Slow Cooker Black Bean Enchiladas

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 14

This recipe from the kitchn came with so many caveats about how these are not your ordinary baked enchiladas, and how they end up being a gooey mess but they’re still good, that it was almost worth making them just to see if they lived up to all the anti-hype. They’re easy, they’re tasty – they’re messy and not crispy at all. And still good. So give them a try.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 2

They are a great way to use up weird leftover bits of things. This is what tofu does when you freeze it. People like to freeze it because it goes crumbly, so we tried it as an experiment after making stir fry one night.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 1

Start by chopping up 1 small onion. Dice up 1 red bell pepper. Drain and rinse 1 16oz can of black beans. Divvy out 1 cup frozen corn. Mix all those together in a bowl. Grate up 1-2 cups good melting cheese, and add in 1/2 cup of that cheese to the bowl.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 3

Mix together as well some spices: 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. I find often that this sort of food genre is benefitted by adding in 1 teaspoon cinnamon as well.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 4

Tip that into the mixed veg.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 5

Add in any leftover ground meat or chicken you have, if you have any, or this weird crumbled spongy thawed tofu. I really felt like I was breaking up a sponge. Later, I felt like I was EATING a sponge.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 6

In the bottom of a 4-6 quart slow cooker, spread enough of a 30oz jar of salsa to coat the bottom. You’ll note here that we have a very bowl-shaped slow-cooker. This probably works a bit better in a more flat-bottomed version.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 7
Ker-SPLAT.

Grab a package of flour tortillas (ours were the small size, pack of 10). Scoop about 1/3 cup of that vegetable filling into each tortilla, roll it up, and lay it seam-side-down in the slow cooker.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 8

Once you’ve got a layer (with our shape of bowl, that didn’t take long), sprinkle with more salsa and some more of the cheese.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 9

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 10

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 11

You should probably end up with only two layers but because of the shape of our bowl we had three, so it was a good thing I grated more cheese. Any extra filling can be piled on top.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 12

Then add in the rest of the jar of salsa. Resist adding on the rest of the cheese – keep about 1/2 cup of it back for the end bit.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 13

Cook on high for 2-4 hours (or on low for 8 hours if you’re prepared for extra mushy enchiladas). In the last 15 minutes of cooking, take the last 1/2 cup of cheese and sprinkle that over top, close the lid, and let it melt.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 15

Serve with sour cream, guacamole, and cilantro, or whatever else floats your enchilada boat!

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 16

Advertisements

Fast Tip Friday: One Little Bit

The dishwasher that came with our house has taken some adjustment. For one thing, it’s not a fan of the size of our Denby stoneware (though there are few dishwashers these days that accommodate it, and if you own Denby I’m sure you’ve had this experience). That aside, it seems like a pretty powerful little machine. But the sprayer on the top level continually fell off during the wash cycle. So the interior of our glasses and anything else on the top would be clean, having been rinsed out by the sprayers below, but the top would be crusty with caked on food particles. Not cool.

Do Your Research 3

But rather than call a repair person to come and fix it (and have to pay for that), we did some research. First, we found out that this was a common problem with our version of dishwasher (which is lame). But that also meant that it was easy to find a solution. All we had to do was replace one little part. A simple snap-off, snap-on, and we were good to go.

Do Your Research 1

All it cost us was a drive to the parts store and $6 for the part. BOOM. So the lesson here is to do your research before you call in the big guns – it could save you some serious cash.

Our New Food Dehydrator

Papa John and Mrs. Nice got us a beautiful giant Excalibur food dehydrator for Christmas this year, and we were so excited to use it that we could barely wait before we were fully unpacked to crack it open and start it up. It was super easy to put together and came with not one but TWO instruction booklets, which are also really easy to use. And having one gave me an excuse to pick up a new mandoline slicer and apple corer so I can make apple chips whenever I want. Which is right now.

Food Dehydrator 1

The corer, which I picked up from Amazon, was deceptively easy to use, and cleans really easily.

Food Dehydrator 2

The mandoline is also easy, and super sharp. And also from Amazon.

Food Dehydrator 4

For the first go-round in the dehydrator we stuck with plain apples, sliced about 1/8″ thick.

Food Dehydrator 5

I kind of wanted to play ring toss with these things.

Food Dehydrator 6

Instead I spread them evenly over one of the many dehydrator trays.

Food Dehydrator 7

I’m actually now keeping a small spray bottle filled with lemon juice in the fridge for spraying on fruit to prevent oxidation. You can also get some kind of bisulfide something-or-other but I haven’t quite gotten around to getting that yet.

Food Dehydrator 8

Then you shove it in the dehydrator …

Food Dehydrator 9

… put the door on …

Food Dehydrator 12

… and set it for however many hours you need. For apples it’s about 7 hours at 135°F.

