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

Spag Bol Redux

Spag Bol Redux 16

I have so many fun and exciting things to show you guys in the near future, but I thought I’d do a little bit of a retrospective today. My very first entry on this here blog, five-plus years and 900-odd posts ago, was a recipe for spaghetti bolognese. I make this spaghetti sauce all the freaking time, so I thought I’d do another post just to show you how things have changed over the years, but they still remain in essence the same. For one, the Pie and I went vegetarian for a month when I made that post so there’s no meat in that sauce. For another, I was way lazier when it came to chopping things up, so my sauces were much chunkier. I like them a bit more uniform these days.

Spag Bol Redux 17

Some things stay the same, though: I always load it down with diced onions to start. I made a crapton (a metric measurement of course) of this so that I could freeze it so I can’t give you exact measurements. Just lots.

Spag Bol Redux 2

I always add diced red pepper (I’m allergic to green) and diced mushrooms. You can add whatever you wish, though. Sometimes I chuck in whatever’s in my fridge that needs to be used: avocadoes (they add a nice thickness the sauce), tomatoes, sometimes even carrots.

Spag Bol Redux 5

And then of course a variety of tomato-based canned items. I used to use jarred spaghetti sauce as my base but I found they were sneaking green peppers into the mix and it wasn’t doing my digestive system any good so I switched to canned crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and canned diced tomatoes.

Spag Bol Redux 1

First I start by sautéeing up the onions with olive oil and a little butter. I let them go until they’re smelly and soft. Then I pull apart a large hunk of lean or extra lean ground beef. I like to break it up with my fingers to ensure that there are no big chunks in the pot. You can also use ground turkey or pork or whatever works for you. If you’re going the veggie route and using TVP, add that last.

Spag Bol Redux 4

Spag Bol Redux 6

After the meat is browned to my satisfaction I tip in my vegetables, as well as some minced garlic, salt, pepper, and various spices.

Spag Bol Redux 8

I like a mix of italian spice plus extra basil.

Spag Bol Redux 9

I add in all my tomato things as well and give that a grand old stirring.

Spag Bol Redux 10

Let that simmer for at least half an hour so the flavours can mingle, and feel free to adjust the spices as you see fit. I like to let it simmer as long as I can, but it’s good either way.

Spag Bol Redux 11

Cool and freeze or serve hot on top of your favourite fresh pasta, baked into a pasta casserole, or glopped on top of bread as a sloppy joe!

Spag Bol Redux 20

Taco Cups

Taco Cups 27

To celebrate the success of our Bench Cover Thingy, Cait and I held a wee taco party afterwards. These are inspired by Kevin & Amanda, and I think I’ll be cooking these up pretty often. They’re easy and provide a tidier option to those of us who like hard-shelled tacos. Plus kids will love being able to make up their own custom tacos in advance. Also tacos always remind me of my favourite joke, but I don’t wanna taco ’bout it. You’ll have to watch it to see what I mean. This recipe makes enough for 24 taco cups, which feeds four hungry adults quite nicely.

Taco Cups 30

Start with half a large sweet onion and dice that up.

Taco Cups 2

Taco Cups 3

Grab 2 tomatoes and dice them too.

Taco Cups 5
Why yes, that IS dog hair on my tomatoes. Thank you for asking.
Taco Cups 6
I swear that I removed the dog hair before dicing. I promise. Maybe.

Scoop up some spices: 2 tablespoons chilli powder, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon chipotle, and some ground black pepper.

Taco Cups 7

You’ll also need some meat. I used about 3/4 kilogram extra lean ground beef.

Taco Cups 4

Sauté your onions in about 1 tablespoon olive oil until translucent and amazing-smelling. Tip in the meat and stir, breaking it up into little pieces, until it’s browned all over. Drain it if necessary (the bonus of extra-lean is you don’t need to drain).

Taco Cups 8

Remove the meat and onions from the heat and tip them into a large bowl. Dump in your spices and mix them around.

Taco Cups 10

Tip in the diced tomato as well and give that a good stir. Set that bowl aside for a spell.

Taco Cups 11

Now preheat your oven to 375°F or thereabouts. Grate up about 2 cups cheddar cheese (you can use more or less if you like).

Taco Cups 12

Grab a muffin tin and generously brush the whole thing with olive or vegetable oil (or use cooking spray). I did the 24 taco cups in two separate batches so they were fresh and hot, so I only needed the one tin, but if you’re doing them all at once you will obviously need two tins.

Taco Cups 13

Now you need some wonton wrappers. Square ones are probably best.

Taco Cups 14

Press a wonton wrapper into the bottom of each hole in the muffin tin.

Taco Cups 15

Spoon a small amount of meat, onions, and tomatoes into the spaces as well.

Taco Cups 17

Top with a wee bit of grated cheddar.

Taco Cups 18

Then jam on ANOTHER WONTON WRAPPER. Press everything down underneath it so you still have space to put stuff.

