Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Crockpot beans

I have always been weary of dry beans.  The few times I've tried to cook them up I ended up soaking, boiling, simmering, and then enjoying beans that were somehow both crunchy and mushy.  So I quit trying.
But now I do them in the crockpot, and it is foolproof!  No soaking to remember, either.

This is about a pound of dried beans, which costs around $1 in the bulk section at Winco.

Rinse them and check for rocks or odd beans.

Put them in the crockpot and cover with several inches of water.  

Cook on high for 8 hours. 


This batch made at least the equivilant of 6 cans for about $1.

The other day I made pinto beans (included an onion in the crockpot), mashed them up, seasoned them, and had a giant pile of refried beans.  Mmmmm.  (I didn't take a picture of that, because it looked like a giant pot of refried beans.)


I made focaccia last night along with Jill's recipe for Penne with Sun-dried tomatoes and spinach.  The bread machine does the brunt of the work, and you get the fun stuff like punching and poking.

Place the following ingredients in your bread machine, following the order your machine recommends.  Use the dough setting on your machine.

Scant 1 cup water
1 Tbl olive oil
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp yeast

After the dough is done, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.  Punch it down and flatten it slightly.  Shape the dough into a ball and then roll it into a round of about 10".  Place it into a greased round cake pan.  Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise 20 minutes.

Uncover the focaccia.  Using your fingertips, poke the dough to make deep dimples in the surface.  Cover and let rise until double, 10-15 minutes.

Drizzle with 2 Tbl olive oil.  Sprinkle with a combination of garlic powder and kosher salt and a little black pepper, to taste. 

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden.  Serve warm.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

PB & J smoothies

A smoothie so thick it stands on its side!

I copied this recipe down from a website a while ago, and can't remember where it was from.  Zachary was a huge fan! Nathanael and I liked it a lot, too.  The other kids love smoothies, but didn't like the PB flavor in a smoothie.  (Go figure.)  I think it would make a tasty breakfast or lunch.

1 cup frozen strawberries
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup apple juice
1/3 cup peanut butter

Blend up and enjoy!

(I made double, and it made 4 glasses the size shown above.)

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

1/2 cup (4 ounces) butter, softened
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sour cream
1 box chocolate fudge cake mix with pudding in the mix
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 medium zucchini, shredded, about 1 1/2 cups shredded
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt cake pan or two bread pans.

In a mixing bowl with electric mixer, beat the butter until light; beat in eggs and flavorings. Beat in the sour cream and cinnamon, then slowly beat in the cake mix. Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving plate to cool completely. Frost the cake or dust with powdered sugar.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

PW's Cinnamon Rolls

Another recipe from the Pioneer woman. I admit I coped it exactly from her website. Anton made these for breakfast this morning (snow day #3!) He cut the recipe in half and didn't put in as much salt as it calls for. Enjoy!

1 quart Whole Milk
1 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup Sugar
2 packages Active Dry Yeast, 0.25 Ounce Packets
8 cups (Plus 1 Cup Extra, Separated) All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
Plenty Of Melted Butter
2 cups Sugar
Generous Sprinkling Of Cinnamon
1 bag Powdered Sugar
2 teaspoons Maple Flavoring
½ cups Milk
¼ cups Melted Butter
¼ cups Brewed Coffee
⅛ teaspoons Salt
Preparation Instructions
For the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat to just below a boil. Set aside and cool to warm. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.
Add 8 cups of the flour. Stir until just combined, then cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1 cup flour. Stir thoroughly to combine. Use the dough right away, or place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl. (Note: dough is easier to work with if it’s been chilled for at least an hour or so beforehand.)
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough from the pan/bowl. On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches. The dough should be rolled very thin.
To make the filling, pour 3/4 cup to 1 cup of the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly. Generously sprinkle half of the ground cinnamon and 1 cup of the sugar over the butter. Don’t be afraid to drizzle on more butter or more sugar! Gooey is the goal.
Now, beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. Don’t worry if the filling oozes as you work; that just means the rolls are going to be divine. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down. When you’re finished, you’ll wind up with one long buttery, cinnamony, sugary, gooey log.
Slip a cutting board underneath the roll and with a sharp knife, make 1/2-inch slices. One “log “will produce 20 to 25 rolls. Pour a couple of teaspoons of melted butter into disposable foil cake pans and swirl to coat. Place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd. (Each pan will hold 7 to 9 rolls.)
Repeat the rolling/sugar/butter process with the other half of the dough and more pans. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cover all the pans with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise on the countertop for at least 20 minutes before baking. Remove the towel and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Don’t allow the rolls to become overly brown.
While the rolls are baking, make the maple icing: In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee, and salt. Splash in the maple flavoring. Whisk until very smooth. Taste and add in more maple, sugar, butter, or other ingredients as needed until the icing reaches the desired consistency. The icing should be somewhat thick but still very pourable.
Remove pans from the oven. Immediately drizzle icing over the top. Be sure to get it all around the edges and over the top. As they sit, the rolls will absorb some of the icing’s moisture and flavor. They only get better with time… not that they last for more than a few seconds.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Maple Morning Polenta

This recipe is out of "Family Feasts for $75 a Week," a cookbook I pull off the shelf often.  It is a nice alternative to oatmeal or cream of wheat if you want a hot breakfast.  The recipe makes a lot, but does reheat well.

