Archive for the ‘Food & Recipes’ Category

5 Things You Can Get for FREE at a U-Pick Farm!

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

From our food contributor, Diana Bauman.

5 Things You Can Get for FREE at a U-Pick Farm! | momadvice.com The U-Pick Season has begun. It’s during this time of the year that my entire family gets excited to hit the u-pick farms and indulge in the juiciest, sweetest candy that we’ve been dreaming about since the summer before. You see, in my family we intentionally eat fresh fruit in its season. Sure, we can buy fresh berries in the winter months, but they’re void of flavor and anything good that it was created to have. So instead we wait patiently, salivating for that first juicy bite of the sweetest strawberry picked in June. 5 Things You Can Get for FREE at a U-Pick Farm! | momadvice.com Or the pucker of a tart cherry, ready to be made perfectly sweet when made into pies or  jam. 5 Things You Can Get for FREE at a U-Pick Farm! | momadvice.com As the strawberries dwindle down from large, juicy berries that can fit into the palm of your hand to the smallest of cones, still sweet and great for jam, blueberries and raspberries surge into season in the sweltering heat of July and August. 5 Things You Can Get for FREE at a U-Pick Farm! | momadvice.com Again, my family hits the u-pick farms to gather as many buckets of fruit that we can that will eventually be made into jam, pies, and sprinkled in our pancakes throughout the winter. As much as we enjoy the flavors in freshly picked fruit grown locally by family farmers, we really enjoy that we not only save money by picking our own fruit and purchasing it in bulk but also that we’re able to get the following 5 things for FREE. 

1. You Can Get a FREE Sense of Community!

5 Things You Can Get for FREE at a U-Pick Farm! | momadvice.com To my family, community is important. Supporting one another in our endeavors and celebrating with each other in everything good that nature provides teaches us to respect and be mindful of creation and in each other.

2. You Can Capture FREE Memories That Will Last a Lifetime!

5 Things You Can Get for FREE at a U-Pick Farm! | momadvice.com One of the things that I most enjoy about heading out to the u-pick farms is the opportunity to spend intentional time with my family. As most children do, they come up with their own stories, their own thoughts on what they can make with the fruits of their labor, and all sorts of other sweet sayings that I’ve been able to capture in my memory… forever.

3. You Can Get a FREE Family Outing with FREE Berries As You Pick!

5 Things You Can Get for FREE at a U-Pick Farm! | momadvice.com Visiting a u-pick farm with your family makes a great FREE outing. The kids have fun and what they enjoy the most is being able to eat berries as they pick. Now, I’m not sure exactly what the written rule is about eating while you’re picking but seriously, when you have kids, it’s going to happen… and they’re going to love it!

4. You Can Get a Tan and a Great Workout for FREE!

5 Things You Can Get for FREE at a U-Pick Farm! | momadvice.com It’s true, you can get a free tan and great workout while picking fruit. Squats while your picking, heavy buckets and trays filled with fruit works the biceps, and on top of that, you’ll be doing a lot of walking up and down rows. After an hour, I’d say you just had a great workout and you’ll be tan to boot!

5. You Can Get a FREE Therapy Session!

5 Things You Can Get for FREE at a U-Pick Farm! | momadvice.com There is nothing that relaxes me more than being outdoors in the natural world. Visiting a u-pick farm can be meditative and therapeutic and in my opinion, is a great way to de-stress from the busyness in our lives. I’ve been known to leave the kids with a sitter in order to pick some berries alone to unwind and enjoy a bit of peace and quiet while picking berries for my family. In order to find a local u-pick farm near you, visit localharvest.org or visit your farmers market and ask some of the local vendors. I’m sure they’ll be able to steer you in the right direction.

Have you ever visited a u-pick farm? Tell me, what’s your favorite fruit to pick at u-pick farms.

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Grilled Tomato Bread with Prosciutto

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Grilled Tomato Bread with Prosciutto

Tomatoes are one of my favorite summer foods and I try to incorporate them into almost every dish we eat. The fresh burst of flavor compliments just about any dish whether it is a garnish to our favorite pasta dishes, a fresh sauce, or a flavorful addition to our summer salads.  When I was pregnant, it was the food that I most craved with a drizzle of olive oil, a generous shake of salt, with a red wine vinegar finish. Although I am far from those years in my life, it is still my favorite summer craving.

Each month Walmart challenges me to create something in my kitchen with an item from their produce department. Today’s piece is dedicated to the fun varieties of tomatoes you can find in their produce department.

