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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Ranch Style Beans for Haystacks





If you’d like to make your own beans for haystacks instead of relying on those giant cans of Ranch-Style beans, here is a version of a Texas version of Ranch beans. I tried it out, made a few adjustments and today we gave it a try.  You can make huge amounts of beans with an army of crockpots and Dutch ovens or large pots. The recipe takes patience because of the need to slow cook the beans, but it’s a good dish to prepare on Friday for the Sabbath potluck.  If, like me you have massive stores of pinto beans, you can say, “I’ll bring the beans,” and not be taking the easy way out or feel guilty that you aren’t doing your part.

Ingredients:

  • Medium bag of Pinto Beans
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 small can mild Rotel ® tomatoes and chiles
  • 1 small diced onion
  • 1 diced red, yellow, orange or green bell pepper
  • 15 oz. can of tomatoes (or 2 medium-sized tomatoes, peeled)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 oz imitation Bacon Bits
 Tools:
  • Crockpot
  • Large pot or Dutch oven or large cast iron skillet
  • Measuring cups and spoons
Directions:

  1. Soak beans overnight. Some add baking soda to the water. Be sure you have enough water because the beans soak up a lot of water.
  2. Next morning drain and rinse the beans and put into crockpot with salt.
  3. Cook on low for four hours
  4. In pot, Dutch oven, or cast-iron skillet add oil, onions and peppers and sauté at medium heat. Add imitation bacon-bits or Loma Linda ® Worthington® vege-burger or Morningstar Recipe Crumbles® and cook till softened or browned.
  5. Add can of diced tomatoes, heat and add warm water and all spices, sugar and vinegar.
  6. Depending on your taste you can do one of two things. You can puree the spice, vegeburger and vegetables mix or leave it as it is which will give you a little more texture to your sauce.
  7. When the pinto beans are done, drain and rinse them and add to the pot with the vegetable, tomato and burger sauce.
  8. Gently heat and simmer in the crockpot on low for an hour or two till the beans absorb all the flavors. Stir occasionally until the beans are as thick as you prefer.

Serving Suggestions:

If you have a crockpot that has a removable ceramic pot, simply lift it out with the beans when you are ready to carry them to church. I just take the whole crockpot so that I can plug it in to heat the beans during the service and it’s ready to go by lunchtime. It makes more room in the warming oven that way.

There are as many ways to prepare the beans for haystacks as there are things to put on haystacks. Check here for the haystack recipe, but remember. Both of these recipes are starting places. I’ve eaten haystacks with canned baked beans, refried beans and even black beans that some militant vegan thought would be a good idea. It wasn’t bad.

The thing is, it’s hard to go wrong with all that lettuce, tomato, cheese, salad dressing and corn chips or tortilla chips (depending on your religious belief visa-vie the whole Fritos-versus-tortilla-chips issue). I’ve seen it done with goat cheese, tofu, soy cheese and no cheese at all. I’m a cheddar kind of guy myself. That said, I didn’t balk when the guy brought a can of nacho cheese sauce to potluck for the haystacks. Haystacks, like Jesus, accept what you come with and are very forgiving.

Just sayin’

© 2017 by Tom King 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Homemade Flour Tortillas


I started making tortillas by accident. I ran out of flour tortillas one evening just as I was struck by a giant craving for quesadillas. So I pulled up some recipes for homemade tortillas of the flour variety. Using simple tools like my iron skillet, mixer with dough hook, rolling pin and a spatula, I went to work and produced a tasty tortilla. I've fooled around with the recipe and this one is the best yet.

These are my whole wheat tortilla variant.
Ingredients
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (You can substitute a cup of whole wheat flour for one of the cups of white flour if you want a little fiber in your tortillas - I like them better that way)
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder





