Charro Beans

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Tools: Instant pot, slow cooker, or stove top

Preparation time: 30 minutes,  4-6 hours on high, 6-8 hours on low, an hour

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Ingredients:

1 Pound pinto beans sorted, soaked overnight, and rinsed

1 Bunch cilantro

2 Cloves garlic

1 Whole onion

1 Jalapeno, seeded and chopped

(this will not add heat, for a spicy pot of beans, add at least three)

1 Can diced tomatoes

3 Slices diced bacon (Optional)

3 Hot dogs cut into rounds

1 Packet bouillon of choice (I’m using ham)

Generous grind of black pepper

Seasoning salt to taste

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Method:

Instant pot: Combine all ingredients, adding water to cover two inches above all ingredients. Set on broth/ soup mode. Allow instant pot to release naturally. Remove cilantro, garlic, and onion. Season to taste with seasoning salt.

Slow cooker: Combine all ingredients, adding water to cover two inches above all ingredients. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-6 hours, adding water as needed. Remove onion, garlic, and cilantro. Season to taste with seasoning salt.

Stove top: Combine all ingredients, adding water to cover two inches above all ingredients. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-6 hours, adding water as needed. Remove cilantro, garlic, and onion. Season to taste with seasoning salt.

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Vegan Variation: Omit bacon. Use vegetable broth. Use your favorite vegan hot dogs.

Kosher variation: Omit bacon. Use vegetable or beef broth. Use your favorite Kosher hot dogs.

Have you ever had food so good you were haunted by it?

I’m talking years! I had Charro beans six years ago. Six! I had them at a wedding that was also a potluck (In my opinion the best way to eat at a wedding.) Unassuming on the buffet, resting atop a can of Sterno. Just a few scoops on my plate. I wasn’t prepared for the flavor. They were amazing. I haven’t had any like them since. Years of asking everyone I know from El Paso and New Mexico. No cherished family recipes! So I’m making my own. All the recipes I looked up instructed cooking the beans in water and then seasoning. You know what’s better than that? Cooking beans in a pot full of flavor. As I’ve told you before, your beans are only as good as your broth.

The right broth packet can make all the difference in your rice, beans, and casseroles.You know about Goya’s Ham broth, but for my Vegan and Kosher cooks, Try out this Goya bouillon with Mexican Saffron. (This does contain MSG if you are gluten sensitive.)

Charro beans are named after the traditional cowboys (charros.) It’s a working man’s dish. Oh, the sweet combination of meats, vegetables, and beans. This broth is like a drug. It might be my favorite one pot meal ever. I also plan on taking it to the next potluck I’m invited to in Carolina. Minds will be blown. Other versions of Charro beans add Linguisa or Chorizo. Use whatever you like. These are your Charro beans.

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Three Ingredient Cake Batter Ice Cream (Dairy free!)

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Difficulty: Medium

Preparation time: 10 minutes active, 4 hours or more inactive.

Ingredients:

2 eggs or 4 egg yolks

1 box cake mix of choice

3 cans coconut milk

Method: Blend 2 cans coconut milk in stove top pan until uniform. Slowly stir in cake mix. Heat until mixture begins to thicken, stirring continually. Don’t worry about lumps, the mixer will take care of that.

Whisk eggs in a separate bowl. Slowly add warm cake batter/ coconut milk mixture. (Slower is better here, as the heat will be cooking your eggs. Too warm, and you get scrambled eggs) Add last can of coconut milk and mix for an additional 5 minutes. Cool mixture in refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight. Process according to ice cream maker directions. If soft serve texture is preferred, dig in. For hard packed ice cream, freeze. Allow to soften at least 30 minutes before scooping.

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If your coconut milk looks like mine, don’t worry. Hit it with a blender !

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CAKE MIX!!!IMG_5361

Whisking eggs continually, adding milk mixture

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The right consistency, thick enough to coat the back of a spoon

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Churn baby churn!

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Churning complete

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Ready for the freezer

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Of course, if you needed to eat some soft serve, I wouldn’t blame you.IMG_5404

Variations:

Gluten free: Use your favorite gluten free cake mix.

Black Forest: Use chocolate cake mix, fold in chopped cherries after mixture is churned.

Strawberry Shortcake: Use Strawberry cake mix, fold in Graham cracker pieces or diced pound cake after churning.

