Slow Cooker Friday: Slow Cooked Black Beans

Friday! So, if you have been keeping up, Jana and I from Just Makin’ It are cooking our way through Steaphani O’Dea’s A Year of Slow Cooking. We are on recipe 7. Everyone make it through this week? Great. Let’s talk about Black Beans. Black beans… black beans… I wish I could come up with something nice to say. They smelled good… We just aren’t besties. I started this recipe with full intentions of making Black Bean Enchiladas. I threw it on my menu plan twice because I couldn’t bring myself to make them the first week. I finally made them. They smelled awesome in my slow cooker but they just weren’t for me. I think it’s a texture thing. I just couldn’t get over it. More about that in a second.

Click on the link below to get the original recipe.

Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans Recipe
Adapted from Stephanie O’Dea’s A Year of Slow Cooking
6 cups of water with 4 chicken Bullion Cubes
2 Soup Spoons full of minced garlic
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 pack of taco seasoning
1 pound of black beans (Make sure to do the overnight soak or the quick soak- directions are on the back of your bag of beans)

Add ingredients to your slow cooker. Make sure to stir and set it to low and cook for 8 hours.

They smelled so good when they were cooking. I could not wait to try them. When they were done, I quickly made myself a bowl and,… I can’t put my finger on why the texture got to me, but I just couldn’t finish the bowl. The taste was great. If you like black beans then try these, but if you are like me then skip the beans and make chicken enchiladas for dinner 🙂

Jammin’

Jam. We go through a lot of it. I have wanted to make jam for us for a while now. I was at Publix a week or so ago and the strawberries were super large and pretty cheap. Since I had missed my opportunity to do the You Pick It thing, with strawberries, this was my only option. Store bought. So I grabbed two large containers of strawberries, a pack of short cakes, some whipped cream, lemon juice, some 8 oz jelly jars, and a new bag of sugar. I came home, put my groceries away and forgot about it until the Things went to bed. Bed time for them means Mommy Time for me. Recipe in condense form located at the very bottom of this post.

Off to bed they went. The man came in the kitchen wondering what I was up to.

“Oh, I am just making strawberry jam.” I quickly peeked at him, waiting to see his face light up. There it was. “Awesome.”

I had hulled my strawberries, washed them and was grabbing the potato masher. “Do you like it chunky or creamy?” I am mashing away.

“I like little pieces of fruit in mine.” So I mashed it until it was a good mixture of chunks.

I had my jars sitting in hot water from boiling.

and my lids too.

I added my sugar. I went with 4.5 cups. I’ve made two batches of this now and I think the 6 that the original recipe calls for is too much for us.

  Then I added the lemon juice. I bought juice in the bottle. No fresh squeezing for me at 9:30 in the evening.

Once I added my sugar and lemon juice, it really started creating some foam. When this happens, just scoop it out.

Now let it simmer for about 40 minutes. I found that 30 minutes just wasn’t long enough. You will need to stir it along the way.

It should look a little like this towards the end.

Now you are ready to fill your jars.

We didn’t use a ladle for this step. We found an easy short cut. We scooped the jam out of the pot with a spoon, and put it into a glass measuring cup to pour into the jars. A thousand times easier than using a ladle & funnel for such small jars.

Once all jars are filled, place your tops on. I got about 9 jars out of 2 large containers of strawberry.

I did this with tongs so I didn’t get burned.

Now screw the bands on. Make sure it’s  finger tip tight.

Now it’s time for the final bath. This will take 15 minutes. Take a jar out of the batch and put it in the fridge, that jam is ready to use on your toast in the morning.

While that is going on, we opened a bottle of red wine, made some strawberry short-cake with a few strawberries I saved just for us, the whipped cream and short-cake. I like a little short-cake with my whipped cream.

We caught up on each other’s day and re-connected over quick late night snack and glass of wine.

By the time we were taking our last sip of wine it was time to take the jam out of the bath.

Listen for the pop!

If you don’t hear the pop, take your index finger and lightly touch the center of the top. If it’s tight and doesn’t give and go up and down then you were successful in canning some jam!! Great job! If it does go up and down, no big deal it just means you need to put in the refrigerator and eat it within a month. There are different shelf life’s for jam made without sugar. Be sure to look it up if you choose to skip adding sugar all together.

There’s no reason to keep your jam in the freezer or fridge. It can simply be stored on a shelf for up to one year. Go to the great website for other questions about your home-made jam.

The next morning, you will be so happy you took the time to make this! When you spread your home-made jam on your bread and take that first bite, it is pure satisfaction! Very rewarding.

I hope you like jammin’ Sorry. Every time I thinking about jammin’ this song pops in my head.

