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Friday, December 30, 2011

Vegan Crock Cheez

I have always loved cheese & crackers.  When giving up cheese that is definitely something I missed.  This really fits the bill.  This is much like those tubs of spreadable pasteurized process cheese food products that you spread on crackers.  The texture is not identical (a bit softer) but the flavor is perfect.  This recipe is from "The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook" by Jo Stepaniak.

1/2 lb (8 oz) firm regular tofu, drained
3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 Tablespoons sesame tahini or raw cashew butter
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons light or chickpea miso
1 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

*break tofu in large chunks, place in saucepan & cover with water
*bring to a boil, simmer 5 minutes
*drain well
*chill uncovered in refrigerator until cool enough to handle
*crumble & place in bowl of food processor with remaining ingredients; process into a smooth paste, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary
*chill several hours or overnight before serving to allow flavors to blend

Vegan Nacho Cheez Sauce & Dip

I looove this recipe.  Cheese was hard for me to give up, but having a recipe like this really helps.  I use it for nachos, as a dip with tortilla chips, even spread onto a tortilla to make a quesadilla with.  It's also good in a bean & cheese burrito.  I'm sure there are millions of other uses.  This recipe is from "The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook" by Jo Stepaniak.

Vegan Nacho Cheez Sauce & Dip

1/2 Cup flour (any type)
1/2 Cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 Cups water or non-dairy milk
1/4 Cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard (any kind)
1/2 teaspoon light or chickpea miso
1/4 Cup minced fresh cilantro (optional)

*combine flour, yeast, salt, chili powder, onion powder, paprika, garlic powder, oregano, & cayenne in a saucepan
*gradually whisk in liquid, oil, & mustard
*cook over medium heat, stirring almost constantly with a wire whisk, until bubbly, thick, & smooth
*remove from heat & whisk in miso
*stir in cilantro (if using) just before serving

Raw food energy bars

While I'm really not into the whole raw food movement, these do qualify as such, so I mention it for those who might be interested in that aspect of this recipe.

I LOOOVE these & could honestly eat them all day, but I limit myself to one per day because the ingredients are all high calorie foods.  This is why they give you energy.  I love to carry one of these in my purse on days when I'm running errands all day & know I will need to raise my blood sugar & get an energy boost.

Raw Food Energy Bars

1 Cup pitted dates
1/4 Cup peanuts
1/4 Cup chocolate chips (I use vegan chocolate chips)
dash of salt

*place dates in bowl of food processor & run (I sometimes have to add a tiny tiny dash of water, but be careful not to add much or else the food bars will end up mushy)
*add peanuts & pulse processor
*add chocolate chips & dash of salt & pulse again until all ingredients are well incorporated (but don't let the nuts turn into peanut butter!!)
*pull dough out of processor & shape into a ball with your hands
*you can place between sheets of parchment paper & roll out with rolling pin into a rectangle or square shape OR you can just shape it with your hands (this is how I usually do it)
*cut into bars, whatever size you want (I use a dough cutter to do this, just a push down movement, rather than a sawing movement, which will destroy the shape of the bars)
*you can store them in the freezer of fridge or even at room temp if they will be eaten quickly

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Vegan Citrus Glitter cookies

I have to admit I'm a real sucker for citrus desserts. And this cookie so perfectly hit the spot for me. I will definitely be making these again. This recipe is from "Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar"

Vegan Citrus Glitter Cookies

3-4 Tablespoons turbinado or other coarse sugar
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegan shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used rice milk)
2 Tablespoons finely grated citrus zest (I used a combo of orange & lime; I didnt have any lemons in the house)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup a/p flour
2 Tablespoons fine ground cornmeal (I ran my regular cornmeal in a spice mill)
1 Tablespoon corn starch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

*preheat oven 350 F
*line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
*spoon the coarse sugar onto a plate or shallow bowl & set aside
*cream the shortening & sugar together until light & fluffy, about 90 seconds
*mix in milk, zest, & vanilla
*sift in all remaining ingredients & mix until soft, pliable dough forms (it might look crumbly, but when pressed between fingers it should form easily)
*roll heaping Tablespoons of dough into balls & flatten ball into coarse sugar (only on one side)
*place sugar side up on baking sheet
*bake 10-12 minutes, let cool on baking sheet 2 minutes & then transfer to wire rack
*store in tightly sealed container

Golden Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

This cupcake recipe comes from "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World". But the frosting recipe is my very own. The combo was very delightful. :)

Golden Vanilla Cupcakes

1 cup non-dairy milk (I used rice milk)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups a/p flour
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil (I used sunflower oil)
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

*preheat oven to 350 F
*line muffin tin with paper liners
*whisk milk & acv together & set aside for a few minutes
*beat together milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla, & almond extracts
*sift in dry ingredients & mix until no large lumps remain
*fill liners 2/3 way full & bake 20-22 minutes
*transfer to cooling rack & let cool completely before frosting

Buttercream Frosting

8 Tablespoons vegan butter
3 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
3-4 Tabkespoons non-dairy milk (I use rice milk)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

*beat butter 30 seconds, until fluffy
*stop, add sugar, milk, & vanilla
*blend on low about 1 minute
*increase speed & beat another minute

Crock Pot French Rice Pudding

I have to admit I've never been a big fan of rice pudding. The texture of it just isn't very appealing to me. However, I have a feeling my toddler will love it & I know that my hubby loves it. But my hubby AND my toddler can't have dairy. I chose to make this vegan by using rice milk, but you can certainly use cow milk if you prefer. I made this this past weekend & my hubby loved it & ate the whole thing. My toddler, however, has been sick & his appetite hasnt been good, so he didn't even want to taste it. Once his appetite returns I will make it again.

Crock Pot French Rice Pudding

6 cups milk (I used rice milk)
2/3 cup arborio rice (the kind used in paella & risottos)
2/3 cup sugar
1teaspoon ground cinammon OR 1 small cinammon stick
1/2 teaspoon salt

*lightly oil crock insert
*combine all ingredients in crock pot & cook on LOW 6-8 hours

Polenta with Mushrooms

I really like this dish, the flavor of the mushroom mixture is so rich & delicious, it is phenomenal IMHO.

Polenta with Mushrooms

1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms soaked in 1 cup hot water for 20 minutes
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups broth
1 cup polenta flour (coarse ground yellow cornmeal)

*lightly oil a 9-10" pie plate & set aside
*bring water & broth to a boil, stir in polenta flour SLOWLY, stirring CONSTANTLY
*reduce heat & add in half of the garlic, salt, & a Tablespoon of EVOO
*cover & simmer about 15 minutes, stirring occasinally
*remove from heat & let stand 5 minutes
*pour into pie plate, packing in & smoothing out top, set aside to firm up about 20 minutes
*drain the porcinis in a strainer, reserving the soaking liquid
*rinse the mushrooms thoroughly & drain; coarsely chop & set aside
*strain the soaking liquid through cheesecloth or a coffee filter & aside
*heat oil & cook onion about 3 minutes
*add the remaining garlic, cook, stirring, about 1 minute
*add mushrooms & cook, stirring, about 2 minutes
*add porcinis, the strained soaking liquid, wine, tomato paste, rosemary, s & p.
*bring to a boil, simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until liquids are almost completely reduced, about 20 minutes
*spoon on top of polenta & cut into wedges & serve

Polenta with Peppers & Tomatoes

I have recently fallen in love with polenta.  I learned Italian cooking very well back when I was a teen & first learning to cook.  I was a vegetarian back then & following Marcella Hazan's cookbooks.  They are not vegetarian books, but I learned quickly on my own how to adapt most recipes to make them vegetarian.  I don't remember if I tried polenta back then or not (I know there were recipes for it in those books), but if I did somehow I wasn't too impressed I guess because I haven't made it again up until now.  This recipe is pretty simple & is really quite good & substantial.

Polenta with Peppers & Tomatoes

3 cups water
1 cup polenta flour (coarse ground yellow corn meal)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt to taste
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large bell peppers, chopped or sliced (I like to use 2 different colors)
1 can (14.5 oz) chopped tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar

*lightly oil a 9-10" pie plate & set aside
*bring water to boil for polenta, SLOWLY add in polenta flour (to prevent clumping) stirring CONSTANTLY
*reduce heat, add in 1 T EVOO, 1/3 of the chopped garlic, & salt
*cover & cook, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes
*remove from heat & let stand for 5 minutes
*pour into pie plate, pressing it in & smoothing the top out
*let stand 20 minutes to firm up

*heat EVOO & add onion & cook, until softened
*add bell peppers & remaining garlic; cook 5-8 minutes
*add tomatoes, oregano, s & p; bring to a boil & simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally
*add vinegar & sugar, cook another 5 minutes or so, until thickened slightly
*spoon pepper/tomato mixture over the polenta, cut into wedges, like a pie, & serve

Italian Sorghum Soup

This is such a very easy & simple soup, yet it's quite hearty & satisfying at the same time.

Prior to learning that I have celiac disease & going gluten free this was "Italian Barley Soup".  I really loved barley in soups, but can no longer eat that.  I purchased some whole grain sorghum (actually by mistake, thinking I was ordering sorghum flour online!) & cooked it up & realized the texture is much like barley.  So I now use sorghum in soups in place of barley.  It's perfect in this recipe!  If you are not gluten free, feel free to use pearl barley instead.

