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Showing posts with label pillsbury. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pillsbury. Show all posts
11 October 2012

MyBlogSpark: Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Crust

I've been making a lot of pizza, lately, and while I've made a few scratch crusts, I usually buy balls of pizza dough from the grocery store or a local bakery. White or whole wheat, it all seems to work out about the same and still makes (imho) a better pizza than most of the delivery or carry-out stuff available locally.

Recently, I saw that Pillsbury recently started selling an "artisan" pizza crust with whole grains. I was a bit skeptical -- could stuff in a tube be as good as fresh dough from the bakery -- but that didn't stop me from running off to the store to pick up a tube when MyBlogSpark sent me a coupon for $1.25 off one package of New Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Crust with Whole Grain.

Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Crust is certainly convenient -- just roll it out, cover it in pizza toppings, and bake until delicious. Unlike bakery pizza dough, there's no need to leave the dough out on the counter at room temperature to puff up and there's no need to roll or shape it.

Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Crust
See the whole grain goodness!
Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Crust
It's almost pizza!
Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Crust
Slightly burnt around the edges, but still yummy.
I made my pizza with garlic marina sauce, leftover shredded chicken, thinly sliced garlic, fresh mushrooms, reduced-fat Italian cheese blend, and salt-free Italian seasoning blend. It looked beautiful when it came out of the oven and tasted pretty good.

However, I don't know if I'll really buy Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Crust with Whole Grains again. It was easy, yes, and the coupon certainly made it economical, but pizza dough isn't hard to find or make and I think I prefer the taste of "real" pizza dough. This Pillsbury dough had that slightly sweet, buttery edge that many of the refrigerated Pillsbury doughs seem to have. Buttery and sweet is fine in biscuits and bread sticks, but a little weird in pizza dough.

Mind you, The Husband liked it just fine. A little more wheat-y tasting than other whole wheat doughs we've tried, but good enough for him. Nor did he mind that the bottom stayed a bit soft -- I don't know if that's because of the dough itself or because I used a jelly roll pan instead of a pizza stone. I usually use a pizza stone and we get a uniformly crisp crust.

Want to try Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Crust with Whole Grain? You can visit http://bit.ly/PCwWG to download a printable coupon for $1.25 off one roll. Don't know what to put on your pizza? Find great recipes at the Pillsbury website, or by visiting Pillsbury on Facebook, or by following Pillsbury on Twitter!

18 January 2012

Pantry Challenge: Clean Out The Cupboards With Soup

Trying to stay on track with the Pantry Challenge, I made a couple soups. There's nothing as comforting or forgiving as soup, after all, and it's always an excellent way to use up odds and ends.

First I made a batch of Pillsbury's "Curried Pumpkin-Vegetable Soup." It was a really tasty, easy soup with lots of good curry flavor. I admit I used 1 tsp more curry than called for and I bloomed the spices with the sauteed onions before adding the remaining ingredients, because that's what I learned from Cook's Illustrated -- always bloom spice blends like curry powder to help develop their rich, complex flavors. I wanted a flavorful soup, so I bloomed.

Did it work? I think so. Certainly, I was so interested in eating it that I never stopped to take a picture of the finished soup! This is one of the best recipes ever! Simple and healthy and yet also so rich and flavorful.

Curried Pumpkin-Vegetable Soup, Ingredients

Ingredients: pumpkin, frozen mixed vegetables, broth, curry powder, paprika, onion, garlic, diced tomatoes, salt, black pepper.
Pantry challenge items used: 1 can pumpkin, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 can turkey broth.

Emboldened by my success, I went on to make a big pot of Taste of Home's "Vegetable Bean Soup" which not only allowed me to use pantry challenge ingredients, but also some limp celery and ancient frozen chopped spinach.  Unfortunately, this soup was not quite as tasty as the pumpkin soup. Rich and hearty, yes, with lots of vegetable goodness and I'm sure I'll make it again, but ... the pumpkin soup was just the bomb, you know?

Vegetable Bean Soup, Ingredients

Soup!