Here’s the breakdown of the recipe adapted from Intimate Weddings. They have free printable labels for your jars as well! Great gift ideas. You know, Christmas is only 6 months away! Start writing down the home-made gifts you plan to make now so you won’t forget!

Strawberry Jam

4-5 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled, washed and ready

4.5 cups of sugar

1 cup of lemon juice

1 pack of Ball 8 oz jelly jars

tongs

3 large pots (1 for jars, 1 for lids, one for strawberries)

glass measuring cup

spoon for spooning jam into measuring cup

Mash strawberries in a pot to desired texture over medium heat. Add 4.5 cups of sugar, add 1 cup of lemon juice. As the jam simmers (for 40 minutes) remove any foam that will accumulate around the edge of your jam. Stir often. When jam does not run like syrup on your plate (approximately 40 minutes after simmering) it is ready to be canned. Place jam into jars using a ladle & wide mouth funnel or use alternate method by spooning into large glass measuring cup and slowing pouring into jars. Leave 1/4″ between the jam and the top of the jar. Place the lids on all the jars and screw the bands on- fingertip tight. Place the jam back into a warm bath for 15 minutes. Remove to cool.

Holy Guacamole!

There is a children’s book we love around here called Skippyjon Jones. It’s about a Siamese cat who pretends he is a Chihuahua. He goes into his closet where he becomes El Skippito, a great sword fighter in Mexico. He battles banditos and bumble-beetos. He says, “Holy guacamole!” after seeing his reflection in the mirror (he sees himself as the Chihuahua instead of a cat).Every time we read Skippyjon Jones, I am in the mood for Mexican food. It really doesn’t take much coaxing for me. WE LOVE MEXICAN FOOD. Guacamole, salsa and boiled peanuts are my favorite snacks.

When I was pregnant with Thing 2, we hadn’t been in Texas long enough for me to learn how to make a good batch of guacamole. I had FIERCE cravings for guacamole. I craved it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We couldn’t keep enough of it in the house. I didn’t care if I had chips to go with it or not, I would eat it by the spoonful. I remember one day in particular, we had a bunch of running around to do. It was a Saturday. We ate out for every meal, and at every meal I said I needed  Guac. Truly I did. Those cravings are something else. So, the man ran into Mexican restaurants at every meal and ordered huge bowls of Guac to go. I sat in the car eating it with a spoon. Can’t you just imagine it. At the end of the day, the man was totaling up the receipts and we had discovered I had eaten over $50 worth of guacamole in just one day. That was the end of ordering guacamole from restaurants. I went to Costco and bought avocados by the bag and started looking up how to make my own. Guacamole is one of those personalized dishes. You either like yours with a lot of avocado, or tomato. Some like it mixed with sour cream, chunky, creamy, with the cumin, without, with a dash of lemon juice, without… get my point. This is how I like mine. I mix mine with a fork and mash it just a little because I like chucks of avocado in my guacamole. When you add your Cumin, literally tip the bottle over once or twice and let some spill and that ‘s all. Cumin is strong and if you put too much that is all that it will taste like. I like a few shakes of the sea salt, but again, not too much. Turn on some Gypsy Kings (our favorite), make some fajitas and Guacamole and enjoy a Mexican themed dinner night at supper.

What you will need:
6 large avocados
1 tomato
1 tsp lime juice
cilantro (I use somewhere around 1 tsp of dried cilantro)
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 dash ground cumin
Sea Salt

Helpful hint: Don’t make it until you are ready to eat it. Since it browns quickly, you will want to keep your avocado seeds. Pile your guac on top of them in your bowl and refrigerate. I freeze half of this since it makes a bunch.

Strawberry Vinaigrette

If you like strawberries and have never had this before you really should make this. We had this dressing at a restaurant and I resolved then and there I would find this recipe and make it my own.

I started following a recipe and ended up abandoning it completely. The man and I can be quiet particular when it comes to food and how we want it to taste. A morning of taste tasting and adding ingredients left me with this delicious recipe. My recipe makes a big batch. You can freeze some or divide my recipe in half to make a smaller batch.

Strawberry Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp white sugar

2 cartons fresh strawberries washed, hulled and sliced

2 tbsp honey Dijon

a dash of white pepper

1 cup of olive oil

3 tbs water

Add all of your ingredients together and place in a blender. Store dressing in the refrigerator.

I served this dressing over my salad with slivers of grapes, strawberries and pecans.

It was good! This dressing hit the spot over weekend and is a nice spring/summer dressing.