Cherry Tomatoes

We can all get in a rut when it comes to selecting our produce, myself included. Although I am a fan of my cherry red tomatoes, I incorporated some of these delicious yellow tomatoes into my dish today to add even more color to this easy summer appetizer.  I love to challenge myself to try the new varieties of fruits and vegetables out there and, especially this time of year, there is always so much to love!

Grilled Tomato Bread with Prosciutto Grilled Tomato Bread with Prosciutto Grilled Tomato Bread with Prosciutto

Today’s recipe is for a very simple Grilled Tomato Bread with Prosciutto that requires just a few ingredients and can all be done out on your grill.

Have you ever grilled tomatoes before? It adds a layer of smokiness to the tomatoes, warming them and bursting the skins to create a sauciness to the bread.  I found this recipe that Bobby Flay created and he recommends grilling the tomatoes on high heat, until they are charred. I prefer a gentler heat with less charring, but I think that is a matter of one’s own personal taste. I recommend getting one of these grilling baskets for your veggies (and fish!) or purchasing a package of disposable grill pans for preparing these tomatoes all summer long. Not only are they delicious on top of bread, but grilled tomatoes can be flavored with any variety of herb in your garden or spiced up with your favorite dried spices and stand alone as a side dish with your favorite grilled meats!

Grilled Tomato Bread with Prosciutto Even though the recipe calls for a loaf of crusty French Bread, I also toasted up some gluten-free bread for myself so I could enjoy this appetizer with the family. If you want to keep it fancy, purchase a gluten-free baguette, but I found that with so many flavors in this appetizer, that my regular loaf helps hold this appetizer together and offered a sturdy base for my overflowing of tomato topping.

Although the ingredient list couldn’t be simpler- cherry tomatoes, ricotta cheese, a fresh loaf of bread, prosciutto, and a little lemon juice, this appetizer is both impressive and satisfying. The saltiness from the meat balances the acidity from the tomatoes & lemons, while also incorporating the sweetness of the tomato with the creaminess of  the cheese. We paired this with our favorite red wine, but it would also pair beautifully with a glass of sangria or a mojito for a lighter combination.

No need to heat up the kitchen for this summer appetizer and it is a beautiful one to create for your next barbecue and shared with friends & family!

Grilled Tomato Bread with Prosciutto

Grilled Tomato Bread with Prosciutto
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
An easy and impressive appetizer that you can create entirely on the grill!
Ingredients
  • Cherry Tomatoes (in red & yellow), total of one pint
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 12 slices French bread, sliced ½-inch thick slices (can substitute with gluten-free bread)
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • 12 slices prosciutto
  • 1 lemon cut in half
  • Basil for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat grill to medium heat.
  2. Toss tomatoes in oil and season with salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Place on the grill in a grilling basket and grill until softened, turning a few times, about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove to a bowl.
  5. Crush the garlic with a little salt to form a paste and add to the bowl with a few tablespoons of olive oil.
  6. Brush bread with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and place on the grill. Grill the bread until lightly golden brown on both sides, about 20 seconds per side.
  7. Combine the ricotta with a little olive oil in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mound some of the tomato mixture on the bread. Lay prosciutto on top. Dollop with some ricotta mixture and garnish with lemon juice squeezed over the top.

 Adapted from Food Network walmart_mom_disclaimer
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A Self Crusting, Dark Leafy Green Quiche Recipe

Monday, May 26th, 2014

From our food contributor, Diana Bauman. A Self Crusting, Dark Leafy Green Quiche | momadvice.com Spring is my favorite season of the year. Being from Iowa, it’s a breath of fresh air, literally, to be able to spend time outdoors as the weather warms and the cycle of life begins anew. As much as I enjoy spring time and all that it brings, it also happens to be a busy season in my life. With 2 boys and a husband in baseball and an urban homestead to keep up on, I intentionally seek out and prepare meals that come together quickly. One spring ingredient I take full advantage of are eggs. I know what you’re thinking, “eggs are available year round.” Well, yes they are; however, having raised backyard hens for 5 years, I’ve come to learn that they are indeed seasonal. In the winter, hens need to conserve body heat and so they produce fewer eggs. When spring arrives and the weather warms and the daylight increases, their egg production soars. I’m currently getting around 10-11 eggs per day whereas in the winter my hens would only lay about 2-3 eggs per day. Their egg production usually stays up until the heat of summer kicks in around July and August. At that time, their egg production slows and gradually increases as the weather cools in fall. Then when winter arrives, their egg production is nearly halted until the spring comes again. The reason hens raised commercially are able to produce eggs year round is that they are kept in an environment that is neutral with heat, light, and grains so that they are able to lay continually, year round. Isn’t it neat to be in touch with the seasons and cyclical patterns of life? For now, my family is living in an abundance of eggs and nothing makes me happier since they are a traditional source of complete protein and nutrition.

