Spicy Carrots

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Cooked carrots are not a hugely popular or frequent dinner choice of vegetable but sometimes you just have to suck it up and make cooked carrots.  We hosted New Year’s and still had a lot of leftover baby carrots that I needed to utilize before they went wonky and the next thing you know, there are delicious cooked carrots sitting alongside grilled flank steak and baked potatoes.

Spicy Carrots

Leftover carrots, cut into various shapes and sizes

Honey

One, or more, dried chili peppers

Salt and pepper to taste

This recipe is really that simple.  I combined enough honey to cover the bottom of a small sauce pan and added the chili.  I then allowed the honey to melt slowly and the pepper to soften and infuse the honey with the spice.  I then added the cut carrots and allowed to be warmed through and thoroughly coated in the spiced honey.  The intent wasn’t to cook the carrots to mush, but rather to warm and be coated in the glaze.  The carrots did cook down some but were still firm and crunchy when eaten.  The amount of spice and honey will vary depending on the amount of people sitting down to dinner, these won’t hold up very well to reheating.

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Versatile Ranch Beans

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Those simple raw ingredients pictured above when combined with liquid slow transform themselves into a wonderful concoction that feeds us for weeks.  Best thing about making your own beans?  They are easily transformed into flavors that suit your palette or the meal you have planned.  Yesterday we had taken out pork ribs for dinner and fish tacos are on the menu as well this week.

For this batch of beans I used the following:

1 1/2 cups of pinto beans

2 small red onion, quartered

1 tablespoon of beef bouillon

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon dry mustard

2 dried red peppers

Liquid to cover

2 Roasted  and diced Poblano chilies

I placed mine in my four quart crock pot and cooked on low all day.  Seasoning changes based on mood, these beans weren’t meant to be terribly spicy so the spices were mild. 

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I didn’t use stock this time because it definitely flavors the beans intensely and I was going for subtle, same reason I didn’t use smashed garlic cloves.  There is no salt or pepper called for in the base recipe because the bouillon is salty and over salting the beans will cause them to be tough.   Pepper is also omitted from the base recipe based on how potentially spicy the dried peppers utilized are.  I happen to know the dried peppers I use are on the spicy side.   The beans cooked slowly all day, the aroma was intoxicating, and I stirred the pot a couple of times during the day.  It helped break up the onion chunks and evenly distribute the spices as the beans cooked. 

When completely softened the beans are ready to be served.  Be sure to taste and check for seasoning.  Salt may be needed based on how salty the bullion used was and your personal preference. 

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At this point, I divided the beans in half.  I reserved one half of the cooked beans in my two quart crock pot and creamed the other half of the beans.  To the reserved half of the beans I added one roughly chopped roasted Poblano Chili and returned to warm until dinner was ready.  The remaining half of the ranch beans I subjected to the immersion blender and creamed.  Be sure to include enough cooking liquid but not so much liquid the final mixture will be too loose and runny.  It is easier to add liquid from the reserved beans if necessary. 

IN a small frying pan, I added the rough chop of one roasted Poblano Chili to a pat of butter.  Once the butter was melted and the chili heated through, I then transferred the creamed beans into a frying pan to heat through.

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The beans were a little looser than my personal preference but luckily, like all bean recipes this one is very forgiving.  Continue to heat gently until the beans are hot and the consistently you like.  Just be careful to avoid being burned by bubbling beans when stirring. 

I admit, I love ranch beans both ways.  My husband does too, although he would prefer the onion chopped a little finer next time. 

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What to do with slightly dry smoked meat?

This weekend my husband smoked two large pork roasts and two beef tri-tips. The meat turned out beautifully and believe me, dinner Saturday evening was incredibly good with homemade BBQ sauce.

One of the tri-tips was a little over smoked, still tasty but a little dry. We solved that with BBQ sauce which made incredibly tasty sandwiches. Tonight, I shredded the other tri-tip and decided to make Smoked Beef Santa Fe Enchiladas. They were amazing and luckily they are incredibly simple to assemble and a great way to use up leftovers.

Smoked Beef Santa Fe Enchiladas

Corn tortillas

Enchilada sauce

Shredded Cheese

Smoked beef (any meat can be substituted simply)

 

Pre-heat oven to 350° and spray an 8×8 pan with cooking spray. Take four corn tortillas and individually coat in enchilada sauce and place in pan. Place a layer of smoked beef, shredded into bit size pieces, and then cover with shredded cheese.

Assemble three layers and then place one single layer of coated corn tortillas on the top of the third layer. Drizzle the remaining enchilada sauce over the enchiladas and cover with aluminum foil. Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and add one last handful of shredded cheese, return to the oven until melted.

Serve warm with a side salad and Ranchero Beans.

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day has come and gone in all of it’s wonderful, glutinous traditions.  I didn’t cook this year, let’s be honest Mum still does the cooking and I don’t foresee that changing anytime soon.  I’m perfectly fine with that to be honest.  If we are all honest, nothing beats a homemade meal from Mum no matter how old we grow.

It was a small Thanksgiving table this year, just four of us (my parents and hubby and I) and for the first time it was casual.  I always request casual holiday events and Mum never listens to me.  She always wants to pull out the china and expensive stemware, even when there are a whopping four people sitting down to dinner.  This year she cook a small bird and a small number of sides.  There were hardly any leftovers which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  What leftovers there were, came home with us since they are on their way out of town to visit the Texas grandchildren.

Our holiday meal included the ever present stuffing and turkey but with a twist.  She no longer stuffs the turkey bird with stuffing but rather puts it in the crockpot.  First time she told me she was cooking stuffing in the crockpot I was convinced she was going senile early.  I was wrong.  Stuffing turns out moist and perfectly down.  It’s even possible to get crispy sides if you take off the lid about thirty minutes prior to serving.  I did have a hand in cooking dinner, minor in the extreme however.

A couple of years ago I discovered the secret to an always moist and juicy turkey no matter what the time of year … citrus.

Seriously, not kidding here, it’s citrus.  I know, sounds crazy but it works and no the bird doesn’t come out overly sweet or tangy from the fruit.  I usually stuff whatever citrus is in the refrigerator whenever I pop a turkey, or for that matter a whole chicken, in the oven.  Blood oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, tangerines, doesn’t matter to me they all work.  I also usually add an onion and depending on the time of the year a jalapeno or an apple or two.  I just half or quarter, depending on the cavity size, and shove the fruit and spices inside, cover with foil and stick in the oven for a couple of hours.  Foolproof, never fail delicious turkey is always the result.

It probably won’t be until sometime next week that I make turkey for just the two of us but when I do I will remember to take a couple of pictures to share.  I will be honest, I am looking forward to that meal since there were so few leftovers yesterday.