Ingredients: black beans, onion, garlic, celery, carrots, diced tomatoes, garlic powder, black pepper, salt, no-salt powdered beef bouillon, quick-cooking barley.
Pantry challenge items used: 1 can black beans, 2 cans diced tomatoes, partial box of quick-cooking oats.
23 September 2011

Easy-Peasy Lemon-Curry Chicken Soup

Earlier this week, I made Pillsbury's "Lemon-Curry Chicken & Wild Rice Soup" to take to work all week. It's a very easy, semi-homemade recipe using Progresso chicken & wild rice soup as a base. Curry flavor isn't too heavy and the lemon gives it a nice zing.

Easy-Peasy Lemon-Curry Chicken Soup

Ingredients: Progresso chicken & wild rice soup, Penzeys Maharajah curry powder, plain fat-free yoghurt, lemon juice, whole grain white flour, unsalted butter, parsley.
26 July 2011

Squash Season: Zucchini Meatloaf

For Sunday's supper, I made Pillsbury's "Zucchini Meat Loaf." I tweaked the recipe a little by using 85% lean organic ground beef, liquid egg whites, whole wheat salt-free seasoned bread crumbs, salt-free ketchup, and Stonewall Kitchen's blue cheese herb mustard. And, while the recipe doesn't say to, I seeded my zucchini before shredding it -- just cut the squash into four wedges and scooped the seeds out with a spoon as if I were seeding a cucumber. I also wrapped the shredded squash in a tea towel and squeezed it until I couldn't get any more moisture out. Squash contains a lot of water, you know, and I didn't want a mushy meatloaf!

Zucchini Meat Loaf 1
Pretty colors!

Zucchini Meat Loaf 2
Makes me want to sing "great green gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts ..."

Zucchini Meat Loaf 3
Eh, a lot less pretty now.

Zucchini Meat Loaf, 4
Delicious!

While this zucchini meatloaf was very easy to make and baked up moist and filling, it was a little on the bland side. I did double the glaze recipe as it did not adequately cover my entire meatloaf, and the glaze had good flavor, but the meatloaf could have benefited from heavier seasoning. Next time I might use a teaspoon of salt-free Italian seasoning blend and a liberal sprinkle of black pepper instead of the half teaspoon of oregano called for in the recipe.
22 July 2011

Squash Season: Easy, Cheesy Casserole

Earlier this week, I made the cheesiest and most delicious squash casserole I've ever made. Seriously, it was so good, The Husband went back for seconds and he's not all that keen on squash. I modelled my casserole on Pillsbury's recipe for Zucchini 'n Hamburger Casserole, but I used organic 94% lean ground turkey, homegrown crookneck (yellow) squash, salt-free Italian seasoning blend, and organic mozzarella. I also sliced the squash very thin (about as thick as a quarter) as I wanted everything to melt together into delicious squashy-rice-tomato-cheese goodness.

I admit I was a little worried about using a can of soup, because I thought it might make the casserole too salty or runny, but it worked out fine. Yes, the casserole was a little runny when it first came out of the oven, but I let it sit for fifteen minutes before serving it and it set up just fine. As for sodium, 680mg of salt spread across six servings does not make for a salty casserole.

Casserole Straight From the Oven

Doesn't it look good? All cheesy and tomato-y? Like a square squash pizza? Who wouldn't want to eat that? And, if you're poo-pooing it because you think whole fat cheese = death fatz, you could use reduced-fat or fat-free mozzarella but I can't guarantee the cheese will melt properly under the broiler.

The recipe doesn't say to broil the casserole, but I did broil it for about five minutes at the end to make the cheese all golden and bubbly. Frankly, since I got over my fear of broiling, I now stick everything under the broiler if I possibly can!

Delicious Squash Casserole

Oh, yeah, I am making this again. Soon, very soon, my little squashes.
07 May 2011

Homemade Spudulike: Olé

There's a fast food chain in the the UK called spudulike. They sell baked potatoes stuffed with things like tuna and sweetcorn, baked beans (the proper British kind), coleslaw, egg mayonnaise (egg salad), and chili con carne. As far as I know, there's nothing like it in the US ... which is a bit sad as spudulike is cheap, filling, reasonably wholesome, and makes my tummy happy.