A Self Crusting, Dark Leafy Green Quiche

A Self Crusting, Dark Leafy Green Quiche | momadvice.com One of my favorite way to use our abundance of eggs packed full of nutrients is by making a quiche – a light dish, perfect for a spring time brunch or supper. self-crusting-quiche4 A quiche is essentially a custard that is made with milk and eggs and then poured into a pastry crust to be baked. As delightful as a traditional quiche is, I’m oftentimes to busy in this season to make the crust, allow it to firm up in the fridge, roll it out, and then mold it into a pie dish. Instead, on busy spring days, I usually make a self crusting quiche that forms itself by the addition of flour and a bit of baking powder. It creates its own darkened type crust right in the oven as it’s baking. It saves me so much time and makes this dish come together in literally minutes! self-crusting-quiche5For this particular quiche, I added dark leafy greens of swiss chard, kale, and spinach. Together with cheddar and pecorino romano cheeses, this quiche is light, creamy, and savory. What’s great about a quiche is that it can be eaten warm, at room temperature, or cold. On days that my family has ball games to play, I’ll usually whip up a self crusting quiche during the day and refrigerate it to eat cold later in the evening. A quick, nourishing, and satisfying spring meal.

A Self Crusting, Dark Leafy Green Quiche
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: French
Serves: 4-5
 
A self crusting, dark leafy green quiche. A perfectly light, quick to make spring meal your entire family will enjoy.
Ingredients
  • 2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups packed dark leafy greens (like spinach, swiss chard, kale)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup flour (for gluten free, sub oat flour)
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup Pecorino Romano Cheese or Parmesan
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Lightly butter a 10-inch pie plate
  3. In a skillet or cast iron pan, heat 2 tbls of extra virgin olive oil and saute the onion until translucent. Add 2 cups, dark leafy greens and the water. Cook until the greens just start to wilt; 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and the milk. Add the cheddar cheese and mix though. Add the flour, baking powder and salt; whisk through then stir in the greens and onions.
  5. Pour the contents of the bowl into the pie plate. Top with the Pecorino Romano cheese.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the center is set and the outside edges are golden brown.

What are your favorite meals to whip up on busy days?

 

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5-Ingredient Caprese Pork Chops

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

5-Ingredient Caprese Pork Chops from MomAdvice.com #grilling #glutenfree

Nothing says summer like summertime grilling.  Today I am sharing an easy 5-ingredient recipe for Caprese Pork Chops that you must try for your backyard grilling. These 5-ingredient pork chops couldn’t be easier and are our family’s new favorite dish. Anything that can be made with minimal effort, reheats like a dream, and makes my whole family happy is a winner in our kitchen. This recipe serves all three of those purposes!

As we head into the summer months on the blog, my focus on projects and food are going to be all about simple things that add value and save you time in your day. I hope you will appreciate the shift in focus and be inspired to try incorporating some of these ideas into your life, especially when they are so easy to execute.

If you plan to do some gardening this year, this recipe is a great way to use up your basil and cherry tomatoes or even create the pesto from scratch from your garden of herbs. You can also try my version by hitting your local grocer, farmer’s market, or vegetable stand to snag these ingredients.

Be sure to check out my get your grill on Pinterest board for additional inspiration and, if it hasn’t gotten too hot where you are, clean your grill while you sleep!

5-Ingredient Caprese Pork Chops from MomAdvice.com #grilling #glutenfree

5-Ingredient Caprese Pork Chops
Author: 
Recipe type: Grilling
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
An easy 5-ingredient Caprese Pork Chop that couldn't be easier to prepare...or eat!
Ingredients
  • 8 thick center-cut pork chops, boneless
  • 1 jar of pesto (I love the Classico brand- over by the spaghetti sauce/pasta aisle)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella
  • Handful of basil
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Place pork chops in a bag and pour the jar of pesto over them. Season with salt and pepper. Seal the bag and move the bag around to coat all of the chops in the pesto. Allow them to marinate for four hours or overnight.
  2. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half in a small bowl. Chop or tear the basil and add them to the tomatoes, seasoning with salt and pepper. Slice the mozzarella into eight slices and set aside.
  3. Preheat your grill on medium-high heat. Place chops on the grill and cook for five minutes on each side. In the last two minutes, add a slice of mozzarella on each pork chop. Shut the grill and allow the cheese to melt.
  4. Once the pork is cooked through, remove it from the grill and allow the chops to rest for 5 minutes. Top each chop with the tomato salad. Serve.

