Freezing Root Veg Crock-Pot Mixtures

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A while back, I picked up a ton of root vegetables and chopped them up.  I mixed them together and froze them in crock-pot sized increments.  Pretty straight forward set up.  Then I just add seasoning when I cook it.  I’ve done cranberry juice, rice vinegar, cream of mushroom soup, along with various herbs and seasonings.  Cranberry juice is amazing with sweet potatoes.  We’ve also added a ghost pepper once.  It make everything surprisingly spicy even though we didn’t eat the actual pepper.

Just put the veggies in the crock-pot, pour in your liquid of choice, add seasonings and then add water until everything is covered.  Put it on low for 8 or so hours.  You can also add in a bag of dried beans, just don’t use kidney beans, they require more prep.  This is a really laid back ‘recipe’, you just kind of throw stuff together.

Let me know what types of things you add for flavoring.

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Cooking with Turnips Successfully

When I bought the turnip, the guy at the store was rather skeptical about me cooking it.  He told me he’d only heard of people shredding it and making slaw.  But I think doing it in the slow cooker was a total success.  I am also starting to fall in love with my slow cooker.

Turnip, Potato, and Carrot Stew

1 peeled turnip

4 carrots

3 russet potatoes

1 small red onion

1 tetrapack or can cream of mushroom soup

rosemary

parsley

water

green onions

Chop up the turnip, carrots, potatoes, and onion and throw them in the slow cooker.  Put the cream of mushroom soup in and then add water until you’ve basically covered all the vegetables.  Sprinkle in a bit of rosemary and parsley, I used dried, but if you have fresh, I’m sure that’s much better.  Cook on low for 6 hours.  Serve with chopped green onions on top.

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If I made it again, I’d probably add more carrots, but it was pretty good.  It could’ve used a bit more flavor but I’m not sure what I should’ve added.  I would’ve liked more mushrooms than just the few in the soup, but the hero isn’t a huge mushroom fan.  Any suggestions on what I should add next time?

Multi-Bean Soup: Dried and Ready To Go

I’ve been wanting to make some convenience foods lately.  Something I can quickly throw together but is still healthy for my family.  I am also a bit limited on freezer space, so I’ve been looking into dried convenience foods.  So I made this multi-bean soup.

I know you’ve been saving all of your glass jars after you use up the products from the store.  We have a lot of them from nut butters and coconut oil.  Pro-tip, clean the labels off before you fill the jars.  You could package these in canning jars, but you might as well use these recycled jars and save the canning jars for actual canning.

Convenient Multi-Bean Soup

*makes aprox 7 jars

1 bag pinto beans

1 bag black beans

1 bag navy beans

1 bag split peas

1 bag other beans (lentils, garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas, ect.)

aprox 1/3 cup dried chopped carrots

aprox 1/3 cup dried celery

aprox 1 cup dried leeks

black pepper

Grind up the leeks and celery in a food processor.  Divide the ground leeks and celery and carrots evenly between jars.
On top of that, layer the beans in any order you like.  Pop the lid on and make a label with these instructions.

Soak overnight in 8 cups of water.  Simmer in 6 cups of water for 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

OR

Cook in slow cooker.  Cover with water and then an additional 2 inches.  Cook 8 – 10 hours on low.

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My original plan with this was to use kidney beans as my fifth bean but at the last minute, learned that kidney beans have to be cooked differently than the others, so I had to fill it out with the various little bits of other beans we had.

This can be eaten as a soup as the recipe says.  You could also add meat into the slow cooker with them.  Or you could serve the whole thing over rice.  Or you could mix it with pasta sauce.  Can you think of any other ways to use this convenience food?

Brinner Stuffed Potatoes

So I really like brinner.  Ok, I love brinner.  That’s breakfast for dinner for those of you who haven’t discovered this amazingness yet.

Most people do something like eggs, bacon and pancakes for brinner.  And, of course,  grits here in the south.  and these are great, but what about stuffed potatoes?