Stir ins: Stir in whatever you like after churning- cake pieces, nuts, syrup, sprinkles, peanut butter, cookie pieces, graham cracker crumbs, fruit, jam

Let me tell you about the best birthday cake I ever had.

I was ten, we were living in Central America. My father was contracting with the military and we were certainly having many adventures. We missed food from home. When my parents asked me what kind of cake I wanted, I enthusiastically said, “Ice cream cake!” Panama has a lot of amazing things. Parrots, canals, trucks filled with pineapple stacked as high as the eye can see. What they don’t have is ice cream cake.

My mother never batted an eye. She baked my favorite cake in the world- Funfetti. She bought ice cream in the store and spread it over my cake. She frosted it and presented me with an ice cream cake. I was delighted!

It didn’t occur to me the work that went into that cake until years later. There was no internet to ask for help. My mom didn’t speak Spanish to order a cake from a bakery. Buying ice cream required an hour long car ride one way to the nearest American commissary. I’m just now understanding how much work went into that cake. She could have given me a different cake, but she didn’t. Thank you mom.

My fat self has been wanting Ice Cream. I can buy nondairy ice cream from the store, it’s very expensive. Do they have cake batter ice cream? No. I knew it was possible to make a custard base without dairy milk. Full fat coconut milk to the rescue! This ice cream does not contain pureed bananas- it is not ‘nice cream.’ I respect my friends trying to eat healthy and lose weight but I don’t want to eat mushed up frozen bananas.

Can you make this without an ice cream maker? You can use the mason jar trick. You can put it in the freezer and stir every thirty minutes. Your dessert will end up with a bit more ice in the texture. I really love my ice cream maker and I think it’s worth having one. This Cusinart is on sale for summer! I like to keep the base in the freezer for anytime inspiration strikes. I would consider this a staple in the nondairy kitchen. Maybe even a staple for nondairy mommy sanity.

I wanted real, thick, decadent ice cream. Now I can have it for cheap! Tell me what variations your fat self comes up with, I can’t wait to hear them.

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Turkey soup with herbed Dumplings

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Tools:

Dutch Oven (or soup pot), crock pot, or instant pot, cheesecloth and some kitchen twine or heat safe rubber bands

Preparation time: Varies on method.

 

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Ingredients:

Soup:

Boquet Garnis (cheesecloth bundle): Any kitchen scraps (herbs, vegetable trimmings, bones) Whole spices you’d rather not fish out of a broth (rosemary, cloves of garlic or peppercorns in my case.) Tied and secured in cheesecloth.

1 tsp. tomato paste

1 cup broth or boillon equivalent

1 cup diced leftover cooked turkey and any remaining gravy

1 can navy beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup baby carrots

1 tbsp each: poultry seasoning, oregano, turmeric, seasoning salt, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika

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Herb dumplings:

1 cup self rising flour

1/4 cup unsweetened milk of choice

1 egg

1 tsp. poultry seasoning, smoked paprika, seasoning salt, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder

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Garnish: Green onions or squeeze of lemon

Method:

Dutch oven: Combine all soup ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and let cook one hour. For a soup with more broth, simmer covered. You may cook this longer, the flavors will only get better! Add water as needed. Season soup to taste. Once soup is finished, whisk together dumpling batter. Drop by rounded tablespoons in gently simmering soup broth. Very important- if you allow your soup to rise to a boil your dumplings will break apart and all will be lost! Cover, allow to gently simmer until dumplings are fully cooked, 15 minutes. Uncover and enjoy.

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Slow cooker: Combine all soup ingredients. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-6. Mix dumpling batter and drop by rounded tablespoon full into soup mixture. Cover, cook on high 1 hour.

Instant pot: Combine all soup ingredients. Cook on soup setting. Transfer mixture to pot on the stove, mix dumpling batter and drop by rounded tablespoon full into soup mixture. Allow soup to rise to a very low simmer and cover, cooking 15 minutes. Very important- if you allow your soup to rise to a boil your dumplings will break apart and all will be lost!

