Best of Bridge – The Family Slow Cooker Cookbook

There are those who would never dream of giving up their slow cookers and those who still have theirs sitting in the original box gathering dust in the basement. I am, for the most part, ambivalent towards my slow cooker because I’ve used it to make some great meals and some really disappointing ones. I haven’t ever really become addicted to using it on a regular basis but I will admit that on busy days, it’s oh-so-satisfying to be able to work undisturbed or attend events and football games, knowing that dinner will be ready and waiting.

The slow cooker is an appliance suited to the lifestyles of busy families everywhere, so the gals at Best of Bridge knew what they were doing when they named their newest cookbook release; The Family Slow Cooker. Speaking of ‘gals’, did you know there’s been a regime change at Best of Bridge? The original eight Ladies of the Best of Bridge, who formed this highly successful Canadian publishing brand (having sold over 4 million copies since they began in 1975!), have decided it’s time to put their feet up and pass the baton to a new circle of friends. Long time friends Elizabeth Chorney-Booth, Sue Duncan, and Julie van Rosendaal were chosen as the new generation Best of Bridge ladies and will each bring their own flavour to the brand, while still honouring the original motto ‘simple recipes with gourmet results’. These slow cooker dishes are made with ordinary ingredients found in any grocery store, while the simple to use recipes (and hilarious one-liners) are meant to keep cooking in the kitchen fun.

Football season in Canada means long hours in chilly temperatures, metal bleachers, and late dinners. I’m so glad my review copy arrived just as football season began because after a couple of hours of being frozen to the bone, it’s so nice to come home to a warm and hearty slow cooked meal. I gave my husband the review recipe list and asked him to pick a few tester recipes, thoroughly expecting him to choose the Braised Lamb Shanks with Red Wine and Rosemary, but he went with the Chicken and White Bean Stew with Pesto because he knows I don’t enjoy lamb. Wasn’t that nice of him? I thought the recipe looked way too simple but I gave it a try and was surprised at how well it turned out. One of my pet peeves about doing stews in slow cookers is that I find everything begins to taste the same after 6 hours. The addition of pesto at the end is a GENIUS move by the BOB ladies because it adds a whole other layer of flavour and brightness to this stew. It’s opened up a whole new world of slow cooker possibilities and makes me think that other stews could be improved by simple herb pistous or even a spicy chimichurri. 

I picked the next recipe, Caramelized Onion Pasta Carbonara, because I was curious to find out if the onions would really caramelize in the slow cooker. Again, this recipe seemed too easy and we were all suspicious that there was no bacon involved. The recipe introduction stated ‘you won’t miss the bacon’, so I had to test it out. The onions were just on the edge of burning because I was stubborn and started them on the high setting, but after I gave them a stir and switched the setting to low, they turned out quite nicely. Finishing the recipe in the slow cooker on high was really easy and the temperature was just perfect for cooking the eggs and melting the Parmesan. We all really enjoyed this dish, though we all agreed that I could sneak in just a little bit of pre-cooked bacon the next time I make it.

Chicken and White Bean Stew with Pesto (Page 109)

‘A comforting stew, flavoured with basil pesto’ 


  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts; cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 stalks celery; chopped
  • 2 carrots; chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves; minced
  • 1 large onion; chopped
  • 1 medium thin skinned potato; diced
  • 1 medium zucchini; chopped (I omitted the zucchini in my test due to allergies)
  • 1 red bell pepper; chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 can (19 oz/540 ml) white kidney or navy beans; drained and rinsed (2 cups; 500 ml)
  • 2 cups chicken stock or ready to use chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Combine chicken, celery, carrots, garlic, onion, potato, zucchini, red pepper, cumin, beans and stock in a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours or until thickened and stew-like. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in pesto. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan. Serves 6.

Reprinted with Permission from Best of Bridge; The Family Slow Cooker


Caramelized Onion Pasta Carbonara  (Page 237)


  • 2 onions; chopped or thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 12 oz dried spaghetti
  • 3 large eggs; lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • black pepper to taste


Combine onions, oil, and butter in a 4-6 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until golden, stirring once or twice if you’re around and think of it.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti until al dente. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup cooking water. Dump the drained pasta into the slow cooker and turn it up to high. Drizzle eggs over the top and toss with tongs, adding a splash of pasta water to lubricate things, until pasta is saucy and eggs are cooked. Add Parmesan and pepper; toss until heated through. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Reprinted with Permission from Best of Bridge; The Family Slow Cooker


Best of Bridge – The Family Slow Cooker; 384 pages; $29.95 US/CAN; Pulished by Robert Rose Inc.; October 2016


  1. Karen

    We have one day a week where I have to rely on the slow cooker to get dinner on the table. My husband will love that chicken soup with pesto (and I will too!).


    1. dishnthekitchen

      I’m sure you will! I really think adding the pesto at the end ‘brightens’ up the flavour. It’s a smart little trick!

  2. chef mimi

    When we got married, 34 plus years ago, my husband had an orange crock pot. I’ll never forget it. I made fun of it and threw it away. I now own a slow cooker, and I do use it mayyyybe once a year. They are exactly the same thing, but I’ll never call mine a crock pot. I guess something’s wrong with me! In any case, these recipes look good!


    1. dishnthekitchen

      Poor dude, lol! Yes, waaay back in the day my mum had a ‘crock pot’. It wasn’t orange though. When I spoke with Elizabeth, she said one of the 70’s crock pots they used for testing was wrapped in faux brick. I’m glad I have a modern looking gleaming white slow cooker 🙂

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