Friday, May 27, 2011

Taco Pizza

Here's a quick and easy dinner. 


  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon honey/raw sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Add the water, yeast, & honey/sugar into your mixer bowl. Combine. Add the olive oil. Turn mixer on medium speed. Add the salt to your flour. Gradually add flour/salt mixture to mixer bowl. Combine everything until the dough comes away from the sides of the mixer bowl. Work quickly, and don't be afraid to really turn the mixer up. The whole process should only take about a minute. 

Let the dough rest in the bowl while you prep your other ingredients. 
Ok, now for the Taco Pizza

You'll need:
1 cup Salsa
2 tsp-1 tbsp taco seasoning 
1 can (1 2/3 cups)Black Beans
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 cup Shredded Cheese

Roll out your dough and place it on a pizza pan or large cookie sheet (it's ok to make a rectangular pizza…I won't tell!) dusted with a little cornmeal. 

Spread the dough with some salsa.Dust it with some taco seasoning. Sprinkle on the beans, corn, & cheese. 

Bake at 550 degrees for about 8 minutes. 

Top with sliced green onions, chopped lettuce, and chopped tomatoes. 

Serve with salsa, guacamole, & sour cream. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Crock Pot Beans

Cooking beans in a crock pot is an easy and affordable way to prepare a large amount of beans. Here's how I do it:
  • 2 lbs of dried beans sorted and rinsed. Any kind of bean will do, except red/kidney beans. Here's why- "Kidney beans contain the toxin phytohaemagglutinin, which will make you extremely ill and in some rare cases has killed. The beans MUST be boiled for 10 minutes before cooking, and that includes slow cooking. These beans become five times more toxic when heated to the temperatures used in slow cooking than they are when raw, so never just add them to a stew or chili without boiling them first." excerpt from this article.
  • Room Temperature water
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda- This has the same effects as Beano. Don't add anymore than 1/8tsp though of the beans will taste "soapy"
  • 1-2tsp. salt
Put the beans in the pot and cover with water, just about to the top. Add baking soda. Cook on high for 4 hours. Reduce to low for another 4 hours. Add salt and gently stir. Adding salt in the beginning can make the skin on the beans a little tough. You can check for doneness after 3 hours on low. Lift the lid as little as possible, it'll just make it take longer to cook. 
Once cooked and cooled a bit, divide into freezer bags or containers. 1 2/3 cups cooked beans equals 1 can from the store (that's how much is in the can minus the liquid). Use thawed beans in recipes as you would canned. Place the frozen beans right in a pot of soup or chili. 
One pound of cooked beans will make you about 4 "cans" worth. A bag of beans costs about $1, and a can of beans costs about the same. You'll be saving 75% by making them yourself, plus you've "Beano-ed" them already and controlled the amount of salt. 

A few facts about beans:
-One serving of beans (1/2 cup of dried beans) supplies about 120 calories and lots of complex carbohydrates. 
-Beans offer a low-glycemic index value. In other words, the carbohydrates in beans do not cause as quick or as steep a rise in blood sugar as do many other carbohydrate-rich foods.
-Beans are a good source of B vitamins including folic acid. Beans also provide the minerals iron, potassium, selenium, magnesium and even some calcium.
-Dried beans are a good source of insoluble fiber, which promotes digestive health and relieves constipation. Beans also provide soluble fiber, which can help reduce fat levels in the blood.
-Beans provide little fat and absolutely no cholesterol.
-Beans are an incomplete protein, yet researchers believe that the particular amino acids in dry beans may help prevent various diseases. Complete proteins contain ample amounts of all essential amino acids. Combining grains and legumes gives you a complete protein, so eat some rice with all these beans you've cooked! (Source Source)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What I've been reading...

I thought I'd share what I've been into reading lately (Yes! I read cookbooks!), and where I am getting a lot of recipes from. They aren't all about cooking, but I am growing a lot of our food, so gardening and preserving are big priorities this year too.

Make It Fresh Make It Healthy
Favorite recipe: Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese
My variation coming soon!

