Grandma’s Lazy Bean Soup

We really haven’t forgotten you. We’ve been getting back into the rhythm of life and haven’t been posting quite as frequently as we had hoped. Never fear, we still have several more of our Grandma’s recipes to share!

Today I made Lazy Bean Soup – it took me about 10 minutes to put together (besides soaking the beans) and then cooked in the crockpot. Simple, delicious, and healthy. Grandma was very interested in health and nutrition and spent time reading about it and planning meals.

This was not so much soup as it was beans. It was hearty and really good. If you want it to be soupier, add another 2-4 cups of water. made this with white beans (we called this “ketchup bean soup” growing up because we loved to add ketchup to it). This is fabulous served with cornbread.

GRANDMA’S LAZY BEAN SOUP
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1# soaked beans (I used white)
1 quart water (use 2-4 extra cups for a soupier soup)
ham bone
1 c. ham pieces
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 c. celery, chopped
1 med onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and cook on low for 12 hours or high for 6 hours.

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Vegetarian: Black Bean Enchiladas

Mexican food nearly always sounds good to me. I found this recipe while blog-hopping. It’s quite easy, and while I baked them, this recipe also works in the crock-pot. I pumped up the veggies in the recipe, because I like to do that. We both enjoyed this new (for us) take on Mexican.

These enchiladas are vegetarian, but you can easily add some leftover cooked meat to the filling.

SLOW COOKER BLACK BEAN ENCHILADAS
(slightly adapted from The Kitchn)
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Serves 4-6

1/2 yellow onion, diced small
1 bell pepper, diced small
1 tomato, diced small
Big handful of fresh spinach, thinly shredded
1 16-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cheese, shredded and divided – we like monterey jack
2 16-ounce jars of your favorite salsa
12 6”-8” tortillas, flour or corn (use corn tortillas for gluten-free enchiladas)
Optional: 1 cup leftover meat – chicken, pork, hamburger, or shredded beef

In a medium bowl, mix together the onion, pepper, tomato, spinach, black beans, corn, spices, meat (if using), and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Pour about a cup of salsa (half a jar) into the bottom of the slow cooker and spread it around evenly.

Scoop about 1/3 cup filling into one of the tortillas, roll it up, and nestle it into the bottom of the crock pot. Repeat with the half of the remaining filling, rolling tortillas until the entire bottom of of the crock pot is filled. Spread another cup of salsa over this layer and sprinkle it with another 1/2 cup of cheese.

Continue with the remaining filling and tortillas to create a second layer. Top with another cup of salsa, but reserve the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese for later. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 2-4 hours. In the last 15 minutes of cooking, sprinkle the leftover cheese over the top and let it melt.

Serve the enchiladas with the remaining salsa. Leftovers will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Cook’s Note: To bake these enchiladas in the oven, layer the rolled tortillas in a 9×13 baking pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese, and bake uncovered for an additional 5-10 minutes.

Crock Pot Cooking: Dessert

I love my slow cookers (yes, I have two). One of my goals has been to make sure and put dinner in the crock pot at least once a week when I work. The wonderful food fills the house with delicious smells while slowly cooking to perfection. It takes little effort and generally yields great results. Planning ahead also means saving time in the evening and means less temptation to order out thus saving money. We’ve enjoyed various soups, chicken, and roasts.

Yesterday, I used my crock pots for Sunday dinner. It made for a very nice but easy dinner. I decided on a Chicken Rice Soup for the main dish since I had left over chicken already on hand. It was quite good with a basmati/wild rice mix in it. 

When we got home from church, I quickly made pretzel shaped rolls (from my pizza dough recipe) and a salad to accompany it. 

But I also decided to try making a dessert…Hot Fudge Cake to be exact. I saw the recipe in Fix It & Forget It Lightly and was intrigued. This deliciously moist pudding cake creastes it’s own hot fudge sauce underneath. I served it warm with fresh whipped cream but vanilla ice cream would also be good. I decided that some fresh raspberries or a raspberry puree would have made it just about perfect. It was very easy and took a little under two hours on high until it was done. So, it you want a yummy, fudgey, easy dessert, you should definitely give this rich cake a try. If I were to make it again, I would reduce the amount of sugar – it’s quite a lot. But for an occasional dessert treat, I was willing to overlook that. 🙂

SLOW COOKER HOT FUDGE CAKE
Fix It & Forget It Lightly
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1 ¾ c. brown sugar, divided
1 c. flour
3 Tb. plus ¼ c. cocoa powder, divided
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ c. milk
2 Tb. butter, melted
½ tsp. vanilla
1 ¾ c. boiling water

In a mixing bowl, mix together 1 c. brown sugar, flour, 3 Tb. cocoa powder, baking powder, & salt

Stir in milk, butter, and vanilla.