Brinner Stuffed Potatoes

2 Irish potatoes (each half of a potato equals one serving, so adjust accordingly)

3 eggs

2 slices bacon

chopped up veggies or whatever you like in omelets (we did green bell pepper)

shredded cheese

Scramble your eggs with whatever veggies you’re adding.  Cook your bacon to crispy goodness.  Microwave each potato about 5 minutes and don’t forget to poke holes in your potatoes before microwaving.  Carefully (the potatoes are hot) cut them in half.  I suggest doing them length ways even though we did them the other way.  Scoop out the inner potato leaving a thin layer around the skin.  Then fill the potato with the scrambled eggs and veggies.  Top with half a strip of bacon and shredded cheese and bake at 350° for about 5 minutes.  Basically you just want to heat everything up and melt the cheese.  Enjoy!

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Black King Pasta Sauce

One of the types of tomatoes we planted this year is a variety called Black King tomatoes.  They ripen to a deep purple color and have a unique and complex taste.  We decided to use a bunch of them to make some pasta sauce.  Excepting the basil leaves (which we got at the most recent food swap) everything in the sauce is from our garden.

Black King Pasta Sauce

5-6 black king tomatoes

1 green bell pepper

1/2 of one red cayenne pepper

2-3 green onion lengths

a few leaves fresh basil

Chop everything coarsely and put in a large pot.  Heat over medium heat and semi crush the tomatoes.  I used a potato masher but you could also just use the back of a spoon.  How much you crush it is the difference between chunky and thinner sauce.  Cooking it longer will make a thinner sauce too.  I made the sauce a few days in advance and stored it in a recycled store pasta sauce jar in the fridge.

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We poured it over whole wheat pasta and topped with parmesan cheese.  It was good.  It convinced the hero that he wanted to grow black king tomatoes again next year.

Do you grow any unique tomato varieties?

Stuffed Bell Peppers from the Garden

We were at a bit of a loss with what to have for dinner tonight.  We need to go to the grocery store soon so we didn’t have much to work with.  Or so I thought.  I started thinking about what vegetables we had.  We had some broccoli and ruby chard in the fridge.  Yum right?  Then I realized we also had a wealth of tomatoes, green onions, and various peppers in our yard.  It was exciting to realize we had much more food than we had thought and so I made stuffed bell peppers.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

2 bell peppers

1 tomato

a few sprigs parsley

1 onion green

about a cup of chopped broccoli

a few scoops ricotta cheese

olive oil

Preheat oven to broil.  Cut the stem off of the bell pepper and slice it in half.  Spray or brush the outside of the pepper with olive oil.  Chop the tomato, onion green, broccoli, and parsley and put inside the bowl of the pepper.  Cover with a thick layer of ricotta cheese.  Bake in oven about 15 minutes, until skin of pepper starts to wrinkle.

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We also had some cornbread.  It was really good.  Enjoy!

Spicy Pulled Pork in Slow Cooker

I decided to experiment with slow cooking a pork loin for the hero’s first father’s day.  It turned out really well.  In the morning I mixed up a bunch of stuff in the blender and used it plus some water as the liquid in the slow cooker.  I put carrots down at the bottom and put the pork loin (after I had trimmed of the surface fat) on top.  The I poured the liquid on, sprinkled some paprika on, and set it to cook on the low setting for about 8 hours.  It was really good.  Here’s the recipe for the liquid.

Spicy Pulled Pork

2 scotch bonnet peppers

1 orange bell pepper

1 clove garlic

1 green cayenne pepper (from our garden)

3 onion greens (from our garden)

3 sprigs of cilantro (also from our garden)

Splash of chicken broth to get it going in the blender

Blend all these things together.  I took off the dry stems of the peppers and then just blended them whole.  I had to put the chicken broth in to have some liquid in my blender before the produce got liquified.

Then I put carrots from the farmer’s market on the bottom of the slow cooker, trimmed the surface fat off the pork loin and put it in the slow cooker.  I poured the blended liquid on and then added water until the pork was mainly covered.  Then I realized I had forgotten to add paprika so I sprinkled some on top and closed the lid.  I left it on the low setting for 8 hours and did everything else for 8 hours but cook.  I love my slow cooker!

