February 28, 2012

Three Bean Tacos

I was originally making a tasty three bean side dish when I started prepping this. I threw it into the slow cooker so it could cook while I was at work, but by the time I got home, I wasn't able to make anything to go with it. Then I remembered the leftover tortillas I stuck in the freezer from last week. Bingo!

It was designed to be 8 side dish servings I'd parcel out over the week, but this recipe makes a ton of tacos. You may want to scale it down unless you're feeding a small army or you have two teenage boys.

Three Bean Tacos
makes ~18 small tacos

What You'll Need:
1 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 cup dried kidney beans
1 cup dried navy beans
2 1/2 cups water
1 small can tomato paste
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs oregano
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper (careful not to put in too much)

The Process:
Soak all your beans overnight (I did them in separate pots) or fast cook them and let them sit for an hour the day of.  Cook down the onions in some olive oil until soft, then add the garlic. Add the water, tomato paste, sugar, and spices. Whisk until well combined and the tomato paste is incorporated.

Put the drained beans into the slow cooker. Pour the tomato/spice soup over them. Let cook on low for 4-6 hours until beans are tender. Heat up the taco shells in a skillet with a little oil for serving and add the taco fixings you prefer.

You can use canned beans instead, just drain the liquid off and rinse them a little. You'll have to reduce the cooking time or they'll become mushy.

From now on, I think I will be having my Meatless Monday meal on Sunday, so I can take the photos, do the write up, and have it out in time for Monday. When it comes in on Tuesday, I always feel somewhat disappointed that I couldn't get it done in time.

February 27, 2012

Banana Nut Oatmeal

I bought a few too many bananas at the store than we were able to eat in a timely fashion, so I wanted to do something with them besides the usual banana bread. Oatmeal jumps for the save! My house smelled just like I was making banana nut bread, but I think this oatmeal is even better, because you don't have to worry about it coming out too dense like banana bread often does.

Basic Steel Cut Oatmeal

What You'll Need:
1 cup steel cut oats
2 cups water
2 cups milk
3 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup sweetener of choice
2 tsp cinnamon
2-3 pats butter

Banana Nut Variation:
2 ripe bananas, diced or smashed at your preference.
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

February 21, 2012

Meatless Monday: Lentil Tacos

I haven't forgotten about Meatless Monday, but it has been getting shifted around the week lately. Hubby and I are big fans of tacos and burritos. However, you can very easily make them meatless with the addition of lentils.

Lentils are a great legume because they don't need to be soaked like many other dried beans. You just pop them into the pot with some water, cook for 20 minutes, and they're ready. They also have a great texture that I think makes them an ideal substitute for ground beef in tacos.

Lentil Tacos
makes 8 small tacos

What You'll Need:

1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lentils
1 can black beans, drained
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 a small can of tomato paste
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbs taco seasoning
Hard or soft taco shells
Toppings such as cheese, sour cream, or lettuce.

The Process:
   Bring the water to a boil in a pan with high sides. Add the lentils, cover, and turn down to a simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the onion in a small pan with a little olive oil until almost soft. Add the garlic and cook an additional 3 minutes.

   Once the water is nearly absorbed after simmering, add the tomato paste and combine well. Stir in the black beans, onion & garlic mixture, and your taco seasoning. Cook on medium-low heat for an additional 10 minutes.

If you are using soft shells, be sure to heat up a little oil in a pan so you can warm up the shells before serving. I prefer to do the shells on the stove, but you could also heat them up in a batch in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.

Then build your tacos to suit your fancy and enjoy!

February 15, 2012

Ironing Board Revamp

My ironing board is tired. I bought it on clearance to use at college about 6 years ago. It's a mini one, that stands only about 10 inches high and is about 36" long. It has been perfect for use in my sewing room, because it folds up easily and has a hook so I can store it in the closet.

Just the perfect size for pressing blocks.
But I noticed the original fabric is looking rough- yellowed and covered with little bits of old fusible interfacing residue. I didn't want to chuck it, because the frame is still perfectly fine, so I decided I'd make a new cover for it. It was a quick afternoon project and now I have a lovely looking ironing board again.

The batting underneath didn't look good, so I replaced it, too.
 This is what is looked like when I slipped the cover off. It had a string that held it tight, so I pulled that out to reuse. Then I ripped out the seam that had held the string and flattened it out a bit.

