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Monday, October 24, 2011

Pappasito's Pinto Bean Soup

I got this recipe from a friend on Pinterest. I love Pinterest.

Here is the link to the original recipe. However, I find the directions to be a bit confusing, so that is one reason to explain it in my blog.

I cut the recipe down a bit so I only had to use one bag of beans. And for once, I actually know exact ingredient amounts that I used. Enjoy that little treat while it lasts. Here is my altered recipe:

Pappasito's Pinto Bean Soup
1 lb pinto beans (dried)
3 quarts water, divided
1/2 lb bacon, diced
1/3 c. garlic, minced
4 tbsp cilantro, divided
2/3 c. onion, diced
2 1/8 tsp cumin
2 1/8 tsp onion powder
1 1/8 tbsp salt
1 1/2 c. diced tomatoes

Step one: the night before you want to make this, soak your beans in 2 quarts water overnight. This step is very IMPORTANT! Something bad will happen if you don't soak your beans. I don't know what, but it's not good news. So just soak your beans.

Step 2: In the morning, drain your beans and set aside.

Step 3: Cook your bacon:
Mmmm, bacon.

After your bacon is done, remove it from the pan, leaving the fat. Add the garlic, onion, and 2 tbsp. cilantro to the hot bacon grease. Just so your are prepared, the smell of onion, garlic, and cilantro cooking in bacon grease is probably what heaven smells like.

A small note about the garlic. I wasn't sure whether to use a 1/3 c. MINCED garlic, or 1/3 c. garlic and then mince it. I decided for the latter because 1/3 c. minced garlic seemed like a lot. Also, minced came after the garlic, which I believe indicates you measure and then mince. Nonetheless, I ended up using about 10-12 cloves garlic. It definitely was not too much, and I probably could have even used a little more and it would have still been good.

In case you are wondering, this is a clove of garlic:

When I first started cooking with garlic, I thought a clove of garlic was what is actually a HEAD of garlic (all the cloves together). And I wondered why my salsa never tasted right....

Lesson learned.

Moving on.

Onions are cooking and it looks and smells so delicious!

After your onion is translucent, add the onion mixture back in with the bacon. Mix with the remaining 1 quart (or 32 oz/4 cups) water, beans, cumin, onion powder, and salt. The directions say to cook on low until beans are fork tender.

I did mine in the crock pot because beans take a long time to cook. I cooked in the crock pot on high for 5 hours, but the beans could have stood to be cooked a little longer.

Just before serving, mix in tomatoes and remaining 2 tbsp cilantro.


The verdict: Overall, I thought this soup was pretty good.

It was okay the first day.

The second day it was delicious! It probably didn't hurt that reheating it allowed me to cook the beans a little longer.

I really liked the addition of tomatoes to the soup. I'd never heard of that before, but I loved the flavor of it.

In conclusion, everyone should try this because it is tasty, healthy, cheap, and easy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pizza Stuffed Banana Peppers

The other day, I was feeling a little crazy and decided to add some banana peppers to my veggie sub at Sheetz. (If you don't know what Sheetz is, Google it right now. It's amazing.)

A few days later, I decided to add them to my pizza from Pizza Hut. (Pizza Hut is not that amazing in case you were wondering).

It was love at second taste.

I decided from there on out, I need banana peppers in my life.

So this past Thursday (or Friday, I don't remember), I was craving some more banana peppers and wishing for summer weather back so I could buy some really tasty ones. I was dreaming of the stuffed green bell peppers my mom used to make, and wondering if her filling would be good in banana peppers too. Then I took it a step further, and though how good banana peppers might be stuffed with pizza ingredients. It was a long day dream. About food. Sometimes that's all that keeps me going.

So I went to the farmer's market this morning, expecting not to find anything as it's been getting pretty chilly lately, and what did I find? The last of Mr. Runion's banana peppers (Mr. Runion is a seller at the farmer's market in case you were wondering). I think God knew I couldn't wait almost a year for delicious peppers.