Italian Sorghum Soup

6 cups broth
2 cups water
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 cup whole grain sorghum
salt & pepper to taste
garnish: chopped basil or parsley

*bring broth & water to boil
*add tomatoes, sorghum, salt, & pepper, combine well
*simmer 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally

Garbanzo Romesco

I have to say that I am not much of a garbanzo fan, but this recipe I absolutely adore.  I am so in love with it & it is a regular in my kitchen these days.  My meat eating family doesn't like it much, but I LOVE it.  It is my understanding that  traditional Spanish romesco sauce is thickened with bread, but this version is thickened with almonds & I really really like it.

Garbanzo Romesco (adapted from "Veganomicon", changes made by me)

1/3 Cup almond meal/flour (you can grind your own almonds in the food processor if need be)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
2 roasted bell peppers
olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced finely
1/4 large onion, diced
1 red serrano chile pepper, minced finely (leave seeds & pith if heat is desired, remove if not desired)
1/4 cup white wine
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
30 oz cooked garbanzos (drained & rinsed if using canned)
salt & pepper to taste

*puree the tomatoes & roasted bell peppers in blender or food processor & set aside
*saute garlic, onion, & serrano in olive oil 4-5 minutes
*add wine & deglaze pan, cooking about 1 minute
*add tomato mixture, vinegar, sugar, thyme, & rosemary & combine
*bring to a near boil & simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
*add almond meal & garbanzos & combine, simmer uncovered 25 minutes
*add salt & pepper to taste

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sweet 'n Savory Kale

Kale is sooooo good for you & this recipe is so good that I usually make it once or twice each month.  You can buy any variety of kale you like (health food stores often carry more varieties, the red one is really yummy I must say) it all tastes good, especially cooked this way. 


Olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 Tablespoon mustard (I often use dijon, but regular mustard is fine too)
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons sugar
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups broth (whatever broth you prefer)
4 Cups washed, stemmed, torn kale
1/4 cup dried cranberries
salt & pepper
1/4 cup sliced almonds

*cook onion & garlic in olive oil about 5 minutes
*add mustard, sugar, vinegar, broth & bring to a boil
*add kale, COVER, cook 5 minutes
*add cranberries, boil UNCOVERED 15 minutes
*turn off heat, add s/p & almonds & serve

Baked Asparagus with Butter Sauce

Cooking the meat/main dish in the crock pot most days (which is yummy, but also a necessity with a toddler) has allowed me to spend a little more time on my side dishes.  This is now my absolute favorite way to cook asparagus.  Asparagus used to be my least favorite veggie of all.  And then I started trying it cook in different ways & realized it was actually quite good.  It has such a savory flavor, even when just plain.  I buy most of our groceries at Costco these days.  I LOOOVE Costco.  Their eggs, produce, & meat are available at such great prices.  And their produce is really good most of the time (there are rare occasions where we get something not so perfect).  I normally peruse the produce department for a fresh veggie each time I go & since it's such a big amount of it I then find several different ways to cook that veggie so it's not so boring to my family.  So I do actually have a few other ways that I cook asparagus, but this one is hand's down the favorite of myself & my whole family.  It's so bright green & perfectly cooked & the sauce/glaze is super good too.  Bon appetit!!


1 bunch asparagus, trimmed & washed
salt & pepper
2 Tablespoons butter (or vegan butter alternative)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

*preheat oven to 400 F
*place asparagus on baking sheet, lightly brush with oil & sprinkle with s&p
*bake 12 minutes
*while baking, melt butter
*remove butter from heat & stir in soy sauce & vinegar
*pour over asparagus & serve

Monday, June 27, 2011

Vegan Crock Pot Cuban Black Bean Soup

Your house will smell amazing while you cook this & it tastes just as good as it smells!

Vegan Crock Pot Cuban Black Bean Soup

2/3 Cup dry black beans
2 Cups water
1 white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Vegetable broth powder or paste
1/2 Cup corn kernels
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

*place all ingredients in crock & stir to combine
*cook on HIGH 6 hours or LOW 12 hours

Basic wheat bread machine bread

This is my favorite all purpose go-to bread recipe.  It makes a 2 lb loaf, so set the bread machine on the 2 lb setting & set it for the whole wheat cycle also. 


1 1/4 Cups water
3 Tablespoons sugar (or honey)
1/3 Cup oil
2 Cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 Cups whole wheat flour (I like to use white whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 Tablespoon vital wheat gluten

*place all ingredients in pan in order listed or in order recommended by manufacturer
*adjust settings for 2 lb loaf & whole wheat cycle for best results

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Turkey Stroganoff

I am always looking for good recipes for ground turkey to give my family some variety from chicken breasts.  They love the stuffed bell peppers, turkey burgers, & sloppy joes & now they love this one too.  :)

Turkey Stroganoff

8 oz package of noodles, uncooked
1 teaspoon oil
1 lb ground turkey
1 Tablespoon minced onion
1 cube chicken bouillon, crumbled (I used 2 Tablespoons of "better than bouillon" paste)
1 can (10.75 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup (I used my home=made condensed soup)
1 Tablespoon paprika
salt to taste

*boil noodles
*heat oil & cook turkey & onion in it
*mix in bouillon
*stir in soup & cook & stir until heated through
*season with paprika & salt
*serve over noodles

Vegan Snickerdoodles

Vegan Snickerdoodles (from "Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar")

1 Cup vegan butter  (I use the soy free earth balance)
1 1/4 Cups sugar
2 Tablespoons nondairy milk (I use rice milk)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 2/3 Cups all purpose flour
1/4 Cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 Cup sugar
1 rounded teaspoon ground cinammon

*preheat oven to 350 & line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
*cream butter & sugar until lighty & creamy, about 2 minutes
*add milk & vanilla & mix in
*sift in dry ingredients & beat until a soft dough forms
*chill dough in refrigerator at least 30 minutes
*combine topping ingredients
*scoop dough out (tablespoon at a time), rolling into a ball
*roll ball in topping & place on baking sheet (space cookies about 3" apart)
*sprinkle tops of cookies with more topping
*bake 10-12 minutes
*allow to cool on baking sheet 5 minutes before transferring to cooling racks
*store in loosely covered container

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Crock-Pot "refried" beans

One of my all time favorite foods is a bean (or bean & cheese) burrito.  It was the very first type of burrito I ever ate & I fell in love with it & over the years I've found if I'm eating a burrito I'm always disappointed if it's not a bean burrito.  And no matter what's in the burrito there had better at least be some beans (preferably refried) or else it's just not a burrito to me & I most likely won't finish it, & certainly won't enjoy it.  Silly, I know, one of those weird things I can't seem to shake.  Over the years I mastered cooking a pot of beans, but still didn't know how to do refried beans & because of this I would still head to burrito joints for a bean & cheese burrito.  I knew that if I could only master making good refried beans I could stop visiting the burrito joints & just make my own & alas, I did just that.  :)


chopped onion (or dried minced onion)
3 Cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
1/2 fresh hot chile pepper, seeded & chopped OR dash of chile powders, such as cayenne, ancho, chipotle
2 Tablespoons minced garlic (or dried minced garlic)
1 Tablespoon salt
1 3/4 teaspoons black pepper (fine grind)
aprox. 1" strip of kombu
9 cups water

*place everything in the crock pot, stir to combine
*cook on HIGH 8 hours
*strain beans, reserving cooking liquid, remove kombu
*mash beans, adding the reserved water as needed, until desired consistency is reached

Stuffed Bell Peppers

My family really likes this dish.  I usually make 5 bell peppers out of this & do a 6th one with a vegan filling for myself. 


1 lb ground turkey (or chicken would be fine too)
1 can chopped tomatoes (fire roasted are even better)
1 Cup cooked basmati rice
5-6 bell peppers

*parboil peppers, about 12 minutes
*cook turkey
*mix turkey, rice, & tomatoes together & stuff into bell peppers
*place tops back on bell peppers, bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes

Crock-Pot Cashew Chicken

Once in a while we eat at PF Changs & my hubby usually orders the cashew chicken.  It's always really good & I've always wondered what they put in there to get that flavor.  I did some digging around & put this together, not sure how "authentic" it is, but it sure tastes the real deal to me & my family. 


2-4 chicken breasts (or 4-8 chicken thighs)
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
3 Tablespoon oyster sauce
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 white onion, chopped
water to cover
1 pound cashews, preferably raw

*place chicken in crock pot, add garlic, fish & oyster sauce, sugar, pepper, & onion. 
*pour enough water to cover everything
*cook on HIGH, 3-4 hours for breasts, 4-5 hours for thighs
*sprinkle cashews over mixture & cook another 30 minutes, serve hot

Crock-Pot Blueberry Cobbler

Along with the same theme of the last entry, this is an IC safe dessert also, since it's blueberry.  It's very yummy  :)


1 Cup flour
1 1/2 Cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinammon
2 eggs, beaten (or vegan egg replacer)
2 Tablespoon milk (I use rice milk)
2 Tablespoon oil
4 Cup fresh blueberries
1/2 Cup water

*Combine flour, 1/4 Cup sugar, baking powder, & cinammon
*in another bowl combine eggs, milk, & oil
*add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stir until moist
*spread over bottom of crock
*in saucepan combine berries, water, & remaining sugar
*pour into crock
*cover, cook on HIGH for 2 hours

Crock-Pot Maple-Sauced Pears

I recently learned that I have interstitial cystitis & the only "safe" fruits for me now are pears & blueberries.  So I came up with this as a fruity dessert for myself & it is phenomenal!  My hubby is not a big pear fan, but he is soooo in love with these!


