Archive for the ‘Sides’ Category

A Sensational Beet and Strawberry Summer Salad

Monday, July 28th, 2014

From our food contributor, Diana Bauman.

A Sensational Beet and Strawberry Summer Salad Summer is the season of abundant vegetables. My family eats such a wide variety of vegetables in this season that my husband often jokes with me and asks if we’re becoming vegetarian. We are certainly not but I do take full advantage of the abundance of vegetables in this season, both in my garden and at the farmers market, to cook them in many different ways.

Although I love to experiment and develop new recipes using vegetables, an incredibly easy way to incorporate more of these nourishing ingredients grown from the earth is to make salads out of them. So often we think of salads as just greens tossed with tomatoes, cucumbers, and cheese; however, salads can be made from a variety of vegetables tossed in a simple oil and vinegar vinaigrette – in Spain, this type of salad is called an aliño.

An aliño is just vegetables, cooked or cut up raw, and then tossed in a simple vinaigrette and seasoned with a large granule sea salt. It’s super simple to make and with the addition of fresh grown herbs, the salads become something to swoon over. Let me show you just how simple this beet and strawberry salad is to make:

A Sensational Beet and Strawberry Summer Salad Step 1. Boil the beets, peel, and dice. Toss into a bowl.

A Sensational Beet and Strawberry Summer Salad Step 2. Thinly slice some red onions and add to the bowl.

A Sensational Beet and Strawberry Summer Salad Step 3. Slice up some perfectly ripened strawberries and add to the bowl.

A Sensational Beet and Strawberry Summer Salad Step 4. Add in a bit of herbs of your choice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and sprinkle with a large granule sea salt.

A Sensational Beet and Strawberry Summer Salad Step 5. Toss together and serve.

Salads of this nature can be made from any vegetable you may have on hand. Here are a few tips for making sensational summer salads.

  • Red onions generally go really well in most salads. They’re sweeter and compliment vegetables and fruit well.
  • Add in seasonal fruit as it comes into season. It gives salads a touch of sweetness without having to add sugar or honey. I’ve been known to add blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, sliced peaches, and even watermelon to summer salads.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment. I’ve tossed cauliflower salads, cucumber and tomato salads, beet and watermelon salads, roasted red pepper with red onion salads, etc…
  • Large granule sea salt is for more than flavor. It’s surprising how amazing salads can taste by the simple addition of a large granule sea salt. It gives them texture –  a delightful crunch.
  • Herbs can make a salad. It’s amazing how one salad can taste many different ways by using different herbs. Again, experiment with herbs. Some of my favorites are mint, cilantro, summer savory, marjoram, and lemon balm.

Now the key to a fabulous summer salad is in the vinaigrette. Often times we think we need to concoct a dressing made of 10 different ingredients to enjoy a salad but really it’s much simpler than that. As long as you have the seasons freshest fruit and vegetables all you need is a simple vinaigrette. On hand, I always have balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, and apple cider vinegar. The following is my ratio for a simple vinaigrette.

  • 1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbls of vinegar (red wine, balsamic, or apple cider)
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp large granule sea salt

That’s it. As soon as you start experimenting making salads with a variety of fruits and vegetables I’m sure you’ll memorize that ratio as I have.

A Sensational Beet and Strawberry Summer Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 4
 
A simple summer salad made with the seasons finest beets and strawberries dressed in a simple vinaigrette.
Ingredients
  • 3-4 large beets, boiled, peeled, diced, and cooled
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1 tbls marjoram (or any other variety of fresh herb like mint)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbls red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp large granule salt.
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, toss together all of the ingredients.
  2. Chill or serve at room temperature.

Do you enjoy trying new summer salads? Please let us know in the comments below some of your favorite recipes for summer salads.

 

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McCormick FlavorPrint + 3 Fun Ideas for Dinner!

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

*This post is sponsored by McCormick Spice in partnership with the One2One Network.