For more grilling recipes try these Chicken Pesto Burgers, Grilled Ground Beef Gyros, Grilled Chicken Gyros, Grilled Chicken or Shrimp Kabobs, Balsamic & Rosemary Grilled Salmon, Applebee’s Honey Grilled Salmon, Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenders, Grilled Shrimp with Garlic & Herbs.

 

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Berry Quinoa Parfait

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Berry Quinoa Parfait from MomAdvice.com

Berry season is just right around the corner in Indiana! Today I am showing off a delicious gluten-free Berry Quinoa Parfait that you can enjoy all summer long. I am partnering with Walmart today to showcase a fun new idea that you can do with berries and I knew that this would be the ticket.

Since going gluten-free, I have learned that the key to beating hunger pains (without eating gluten-free junk food) is a protein packed meal or snack. Quinoa is one of my favorite foods whether it is just cooked as a basic, in a yummy Greek Quinoa Salad, in my favorite Lemony Spinach & Tomato Quinoa Salad, in my Quinoa Berry Bowl, or even using those quinoa flakes in my Pumpkin Nut Quinoa Breakfast.

Combining the protein power of quinoa with the protein power of Greek yogurt makes this healthy treat more filling. Did you know that a typical 6-ounce serving of Greek yogurt contains 15 to 20 grams of protein? That is approximately the equivalent of two to three ounces of lean meat.  Just as a reference, one cup of cooked quinoa (185 g) contains 8.14 grams of protein, which means the quinoa paired with the Greek yogurt definitely will help you feel fuller longer. 

Not to be outdone, berries have many health benefits, but the biggest health benefit is the antioxidants that they have which help you fight off illnesses. Berries are filled with potent antioxidants that can help with arthritis, age-related memory loss, and cataracts and other eyesight problems. They also are said to assist with weight-loss because they are filled with so much water. 

A sprinkle of toasted slivered almonds adds the perfect finishing touch since almonds are a great source of vitamin E, copper, magnesium, and (as if you needed more!) they are another great protein source.

Berry Quinoa Parfait from MomAdvice.com

If you haven’t tried quinoa in a sweet dish, it is just as delicious and satisfying as it is in a savory dish. It reminds me a little of one of my favorite dishes… rice pudding.  To add to its sweetness, I cooked it in a little vanilla and with a little dash of cinnamon. Make sure that you allow the quinoa to cool before adding it to the yogurt. Once you have made your assembly line of treats, wrap each one in plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge for a healthy snack after your workout or as a healthy dessert with your family.

I hope you love this delicious treat as much as I did and be sure to take advantage of all of those yummy berries in your local Walmart store!

Berry Quinoa Parfait from MomAdvice.com

Berry Quinoa Parfait
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
A gluten-free protein-packed parfait that is both healthy and satisfying. Try this fun new idea to enjoy your fresh berries this summer.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup (or more) of your favorite berries (I love blueberries & strawberries)
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  • Mint leaves (optional)
Instructions
  1. Use my directions for cooking quinoa as a basic (linked to above) or follow package directions adding the vanilla and cinnamon to your water. Allow to cool.
  2. Mix the greek yogurt and honey together in a small bowl.
  3. Using a spoon add a ⅓ of the yogurt mixture into your glass.
  4. Top with ⅓ of sliced strawberries and blueberries then add ⅓ of the quinoa. Sprinkle with toasted almonds.
  5. Repeat with the remaining yogurt, berries, quinoa and almonds until you have three layers.
  6. Finish with your mint leaves.

Looking for more great berry ideas? Check out these Baked Strawberry Donuts, my Blueberry Sangria Lemonade, these 8 unique blueberry recipe ideas, & (of course!) a guide to freezing your berries this year! Happy berry-eating!
walmart_mom_disclaimer

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Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Monday, May 5th, 2014

From our food contributor, Shaina Olmanson.

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bar #recipe via MomAdvice.com
Strawberry season where I live comes late. We wait until June, patiently watching as the tufts of green leaves poke through the dirt and then expand. Little white flowers with soft petals and fuzzy yellow centers come next, singing in the May breeze.

