Sunday, January 30, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese

It was high time I tried to sneak some beans into baked macaroni and cheese, and I had these odd little bits of cheese that needed to be used.  I'm noticing a theme in my recipe choices:  using up leftovers.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Super Fast Black Bean and Corn Soup

It is seriously soup weather here, cold and rainy.  (Because my husband is gone.  It is never cold and rainy when he is home.)  Today, I threw together my favorite mindless soup for lunch.The container is vegetable broth from the freezer.  I also forgot to put the tomatoes and spices in this picture.  Just imagine that there is a can of petite diced tomatoes and a variety of spices on the sides of these items. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cookie Friday: Very Vanilla Scones

Inspired by a scrumptious looking recipe for Petite Vanilla Bean Scones at The Pioneer Woman, and a stash of vanilla beans hiding in my study, I decided to try to make some very beany, very vanilla scones.  Boy, am I glad that I did!  I took last week's cookie recipe as my basis, and off I went...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pureed Cranberry Beans

Today's dish is a variation on a dish I found at Meatless Mondays.  The thought of creamy beans mixed with bechamel sauce was intriguing.  Cranberry beans are also called borlotti beans.  They are pretty when they are dry, cream colored with red or pink flecks.  I was in a hurry so I got a jar of them at my local Italian market.  I'm not sure if that was a good idea or not.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Turkey Enchilada Casserole

You know those days when you open the refrigerator and/or freezer and feel like you've got nothing but little bits of stuff in there.  That is a great sign that it is time to make enchilada casserole.  Enchilada casserole is easy to prepare, it tastes great, and the leftovers taste even better.  The variations are nearly endless.  You can substitute chicken or beef for the turkey, use any type of beans, and leave out the rice if you want.  Leftover corn is nice with beef and kidney beans.  You can add pretty much any sort of tomato product:  fresh, paste, sauce, salsa, etc.  Old vegetables are easily hidden in this mixture, but we are actually out of fresh product right now.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mozzarella and Rice Fritters

Here in Italy, you can get little balls of fried rice, pasta, mashed potatoes or macaroni & cheese.  With my limited Italian, I never know what I'm going to find inside my little ball of fried loveliness.  (P.S.  Isn't that the blandest picture you have ever seen?)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Slow Cooker Love

I love using a slow cooker.  I think it is an essential kitchen tool, especially for people who are often out of the house and come home hungry.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cookie Friday: Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

We have a tradition of making cookies on Fridays.  It started when my kids were little and often wanted cookies.  I had the idea that we would cook a batch of homemade cookies every Friday.  When they were gone, no more cookies until the next Friday.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Leftovers Lunch

One of my favorite things about beans and rice, besides their frugality, is that they make great leftovers.  I am the main leftover eater 'round these parts, and I appreciate something that tastes as good or better the next day.

Today's lunch was basically a rice bowl made with some of the leftovers from yesterday's taco dinner.  A pile of rice with some beans and corn, topped with cheese and microwaved until hot through.  I then added some leftover diced tomatoes and a dollop of sour cream.  It was fast, it was healthy, it tasted great, and it really filled me up.

I think it made a pretty picture, too.

Tacos (not on Tuesday)

Tonight, my very nice cousin and sister made dinner while I ran around town like a mad woman, manning Girl Scout cookie booths and playing general chauffeur.  I missed most of the preparation but here is the scrumptious result.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

I love, love, love it.  And since my kids are getting a bit tired of beans in their dinners, I'm giving them a break and working on lunches and snacks.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Freezing Cooked Rice

(We are out of town for the holiday weekend, so no recipes today.  I hope you find this information helpful.)

One of my favorite kitchen tricks is to keep cooked rice in my freezer.  Whenever I make fresh rice, I make a double batch.  For us, this means four cups of water and two cups of rice.  I serve it all for dinner and then put the leftovers in a zip-top bag in the freezer.  (I am moving to glass containers but the move is slow.)  It is best if the rice is still a little warm when you put it in the freezer as that helps to capture liquid in the container. If it looks dry when you take it out of the freezer, add a smidge of water before reheating.  (Like a teaspoon smidge, not a cup smidge.)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Box Mix Black Bean Brownies

Apparently the second week of this challenge is the week where I figure out how lazy I can be and still somehow incorporate beans and rice into our diet. In my defense, my sister-in-law gave me this divine idea for quick and easy Black Bean brownies. I have seen a lot of black bean brownie recipes and I was eager to try one, but I also wanted to ensure that the first try was a success. You know, so that the kids didn't always declare that they "hate black bean brownies" regardless of how good they are.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lentilized Sloppy Joes

What you see here, my friends, is the marriage of children who are adverse to change and a mother who is wiped out.  This week has been particularly busy (and next week isn't looking any better) and I have been making fast, easy dinners.  One daughter has been begging, literally, to have sloppy joes for several days.  I fully intend to find a good sloppy joe recipe that doesn't use canned sauce but I thought that I would have the best success in sneaking in the lentils if the rest of it tasted the same.  I didn't even eliminate the meat entirely.  I'm a wimp, I know.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Broccoli and Cheese Rice

At the grocery store on base (we call it a commissary), they have this hot case full of random, average food.  It might be average but it is still better than most of the other dining options on base, so I usually grab something if I am on base at lunch time.  One thing that I often choose is broccoli with an obscene amount of gooey cheese sauce on it.  It can't exactly be healthy, but it is broccoli, right?

