Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cookbook Testing: Slow Cooker: 100 Tried and True Recipes

Following up on the post I did about slow cooker recipes.
A feature on one cookbook in particular.

Let me take you through a few of the recipes I've made so far...

Sausage and Bean Casserole pg 110

Substituted chick peas for white beans.
Hearty and savory.  A perfect weeknight meal.


Spicy Chicken and Cheese Dip pg 44

Omitted the chicken.
I had to take something to a potluck dinner for the local Scout troop.
Add a bag of tostitos chips and you've got a party.
(Note:  this did not reheat well.)


Beef Ragu with Tagliatelle pg 81

Omitted the red wine (it was Valentine's day. we drank it instead)
Substituted creamy tomato soup for the tomato paste.
A totally drool worthy meal for a couple or a crowd.
The leftovers reheat beautifully.


Spicy Pulled Pork pg 73

Made the rolls myself.
Not so spicy...as the title claimed.
Add red pepper flakes when we reheated the meat and it was perfect!
I can see me making a ton of pulled pork this summer time.
The slow cooker plugged in on the deck.



A perfect addition to your shelf.
If you want slow cooker meals (both budget-friendly and easy to make),
this is the book for you.
If you want to expand your knowledge of what you think a slow cooker can do, 
this is the book for you.
If you just want some fun recipes for entertaining,
this is so the book for you.

Definitely a keeper!

PS.  Thanks to my awesome step mom Mary Elaine for gifting this cookbook!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Black Bean Recipe Roundup

I have talked before about Meat Free Mondays
and about substituting vegetarian meals into your weekly diet.
Not only are beans a healthy choice but they are packed with proteins and vitamins.
Did I also mention, canned or dried, beans are SUPER CHEAP!!!
(PS.  They even sell the Mr Goudas brand at  the Dollartree now...WIN!)

Just to help you out...
I have a black bean roundup for you!

I usually make a fried black bean dish that totally reminds Ches and I of being in Costa Rica.

Original black bean recipe,
Burritos and Southwest Soup:

My newest recipe was adding the black bean recipe and serving it quesadilla-style.
Plain Greek yoghurt for the sour cream.
Chopped fresh tomatoes, grated local cheese, our home made salsa and some of last year's pickled jalapenos between two flour tortillas.  Place on side down in a frying pan with a bit of oil.
Fry one side and then flip to grill the other side.
Slice and serve while piping hot.


Below is the roundup of more recipes I've already posted on the blog:

Burritos and Vegetarian Nachos


A Creamy Black Bean Dip:


Other Bean Recipes:


A couple of Mean Bean Soup Recipes:


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Decorating on the Cheap...LAMP EDITION

It seems that spring time is the time for cleaning and decorating.
Every spring I seem to rearrange the house and make a few things.
Last year I made a few decorative pillows and they are my most pinned pin on Pinterest!
All I did was crochet some covers on top of some kid pillows...easy!

This year's project happened because I noticed a pile of lamps in my house.
Not just one or two...a PILE of LAMPS!?!?!

Who on earth has a pile of lamps?
Seriously...I had no idea.

They weren't just lamps here or there.
There was literally a pile of lamps in the basement.

I decided to spruce them up a bit!


I also had some fabric laying around.
A close family friend gave it to us when a relative of theirs passed away.
I had stock piled the fabric for curtains in the chicken coop.

The lamp I chose to start with was small and stained.
It used to live in my son's room...until he required a brighter light for reading.

All it took was a glue gun!
I glued the fabric to the shade and trimmed the excess fabric off.

It turned out so lovely!

Owen was so impressed he had to plug it in and try it out.
Not too shabby!

Actually I was so impressed with how it turned out...
I did it on another wayward lamp!

What have you upcycled lately?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Slow Cooker Recipe Roundup

Slow cooker means convenient, set-it-and-forget-it meals.
Hot comfort food for the dead of winter.
Stick to your ribs...and coat your stomach.
Easy on the wallet when it comes to the ingredients.