Until I saw the recipe for "Olé Salsa Potatoes" in Pillsbury Fast & Healthy, it never occurred to me I could make spudulike at home. I mean, it's not a complicated food! Everyone knows how to bake a potato. Just need to figure out what flavor of stuff you want on top.


Potatoes, Olé

(sadly, cell phone photo does not do it justice)

I microwaved the potatoes and, while they microwaved, prepared the beef filling -- just cooked very lean ground beef until browned, then stirred in garlicky salsa and Penzeys salt free Arizona Dreaming. When the potatoes were done and rested, I rolled them around on the counter as the recipe suggested and it really did loosen the potatoes' flesh quite nicely. Then I cut each potato in half and topped the halves with beef mixture, sour cream, and salsa. Next time I might also had a little shredded lettuce and some sliced olives for increased taco-ness.

Anyway, these were very good potatoes, The Husband was amused to eat spudulike off our best china, and I enjoyed the whole experience enough to want to make them again next week ... with tuna and sweetcorn, I think, as that is the best topping ever.
02 May 2011

Menu Plan Monday, 2 May

Borrowed Pillsbury Fast & Healthy Cookbook from the library last week so it should come as no surprise that most of this week's menu was plucked from its pages.

Monday
  • "Olé Salsa Potatoes" from Pillsbury Fast & Healthy Cookbook with tossed salad. Ingredients: baked potatoes, lean ground turkey, garlicky salsa, shredded Cabot 50% reduced-fat cheddar, light sour cream, Penzeys Bold taco seasoning.
Tuesday
  • Leftover salsa potato with tossed salad.
Wednesday
  • "Southwest Pork & Black Bean Stir-Fry" from Pillsbury Fast & Healthy Cookbook over quinoa. Ingredients: pork loin, low-sodium black beans, onion, bell pepper, garlic, corn, zucchini, black bean salsa, quinoa, low-sodium chicken broth.
Thursday
  • Leftover stir-fry with yoghurt and fruit.
Friday
  • Marinated grilled chicken breasts with "Barley, Corn, & Pepper Salad" from Pillsbury Fast & Healthy Cookbook. Ingredients: Penzey's Greek seasoning blend, chicken breasts, lemon juice, black pepper, quick-cooking barley, diced bell peppers, red onion, olive oil, rehydrated cilantro.
Saturday/Sunday
  • "Taco Spaghetti" from Better Homes & Garden's Fast Fix Family Favorites with tossed salad. Ingredients: whole grain spaghetti, lean ground turkey, onion, Penzeys Bold taco seasoning, corn with peppers, shredded Cabot 50% reduced-fat cheddar, diced green chilies, shredded lettuce, broken tortilla chips, diced grape tomatoes, light sour cream.
09 November 2010

My Favorite Slow Cooker Cookbook

Way back in 2003, I bought a copy of Pillsbury's Slow Cooker Recipes. I was, at that point in time, not quite the cookbook collecting fiend I have become, but I knew I had to purchase a copy of this cookbook simply because I kept borrowing it from my public library. While my constant borrowing of it gave the item excellent circulation stats, it really wasn't fair to the other library patrons who didn't really stand a chance at ever borrowing it themselves. So, yes, I bought my copy for the greater good of my library's cookbook borrowing community. It was a terrible, terrible sacrifice ...

While I've bought or borrowed tons of cookbooks since then, Slow Cooker Recipes remains one of my favorites. Its recipes are fairly pedestrian and that's fine by me. While I love looking at newer, trendier slow cooker books that utilize exotic ingredients or additional cooking methods, they're not anything I really want to cook from.  To me, slow cooking is a time saver and I should have to do as little prep work as possible before turning on my slow cooker.  I also shouldn't have to try every grocery store in town for an impossible to find ingredient.  The foods that come out of my slow cooker don't need to be fancy or particularly photogenic, they just need to taste good and be ready when I want to eat. Pillsbury's Slow Cooker Recipes gives me what I want.

