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Slow Cooker Beans & Ham

Today I'll be spending my entire day at a local music festival - the longest running human rights festival of its kind, anywhere (25 years). I know when I get home I will be exhausted and sunburned and cranky and hungry. So I decided to do the cooking beforehand. My husband will turn off the slow cooker when he gets home from work, before He comes out to the park.

Of course you can use another variety of bean here if you like... just not kidney beans, of the white or the red variety. They contain phytohemagglutinin, which is toxic, and must be boiled to bring it to a safe level - and your slow cooker just isn't going to boil them sufficiently.

Prep: 5 minutes the night before, 5 minutes in the morning
Cook: 6-8 hours
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients
  • 1 pound dry pinto beans

  • 2 pounds boneless smoked (fully cooked) ham (optional) - also good are salt pork, ham hocks, and chopped bacon

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 bouillon cube, whatever flavor you like

  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled but left whole


Directions

The night before, pick over your beans, discarding any stones or dirt clods or weirdly discolored beans. Put beans in a bowl or your slow cooker crock and cover with enough water to keep them covered if they double in volume (they won't, quite).

The next morning, drain your beans and rinse them well. Place in your crock with the ham or other meat, if you're using it. I cut my ham into a few large chunks - when the beans are done and it's falling apart, i'll shred it. If you like nice little cubes of ham in your soup, go ahead and dice it before you put it in.

Add enough water to come to about 1-1/2 to 2 inches below the rim of your crock. Pop in the bouillon cube and stir in the salt. Toss your peeled garlic cloves in.

TIP: Incidentally, here's a little kitchen gadget tip. You can buy a special garlic peeler. It's a silicone tube that you roll on the counter under your palms to loosen and remove the peel from your garlic cloves. They're not expensive, under $10 generally. I saw Graham Kerr using one on his cooking show once and totally wanted one. And I had one for a while, and it was awesome. Unfortunately, in communal/cooperative houses you sometimes lose things, and I lost my garlic peeler. Recently I realized that I had something that would probably work just as well. You know those little rubber jar openers that you get as promotional items? For a while now I've been using one under my cutting board on the countertop to keep it from moving around. But I have a nice 6" square one that works great for peeling garlic! Just put the garlic clove in the center, fold it in half diagonally around the clove, and roll back and forth until skin either comes completely off or is loose enough to easily pick away.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, until beans reach desired tenderness. Shred meat if needed. Check and adjust seasonings.


Perfect Fried Potatoes

The perfect fried potatoes are hard! They can come out too mushy, they can come out half-cooked, they can come out burned, or they can come out with all of these in the same pan! What follows is my preferred method.

I really do think these are better made with bacon grease. If you're not saving your bacon grease, you totally should. It's free cooking oil, and it makes everything delicious. :)

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients
  • 2-4 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1-2 tablespoons bacon grease

  • 1/2 to 1 pound of potatoes for each person

  • seasonings - at least salt and black pepper, but experiment with garlic powder, steak seasoning blends, cayenne, etc.

  • 1 small white or yellow onion, thinly sliced

  • 1-2 cloves of garlic per person, coarsely chopped (optional)


Directions

Scrub potatoes. Peel if you like, but if they have fairly thin skins, you can leave them on. Slice potatoes thinly - about 1/4 inch thick slices. You can also dice them or cut them into French fry shapes if you prefer, but do try to keep size and thickness fairly equal so they cook evenly.

Heat oil and bacon fat in large (at least 12" skillet). You want the oil hot enough to sizzle very slightly when you flick a droplet of water onto the skillet, but not hot enough that the water droplet dances all over the skillet, or your potatoes will burn. If you get a serious sizzle, turn the heat down a little bit.

Add potates to skillet in an even layer. Add seasonings. Don't stir - the less you disturb your potatoes while they're cooking, the better chance you'll have of them not falling apart. Cover your skillet partially - some steam in the pan is good, but if you cover completely you'll have soft mushy steamed potatoes instead of crispy fried ones.