I seem to have an affinity for bright colors, don't I?
 I went to iron it flat when it dawned on me that I had just taken my ironing board apart. Duh. I tossed a towel on top of the frame and it worked out fine. Good thing I thought this project through before I started, huh?

February 14, 2012

Maple Balsamic Salmon

For my valentine, I made a little something special tonight. I had some rice left over from the other night, so I decided to incorporate that into this one. It was Spanish rice already, so I just fried it up in a hot pan again.

Funny thing is, it was supposed to be "honey balsamic salmon" but when the time came, I realized that I actually do not have honey in the house right now. Oops! It was far too late to procure any, so I had to make a quick substitution.

Maple Balsamic Salmon
Serves 2
What You'll Need:

1 salmon filet
2 cups day-old rice
2 cups brussel sprouts
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
3 Tbs maple syrup
1/2 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt

February 12, 2012

Slow Cooked Boeuf Bourguignon

As much as hubby likes French onion soup and liver and onions, I have another trick up my chef's sleeve for a meal that makes him smile. That trick is Boeuf Bourguignon. But some days, you just don't have time to spend making it the traditional way. That's when the slow cooker comes in handy.

Now, it should have mushrooms but I am not a fan of mushrooms (hate them, in fact). I leave them out. Feel free to add them in, if that's your thing.You'll want to add them in the cooker when there's about an hour of cooking left.

Slow Cooked Boeuf Bourguignon
Adapted from Julia Child
Makes 6 servings, 13 Points+ per serving (including pasta to serve)

What You'll Need:
    1 1/2 lbs beef, cubed
    3 slices bacon
    3 carrots, sliced
    1 medium onion, diced
    1 1/2 cups red wine
    1 quart beef stock
    2 Tbsp. tomato paste
    2 cloves minced garlic
    1/2 tsp. thyme
    1/2 tsp marjoram
    2 bay leaves
    1 tsp. pepper
    salt to taste
    2 Tbs flour or preferred thickener

Additionally, you'll want 6 boiled potatoes or a box of cooked pasta, for serving

February 10, 2012

Fish and Vegetable Stew

Hubby and I are trying to eat healthier these days, so I've been trying to think of better ways for us to enjoy vegetables without simply serving them as a side (although I could eat steamed Brussel Sprouts that way for all time).

This simple and quick to whip up stew was a solid choice on a chilly day. I heard there were still places in the mid-Atlantic that have cold winters, but until yesterday I had forgotten what they were like. We even got snow (just a little, though).

Fish and Vegetable Stew
Makes 4 servings, 5 Points+ per serving

What You'll Need:

2 filets of firm, white fish cut into bite-sized pieces
2-3 potatoes, cubed
2 1/2 cups water
2 Tbs olive oil
1 small can of tomato paste
1 onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup sliced carrots
2/3 cup peas
2/3 cup corn
2 chicken bullion cubes (or your preferred equivalent)
1 bay leaf
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp sage
1 tsp pepper
salt to taste

February 7, 2012

Shiny and New!

My old car finally reached the end of its days, so Hubby and I bought me a new car. It's my first new car and I am incredibly excited about it. It's small, it's fuel efficient, it's tech, and it's freaking adorable.

That color is called Lime Squeeze.
It's a Ford Fiesta. It's almost too small for Hubby's head to fit, but I'm short and he probably won't be in it too often. It handles well, and I can't wait to figure out all its features. This is definitely a situation where you need to read the manual pretty closely, there's a lot of technology going on in there.

Also, the dashboard makes it looks like a spaceship. I'll see you when I get back from Mars!

February 1, 2012

New Segment: Book Recommendations!

Long ago, in a far off land, I earned a BA in English, and I didn't just pull that major out of the air. Ever since I was young, I have loved reading. I was lucky enough to have parents who read to me and a grandmother that gave me books for every holiday, so you can just imagine how excited I was each time Reading Rainbow came on.

In the spirit of my joy of reading, I will occasionally post a little book suggestion/review. It will be a new segment called:

I am currently in the middle of a very good, but rather long, read. I tend to read a few books at once, but I think I can tear myself from the others to finish this one up. There are still several hundred pages to go, but it won't take me too long with a little dedication.

I'm also still catching up on some old projects, but they're slowly winding down.
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