairly simple, quick to assemble, family friendly, and not at all pretentious (she’s known to write instructions such as “dump can into crock.”) All are gluten-free in nature, but don’t have to be (swap in regular pasta for gluten-free, for example). Plenty of her meals use ingredients you could count on one hand, and all can be found in a well-stocked pantry and freezer. Without making a trip to the grocery store, I just tried two dinners from her new book. The day before Thanksgiving when I was up to my ears in sweet potatoes, I quickly made “Two Packet Chicken” (I followed her optional recipes to replace the spice packets) and found the tomato-based chicken dish with a kick of ranch flavor to be a crowd pleaser. Last night we had “Pasta Pizza Bake,” which O’Dea accurately describes as “pizza with a pasta crust.” Many other recipes await us, such as “Breakfast for Dinner Quiche,” “Moo Shoo Pork,” and “Chicken Coconut Curry.”

New to O’Dea’s third book are enticing color photos. As before, each recipe comes with a “verdict” of how the dish was received by her family and friends. If you or someone you know enjoys crockpot cooking, add 365 Slow Cooker Suppers to your holiday list. At the dawn of a cold winter’s day, you can fill your crockpot with savory goodness and return home to find a satisfying meal warm and ready.

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