Sunday, January 29, 2012

Slow Cooker Smokey Frijoles Negros

*Not canning related, but I've been asked for this recipe.

Most Sunday afternoons I cook a meal to carry over for several days in repurposed ways. And, this meal must meet certain requirements.
1. It can be used for Meatless Monday in some way.
2. It must incorporate a large pot of beans.
For this week's pot of beans I'm making my slow cooker smokey frijoles negros. The frijoles will be our side to accompany stuffed peppers for supper tonight. Tomorrow they'll top freshly cooked rice and have a side of fruit salsa to keep them company on the plate. Tuesday night we'll take a break and have a roasted chicken with brussel sprouts, carrots, and potatoes. And, then back to the beans on Wednesday with black bean chicken quesadillas. If we have any left on Thursday I'll probably turn them into a salsa to munch on for a few lunches.
I find that if I plan out my menus ahead of time not only does it save time and money, but it also saves me a hassle.
You know what I'm talking about. That day where everything's falling into place and you're owning that to-do list. Showing it who's really in charge. You're going along and thinking that you deserve a break and fix a cup of tea only to realize you've forgotten about supper. Crap. Now what? That's the hassel and headache I'm talking about.
Menu planning works. Trust me. And, making a huge pot of beans at the beginning of the week makes it so much easier. That's one less side dish you have to worry about. Beans can be added to soups, stews, and chilis if you're bored with eating them on their own. And, they're full of fiber. Remember, boys and girls, fiber is our friend.
I make these in my slow cooker, because again, it makes my job easier. I don't need to extol to you the virtues of the slow cooker. I often refer to mine as my personal assistant since it does the dirty work I don't always have time to.
Here's what you'll need:

2 cups of dried black beans that have soaked overnight
2 chipotle chilis chopped with 1 TBS of the adobe sauce they're packed in
1 sweet bell pepper seeded and chopped
1 to 2 jalapenos seeded and chopped *These are optional if you want to omit some of the heat
1 medium to large sized onion *I usually use yellow onions, but red work just as well
2cloves of minced garlic
1/2 TBS oregano
1 TBS cumin
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 Bay leaf
8 cups of water
salt and pepper to taste
*optional a dash or two of red wine vinegar after cooking

If you forgot to soak your beans overnight you can always follow the instructions on the packaging for a quick soak.

Add all the ingredients to your slow cooker and cook on high 5-6 hours. The beans should always be covered with liquid and add as necessary. Remove the bay leaf and serve. Sprinkle with Oaxaca cheese or any other cheese you might prefer.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sweet and Sassy Red Onion Marmalade

This marmalade is what you'd call a quick marmalade, but I call it Sweet and Sassy Red Onion Marmalade.
Sure, it's quick. Better than that is how versatile it is. But, best of all is just how good it tastes. The first time I opened a jar I came awfully close to eating the entire thing by myself. It's just amazing how wonderfully all the flavors play together in this delicious spread.
I've used it as a salad dressing, thinning it down some with apple cider vinegar and a little olive oil. I've used it on burgers and sammis. And, as an appetizer with goat cheese or cream cheese, it just can't be beat. Of course, one of my most indulgent ways of enjoying it is smeared on fresh out of the oven bread with goat cheese.

Yields roughly 6 half pint jars

2 cups thinly sliced halved red onion
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp grated orange zest
3 cups unsweetened apple juice
1 package of regular powdered fruit pectin
4 cups granulated sugar

Prep work for this marmalade would be made easy peas-ey work if you've got a mandoline slicer hanging out in your kitchen. I don't. Just me and the trusty Wusthof. Hubby was a chef and kitchen manager for nearly 15 years and insists that I must take a safety course from him before I can bring a mandoline slicer home to live with us. Yeah. I'm that accident prone.

Slice your onion in half, and thinly slice the onion after you've readied your canner, jars, lids, and all equipment that is to be used once your ready to fill jars.

Using a large skillet saute the onions, dried cranberries, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar over medium heat. Cook down about 10 minutes.
* You may want to dice your cranberries before adding to the skillet. I like the way my jars look with the whole dried cranberries. Totally up to you.
Once the onions have cooked down, add the orange zest and apple juice. Dissolve the pectin, constantly stirring over high heat. You will want to bring this to a boil and continue stirring frequently. Measure your sugar into a large container. Once mixture is at a boil, add sugar all at once.
Stirring constantly, bring mixture back to a rolling, hard boil for one minute.
Skim off any foam and remove from heat.

Fill jars to 1/4 inch headspace. Using a chopstick or handy, dandy tool from Ball, remove air bubbles, adjusting headspace if needed. Wipe rims with a moist paper towel. Place lid and band on. Tighten band, and then tighten a scosh more.
Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes for half pints. Remove canner lid and wait an additional 5 minutes before removing jars to their cooling spot.
All that's left to do now is clean up. Now, where is my kitchen fairy?

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Break Time Over

Wow. That was a really long break, much deserved with all the hoopla of the holidays. We did traveling, family in town as well, school performances, Santa, and the New Year, complete with my glass of champagne in a half pint Ball.
It was wonderful and exhausting all at the same time. I've been warned though, that after having children it never slows down. This season certainly proved to be true.
I did manage to get quite a bit of canning done during that time and I've lots to share with you. I put up chicken soup, sweet potato with chorizo and spinach soup (recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen, cranberries, orange juice jelly, sweet red onion marmalade, chicken stock to replenish my shelves, and a few others. I'm working on a recipe for a cranberry chutney that I'm really excited about, as well. I've also had several crochet and sewing orders to throw into the mix to almost drive me nuts. But, I seem to thrive on it all. Oh, and did I mention that we're in the midst of potty training? Not me, that would be weird. My two year old daughter.
I hope the holidays were lovely to all. And, I just can't wait to get back into the groove of things. Happy new year's and cheers to all!