6 pears
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1/3 Cup maple sugar
1 Tablespoon butter, melted (or vegan butter)
1 teaspoon orange peel
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons juice (pear is best but can be hard to find, orange works ok if you can't get pear)

*peel pears, core from bottom, leaves stems intact; stand upright in crock
*mix ingredients (except cornstarch & juice) & pour over pears
*cook on HIGH 2-2 1/2 hours or until tender
*remove pears & place upright in serving dish
*mix cornstarch & juice, stir into sauce in crock
*cook on HIGH 10 more minutes, spoon over pears, & serve

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chiles Rellenos Casserole

I LOVE this dish.  I don't eat it very often though, since it has cheese & my hubby can't eat cheese.

14 oz canned whole green chili peppers (as hot or as mild as you prefer)
6 Cups (12 oz) shredded cheese (again, your preference), divided
4 green onions, thinly sliced
6 eggs
3 Cups milk
3/4 Cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
14 oz green chili salsa

*preheat oven to 325 F
*split chili peppers lengthwise & remove seeds & pith
*spread chilies in a single layer on bottom of 9x13" baking dish
*sprinkle half the cheese over the chilies
*sprinkle the green onions over the cheese
*beat together eggs, milk, flour, & salt & carefully pour into baking dish
*bake for 50 minutes or until "set"
*mix salsa with remaining cheese, place on top of casserole
*bake for 10 minutes more or until cheese melts
*let stand for a few minutes before serving

Zucchini Bread

This bread is very popular in my house.  I make it quite often.

Zucchini Bread

2 1/2 Cups shredded zucchini (about 2 medium)
1 Cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 Cup oil
3 eggs (or egg replacer, such as ener-G brand)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 Cups sugar
1 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 Cups whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 Cup chopped pecans

*preheat oven to 350 F
*oil BOTTOMS of 2 loaf pans
*mix zucchini, applesauce, oil, egg, vanilla, & sugar until well blended
*stir in remaining ingredients except pecans & mix well
*fold in nuts
*spoon batter into pans
*bake 50-60 minutes
*cool 10 minutes, transfer to cooling rack for 1 hour

Note: this could easily be a vegan dish if you use an egg replacer

Home-Made Rice Milk

I LOVE making this myself, my toddler guzzles a couple of gallons per week easily & I cook & I bake with it plenty since my hubby has a dairy allergy.  It saves me money & I feel I get a better quality product by making it myself.

Home-Made Rice Milk

1 Cup uncooked long grain brown rice, rinsed well
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
8 Cups water (plus some more during the blending process)
1 teaspoon salt

*place 8 Cups water & rice & chia seeds in slow cooker & cook on low for 10-12 hours (I leave it overnight)
*add salt & stir
*blend in batches in blender--using equal portion rice mixture to equal portion water in blender batches (I do 3 cups rice mixture to 2 cups water in each batch & I do 3 batches, but it depends on the size of your blender jar)
*strain (I recently started making almond milk & learned about nut milk straining bags & I started using this to strain my rice milk as well now & I LOVE the result, very creamy & no sediment at all--I personally use a paint strainer bag from Lowe's, much more economical)
*I adjust if needed to make sure I have a total of 15 cups combined rice mixture & water in the end before stirring & placing in mason jars

Note 1: I store mine in mason jars, this recipe fills 4 quart mason jars (makes 1 gallon)

Note 2: If you don't have a slow cooker you could also simmer the rice on the stovetop for 3 hours.  I did try this recipe both ways & it was much easier to me to use the slow cooker, so I will definitely continue doing it that way.

Note 3: Although I prefer the taste of the almond milk, I do have to admit that rice milk is the more economical option if that's important to you.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chorizo Seitan Sausages

Chorizo Seitan Sausages

1 1/2 Cups vegetable broth
4 Tablespoons tomato paste
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 garlic cloves, grated
1 2/3 Cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 Cup chickpea (garbanzo) flour
3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 Tablespoon PLUS 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 Tablespoon PLUS 1 teaspoon ground dried chile powder
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cayenne, or more to taste
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

*tear off 6 pieces of foil, about 8" wide each
*preheat oven to 350 F
*combine wet ingredients
*combine dry ingredients
*add wet to dry & combine to form dough
*knead dough for 3 minutes, let rest for 10 minutes, knead again for 2 minutes
*place dough on cutting board & cut into 6 equal pieces
*shape each piece in a log (sausage) shape & place in foil
*wrap loosely in foil, twisting ends closed
*place foil wrapped sausage directly on middle baking rack in oven & bake for 35 minutes
*cool for 40 minutes before opening
*for best flavor chill overnight to let flavors blend more
*store tightly sealed in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freeze

Note 1: this item is fully cooked & ready to go--use it as you would cooked chorizo: add to beans, eggs, whatever you like

Note 2: I haven't tried yet, but plan to, to adjust the seasonings & make an Italian sausage as well

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Honey Baked Chicken

I made this for dinner last night, so simple, yet my hubby LOOOVED it!  I highly recommend it!

Honey Baked Chicken

4 bone in chicken thighs (I did remove skin myself) or 2-4 b/s breasts
1/4 Cup butter, melted
1/4 Cup honey
2 Tablespoons mustard (I used grey poupon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon curry powder

*preheat oven to 350 F
*place chicken in shallow baking dish, skin side up
*combine sauce ingredients & pour over chicken
*bake 75 minutes uncovered

Note: I sometimes add a little mayo to the sauce & put it all in the crock pot for 3-4 hours on low for breasts, 4-5 hours for thighs

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Crock-Pot Vegan Marinara Sauce

This was really yummy.  I have made marinara sauce in the past, using both canned & fresh tomatoes.  I have to admit that using fresh tomatoes is a real pain, all the peeling & such.  I'm sure at some point (like when the garden is bursting with tomatoes at some point) I will make a marinara in the crock-pot from fresh tomatoes, but for now this one was really good & I was very happy with it.

Crock-Pot Vegan Marinara Sauce

2 cans (6 oz each) unsalted tomato paste
2 cans (12 oz each) diced tomatoes, with juice
1/2 Cup water
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 Cup olives, chopped
2-4 Cups sliced mushrooms
1 Tablespoon dried basil (or 3 Tablespoons fresh)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons sugar
salt to taste

*combine all ingredients in slow cooker, cover, & cook on low for 6-8 hours

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mexican Tamales

This is my favorite tamale recipe.  You can essentially put any filling in it that you want, but this filling happens to be very good I must say.  The masa is low fat, which my hubby & in laws love. 

Mexican Tamales

24 dried corn husks
1/4 Cup fresh or frozen & thawed corn kernels
2 Cups masa harina
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 Cup HOT water
1 Cup broth
3 Tablespoons lard or shortening (I personally use butter)

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2-3 jalapeno chile pepper, seeded & minced (wear gloves)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 oz finely chopped boneless, skinless chicken or turkey breast
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 Cup dry white wine
Salt to taste

*Place corn husks in large bowl & cover with cold water; let soak for at least 2 hours
*puree the corn
*combine masa harina, salt, & baking powder; gradually add hot water, broth, pureed corn, & fat
*combine until consistency resembles play-doh (I use a stand mixer, I beat it for 15 minutes, but you can do it in a bowl or food processor also--the longer you beat it the more air will be incorporated into dough, making it lighter tasting)

*heat oil, add onions, peppers, garlic, cumin, oregano, & cinnamon; cook for 3 minutes
*stir in chicken or turkey & cilantro; cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until meat is cooked through
*add wine & cook for 5 minutes, season with salt to taste

*place 1 corn husk flat on a work surface, tapered end toward you
*mound 3 heaping Tablespoons of masa mixture in the center of the top half of the corn husk
*make a shallow groove the length of the corn mixture; place a spoonful of the filling in the groove; pinch the sides of the groove together to encase the filling
*fold tapered half of the corn husk over the top to enclose the filling
*lay another corn husk flat on the work surface, tapered end away from you
*place the first husk in the center of the bottom half of the second husk
*fold tapered end over the bottom to encase the tamale
*tie the bundle into a neat rectangle, using strips of corn husk or string (I use dental floss, LOL)
*repeat to use the remaining corn husks & filling
*insert a steamer basket into a lare pot; add 1" water & bring to a simmer over medium heat; stack the tamales to the basket, cover, & simmer for 90 minutes, or until the dough is set & comes away easily from the corn husks when tested
*remove the string before serving

Vegan Maple Cake

This is the cake I made my hubby for his birthday recently.  I wasn't necessarily looking for a no sugar cake, but decided to give it a shot.  It wasn't very sweet, although if I had put a sweet frosting on it it would've been perfect I think.  But I do have to say that my hubby has the biggest sweet tooth I've ever seen & he REALLY liked this cake.  I haven't told him that it's vegan (haven't told the kiddos either & they loved it too) yet but at some point I will.  It was very moist & very good I must say.

Vegan Maple Cake

1 Tablespoon egg relacer (I used Ener G brand)
2 Cups non-dairy milk (I used vanilla rice milk)
1 Cup maple syrup
1/2 Cup oil (I used sunflower oil)
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Cups all purpose flour
1 Cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

*Preheat oven to 350 degress F
*grease & flour cake pans (2 8-9", 1 bundt, 1 9x13, 2 8x8--I used a bundt pan)
*whisk together egg replacer, milk, syrup, oil, vinegar, & vanilla
*separately mix together flours, baking powder, salt, & baking soda
*add dry mixture to wet & combine
*pour into pan & bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lemon Bars

Ok, I haven't actually made these yet, so far I have never posted a recipe without trying it first, BUT I trust Brandi so I'm gonna take a leap of faith & post this & I do plan to make these VERY SOON.  I LOOOOOVE lemon desserts & lemon bars are very high on that list.  I can't wait to try these!!