Taco Cups 19

Spoon in some more meat/onions/tomatoes and top with additional cheese.

Taco Cups 21

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the wonton bits that you can see are brown and the cheese is melty and bubbly.

Taco Cups 23

Cait and I found that about five minutes on a cooling rack after baking made them a bit more solid and easier to handle. Just be careful when you’re scooping them out and run around the edges with a spoon to make sure nothing is still attached to the tin.

Taco Cups 25

Top with a dollop of sour cream and some fresh chives and you are golden.

Taco Cups 26

Fancy Baby Meatloaf

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 15

The other day the doorbell rang just as I had my hands deep in after-dinner dishes.  The Pie answered, and I heard him speaking to someone, and then the door shut and he came back all excited to tell me that we were going to be receiving FREE MEAT!

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 11

Are you skeptical?  I was a little skeptical, picturing some guy with a Radio Flyer wagon trundling around tossing steaks of unknown origin at people.   But I know the Pie will never turn down a free sample of anything, especially meat.

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 3

Anyway, the next day, the Pie got a call and a lovely farmer came in and sat with us for about ten minutes and told us all about his farm in Vankleek Hill and the prospect of buying meat through Nutrafarms.  He gave us a little sheet of paper with some bullet points on it and his contact information at the bottom.  As he left, he handed us a free sample of about half a pound of frozen ground beef.

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 1

So to test it out, I made meat loaf.  Two wee tiny meatloaves.  The Pie LOVES meatloaf.

I started out by finely dicing a small onion.

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 6

I chucked that in a bowl with some garlic, 2 sprigs chopped fresh rosemary, and about 4 sprigs chopped fresh parsley, with some salt and pepper.

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 7

Then I chucked the defrosted meat into the bowl with 1 egg and stirred that around.

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 8

I bought this Brown Sauce for the Pie for Christmas and I figured now was as good a time as any to try it.

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 5

It’s got a date base, and the fruity tang I thought would balance the sharpness of the rosemary and parsley.  So I added a few tablespoons brown sauce.

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 9

Then I sprayed two tiny casserole dishes and patted the meat into place.

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 12

Now all that’s left is to bake it for 30 minutes at 350ºF, then let them rest for a few minutes before eating.

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 14

We served ours with steamed broccoli and wee roasted potatoes.  What a great comfort meal!

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 13

Slow Cooker Dip Week: Bacon Cheeseburger

As a thank you for babysitting Ruby one weekend, Cait gave me these three wee 1.4 qt crock pots as a wee present.

Dips Week 1

Apparently Ruby is more evil than she looks.

IMAG0961-1

For our annual potluck, the Pie and I decided to make three hot dips and have them with crackers and vegetables for people to snack on while they waited for the rest of the food our guests to arrive.  As with all slow cooker meals, the prep pictures look prettier than the final shots, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that they’re well worth eating — so worth eating, I’m giving each dip its own post this week.  Today we’re making BACON CHEESEBURGER DIP.   This recipe is adapted from Betty Crocker.

Start with 8 slices of your favourite bacon.

Dips Week 4

Cook those up nice and crispy, then drain them on a paper towel.  When they’re cool enough, crumble them up with your fingers.  Save a few tablespoons for garnish later on.

Dips Week 9

Then, with your pan still hot (and redolent of bacon), chuck in 1/2lb lean ground beef and cook that stuff up until it’s no longer pink.  Drain that sucker.

Dips Week 19

Chuck the ground beef and your crumbled bacon into your 1.4qt slow cooker.  Turn it on to low.

Dips Week 22

Grate up 1 cup cheddar cheese and chuck that in, as well as a 10oz can diced tomatoes, juice included.

Dips Week 23

Cube up 1 8oz package plain cream cheese and add that in as well.

Dips Week 24

Cover and cook for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, until everything is hot and bubbly and melted together.

Slice up a few handfuls parsley and chuck that in for colour.

Dips Week 25

We also sliced up some bell peppers for dippin’.  And crackers too.

Dips Week 26

Garnish with your remaining crumbled bacon and serve (it’s the one on the left).  Stay tuned for the rest!

Dips Week 32

Cottage Pie

Cottage Pie

This is what we commonly refer to in our house as shepherd’s pie.  However, due to this usage, the Pie is convinced that traditional shepherd’s pie is made with ground beef, regardless of the fact that shepherds are generally focused on sheep, not cows.  There have been several arguments over the years.  He won’t even take Wikipedia as a definitive answer.

So.  Cottage pie.  A good way to use up leftover meat of any kind, and to encourage people to eat lovely potatoes.  This one we’re making with ground beef, and adding a few sweet potatoes to the mix.  The amounts I’ve used below are approximate, but make two good-sized dishes of the pie.

Start with 4 or 5 sweet potatoes.  Peel them, chop them up, and then boil them until they’re soft and mashable.

Cottage Pie

Then of course mash them, with a bit of butter.