Soup has been used in every culture to heal

Chicken Noodle. Chicken Dumpling. Goulash. Caldo de Res. Sancocho. Clear Noodle Soup. Tom Kha Gai. Pho. The mother of all- Jewish Penicillin -Matzoh Ball Soup. I could go on. The magic combination of broth and aromatics gives the body so many hydrating and sustaining building blocks. More importantly, it warms the soul. If someone makes you soup when you’re sick, you are loved. One of my favorite stories as a child was Stone Soup. It’s a story about someone who has nothing who starts cooking with water and a stone. As the neighbors become curious, everyone adds scraps until a wonderful soup is born and shared with everyone. I loved imagining what this soup made of friendship and community tasted like. If there was one story that represents my heart, it would probably be Stone Soup.

Just smelling a pot of soup simmering me on my stove is the promise that I will kick this immortal cold. Bone broth is really having a food trend moment for the collagen that can be unlocked by cooking. People are touting it as gut healing and skin rejuvinating. There are companies selling bone broth that cannot keep up with demand. People are encouraged to drink two to three cups a day. I am a big believer in what collagen can do for the body. Did you know the reason Jello is served so often in hospitals? It contains collagen. Can you believe you have everything you need to make your very own healing fountain of youth?

Let’s talk Boquet Garnis. It’s a fancy word, no? Think of it like this: Scrap bag. I save my kitchen scraps and throw them in a ziptop bag in the freezer. Chicken bones from rotisserie chicken or even chicken wing bones. Turkey wing tips. Onion and carrot ends. Tomato cores. Green onion trimmings. Ends from fresh herbs. They are saved for a day such as this when I need all the healing I can leach out of them. Scraps don’t need to look pretty, no one will see them and the cheesecloth will keep any small pieces safely inside. Throw them all in a cheesecloth, add any whole spices you wish, secure, and cook. No straining soup for bone pieces or fishing around to get those peppercorns out. When you’re done, wait for it cool, empty, wash your cheesecloth. Ready for reuse!

Why would you put gravy leftovers in your soup? Think of gravy as a bridge between buillon and broth. It’s a concentrated balanced flavor that can do a lot for your soup. What do you think of the extra pictures? Drop me a comment if you like the look.

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Hunka Hunka Stuffed French Toast

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Tools:

Broiler, sheet pan, bowl, stove top pan

Ingredients:

1 banana sliced into rounds

brown sugar, enough for generous coating on banana slices

1 egg

1 cup milk of choice

1/3 cup honey

3 slices bacon

3 tablespoons peanut butter

2 slices quality bread

powdered sugar, for topping

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Method:

Set oven to broil. Place bananas on baking sheet, topping with generous sprinkling of brown sugar. Place in oven on the top rack, as close to the broiler as you can get. Once brown sugar has melted, remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Brown bacon in pan, reserve drippings.

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Whisk egg, honey, and milk together. Spread peanut butter on both slices of bread, arrange bacon on one slice and bananas on the other. Quickly put the sandwich together, squish so the peanut butter helps keep the ingredients together. Soak in honey, milk, and egg mixture for 2 minutes, ensuring bread has absorbed liquid. Brown on both sides in pan drippings, top with powdered sugar. Serve.

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Variations:

Gluten Free: Substitute gluten free bread of choice, dip sandwich in egg mixture quickly as gluten free bread tends to absorb faster.

Different Filling ideas: Strawberry peanut butter. Peanut butter and jelly. Nutella banana. Camembert and apple slices.

Vegan: Substitute Smart Life Bacon Strips or generic bacon bits (Yes, they’re Vegan.) Use 1 cup milk, 1/3 cup honey and whisk in 3 tablespoons cornstarch or flour instead of egg mixture.

There is nothing worse for a food loving human than losing the ability to taste.

I have a cold. This was the last meal I could take before sickness overtook my sinuses. My house is a den of sick-niquity. I miss this sandwich. It’s an homage to Elvis whose favorite sandwich was peanut butter, banana and bacon. We’re making this a unique brunch item by giving it the French Toast treatment. What will your friends say when you bring this to the party? An easy way to up your presentation game is with an icing sugar shaker.  Talk about a man pleasing meal! It’s a little out of the box, but if you love a salty sweet pairing, you’ll be in blue heaven.

When you’re sick, it’s important to have a good queue for binge watching on Netflix. Comfy pants and tea with honey are essential. Normally I attempt to cook my way out of sickness by concotions that involve a lot of spiciness. This is hard, unrewarding work that deserves lots of movie time. I’ve given a lot of thought to my top ten favorite movies I would take on a deserted island.