Lemon Bar Recipe

Cake Decorating Icing

Making cakes & decorating them is something I really enjoy.  Although I'm good at making cakes, the decorating part is still pretty new to me & I have a long ways to go really.  But I plan to continue on that journey.  A friend of mine gave me this recipe a while back.  She is REALLY good at decorating cakes.  I found myself struggling when it came to "decorating" the cake--frosting is easy, but "decorating" was hard for me.  I always found the decorating stuff too soft & melting away later on.  I could never get it stiff enough.  This recipe works well.  I think the original recipe said to use either "lard" or "vegetable shortening", I can't remember, but I know it sounded very unappetizing for a cake.  I just subbed butter myself & it worked great.  However, today I was trying to do this recipe "vegan", so I used my Earth Balance instead of butter & it didn't turn out too great, it was very soft.  I do think it can be done, but I'm thinking don't add water & maybe more flour is needed.  If I do end up perfecting the vegan version at some point (maybe next month when I make Lil J's birthday cake) I will post it here, but for now I'm just gonna post it as the regular non-vegan version that I know works great.  I've used it several times.  It's exactly how I want it, where it's soft enough to work with while decorating & then as it dries it firms up nicely.

Cake Decorating Icing

1 Cup flour
1 Cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup water
Coloring of choice

*Mix flour & butter until fluffy
*add salt
*add water, a little at a time & mix well
*add sugar & coloring

Note 1: I often split this into several batches after it's made & add the coloring separately to each batch so I have several different colors to work with.

Note 2: I am very health conscious, but I have used natural colorings & am not happy with them (if I had a girl I think I woud be--they come out very pastel & usually pinky or lavenderish) so I do use the artificial colors sometimes.  A couple of drops of food coloring goes a long way in this recipe so the actual amount eaten is super small & I honestly don't think that small amount once or twice a year is going to do any major damage in the grand scheme of things. 

Note 3: This makes quite a large amount, I often have too much left over.  Unless you need A LOT consider halving the recipe or even quartering it.

Note 4: You will need a pastry bag with decorating tips to use this.  I LOVE mine, I had never used one up until a couple of years ago.  They are so nice & easy to use.  At some point I ordered one (from someone's kid's school fund raiser I think) that is more like a syringe, but I don't have the same amount of control over it as I do with the pastry bag.  A simple one with only a couple of attachments is pretty cheap, definitely worth buying if you plan to make cakes.  I would still love a more deluxe kit with more tip attachments myself, maybe someday.......

Monday, February 28, 2011


Ok, someone asked me if I have a good recipe for this.  I LOOOVE avocados & when we have them in our house (which is pretty often) we always make guacamole.  I find this recipe challenging to share because I don't really measure anything when I make it.  And sometimes we make a small amount for just us (cuz extra doesn't keep well) & sometimes we are making a whole bunch when we're having people over.  So it's hard to narrow down amounts for me.  But I will do my best to share this.  There are also millions of different ways to make guacamole, this is just how we like it in our house. 


Ripe avocados (if you have unripe ones & want to speed up the ripening process place in brown paper bag & check daily for ripeness)
Cilantro (the more the better is my opinion)
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Chopped fresh onion (optional)
Chopped fresh tomato (optional)

*wash, dry, & finely chop cilantro
*wash, peel, & seed avocados, scoop flesh out of skins & place in bowl
*mash up avocados with a potato masher or similar object, add in cilantro & mix well
*add onion &/or tomato if using & mix well
*add seasonings & adjust to taste

Note 1: I like mine just as it is, but my mother in law always likes to add water, not a lot to make it watery, she just doesn't like it so thick I guess.  So that's another option as well.

Note 2: I don't own a food processor (would LOVE to have one, still on my personal "wish list") but I would imagine you could make this in a food processor rather than using a potato masher if you wanted to.

Note 3: I have read (but as of yet haven't tried it, so don't kill me if you try it & it doesn't work, LOL!) that if you have extra guacamole  (this NEVER happens in my house, LOL!!) to keep it from going "brown" & ugly you need to put the saran wrap down into the container so that it is flush against the top of the guacamole, much like you are supposed to do with pudding to prevent that "skin" from forming on top.  If you do try this please let me know if it works!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Crockpot-Chocolate Chip Blondies

This is soooo phenomenally good!  It's also very easy to make.  It's sort of like a giant cookie, kinda like the pazookies you get at BJs, if you've ever had one.  I definitely recommend giving it a try.

Crockpot-Chocolate Chip Blondies

Just my personal touches: I doubled the vanilla & halved the amount of chocolate chips.  I also used our regular table sugar (which is organic evaporated cane juice) instead of brown sugar, only because we didn't have brown sugar in the house.  I don't use crock pot liners, I don't think they're healthy, but I did lay a piece of parchment paper across the bottom of the crock pot.  I did use the paper towels across the top to keep the condensation from making it soggy & did cook it for 3 hours.  I can't recommend it highly enough.  Try it, I promise you won't be disappointed.  I would even say go buy a crock pot just so you can make THIS!! 

The Hungry Housewife: Building Flavors

I thought this was a really great blog on some good cooking basics. Just wanted to share in case someone could benefit from it. I also sometimes use vinegar to deglaze pans myself.

The Hungry Housewife: Building Flavors

Crock-Pot Chicken Balsamico with Potatoes

This one had mixed reviews in my house.  My stepdaughter & her boyfriend LOVED it.  My hubby didn't like it at all.  My son liked the chicken but not the potatoes.  While it all smelled wonderful I only tasted the potatoes, not the chicken, but I thought the potatoes were mighty good.  :)  I still recommend it highly.

Crock-Pot Chicken Balsamico with Potatoes

4 potatoes, quartered
4 strips of turkey bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless is what I used)
salt & pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
4 cloves garlic, quartered
1/2 Cup balsamic vinegar
1 Cup chicken broth

*place potatoes in slow cooker
*cook bacon in skillet until crisp, remove from pan, leaving any drippings behind
*sprinkle chicken evenly with salt & pepper & brown chicken well on all sides in bacon pan
*add rosemary & garlic & saute for 1-2 minutes
*deglaze skillet with vinegar & transfer all contents of skillet into slow cooker on top of potatoes
*add broth, cover, & cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 5-6 hours
*sprinkle bacon on top before serving

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Parsley Lemonade

At my house when sickness is going around we make parsley lemonade.  I learned this from my hubby, who learned it from his mother.  So essentially the credit goes to my mother in law.  Parlsey is high in vitamin C & is a natural antibiotic as well.  My mother in law makes it weaker than I do & she uses sugar.  I prefer it stronger, I feel like it will work better/faster that way.  And in my own research on all things health related I have learned that sugar actually lowers the immune system.  Because of this I refuse to make mine with sugar.  Honey also has some antibacterial properties of it's own, making it great to use when you're sick.  So here is my personal version of my mother in law's parsley lemonade.  Feel free to make changes as you wish as well.

Parsley Lemonade

1 bunch parsley, well washed
2 Cups lemon &/or lime juice, freshly squeezed is preferred
10 Tablespoons raw honey
10 Tablespoons honey
5 Cups water

*place parsley in blender
*add honey
*add juice & enough water to blend well
*in a large container place the rest of the water & then strain the contents of the blender into this container
*mix well & refrigerate

Note: in the past I would sometimes "cheat" & buy bottles of lemonade from Trader Joes', I would use 1 bunch of parsley to 2 bottles of lemonade.  However, the bottles of lemonade are sweetened with sugar & they are also pasteurized & of course not "fresh" juice. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Miso Soup

I have become more interested in vegan & macrobiotic ways of eating recently.  I know I can never be 100% vegan, but I can choose to eat vegan at least some of the time.  One big plus is that my hubby can also eat vegan meals, since they don't have dairy products.  A lot of times vegetarian recipes are heavy on dairy products & my hubby cannot partake.  I am by no means an expert on macrobiotics, but I am very interested in learning more about it.  It would seem to me that the most important staple in the macrobiotic diet is miso soup.  I often see it being eaten as breakfast.  I do have to say that I love miso soup.  There are many recipes out there, but this is the one I like best.  It's just so simple & it's the one I always reach for.  I personally vary what goes into it somewhat.  I usually always have daikon, carrot, & mushroom in it, but sometimes I put in more, just depends on my mood & what's available in my kitchen.

Miso Soup

Soy Sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small carrot, sliced
1 slice daikon radish, chopped
Handful of mushrooms, sliced
Handful of water chestnuts, sliced
Soba noodles, optional
Greens or sea vegetable
1 teaspoon miso per cup water

*I generally start with 4 cups of water & add just enough soy sauce to make it "brothy", not too much or it will be too salty, & bring to a boil
*add veggies & simmer for 10 minutes
*add greens & noodles, if using & turn off heat
*take a small amount of broth out of the soup & mix miso into it, once it's mixed in smoothly, no lumps, add back to soup pot & stir it in well

Note 1: miso is a fermented product, much like yogurt & kefir--you never want to "cook" it or else you will kill off the healthy enzymes it contains; always add it in after the heat is turned off

Note 2: for greens I usually use the sea vegetable wakame

Note 3: I am a tad anti-soy, I personally think soy is way overused & too much of it is not a good thing--it can affect our hormones, thyroid, etc.  I also have a very severe bad reaction to LIQUID soy products.  However, I have seen studies that show that FERMENTED soy products are much much healthier for us than other soy products are.  Fermented soy products include miso, tempeh, & true fermented soy sauce (tamari, shoyu, etc).

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Crock Pot Balsamic Braised Chicken with Olives

This dish smelled REALLY yummy while cooking.  I got ZERO comments from the family on it, so I would guess that they felt it was "just ok".  If they hate something I hear about it & if they LOVE something I usually hear about it, so I'm guessing it was a "just ok" based on the "no feedback" I received.  But like I said, it smelled super yummy, so I do recommend it.