3 cups cold water
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup pancake syrup, plus more for serving
2 Tbl butter

Combine water, milk, cornmeal, and salt in a pot, stirring briskly to combine.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture begins to boil, about 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to low.  Cook 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until mixture is thick.

Remove from heat.  Stir in syrup and butter.  Ladle into bowls.  Serve with extra syrup and raisins.

Chicken and Potato Bake

One dish dinner with 5 minutes prep?  Check.

Chicken drumsticks (I used 8)
4 large potatoes, washed and thinly sliced
1/4 cup Italian dressing (or other marinade)
1/4 cup parmesean cheese

Arrange chicken in 9x13, add potatoes evenly on top, pour dressing on top, sprinkle parmesean on top.

Bake at 400 for an hour, covering with foil part way through if potatoes start getting crispy edges.

Energy Balls

I found this recipe on a blog I love, The Frugal Girl.  They taste like little balls of cookie dough.  Only they have good stuff in them.  The kids love 'em.  They are perfect for after school or putting in lunch boxes instead of a cookie.  Mmmm.  I saw another similar recipe, and sort of combined them.  The link goes to the original, and below is what I did.

No-Bake Energy Balls

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, stir together peanut butter, honey, vanilla..  Stir in oats, wheat germ, powdered milk, and chocolate chips.

Refrigerate mixture for 30 minutes.

To make the balls, scoop out about a tablespoon of dough, press to compact, then roll into a ball. 

Repeat with remaining dough.

Store in the fridge.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Veg-Head Three-Bean Chili

A Rachael Ray Recipe (, slightly modified.
No picture, because, well, it looks like chili.  REALLY yummy.

2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 medium yellow skinned onion, chopped
1 large red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped
1/3 of a small can of jalapenos
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 cup pale beer or vegetable stock/ broth
1 (32-oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14-oz) can black beans
1 (14-oz) can dark red kidney beans
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 can spicy refried beans

Topping suggestions:  Cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, fresh tomatoes, scallions

Over moderate heat, add oil to a deep pot and combine onions, peppers, and garlic.  Saute for 3-5 minutes to soften vegetables.  Add beer or broth, add tomatoes, black beans, red kidney beans, stirring to combine.

Season chili with cumin, chili powder and salt.  Thicken chili by stirring in refried beans.  Simmer over low heat about 5-10 minutes longer.

As written, this is what I would call medium spicy.  If you prefer spicier, more jalapenos.  Also part of the original recipe was 1 tablespoon of cayenne hot pepper sauce.

It took me about 30 minutes from start to finish.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Cinnamon Chicken

1.5 lbs chicken thighs
1 t ground cinnamon
dash of salt and pepper
2 whole garlic cloves
2 T olive oil
1/2 onion quartered
1 can stewed tomatoes, drained
1 T dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup of water

Start with the water in the bottom of the slow cooker, then add the chicken. Sprinkle cinnamon, salt, and pepper on chicken. Around the chicken, place all other ingredients. Cook on low for 8 hours. During cooking, I used the baster to cover the chicken with the "sauce" that was created in the bottom of the cooker. My dear husband loved this dish!
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Apricot chicken

You will need:
1/2 cup apricot preserves
2 T soy sauce
1 t sherry
1 t veg oil
1 t cornstarch
1/2 t garlic
1/4 t ground ginger
1 cup chopped bell pepper
3 chicken breasts cut into strips
Mix all ingredients together and bake at 350 for on hour. Garnish with cashew nuts and serve over rice.
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Rainy Day chicken and rice

You will need:
1 can can each of cream of celery, chicken, and mushroom
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup french salad dressing
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup long grain rice
4 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/2 cup grated parmesan

Mix all ingredients together except parmesan and pour into casserole dish. Cover and bake at 350 for 1.5 hrs. Add parmesan during last 10 min of cook time.
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Pineapple Upside Down Cake

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 can (20 oz) pineapple slices in juice, drained, juice reserved
1 jar (6 oz) maraschino cherries without stems, drained
1 box yellow cake mix
Vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box

1 Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). In 13x9-inch pan, melt butter in oven. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter. Arrange pineapple slices on brown sugar. Place cherry in center of each pineapple slice, and arrange remaining cherries around slices; press gently into brown sugar.
2 Add enough water to reserved pineapple juice to measure 1 cup. Make cake batter as directed on box, substituting pineapple juice mixture for the water. Pour batter over pineapple and cherries.
3 Bake 42 to 48 minutes (44 to 53 minutes for dark or nonstick pan) or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately run knife around side of pan to loosen cake. Place heatproof serving plate upside down onto pan; turn plate and pan over. Leave pan over cake 5 minutes so brown sugar topping can drizzle over cake; remove pan. Cool 30 minutes. Serve warm or cool. Store covered in refrigerator.

Cheesy pasta side dish

I cook one lb rotini pasta. Mix with one can of campbell's cheddar cheese soup or nacho cheese soup and 1 can of milk.
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Chicken & Corn Chowder

You will need:
1-2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1 heaping cup of frozen hash browns
1 can corn
1 can cream of mushroom soup (or other)
1 cube chicken bouillon
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 dashes of pepper
1/2 onion, chopped
2 T butter

Brown the onion in a skillet until soft. Combine with all other ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours or high for about 4.