Pasta Fagioli

One of my friends gave me a copy of this recipe a long time ago and I finally tried it.  I don’t think I’ve actually tried this at Olive Garden and I couldn’t now, but it was a nice and easy soup that warmed us up on cold days.  You have the option of using canned or dried beans.  I couldn’t find navy beans in a can and I have two crockpots, so I used dried beans.   I hope you take time to enjoy this recipe!

 

Ingredients:

3/4 c. dry kidney beans (or 1 can, drained)

3/4 c. dry navy beans (or 1 can, drained)

2 lbs ground beef, cooked- leave out beef if you want it to be vegetarian

1 onion, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

4 stalks celery, chopped

2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained

32 oz beef broth (I used a carton of HEB Beef Broth but you could also use Swansons)- use vegetable broth if vegetarian

3 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp pepper

5 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp Tabasco sauce (optional)

1 jar spaghetti sauce (I used a 24-oz can of Del Monte Traditional)

8-12 oz pasta (I used HEB gluten free)

 

Directions:

If making beans from scratch, soak overnight and then drain and cover with water again in a crockpot.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until soft.  You may add them to the soup whenever they are soft enough.   Pre-cook the ground beef.  Add all ingredients to the crockpot except for the pasta.  Stir well, cover, and cook on low for 7-8 hours.  The original recipe says you can add pasta straight to the crockpot 30 minutes before you want to serve it, but I was nervous the gluten free pasta wouldn’t cook well that way.  Instead, I cooked it separately as per the package directions and then added it to the soup right before serving.

Note: I had two crockpots going at once- one for the beans and one for the soup.  When the beans were cooked, I added them to the soup.  If you only have one crockpot, you could cook the beans overnight and then use the same crockpot to do the soup during the day.

Original recipe:

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/pasta-fagioli-in-the-crockpot-just-like-olive-garden-52984961

Bean Soup

We had people over the other night to help us pass out candy on Halloween.  I decided last minute that I wanted to serve food to our guests, but I didn’t really have time to cook or to go to the grocery store.  I started looking through our pantry wandering if there was anything I could whip up and I re-discovered a package of mixed beans that I hadn’t used yet.  This is a great soup for serving to a large crowd.  It’s also easy to keep the ingredients on hand in your pantry as a backup. Turns out I was having so much fun with our company that I forgot to take a picture….sorry.  You’ll just have to imagine it for now :-).

 

Ingredients:

3/4 bag of Hurst’s HamBeens brand 15 bean soup*

Juice of 1/2 a lime

1/2 tsp chili powder

1-2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1- 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 packet ham seasoning (included in Hurst’s Hambeen’s soup mix and it’s gluten free!)- leave out to make it vegetarian.  I’m not sure it actually has ham in it…

Cooked rice for serving

 

Directions:

Soak beans overnight (rinse and then cover with at least 1 extra inch of water- they will swell.  Leave in the fridge overnight.  Drain water in the morning.)

Put beans in a crockpot and cover the beans with at least 1 extra inch of water.  Cook on low all day (maybe 6-7 hours).  After beans are soft, you may scoop off some of the water from the top of the beans so your soup won’t be as watery.  I just take out water until I can see the beans poking through the water.  Add all the other ingredients and allow to cook for 30 min-1 hour or more.  Serve over cooked rice.

 

*Texas friends- this is available at HEB.  Really, any bean soup mix would work.  If you can’t find a bag of mixed beans, you could make your own and you could mix and match the beans it contains.  This bag includes the following beans: northern, pinto, large lima, yelloweye (what in the world is that?), garbanzo, baby lima, green split pea, kidney, cranberry bean, small white, pink bean, small red bean, yellow split pea, lentil, navy, white kidney, black bean.

Easy Crockpot Beef Brisket

I have had this recipe printed off for a long time and I finally got around to trying it.  It was SO easy.  The best part is, the brisket I bought was so big that I have more of it in the freezer.  I cut it into sections that would fit in my crockpot and froze the rest in crockpot-size parts.

 

Ingredients:

2 onions, thinly sliced

4 lbs beef brisket (not corned)

2 T. ketchup

1 T. red wine vinegar

1 T. brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

4 cloves minced garlic

water to cover bottom of pot

 

Directions:

Strew onions in bottom of crockpot.  Place brisket on top of the onions with the fatty part on the top.  Stir together the ketchup, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Rub onto the brisket.  Sprinkle garlic on top of the brisket.  Pour in just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  I served this by itself first and poured some of the juice and onions on my plate with it.  I also made brisket sandwiches and put the onions from the bottom of the pan on the sandwich.  So delicious!

When it is done, it will shred like this:

img_6230

Simple Crockpot Chicken Drumsticks

This recipe is ridiculously easy.  I made it a few weekends ago for some young kids and they gobbled it up, so it is kid-friendly too.  If they don’t like the spices on it, they can easily pull off the skin and just eat the chicken underneath.  This has become one of my go-to meals when I don’t have a lot of time or when I can’t think of anything new to do.  I hope it makes your life easier too :-).

 

Ingredients:

2 tsp salt

1 T. paprika

2 tsp chili powder (Make sure it’s gluten free- I’ve heard that it’s sometimes not.  McCormick is gluten free for sure.)