Crock Pot Balsamic Braised Chicken with Olives

3 1/2 lbs chicken pieces
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 (14 1/2 oz) can crushed tomatoes with juice
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons black olives, chopped
2 Tablespoons capers, optional

*brown chicken on all sides in oil & transfer to slow cooker
*add onions to pan & saute until softened
*add garlic, salt, peppercorns, & thyme--cook, stirring, for 1 minute
*add tomatoes, broth, & vinegar--bring to a boil
*pour mixture over chicken in slow cooker
*cover & cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 2 1/2-3 hours
*add olives & capers, if using, & serve immediately

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Zucchini "Crab" Cake

I found this recipe as a vegetarian alternative to crab cakes.  I've never been a big crab cake fan, I'm actually not even sure I've ever tried one.  So I don't know how close they come to actual crab cakes, but I do know that they are quite good just as they are.  Even my hubby likes them & is requesting me to make more of them & that's saying a lot, LOL.

Zucchini "Crab" Cakes

2 1/2 Cups grated zucchini
1 egg, beaten
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 Cup bread crumbs
1/4 Cup minced onion
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

*combine zucchini, egg, & butter
*mix in bread crumbs, seasoning, & onions
*shape into patties
*you can dredge these in flour & pan fry OR you can bake them

I chose to bake them on a lightly oiled baking sheet at 400 for 15 minutes on each side

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Crock Pot Recipe Exchange: History of the Crock Pot

I enjoyed reading this very much & wanted to share. I always love learning the history of things & had actually been wondering specifically about the history of the crock pot.

Crock Pot Recipe Exchange: History of the Crock Pot: "Since slow cooking is one of my favorite (and I do mean F A V O R I T E) methods of cooking I started wondering where crock pots came from...."

Friday, January 28, 2011

Crock-Pot Jamaican Chicken

My stepkids have not been around lately--my stepdaughter is on vacation & my stepson has been with his mom.  So the only opinion I have on this dish is my hubby's.  He didn't hate it, but he wasn't crazy about it.  He actually put Jack Daniel's sauce on top of his chicken & then he was really pleased with it.  I did taste the sauce the chicken cooked in & it had a tropical taste to me.  I do think my stepdaughter & her boyfriend would've liked it a lot, but I doubt my stepson would've liked it.

Crock-Pot Jamaican Chicken

2 teaspoons jerk seasoning
1 1/4 Cups mango nectar
1/2 Cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons dark corn syrup
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

*combine jerk seasoning, nectar, sugar, syrup, & rice vinegar in the slow cooker & stir to combine
*add the chicken breasts & turn to coat in the sauce
*cover & cook on high 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until chicken is cooked through

Note: I never have corn syrup in the house, just not a healthy food IMO, no matter if it's high fructose or not.  You can't even buy it at the health food stores, which is where I shop.  I felt that maple syrup had too strong & distinct of a flavor that might throw off the dish, so I chose to sub with brown rice syrup, which I always have in the house--it's not as sweet as corn syrup, but it has a nice mellow flavor that is somewhat sweet.

TGIF's Jack Daniel's Sauce

I LOOOVE making sauces.  I often just create my own random concoctions & then create a myriad of recipes from it by finding a million ways to use that sauce.  This is not one I created myself, but it is a favorite of mine.  We rarely eat out, but once in a while we do.  This sauce is the only reason we set foot in TGIF's.  I was thrilled when I found this recipe!  I usually at least double it when I make it, & I sometimes even quadruple it.  It isn't a quick recipe to make, so plan ahead & that's why I make such large batches when I do make it.

TGIF's Jack Daniel's Sauce

1 head garlic
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2/3 Cup water
1 Cup pineapple juice
1/4 Cup teriyaki sauce
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/3 Cups dark brown sugar
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons minced white onion
1 Tablespoon Jack Daniel's whiskey
1 Tablespoon crushed pineapple
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

*roast garlic in oven at 325 F for one hour: place head of garlic in casserole dish, drizzle olive oil over, cover dish & bake
*when garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze it out (almost like squeezing tooth paste out of the tube), remove all papery skin & mash well
*combine water, pineapple juice, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, & brown sugar, stir occasionally & bring to a boil
*reduce to a simmer, add garlic & whisk it in
*add the rest of the ingredients to the pan & let simmer briskly for 1 hour, or until the glaze reduced by about 1/3--it will still be "thin", but as it cools down it should be slightly syrupy & thick

Note: You can use this over fish, chicken, beef, veggies, rice, anything you can possibly think of

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Crock-Pot Oatmeal

Ever find yourself short on time in the morning for a good breakfast?  Then you need a crock pot & you can make yourself oatmeal!!  I've made this twice so far.  The first time hubby complained that he doesn't like salt in his oats & the second time hubby had the idea of throwing a cinammon stick in there as well.  Oatmeal is one of those things that everyone likes to finish off in a different way.  I like mine with a little salt, butter, & maple syrup.  So I wasn't sure I was gonna like the cinammon flavor with that, but I have to say it was REALLY good.  I will definitely add the cinammon stick again the next time we make it.  (I buy the large ones at the Mexican grocery store--or in TJ--& I used about half of one of those)  I read that you can add cut up apples also.  But I read that raisins don't do well with the long cooking time.  I am sad that my little toddler cannot partake of this with us, since he's allergic to oats.  Therefore, I plan to try this method with other hot cereals in the future--millet, cream of wheat, creamy rice, etc.  If they turn out well I will post those recipes as well.

Crock-Pot Oatmeal

1 1/4 Cups rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Cups water

*combine ingredients in slow cooker, cover, & cook on low for 8 hours or overnight

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Crock-Pot Spanish Style Chicken with Rice

This smelled heavenly while cooking.  But I cooked it for 7 1/2 hours or so & the rice was very mushy.  I honestly couldn't eat it.  And hubby took one bite & announced that he doesn't like saffron.  LOL, this didn't go over too well in my house I have to say.  But I think if I had cooked it for a shorter amount of time & left out the saffron (I thought the saffron was wonderful though) it would've been better. 

Crock-Pot Spanish Style Chicken with Rice

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in 2 Tablespoons boiling water
1 Tablespoon oil
3 lbs chicken pieces (skin on breasts, skinless legs & thighs)
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 Cups long grain rice
1 can (28 oz) tomatoes, including juice, chopped
1 1/2 Cups chicken stock OR 1 Cup chicken stock AND 1/2 Cup dry white wine
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 Cup green peas, thawed if frozen
sliced pimento-stuffed green olives, optional
hot pepper sauce, optional

*heat oil, add chicken in batches, & brown lightly on all sides; transfer to slow cooker
*reduce heat & add onions & cook, stirring, until softened
*add garlic, s/p, & cook, stirring, for 1 minute
*add rice & stir until grains are well coated with mixture
*stir in saffron, tomatoes, & chicken stock; transfer to slow cooker & stir to combine with chicken
*cover & cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a fork
*stir in green pepper & peas, cover & cook on high for 20 minutes, until veggies are heated through
*garnish with olives, if using, & hot pepper sauce, if using

Monday, January 24, 2011

Lemon Tahini Dressing (for Falafel)

Lemon Tahini Dressing

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 Cup lemon juice
1/4 Cup tahini
1/2 teaspoon dry parsley or 2 teaspoons fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano or 2 teaspoons fresh oregano
1 clove minced garlic (optional)

*mix well & store in covered jar in refrigerator
*refrigerate until cool before serving


I happen to LOVE falafel.  I do not like garbanzo beans, unless they are in falafel or hummus.  I have never tried to make falafel prior to this, so I have no idea how "authentic" this recipe is.  It seemed a little bland to me, like it needs more cumin & parsley maybe.  But once I dipped it in the lemon tahini dressing (recipe to follow) it was pretty good.  The dressing zips up the flavor of it quite nicely I must say. 


1 3/4 Cup cooked garbanzos or 1 (15-16 oz) can of garbanzos, mashed well
2 Tablespoons wheat germ
2 Tablespoons bread crumbs
1 egg, well beaten
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt to taste

*mix all ingredients together & form into about 16 balls & flatten slightly
*fry in a little oil about 3 minutes on each side over medium heat
*serve with lemon tahini dressing (recipe to follow)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Avocado Garnish (for Crock-Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup)

Avocado Garnish

1 ripe avocado, peeled, seeded, & chopped
1/2 Cup corn kernels
1/4 Cup chopped green onions
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

*combine all ingredients & cover with plastic wrap & refrigerate for up to 4 hours or serve immediately

Crock-Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

My hubby REALLY liked this soup.  He says he likes it better than the Mexican Chicken Soup I made recently.  I did make a few changes to the recipe, just customizing it to my hubby's tastes a tad more.  I used 1 1/2 bell peppers instead of 3 & 1 onion, instead of 2.  I left out the canned tomatoes & I used 6 cups of broth instead of 4.  I didn't use any cheese as my hubby can't have dairy.  I didn't add any tortilla strips, just didn't have any in the house.  And I didn't have the ingredients on hand to make the avocado garnish.