One of my late night past times is staying up to take ridiculous quizzes like, “What 80′s Boyfriend Should You Have?,” and “What OITNB Character Would You Be?” and one of my favorites, “What Country Should You Live In,” as though these quizzes will hold the deep meaning to life.

In case you are wondering, I am Piper, Lloyd Dobbler from Say Anything should be my boyfriend, &  I belong in Paris. All completely accurate & true.

Well, if you are a quiz junkie like, me you will love the new FlavorPrint tool from MCcormick Spice that is a lot like those quizzes you love, but actually will be useful because you can plan your family’s meal around the answers you provide. For someone who is stumped for fresh ideas in the summer and who has found herself gravitating towards the same three dishes for ease, I couldn’t wait to take the quiz and figure out what options would fit our family’s needs.

McCormick FlavorPrint

McCormick has found that each person has a unique flavor “fingerprint” that is conveyed through a distinct visual mark, which has 33 “spikes” to represent different flavors in your personal flavor profile. The bigger the spike, the more prominent the flavor. Through this quiz, it can identify your own personal tastes and provide delicious options that fit that unique profile for your dinner hour.

The quiz takes about two minutes of answering questions like, “Do you like mint?” and then “How about onions?” Once you have completed the quiz, it will provide meal options for you that you can try. If you like the options, you can dive in deeper and give them a thumbs up, answer more questions about your personal taste, share what you always have on hand in your pantry, and even tell them what type of equipment you have or don’t have in your kitchen. It will continue to share more and more personalized meal options as you completely more answers. For quiz junkies like me, it was a little slice of heaven.

McCormick FlavorPrint
For families that suffer from food allergies or sensitivities, you can also share what you need to avoid. I love that Wheat was an option on this so that the recipes that were shown for our family were gluten-free meal options, helping us really have useful choices for us. The last thing I want to see is all the wheaty goodness I can’t indulge in. Thanks, FlavorPrint, for making me feel like I actually have food choices.

McCormick FlavorPrint After answering the questions, these were the flavors that rose to the top. Based on this information, FlavorPrint offered some meal ideas for us. After I picked a meal to try, I answered  more questions on the quiz and got more meal ideas.  Here are three meal ideas that FlavorPrint suggested for me.

Edamame and Corn Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette

Edamame and Corn Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette

The first dish it recommended for me was a Edamame and Corn Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette. I can see exactly why it would recommend this for me because I LOVE edamame and I love corn. Since sourness is something I love, the acidic dressing just makes sense for me. This salad had fresh corn, red bell peppers, parsley, and edamame in it. This would be a great dish to take to a cookout and I have been eating the leftovers as a side dish for my lunch.

Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Risotto

Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Risotto

Playing on my love for all things cheesy, the next recommendation that was made was this Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Risotto made from an easy boxed rice mix. Although I wouldn’t say that this would be in our regular rotation, I know that on a busy weeknight of activities, this would be a fun side to add with a little grilled meat and is much easier to create than babysitting a pot of homemade risotto.

Let’s be honest…ain’t nobody got time for that.

My kids really loved this dish and I found it comforting & satisfying. We called this another dinner win!

Grilled Chicken Caprese

Grilled Chicken Caprese

Grilled Chicken Caprese

Grilled Chicken Caprese

The last dish recommended was a Grilled Chicken Caprese which could not have fit our family more perfectly. You may recall, I had just shared a 5-ingredient Caprese Pork Chop recipe that our family loved. This mimicked those same flavors, but did not require marinating the chicken, but utilized Lawry’s Roasted Garlic Salt with Oregano & Basil instead and a grilled tomato that was sprinkled with the same. My family absolutely loved this dinner option and my only regret was not making a double batch of these. It paired well with the risotto and would be a perfect summer meal to entertain with.

McCormick FlavorPrint

As you can see, we got some great dinner ideas using the FlavorPrint tool and we can’t wait to continue quiz-taking to find more meal ideas for our family.  I highly recommend you take the quiz too and get some fresh ideas for your dinner hour. In the meantime, I have created three pinnable images (below) for the meals that we tried, in case your FlavorProfile looks anything like ours!