In September, I started going through my cookbook collection, weeding out the cookbooks I didn't use or particularly enjoy. I thought, perhaps, Slow Cooker Recipes might be a weed as there were only a few recipes I was making from it with any regularity and I had those recipes more-or-less memorized. Well, I was wrong! Since I first thought about weeding Slow Cooker Recipes, I have been using it pretty constantly and I am pretty sure it is still one of those cookbooks I can't live without.

While this is great for Slow Cooker Recipes, it's bad for the remaining weeds as I've run out of space for cookbooks and must make room, before I end up with piles on the floor (again).  Therefore, the cookbooks remaining on my weed list are going to be judged more mercilessly than they might have and don't really stand a chance. Happily, though, my library's Friends group is running a cookbook sale this month so my weeds will probably find good homes!
05 October 2010

Rainy Days Are For Soup

Oh, it's been a gray, rainy week! And gray, rainy weeks call for soup! Wednesday I made "Vegetable Minestrone Soup" from Pillsbury's Slow Cooker Recipes and it was pretty darn good for something that took almost no thought to make (a good thing as too many rainy days in a row slow my brain right down).


Ingredients: carrots, celery, onion, garlic, low-sodium vegetable broth, low-sodium cannellini beans,low-sodium kidney beans, low-sodium stewed tomatoes, thawed frozen spinach, uncooked broken whole wheat spaghetti, basil, thyme.

Served with bread sticks and salad, this soup made a tasty meatless mid-week supper.
01 October 2010

Deja Vu Slow Cooker

I was looking for a recipe that would let me use up some of the many leftover corn tortillas still lurking in our refrigerator when I stumbled upon a recipe for "Beefy Tortilla Casserole" in Pillsbury's Slow Cooker Recipes. While the recipe sounded quite promising, I didn't have quite the right ingredients. Rather than nip out to the grocery store, I went ahead and cludged together my own version of the recipe:
Mexican Moussaka

1 lb lean ground turkey
14½ oz. can Muir Glen fire roasted crushed tomatoes, undrained
10¾ oz. can low-fat low-sodium condensed cream of mushroom soup
4 Tbsp. Penzeys Bold Taco seasoning
¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
6 small corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 cup Greek yoghurt
1 cup Feta crumbles
3 green onions, sliced (green & white parts)

Cook turkey and taco seasoning in skillet until turkey is browned and cooked through.

Combine turkey, tomatoes, soup, broth, and tortilla strips in your slow cooker. Stir gently to combine. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 8 hours.

Shut off slow cooker. Remove lid. Spread yoghurt over top of casserole. Sprinkle with feta and green onions. Cover and let sit for about 5 minutes or until the feta has gone all melty.
When the feta and yoghurt melted together, they formed a thick creamy topping which reminded The Husband of moussaka -- hence my new name for this dish. We both liked this dish a lot and I will certainly make it again.

(Amusingly, it turns out that I had made a variation of Pillsbury's "Beefy Tortilla Casserole" before -- back in January 2009 -- and for the same reason!)

Slow Cooker 'Cue ... It's Heaven

I'd been craving a good pulled pork sandwich since I ate a not-very-good one at a local fair, but I don't know where to find a good one locally. I thought about making my own, in the oven, but was a little intimidated by the prospect. Then I found a recipe for "Georgia-Style Barbecued Turkey Sandwiches" in Pillsbury's Slow Cooker Recipes and I reckoned I could run the risk of ruining one supper this week. It helped that Pillsbury's recipe was simple, straightforward, and used a meat I really enjoy cooking, but see so few recipes for.


(Turkey thighs are delicious, you know, and hard to ruin by overcooking. I tend to roast mine with vegetables, but I bet the slow cooker cacciatore I made earlier in the week would be awesome with turkey thighs!)

Anyway, I thought this dish turned out really well -- just a little sweet with a nice bit of heat and the perfect amount of smokiness. I used Lazy Kettle's hickory liquid smoke and, oh my, does that stuff taste good! And the smell! I'm half-tempted to wear it as cologne.