Princess Themed Party Food Part Two: Wands and Dip

The man and I celebrated 8 married years together two days before Thing 1’s birthday. He got me an Edible Arrangement. I knew there was no way I was going to finish eating it before Thing 1’s birthday so I was trying to think up ways to use it. Then I happened upon a cute idea while digging around the internet, fruit wands! Yes! They could be the Princess scepter. Great. Then I saw where someone cut a cantaloupe open and placed a dip in the middle! WINNING (sorry, I just had to). So I rocked out my cantaloupe. Here’s how you do it.

First slice the skin off the cantaloupe with your knife. Yes, do it. It’s not hard and it looks prettier if you do. Slice the cantaloupe in half and cut the bottom off of ONE of the sides so that it will sit flat. Scoop out the seeds and fill with your favorite dip, yogurt, or melted chocolate.

I had plain yogurt on hand so I added some honey and some red food coloring.

Then just place your filling inside one of the halves of cantaloupe.

Before I finish, if you are doing a boy’s party just make the yogurt the color of the boy’s party. I am already thinking up blue for Blue’s Clues, Red for Spider Man, Yellow for Sponge Bob… It’s an easy snack and healthy!

Flip the other cantaloupe upside down (side that had the seeds facing the plate).
Take some fruit and put them on wooden skewers. Place the skewers in the cantaloupe so that they are sticking out. I used the Edible Creations skewers and Ta Da!

My presentation was met with excitement when I told her what they were. Easy y’all and just plain cute.

A very special Eggplant Salad Recipe

This recipe is truly something special. I am honored to have tried it and to be able to blog about this recipe. Not a lot of people are willing to share generational recipes and this recipe I think is especially special because it has been in Galit’s family since before the Holocaust in World War II. That makes this recipe close to 100 years old. Safta, in Hebrew, means grandmother. This is Galit’s grandmother’s (her father’s mom) recipe. Her grandmother was originally from Czechoslovakia and was sent to Palestine before Hitler invaded.

Galit’s family had survivors from the Holocaust. Her Grandmother Rachel, on her mother’s side, was the oldest of 6 children and survived. She later went on to  become a chef. Galit and her were very close and her talents and love for food were influenced by her Grandmother Rachel. I did not realize this when I was gobbling it down. I knew it was probably something Galit created or had been passed down, but I had no idea the history behind this recipe. I am so happy she has this recipe and humbled that she would share it with us. Also, I can see why it has been in the family so long, it is super delicious!

Safta Bella’s Roasted Eggplant Salad

2 Large eggplants

½  Red Bell Pepper (you can also add some green bell pepper to make it festive)

½ Yellow Bell Pepper

½ an Orange Bell Pepper

1 Large Tomato

2 Hard-boiled eggs

Mayonnaise

Fresh garlic (I use 3 or 4 cloves)

Salt

Fresh ground pepper

To roast eggplants:

Wrap entire eggplant tightly in aluminum foil.  Cook on outdoor BBQ grill, using a medium/high heat with the lid closed, for approximately 30-40 minutes. Turning two to three times while roasting. (Until very tender) or you can do it in the oven.

Cook in the oven by piercing the eggplant with a fork. Place the eggplant on a lined baking sheet.  Bake @ 350 for approximately 60 plus minutes or until the eggplant has collapsed and is very tender.  Under cooked eggplant is not so yummy.

Allow to cool, and then scoop/peel eggplant.

Chop the peppers and tomatoes into very small cube size bites.

Grate eggs using a cheese grater

Finely chop eggplant to create a mashed texture (do not use a blender or food processor)

Combine all ingredients in bowl and add approximately ½ cup mayonnaise.

Add garlic, salt and pepper to taste.  (Keep in mind that the garlic will have a stronger flavor tomorrow)

Chill for 3 – 4 hours before serving

Excellent with fresh bread or pita bread, pile it on.

Enjoy.

As a side note, if you want to make Babaganoush, it is just eggplant, mayo, garlic, salt and pepper.

Israeli Salad

 

Isn’t it beautiful! It’s so full of color. I fell in love with this salad immediately. Also, it’s SUPER healthy. For any weight watcher followers, you only have to count the olive oil in this recipe (if you are following the old plan). Galit told me that this salad is something that we would find in any food stand in Israel. A lot of people will eat it like a salad or throw it in a falafel. I can’t wait to try it in our falafel.
What you need to make it:
cucumber finely diced
carrots finely shredded
radishes finely shredded
green onion
tomato
red bell pepper
cilantro
fresh parsley
mint
garlic
1/2 cup olive oil or less
lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Chop your ingredients finely and combine them all in a bowl. Drizzle lemon juice and olive oil on top. Salt and pepper to taste. LOVE this salad! It’s one I will be making a lot this summer since you can refrigerate it and eat it until it’s gone.
Thanks, Galit for this wonderful salad recipe. Coming up, a salad recipe from Galit that has history and a story. This next recipe is almost 100 years old.