  • Big Fish
  • Clue
  • Muppet Treasure Island
  • O Brother! Where Art Thou?
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
  • The Proposal
  • A League of Their Own
  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
  • Calamity Jane

Limiting yourself to ten is not as easy as you might think, there is never enough room for all the necessary pirate movies or classics. Nonetheless, I’ll be feasting on the buffet of movie choices until my sense of taste returns to me. What are your top ten?

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Bread N’ Bake

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Tools: Zip top bag/paper bag/ container with lid for breading, baking sheet and aluminum foil

Preparation time: 10 minutes plus 45 minute cook time

Ingredients:

1 lb. protein of choice (chicken wings, shrimp, chicken breast chunks, pork chops, firm marinated tofu, etc.)

Breading:

Liquid: 1/3 cup water, hot sauce, unsweetened milk of choice, 3 whisked egg whites or 2 whisked eggs

 Coating: 1/4 cup of your favorite seasoning blend or seasoning salt mixed with 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs, regular breadcrumbs, crushed crackers, crushed toasted nuts, all purpose flour or crushed potato chips

Browning topping: nonstick spray or 1/3 cup melted butter or spread

Method:

Preheat oven for 350 degrees. Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil, spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place liquid for breading in shallow dish. Place coating in zip top bag, paper bag, or container with lid. Dip protein in liquid, then place in coating. Shake to coat. Place protein on baking sheet covered in aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes, flip, continue baking an additional 15 minutes.

 

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You can dip me in this any day.

Variations:

Gluten Free Version: Gluten free breadcrumbs, crushed gf crackers, crushed nuts, or potato chips

Paleo: Eggs, nut milk or water as breading liquid, crushed toasted nuts as breading

Vegan: Firm marinated tofu, Water or unsweetened milk of choice, any breading listed

Breaded mushrooms: Substitute mushrooms for protein, coat in liquid and breading repeatedly

Onion Rings: Substitute sliced onions for protein, coat in liquid and breading repeatedly

 

I’m giving up spending three dollars for a bag with some breadcrumbs and salt.

As I cooked this my mind began reeling with all the options. Gluten free. Vegan. Potato chips breading. Cracker coating. You can make this with virtually anything in your pantry!  You don’t even need a bag. I like using a container with a lid. This recipe is written so that you can rummage in your cupboards and still come up with something tasty for dinner. This is also a great recipe for kids to help with. What’s more fun that shaking the fool out of stuff?

I’m really excited about this master breading recipe. I never thought this blog would accumulate fifty recipes, but here we are. Certainly inspiration would run dry? Cooking has always been a refuge for me. There’s just something special about making an idea come to life. It’s even better when you can feed that idea to other people. I’m honored that people from different countries have visited my blog! It’s also wonderful that once people know about my blog, they begin telling me about food. So many times it’s tied to memories, places, happy times. When I try their recipes I get to share their history and culture. If you want to know about a person, find out what their favorite food is. Ask them why. It will tell you a lot about them.

This blog started with a tiny shy spark of hope. Could I make a food blog? What happens when I run out of ideas? The closest I had ever come to web design had been creating Powerpoint presentations. It has blossomed into a beloved hobby that’s connected me with so many and is helping me share family traditions.

In honor of fifty recipes, here’s my list of dreams that are not yet fulfilled:

  • Go to a potluck where all of the recipes people have cooked are mine
  • Go indoor skydiving
  • Sing a song with a live band
  • Publish a book (A cookbook, perhaps?)
  • See a skit where I’m being lovingly made fun of (Yes, there’s a story behind this one)
  • Dye a portion of my hair blue
  • Milk a cow (I’ve milked a goat, but it’s just not the same)
  • Successfully chop a piece of wood with an axe
  • Write and deliver a standup routine to women who need a good laugh
  • Meet Alton Brown (All Hail!)

Thank you so much for reading my musings and putting up with all my errors. Thank you especially for trying my recipes! It’s such a privilege that anyone would read them, and it makes me even happier to hear when people try them and they taste great. Do you think we can get to fifty more? What’s on your bucket list?

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Three Ingredient Pow Pow Sauce

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Tools: A spoon and a container of some kind

Ingredients:

1/3 cup Mayonnaise or Vegannaise

3 tbsp. Sweet chili sauce

2 tbsp. Sriracha

Method:

Stir to combine. Adjust to taste. Let chill in refrigerator for at least an hour.