Pour into slow cooker sprayed with non-stick spray.

In a separate bowl, combine ¾ c. brown sugar and ¼ c. cocoa powder. Sprinkle over batter in the slow cooker. Do not stir.

Pour boiling water over mixture. Do not stir.

Cover. Cook on high 1 ½ – 1 ¾ hours, or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.

Slow Cooker: Alaina’s Favorite Pot Roast

This pot roast became a favorite a few years ago – I think it maybe originated from Taste of Home. I never buy packets except for this recipe – it calls for a packet of au jous. It’s worth it. We love this roast!

SWEET & TANGY POT ROAST
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1 boneless beef chuck roast (3 lbs. or so)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 c. water
1 c. ketchup
¼ c . red wine or beef broth
1 envelope au jous
2 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
3 Tb. cornstarch
¼ c. cold water

Place meat in crockpot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine the water, ketchup, wine or broth, gravy mix, mustard, worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder; pour over meat. Cover and cook on low for 9-10 hours or until meat is tender.

Combine cornstarch and cold water until smooth (I don’t always do this). Stir into slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes or until gravy is thickened. Remove meat from slow cooker. Slice and serve with gravy.

Makes about 8 servings.

Off The Shelf: Slow Cooker Cookbooks

I found it difficult to review slow cooker cookbooks. Perhaps it’s because I have the idea in my head that slow cooker recipes should be quick and simple, almost as if by magic a healthy and delicious meal should appear on my plate with no effort at all. The fact of the matter is, all good, healthy meals do take some kind of time. If it’s not the time spent just before dinner is served, it may be the time spent getting a slow cooker meal ready early in the morning or the evening before. If I can reconcile myself to investing a little bit of time in a slow cooker meal, then there are some lovely cookbooks to make use of.

The Art of the Slow Cooker by Andrew Schloss was the book I chose today’s recipe from. It is a relatively new book, well laid out and filled with good pictures. The book contains 80 recipes divided between soups, stews, braises, classics, vegetables and sweets. You will find some outside-the-box recipes such as Chocolate Chicken Chili Soup and Espresso Braised Beef as well as classics such as Chicken Cacciatore and Herby Minestrone.

The cookbook is definitely aimed at people who like gourmet-type recipes, made with whole foods and no shortcuts. Many of the recipes are the type I would use on the weekend, rather than for a simple weeknight meal. I chose to try the Sausage and Tomato Ragu with Pasta. We all thoroughly enjoyed this meal and will look forward to having it again sometime soon.

SAUSAGE AND TOMATO RAGU WITH PASTA
(Art of the Slow Cooker)
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2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 pounds mild Italian sausage, cut into 2-inch lengths
2 medium onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves (or 1 tsp. dried)
pinch of ground allspice (I omitted this)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 c. flour (to make gluten-free, substitute a gluten-free flour blend)
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups chicken broth or beef broth
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce

1 pound short pasta, such as penne, ziti, or rigatoni

Heat the oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the sausage on all sides, about 2 minutes per side, then transfer to a 5-to-6 quart slow cooker.

Add the onions, celery and carrots to the oil remaining in the skillet and saute until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary, allspice, salt, and pepper and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the flour and stir until incorporated. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the broth, crushed tomatoes, and tomato sauce and stir to incorporate, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan to blend them with the sauce. Heat to simmering and pour over the sausages. (At this point I put the ragu in the fridge for the night and place it in the slow cooker in the morning.) Cover the cooker and cook for 4 to 5 hours on high or 8 to 10 hours on low.

Cook the pasta in rapidly boiling, lightly salted water until tender, about 10 minutes; drain and serve with the ragu.

Serves 4-6 generously.