When the berries finally arrive there is a fevered rush to fill as many flats as possible with sun-warmed berries. I enlist my kids as field workers, promising them they can eat the literal fruits of their labor. We spend early mornings on our knees between the rows of fragrant plants, lifting leaves to find the glistening reward beneath.

As we carry our prizes home, I make lists of all the things to do with them. I clean and freeze as many as possible for use in smoothies. I make a few jars of jam to get us through the next year. Sometimes I make a few varieties, combining spring berry and rhubarb or vanilla beans before tucking them away on a shelf. I stuff several heaping cups of berries in between pastry crust and freeze those, too, to be pulled out after the berries are long gone. Plenty are eaten straight from the flat, still warm from being on the plant in the sun. Still others get made into sauce or baked into doughnuts or stirred into muffin mix.
Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bar #recipe via MomAdvice.com

Before I know it, strawberry season has come and gone, and I am left waiting for it to appear again. The fleeting weeks in June that always signaled the true beginning of my Midwestern summer.

Cheesecake is a family favorite, requested for birthdays and family gatherings. Here it gets a bit of swirl treatment over the top and is baked into bars. Cheesecake bars are great for swirling strawberries because the low profile means more berry-to-cheese ratios without having to add it directly to the center, and this dessert that usually requires a fork becomes finger food at backyard barbecues.

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 20
 
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 3 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
  • 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1⅔ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup arrowroot
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup cream
For the strawberry swirl:
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs and the granulated sugar. Add in the melted butter and stir to combine until all the crumbs are coated and moist.
  3. Pour the crumbs into a 9x13" cake pan. Using your hand or the bottom of a flat-bottomed glass, press the crumbs tightly into the pan to cover the bottom evenly.
  4. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the sugar and arrowroot powder until thick and creamy. Then add the vanilla and eggs, beating after each egg until incorporated. Stir in the cream.
  5. Pour the mix into the crust and use a spatula to spread it evenly.
  6. In a medium saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and water. Simmer over medium-high heat until thick and syrupy. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Spoon tablespoons of strawberry syrup over the cheesecake topping. Using a long skewer or a thin knife, run it through the cake to create swirls. You can make a pattern or swirl it randomly.
  7. Place a baking pan with 2 cups of water in the oven under the cheesecake to create steam. Bake for 55 minutes or until cooked through but still slightly wobbly. Turn the oven off, prop the door open, and allow it to cool slowly.
  8. Transfer the cooled cheesecake from the oven to the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

 

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Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans from MomAdvice.com.

For years I have been wanting to make beans in the slow cooker, but was intimidated with the process. Beans in the slow cooker though are surprisingly easy and frugal to create in large batches for your family. Today I wanted to show you a foolproof and delicious recipe for Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans for all of your Cinco de Mayo fun, or as a frugal side dish for your next taco night. Today’s cooking tutorial is going to take you through the in’s and out’s of how to cook beans, how to freeze them, and then in the comments below you can share your views on bean preparation. Everyone has a theory, a trick, and a recipe. Let’s share what we know works best for us!

Bean Cooking 101

How to Cook Dried Beans

Why Should You Trouble Yourself With Dried Beans?

There is true convenience in grabbing a quick can of beans for your dishes out of your pantry. Although it is still a frugal staple, dried beans are oh-so-much cheaper and they have much more flavor than the canned variety. Dried beans typically cost two to three times less than canned beans and they have the added benefit of less sodium, more flavor, and can save you a lot of room in a small pantry. Did I mention that they can be made while you are sleeping in your slow cooker? Now that’s a beautiful thing.

When I posted that I was working on this on Instagram, many people commented on their techniques as well as their failures in cooking beans. I guess I am not the only one a little intimidated by the process. Now that I have made them though, I will be making this a regular habit because it saves me a lot of money and is a very filling protein for someone who is on a gluten-free diet and always hungry.

A Little Sorting Never Hurt Nobody

Once you purchase your beans, make sure you sort them out. Arrange dried beans on a sheet pan or clean kitchen towel and sort through them to pick out any shriveled or broken beans, stones or debris. This is not an all-day affair, just a quickly peek and move on to the next steps.

Rinse It, Rinse It Good

Always make sure you rinse your beans really well before beginning. Make sure you also rinse them well after our salt brine (below).

Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans from MomAdvice.com.