Cottage Pie

While that’s on the go, you can finely chop 2 or 3 small onions and toss them into a large saucepan with some minced garlic and cook that until the onions are tender and translucent.

Cottage Pie

Add in about 1lb lean ground beef and stir that around until it’s cooked through.

Cottage Pie

Now, what I’m doing here is sprinkling about 1/4 cup flour onto my beef mixture.  For a gluten-free version, use corn starch.

Cottage Pie

Then use that same cup to scoop some of the cooking water out of your boiling sweet potatoes and add it to moisten the mix.

Cottage Pie

Chop up a few small carrots.

Cottage Pie

Add them, together with some frozen corn and frozen peas, to the meat mixture and stir around until they’re all separated and thawed.

Cottage Pie

Add some rosemary if you’ve got it.

Cottage Pie

Now you’re ready for assembly.  Gren seems to think that he is a viable receptacle for cottage pie.  He could be right. If it wasn’t for the corn and the wheat flour, and the fact that he is allergic to beef.

Cottage Pie

Spoon the meat and vegetables into the bottoms of your casserole dishes, filling about 3/4 of the way up. Then take your mashed sweet potato and smooth that over the tops.

Cottage Pie

Everything in there is cooked, so you will just need to heat it thoroughly when you cook it.  Using a glass casserole makes it easy to see if the mixture is bubbly.  These ones I froze for our parents to eat later.

Cottage Pie

Tofu Feature Month: Mapo Tofu

Mapo Tofu

I FINALLY found silken tofu in St. John’s.  I’ve been looking for it for what feels like forever.  In celebration of my recent discovery, and the Pie’s insistence that he needs to slim down in time for Kristopf’s wedding next July, I have decided to honour the long-standing request of my friend Danger K and start finding new ways to cook with tofu.  You might know Danger K: she recently got married (on our wedding anniversary, no less), and she and her husband planned a big fancy wedding by begging, bartering, and borrowing everything they could.  Their expenses out of pocket?  About two hundred bucks.  You can read about the process on their blog, Project Priceless.  So they’re a little bit famous back in Ottawa.  And I can say that I knew her when.  We went to high school together.  In fact, she had a huge crush on one of my brothers (DON’T DENY IT DANGER K I HAVE PROOF).  Not that I’m going to hold that against her or anything.

Mapo Tofu

So.  Cooking with tofu.

My previous experiences cooking with tofu (not in eating it, just cooking it) focused mainly on tossing cubes of it into Broccofu, Peanut Butter Spaghetti, or the occasional stir-fry.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but’s not using tofu in all its myriad manifestations.  This fall, the Pie and I aim to change our ways, and this recipe is the beginning.  September will be a sort of Tofu Feature Month.

Mapo doufu (mapo tofu) is a traditional spicy dish from the Sichuan province of China and involves sautéing tofu pieces in a suspension of a paste made of beans and chilis.  What I found particularly interesting about this dish is that I normally think of tofu as a protein-replacement for meat, but this recipe calls for a combination of tofu AND beef or pork.  Very unique (for me, at least).

Mapo Tofu

A note on substitutions:  this recipe calls for chili bean paste, a spicy gooey mixture of fermented soy beans and chilis (I’m thinking like a super-hot miso).  I didn’t have such a thing, so I used black bean paste instead with the chilis, which is why my sauce isn’t that signature reddish colour.  The recipe also requires the use of rice wine, which, not being a wine-drinker, I also don’t have, so we used rice wine vinegar instead.  Finally, the recipe I used made little sense and required some serious moderation, so I haven’t linked you to it.   I wasn’t a huge fan.

Start by making up enough rice for two people.

Mapo Tofu

Drain and pat dry one block soft tofu (I used extra-firm silken tofu because I wanted to see what it was like).  Cut it into 1″ cubes.

Mapo Tofu

Slice up 4-5 green onions and save about 1/4 of the green tips (sliced) for garnish.

Mapo Tofu

In a skillet or wok over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and sauté 4oz ground beef or pork until cooked.  Drain and set aside.

In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil.  Add 1 teaspoon minced ginger, the green onion that isn’t what you saved for garnish, 2 whole dried chilis, and 1 teaspoon ground peppercorns (Sichuan if you’ve got ’em).  Cook that for about a minute.

Mapo Tofu

Add the ground meat back in, as well as 3 tablespoons chili bean paste, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine, and 2 teaspoons brown sugar.  Cook that for another minute or so, just so everything can get acquainted.

Mapo Tofu

Add in the cubed tofu as well as 1/4 cup vegetable stock (or beef, or pork) and let that simmer for 15 minutes.   Stir occasionally, but don’t let the tofu fall apart.

Mapo Tofu

When it’s nearing done, dissolve 1 tablespoon corn starch in a little bit of water and pour that in as well.  Stir gently until it thickens.

Mapo Tofu

Serve over rice and garnish with the remaining green onions.  SPICY!

Mapo Tofu