I also enjoyed perusing the Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Slow Cooking: Delicious New Recipes for Slow Cookers and Braisers. As with any Williams-Sonoma cookbook, this is a high-quality, beautifully designed cookbook. The introduction covers slow-cooking basics and prepares the way for the recipes contained in the book, including giving sample meal menus. The book covers vegetables, seafood, poultry, pork, beef & lamb and basic recipes.

I would say this cookbook tends even more toward the gourmet cook with such recipes as Savoy Cabbage with Pancetta, Celery Root with Chestnuts, Braised Artichokes, Braised Dug Legs with Port and Figs, and Thai Red Curry Beef. However, there are plenty of more down-to-earth recipes like Texas-Style Beef Chili, Italian Pot Roast, Beef Stroganoff with Mushrooms, and Spanish Chicken Stew. Once again it is a book I would use for weekend cooking more than everyday.

Slow Cooker: Heather’s Favorite Pot Roast

This week Alaina and I will both be sharing our favorite slow cooker pot roast recipe. A good pot roast is one of the most delicious comfort foods there is and can be very simple to make. Pair it with mashed potatoes, a steamed green veg or salad, and you have a hard-to-beat meal. This recipe is one that I found soon after I was married and have used without fail ever since.

SPICY POT ROAST
(Rival Crockpot Cookbook) 
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3 lb. roast
¼ tsp. pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
¼ c. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. dry mustard

Rub pepper and garlic into roast. Place roast into crockpot. Make several shallow slits in top of roast. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over meat. Cover; cook on low 8-10 hours or on high 4-5 hours.

NOTE: Sometimes I add a few peeled carrots in with the roast.

Market Fresh: Slow Cooker Vegetables

This week, we will be sharing recipes for your slow cooker (aka crockpot). I don’t use my crockpots (yes, I have more than one – a 4 qt., 6 qt., and a little dipper) nearly enough. The house smells great and dinner is so simple when I take the time to put it in early in the day.

One lady took slow cooking to a whole new level in 2008 and has continued to provide recipes suitable for the crockpot ever since. Her family is gluten free which means that all of her recipes can be made gluten free. You can check out her site A Year of Slow Cooking for many, many recipes. I have adapted two of her recipes for vegetable side dishes for today’s edition of market fresh! There is also a Crock Pot Recipe Link Up over on Smockity Frocks today, so check out that site for another list of crockpot recipes.

SLOW COOKER LEMON BROCCOLI
(adapted from crockpot365)
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2 lbs. broccoli florets
1 c. slivered almonds 
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 Tb. olive oil
2 lemons, juiced
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Use a 4 quart crockpot for best results. Wash and trim broccoli, and add to crockpot. Peel garlic, and add with salt and pepper. Add almonds. Squeeze lemon juice evenly over the top and add lemon zest. Toss with wooden spoons.

Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, or on low for about 4. This is finished when broccoli has reached desired tenderness.

SLOW COOKER SOUTHWEST SWEET POTATO & CORN MEDLEY
(Adapted from crockpot 365)
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3 lg. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
12 oz.  frozen corn (or 1 can, drained)
1/4 c. chopped onion
2 limes, juiced
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 Tb. chopped fresh cilantro plus more for serving

This is a good recipe for a 3-4 quart crockpot. If you have a larger one, consider doubling for leftovers, or stay close by so the sweet potatoes don’t over cook and turn to mush.

Place sweet potato into the crock. Add diced onion, drained corn, and fresh cilantro. Sprinkle in the chili powder and salt. Squeeze the limes, and then toss all ingredients together.

Cover and cook on low for 5 hours, or on high for 3-4. This is done when the potatoes have reached desired tenderness. Serve with chopped fresh cilantro sprinkled on top.

Weekend Fare: Oven Stew

My mom often made this oven stew when we were growing up and we loved it! It can be slow-cooked in the oven or layered into a crockpot. It’s great for putting in the oven on Sunday morning before church and coming home to a wonderful and fragrant meal. You can make it stretch your meat or make the meat a star – whatever you prefer. I like it paired with salad and fresh bread. It’s perfect for weekend company and any extra makes delicious leftovers. This stew is one of my favorite comfort foods.