Edamame and Corn Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette

Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Risotto

Grilled Chicken Caprese

 

 

Cheers to summertime meal ease & quizzes that give us actually useful information for our families… although wouldn’t you be sad if you didn’t know your destiny resides in Paris?  I hope you love it as much as we did!

 

*This post is sponsored by McCormick Spice in partnership with the One2One Network.

3-Ingredient Watermelon Granita

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

3-Ingredient Watermelon Granita from MomAdvice.com

I don’t know of anything more delicious than fresh fruit in the summertime. Today I am sharing an EASY 3-ingredient watermelon granita you can prepare with just fresh watermelon, lime juice, and a little sugar.  It is one of those dishes you will love for an effortless weeknight treat or a fun dish to entertain with for the 4th of July weekend!

Each month Walmart challenges me to find a new way to use their fresh produce and this month’s challenge just-so-happens to be one of my favorite fruits…WATERMELON.

Hello, summer!

Seedless Watermelon

I woke up early one morning to make this dish and here is my early morning watermelon shot for you as the sun had not even risen. I tend to operate best first thing after I have had my coffee. I’m sure you can relate (*ahem*).

I chose a seedless watermelon for this dish because trying to pick out seeds to prepare your granita is far too time-consuming for a busy mom especially when she has a full summer day of kids. If you have a high- powered blender it is possible to pulverise them, but I save my blender the work and choose the seedless variety to make it easy on all parties involved.

How to Pick the Perfect Watermelon

There are three easy steps to selecting the perfect watermelon.

1. Lift Your Watermelon- Does it feel heavy? You want a watermelon that feels weighted and not light.

2. Check for the Yellow Dot- Watermelons have a yellow spot on them where they have rested and grown on the ground. You want to find one that has a creamy yellow spot on it because that showcases that it is a lovely ripe melon.

3. Thump It- Have you seen people thump their watermelons at the grocery store and wondered what that was all about? Sometimes I don’t think they even know why they do it.  You are listening for a sound that indicates a great melon. It should have a deep hollow sound, but if it is too ripe or underripe, it will have a dull sound.

4. Dissatisfied? Bring it Back- I didn’t tell you there was a fourth step, but if you should pick the wrong watermelon, Walmart will graciously give you a refund on it since they have a 100% freshness guarantee on their produce. Basically, it makes the process of selection foolproof, especially if that thumping bit gets confusing.

3-Ingredient Watermelon Granita from MomAdvice.com

What is a Granita?

The word granita sounds awfully fancy to this Midwest girl’s ears, but it is actually not fancy at all. A granita is a semi-frozen dessert traditionally made from sugar, water and various flavorings that originated in Sicily. It’s a little like sorbet a little like Italian ice, but uniquely its own person with a texture that is a tin bit coarser.  Since the watermelon is in season and often on sale this time of year, I decided to use it to make the granita. 

All you do for this recipe is give it a whirl through your blender. After blending your cubed watermelon, fresh lime juice, and sugar, pour it into a 9×13″ dish and slide it in your freezer. Every half hour or so, take a peek and give it a scrape with a fork to move things around. Keep doing this every once in awhile and then after about three-four hours of freezing time, your dessert should be ready for serving.

3-Ingredient Watermelon Granita from MomAdvice.com

3-Ingredient Watermelon Granita from MomAdvice.com

I wish there was more to tell you about this dish, but it really is as easy as that. It’s a frugal way to incorporate more fresh fruit and is best served with lots of spoons on a hot summer’s day!

Looking for more ideas to try with fresh produce this summer? Be sure to check out my Baked Strawberry Doughnuts, my Blueberry Sangria Lemonade, my Grilled Tomato Bread With Prosciutto, my Fresh Peach Sorbet, our Slow Cooker Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal, and my fresh Gluten-Free Orange Chicken for some fun ways to incorporate fresh produce in your family’s diet!

For more watermelon ideas, check out this Watermelon-Strawberry Smoothie from Mommy’s Kitchen & this Watermelon Margarita from Presley’s Pantry. Oh, yum!