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp thyme

1/2 garlic powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

4 lbs chicken drumsticks, skin on

 

Directions:

Loosely crumple aluminum foil and place it on the bottom of your Crockpot (see picture below).  This holds the drumsticks out of the liquid so they get a nice texture as they cook.  Combine all other ingredients and mix well.  Roll drumsticks in the spice mixture and place on top of the crumpled foil in the Crockpot (or any other slow cooker).  If you have any leftover spices at the end, sprinkle it over the chicken in the Crockpot.  Put lid on crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Mine is done in 6, but it shouldn’t hurt it to cook it for 8, even 10 hours.  I used to leave this in the crockpot while I was teaching at school. Do not remove lid while it is cooking as you will release steam and slow down the cooking process.  Discard the juice in the bottom unless you want it for something.  Serve over rice and with a side of vegetables.  This is also a good meal if you are taking food to someone- it’s easy to make and easy to transport.

 

 

Original recipe: http://www.creativelydomestic.com/2009/10/slow-cooker-sticky-chicken-drumsticks.html

Lentil Stew

My neighbors came over on a rainy day to play board games.  I tossed this in the crockpot and served it over rice.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture…

 

Ingredients:

7 c. chicken broth (or vegetable broth if vegetarian)

1 bag of lentils (about 2.5 cups)

2 cans tomato sauce (8 oz each)

1/2 onion, chopped

1 c. carrots, chopped

4-6 garlic cloves

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp pepper

 

Directions:

Put all ingredients in the crock pot and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

 

 

 

Adapted from the recipe on the back of the HEB bag of lentils.

Refried Beans

The name isn’t actually true.  I didn’t actually recook these.  They really should be “mashed and seasoned beans,” but that just doesn’t have the same ring to it, and it is a highly unlikely google search.

 

Ingredients:

3-4 cups cooked and mashed pinto beans, or 2 cans of pinto beans, drained

1/4 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 clove garlic, minced

1 can of rotel with juice (10 oz can)

Juice of half a lime

 

Directions:

Soak beans overnight.  Drain and put in crockpot.  Cover with water with an additional inch of water on top of beans.  Cook on low all day (6-8 hours).

Drain water.  Mash beans (I used an immersion blender.)  Add in all ingredients and stir well.  May be served as a side dish or used as the bean portion of my enchiladas.

Pork Roast

I still get a little nervous when I am feeding more than 2-3 people.  I haven’t had much practice with it and I am always afraid there won’t be enough food.  One way to get over this is to practice having dinner guests.  The real reason we have dinner guests is that we want to get to know them, but the side benefit is I am starting to get a feel for how much food is needed.  This was an eight pound pork roast.  It turned out to be way too much food for us and our dinner guests, but fortunately we live in the modern era and have a freezer.  Some of it has come back out of the freezer already and has been used for carnitas.

This recipe was originally intended for a small pork loin.  I made it for a pot luck once and it was a hit!  This time I decided to try it with this humongous roast.  At $1 a pound, how could I refuse?  The large roast had a mild flavor because the spices had difficulty getting to the middle of the roast, but if you have a small roast or pork loin, it will permeate just fine.  You could probably stand to double the spices if you are using a large roast.  We ate the parts that had been sitting in the juice without adding any sauces or anything.  The middle parts we have been using for other things like BBQ pulled pork and carnitas.  The great thing about cooking is that it is extremely flexible, so you can use this recipe as you wish.

 

Ingredients:

2-3 pound pork loin or pork roast (can use up to an 8 pound roast)

3 T. lemon juice

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp crushed rosemary (didn’t use the time I took it to a potluck, but I did use it this time)

1 tsp parsley flakes

1/2 tsp thyme

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp salt

 

Directions:

Put the loin/roast in a crock pot.  Spread all ingredients on top of the roast and turn to coat (this was impossible with an 8 lb roast, but was easy with a smaller porkloin.)

For a smaller piece of meat, cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 6-8 hours.  For a larger piece of meat, cook on high for 6-8 hours or low for 8-10 hours.  I cooked mine on high for 8 hours because it was so large.

img_6207

 

Original recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/simply-delicious-crock-pot-pork-loin-317045

 

Pulled Pork

2 medium onions, sliced

4 garlic cloves, sliced

1 cup chicken broth

1 T. brown sugar, packed

1 T. chili powder

1 T. salt or more

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

4-5 pound pork loin

 

Directions:

Strew the onions and garlic in the bottom of the crock pot.  Add chicken broth.  Stir together the sugar and spices and then rub on the entire pork loin.  Place pork loin in the crock pot and put on high for 6-8 hours or low for 8-10 hours.

 

We used the pork loin for a variety of dishes: carnitas, pulled pork sandwiches, etc.  It freezes and defrosts really well.  In order to freeze it, I shredded it ahead of time.

Here is a pulled pork sandwich I made using Hamburger Buns and by adding Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce.

 

IMG_4529
Pulled pork sandwiches

 

Original recipe: http://www.chow.com/recipes/30356-easy-slow-cooker-pulled-pork/

Mom’s Crockpot Chili

Sometimes people think eating gluten free is so complicated.  It doesn’t have to be.  You also don’t have to eat weird things.  This recipe of my mom’s is naturally gluten free.

 

Mom’s Crockpot Chili

 

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef or deer, browned

1 large onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1-2 tomatoes, chopped

4 carrots, chopped (optional)

3 cans tomato sauce (8 oz each)

3-4 tsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp cayenne red pepper

1/8 tsp paprika

1 can of beans (I cooked pinto beans in another crockpot because that’s what I had on hand, but normally we use kidney beans.)

 

Directions:

If using dried beans, soak overnight and then cook in a crockpot all day.

Brown the ground beef.  Chop all the veggies (I usually dice them into about 1/2 inch squares).  Add all ingredients to the crockpot and set on low all day.  See?  Isn’t that easy?  And no special modifications had to be made.

I usually serve with my Golden Sweet Cornbread.

If you are cooking for someone who is gluten free, always make sure your ingredients are gluten free.  If you are unsure, please ask the person so you make sure they can eat it :-).

Here is the progression: