Monday, March 29, 2010

Crock Pot Refried Beans

This recipe makes a lot of yummy refried beans without any added fat and hardly any effort. They smell delicious cooking in the crock pot all day. My entire family loves them.   Use them as a side for Mexican, for burritos or as the base for 7-layer dip.

Crock Pot Refried Beans

  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into eighths
  • 3 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1 small can diced green chilies*
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 9 cups chicken broth or water
  • *I add less chilies when I’m making it for the kids. If you want the beans spicier, add more.

    Place the onion, rinsed beans, chilies, garlic, salt,  and pepper into a slow cooker. Pour in the chicken broth or water and stir to combine.

    Cook on High for 8 hours, adding more water as needed. Note: if more than 1 cup of water has evaporated during cooking, then the temperature is too high.

    Once the beans have cooked, strain them, and reserve the liquid. Puree the beans with a hand blender or mash them with a potato masher, adding the reserved water as needed to attain desired consistency.

    Sunday, March 28, 2010

    Ice, Ice Baby

    Carter was on ice skates today for the first time. Here is a pictorial description of his debut on the frozen tundra:

    His first attempt to stand on his skates:

    March 10 egg hunt ice skating 016

    I think he may have realized he is wearing figure skates…c i 3

    and not hockey skates….(next time buddy you can have boy skates!)

    Crater ice face

    Before we hit the ice, he’s not quite sure what’s going on;March 10 egg hunt ice skating 019

    He’s up,

    March 10 egg hunt ice skating 020

    c i 7

    but not too crazy about it! Please help me Grandpa!c i 2

    I take over and we manage to get all the way around the rink once. He even managed to move his feet and skate a little.

    c i 5 c i 4c i 6 c i 8

    Once around was good for now. The boys took and break and Reagan and I skated for a while longer. She is getting to be a really good skater. She can do all of these fancy turns and spins that Jeff can tell you the names of thanks to his sister Rebecca and her years of figure skating.

    The thing that Carter liked the most? Yep, you guessed it, the Zamboni resurfacing the ice at the end.

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    Microwave Caramel Corn

    My mother made the best caramel corn when I was a kid. It was labor intensive to make and the caramel burned easily.

    I found a recipe that is so easy and so yummy, that it is dangerous for me to have brown paper grocery bags in my house. I could possibly eat the entire batch in one sitting.

    Microwave Caramel Corn

    4 quarts popped popcorn, (which is ½ cup popcorn kernels)

    1 cup packed brown sugar

    1/2 cup margarine

    1/4 cup light corn syrup

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1/2 teaspoon baking soda

    Unused brown paper grocery bag

    Non-stick spray

    Spray the brown paper grocery bag with non-stick spray. Place the popped popcorn (make sure to remove any unpopped kernels) into a large brown paper bag. Set aside.

    In a 2 quart casserole dish, or other heat-proof glass dish, combine the brown sugar, margarine, corn syrup, salt and vanilla. Heat for 1-1/2 minutes in the microwave, and then take out and stir until well blended. Return to the microwave, and cook for 1-1/2 minutes. Take it out and stir it and put it back in the microwave for another 1-1/2 minutes. Remove from microwave, and stir in the baking soda.

    Pour syrup over the popcorn in the bag. Roll down the top once or twice to close the bag, and shake to coat the corn. Place bag into the microwave, and cook for 45 seconds on half power. Remove, shake, flip the bag over, and return it to the microwave. Cook for another 45 second on half power. Dump the popcorn out onto waxed paper, and let cool until coating is set. Store in an airtight container.

    ***After I posted this recipe, the kids and I made some this afternoon:

    Reagan popped the corn and sorted out the kernels:

    Of course, there would be some bowl licking. Yummy caramel!

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Tortilla and Butternut Squash Soup

    We had perfect soup weather this weekend. On Saturday, I asked Jeff what he wanted for dinner and he replied, “the yummy squash soup.”  I never expected him to use yummy and squash in the same sentence.  This is a man who HATES orange vegetables. You should see the faces he makes at cooked carrots, squash and sweet potatoes. He claims there is something addicting about this soup.  I’m just happy that I finally found something with squash in it he happily eats.