We had the pork and carrots for dinner and it was so good.  The meat was spicy and tender.  It just fell apart when we picked it up out of the slow cooker.  The carrots were even better, it went together so well that if I made this again I would add carrot to the pureed liquid.  It would go great with a citrus beer or maybe just lime juice.

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Stir-Fried Day-Lily Buds

Alright, lilies may have a use after all.  As long as you are very careful with where you grow them.  Various parts of day-lilies are used in Chinese cooking, the new shoots, the flowers, and the flower buds.  I decided to cook some of the flower buds.  I gathered a bunch of them around midday to cook for dinner.  After I picked them I put them in cool water (tap water with one ice cube in it) in a coffee mug.  Then I left them in a dark and cook place (my kitchen counter away from windows) and left them to The King (that’s a reference to the Elvis mug I used, not another secret identity of a family member).

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I prepared the stir-fry with broccoli, bell peppers, onions, snow peas (from my dad’s garden), and the lily buds.  But you could use any vegetables you have on hand.

Stir-Fried Day-Lily Buds

About a handful of broccoli, chopped (florets and stalk)

About a handful of bell pepper, chopped

About a Tablespoon onion, chopped

About two handfuls of snow peas (don’t forget to string them)

A coffee mug’s worth of Day-Lily flower buds (see photo above)

Dash paprika

Splash grapeseed oil (could also use any other vegetable oil)

First you detach the flower buds from the stems.  You only want to use ones that are between 2 and 4 inches long and have some color to them.  Some of the larger ones had a string inside that I pulled out if it came easily.  I don’t know if this is necessary, it’s just what I did.

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I put a skillet on the stove with some grapeseed oil at medium heat.  First I cooked the broccoli and onions for a few minutes.  Then I added the bell pepper, snow peas, lily flowers buds, and paprika.  You can season any way you want.  I cooked everything until tender, stirring regularly.  I ended up breaking up the flower buds while cooking them.  I think at first glance they look like shrimp.

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It tasted good.  The flower buds have a very subtle flavor, so don’t expect them to carry the dish.  The minion even got to eat one of the flower buds.  She seemed to like it, but ended up smearing it with yogurt.  Of course she smeared everything with yogurt; her shirt, my shirt, the table, the floor…

Beer Marinade for Steak

For our anniversary, the hero cooked us a great dinner.  He’s really talented with seasonings and he wanted to try marinading the meat this time.  It turned out delicious.

He bought some antibiotic and hormone free rib eye steaks and mixed up the marinade around lunch time and let the steaks soak it in for about 6 hours.  Then he did a spice rub and cooked them on the stove.  He was very excited to try adding beer to the marinade and he used Tap Room No.21 Belgian White.  Of course it was a great excuse to drink the rest of the bottle after he was done mixing the marinade.

Beer Marinade

1 tsp ginger

aprox 1 TBSP agave nectar

dash cayenne pepper

dash paprika

1 long onion green stalk (from our garden!)

1 clove garlic

juice of 1/2 lime

1 cup beer (Tap Room No.21 Belgian White)

dash salt

few drops ghost pepper hot sauce (you could add a bit more if using a milder hot sauce)

Mix it all together and put in a resealable plastic bag with two steaks.  Let sit in fridge for at least 6 hours.

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Rub

dash garlic powder

dash onion powder

dash salt

dash black pepper

dash paprika

Mix the rub together and rub onto the meat with your fingers.  The hero used a greased cast iron grill pan and preheated it on the stove at high heat.  When he added the meat, he dropped the temperature to medium and flipped the steak every minute or two.  It did get a bit smokey so be prepared for that.  Cut into the meat to see when there is no pink left inside.  He served it with sweet potato fries, green beans, and apples (not pictured).

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It was delicious, the beer gave it a bit of a tangy flavor and the hot sauce was the perfect complement.  The perfect special occasion meal.