To Soak or Not to Soak

Sounds like a great Shakespeare line, doesn’t it? I know that many people skip the soaking process and opt to just throw them right into the slow cooker after a rinse.  I always consult the experts when it comes to cooking and according to Cook’s Illustrated, quick soaking can be effective, but their proven method of soaking beans in a brine, yields a bean that a girl can really be proud of.  Just as a brine on a bird can yield tasty results, beans can benefit from salt too. The salt soak prevents magnesium and calcium from binding to — and, subsequently hardening — the cell walls on your beans. When people  complain that they can never get the beans to soften, you can be assured that a brine can help with that, while maintaining the shape of your beans.

Cook’s Illustrated recommends, for 1 pound of dried beans (about 2 cups) dissolve 3 tablespoons of salt in 4 quarts of water. Add the rinsed beans and let them soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. (If you’re short on time, quick-soak the beans: Place the beans in a large heatproof bowl. Bring 2 quarts of water and 3 tablespoons of salt to a boil. Pour the water over the beans and let them soak for 1 hour before draining and rinsing.)

As far as salting goes for your beans for seasoning though, it is advised to wait until the end and salt once they are cooked and season to taste. You also want to be sure that you are rinsing that brine off before you get started with your recipe.

Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans from MomAdvice.com.  Cook Them Low & Slow

Since beans need to be cooked low and slow, the slow cooker is ideal for cooking your beans. Once you have rinsed these after the salt brine, add them to your slow cooker along with liquid and seasonings of choice and turn your slow cooker on Low and head to bed.  Skip the addition of anything acidic though because the acid can prevent those beans from breaking down and it’s all about getting these beans to break down.

I cooked mine in my Ninja Cooker and set it for six hours and it set’s itself to warm after that.  The beans should take roughly six to eight hours to cook and slow cookers can be the ideal tool for cooking them. According to The Kitchn, it’s adviseable to pick a slow cooker that fits best with the amount of beans you are cooking. They advise that for small batches of beans, a pound or less, to rely on a 3 1/2-quart or smaller slow cooker. If cooking 2 pounds or more, you can use your 7-quart slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans from MomAdvice.com. Freeze Those Beans

Once the beans are done, divide them up into two cup portions in freezer bags and put them in the freezer.  You can now enjoy the savings all month long and enjoy these beans as a side or accompaniment to any of your favorite Mexican dishes.

I hope this tutorial helps and I can’t wait to read your own tips for cooking beans in the comments below! These would be delicious paired with my favorite 10-minute fish tacos, our chicken enchiladas (made with homemade enchilada sauce), my roasted corn salsa, and a tall margarita or mojito…just in case you are looking for a few great dishes for Cinco de Mayo!

Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans from MomAdvice.com.

SAFETY NOTE: If you are cooking kidney beans, boil them for 10 minutes before cooking. This neutralizes a toxin called phytohemagglutinin that can cause acute digestive distress.

Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Be sure to read our Bean Cooking Tutorial before you begin! These beans make the perfect side dish for any meal!
Ingredients
  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, or 2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes (ADD AT THE END)
Instructions
  1. Follow the instructions for sorting, rinsing, brining, and then rinsing again as I have outlined above.
  2. Put the drained beans into your slow cooker, then add the chopped garlic, broth, cumin, and chili powder. Stir well to combine.
  3. Set on LOW for six to eight hours in your slow cooker (see above for recommended slow cooker sizes based on pounds).
  4. Once they are done, stir in diced tomatoes and season.
This post contains affiliate links.

What’s your favorite way to cook beans? Any tips, tricks, or techniques that work well for you?

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A Lentil Stew – Anyway You Want It

Monday, April 28th, 2014

From our food contributor, Diana Bauman.

A Lentil Stew - Anyway You Want It | momadvice.com Am I ever excited to talk lentils today! Being that I’m part Spanish, lentils are a staple in my home. My mother is from Sevilla, Spain. I’ve spent many summers abroad visiting my family there and one meal that I could never get enough of was lentejas con chorizo, lentils with Spanish chorizo sausage. Lentils, to a Spaniard, is just as comforting as a warm bowl of homemade mac and cheese is to an American. The great thing about lentil dishes is that kids love it just as much as adults. Whenever I prepare lentejitas, as I call it, my kids gobble it up and I’m sure yours will to.

A Lentil Stew - Anyway You Want It | momadvice.com Lentils are legumes (beans) that are quick and easy to make. They readily absorb flavors from other foods and spices making them a bean that many people enjoy to eat. Lentils also pack a healthy punch. They contain high levels of soluble fiber which lowers cholesterol and helps in reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke. Also, because it contains so much soluble fiber it stabilizes your blood sugar levels making this a great food for diabetics. Lentils are also a good source of folate and magnesium which contributes to heart health. They’re also a good source of B vitamins. It’s been found that many people with depression, stress, and anxiety have low levels of B vitamins and magnesium. Adding lentils to your diet can help alleviate physical symptoms and lift your spirits. Let’s not forget, lentils are also packed with protein! Out of all the legumes and nuts, they contain the third-highest level of protein.