I love it when good cooking is easy.

There is a certain sauce at a certain restaurant that goes well with a certain shrimp. I love it! Unfortunately dining out is not so common with a cute little one keeping us very busy. This sauce was improvised in about 3 minutes. I tried a recipe for an imitation sauce, but it called for vinegar based hot sauce and it simply tasted wrong. If you want something done right, do it yourself!

We’re almost to fifty recipes, people. Fifty! This blog is a check on my bucket list I never dreamed of having. For fun, let’s see what other checks I have on the bucket list:

  • Wear a mohawk in public
  • Sing karaoke (I loved it so much it’s been a hobby)
  • Fly an airplane- (I have taken an airplane flying lesson)
  • Live in another country (Two to be exact!)
  • Speak another language (Also two to be exact!)
  • Take a cooking lesson from a master (Frau Holler showed me how to make her famous Black Forest Cake)
  • Have an international friend (I’ve been blessed in abundance!)
  • Find the love of my life (And married him)
  • Have a child (The next love of my life)
  • Give a presentation of my health journey to encourage others
  • Translate for others
  • Zipline over a lagoon
  • Visit a volcano
  • Overcome postpartum depression
  • Survive six surgeries
  • Learn to ballroom dance
  • Teach ballroom dance
  • Ride in one of those motorized scooters at the store (my favorite part was embarrassing the love of my life)
  • Get glasses (They make me look cool!)
  • Work as a cashier on Black Friday (Everyone should work a job in an underappreciated field)
  • Dance Argentine Tango with an Argentinian
  • Milk a goat

What an amazing life it’s been so far! What are some of your adventures?

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Agua Fresca

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Tools: Blender and serving pitcher

Preparation time: About 5 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh fruit

Juice of two lemons or limes

1/2 cup sugar

Water

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Oh, to be a summer berry.

Method: Combine fruit, sugar, and juice. Blend adding just enough water to get things well mixed. Use blender setting for at least 5 minutes.

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May I please bathe in this?

If there are large pieces of seeds, strain mixture. Transfer to a pitcher and add enough water to get 2 quarts. Let chill overnight for flavors to marry. Adjust sugar to taste.

Variations:

Paleo: Substitute coconut sugar, agave nectar, honey or maple syrup

Different Fruit Agua Frescas: cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry or anything else you can think of! You can also use the juice of four limes and omit other fruit for limeade.

Mixer ideas: I think this would be pretty fantastic with any flavored rum or fruit flavored Vodka and a little sparkling water.

Agua Fresca is what happens when lemonade gets out of that bad relationship,  finally finishes college and lands her dream job.

In Spanish, Agua Fresca means ‘fresh water.’ It celebrates fresh fruit and sugar takes a backseat. The bold contrast of lime really lets the fruit flavor sing. My Agua Fresca is being made with strawberries today, but there are so many fruits that are delicious in this. My father’s favorite is cantaloupe. Please do yourself a favor and throw out that overly sweet and sour powder in a yellow can. This will make that all seem like a distant embarrassing memory.

The summer has arrived in Georgia and it’s already hot. I am creating reasons to get in water. Recently I scrubbed our baby bathtub with dish soap and cold water. How glorious it was to fill up the bath and get in cold water up to my elbows! It reminds me of when I was pregnant. I would wait until the hottest part of the day, take a shower and let my hair remain sopping wet in a messy bun. Then I would not move until about 6 pm when it was finally cooling off.

Germany does not have air conditioners in most houses. Every summer when the temperatures would spike the community pools would be swarmed. They are so much better than our swimming pools! There are indoor and outdoor areas. There are always water slides. Often there are jetted tubs. Some even have traffic lights for children to time their water sliding safely. People would bring coolers, radios, food and towels and spend all day playing in the sun. Going to the Schwimmbad was quite the event. On a hot day like this I wish teleportation technology existed so I could go drink a beer, eat cookies, and swim it all off.

You’ll need a good blender this summer. I love my Oster because I can use a mason jar instead of the glass pitcher for smoothies and the glass pitcher holds up so much better than plastic ones. This is the first blender I’ve owned that actually breaks up ice well. You can also make your own salad dressings and mayonnaise in this baby!

Stay cool, my friends.

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