 3-Ingredient Watermelon Granita

6-8 cups cubed seedless watermelon
1/3 cup sugar
Juice of 2 limes
Add your cubed watermelon, sugar, and lime juice to your blender. Blend until smooth. Pour it all into a 9×13 metal pan and freeze for one hour. Using a fork, scrape to loosen the granita. Freeze for another hour and repeat. After it has been frozen for three hours, scrape it once more and then serve in a hollowed watermelon or in cups.

walmart_mom_disclaimer

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Berry Pecan Salad With Candied Pecans & Homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Berry Pecan Salad With Candied Pecans & Homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette

Summer was made for salads.  This month I want to share with you some new salad flavor combinations we have been trying for our family dinners. Today I am sharing a delicious Berry Pecan Salad that is perfect for sharing around the picnic table or at your next cookout. It is my new favorite salad and what makes this salad standout is the homemade raspberry vinaigrette dressing, pecans, and the combination of berries.  When I took an enormously large bowl of this to our last cookout, I brought home an empty bowl and a promise to share the recipe.

Berry Pecan Salad from MomAdvice.com.

Where to Buy Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar

Since going gluten-free, I have become really diligent about package reading and making sure that I am not eating anything that can make me sick. Many of the bottled dressings are not anything that I can eat or even pronounce. Unfortunately, not all the items I need to create beautiful flavor combinations are necessarily on the grocery store shelves where I shop.

For this dressing recipe, you will need Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar. I went to two grocery stores and wasn’t able to find it so I headed to The Olive Branch, a locally-owned shop that sells olive oils and vinegars. I spent the morning tasting all of these rich balsamic vinegars and learning more about the different flavor notes in each one. I took home a bottle of their Red Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar and couldn’t wait to put it to work in this salad.  You can certainly substitute this homemade version with a bottled dressing, but I promise you that it will lack the depth of flavor and the richness that I was able to achieve with my homemade dressing. Because the dressing is so rich, a small drizzle is all you need to dress your salad bowl.

Candied Nuts

Have you ever candied nuts before?  It is ridiculously easy and you can make a large quantity at one time for your salads.  This recipe calls for just Candied Pecans, but you can add any variety of nuts into your salad that you prefer. Pictured above are my Sugar & Spice Nuts that are always a fun gift to give (and to eat!).  They also are a delicious topper to oatmeal or even bowls of warm quinoa.

For the chicken, I use this technique for cooking chicken in bulk. If you are pressed for time, you can certainly substitute with a rotisserie chicken from your grocer.

To keep this salad vegan, ditch the chicken and replace the egg white in the nut recipe with two to three tablespoons of water and a tablespoon of flax to coat the candied nuts.

To enjoy this salad all week long, prepare it all for the week and consider creating your own DIY Salad Bar in the fridge for easy summer meals after a long day with the kids. Everyone can customize their own salad bowls and you can enjoy that prep work all week long!

I hope this salad inspires you to get creative with your summer salad and I look forward to sharing more fun salad combinations in the upcoming weeks!

Berry Pecan Salad from MomAdvice.com.

 

 

Editor’s Note- Our recipe software is not working this week and we have submitted a support ticket. Please accept our apologies!

A berry pecan salad that is perfect for celebrating the berry season. Enjoy this one at your next potluck or cookout!

Pecan Berry Salad

1 bag of spinach

1 pint of strawberries, sliced

1 pint of blueberries, rinsed

1 pound roast chicken (see technique above or use a rotisserie chicken), sliced

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Pinch of Salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 egg white (see above for vegan substitution)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups pecan halves

1/4 cup raspberry balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1-2 tablespoons white sugar (to taste, you may not even need it depending upon the quality of your balsamic vinegar)

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, salt, ground cloves, and ground nutmeg in a plastic bag, seal the bag, and shake to mix.

Put the egg white and vanilla in a bowl, and beat until slightly foamy.

Add the pecans and stir to coat them well. Using a slotted spoon, lift the pecans out the bowl and transfer them to the bag of sugar and spices. Shake, making sure the pecans are well coated with the seasoning. Spread the pecans out on the prepared baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet.