Season's Best Spring/Summer
Favorite Recipe: Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes
My orange raspberry version coming soon!

Quick Vegetarian Main Dishes
Favorite Recipe: Green Minestrone

Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats
Favorite Recipe(s): Veggie Fritters & Sesame Eggplant Subs

Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book
Favorite Recipe: Coffee Cake Muffins (My blueberry version coming soon!)
Plus, super useful charts for cooking grains and meats.

A Homemade Life 
Easy to read, with fun stories and yummy sounding recipes. I haven't tried any yet, but I'm enjoying reading it.

Preserving the Harvest
Love the simplicity of this book. Easy to read charts about freezing veggies and fruits too.

Rodale's Ultimate Encyclopedia Of Organic Gardening
I've used this book to reference everything from how deep to plant seeds to how to make your own pest repellent. LOVE IT! Wonderful resource.

Root Cellaring
This book goes a little deeper than I plan on using our root cellar, but the basics are there and it's a good starting point. I plan to get another book or two about root cellars.

Rodale's Vegetable Garden Problem Solver
I love Rodale's books. This one is a keeper too. Very useful, with easy to accomplish solutions.

Stocking Up 
Just got this as a gift. Looking forward to gathering lots of info from it.

Basic Cleaning Supplies

I use some very basic cleaners that I make myself to do almost all of the cleaning in my home. I make the sprays in clearly labeled, re-usable spray bottles.
Vinegar/Water Spray Cleaner: 1part White Vinegar + 2 parts water
Good for:
Window Washing
Kitchen Counter tops and appliances
"Freshen Up" cleaning in the bathroom
Pet Stain clean-up
Carpet Spills
Cleaning floors

Bleach/Water Spray Cleaner: 3/4 cup bleach + 1 gallon water
Good for:
Kitchen Disinfecting
Bathroom Disinfecting

You can clean just about everything in your home with these two easy to make cleaners.
I use this for cleaning the toilet and tub/tile in the shower. I find it works well for deep cleaning. I use vinegar water or bleach water to clean regularly.

For the toilet, sprinkle in about 1/4 cup Borax. Let sit for 30 minutes. Scrub with toilet brush.

For the tub/tile: Sprinkle Borax in tub. Use a wet scrubbing sponge to scrub. Rinse with water.

Baking Soda Paste
Make a paste with baking soda and a little water. Use with a damp scrubbing sponge clean grout, stove tops, and to remove stuck on food off of countertops or appliances.

Magic Eraser
For ceramic stovetops & stubborn stains or spots on walls and painted furniture.

The only cleaner I recommend for wood. Follow this advice to keep your wood furniture in the best shape possible.

Laundry Detergent Powder

1 bar Fels Naptha, finely grated
2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda
1 cup Baking Soda

Whisk everything in a large bowl to combine. Store in a large jar. Makes about 7 cups.

For use:
Small Load: 1 tbsp
Medium Load: 2 tbsp
Large Load: 3 tbsp

Plus 1/2 cup white vinegar in the rinse cycle.

Sprinkle in washing machine and stir to dissolve before adding clothes.

For heavily soiled clothing, soak before washing.

Peanut Butter Coconut Granola

This granola packs a calorie punch…good for my hardworking husband, who likes to start his day with an energy packed breakfast.

1 1/2 cups raw sugar
1 jar natural peanut butter
1/2 cup oil (evoo or canola)

16 cups oats (quick cook or whole)
1 bag unsweetened coconut
2 cups chopped walnuts

1 box dried currants or raisins

Combine sugar, pb, & oil in a large bowl. Stir in oats, coconut, & walnuts. Fold until mixture is coated and crumbly.

Spread out on 3 parchment lined cookie sheets.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Stir granola and return to oven for another 20 minutes.

Return to large bowl and combine the currants.

Let cool and store in large jars in refrigerator.

Serve as a cold cereal in milk.

1/2 cup serving approx. 275 calories.

Yields 24 cups.