I was so pleased with how this recipe turned out that I borrowed a copy of Merrell and Quinn's Cheater BBQ: Barbecue Anytime, Anywhere, in Any Weather (Clarkson Potter, 2008) from my library and I'm full of plans to make more barbecue in my slow cooker (and oven) as soon as possible.
30 September 2010

Pollo alla Cacciatora

Tuesday's supper was "Easy Chicken Cacciatore" from Pillsbury's Slow Cooker Recipes over whole wheat rotini with salad. I was a little suspicious of this recipe as I had made other versions of slow cooker cacciatore with only mediocre results. Happily, Pillsbury's recipe worked out really well and I will be making this again.


I did make a few alterations to Pillbury's recipe -- I used six skinned chicken drumsticks, a large red bell pepper, four cloves of garlic, low-sodium chicken broth (wine would work well here, too) and dried mushrooms. I think the dried mushrooms were what made this cacciatore so good as they gave the sauce a rich, hearty flavor that really made me go nom. They also absorbed a lot of the liquid in the pot and kept the sauce from becoming too soupy.

At the end, while the pasta was cooking, I removed the vegetables and chicken from the pot and picked out all the bones (easy to do since all the meat had fallen off them). Then, after I thickened what little sauce there was with a cornstarch-water slurry, dumped the cooked pasta and chicken-vegetable mixture back in. I covered the slow cooker and let it sit for about twenty minutes -- time enough to for the flavors to marry and for me to play a little Plants vs Zombies.

Based on my success with this recipe, I suspect the other cacciatores failed because they used boneless chicken breasts (too dry/bland) and fresh mushrooms (too much liquid). Bone-in pieces of dark meat and dried mushrooms are key, apparently.
31 December 2009

All Hail, Kale (Soup)

Made "Potato and Kale Soup" from The Ultimate Soup Cookbook (Reader's Digest, 2007) with garlic twists for supper last night and it was ... okay. I think we would have enjoyed it a lot more if I had not made "Portuguese Kale Soup" from Myra Goodman's Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook (Workman Publishing, 2006) last month. That was an excellent soup -- a soup beyond compare, a soup to overshadow all other soups. Compared to that soup, this soup was grey dishwater with some green bits.
Kale & Potato Soup Cookin'

Now, when I chose this recipe for "Potato and Kale" soup, I saw that it used little to no seasoning but I reckoned I would just tweak it a bit and everything would be all potato-y kale-y goodness. Where the original recipe called for water, I used low-sodium vegetable broth. Where it wanted 3 garlic cloves, I used six. Where it wanted a quarter teaspoon of black pepper, I chucked in liberal amounts of pepper, thyme, and salt. Knowing The Husband well, I also added in some sliced cooked chicken bratwurst at the end with the kale to give the soup a level of meatiness he would approve.
It was all for naught. The soup needed twice as much seasoning. Maybe some chili pepper flakes. Or shredded cheese. Oh, god, yes! Cheese! I will throw some in my lunch bowl and see how that improves things ...
Garlic Rolls

To go with the soup, I made little garlic biscuit thingamajigs using a Pillsbury crescent roll sheet and some Stonewall Kitchen Garlic Spread. I unrolled the sheet, slathered it with spread, rolled the sheet back up, cut it into one-inch slices, arranged the slices on a baking sheet, and baked them in a 375°F oven for about fifteen minutes (I think -- I was not exactly paying attention). They were very pretty and quite tasty, but could have benefited from a little cheese, too!
28 November 2009

Thankful for Pie

For Thanksgiving, I brought pie. Three pies. And then it turned out my mother had decided to bake a pie, as well, so we had four pies. Four pies for six people ...

Yes, indeed, it was the best of Thanksgivings! We had turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes and stuffing, peas and carrots, mashed rutabaga and cranberry sauce, kielbasa and green bean casserole, pickles and pie.