Assemble the salad: spinach, sliced strawberries, blueberries, roast chicken, and then top with cooled candied pecans. In a mason jar, add the oil, vinegar, oregano, salt, pepper, mustard, and sugar. Shake well. Serve on the side for your salad, shaking well before using.

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time: 30 Minutes

Serves: 6

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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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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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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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21 Easy Slow Cooker Meals

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

21 Easy Slow Cooker Meals from MomAdvice.com

I have a confession to make. I am addicted to my slow cooker! Today I want to share 21 of our favorite slow-cooker meal recipes that you can create and enjoy all month long. These recipes are a few of our tried and trues over the years on MomAdvice and will make your week go oh-so-much smoother!

I believe that the slow cooker can be every mother’s best friend. What could be easier than throwing in a few ingredients, plugging it in, and then going about your day, without the worries of needing to figure out what everyone is going to eat for dinner?

Ninja Cooker

Truth be told, I have moved up in the slow cooking world and am now madly in love with my Ninja Cooker. I use it almost daily and love that I don’t have to dirty my stove or skillets to brown my meat anymore. I would definitely add that one to your next holiday wish list! You can read more of my thoughts on that over here.

In honor of this kitchen gadget, I have put together a month’s worth of meals using your slow cooker. Each of these meals will have a recipe and tips for making your dinner hour go more smoothly. Keep in mind that many of the recipes accommodate six to eight people so you may be able to cover (at least) a month’s worth of meals.

Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken Wings

Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Wings

 

Side Ideas- Fresh veggies & blue cheese dressing for dipping, steamed broccoli, and fresh fruit.

Slow Cooker Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

Side Ideas- Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins & Salad

 Sticky Chicken Recipe

1 tbsp salt

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp dried oregano leaves

2 tsp dried thyme leaves

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp garlic salt

3 lb roasting chicken

1 cup chopped onion

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients except chicken and onion. Rub herb mixture inside and outside of chicken. Place in food storage bag; seal bag. Refrigerate overnight. Remove chicken from bag; stuff with onion. Place in crockpot on low 6-8 hours; high 2-4 hours. Chicken juices should run clear and chicken reaches 180*. Let stand 15 minutes before carving.

Side Ideas- Mashed Potatoes & Corn

Pot Roast Italiano

Pot Roast Italiano

 

Side Ideas- Roasted Green Beans & Orzo Pasta
Tortellini & Turkey Divine

 Tortellini & Turkey Divine

1 1/2 pounds Italian sausage turkey

2 clove garlic– minced

2 small onions– chopped

2 cans whole peeled tomatoes- 16 ounce cans

1 1/4 cups dry red wine

5 cups beef broth

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 zucchini- sliced

1 green bell pepper- chopped

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 package cheese-filled tortellini

 

In a large pot, cook sausage over medium heat until brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Drain fat from pan, reserving 3 tablespoons. Cook garlic and onion in reserved fat for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, wine, broth, basil, and oregano. Transfer to a slow cooker, and stir in sausage, zucchini, bell pepper, and parsley. Cover, and cook on Low for 4 to 6 hours. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain water, and add pasta to the slow cooker. Simmer for a few minutes, and season with salt and pepper before serving.

Side Ideas- Salad & Fresh Fruit

Slow Cooked Italian Beef

Italian Beef Sandwiches

Side Ideas- Oven Fries & Apple Slices

Sloppy Joes

 Side Ideas- Tortilla Chips & Carrot Sticks

Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin Chili

Side Ideas- Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins & Fresh Fruit

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

2 pounds beef stew meat – cubed

2.5 cups carrots

2.5 cups potatoes

1 cup celery

1 can diced tomatoes – with the juice poured in

1 can beef broth

1 cup water

1 tsp ground mustard

3 sprigs rosemary

Put beef in a zipper bag with a 1/4 cup of flour and toss to coat. Brown the meat in a skillet and place on the bottom of the crock pot. Coarsely chop vegetables and place on top of the meat. Pour in the can of diced tomatoes with juice, can of beef broth, water, and ground mustard. Place sprigs of rosemary on top and cook on high for four hours or on low for six to eight hours.

