Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Beans, beans and more beans!

In these lean economic times we are all looking for healthy ways to feed our family on a dime. It is even better when the results are better then what you can get in the store!
I started doing my own beans a little over a year ago and have not bought store bought beans since. It is so easy to do up a pot of beans and have them in the fridge for lunches, a quick side or dinner. I have given this recipe out a hundred times and it is a staple for a lot of my family. I had 2 requests for it this week so I thought I better get it posted. I originally got this recipe from Amy over at Sisters Dish. She is a great one for build your own Mexican food.
This process you can use to make any kind of beans. I have done white beans, and black beans using this same technique. I have also frozen the cooked beans and used them in soups and they defrost perfect.
I buy my pinto beans at Costco. You can get a 25 pound bag for about 10 bucks. Honestly we went through our first bag in about 6 mos. I buy my spices in bulk from Smiths or Winco. They are a tiny fraction of the cost there.
Smashed Beans
The night before I rinse and soak 3 cups of beans. My sister Meesha soaks 6 cups and then uses 1/2 and freezes 1/2 so her next batch is pre-soaked......genius. If you see any foam on top you will want to scoop it off. This is the name of the game in keeping your beans from being gassy. Anytime during the process if you see foam....scoop, scoop, scoop. In the morning...or when you get to it...rinse the beans with fresh water (another digestion helper). Put the beans in a crockpot (just the regular size not the huge size) with 3 Tbsp bacon grease (I always leave the grease out and it is still great). Cover them with water (you want to have about 2 inches over the beans). Cook them on high for 6 hours, or low for 8-10 hours. Remember watch for foam and check to be sure the beans stay covered in water. The cooking time is not an exact science. Older beans take longer to cook. You will know it is done when you can easily mush one on the counter.
When the beans have about a 1/2 hour left to cook add: 5 jalapeno rings (I keep a jar in my fridge just for this, you could probably do fresh), 1/2 T season salt, 1/2 T garlic salt, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, and 1 T chili powder. After the 1/2 hour scoop the beans into a food processor (or blender, or hand mash). Add 1 cup cheese and enough liquid to bring it to the consistency you would like (don't skimp on the liquid, it makes them great). Good luck!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Spaghetti Pie

This baked spaghetti is out of the Best Of Cooking Light book. It is comfort food at it's finest without the guilt. You can substitute ground chicken or turkey and it is great too. It is quick to put together and a great meal for kids!
Spaghetti Pie
1 pound of ground round (I did the ground beef I had and then after I browned it I ran it under really hot water in a colander to get the extra fat off)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2- 8 oz cans of tomato sauce with garlic (who has that in their pantry? not me! I just used regular tomato sauce and added 1/4 tsp garlic powder per can)
1 1/2 cups low fat sour cream
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 oz light cream cheese
8 oz hot cooked spaghetti (about 4 cups)
1 1/3 cups reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
Brown then drain meat. Return to pan and add salt, pepper, and sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes (great time to cook the pasta). Combine the sour cream, onions, and cream cheese in a bowl. Place noodles in a 9x13 pan, spread sour cream mixture on noodles, spread meat mixture on that, sprinkle with cheese. Cook at 350 covered for 25 minutes. Uncover and cook another 5 minutes.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

BBQ Salmon

I am afraid this picture does not do justice to this great meal. This grilled salmon I have been making for years. I paired it with this squash-rice casserole from cooking light. The casserole could really be a light meal on it's own. It will be a great way to use up some zucchini in the summer.
BBQ Roasted Salmon - Cooking light
1/4 cup pineapple juice (I open a can of rings and throw those on the grill with the fish)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Marinate 4 6oz salmon fillets in a ziptop bag with the juices for an hour turning occasionally.

2 Tbsp brown sugar
4 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp grated lemon rind (when I get lemons cheap I always buy extra and juice them and grate the rind. both freeze well.)
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Mix together to form rub. Rub over fish. You can then bake it at 400 for 12 minutes, OR do our favorite and grill it. Fish is done when it flakes easily.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

English Toffee

English Toffee...yum. I have a certain brother in law that would do just about anything for the wonderful Christmas time treat. I think it is a shame it is a one time a year deal. It is so easy and so yummy! I think this year I am going to make a batch to share with my girl friends for Valentines. I am giving you the recipe now so you can make a practice batch before Valentines!

English Toffee
1 cup sugar
2 sticks butter
3 tbsp water
about 1 cup chocolate chips
about 1/2 cup chopped almonds

This moves fast folks so have everything unwrapped prepped and measured like Paula Deen :) Put a large saucepan on high heat. Warm your sugar in the pan for about 30 seconds. Add the water and stir till wet. Add the butter. Stir until the color of toffee (a light copper penny color). It will bubble and fuss and then you will see it start to darken (about 7 minutes). You will want to stir it every so often and constantly towards the end. Pour on a silpat lined sheet (or a heavily greased pan if you don't have a silpat....but you REALLY need silpat if you don't have it :). After 30 seconds sprinkle with chocolate chips. Let sit for 2 minutes then spread the chocolate. Sprinkle with chopped almonds (I kinds press them into the chocolate so they don't fall off). Let sit for about another hour (at least) then crack into pieces.