I brought:
  • Splenda's "Chocolate Cream Pie"
  • Splenda's "The Great Pumpkin Pumpkin Pie"
  • Pillsbury's "Sweet Potato Pie"
Splenda Chocolate Cream Pie

This, despite everyone's love of it, was only the second time I had made Splenda's "Chocolate Cream Pie." I was worried it would not live up to The Husband's taste-memory of it, but he seemed well satisfied. Indeed, downright cranky about having to share it with other people. Perhaps I should make it more often?

Splenda's "The Great Pumpkin Pumpkin Pie" turned out about as well as I remembered -- very spicy (probably my own fault as I ground the cloves myself) and firm, but not dry. Leftovers make a perfectly adequate breakfast.

Pillsbury's Sweet Potato Pie

Pillsbury's "Sweet Potato Pie" was the first sweet potato pie I ever made and I'd only ever eaten sweet potato pie once before, so I didn't have much to compare it to. That said, we certainly enjoyed eating it. The filling was very smooth and spicy with a nice sherry note. Will make this again, but use fresh mashed sweet potatoes next time instead of mashing canned ones ... depending on how instantly I want pie, of course!

My mother's pie was a sugar-free cherry-cranberry pie she made using a can of sugar-free pie filling and a can of sugar-free whole-berry cranberry sauce (among other things). It is a pie she has been making for years -- although it has only gone sugar-free in the last few years as Splenda-enhanced products became more common. I do not have her recipe, but I suspect it is similar to Pillsbury's "Frosted-Cranberry Cherry Pie" if made without the glaze and almond topping ...

Have to admit, one of the most drool-inducing passages in Farmer Boy is, for me, the Country Fair chapter where Almanzo consumes a preposterous amount of food in the church dining-room, including pie:
When he began to eat pie, he wished he had eaten nothing else. He ate a piece of pumpkin pie and a piece of custard pie, and he ate almost a piece of vinegar pie. He tried a piece of mince pie, but could not finish it. He just couldn't do it. There were berry pies and cream pies and vinegar pies and raisin pies, but he could not eat any more.
Of course, he later eats some peppermint stick Alice shares with him, but that's okay since peppermint's good for digestion!
24 August 2009

Picnic On My Plate

I had planned to make Betty Crocker's "Grilled Beer-Brined Chicken" for Sunday supper, but a late lie-in meant I didn't have time to spend ten hours on chicken. Oh well, there's always next week!

Inside of ten-hour chicken, I made Pillsbury's "Ultimate Barbecue-Rubbed Chicken" which is an incredibly easy and nutritious chicken dish -- just make a simple rub from brown sugar, paprika, cumin, garlic salt (or garlic powder, if you're avoiding salt), and chili powder. Rub mixture into chicken, grill, and eat. That's it! From fridge to plate in twenty minutes.

Picnic On My Plate

Served the grilled chicken with my mom's potato salad and really delicious super fresh local corn. We "discovered" Kandy Korn at our local farm stand late last summer and have been (im)patiently waiting for it to come back into season. If crack were corn, it would be Kandy Korn. I thought Silver Queen was all that, but it's not.

(I did let my chicken rest in the fridge for about an hour between rubbing and grilling to let the flavors set. Did this make a difference, flavor-wise? I have no idea, but I like to think it did).
21 August 2009

Chicken & Posh Squash

Recently I made "Mediterranean Chicken & Vegetables" from Pillsbury Classic Cookbooks #335 (Money Saving Meals). The recipe is pretty straight forward and could easily be adapted to use many different summer vegetables.

Chicken & Zucchini (Courgette)

Ingredients: chicken thighs, zucchini (courgette, if you want to be posh), bell pepper, red onion, dried rosemary, olive oil, lemon juice, S&P.

I made a few tweaks to the original recipe based on the ingredients I had on hand and the amount of energy I wished to expend. I:
  • Used boneless skinless chicken thighs, instead of bone-in, skin-on ones
  • Crushed the garlic rather than chopped it (smash with knife or go choppychoppy? Hulk smash!)
  • Omitted the red potato, because I chopped all the veg the night before
  • Also made the marinade the night before
  • Baked everything all higgledy-piggledy in the pan rather than separating the chicken from the vegetables
(The recipe was all insistent the ingredients not marinate more than six hours so I went with 4.5, but I don't see why the chicken couldn't marinate overnight).