Crock-Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 Tablespoons oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded & chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded & chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded & chopped
2 medium sweet onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup gold tequila (optional)
1 (14-15 oz) can chopped tomatoes, drained
4 Cups chicken broth
3 Cups shredded cooked chicken
salt & pepper
fried corn tortilla strips
grated colby or monterey jack cheese, for garnish
1 bunch cilantro, stems removed, leaves chopped, for garnish
avocado garnish (recipe to follow)

*saute peppers & onions until softened, about 2 minutes
*add garlic, chili powder, & cumin & cook for another 2 minutes
*add tequila (if using) & cook until almost evaporated
*transfer above to the crock-pot
*add tomatoes, broth, & chicken
*cover & cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours
*season with salt & pepper
*place tortilla strips in bowl, ladle in the soup, & top with desired garnish

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Crock-Pot Basic Poached Chicken Breasts

I have some recipes that call for cooked chicken.  I rarely have just plain cooked chicken laying around, it usually has some sort of sauce or flavoring to it, so this is great for me to use for those recipes.  I also discovered that my toddler LOVES chicken cooked like this.  Up until now it's been kind of hit & miss for me.  Sometimes he likes chicken & sometimes he doesn't based on the sauce, flavoring, etc.  So for me it's great to have a standard recipe that I know he likes.  The first batch I made of this I made with 2 chicken breasts (boneless, skiness) & 2 chicken thighs (skinless, bone in).  I was making it for a soup I am planning to make tomorrow.  I then strained the cooking liquid & planned to use it as part of my broth in the soup.  But then I decided to poach a second batch, for my toddler son, just 2 chicken breasts this time, but I used the broth from the original poaching, so by the time it goes in the soup tomorrow it should be REALLY flavorful.

Crock-Pot Basic Poached Chicken Breasts

2 Cups chicken broth
3 whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
12 chicken breasts, skin & bones removed

*mix together the broth, peppercorns, & thyme in the slow cooker insert
*place chicken breasts in, stacking in even layer
*cover & cook on low for 4-5 hours, until chicken is cooked through & tender
*let chicken cool & remove it from slow cooker
*refrigerate for 2 days or freeze for up to 10 weeks

Monday, January 17, 2011

Honey Butter (for corn bread)

I LOVE honey butter on my corn bread, so it seemed essential to me to post it along with the corn bread recipes. 

1/2 Cup butter (1 stick), softened at room temperature
1/3 Cup honey

*beat the two ingredients together until well blended

Sweet & Cake-like Corn Bread

This is my hubby's favorite corn bread recipe.  He doesn't care for the gritty texture, he prefers it more cake-like & sweet.  My hubby likes everything sweet, he has a real sweet tooth.  :)

Corn Bread

1 1/4 Cup flour
3/4 Cup corn meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 Cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 Cup milk
1/4 Cup butter (solid)
1 egg

*combine flour, corn meal, baking powder, sugar, & salt
*add milk, butter, egg & mix only until combined
*pour into greased 8" square pan
*bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean

Note: this recipe may be doubled & baked in a 13x9x2" pan

Note: if you use earth balance instead of butter, an egg replacer, & non-dairy mik this is a vegan dish

Coarse-Gritty Not Too Sweet Cornbread

This is personally my favorite corn bread recipe.  I like my corn bread VERY corny.  I like it nice & gritty & not super sweet. 

Corn Bread

1 Cup yellow corn meal
1 Cup flour
1/4 Cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 Cup oil
1 egg
1 Cup milk

*combine dry ingredients in a bowl & mix well
*combine oil, egg, & milk & mix well
*stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just blended
*pour into well buttered 8" square baking pan
*bake at 400 for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean

Note 1: recipe may be doubled & baked in a 13x9x2" pan

Note 2: I have many times made these in cupcake tins & they turn out great

Note 3: if you use an egg replacer & non-dairy milk this is a vegan dish

Crock-Pot Mexican Chicken Soup

My family is not really big on soups.  But my hubby does like a good chicken soup.  Right now he is under the weather so I made him this.  It turned out pretty good, but did need quite a bit more salt after it was finished (& I put the teaspoon it called for & I know the broth had salt as well).

Crock-Pot Mexican Chicken Soup

2 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
2 sprigs cilantro (we REALLY like cilantro, so I actually put a whole fistful in)
1 hot chili pepper, seeded & chopped (I didn't have one on hand, so I used a little cayenne pepper powder)
10 whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
2 half chicken breasts
1 (10 oz) can condensed chicken broth
5 cups water

1/2 Cup whipping cream
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted & ground
2 small avocados, sliced
lime juice
finely chopped cilantro

*In slow cooker stoneware, combine broth ingredients.  Cover & cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours
*Lift out chicken & shred meat
*Strain the broth & discard solids
*Combine strained broth & shredded chicken back in crock pot & set to warm if not eating immediately

*in a bowl, whip cream & beat in cumin seeds & set aside
*when you ladle soup into bowls, lay avocado strips ontop & sprinkle with lime juice
*top with a dollop of cream & garnish with cilantro.

Note 1: I did not do the topping part.  My hubby can't have cream (no dairy) & he dislikes cumin; we didn't have avocado in the house & I honestly forgot about the lime juice & chopped cilantro (I have mentioned that I have a toddler, right??)

Note 2: hubby found the veggies I had strained out of the broth (I had just left them sitting in a bowl) & added them back to the soup & he said it was even better that way, LOL

Mexican BROWN Rice

This is basically the same recipe that I posted before for Mexican Rice.  I had been meaning to try it out with brown rice, since I prefer to eat brown rice.  But the rest of my family prefers white rice, so this dish will probably mostly just be for me.  I used a short grain brown rice, since that's all I had in the house, but I think it would be better with a long grain brown rice.

Mexican BROWN Rice

3 Tablespoons oil
1 Cup brown rice
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 Cup chopped onion
1/2 Cup tomato sauce
2 Cups chicken broth
1/4 Cup chopped carrots

*Cook rice in oil until puffed
*Sprinkle with garlic salt & cumin
*Stir in onions & carrots & cook until tender
*Stir in tomato sauce & chicken broth
*Bring to boil & simmer 45-50 minutes

Note: like I said in my last blog on Mexican Rice, I almost never have tomato sauce in the house, but I do always have tomato paste.  I simply make tomato sauce out of the tomato paste.  Combine 1/4 Cup tomato paste with 1/3 Cup water & add 1 teaspoon salt & 1 teaspoon sugar.

Note: if you use veggie broth instead of chicken this is easily a vegan dish

Friday, January 14, 2011

Crock-Pot Sweet & Sour Chicken

This was VERY yummy.  It was a winner all the way around, everyone liked it, including my stepson!  I wish the sauce had been a little thicker, but that's my only comment.  I couldn't find boneless, skinless thighs.  I removed the skin myself, but couldn't get the bones out.  I just cooked it for the maximum 6 hours & it was fully cooked & quite good.  In a pinch I'm sure you could substitute breast meat & cook it 4 hours on low & I bet it would be fine.  My hubby insists that thigh meat has so much more flavor & even more flavor when you cook it with the bone.  He didn't mind the bones at all.  I did actually add more bell pepper & carrot than the recipe stated & I thought it was good that way, but I suppose that's a matter of personal preference & maybe that's why my sauce wasn't thick.

Crock-Pot Sweet & Sour Chicken

1 can (20 oz) pineapple chunks
1/4 Cup brown sugar
1/4 Cup rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger (I have to omit this because hubby has an intolerance to ginger)
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 Cup chopped yellow & red bell peppers
1 Cup chopped onion
1/4 Cup baby carrots

*drain pineapple & set aside, reserving 1 Cup juice
*combine sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch, garlic, ginger, & reserved juice in slow cooker; whisk until smooth
*add chicken, bell peppers, onion, & carrots; stir to coat evenly with sauce
*cover & cook on low 5-6 hours or on high 2 1/2-3 hours
*stir in reserved pineapple; cook 5 minutes longer, or until pineapple is heated

Crock-Pot Cuban Style Flank Steak

This dish takes a really long time to cook.  I split the cooking into two separate days.  I made this dish specifically for my stepdaughter & her boyfriend.  They love beef & they love Cuban food.  They actually knew this dish when they ate it.  They were really excited about it.  My stepdaughter's boyfriend's family is from Puerto Rico & they travel to Puerto Rico at least once a year.  In fact, they are leaving for Puerto Rico TONIGHT.  I did taste it, & it was quite good I have to say.  My stepson said it was "just ok".

Crock-Pot Cuban Style Flank Steak

First Cooking:
1 flank steak, approximately 2 lbs
1 large onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 cracked black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
water or beef stock

Second Cooking:
2 Tablespoons oil
8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced (I left these out cuz my stepkids HATE mushrooms)
2 onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 hot chili pepper, minced, optional
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1 each red & green bell pepper, roasted, peeled, & cut into strips
2 Cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, optional
Hot cooked rice or tortillas

First cooking:
*place steak in slow cooker
*spread onion slices evenly over meat
*sprinkle garlic, oregano, salt, peppercorns, & bay leaf over onions
*drizzle lemon juice over seasonings & add water to cover
*cover & cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours, until meat is tender & shreds easily
*allow meat to cool in cooking liquid (if not proceeding to second cooking immediately, cover & refrigerate meat & liquid until ready for second cooking)

Second cooking:
*strain & reserve cooking liquid
*using two forks, tear meat into shreds & transfer to slow cooker stoneware
*in a skillet heat 1 Tablespoon oil, add mushrooms & cook until they lose their liquid & then transfer to slow cooker
*add remaining oil & onions & cook until softened
*add chili powder, oregano, chili pepper (if using) salt, & peppercorns & cook for 1 minute
*sprinkle flour over mixture & cook for 1 minute; add 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid & cook, stirring, until thickened; pour over beef & mushrooms & stir to combine
*lay pepper strips over top of mixture
*cover & cook on low for 4 hours or on high for 2 hours, until mixture is hot & bubbly; add cheese if using
*cover & cook on high for 10 minutes, until cheese is melted; serve over hot cooked rice or with tortillas

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Play Dough

There exist many, many recipes for home-made play dough.  This is the only one I've tried so far.  So far I've been really happy with this recipe & haven't bothered to try any others.  I know you can BUY play dough, & I'm sure it's not even expensive, but I make my own for a couple of reasons.  1) Toddlers like to put things in their mouths & I don't have to worry about what's in the play dough if I make it myself out of totally ordinary ingredients rather than the chemicals in the store bought variety.  2) One thing my hubby taught me (before having my son, with my stepkids & all my nieces) is about making memories for the kids.  Giving them special happy memories to think back & remember fondly later in life.  I happen to think there's something really special & magical about the kitchen.  To me it's the perfect place to make memories.  I personally feel that it's much more special & memorable to MAKE play dough than to just go to the store & buy it.