After about 5 minutes, add your sliced onion and shopped garlic on top of the potatoes and return the partial cover. In 5 more minutes or so the potatoes will look kind of sweaty. This is when you want to turn the potatoes. Try to shuffle them around as little as possible, while getting the softening ones on top down to the bottom and the browned ones from the bottom up to the top.

If they start to look dry, you can add a tablespoon or so of butter to the top - it will melt down into the potatoes.

After turning, you want to cook about 10 more minutes. You still don't really want to do much stirring, but do keep an eye on your garlic and onions so they don't burn. Garlic is okay to get a little golden brown, but not any browner than that or it will get bitter.

Check doneness and crispness, taste for seasoning, adjust seasoning as needed, and serve. Draining on paper towels is a not-quite-necessary step that some folks prefer to do.


Perfect Cornbread

If you don't want to serve your beans with fried potatoes, or if you just want cornbread too, here's a simple but delicious recipe. You can cook this in something other than a cast iron skillet/pan but it will NOT taste the same, I promise.

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15-20 minutes
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil

  • 1 tablespoon bacon grease

  • 1-1/2 cup milk (or buttermilk, or a buttermilk substitute

  • 2 cups self-rising yellow cornmeal

  • 1 tablespoon sugar


Directions

Preheat your oven to 425°F. Put the butter in your 10" cast iron skillet and place in the oven when you turn it on. Check it now and then to make sure it doesn't scorch.

Beat eggs with electric mixer or wire whisk until uniformly yellow and slightly frothy. Add oil, bacon grease, and milk. Mix well.

Measure the cornmeal and sugar into the mixing bowl. Do not use your mixer here - you want to stir gently with a wooden spoon or a fork until you get the lumps out and everything is mixed. Over mixing will make your bread tough.

Pull your skillet out and turn it to coat the entire surface with melted butter.

Spoon the batter into the hot skillet. Some of the melted butter will come up over the edges, which is totally fine.

Stick the pan back into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes - check the center of the bread with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the bread is done.

Let stand a few minutes before cutting and serving.
thesoupfairy: (Default)
Bonus! You get three recipes here. The Pulled Pork, the Mac & Cheese, and the Scrapple I'm making with the leftovers today.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I generally serve this delicious pulled pork on whole wheat hamburger buns with a cold salad like coleslaw or pasta salad. Also fabulous (in my opinion!) with baked macaroni & cheese on the side. Other bread choices include pitas, tortillas, Kaiser rolls, etc. The leftovers make amazing nachos, burritos, enchiladas, and scrapple.

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 9 hours
Stand: 10 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1 boneless pork shoulder roast (3-4 pounds), netted or tied

  • 1 can (10-1/2 ounces) condensed French Onion Soup

  • 1 cup ketchup

  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar

  • dash (or more, to taste) of cayenne or habañero

  • 12 sandwich rolls


Directions

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork roast (keeping the netting on) and cook until well-browned all over. While the pork is browning, combine the soup, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, and cayenne in your slow cooker. Whisk to combine well. Add pork and turn it to coat.

Cover and cook on low heat for 9 hours. Every hour or two, I like to use a pair of tongs to turn the roast over and spoon some of the sauce over it.

Remove the pork from the cooker and let stand in a large bowl for 10 minutes. Using two forks, shred the pork (that's the "pulled" bit) right in the bowl. Return to the cooker and stir. Spoon onto sandwich rolls.


Maka's Macaroni & Cheese

This is my personal favorite homemade baked mac & cheese. Everybody else seems to love it too.

Cook: 10 minutes
Bake: 20 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients
  • 8 ounces large elbow pasta

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups milk, divided

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

  • 2 teaspoons spicy mustard (I like using a horseradish mustard)

  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, but about one minute shorter than the shortest recommended time.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour a little at a time until you have a thick golden paste. Slowly whisk in half of the milk, a little at a time, and continue whisking until you have a thick white sauce.

Place softened cream cheese and remaining cup of milk in a microwave-safe container (I use my 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup) and heat briefly - don't let the milk boil - and then whisk until smooth. Whisk into the white sauce, adding the salt, pepper, and mustard. Cook until thickened.