Today, they had clearly taken yesterday's pan of broccoli and cheese and mixed it with some rice to make a "new" dish.  While I didn't have any, it did remind me of how much I love broccoli cheese rice.  I asked the man behind the counter what type of cheese they use (he claims it was American) and realized that I already had all the ingredients in my house.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Easy Peasy Nachos

We have a huge pot of chili that the dreamy husband made this weekend, and I am exhausted.  Nachos to the rescue.  Thankfully, we had nearly everything that I would like to put on nachos and so no trip to the store was required.  (For the nachos.  Still needed milk, but anyway...)  The container of blackness is presoaked black beans, and the pot on the left is full of chili (with beans, of course.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chickpea Stir-Fry

What to make for dinner that doesn't look like some variation of the old thing?  I know, we'll make our beans Oriental!  Over at Meatless Monday, I found this tempting looking recipe for Spicy Teriyaki Chickpeas.  I had the ingredients and it might seem different, so I gave it a try.  I am so glad that I did.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Oven Baked Beans

One thing that nearly everyone in my family loves is baked beans.  I have a few daughters who will gladly open a can of baked beans, microwave them, and eat them for snack.  In my research, I stumbled across Alton Brown's The Once and Future Bean recipe.  The reviews were very positive, plus I adore Alton Brown, so I put on the "recipes to try" list.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lentil and Bacon Soup

Today's lunch was a variation on a recipe from old friends in Australia.  They made it for me on my 30th birthday and I loved it!  The original recipe called for red lentils but I didn't have any, so we tried it with brownish-greenish lentils.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Orange Rice Pudding

We cracked too many eggs for our scrambled eggs at breakfast this morning, so I quickly searched for a recipe that included rice and eggs.  I wasn't feeling very fried rice-ish, so I quickly focused on the rice pudding recipes.  Not all rice pudding recipes include eggs; usually the baked ones include eggs and the stove top ones do not.

I finally settled on a Paula Deen recipe from the Food Network website and set about to make it my own.  No raisins for us as my kids hate them.  I swapped in orange zest for flavoring, upped the vanilla, and threw in a cinnamon stick for good measure.  I only have two pictures for this recipe because I had somehow set my camera on video.  Thankfully, it is a pretty easy recipe:  stir, pour and bake.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Basic Risotto

This was supposed to be my version of a beautiful Giada De Laurentis recipe, Mushroom Risotto with Peas, but I had some supply issues.  By which I mean, I didn't buy mushrooms or peas, and the shops are all closed today for Epiphany.  I'm sure the children will be happier anyway - various groups of them don't like mushrooms and/or peas.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Beef and Rice Good Stuff

This skillet dish is combination of a leftovers casserole and beefaroni made with rice instead.  The name comes from a long-lost recipe from one of the first cookbooks my husband and I used after we got married.  The recipe may be gone, but the name has stuck.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

White Bean Pasta Sauce

I was starting to worry that my kids were going to rebel at all the beans, and it seems a shame to not eat pasta when you live in Italy.  I got it in my head that you could make a pasta sauce out of pureed white beans and Googled it for a recipe.  Remarkably, nothing came up.  Lots of white bean dips and pureed white bean soups, and even an idea to make cheese fondue with white beans, but no pasta sauce.  Off into uncharted territory I went...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sausage and Bean Soup

Today we are having one of my favorite soups.  This recipe started out as an Italian wedding soup and has gradually morphed into a beans and sausage soup.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Faijao e Banana

Once upon many years ago, my kids would watch some Disney Channel.  They had a series of mini-commercial type programs called Pass The Plate, aimed to introduce kids to the idea that different cultures would eat the same foods with different preparation.  My children latched onto a recipe called Arroz con Faijao e Banana, or Rice with Beans and Banana.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Black Eyed Peas

Well, I finished my first recipe and we all survived. I started out with four pieces of uncooked bacon and chopped them into rough bits. This bacon really didn't want to chop so it looked like a great big mess, but I threw it all in the three quart sauce pan anyway.

A New Year Tradition

Same black eyed peas, after soaking overnight

In large parts of the Southern United States, it is a tradition to eat Black Eyed Peas on New Year's Day.  There are all sorts of traditions - some like to eat them at midnight, for others it is a dinner thing, and many other think it must be served with some sort of greens and/cornbread.

My family has never had such a tradition, but I thought it would be a nice way to start out our Year of Beans and Rice.  I've heard and read about lots of folks who think Black Eyed Peas are just awful:  bland, boring and no fun to eat.  I'm pretty determined to make these things taste right, first, so my kids will eat what I've cooked and second, so we start this year out in a positive way.