So, if you were ever squeamish to try lentils, all of these nutritional benefits should make them a staple in your home.

My favorite way to prepare lentils is by making them in a stew. The greatest thing about a lentil stew is that all you have to do is place all of your ingredients in a pot, add water, and cook. It couldn’t be easier. When making a lentil stew, you can make it with any vegetable that happens to be in season.

From zucchini, carrots, and dark leafy greens…

A Lentil Stew - Anyway You Want It | momadvice.com

to pumpkin, turnips, and rutabaga.

A Lentil Stew - Anyway You Want It | momadvice.com

In Spain, the most comforting way to eat lentil stew is by adding Spanish chorizo sausage (not to be mistaken for Mexican, uncured, chorizo). This cured meat gives the stew depth in flavor and adds a bit of piquant by the Spanish paprika (pimenton) seasonings within it. Both the chorizo and Spanish pimenton used to be difficult to source in the United States but is now readily available in most specialty stores. If you can’t find the sausage, no worries, It tastes just as good by adding any other type of sausage including bacon or even by omitting the meat all together.

Today, I’m going to share with you the lentil stew recipe I typically make at home. I usually add chorizo sausage, a bit of rice, potatoes, and dark leafy greens.

A Lentil Stew - Anyway You Want It | momadvice.com

It’s simple to prepare, comforting, and the entire family enjoys it. I hope yours will as well.

A Traditional Spanish Lentil and Chorizo Stew
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Spanish
Serves: 4-5
 
This is a nourishing lentil stew made with Spanish chorizo sausage that the entire family will enjoy.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • Spanish Chorizo Sausage, sliced in coins (about 1½ cups)
  • ½ green pepper, roughly chopped
  • ½ white onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, whole and smashed
  • 2 roma tomatoes, whole
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbls extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Spanish paprika, pimenton
  • 3 russet potatoes, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup white Basmati rice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 large handfuls dark leafy greens
Instructions
  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, add the lentils, chorizo sausage, green peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and bay leaves. Cover all the ingredients with water so that it covers them by 1-2 inches.
  2. Add the olive oil then bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered for 25 minutes.
  3. After 25 minutes add the potatoes, rice, and salt and simmer for an additional 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the rice is cooked through.
  4. As soon as all the ingredients are cooked through, add the dark leafy greens and serve right away.

Does your family enjoy eating lentils? What’s your favorite way to prepare them?

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Mama Francesca Cheese & Cheese Dusted Olives

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Mama Francesca Cheese Review

 

*This post is sponsored by Mama Francesca

Last month I mentioned my partnership with Mama Francesca Grated Cheese. I am excited to share another fun recipe idea that you can create in your kitchen and this one happens to require very little cooking, but is an impressive appetizer to add to your next get together or antipasto platter.

Mama Francesca  is a delicious grated cheese that comes in six different flavor varieties including Aromatico (Parmesan, Basil & Oregano), Fiero (Parmesan & Red Pepper), & Pungente (Parmesan & Garlic), Audace (Parmesan & Romano), and Perfetto (Classic Parmesan).

Mama Francesca Terzetto Cheese

You can also find the Terzetto (Parmesan, Asiago & Romano).  The best part is that these can all be found on the shelves of your local Walmart stores, including the new Terzetto which will be available at Walmart on April 21st!

Did you catch last month’s delicious Gluten-Free Pasta & Meatball recipe? I hope you didn’t miss it because I have already made it a few times since I shared it!

For inspiration for this month’s recipe, I looked on the Mama Francesca website to create a dish to share with you. The site offers a variety of recipes and when I happened upon a recipe for Cheese Dusted Olives…well, be still my beating heart, because I am already in love just from the title alone.

 Cheese Dusted Olive Recipe

Have you ever infused oils before? It truly makes any dish a showstopper and it is just a simple technique of adding herbs and any desire of flavoring to heated oil and allowing it to infuse into it. I do this with my husband’s favorite roasted shrimp, but had never thought to do this with olives. It changes the taste of the olives completely and adds that special wow factor to your antipasto platters.

