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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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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Simple Sippin’ Syrup

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Tools: Saucepan and heatproof spoon, Ball mason jar

Ingredients:

1 sliced fresh peach

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Method:

Combine all ingredients, bring to boil. Allow to boil, stirring until liquid has reduced by half. (Exercise caution- the culinary world calls boiling sugar napalm!) Chill uncovered overnight in the refrigerator for flavor to develop, serve.

Variations:

Fruit syrups: This is wonderful with blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries or pineapple

Paleo: Substitute sugar for coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup.

Frozen fruit: You may use frozen instead of fresh fruit. Use at least 1 cup frozen fruit, as the flavor of frozen fruit is subdued

Mint: Prepare sugar and water, add 2 sprigs fresh mint when mixture is cooling.

Flavored Iced tea: Add syrup to any unsweetened brewed tea

Italian soda: Add syrup to unflavored seltzer water, mix, top with a splash of milk of choice (coconut or cashew would be ideal)

Lace up your corsets and hoop skirts, it’s peach season.

This is one of my culinary highlights of the year. I have only been asked to leave two grocery stores for diving headfirst into their peach displays. Not only am I lucky enough to be a Southern Belle, I am by birthright a Georgia Peach. This is one of my nicknames with my New Mexico family. There’s a lot to live up to! I have to be sassy and handy with a pie crust. I’m working on the pie crust, sass was also a birthright.

I love the golden and amber shades of a peach. They are like the most beautiful colors of a sunset captured in time. And there is nothing like the perfume of a ripe peach! Do you remember the movie where two men spend time telling each other all the ways they can cook shrimp? I do that with peaches. Peach cobbler, peach rum punch, peach iced tea, spicy peach Barbecue sauce, peach ice cream, peach preserves, peach pie…I could go on.

You know I had to put my pretty syrup in a Ball jar. These are the champagne glasses of the South. We store all our finest treasures in these. Canned preserves, jams, jellies, chutneys, chow chow. I love how the contents glisten like jewels.

Please enjoy this syrup, I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what you could do with mixed drinks! What will you make with it? Do you have any peach requests?

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Base- A- Roni

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Tools: Saucepan with lid, rice cooker, or instant pot

Preparation time: approximately 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup rice

1 cup vermicelli pasta or pasta of choice (optional)

2 cups broth of choice (can be made with bouillon according to package directions)

2 tbsp. saute spread of choice (butter/ Earth Balance)

2 tbsp. Roasted Ranch ‘Rito spice mix or favorite spice blend of choice

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (optional)

1/4 cup minced onion

1 tsp. salt

Method:

Stove top: On medium high heat, saute onion until translucent. Add rice, pasta and spice blend, toast until rice has a nutty fragrance. Add broth of choice, bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Cover. Cook  mixture according to rice package directions. Uncover, fluff with rice and serve

Instant pot: On saute function, cook onion until translucent. Add rice, pasta and spice blend, toast until rice has a nutty fragrance. Add broth of choice, bring to boil, cook on rice setting. Allow to release, fluff with fork and serve.

Rice Cooker: Toast rice and pasta with spread/butter in a pan separately. Combine all ingredients in rice cooker bowl, set cooker on rice function (white or brown rice), fluff with fork and serve.

Variations:

Beef: Use beef broth

Chicken: Use chicken broth

Garlic and herb: Use vegetable broth, double the amount of spread/butter in recipe to 4 tbs. Add 1 tsp minced garlic or garlic powder and 1 tablespoon dried parsley to the spice mix of choice.

Wild Rice or Brown Rice: Simply substitute wild rice or brown rice and cook according to package directions.

Protein: Make this a one pot meal by adding ground beef when you toast the onion or adding diced chicken. If using Vegan beef or chicken protein crumbles, add at the last 5 minutes of cooking as it does not need a longer cooking time.

Vegetables: Add any you like! Add frozen mixed vegetables or broccoli when sauteing onion.

Indian: Use your favorite Indian spice mix or Add 1 tablespoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and turmeric, 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted coconut, and 2 tablespoons golden raisins before adding vegetable or chicken broth to cover.

Cheesy Broccoli: Add 1 cup frozen or fresh broccoli florets before adding broth. Before serving fold in 1 cup cheddar style cheese (I’m using Daiya Cheddar shreds.)

Asian Style Rice: Substitute favorite Asian spice blend or 1 tbsp. garlic powder, soy sauce and 2 tsp. fresh grated ginger or 1 tsp. ground ginger. Prepare as directed. You may also add a whisked in egg near the end of cooking time, stirring until completely cooked.

Paleo: Substitute cauliflower rice and prepare as directed.

My procrastination in going to the grocery store has become a clean out the pantry challenge.

When I do go to the grocery store, it’s going to be a massive trip. I haven’t figured out how to do this while transporting baby. Wait, I just realized I could wear him in a wrap. Nonetheless, my next shopping trip will be when my parents are in town for additional baby towing power.

