Friday, February 8, 2013

Fondue for Love!

Although I feel like Hallmark AND Pinterest
go a bit overboard with most holidays
throughout the year, I WILL say that
Valentine's Day is quite special to us.
Not that Flag Day or Labor Day
aren't special in their own way.
There's just something about the
'love holiday' that we take a likin' to.
It's actually an anniversary of sorts for us - 
of the day my hubs made his first move
towards dating me.  Whoa.
Sooo, we pretty much hold this occasion
up about as high as our wedding anniversary. 
This doesn't mean we always do grand things,
but they are always special.
Most years, we actually look forward to
planning and celebrating Valentine's 
Candles, the real china, homemade menus,
making our children be our waitresses...
you know, the works.
Yes, I know, it's fun not to HAVE to cook a meal
but, in my book, we can eat out any time.
Save the dinner dates for a less crowded,
less stressful night to go out on - 
and celebrate this year at HOME.
If your spouse is the one that usually
prepares the meals, then I can almost guarantee you
that getting dressed up and cooking for them
AT HOME is the sweetest most romantic thing.
And if you are the one that usually prepares the meals,
take the stress off your mate by requesting
to stay home.  Cook some fondue together
or just order a pizza.  
Love AND less stress is the way to go.

When I think of something that would be
romantic, yet easy on the preparer -
I think FONDUE.
Whether you do a cheese fondue and/or chocolate -
what could be easier and less stressful to prepare?!?
No, seriously it is.
We have made this several times
and is such a perfect, relaxing meal.
It is so interactive - you really don't even need plates!

Check out a recent article I did
in The Wedded Bliss on just that!
We make the Simpler Fondue recipe found there
and you'll find step by step
 instructions for three fondue recipes.
Take a night off from the stress of going out
on Valentine's and take your sweetie out to dinner
another time!!!  After all, it's easier to gaze into
each other's eyes at home than in a
baby screaming restaurant, yes?!


Friday, February 1, 2013

Supah Dupah Chalupa. . . . .Beans!

Have you ever attempted cooking a pot of pinto beans?
It's a great southern tradition.
A big pot of beans can feed a herd, it's cheap,
and it can go alongside bbq, enchiladas and more.
Pintos can also be a stand alone meal all by itself.
Well, maybe with some cornbread.

This week at Free Recipe Friday
it's all about this tried and true one pot meal.
But this isn't your everyday standard pot of pinto beans.
Oh no.
This is "Aunt Kim's Chalupa Beans."
My memory may have failed me a bit
and swayed from her exact recipe,
but this is how we make them.
I am pretty sure this is how she does it.
Not only will your friends and family love you for it,
they will love Aunt Kim too :)

As with most any dried bean,
you basically pour a bag of them
onto a clean counter top, spread them out
and check for any "foreign debris."  Yes, foreign debris.
So take a few minutes to check for small rocks,
mystery beans/objects, etc.
Sorry if this is your first time at this
and that whole explanation was a bit disturbing.
The fact of the matter is no brand is exempt from this.
Our beans just happened to have been from Colorado,
delivered to us from a sweet sweet man
in our church.  They were, I must say
fairly void of debris.  Use whatever brand
you can get your hands on - just check for. . .
'which of these things is not like the other'
and remove those things :)

After the beans have been looked over,
scoop them up and dump them into your large pot.
Now fill the pot with water and put a lid on it
and set aside.  Back in the day
I would let them soak overnight -
those days are gone.  These days
I soak them in the morning
and begin cooking about lunchtime. 
They are ready to go by dinner!

**An important side note, after the beans have soaked
for several hours (or even overnight),
drain off the water and rinse several times.
Pour in fresh water, covering the beans
several inches above the beans.
I am convinced this helps remove the
excess 'gaseous-ness.' :)

That's it. That's the basics to
getting a pot of beans ready for cooking.

You should give them a try...

Any Pork Roast - preferably with the bone in
(I never buy a certain weight - just one that looks good)

Pinto Beans
(we used a 2 lb. pkg - you can certainly reduce)

Water - lots of water

Diced Onion, optional

Chopped Garlic, not optional :)

1 heaping Tablespoon Garlic Powder - seriously

appx 1 Tablespoon Salt/Pepper, or more
(I promise, the beans need this -
plus you have to remember
the meat will need it as well)

Aunt Kim's Spices
a bit of Oregano, Thyme, Red Pepper,
Chili Powder and Tabasco

After you have followed the soaking
instructions above, and have your
soaked beans rinsed and refilled -
place the stockpot on the stove
and add in the roast - right in the pot.
Turn heat on high and as it is coming
up to a boil, add your seasonings.

Make sure everything is covered in water
several inches above the beans/roast.
Once it all comes to a good boil,
reduce heat to low/medium and put a lid on
but leave it tilted to allow moisture to escape.
If you cook with no lid at all, the beans
will be more apt to lose their moisture too fast
and boil dry.  You do not want them to boil dry.
If the water gets low, and it often will,
add a cup or two more.
Towards the end of the cooking process
you will notice a change in the broth.
It will become a bit thicker and the beans
will be tender.  Check for seasoning at this time.

The pork roast should be falling off the bone
at this point.  Gently remove it and set on a plate
or cutting board.  Remove bone and excess fat.
Using two forks, shred the meat and place
back into bean pot.  You are ready to eat!

You can lay down a flour tortilla
and cover with beans and your choice
of other toppings such as CHEESE,
lettuce, sour cream, salsa, etc., etc.

You could also pour 'em up in a bowl
on top of cornbread or serve 'em up along side
some fried taters my precious.
Give 'em a try now, ya hear.