The oil is infused with lemon and thyme and then poured over your olives on a platter (or a martini glass like me!)  and finished with your favorite cheese blend. I wanted these to have a little garlic bite to them so I used the Pungente (Parmesan & Garlic) to add that cheesy garlic flavor that I love.

I rounded out my antipasto platter with salami, prosciutto, and fresh grapes- all delicious and all, happily, gluten-free snack options.

 Cheese Dusted Olive Recipe

Since getting a babysitter is expensive, I am always looking for date night experiences at home. In the summer months, we enjoy an antipasto platter outside and chat after the kids head to bed. In the winter months, this is best served with a great Netflix documentary or board game for a fun evening in.  To round out the evening, this gluten-free meatball recipe I shared last month would also be a beautiful accompaniment as your evening appetizer!

I have stopped thinking of these things as special occasion foods, but an investment into our relationship and time together.

I hope these posts about Mama Francesca have inspired you to pick up a few varieties of cheeses to try and I hope you can give these delicious Cheese-Dusted Olives a spin for a fun date night in!

 Cheese Dusted Olive Recipe

Cheese Dusted Olives
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
An effortless & easy appetizer for lemon & thyme infused olives dusted with cheese.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup Mama Francesca Parmesan Audace (or your favorite Mama Francesca cheese variety)
  • 2 cups Favorite Olives, rinsed
  • ½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 sprigs Thyme
  • 1 Lemon, strips of peel only
Instructions
  1. In a small sauce pan, heat oil over medium for 3 minutes, until warm, remove from heat.
  2. Place thyme and lemon peel in oil, let stand 1 hour.
  3. Once cooled, pour infused oil over olives on a platter.
  4. Sprinkle with Mama Francesca cheese.

 

 *This post is sponsored by Mama Francesca


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5 Gluten-Free Treats, Perfect for Easter

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
5 Gluten-Free Treats,  Perfect for Easter
Happy Spring, MomAdvice readers! My name is Sarah and I’m the baker/blogger over at Sarah Bakes Gluten Free Treats. I have loved baking for as long as I can remember and for the past 3 years, I have been baking 100% gluten free. My husband has celiac disease and both my son and I have a gluten allergy. Most of my baking is also dairy and egg free. It was quite the adventure, learning how to transition over to gluten free baking. Now I have a passion for sharing delicious gluten free recipes with others so that they can also have the confidence to bake again!
April is one of my most favorite months. Beautiful spring weather, flowers are in bloom and most importantly…Easter! Such a joyous holiday, celebrating with family and friends. We always gather around a good meal (total feast) and enjoy plenty of satisfying sweets. Always too many desserts!

I’m sharing a few of my favorite gluten free treats with you today! All of these goodies would be a lovely addition to your Easter gathering. They also egg and dairy free too (vegan), which is great for those with multiple food allergies. Each recipe features Sarah’s gluten free flour blend, a staple in my pantry. Perfect for all of your gluten free baking needs!

  Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Every celebration becomes that much more fantastic when cupcakes are involved! These chocolate cupcakes are simply delicious. Moist chocolate cake, topped with a creamy dairy free chocolate buttercream. Those colorful sprinkles are a must!

 

Gluten Free Vegan Mini Lemon Blueberry Cakes

Gluten Free Vegan Mini Lemon Blueberry Cakes

Anything in miniature size is my favorite. That’s one reason to love these mini lemon blueberry cakes. Bursting with blueberries and drizzled with a simple glaze. The fresh lemon zest gives this cake a beautiful brightness.

  Gluten Free Vegan Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Gluten Free Vegan Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Wouldn’t this apple cinnamon coffee cake be a delight to serve at your Easter brunch? Vanilla cake, topped with sliced apples and covered in cinnamon crumb topping. Everyone will be asking for a second slice.

  Gluten Free Vegan Raspberry Hand Pies

Gluten Free Vegan Raspberry Hand Pies

I remember the first time I made these raspberry hand pies. It took me right back to my childhood. Eating those “home run” pies that we would get from the local market down the street. This homemade version is even more delicious and let’s not forget…it’s pie you can eat with your hands!

  Gluten Free Vegan Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

Gluten Free Vegan Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

Every kid loves a good frosted sugar cookie. This gluten free version is just about as yummy as you can get. Let the kids help with the decorating and get creative. They may end up eating more frosting and sprinkles along the way, but that’s the best part!

  Sarah Bakes Gluten Free Treats- Sarah Hornacek

You can check out more of Sarah’s recipes at Sarah Bakes Gluten Free Treats. You can also follow her on facebooktwitterpinterest, and instagram. Happy baking!

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