Food Dehydrator 10

The machine turns off on its own which is awesome. So I came down the next day to these piles of tart and delicious gorgeousness.

Food Dehydrator 13

All you need to do is pack them loosely in an airtight container for a couple days so that the remaining moisture evenly distributes itself throughout the batch. Then you can do whatever you want with them.

Food Dehydrator 15

So the next day I tried bananas.

Food Dehydrator 17

These also were sliced about 1/8″ thick.

Food Dehydrator 18

And they take about 6 hours. They’re still in there now or I would give you an update.

Food Dehydrator 19

Next experiment? PINEAPPLE!

Food Dehydrator 16

Temporary Hideaway

Temporary Hideaway 6

When we bought the house we knew that the sliding closet doors in the master bedroom were totally broken.

Home to Bel-Air First Night 22

So as soon as we took possession we ripped them out. But now we’re looking at the contents of our closet (or the quarter-unpacked contents) on a daily basis. While we have plans to eventually install a set of bifold doors or something similar, it’s not high on our list of priorities.

Temporary Hideaway 2

I’m happy to see them gone. With such a narrow door frame having half of it blocked by a giant door would have made the closet so hard to access. It’s already kind of ridiculous just in the layout as it is.

Temporary Hideaway 3

So in the interim, I’ve got our old pressure curtain rod from the bathroom at the Tower and the curtain from our old office. No need for anything go to waste. It had a bit of rust on it from the shower (because it was cheap) so I just rubbed it with some CLR and we were grand!

Temporary Hideaway 1

A quick fix to hide our messiness, and just a quick job to hem the darned things (when I get around to it). TADA!

Temporary Hideaway 4

Wipe it Up!

DIY Bathroom Wipes16

I clean my bathroom(s) once a week, and I do a pretty good job. But it takes a while to do, and I know that in a few months I am not going to have the time and energy to do as thorough a job every time. So I’m preparing in advance for laziness. These DIY bathroom wipes are a nice quick way to tidy up your bathroom on the fly and a much cheaper version of the ones you buy in the store. Experiment with the cleaning mixtures that float your boat, because everyone’s different and everyone has different things they want to clean up in their bathroom, like hairspray or toothpaste or, in my case, dog hair (there are some links to other versions below).

DIY Bathroom Wipes3

To make a handy dispenser for these lovely quick and disposable wipes, I turned to the Art of Doing Stuff for inspiration. Start with a milk or juice carton, the kind that has the little screw top in it, and a roll of shop towels. You can go with regular paper towels, but pick something like Brawny and go for the extra strong – shop towels are designed to hold together well when wet and you need these things to hold up to being wet for, like, ever. You can pick up shop towels at pretty much any hardware store.

DIY Bathroom Wipes2

Clean out the juice/milk carton and measure the roll of towel so that it comes up to the part in the carton where the cardboard starts to bend. Use a serrated knife or saw to cut through the towels at that point. It’s going to take a little while so be patient.

DIY Bathroom Wipes4

Now you have a roll of shop towels that has roughly a third of it cut off. Feel free to use the wee roll to clean up really tiny paint spills (which is what I plan to use it for – I only make wee paint spills when I paint).

DIY Bathroom Wipes5

On the bigger roll, start working the inner cardboard tube free of the towel and pull it out.

DIY Bathroom Wipes6

Once you’ve done that, pull out the corner of the towel that starts in the middle of the tube. The roll of towels will dispense much easier if you go from the centre as opposed to from the outside. There’s less resistance in the middle.

DIY Bathroom Wipes7

Now shove that whole roll into your carton. Your dispenser is ready!

DIY Bathroom Wipes8

As for the mix, you have a bunch of options (again, see below for different mixes, or make your own). Here I used a combination of about 2 cups warm water, 2 tablespoons baking soda, 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol, 3 tablespoons Castille soap, and then about 15 drops each tea tree, rosemary, and grapefruit essential oils.

DIY Bathroom Wipes9

Give it a good stir.

DIY Bathroom Wipes10

Then pour it carefully over your towels. You’ll need to let that sit for a bit to get thoroughly saturated.

DIY Bathroom Wipes11

You can pull the little loose end of your paper towel through the spout of the carton and use a set of binder clips to seal the top of the carton. Don’t forget to screw the lid back on to keep things from drying out.

DIY Bathroom Wipes13

It’s not super pretty but you could paint it or paper it or something. I’m keeping this in the bathroom closet so I’m not too fussed about what it looks like, but you can do with it what you will, or find a prettier container. I just liked the ease with which this one came together.