Side Ideas-  Make your own salad bar!

Slow Cooked Apple Oatmeal

Slow Cooked Honeycrisp Apple Oatmeal

 

Side Ideas-  Create your own oatmeal toppings bar and serve with green smoothies.

3-Ingredient Chicken Tacos

3-Ingredient Slow Cooked Chicken Tacos

1 package taco seasoning mix

1 cup chicken broth

1 pound chicken breasts – boneless & skinless frozen chicken breasts

Dissolve taco seasoning into chicken broth. Place chicken breasts in slow cooker and pour broth over them. Cook on LOW for 5 hours. With two forks, shred the chicken meat into bite-size pieces. Serve with your favorite taco toppings.

Side Ideas- Roasted Corn Salsa With Tortilla Chips

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

1 package Italian Turkey Sausage – mild

2 cans crushed tomatoes

1 can petite diced tomatoes

1 can tomato paste

½ cup beef broth

Brown the turkey sausage in a large skillet. Place cooked sausage in the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour over the sausage all of the other ingredients, including any of your own Italian seasonings. Cook sauce on low for six hours or on high for three to four hours. Serve over your favorite pasta.

Pulled Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Pulled Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

 

Side Ideas- Lemony Spinach & Tomato Quinoa Salad & Carrot Sticks

Mongolian Beef

 Mongolian Beef 

 

Note- to make this in your slow cooker, brown the beef and then heat all the ingredients together on LOW for four hours.

Side Ideas- Brown Rice & Steamed Broccoli

Slow Cooker Chicken BBQ Sandwiches

 

Side Ideas- Shoestring Oven Fries & Carrot Sticks

Taco Soup

1 pound ground turkey

1 can chili beans with liquid

1 can kidney beans with liquid

1 can whole kernel corn with liquid

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 can tomato sauce

2 cups water

1 package taco seasoning mix

In a medium skillet, cook the ground beef until browned over medium heat. Drain & set aside. Place the ground beef, chili beans, kidney beans, corn, tomato sauce, water, diced tomatoes, & taco seasoning mix in a slow cooker. Mix to blend and cook on Low setting for eight hours.

Side Ideas-  Roasted Corn Salsa With Tortilla Chips

Chicken Italiano

Chicken Italiano

 

Side Ideas- Spaghetti & a DIY Salad Bar

 Breakfast Casserole

Note- I recommend doing this one using this technique to prevent burning and even cooking.

1 pound turkey sausage – sweet or spicy

1 teaspoon mustard powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs, beaten

2 cups milk

6 slices white bread – toasted and cut into cubes

8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese

Crumble sausage and cook thoroughly. Drain meat. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together evenly. Place the casserole in the fridge overnight. In the morning put in the slow cooker for four hours on high or six hours on low.

Side Ideas- Fresh Fruit & Grapefruit Halves

Gluten-Free Orange Chicken

Orange Chicken

 

Note to make this in your slow cooker, brown the chicken and then heat all the ingredients together on LOW for two-four hours.

Side Ideas- Brown Rice & Steamed Broccoli

Chicken Lasagna Florentine

2 cans cream of chicken soup – (10-3/4-oz) reduced-fat, reduced-sodium, undiluted

1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, and squeezed dry (10 ounces)

9 oz chicken – diced cooked chicken (two small or one large boneless skinless chicken breast)

8 oz sour cream – low-fat

1 cup milk

2 oz grated parmesan – (1/2 cup)

1/3 cup onion – chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

9 uncooked lasagna noodles

1 cup mozzarella cheese – (4 oz) shredded part-skim

Combine first 10 ingredients in large bowl.