So, this afternoon I set off to make stuffed banana peppers, pizza style. And can I just say everyone needs to do this. These were delicious.

As always, ingredient amounts are approximate. Feel free to use more or less depending on taste.

Stuffed Banana Peppers:
6 small banana peppers (mine were sweet)
3/4 cup marinara sauce
2-3 tablespoons chopped pepperoni
2-3 tablespoons mozzarella cheese
2-3 tablespoons black olives, chopped
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Shredded mozzarella for topping

First wash your banana peppers. Mine are kind of small, but it's the end of the season. What can I say?

Cut the tops off the peppers, remove seeds if desired, and cut peppers in half. Set aside for later:

Add your sauce to a small skillet. You want to get it warm so you don't have to cook the peppers for too long (mushy peppers = blah). Add the mozzarella, pepperoni, black olives, and red pepper flakes. The pepperoni in these was delicious. You might want to use extra pepperoni.

My sauce was some spaghetti-like sauce that I made earlier this summer and froze. It had some sausage in it and was already well seasoned. If you use a jarred sauce, you might want to add some onions, garlic, etc. for some extra flavor.

After the sauce is warm, add it to the peppers, top with a bit more shredded cheese, and bake in a 350 degree oven. I baked mine for about 8 mins, but you can do more or less depending on how crunchy you like your peppers.


Tortilla Soup

Towards the end of August or beginning of September, I made some tortilla soup with fresh vegetables from the farmer's market to commemorate the last of summer. Except I don't really know if it's tortilla soup, per say. It might be more of a taco soup. Either way it was delicious.

I got too busy to write a post about it at the time, so I'm writing it now. Hopefully I can remember what all ingredients/amounts I used. I'll try my best. 

Here goes:

Tortilla/Taco Soup
1-2 jalapenos, to taste
1 small onion, diced
1 lb ground beef
5 tomatoes
2 ears corn
1 1/2 cups black beans
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cilantro
1 tsp cumin powder
Red pepper flakes to taste
Sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla chips for topping if desired

Now, I really am just purely guessing on the amount of seasonings. I didn't really measure them out when I made it, and even if I did, I wouldn't remember the amounts at this time. So just use the seasonings listed and add to taste. Add a little at a time and keep tasting to see if you need more. That's how I roll anyway.

Ok, first step: chop the jalapenos. Be careful not to rub your eyes or nose after/while cutting them and all that jazz. Use gloves if you have them. Try to make sure you don't have any cuts or peeled skin around your fingernails while you're cutting. Because that juice will burn a little. I may or may not be speaking from experience. 

Anyway, jalapenos:

Look at those tricky jalapenos. They look all sweet and innocent like a green bell pepper. But they're not. As you can see, I like to leave some of the seeds with them when I chop. Mmmm, spice.

Next, cook the jalapeno and onion with the ground beef (excuse my slightly blurry photo): 

Cook that, drain it, and set aside.

Use the method outlined here to turn your tomatoes into the broth. Basically, peel, puree, and add water/salt as necessary to make the broth. 

After you have your broth to the consistency/flavor that you like, add your beef mixture back in.

Cut your corn from the ears like so and throw that into the building soup:

Corn is good in soup. More corn is better. It adds a nice crunch. Add as much as you like. 

Then add your beans. If you use canned beans, use 1 can. However, you can use this method to cook dried beans and have on hand. It's super easy! Less sodium! No more canned beans for me! So I used one of my bags of frozen beans, which is about a cup and a half. If you want some vegetarian soup, add two bags (or two cans) and leave out the beef!

Don't forget to add your spices/seasonings! Like I said, just add a little of the spices listed at a time and keep tasting to get the right amounts.

Let it boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for about a half an hour. That's it! 

Top with sour cream, a little shredded cheese, and crushed tortilla chips if desired. Enjoy!