Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tater Skins

Day before yesterday I spent a big portion of my day turning 10 pounds of Russet potatoes into these twice baked potatoes that can be frozen.  I love having these in the freezer.  About once a week they end up being paired with a salad for a no-brainer supper around our house.

twice baked potatoes wrapped and ready for the freezer

Evidently, I put too much filling in the first potatoes because I ran out with 10 shells left to fill.  I didn't know what to do with the empty potato shells, but didn't want to be wasteful and throw them away, either.  Then it hit me - TATER SKINS!  Back in my college days I used to love getting tater skins from Max & Erma's restaurant.  So, I stuck my empty potato shells in a zip lock bag and put them in the fridge  to  await transformation.

These were super simple to make and used only 4 additional ingredients; shredded cheese, real bacon bits, sour cream and chives.  You could easily use crumbled bacon and green onions, but this is what I had on hand.

I laid the empty shells out on a cookie sheet,

filled them with a little shredded cheese and bacon bits (no measurements needed),

and popped them into a pre-heated 400 degree oven.  Twenty minutes later they were ready to be finished off.

I put a dollop of sour cream on each potato and topped with some chopped chives from my herb bed to finish them off.

Yummo! I think that the next time I make twice baked potatoes I may fill them a little too full on purpose so I'll have another excuse to make these super easy tater skins. :0)

I'm linking this post to These Chicks Cooked.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lacto-Fermentation Giveaway!

Have you been hearing the buzz about the benefits of lacto-fermented food?  It seems as the Real Food Movement is gaining a foothold that I'm hearing about the benefits more and more.  I am baby stepping my way through learning skills in the kitchen that will improve my family's health and lacto-fermentation is one of the next steps I'm anxious to tackle.

Well, oh happy day, Amy at Homestead Revival is hosting a give away for a lacto-fermentation e-course.  This is a 6 month e-course done by Wardeh at GNOWFGLINS, who is the instructor extraordinaire on traditional food preparation.  If you click on Wardeh's link above you'll be able to watch a demo video to get a sampling of what this course will entail.  

If you'd like a chance to win this 6 month e-course on lacto-fermentation simply head on over to Homestead Revival to enter.

Cilantro Sauce

Yesterday, I told you that I would share how I made my cilantro sauce.  First of all, we planted cilantro a few years ago in the garden because it the key ingredient in my homemade salsa.  We've never had to plant it again because it comes back every year - everywhere.

Cilantro growing along my garden fence.

If we didn't love it so much it would be annoying.  But, we consider it a blessing.  The problem is that it will go to seed quickly if it's not continually harvested.  Last year I attempted to harvest it and then simply chop it in the food processor and freeze it.  The problem with that approach was that the cilantro seemed to lose it's flavor that way.

Then, I found this post and was inspired.  It reminds of the chimi churri I make with parsley, garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper.  I don't have exact measurements because it's all to taste.  Plus, I don't measure my cilantro.  I just harvest what is available and add the other ingredients until it tastes right to me.  This is roughly how it's made.

 Rinse cilantro and dry.

To a full processor I would roughly add 3 cloves of garlic.  You can add more or less depending on how well you like garlic.

Add cilantro to food processor.

Then add olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper.  Once again, adjust the lime juice to your own preference.  I personally think that lime juice is an excellent compliment to cilantro, so I am pretty liberal with it.

Chop it all up and adjust flavorings to taste.

The next thing I did was to pour my sauce into ice cube trays and stuck them in the freezer until they were nice and frozen.  Then I popped them out and stored them in a gallon size freezer bag.

Preserving my cilantro this way not only keeps it from losing flavor, but it makes it super easy to use when needed.  And, let me just add here - THIS STUFF IS FANTASTIC!  I truly hope I am able to harvest enough cilantro this year to be able to put up enough to get me through the winter.  I find that I've used a bunch of it already.

I used it to make cilantro rice for my black bean freezer burritos. This rice would also be great paired with any type of Mexican dish.  I have also used two cubes with a pint of tomatoes and a bit of cornstarch used as a thickener to make pizza sauce.  I think it would be wonderful made into a variety of sauces for fish, chicken, potatoes or just about anything you can think of.

If you find yourself with a bunch of cilantro that you don't know what to do with, consider making this sauce with it.

Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Black Bean, Cilantro and Lime Freezer Burritos

Yay!  I have a camera again so I can take pictures and blog.  For some reason, without a photograph, I am at a loss for blog posts.  Hopefully I'll be able to become more regular in my blogging once again.  But, enough of that.  Let's talk food!

I recently came across some homemade freezer burritos from Tammy's Recipes.  My hubby likes to keep the frozen ones on hand (when I remember to buy them) that you can pick up in packages of six at about any grocery store.  They make a quick meal when life gets uber-busy.  These burritos tend to give me heart burn.  Plus, the last package I bought had a huge list of ingredients that I couldn't pronounce and am pretty certain that I couldn't walk into a store and buy.  In the interest of cutting as much processing out of our diet as possible I was pretty happy to come across Tammy's simple and inexpensive version.

Basically, it's just equal amounts of beans, brown rice and cheese, with a little (or a lot of) hot sauce for flavor.  The beauty of these burritos is that you can totally customize the flavors or ingredients (like beef or chicken) to accommodate your family's preferences.  You can also use gluten-free tortillas and make them G-free. You can click here to see Tammy's step-by-step tutorial.

When I made them the first time I made them with pinto beans just as in the original recipe.  However, added some spices like cumin, salt, paprika and chili powder for extra flavor.  These were really good and a big hit with my son who requested them several days a week for lunch.  I much prefer him eating these than the frozen dinners he usually prefers.  They were fairly easy to prepare - just pull the foil wrapped burritos from the freezer and stick in a 400 degree oven for about 35 - 40 minutes.  No need to thaw first.

I got to thinking about some different flavor combinations, though.  I had recently stocked up on some dry beans when they went on sale and thought that black beans would go famously with the cilantro that grows like crazy in our garden.  So, this weekend I set out to make another batch using black beans, cilantro and lime.

The first thing I did was soak a 1 pound bag of black beans over night and then cooked them.  Once they were done I drained them.  In the meantime I cooked some brown rice with a cilantro sauce I made and had frozen.  I'll share the recipe for that tomorrow.  This is how it came together.

Put the drained beans in a large bowl.  I found that 1 pound of black beans gave me 5 cups.

Add 5 cups of cilantro rice.

Next, I added hot sauce and lime juice to taste.  Next time I will add cumin as well.

Finally, add cheese.  Once again this is personal.  I used colby jack, but you can use whatever suits your fancy.  I used two bags because I like how the cheese gets all melty and holds everything together, but you could certainly cut that amount in half.

Stir it all together.

Now they're ready to be filled.  I used two packs of burrito sized flour tortillas, giving me 21 finished burritos.

Fold them up burrito style and wrap.  For this batch I opted to wrap the burritos in wax paper instead of aluminum foil in hopes that I could heat them in the microwave.  It worked like a charm - just nuke frozen burritos for about 2 minutes.  After wrapping individual burritos simply place into gallon sized freezer bags and stick into the freezer.  I can get about 6 in a bag.

The nice thing about these is that you can cook the beans and rice one day and then assemble them the next.  This makes a lot of burritos for a little bit of work.  Plus, they taste much better than the artificial ingredient laden, heart burn causing, store bought freezer burritos.

So, if you're like me and looking for some quick and healthier options to whip up in no time on a busy day or evening - give home made freezer burritos a try.

Update:  I sent these to work with my hubby for lunch yesterday and he liked them even better than the original version, which he liked very much. Score!

Happy Monday!