Stir together pasta, 1-1/2 cups cheddar, Parmesan, and sauce. Spread in a 2-quart baking dish, top with the remaining cheddar, and bake for 15-20 minutes. I like to turn the broiler on for the last minute or two so the top gets a little more browned.


Damn, That's Good Scrapple!

Scrapple is an old Amish breakfast dish intended to use up leftover scraps of meat, especially pork. It's golden and crispy outside, soft and tasty on the inside. Delicious.

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Chill: 4 hours or more
Cook: 30 minutes or so
Servings: 12

Ingredients
  • 1 pound leftover pulled pork, chopped fine

  • 1 cup cornmeal

  • 2 cups chicken broth (or 2 chicken bouillon cubes dissolved in 2 cups hot water)

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried or 3/4 teaspoon fresh herbs of your choice - thyme & sage are traditional but you can totally get creative

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons bacon grease or vegetable oil, or as needed


Directions

Combine pork, cornmeal, broth, herbs, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to the lowest possible simmer and cook for 20 minutes or more - until very thick. You will need to stir almost constantly and be very watchful - it will scorch on the bottom very easily. Line a loaf pan with waxed paper, letting the paper extend several inches above the top of the pan. Spoon cornmeal mixture into the pan, spreading evenly. Cover and put in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. If you're serving the scrapple for breakfast, just chill overnight.

Use waxed paper to help remove molded scrapple from loaf pan. Cut into 3/8-inch thick slices. Heat oil in large skillet. Combine flour and pepper, dredge each scrapple slice in flour and fry in hot oil until browned on both sides.

Serve with butter and maple syrup, applesauce, ketchup, or fried eggs.
thesoupfairy: (Default)
Southwest Pork Loin

Tender, juicy, spicy, delicious! I've given both Crockpot and oven cooking directions.

My son and his girlfriend had theirs on buns with the rice on the side and a spoonful of the salsa inside the sandwich. The Spanish Rice recipe is here.

The seasoning mix that is rubbed on the roast before marinating is an excellent rub for steaks, too.

Prep: 5 minutes
Marinate: 2-4 hours
Cook: 6-8 hours
Servings: 6

Ingredients
  • 3-4 pound boneless pork loin

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon habañero powder (or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder)

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Directions

Cut pork loin in half if necessary so it will fit into your slow cooker. Combine lime juice and olive oil in large shallow bowl. Combine seasonings well and put half of them on a plate if you had to cut the roast in half. Roll one of the pork loin pieces in lime juice mixture, then in seasonings. Repeat with second piece. Place in bowl containing lime juice mixture and refrigerate 2-4 hours to marinate.

Place pork loin pieces in slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until meat thermometer inserted in center of each piece registers at least 155 degrees and the meat is very tender.

If using oven, you can leave the roast whole so long as it will fit in your roasting pan. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place marinated roast in lightly oiled roasting pan and cook for 30 minutes per pound, or to about 155°F on a meat thermometer.

Let roast rest for 10 minutes. Remove to serving platter, discarding cooking juices.

Black Bean-Corn Salsa

Around my house, we call this "Veni's Salad". When I first created this, I envisioned it as a salad, and I still eat it that way sometimes, but honestly most everybody eats it with tortilla chips like a salsa. And it never lasts more than an hour or two.

Prep: 15 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup lime juice

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • dash cayenne or habañero powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2-1 cup chopped cilantro

  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained well

  • 1-1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed

  • 1-2 avocados, diced

  • 1 red bell pepper, diced

  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced

  • 5 green onions

  • 2 Anaheim chiles, diced

  • 2 jalapeño peppers, diced


Directions

Combine lime juice, olive oil, garlic, cayenne, salt, and cilantro in a jar. Shake to combine well; set aside.

Toss remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss again to coat.

You can serve it right away, but it's even better if you let it chill in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavors blend. If you want to make up a big batch ahead of time, it'll keep in the fridge for a few days to a week, but you'll want to leave the avocado out and just add it right before serving.
thesoupfairy: (Default)
Country-Style Turkey (or Pork) Tenderloin

Fall-apart tender meat with a rich gravy, and my house has smelled amazing all day while it cooked in the Crockpot. Serve it with mashed potatoes and your favorite simply steamed vegetable.

