Sometimes I feel like I’m alone on some little island for people who do not love the slow cooker for perhaps it’s second most important reason: The fact that it caters to big batch cooking. (The first reason is of course that it allows you to come home at the end of the day and not have to worry about making dinner. That’s something I can totally get on board with.

I know, I know. You make a big batch of something, and when you’re a household of two (well, two eating solids in our case now) you can get away without cooking for a few days. It’s chili or stew for lunch the next day, and dinner, and another lunch…

As long as it’s good, I actually don’t mind eating the same thing over and over. And if I’m not in the mood for that, there is always the freezer. But the reason I don’t feel a constant tug toward big batch cooking is the fact that I like to cook. I don’t mind making something almost every day of the week and getting to taste something different. Yet, I still like the idea of a slow cooker since it means coming home to dinner already made once in a while.

Fortunately I’ve got a little trick that allows me to cook with my very large slow cooker and eat from it too (for just a day at a time.) By placing a small, heat-proof bowl inside a slow cooker (preferably one with a lid, although with a lid usually works too) and surrounding it with water, I can scale down just about any recipe to make enough for two (if you simply scale down a recipe and cook it in a larger slow cooker, you will most likely end up with a burnt mess of a meal, and calling for takeout.)

And now that Kathy Hester has released Vegan Slow Cooking for Two, I can skip the scaling down part completely. Every recipe in this collection is perfectly size for two and can made in a smaller, 1.5 quart slow cooker, or in my case, a small bowl inside my very large slow cooker.

Another unique thing about this book is the range of courses it covers. You might only think about using your slow cooker during the day to cook dinner, but with breakfast ideas like Chocolate Pumpkin Brownie Breakfast Quinoa and Vanilla Fig Oatmeal with Baklava Topping, you’ll be running it all night as well. Perhaps you’ll just want to increase your slow cooker collection so you can make apps and desserts all at the same time too. Think Pizza Dip, Southwest Queso, and later on, Chai-Spiced Apple Crumble or and Chocolate Chip Cookie for Two. Of course there are staples like soups and stews drawing from a variety of ethnic flavors, as well as grain dishes like risotto and lasagna. I warned you, you are going to want a lot of slow cookers this Christmas or Hanukkah.

Of course, you don’t have to be vegan to enjoy it. We do. We can even get behind a fondue that is totally void of cheese. And no, I won’t say it tastes like cheese fondue, but it’s sure good in its own right. Almonds and beans soften all day in the slow cooker and then get blended in velvety cream packed with good fats and fiber. A few extra seasonings rounded it out perfectly for us and in very little time we were sitting down to a fondue platter for two. Healthy-mid-week-date-night perfection!

I am giving away a copy of Vegan Slow Cooking for Two to one lucky reader. To enter, simply leave a comment telling me what your favorite slow cooker recipe is. For extra entries, you may…

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The contest will close on Sunday, September 29th at midnight EST. Winners will be contacted via email. You must reside in the US or Canada.

Disclaimer: The cookbook was provided to me for free to review. I was not paid for this review.

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Almond and Bean Fondue

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 7-9 hours

Dinner for two couldn't be easier than this simple yet hearty dip paired your favorite fondue dippers.

Ingredients:

MORNING INGREDIENTS:
1 1/4 cups filtered water
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1/4 cup dried great northern beans (I used chickpeas)
1 clove of garlic

EVENING INGREDIENTS:
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon grainy mustard

Ingredients shown in italics are my changes to the original.

DIPPERS:
toasted bread cubes
steamed or roasted baby carrots, cauliflower, broccoli
seared tofu cubes
steamed tempeh
sliced apples

Directions:

In the morning, add the morning ingredients to a small slow cooker. Alternatively, add the ingredients to a small covered dish inside a larger slow cooker and pour water around the dish. Cook on low for 7 to 9 hours.

In the evening, carefully pour the contents of the slow cooker into a blender. Add the evening ingredients and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the container as needed.

If desired, pour the mixture back into the slow cooker and turn to warm, and serve fondue straight from the slow cooker.

Adapted from Vegan Slow Cooking by Kathy Hester; reprinted with permission from Fair Winds Press.