    Tortilla and Butternut Squash Soup

    1-1/2 Tabl. butter

    1-1/2 Tabl. olive oil

    3 cloves garlic, minced

    3 carrots, sliced

    3 ribs celery, sliced

    1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and diced

    12 cups chicken stock

    1 cup sherry

    8 oz. salted tortilla chips, plus more for garnish

    2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

    1 bunch scallions, sliced

    2 Tabl. freshly squeezed limed juice

    8 dashes green Tabasco sauce

    Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt, to taste

    In a large stockpot, melt the butter in oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery and squash and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Add the stock and sherry and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the squash is soft and tender, about 40 minutes.

    Remove from the heat and stir in the tortilla chips until softened. Add the cheese it melt into the soup. Puree the soup in the pot using a hand blender or in a regular blender until smooth. Add the scallions and stir to combine. Season with lime juice, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper. Serve hot with garnished with crushed tortilla chips. Makes 12 to 14 servings.

    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    Florida 2010: Beach Day

    FL 1FL 3

    The day after we arrived in Florida, we went to the beach.  We knew that it was forecasted to be the warmest day of our trip, so we wanted to make sure the kids had a chance to play in the sand.

    At the beach, it was breezy, misty and chilly.  FL 2

    Carter didn’t care. He couldn’t wait to get in the water.FL6 

    He was soaked before I managed to get his swimsuit on him.

    Reagan wanted to play in the sand and test out the sand sprayers.

       Feb 10 Florida 011

    We tried using a block mold, but the sand was too dry and the ocean too cold, so the sand kept crumbling.

    Feb 10 Florida 033FL 4 

    So, we decided to build a giant turtle instead of a giant castle. Everyone pitched in and got sandy. We even sprayed him with colored water:

    Feb 10 Florida 045 

    Carter mostly sprayed himself in the face and chest instead of the sand, so he ended up looking like a crime-scene splatter pattern. Feb 10 Florida 046

    The result: one psychedelic giant turtle.

    Feb 10 Florida 043

    He had so much fun chasing the pesky seagulls all over the beach,

    FL 5

    taking Grandpa for a walk, Feb 10 Florida 021

    and venturing in the frigid waters:

     Feb 10 Florida 029  Feb 10 Florida 031

    Sunday, March 7, 2010

    Junk in the Trunk

    We spent the last week of February in Florida at Jeff’s parent’s winter home in Sun City Center.  While we didn’t have the usual Florida warm weather, we did have sun and lots of fun.  We also missed a 4+ day power outage and lots of fallen trees, which meant that we came home to the usual busy schedule and lots to clean up.

    And, of course, I always can’t resist a new project, so I signed up for a weekly blog recipe challenge, where once a week (Sunday evenings) I’ll post one of my family’s favorite recipes.  This week, I actually have a story to go with a recipe:

    One evening when we were in Florida, Nana (Judy my MIL) made meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  Carter was cranky after many long busy days at the beach,  Busch Gardens, a car museum, a train ride and the aquarium, and did not want to eat dinner.  To pacify him, we let him play with the new truck  Grandpa bought him at the car museum. 

    I kept trying to get him to eat some meatloaf, which he normally devours.  Eventually, he took a piece, put it in the back of his truck and drove it away. No way was he eating it.

    The next day, I staged a reenactment:

    Feb 10 Florida 440 Feb 10 Florida 442 Feb 10 Florida 441

    Here’s my family’s favorite Meatloaf recipe:

    Upside-down Meatloaf:

    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup ketchup
    • 1-1/4 lbs. ground beef'
    • 1-3/4 cups cooking oats
    • 1/4 cup buttermilk
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp. kosher salt
    • 1/2 tsp. pepper
    • 1 small onion, finely chopped
    • 1/4 tsp. ginger
    • 1 Tabl. Worcestershire sauce

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray. Press the brown sugar on the bottom of the pan, and then spread the ketchup over the sugar.

    Combine the remaining ingredients.  Shape into a loaf and place it carefully on top of the ketchup in the pan.

    Bake for 45 minutes or until the juices run clear.  To serve, flip the meatloaf out onto a plate, and cut into slices. Serves 6.