OVEN STEW
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8 potatoes, medium diced
10-12 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 lg. onion, sliced
1 can green beans (drain juice & save)
2 stalks celery, diced (opt.)
1-3 lbs. stew beef
1 8oz. can tomato sauce
2 Tb. cornstarch
Salt & Pepper

Layer in lg. casserole: meat, potatoes, carrots, onions, beans, and celery. Combine tomato sauce, reserved bean liquid, and water to make 2 c. Add 2 Tb. cornstarch and mix together. Sprinkle 1-2 tsp. salt and 1/2-1 1/2 tsp. pepper over layered stew. Pour liquids over all. Cover and bake at 250 degress for 5 hrs. May be assembled and refrigerated to bake later.

Weekend Fare: Slow Cooker

Well, I had a post all ready to go for today and then I changed my mind. I’ll post it another day. Instead, I want to share a slow cooker recipe that I made this week along with yeast rolls, salad, and vanilla bean custard with raspberry coulis (we picked the raspberries at a nearby farm). Everything was delicious and received good reviews from my family and my sister who joined us for dinner and the house smelled amazing.

I’m a big fan of slow cookers. They don’t work for everything but soups, stews, and roasts are wonderfully fragrant and deliciously tender. The flavors marry so well as they cook together over lower heat for a longer time.

Anyway, I made roast with potatoes, carrots, turnips, onions, and garlic. And it must be noted that we all loved the turnips in this dish. So here’s another use for the market fresh vegetable of the week. If it’s not your cup of tea, omit them and add extra potatoes and carrots (but I really think you should try them!). The beauty of roast is that you can add pretty much any amount of vegetables and it will be good – just increase your seasonings. As you can see from the picture the meat just fell off  the bone which was so good.

IMG_8001

SLOW COOKER ROAST w/ROOT VEGETABLES
1 – 2-2 1/2lb. roast (I used arm because that’s what I had but any roast will do)
3 lg. potatoes, peeled and cut into lg. pieces
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1-2 turnips, peeled and also cut
2 med. onions, peeled and cut in wedges
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. apple cider
1 Tb. fresh rosemary, chopped
1-2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Put ingredients in the slow cooker in the order listed. Cook on low for about 8 hours. Enjoy!

IMG_7982

YEAST ROLLS
(this recipe was adapted from a recipe a friend gave me)
2 ½ to 2 ¾ c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
¼ c. sugar
¼ c. butter 1 teaspoon salt
1 package regular or quick active dry yeast (2 ¼ tsp.)
½ c. very warm water
½ c. very warm milk
1 large egg

Mix 2 c. of the flour, the sugar, ¼ cup butter, salt and yeast in large bowl. Add warm water, warm milk and egg. Beat with mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping the bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

Knead the dough about 5 minutes* or until dough is smooth and springy. Place dough in large greased bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in warm place about 1 hour or until double.

Grease 9×13 pan. (I also used an 8×8 because it made a few more than the 9×13 would hold.)

Gently push fist into dough to deflate. Pull off small portions of dough (enough to make one roll), shape into balls and place in pan. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in warm place about 30 minutes or until double.

Heat oven to 375. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately butter tops so that they will shine.
Makes 16-20 rolls.

*I use my mixer’s dough hook and let it do the kneading.

IMG_8007

I made the same salad that Heather posted earlier this week except that I made balsamic and olive oil dressing. You can use regular balsamic or white balsamic. I use about equal parts of the vinegar and oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. If you prefer it less vinegary, you can use the traditional 2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar.

VANILLA BEAN CUSTARD w/RASPBERRY COULIS
6 beaten eggs
3 c. milk
2/3 c. sugar
1 vanilla bean, cut in half and scraped to remove seeds (you can substitute 2 tsp. vanilla extract)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds. Beat until well combined but not foamy. Place 8 – 6 oz. ramekins in a roasting pan. Ladle egg mixture evenly into ramekins (custard cups). Place pan of custards carefully in oven. Pour hot water in the pan to 1 inch of ramekins. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean.

Serve warm or chilled. (We prefer chilled.) Makes 8 servings.

To serve, you can run your knife around the inside of the ramekin to loosen custard and invert onto a plate. Top with raspberry coulis or your choice of sauce.

IMG_8026

RASPBERRY COULIS
(adapted from Chez Panisse Fruit by Alice Waters)
2 c. fresh raspberries
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice

Combine in blender and blend until smooth. Strain sauce through a mesh strainer unless you don’t mind the seeds. Serve over custard or another dessert. *You can adjust sugar and lemon juice for your taste.