I’ve been enjoying using what we have, it feels like a challenge. It’s time for lunch and I open my pantry. Why do I have twelve cans of chickpeas left? I also have about fifteen bags of different kinds of rice. My friend gave me some of her high quality bouillon from Puerto Rico and this recipe is born! I highly recommend you try some of this Goya Ham bullion. It’s the best I’ve ever had.

We don’t need to buy a box of rice, pasta and a salt lick in a packet at an outrageous markup. We can make our own! We can control our ingredients!  We can use whole grains so it has more fiber. We can avoid unnecessary gluten and MSG. And we save money.

When I was a child I took the motto on the box to heart. I imagined San Francisco had chandeliers made of boxed rice mix. I fantasized it was on every trolley. I was a little surprised when I visited the first time and discovered it was only at the grocery store like everywhere else.” The San Francisco treat, my foot!” Fortunately I also visited Chinatown and Ghiradelli and my food related expectations of this beautiful city were salvaged. Once you have crispy duck you tend to forget about packaged side dishes. (Yes, I was still a child when I visited.)

I call this Base-A-Roni because it really is a base for any flavors you would like. Please try it or let me know if you come up with any variations!

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Curry in a hurry

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Tools: Saucepan with lid, instant pot, slow cooker

Preparation time: Varies based on cooking method

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas, rinsed

1 diced potato, skin well scrubbed or peeled

1/4 cup frozen peas

1/4 cup onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 cup broth of choice (vegetable, chicken, beef)

4 tbsp. tomato paste (may add more if you like)

1/2 cup full fat coconut milk with 2 tbsp. flour or cornstarch whisked in

1 tbsp. saute oil of choice or butter or ghee

1 tsp. cinnamon, cayenne pepper (optional), cinnamon, turmeric

1 bay leaf

2 tbsp. curry powder, Garam Masala, onion powder, smoked paprika

salt to taste after recipe is fully cooked

Method:

Stove top: Saute onion in saute oil of choice until translucent, add garlic, diced potatoes and all spices, cooking until fragrant. Add broth, chickpeas, peas, and tomato paste. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover. Cook for thirty minutes. Uncover, bring to boil, add coconut milk/flour mixture and boil an additional 5 minutes or until sauce coats the back of a spoon. Adjust sauce to your liking, adding salt and additional seasonings, remove bay leaf. Serve with rice and naan bread.

Instant pot: Saute onion in saute oil of choice until translucent, add garlic, diced potatoes and all spices, cooking until fragrant. Add broth, chickpeas, peas, and tomato paste. Cook on manual for 15 minutes. Release, bring to boil, add coconut milk/flour mixture and boil using sauté function an additional 5 minutes or until sauce coats the back of a spoon. Adjust sauce to your liking, adding salt and additional seasonings. Remove bay leaf. Serve with rice and naan bread.

Crock pot: Omit saute oil, add all ingredients except coconut milk/ flour mixture and salt. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-6 hours. You can lessen the cooking time if you need to as there is no meat. Move mixture to pot on the stove, bring to boil, add coconut/flour mixture. Boil 15 minutes or until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Adjust sauce to your liking, adding salt and additional seasonings. Remove bay leaf. Serve with rice and naan bread.

Garnishes: Toasted coconut, cilantro, toasted fennel seeds, pomegranate seeds, saffron

Variations: You may add diced firm tofu,  goat, lamb or chicken in the beginning as you saute the onion. Continue with the recipe as normal.

Have fun adding whatever vegetables you like.You may also add cauliflower, diced squash, diced sweet potato, or carrots when you add the potato to the pan.

You may also whisk in 1/4 cup plain yogurt once removed from heat for additional creaminess.

For more of a tomato based sauce, omit tomato paste and substitute  small can of tomato sauce.

You may also add sliced almonds when you add coconut milk mixture.

I love Indian food but I don’t always love the price tag.

I completely understand the price because funding exotic ingredients can cost a pretty Rupee! My cravings for Indian food have led me to get creative and make my own. I’ve been nailing down a curry recipe for a while, balancing these flavors is completely new to me. It’s like learning a new language. I love that writing this food blog has increased my knowledge of web page design, food styling, and now Indian cuisine.

My tastes veer towards creamier Indian dishes, so my best friend coconut milk makes an appearance. I use hardly any cayenne pepper, so please feel free to tinker with the heat level as much as you like. This recipe really comes into its own the next day after the flavors have a chance to blend. If I were having company I would even consider making this the day before!

This recipe is wonderfully thrifty and versatile. You can use almost whatever you have on hand, make it vegan, paleo, and gluten free. Research has also shown a diet high in spices like turmeric to be incredibly healthy! I like to serve a side of basmati rice with a handful of golden rasins, saffron, and shredded coconut tossed in when cooking. For my paleo friends, go to your old standby cauliflower rice.

In Germany I absolutely could not find Garam Masala. Luckily, a thoughtful friend who travelled to the States brought me back a hefty spice jar full. I wish I had known Amazon carried this spice so affordably.

This recipe goes out to someone who has been my friend for 16 years! He requested and I am too happy to oblige. May this sustain you body and soul.

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