But the slow cooker can be so much more...
so let me share with you some of my most recent slow cooker meals.


A bunch of fridge and pantry staples can come together with meat in a slow cooker.
What comes out is an amazing meal!
The best part of slow cooking with meat is that the cuts that really benefit low and slow style cooking are generally on sale or are very resonablly priced.
Chicken thighs or legs.
Pork shoulders or ribs.
I have really broaded my tastes this year with slow cooked meat.
Check it out!

Sweetened with local wildflower honey, this dish was a hit with everyone...even Owen!
Super simple...like 4 ingredients...everybody wins.
Plus, you'll be immune to colds...and vampires.

This dish rocks...with or without the cashews (you add them in at the end anyway).
We made this dish once and were so hungry, we forgot to add them!
Totally tasty both ways.

Not just for thick winter meals!
Try plugging your slow cooker outside (not in direct sun).
I cooked this delicious meal on our deck!
It was a bright, tropical flavoured chicken dish...perfect!
Not only that, but it didn't heat up our kitchen.

Sticky Ribs  (from The Joy Of Cooking Cookbook)

Wash and pat down the ribs. 
Cut them up into manageable pieces. 
Toss into the slow cooker along with the following ingredients: 
10 oz beef broth, 
1/2 cup water, 
2 tbsp maple syrup (we used out own), 
2 tbsp local honey, 
3 tbsp soy sauce, 
2 tbsp bbq sauce or ketchup, 
1/2 tsp dry mustard. 
Cook on high for 6-8 hrs. 
I'm not even joking...the meat will fall off the bones!!! 
Served with yellow potato wedges, baked and a green salad with cubed Wilton Mozzarella cheese.

Pulled Pork Sliders

Made from the Slow Cooker cookbook I got at Christmas!
Wait for my post all about the other recipes I've made from this book.
Truly a keeper for the cookbook shelf!

Spicy Pork Carnitas

Not a real flavourful meat dish...but adding sweet chili sauce and avocados helped.
We also didn't have any flatbread...so I just whipped some up in the breadmaker.
Just as tasty!



The slow cooker is still my go-to for soups...
So here are this years soup concoctions!

As seen in Shape Magazine's slow cooker roundup.
I used regular bacon from a local butcher rather than Canadian (peameal) bacon.

Harvest Veggie Chili with Quinoa

I made the veggie chili before and froze it.

Quick Veggie Chili
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 onion from the garden, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 green pepper, diced
1 cup corn from the garden
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed
cayenne pepper and chili powder to taste.
add ingredients to slow cooker and cook on low or 6-8 hrs.

When I reheated the chili, I added buttercup squash, cumin and turmeric.
Adding leftover pre-cooked quinoa added a hint of smokey or nutty flavour.
It also upped the protein of this vegetarian delight.
The spices are so warming...the veggies are totally fall.

Red Lentil and Veggie Soup

Another great vegetarian soup.
I made this soup so much that I memorized it.
It originated from a cookbook of recipes from developing countries.
From this cookbook, I got a hilarious story about "zom".
(if you ever get the chance, ask my mom or sister about it)
The other thing I got from the cookbook was this amazingly simple soup.

Red Lentil and Veggie Soup
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
4 cups vegetable broth
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 onion from the garden, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cumin
I adapted this recipe from pot to slow cooker.
Add ingredients to slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hrs.
Great on a cold winter night!

Chicken Tomato Soup

A slow cooker marvel! 
Adapted from this recipe here.

2 cans of diced tomatoes (or we used our frozen ones from the garden)
1 tsp Italian seasoning (homemade mixture)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 cup home made chicken stock
2 chicken breasts
 Set on low for 6-8 hrs

Just before serving, take 2 forks and shred the chicken breasts. 
Served with mozzarella grilled cheese sammies
I just couldn't resist...

What are your favorite slow cooker recipes?