Overall, we liked this recipe. It was all garlicky and lemony and good and we will be eating it again. Next time, I might even throw in some halved cherry or plum tomatoes just before I pop the pan in the oven.
30 July 2009

Corn & Barley Corn

Sweet Corn & John Barley Corn

You must try "Barley, Corn, and Pepper Salad" from Pillsbury Annual Recipes 2009. It's fast, easy, nutritious, and very delicious.

Ingredients: quick cooking barley, bell pepper, scallions (green onions), corn, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt (I used Tastefully Simple's Garlic Garlic).

Next time I make this I'll prepare it with regular pearl barley instead of quick and, maybe, add in some shredded carrot and thawed frozen peas.

Seriously, this salad is really good and everyone should give it a try!
23 April 2009

Beans, beans, they're good for your heart ...

Bright and early this morning, I prepped my slow cooker and took it to work. By 11:30 delicious baked beans should be ready for consumption.

Well, I hope they're delicious. I looked at manymany slow cooker (meatless) baked bean recipes these past two weeks and ended up going with Pillsbury's "Slow-Cooked Tex-Mex Baked Beans," because it seemed the easiest and most convenient while not actually using prepared baked beans as an ingredient (what would be the point of, basically, re-flavoring someone else's baked beans?).

Ingredients for (Vegetarian) Slow Cooker Tex-Mex Baked Beans

In a slow cooker, combine:

2 cans great northern beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
8 oz. can low-sodium tomato sauce
4.5 oz. can chopped green chiles
3/4 cup low-sugar bbq sauce
3/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Cook on Low for about 4 hours.
Even though the recipe serves 14, I still worried there wouldn't be enough beans to go 'round so I dumped in a can of chickpeas plus a bit more salsa and barbecue sauce.
15 January 2009

Slow Cooker, Revisited

Aside from a few soups, I've largely ignored my slow cooker since we moved into this house. Surprising, because I had believed that I'd be using my slow cooker all the time once we moved. You know, once I didn't have to troll the internets for 12+ hour recipes ...

No, indeed! I would use all my happyhappy slow cooker cookbooks and make fabulous meals with not much effort!

Alas, that yet to come to pass.

Until this week! I dragged the slow cooker out, dusted it off, and made two recipes this week. I am just all kinds of awesome!

"Beefy Tortilla Casserole" from Pillsbury Doughboy Slow Cooker Recipes (Clarkson Potter, 2003)

I was looking for a recipe that would let me use up some of the leftover corn tortillas in our refrigerator when I found this recipe. Aside from the condensed cream of onion soup, I already owned all the ingredients (or some variation thereof). The cream of onion soup proved impossible to find so I subbed in low-fat low-sodium cream of chicken as I was using ground turkey (from our freezer) instead of beef (I also used my own yoghurt instead of sour cream). Overall, this was an easy recipe to prepare. The night before, I browned the chicken and cut the tortillas into strips. In the morning, I chucked everything into the slow cooker and let it go on Low for eight hours. Just before serving, I add the sour cream, cheese, and green onions. While the cheese melted, I tossed a salad together and microwaved some green beans.

McCormick's "Easy Slow Cooker Tuscan Beef Stew"

This recipe showed up in my inbox last week and the photograph made my mouth water. Delicious as it looked, I was intially a little leery of preparing the recipe as pickling spice seemed like a weird ingredient to put in beef stew. Weird it may be, but it made for a delicious stew. Defintely the best beef stew to ever come out of my slow cooker! The tomatoes, red wine, juices, and spices created a rich tangy broth which made me want to lick out my bowl. The meat was meltingly tender, but the carrots still had a bit of body -- no mushiness or chewiness here. Simply put, this recipe is my new standard for beef stew.
08 January 2008

