Main Dishes

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

This time in the spring I crave fresh-tasting foods. Salads and fruit are a welcome change after heavy winter comfort food. Mexican food has lots of bright, bold flavors, and it's a great way to celebrate the warm weather and sunshine! 

Several years ago David and I saw the episode of Tyler's Ultimate where he makes this roasted tomatillo salsa. He uses it to make enchiladas, and those enchiladas are David's all-time favorite meal. They're incredible!

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One Dish Pizza Sauce

One Dish Pizza Sauce

I kind of don’t know how to say this. This sauce doesn’t knock my socks off. Oh, it’s good. It tastes like pizza sauce and it’s great on our homemade pizza. David loves it and thinks it’s the perfect sauce. Every time I try to change it he huffs a little bit. He likes basic, no-frills sauce. I like fancy-schmancy, heirloom tomato Smitten Kitchen sauce, and things like that. So I guess I should say, if you like regular, normal, home-cooked food, you’ll probably think this sauce is just right.

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How to Cook Dried Beans In the Crock Pot

How to Cook Dried Beans In the Crock Pot

There isn’t much that’s cheaper than dried beans. As far as healthy and frugal go, beans are a food that can’t be beat. I keep a few cans around for emergencies (as in, oh no, what’s for supper? Everything’s frozen! Let’s have refried bean quesadillas!), but most of the beans we eat I cook from dried beans. I always cook a large amount and then freeze the cooked beans in 2-cup portions.

It’s not hard. It really doesn’t take that much hands-on time. You can do this!

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Puerto Rican Slow Cooker Chicken

IMG_1316 I can’t stop thinking about the beach. The beach is warm, sunny and relaxing. It’s cold and wet and gray in Tennessee today. A vacation somewhere tropical sounds so, so good right now.

But I’m not going anywhere tropical:) Instead I am staying home, cranking the woodstove up to make it nice and hot inside, and drinking pineapple-banana smoothies. And eating Puerto Rican chicken in the crockpot.

Puerto Rican Slow Cooker Chicken

-Ingredients-

1 chopped onion 5 cloves garlic 1 C. chopped bell pepper 2 C. chopped potatoes 1/2 C. white wine (or chicken broth) 1 8oz. can tomato sauce 1 1/2 t. cumin 2 t. salt 1 t. each: paprika and chipotle powder 1/2 t. each: garlic powder, onion powder, coriander, pepper and oregano 1 bay leaf

1 whole chicken, 4-5 lbs.

1. Chop onion, bell pepper and potatoes. Peel and smash garlic (I use a mortar and pestle, but you could use the side of a knife or the bottom of a coffee cup). 

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2. Rinse chicken inside and out with cool water. Place in the crock of a slow cooker (mine is a 6 quart size).

3. Place bell pepper, onion, smashed garlic and potatoes on top and around the sides of the chicken.

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4. In a small bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour over top of chicken.

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5. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours. Serve with rice, or you can just stand at the crock pot with a fork, which is what I did.

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Notes: This was SO juicy, tender and flavorful! It seemed a bit odd to me to have potatoes and rice in one meal, but it actually turned out great that way. There was a lot of juice in the slow cooker so we spooned it over our rice.

Yield: One big chicken and lots of potatoes and veggies.

Adapted from All Recipes.

Refried Beans

IMG_0826 Beans are a superfood, both nutritionally and in their ability to stretch a budget. With the many varieties of beans and the countless ways to flavor them, they’re a great way to add nutrition without breaking the bank or getting bored with your food.

Mixed dried beans

Photo source

I love beans and we eat them very regularly (HA! Get it? Beans have lots of fiber?) around here. I love mexican food so of course I think these are great, but David, who isn’t a big mexican food fan, loves these. Between these delicious refried beans and sour cream, I think I might make a tex-mex fan out of him yet.