Play Dough

2+ Cups white flour (NON self rising)
1/2 Cup table salt
1 Cup hot water
1 teaspoon oil (optional, makes dough more pliable)
glitter (optional, for a sparkly play dough)
coloring (optional)

*mix flour & salt
*slowly mix in water (& oil if using)
*continue kneading & working in more flour until desired consistency & stickiness disappears

Note 1: you can split it up & knead in coloring to each section (if you want several different colors) or if you want it all one color you can put the coloring in the water in the beginning.

Note 2: I store it in plastic zip lock bags to keep it from drying out.  Sometimes my son just wants to rip the play dough into a million pieces & make a mess with it (he's only 20 months) & it's then that I just leave it in plastic zip lock bags & let him play with it that way, he loves squeezing it while it's in the bag.

Crock-Pot Basic Beans

I have to admit that I love beans.  It's a good food to love, I have to say, since they're relatively cheap & very nutritious to boot.  I've never been a big fan of canned beans.  They somehow seem very heavy & hard on my digestive system.  And they're not as budget friendly as buying dried beans in bulk & cooking them yourself.  I spent a lot of years trying to figure out how to cook beans.  I tried them on the stove top, I tried them in the oven.  I did long soaks, I did quick soaks, I did no soaks.  But sadly I never found success.  When I finally got a pressure cooker I tried once again & they were decent.  To ME they were decent & I was content.  But hubby wanted more.  On a trip we took across the border we bought a Mexican Olla to cook beans in.  Hubby swore they tasted soooo good when cooked in one of those, that nothing else could compare.  And I have to admit they were quite tasty & much better than the pressure cooker.  And that's how I've been cooking them for the past several years now.  But now I have a slow I was curious & decided to give it a try.  I've only tried it once so far, but the results were very, very good I have to say. 

Crock-Pot Basic Beans

1 Cup dried beans
3 Cups water or broth
seasoning desired
kombu (optional, see note 4)

*simply put the beans & liquid & desired seasonings into the crock pot & cook on low for 10-12 hours

Note 1: I don't soak my beans, though I know a lot of people do.  I have never seen any benefit to it & my beans turn out great without doing it.

Note 2: I did this late at night & left it going overnight.  Oh the aroma is so heavenly, especially when you get up in the morning.

Note 3: How I season my beans depends on my mood, what I'm doing with the beans, & what type of beans they are.  If I'm just going to eat them as they are (like in burritos or as a bowl of beans, etc) I usually just do a basic bay leaf, & some dried minced onion & garlic.  If it's going into another dish I have to consider the flavoring of that dish.  And if it's aduki beans (the healthiest of all beans) it needs to be well seasoned, they are a tad bland.

Note 4: I also usually add seaweed to my bean pot.  Just a small strip of kombu is what I use.  It is said to add to the nutritional value of the beans & it adds a nice flavor & it is said to help with making the beans more easily digestible.  I leave it up to you if you want to add it or not.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Crock-Pot Zesty Mexican Chicken

This dish was super yummy & my hubby really liked it :)

Crock-Pot Zesty Mexican Chicken

6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 (14 1/2 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded & chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 Tablespoon hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 Cups hot cooked rice

*Place chicken breasts in crock pot
*In a bowl combine tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, garlic, juice, pepper sauce, & s/p; pour over chicken
*Cover & cook on low 3 1/2-4 hours
*Serve over rice

Edited to add: someone told me they were going to make this as taco filling.  YUM!!  Great idea so I thought I'd share in case anyone wanted to consider doing it that way instead of with a side of rice.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Crock-Pot Hot Lemon Blueberry Cake

I have always liked blueberry.  And I have always liked lemon, especially lemon desserts.  But when you combine the two together I LOOOOVE the results.  For a long time I thought this was just my personal heaven, but lately I see the combination everywhere, so I certainly can't be alone. 

This is also a great moment for me because I have finally pulled out my 6 quart crock pot & was able to use it for this recipe.  I use my 3 quart far more, but there are some things, this recipe included, that call for a 5-7 quart crock pot. 

There is a little prep work involved, but it really wasn't hard or time consuming.  I hope you enjoy this.  While it turned out good, it was really a "just ok" recipe for me.  There really was no "pudding" texture, but the "cake" turned out nice, like a sponge cake.  The aroma in the house was sublime & the flavors are very nice, I'm just not sold on the texture.  If you try it please let me know how it turned out & how you liked it.

Crock-Pot Hot Lemon Blueberry Cake

1 Cup fresh blueberries
4 large eggs, separated
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
4 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 Cup milk
1 Cup sugar
1/3 Cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

*oil the inside of a 5-7 quart crock pot
*spread blueberries over bottom of crock pot
*beat egg whites until soft peaks form & set aside
*whisk egg yolks, add zest, juice, butter, & milk; whisk until blended
*stir together sugar, flour, & salt & add to egg yolk mixture; beat until smooth
*fold egg yolk mixutre into egg whites
*transfer batter to crock pot; cover & cook on high for 2 1/2 hours
*allow cake to cool slightly before serving

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Crock-pot Balsamic Chicken with Figs

On my stepdaughter's last birthday we took her to a Spanish restaurant as a surprise.  Hubby & I used to always pass by the restaurant (seeing it from the freeway) back before we were married & I had always wanted to eat there.  One day a while back we went for one of our very rare date nights.  The menu is a little challenging at first, so many unfamiliar items & ingredients.  But once the food came we were thrilled beyond belief.  There's also a bit of terminology difficulty.  What the Spanish call certain foods is totally different than what the Mexicans call foods by the exact same name (like tortillas, for example!).  Fortunately I've taken enough Spanish classes (where they always focus on Spain Spanish even though we are 2 hours from the border of Mexico) that I already knew about that & warned my hubby.  Anyways, when we were last there, for my stepdaughter's birthday, my hubby ordered something (fish, I think, though it may have been chicken) & it had figs in the dish & hubby couldn't stop raving about those figs.  I kid you not, for WEEKS he was still going on about how good those figs were.  So I stumbled across this recipe shortly after I got my crock pot & I was soooo excited because it has figs!!  Of course I had to FIND figs, but I did (you can also order them online if you really can't find them in a store near you).  However, my hubby & step-son were less than impressed with this meal.  I think they just don't like the taste of the red wine.  I personally tasted it & thought it was really good.  I've never liked to drink wine, but I do like to cook with it.  And when I cook with white wine (this is the first time ever I have cooked with red wine) hubby never complains or even notices.  But this time he complained about the slight wine flavor & said he didn't like it.  So I doubt I'll be making it again, but I would still recommend it highly, unless you have a dislike for red wine.


2 Tablespoons oil
8 chicken breast halves, skin & bones removed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 Cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 Cup ruby port wine
1/2 Cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
16 dried figs, cut in half

*sprinkle chicken breasts with s/p & brown in oil, then transfer to crock pot
*deglaze pan with vinegar & port, scraping up anything stuck to pan
*add broth & transfer all 3 liquids to crock pot
*add thyme & figs & stir to combine
*cover & cook on high for 2 hours, until chicken is cooked through & sauce is syrupy

Note 1: I could not find "ruby port" wine, so I substituted a sweet red wine

Note 2: I really prefer to cook things on low, provided I have enough time to do so, I feel like that's the whole point of the crock pot & the food is more flavorful that way & there's less chance of scorching, but this recipe didn't give that option.  It only specified to cook on high, so I'm assuming it just didn't come out as good on low, so I followed the rules & cooked it on high.  Based on my past experience though, thawed chicken breast dishes usually take about 4 hours on low.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Mexican Rice

This is a favorite of mine.  I LOVE my sister in law's Mexican rice & this is as close as I can get it to her's through trial & error & then I added in carrots on my own.  I like the addition of carrots, but you can omit them if you like.


3 Tablespoons oil
1 Cup white rice
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 Cup chopped onion
1/4 Cup chopped carrots
1/2 Cup tomato sauce
2 Cups chicken broth

*Cook rice in oil until puffed & golden, then sprinkle with salt & cumin
*Stir in onions & carrots & cook til onions are tender
*Stir in tomato sauce & chicken broth
*Cover, bring to a boil, & simmer 20-25 minutes

Note 1: I rarely have tomato sauce on hand, but I do always have tomato paste.  In a pinch you can make your own tomato sauce out of tomato paste if you need to.  This is what I always do.  Simply combine 1/4 Cup tomato paste with 1/3 Cup water & add 1 teaspoon salt & 1 teaspoon sugar.

Note 2: if you use veggie broth instead of chicken this is easily a vegan dish

Applebee's Almond Rice Pilaf

I keep this recipe handy.  We tend to eat a lot of rice in my home.  I personally eat very little white rice, but it's the only rice the rest of the family will eat.  I really don't like plain brown rice, but I do love the rice blends (full of brown, black, wild, & other types of rices).  However, I do like this pilaf & I also like my Mexican rice (which I'm still planning to do a brown rice version of at some point!) & both of them are with white rice.  But my point is that if I feel like we've had a little too much plain rice & I need a side of rice with a dish (which is my situation tonight) I do this pilaf instead of just plain rice.  It's usually a hit, with the exception of my stepson.