Spread about 1/4 cup sauce in bottom of a 5-quart slow cooker coated with cooking spray. Add 3 uncooked lasagna noodles, breaking noodles in half as necessary to fit slow cooker. Spread one-third of chicken mixture over noodles, sprinkle with 1/3 cup mozzarella. Layer 3 more noodles, half of remaining chicken mixture, and 1/3 cup mozzarella. Top with remaining noodles and chicken mixture; sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese.

Cover with lid; cook on high-heat setting 1 hour. Reduce to low-heat setting; cook 5 hours or until pasta is done.

Side Ideas- Roasted Green Beans & Grapes

 

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken

3 pound chicken – whole or pieces

1 tsp dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried rosemary

garlic cloves – minced

2 tablespoons butter

¼ cup sherry wine or chicken broth

¼ cup lemon juice

Wash chicken; pat dry; season chicken generously with salt and pepper; sprinkle half of oregano, rosemary and garlic inside cavity of chicken; melt butter in frying pan and brown chicken; transfer to slow cooker or crockpot; sprinkle with remaining oregano, rosemary and garlic; add sherry to frying pan and stir to loosen brown bits; pour into slow cooker. Cover, cook on low for 7 hours; add lemon juice and cook 1 more hour (total of 8); transfer chicken to cutting board; skim fat from juices and serve over chicken.

Side Ideas- Have two slow cookers? Try our easy Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes!

Feel free to share your favorite slow cooker recipes below! I’d love to add them to our list!

This post contains affiliate links.

Pulled Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Pulled Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

As Super Bowl Sunday quickly approaches, I wanted to share with you a gluten-free Super Bowl dish you can share for your game day eating.

This month Walmart asked me to share a fun Super Bowl dish that you can create from items in their grocery section. I will admit, that coming up with a dish that was both dairy-free AND gluten-free for my game day feast was a challenge to me. I am the girl that hovers over the creamy dips and loves a sub sandwich for my game day feasting.

When I thought about recipes I could share (and eat!) though, I settled upon my favorite pulled pork recipe that can be created in your slow cooker. This pulled pork is so easy to make because you simply put your pork butt or shoulder in your slow cooker with a little root beer and let it cook all day. And that is pretty much it!

I told you it was easy!

Gluten-Free Sweet Baby Ray's

My favorite sauce has (and always will be) the super delicious Sweet Baby Ray’s. Since going gluten-free, I have become insane about label reading especially when it comes to my condiments. I was so happy to discover that all of the Sweet Baby Ray’s sauces are gluten-free and you can, of course, find them at Walmart in the condiment aisle.

One of the things people warned me about when I started this journey was to always label-read especially when it comes to my condiments. I have found I don’t need to go to my specialty markets if I do the proper research on the items I need before I leave. For example, here are 7 condiments you may be surprised to find are gluten-free!

As we discovered when Emily baked my birthday cake, the offerings for gluten-free items are becoming more mainstream at our Walmart store!

Pulled Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

I don’t know why I had not thought to pair pulled pork and a sweet potato together before, but it is the absolute best flavor combination EVER. Using my technique for perfect baked potatoes, I like to coat mine in olive oil and to sprinkle them liberally with kosher salt.

Once they have cooked, I split them and pile in sweetly seasoned pulled pork. You can hollow out a bit of the potato, if you need to, but I just stack the meat as high as it will go. Stick a fork in it, and you are ready to enjoy the game with your favorite beverage and a filling dinner!

If you are entertaining, pile these on a long platter with forks as a fun game day dish! I promise this will be a dish that is loved by ALL, not just your gluten-free friends!

Pulled Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Pulled Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
An easy gluten-free & dairy-free game day dish you can share with friends, made easily in your slow cooker.
Ingredients
  • 6-8 sweet potatoes, scrubbed & pricked with a fork
  • Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1 (4 pound) Boston butt (or pork shoulder)
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle root beer
  • 1 (18 ounce) bottle your favorite barbecue sauce (we love Sweet Baby Ray's)
Instructions
  1. Place the pork meat in a slow cooker; pour the root beer over the meat. Cover and cook on low until well cooked and the pork shreds easily (approximately 8-10 hours).
  2. Shred the meat and drain the root beer from the slow cooker. Stir in barbecue sauce and toss gently.
  3. Preheat your oven for 400 degrees.
  4. Rub your cleaned sweet potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt. Do not wrap in foil, so you can get a crisp skin.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending upon the size of your potatoes.
  6. Let potatoes rest for five minutes. Cut a slit in the top and stuff with the pulled pork.