A Healthy Start + A Yearning for Bacon = Life as Usual

I am a sucker for pretty cookbooks. For example, my fingers started itching the moment I saw Pillsbury Good for You: Fast and Healthy Family Favorites (Wiley, 2006) with its perky orange spine in amongst the new book shelves. Yes, the perky orange spine with the cheery yellow lemon clip art got me all fired up – the lemon-chicken cover art just sealed my fate. It looked like food I could make and the cookbook “packaging” suggested this was a low-key cookbook in which I would find recipes which wouldn’t push the limits of my culinary skill set or pantry and, yet, which would also be healthy and interesting. Yes, I fell for slick packaging. Do I regret it? Not in the least.

Over the last six weeks, I have made five recipes from this cookbook and have been very pleased with the results. All the recipes I’ve made have been for supper -- completely ignoring the breakfast and grilling chapters. It’s not that those recipes didn’t sound appealing; it’s just that I am not a breakfast person at breakfast time and now is not the season for grilling. These have all been tasty suppers with a definite hearty stick-to-it-tiveness about them which I wasn’t quite expecting from a “healthy” cookbook. I had to keep reminding myself that this isn’t a diet cookbook. It’s not for people trying to loose weight -- it’s for those who wish to make better food choices.

(This did not stop me, however, from emitting the occasional “Boo-yah!” as I converted nutritional information into Weight Watchers Points).

Anyway, it’s the New Year -- don’t we all want to be making better nutritional choices? The regret a quarter of a dish of crab dip and half dozen bacon wrapped scallops (plus a boatload of cheese and crackers) has inspired suggest I do.

(Yeah. Regret I don’t have any bacon in the house right now)

“Beef with Burgundy Mushrooms” pg 90
Pan fried steak over no-egg egg noodles and topped with mushroom gravy ... and what a gravy! The gravy is very easy -- sauté mushrooms over medium-high then stir in a slurry made from condensed French onion soup, Burgundy, cornstarch, tomato paste, basil oregano, and garlic and keep stirring until it all thickens. I don't know if I'll make the steak part of this recipe again, but I'm jotting down the gravy part of the recipe for when we do roast beef and pudding, again.

“Colorful Veggie & Tortilla Dinner” pg 110
Brown rice, vegetables, and beans mixed with spices and stewed tomatoes and tortillas with fat-free sour cream, cilantro and diced tomatoes. It was a very fast and hearty dinner which made excellent lunches the next day. I love this recipe, but the Points value scares me -- I don't know why it so high as the dish is all vegetables, legumes, and fat-free ingredients. Regardless, we will be eating is again as it is both delicious and requires no extra shopping.

“Footlong Pizza” pg 178
Easy -- cut a loaf of French bread in half and smear with (light) garlic-and-herb spreadable cheese. Arrange sliced mushrooms, bell pepper, zucchini, and olives on top. Spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with Italian-type herbs. Bake. Sprinkle with shredded low-fat mozzarella. Bake until done. We ate this for dinner with tomato soup and it was pretty good, but it's not really pizza.

“Tomato-Basil Linguine with Chicken” pg 62
Total convenience recipe -- cubed chicken breast sautéd with garlic and then mixed with Italian-style canned diced tomatoes and basil and served over heated refrigerated linguine. Pretty good, but you want to be generous with the seasonings and some sliced mushrooms might make it better.

“Tex-Mex Pasta” pg 58
This is a "Super Express" recipe which means it is ready in 20 minutes or less and it was. But, then, it's just cooked pasta shells, cut up canned whole tomatoes (why call for whole tomatoes if you're then going to cut them up? why not used canned diced tomatoes to begin with?), canned beans, canned chopped green chiles, frozen corn, shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack, and Mexican Seasoning (I blended together cumin, oregano, cinnamon, red pepper, and garlic). It's simple enough to be a beginner recipe and tasty enough to be served again. You can probably use whatever kinds of beans you like -- I used black, but pinto might be nice.

I'll be returning this cookbook to the library tomorrow, but I'll definitely be borrowing it again.
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