DIY Bathroom Wipes12

After use, the towels can be handily dropped into my bathroom compost bin – in our city the compost handles tissue and paper towel so it makes sense to have one in the bathroom where we dispose with most of our Kleenex and Qtips and the like.

DIY Bathroom Wipes17

If you would prefer a non-disposable version, then that’s easy, too. Find a nice pretty jar that you can handle having in your bathroom, maybe on the counter, and find some cheap washcloths. I picked these up at XS Cargo before they went out of business – they’re crap as washcloths but handy for wiping and dusting things. The jar is an old one I have from IKEA that is currently without a purpose.

DIY Bathroom Wipes1

Roll or fold the towels (or cut up old t-shirts or rags and use those instead) and shove them in the jar.

DIY Bathroom Wipes14

Make up a batch of your cleaning mixture and pour it slowly over the cloths until they’re all nicely saturated. This jar was pretty big so I doubled my previous mix and it was a goodly amount.

DIY Bathroom Wipes15

The convenience of the cloths is if you flub your mixture and add too much soap (which I may have done for the cloth version), you can rinse out the cloth afterwards and rinse off your soapy surfaces. Then the cloth can be wrung out and tossed in the laundry hamper (which is conveniently located right outside the bathroom door).

DIY Bathroom Wipes18

More links for inspiration:

Pop Sugar: DIY Bathroom Wipes

One Good Thing: DIY Disinfecting Bathroom Wipes

DIY Natural: Homemade Natural Cleaning Wipes that Disinfect

Live Simply: DIY Cleaning Wipes (Reusable and Disinfecting)

From Shower to Shower

Did you know?

You can wash your vinyl shower curtain in the washing machine. I’m serious! They all get dingy and covered in soap scum and nobody wants to scrub something like that. Most of the time people just throw them out after about six months or a year. But now you don’t have to!

DSCN9061
Mildew and soap scum … euch!

So bung it in the wash, with a little bit of bleach to combat the mildew, and wash away. You can even put it in the dryer if it’s one of the stiffer variety to ease out the wrinkles (just make sure to take it out before it’s done so that it doesn’t melt and so that the wrinkles don’t cool in that position). Mine I just hang back on the shower to dry. Because that’s what it’s supposed to do.

DSCN9080

On the plus side, the bathroom has been unpacked – there is so much storage in here I don’t even know what to do with myself. The previous owners had two teenaged girls so that explains why there’s so much space to put stuff. The Pie and I use all the same toiletries between the two of us so we’ve got room to spare.

DSCN9081

But check it out! Next to the linen closet in the hallway is the entrance to the bathroom and just inside the entrance to the bathroom is … another closet! Just for bathroom stuff! So you can keep spare tissue, towels, and bathroom cleaners all in one spot!

Milling Soap

Milling Soap 18

This isn’t real, legit hand-milling of soap. If you want to do that, go here. But if you end up with all sorts of wee bits of soap that are too small to use without feeling ridiculous, and you feel silly wasting them, then this post is for you.

Milling Soap 1

These are all sorts of weird little bits that I had leftover, actually, from when I made real soap from scratch last winter. None of them is big enough or shaped well enough to use like an actual bar of soap, but I was loath to get rid of them considering I’d put so much effort into making the soap in the first place. And especially seeing as I gave every single bar away and had none for myself. 😦

Milling Soap 2

So the first thing you need to do is take all your soaplets (that’s what I’m calling the wee baby soap slivers) and grate them finely. It’s actually not as hard as you might think. This particular soap is pretty soft but I’m sure you could grate a commercial bar up in no time at all. And once soap has fully cured it’s not toxic (or at least, I don’t buy soap that IS toxic), so this is my regular cheese grater and I just shoved it in the dishwasher when I was done.

Milling Soap 4

Plop those gratings into a bowl over a pot of simmering water.

Milling Soap 6

I found that my gratings did nothing until I added a wee bit of water to the pot.

Milling Soap 7

And then I got some melting going on.

Milling Soap 8

It’s never going to get to that fully liquid state, but I got most things all squishy and stuck together. Then you can drain off the water.

Milling Soap 9

For distribution I stuffed the soap goo into this silicone tray overnight. It won’t cure completely in here because it needs air on all sides.

Milling Soap 11

But the next day it’s a little harder and easier to deal with so you can pop it out.

Milling Soap 12

It’s still pretty mushy so I just flattened mine into vaguely pebble-shaped pieces. Then I put this plate in a cupboard for a week.

Milling Soap 14

After a week, the pebbles are much harder (though it’s still a relatively soft soap because those are the kinds of soaps I made).

Milling Soap 15

But they make a nice little decorative guest soap kind of thing. Like little detergent-y geological gems. I think they look a lot like a sandstone conglomerate, so I think all my rock hound friends will appreciate the texture.

Milling Soap 17