 

Looking for more great game day food, check out these Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken Wings & these 12 Great Tailgating Recipes for your game day feasting!

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Sausage & Vegetable Frittata

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

Easy Sausage & Vegetable Frittata from MomAdvice.com.

Happy holidays, everyone! I can’t believe another new year is upon us!  Today I want to share with you an easy sausage & vegetable frittata recipe that just so happens to be both dairy-free & gluten free. This easy frittata has become my go-to dish this week as I transition into some new healthy eating habits.

First, I just want to thank you all for the kind & supportive words you shared on yesterday’s post. It helped me to reaffirm that the direction we are headed in is a good one. Change is hard, both as someone who has always had creative control and as a reader, but I am hoping these changes will bring in a whole new audience and give me some time to focus on growing our website.

I will admit that one the hardest switches for me, since giving up gluten, has been figuring out what to eat for breakfast. I am not much of a breakfast eater and every morning I would have a slice of bread smeared with peanut butter and then head to the gym. Although I picked up a loaf or two of gluten-free bread (and am considering testing out some recipes for my own),  I am still acquiring a taste for bread that tastes like cardboard. It just does to me, but I understand that I will adapt at some point!  I also have to admit that I find it a lot less filling than the whole grain toast I used to eat so I have been looking for alternatives that would jumpstart my morning without being hungry an hour later.

Easy Sausage & Vegetable Frittata-4

This frittata recipe fits the bill perfectly and I am able to use up whatever we have in our vegetable crisper to make a unique combination so I don’t get bored. The best part about this frittata though is that it reheats beautifully for those days when I am struggling to figure out what to eat in the afternoon or for a quick weeknight dinner paired with a salad. I will admit, I ate an entire one in the span of 24 hours. I feel nourished, full, and it is so easy to make.

This was the first time I used shredded sweet potatoes in a frittata. Have you ever tried that? Using the same technique as my laundry detergent recipe, you just use the cheese grater on your food processor to create shredded sweet potato hash. Although the flavor is mild, I found that it acted well as a binder with the absence of cheese in this one.

If you are cooking in a cast iron skillet (this is the inexpensive one I use- affiliate link!), you may need to cook it a tad longer. That being said, the cast iron skillet is my new best friend for fast frittatas and using it reminds me of many a morning of bacon & eggs in my Southern great-grandmother’s kitchen.

This is my new favorite dish and I am planning to make another one today- I really love it that much! I hope you love this one too!

amy_signature Easy Sausage & Vegetable Frittata

Sausage & Vegetable Frittata
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
I love this easy one pan frittata for a delicious brunch or for lunch paired with a salad. The best part is that it is a gluten-free & dairy-free treat that can be enjoyed by all! Don't be limited to these ingredients though. Check your vegetable crisper and incorporate any types of veggies (or meats) that you need to use up for a unique combination of your own.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ½ pound Italian sausage, uncooked
  • 1 small sweet potato, scrubbed and shredded (1 cup). I use my food processor for shredding these.
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon milk (or milk alternative like coconut, rice, or almond milk)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Roma tomatoes sliced
  • Handful of fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat the oil in an oven-safe skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the sausage, sweet potato, and red pepper and cook these four 4 minutes.
  4. Beat the eggs with the milk. Season with salt. Pour these into the skillet and cook for three minutes, stirring when first adding to combine all the ingredients.
  5. Sprinkle the frittata with fresh parsley and then arrange the tomato slices in a circular pattern on top of the eggs.
  6. Place the frittata in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes.

Adapted from Against All Grain (affiliate)

 

gluten-free-125

Participating for the first time in this week’s gluten-free recipe round-up on Musings of a Housewife!

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