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 5 hours
Servings: 8

Ingredients
  • 1 package (1-1/2 to 2 lbs) turkey breast tenderloins or pork tenderloin

  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 cups chicken broth

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

  • 1/4 cup cold water


Directions

If your tenderloin is not already in two pieces, cut it in half. In a large zipper bag combine flour, garlic, mustard, and pepper. Add meat, one piece at a time, and shake to coat.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown meat on all sides. Transfer to slow cooker and pour broth over. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 160°F. Remove meat and keep warm.

Strain cooking juices. If you don't have 2-1/2 cups, add more chicken broth to make that amount. Bring to a boil in a saucepan. Combine cornstarch and cold water, stirring until smooth. Whisk into boiling broth and continue whisking at a high simmer until thickened.
thesoupfairy: (Default)
Pasta with Peas and Bacon

Creamy and delicious, and my family loves it!

Prep: 15 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients
  • 24 ounces bow-tie pasta

  • 1 cup frozen peas

  • 12 oz bacon, julienned

  • 1/4 cup chopped onions

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped roughly

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel

  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

  • salt and pepper


Directions

Prepare pasta according to package directions, dropping peas into the cooking water just before draining.

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel to drain. Pour off all the bacon grease except 1 tablespoon. Add the onion and garlic and cook until golden. Add cream and simmer until slightly thickened. Add bacon and Parmesan to sauce.

After draining pasta, toss with bacon cream sauce, adjust seasonings.
thesoupfairy: (garlic)
Oops, I forgot the pictures again! Hope you guys can be patient with my process here! We went to our son's mother's house this evening to celebrate her birthday with her, and I almost forgot to post anything at all.

This is a favorite - it makes everybody happy when I make it.

Maka's Mealoaf

I use this same mixture for my meatballs, too! It's delicious. (Decrease the baking time if you're making meatballs - the length will depend on the size of the meatballs; just check them often.)

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 5-10 minutes
Bake: 60 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 3 stalks celery, finely diced

  • 3/4 cup finely diced onion

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 pound ground round

  • 1 pound ground lamb or pork

  • 1-1/2 cups oats

  • 1/3 cup catsup

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 4-1/2 tablespoons milk

  • 1/2 cup catsup


Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Heat oil in large skillet. Sauté celery, onion, and garlic in hot oil.

Combine all ingredients except last 1/2 cup catsup. If the mixture isn't quite thick and sticky enough, add some more oats or some fine breadcrumbs. Shape into a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf in a 13-inch by 9-inch pan.

Bake for 45 minutes. Spread last 1/2 cup catsup on top of loaf and return to oven for 15 minutes more.

Remove to platter, let stand 10 minutes before slicing.




Maka's Mashed Potatoes

These are my basic mashed potatoes. I make them often.

Prep: 15 minutes (or more, depending on how fast you peel potatoes
Cook: 20 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients
  • 4 pounds potatoes, preferably the golden ones

  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled but left whole

  • 1 stick butter

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream, half and half, or milk

  • salt and pepper to taste



  • Optional:

  • sour cream

  • chives

  • cooked crumbled bacon

  • grated cheese




Directions


Peel the potatoes or just scrub them, as your family prefers. Dice and drop into a bowl of cold water as you go. Peel garlic cloves but leave them whole.

Bring a large pot filled three-fourths full of water to a rolling boil. Drain cold water from potatoes and add them carefully to the pot with a slotted spoon. Don't burn yourself!! Add the garlic cloves.

Stir occasionally until boiling hard again, then reduce heat to medium and boil gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until fork-tender. Be sure to stir now and then. Drain potatoes and set aside.

Heat butter and cream in empty pot until butter is melted and cream is hot - but do not let it boil or the cream will curdle.

Mash potatoes, adding seasonings, optional additions, and cream mixture, a little at a time, until smooth and fluffy.
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The Soup Fairy

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