Refried Beans

-Ingredients-

1 lb. dried pinto beans water

1 onion, chopped 1 stick (1/2 C.) butter 1-2 t. salt 2 t. cumin 2 t. chili powder

1. Rinse dry beans well with cool water, then place beans in a large dutch oven or pot. Cover with water, plus about 3 inches (the beans will absorb the water as they soak). Let soak for at least 8 hours, but I just leave mine overnight.

2. *Cook beans on medium low or low heat for 4-6 hours until they are very soft. Make sure the beans aren’t boiling away or you’ll lose too much moisture and the bottom will burn. You want them to just barely simmer for a long time.

3. Cut butter into fourths and place one piece into a large frying pan. Heat the pan over medium high heat. When the butter has melted add the chopped onion and cook until onion is soft.

4. Using a slotted spoon, scoop 1/3 of the beans into the frying pan. Add another chunk of butter and start smashing with a potato masher. When the butter is melted and the beans are smashed, add more beans and another chunk of butter. Repeat until all the beans and butter are mixed in, mashed and melted.

5. Stir in the salt, cumin and chili powder. Add some of the bean cooking liquid if the beans are very thick, or just simmer for a few minutes if they are too runny.

*Technically you’re supposed to rinse the beans again before cooking them.

Notes: This makes a bigger batch than we eat at one meal, so I usually freeze the beans in 2 cup portions. We eat these in the usual way, with tacos and such, and also just topped with a little cheese and scooped with tortilla chips. Easy and healthy lunch!

Yield: About 8 cups of refried beans.

Adapted from Tammy’s Recipes.

Roast chicken

IMG_0382 A whole roast chicken is company dinner food. It looks fancy and it’s delicious and serves a fair amount of people. I've had quite a few roast chickens that were dry and bland. Roast chicken should never be either of those! The good news is that a juicy and flavorful roast chicken is a piece of cake to turn out. And you don't need to wait for company to make it!

This recipe is so easy and delicious that I make it every other week at our house. We never eat a whole chicken in one sitting, so I freeze the leftover meat in two cup portions to use on salads and in casseroles. After the meat is pulled off the bones, I make broth with the chicken carcass (carcass sounds gross, but the broth that comes from it is delicious and nutritious. And cheap!).

You can make this in either the oven or your slow cooker. If you use the slow cooker the skin won’t be crispy, but it will still taste amazing. The pictures are (obviously) of me using my slow cooker, which is how I cook this when I need my oven for something else, or when it’s too hot to turn the oven on. So I guess technically this isn’t a roast chicken, but I’m sticking with the name.

Roast chicken

-Ingredients-

2 teaspoons sea salt 2 teaspoons paprika 1 teaspoon thyme 1/2 teaspoon onion powder 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 onion, halved and peeled 1 whole chicken-I usually get a 5 pounder

1. out your slow cooker (or a glass 13x9 pan), tear off two or three paper towels, set the trash can by the sink and place a small knife in the sink. You want to have everything prepared before you get raw chicken juice all over your hands.

2. In a small bowl stir together all the spices.

3. Cut open the package of chicken, toss the package and any innards into the trash (unless you use them for something) and rinse the chicken inside and out with cool water. Pat dry with the paper towels and place in the crock (or pan).

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Scoop up a small handful of the spice mixture and rub all around the inside of the chicken. Scoop up more of the spices and rub all over the outside of the chicken, using all the spice mixture. Stuff the onion halves into the center of the chicken. Tuck the wing tips underneath the bird so they don't burn. Plus it looks cool.

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4. Cover and turn the slow cooker to low for 7-8 hours or high for 4-5 (or bake in a preheated 250 degree over for five hours. Yes, five hours). This makes an incredibly tender and juicy chicken that just falls off the bones.

Notes: If you're pressed for time you can also bake at 375 degrees for 1 1/2 - 2 hours for a 4 1/2 - 5 pound chicken.

Yield: One 5ish pound chicken, plus broth if you make it!

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Adapted from All Recipes.