3 Tablespoons butter
1 Cup white rice
2 1/4 Cups Chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 Cup slivered almonds
1/4 Cup diced celery
1/4 Cup diced onion
1 teaspoon dried parsley

*Melt 2 T butter & saute rice 2-4 minutes
*Heat chicken broth & quickly add to rice
*Cover pan, reduce heat to low, simmer 20 minutes
*Melt 1 T butter, saute almond 1-2 minutes
*Add celery & onions & saute 2 minutes
*When the rice is done simmering remove it from heat & add everything & let sit, covered, for 5 minutes

Note: if you use oil instead of butter & veggie broth instead of chicken this is easily a vegan dish

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Crock-Pot Bananas Fosters

This is super, super yummy.  It's also very easy, & considering it's in a crock-pot, it's quite quick.

You are supposed to serve this on top of vanilla ice cream.  Of course my hubby can't have dairy, so we just eat it as is.  And it's still yummy, although I'm sure it would be wonderful over vanilla ice cream.  I must say that even my toddler loves this!


1/2 Cup butter (1 stick)
1/4 Cup brown sugar
6 bananas, sliced 1 inch thick
1/4 Cup rum OR 1 teaspoon rum extract
2-3 Cups vanilla ice cream

*melt butter in crock-pot on low
*after completely melted, add sugar & rum (or extract) & stir to mix
*add bananas & stir to coat (CAREFULLY--don't break them up)
*cook on low for 1 hour
*scoop 1/2 Cup ice cream into bowl & serve bananas over it

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lentil Soup

This has also been a favorite of mine for over 20 years.  When I am under the weather this is the soup I always find myself craving.  I almost never order lentil soup in restaurants because it just doesn't compare to my own.  The only exception to that is a middle eastern restaurant near my home that has a lentil soup I am dying to find the recipe for.  But it is a completely different type of lentil soup, so I still love mine & their's both.


2 Tablespoons chopped onion
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons chopped celery
2 Tablespoons chopped carrot
1 Cup canned tomatos with juice, chopped
1/2 lb (1 1/4 Cup) uncooked lentils
4 Cup broth

*saute onion in olive oil & butter, add celery & carrot
*add tomatoes & juice, simmer 25 minutes uncovered
*add lentils, broth, s/p
*cover, cook 45 minutes

Note: if you omit butter & use veggie broth this is easily a vegan dish

Cheese and Lentil Loaf

This has been a favorite of mine for over 20 years now.  I first became a vegetarian at the age of 15 & remained that way for 10 years.  I then decided I didn't like being so legalistic about it all & decided to just eat whatever I wanted to (I've never been a big fan of meat) & by the time I got married I found myself eating meat at almost every meal simply because that's what my hubby & stepkids were eating.  Last September I decided once again to go "mostly vegetarian" & back to my old ways.  Of course if something looks appealing & I want to eat it I will, but it's quite a rarity I must say.  But anyways, as for this recipe, I could honestly eat this every single day & never get tired of it.  I typically make a loaf at least once a week.


2 Cups cooked lentils
1/2 lb. grated cheese
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 Cup bread crumbs

*preheat oven to 350F & grease a loaf pan
*mash lentils, cheese, & onion together
*add remaining ingredients & mix well
*bake in greased loaf pan for 45 minutes

Note: if you use a non-dairy cheese (rice, soy, etc) this could easily be a vegan dish

Condensed Soup

As I said in an earlier blog I try to avoid processed foods.  I am also very picky about ingredients that are in prepared food items that I buy. 

This post goes along with the crock-pot theme.  A lot of crock-pot recipes call for a can of condensed soup.  It is extremely rare that I can find a condensed soup with acceptable ingredients.  I had always thought those recipes were for lazy people, but I now realize that with a crock-pot the condensed soup is used simply because it is condensed.  It is easy to end up with too much liquid in a crock-pot if you aren't careful & condensed soup is an easy way to keep lots of flavor with minimal liquid.

At first I was a tad irritated because I was passing up a lot of recipes simply because they called for a condensed soup.  But then I decided to go on a search for a recipe for condensed soup.   This recipe is SUPER VERSATILE, simply by changing the cup of liquid & seasonings used you can do A LOT with this simple recipe.


3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour (I use sorghum or sweet rice or a combo of the two)
8-12 oz liquid (water, milk, broth, wine, or combination of these)
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning or other seasoning

*melt butter
*add flour & poultry seasoning, & wisk
*add liquid & stir well
*heat over medium heat 5-10 minutes, or until thickened
*remove from heat & let sit a few minutes & then use in recipe as directed
(tastes best if you don't let it come to a boil)
CREAM OF CHICKEN: 2 T-1/4C diced chicken; add it to cream soup as it's cooking
CREAM OF MUSHROOM: 2 T-1/4C diced mushrooms; saute & then add to cream soup
CREAM OF CELERY: 2 T-1/4C diced celery; saute & then add to cream soup


8 oz. tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt

*mix ingredients together & use in recipe as directed

Crock-Pot Turkey Sloppy Joes

My hubby LOOOOVED this recipe.  After eating it, he said "you know what I'd like you to do different next time you make it?" (I ALWAYS hear this after I make something, hubby is a picky eater & is rarely satisfied with a meal as is) I asked "what?" & he replied "NOTHING, it was EXCELLENT!"  That has to be an all time first I'd say.


2 Tablespoons oil
1.5 lbs ground turkey
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced, OPTIONAL (I left it out cuz my stepson does NOT like spice)
1 Tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 Cup tomato-based chili sauce (see note 1)
1 Tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 Cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I didn't include this cuz hubby can't have dairy)
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped, OPTIONAL
Hot onion buns or other bread/buns

*In a skillet heat oil & brown ground turkey & then transfer to crock pot
*Add onions & cook until softened.  Add garlic, jalapeno (if using), chili powder, oregano, s/p, & cook, stirring, for 1 minute
*Add chili sauce & worcestershire sauce & bring to a boil, then transfer to crock pot
*Cover crock pot & cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours, until mixture is hot & bubbling.
*Add cheese (if using) & bell pepper (if using) & cover & cook on high for 20 minutes, until cheese is melted & bell pepper is softened
*Spoon over buns/bread & serve

Note 1: I cannot obtain "tomato-based chili sauce" in health food stores (which is where I shop), so I improvised by combining ketchup, bone sucking BBQ sauce, Trader Joe's KC BBQ sauce, & a little spicy chile pepper sauce in a measuring cup up to the amount called for in the recipe.

Note 2: I browned the turkey the day before & also cooked up the sauce the day before & put them in the fridge (in separate containers: turkey in one container, sauce in another, & bell pepper in another) until the next morning, when I took them out & placed in the crock pot. 

Note 3: I did not get it going early enough to cook on low, so I did this one on high & it scorched slightly.  I'm not sure if it would've done that had I cooked it on low.  Keep a close eye on it I suggest & add a slight bit of water if it looks a little dry.  I did that & it helped tremendously, even after the scorching had already started. Just be careful to not add too much water or you will end up with soup!  The whole thing with crock-pot cooking is that there is no evaporation occurring & often liquid gets pulled out of ingredients as well, so most of the time you end up with too much liquid, so be careful!

Crock-pot Soy-Garlic Chicken recipe

I recently got myself a crock-pot.  Well, um, actually I got myself TWO crock-pots.  You see, I've been wanting one for MANY years & now that I have a toddler I REALLY want one (time spent in the kitchen is TOUGH with a toddler).  So I got a gift card for Christmas (meant for clothes though) & went & bought a 6 quart crock-pot.  Once I realized you need to fill it at least half way I realized it was kinda big for most of our dinners.  The thought did cross my mind that we could just have A LOT of leftovers, but that never goes over well with my stepkids, they outright refuse to eat the same thing more than twice.  They're usually already complaining at the second serving of something.  However, when my inlaws come to visit we have close to 30 people to feed, so for that the 6 quart would be really great.  There are also some other things I'd like to do that requires a larger crock-pot.  So I did go back & buy a 3 quart & so far that's what I've been using on an almost daily basis.  Soon I will bust out the 6 quart though.  :)

But as I was starting to say, I recently got myself a crock-pot & am having a blast making stuff in it.  So I'm sure there will be a lot of crock-pot recipes posted on this new blog.

This recipe was super easy & was REALLY yummy! 


6 chicken leg quarters, skin removed
8 oz. tomato sauce
1/2 Cup soy sauce
1/4 Cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons minced garlic

*Place chicken in slow cooker
*In a bowl combine tomato sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, & garlic; pour over chicken
*Cover & cook on low 4-5 hours

Note: I actually used boneless, skinless chicken breasts when I made this because it was all I had in the house, but I would bet it would be even tastier if you used the legs.  If you are opposed to legs though, or just don't have any in the house, the breasts will certainly do the trick.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Welcome to my blog

If you're reading this I assume you like to cook, or at least to eat.  :)

I have always loved cooking.  I also love to eat "healthy", although the definition of "healthy" varies a great deal.  I should clarify in that I like to avoid processed foods as much as possible.  I eat as much organic as my budget allows. 

I am 38 years old, I am a wife, mother, step-mom, & a nurse (although for now I am a stay at home mom with my 20 month old son & am loving it more than I ever dreamed).

Since I have a toddler finding time for the computer is tough, I am not sure how often I will be posting on here, only time will tell.  But I do manage to post at least weekly on my main blog.