Instructions
  1. Toss all the dry ingredients into your mixing bowl and with the dough hook mix up the dry ingredients thoroughly on medium speed. 
  2. Keep the mixer running and add oil and water. Mix for about a minute, keeping the dry flour scraped from the sides of the bowl. When mixture starts to form a ball, reduce speed to low and mix with the dough hook until the dough is nice and smooth.
  3. Turn out the dough onto a well-floured cutting board. Divide the dough in half, then in half again. Keep halving each new ball of dough until you have 16 equal dough pieces. 
  4. Roll each piece into a ball.
  5. Flatten the little balls with your hand as much as possible.
  6. The dough may be a little sticky. If it is roll it in a little more flour, then lay a cloth over the dour balls for about 15 minutes.
  7. Heat your griddle or a nice cast iron skillet which I prefer. Lightly oil the skillet and wipe off excess. 
  8. With your rolling pin, roll each dough ball flat into a rough disk about six or seven inches across. You'll have to lightly flour the rolling pin to keep the dough from sticking to it. 
  9. Don't stack the uncooked tortillas or they'll stick. I roll them out one at a time getting the next one flattened while the first is cooking.
  10. Make sure the pan is very hot - I work at just above medium heat. Put your tortilla into the pan and cook about 1 minute. The bottom should have a few pale brown spots. The topside will show a few thin bubbles. You'll have to fiddle with the heat to make sure the tortilla doesn't brown too fast or too slow. One way you get too crisp tortillas and the other too tough. It should look right after about a minute. Then flip the tortilla and cook for another 30 seconds. The tortilla should be soft and flexible with a few brown spots on it.
  11. Use a pair of tongs to remove the tortilla and stack it in a covered container. A ziplock bag works too. This will lock in the moisture and ensure the tortillas remain soft and flexible.
  12. Before you start another tortilla, wipe out any flour that may have accumulated in the pan.
  13. You can serve them while they are still warm or after they cool or you can warm them up again. They keep nicely. 
Serving Suggestions:
Flour tortillas will keep pretty well stored in an airtight container or zippered bag. You can keep them at room temperature for 24 hours or longer in the fridge. You can freeze them indefinitely by separating the tortillas with parchment or waxed paper and stack them in a zippered bag before you shove them in the freezer.
When you are ready to use the tortillas, place a slightly damp paper towel in the bottom of a container (with a cover) that will hold the stacked tortillas. I use a microwave tortilla warmer. But then I'm from Texas and we all have one of those. Microwave them covered for 30 seconds or uncovered for 15-25 seconds until warm. Leave the cover on and set them on the table for everyone to dig in.

Great for quesadillas or flour tacos or burritos or..............dang, now I'm hungry for Mexican food. Make up about 4 batches of these, throw out some hot refried beans, cheese, lettuce and tomato with a big bowl of salsa and they'll be a hit for burritos at your next potluck.

© 2016 by Tom King* All photos are © in the public domain

Monday, November 28, 2016

Crock Pot Cake



Here's how to get a nice and very moist cake out of a box cake mix and you don't have to tie up your oven if you've got a couple of casseroles going in there. It takes a little longer, but the cake I made in our crockpot came out really well. You just have to be patient because you can only cook the layers one at a time and they take one to two hours for each layer.  Makes a nice sturdy little cake and you don't have to worry so much about burning it. This is a very forgiving way to bake a cake.

Ingredients:
  • Cake mix or your own homemade cake batter
  • Crock pot
  • Spatula
  • Spray oil or butter
  • Frosting
Directions:
  1. Plug in your crock pot and turn it on high.
  2. Spray the inside with PAM or spray on margarine or rub the inside and bottom with butter or oil
  3. Make up your cake batter just like you normally do.
  4. Pour half of the cake batter into the crock pot. Cover and save the rest.
  5. Cover and cook until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean
  6. Gently run around the edges of the cake with a spatula or narrow pancake flipper till the cake releases from the bottom
  7. Turn the cake out onto a cake plate. Flip it back over and allow to cool.
  8. Meanwhile, respray the inside of the crock  and scoop the rest of the batter into it.
  9. Cover and cook again for one or two hours until a knife in the center comes out clean.
  10. Again, gently loosen the edges of the cake from the pot and turn out on a plate.
  11. Allow to cool, the frost the first layer, place the second layer on top of the first and frost that. The layers may be very moist and so you have to handle them gently so they don't break. They are studier once they've cooled.
  12. Cover and take to potluck with you. Makes nice tall delicious looking pieces. This is the one I made for my chocolate loving sweetie. She was much impressed.

Notes:
 
If you're cooking for a potluck, Thanksgiving, Christmas or other holiday, this method gives you more baking space. It doesn't have to be watched as closely as it doesn't burn as easily as batter in a thin cake pan does.  Just plug in the old crok and get her cooking. I'm going to try a fruitcake in the crock pot this year. I like the look of the bundt pan fruitcakes, but I'm curious to see how my grandmother's fruitcake turns out in the crock pot. I will keep one and all informed. Be sure and follow this blog for updates and new recipes.  If you have some recipes you want to contribute, I'll try them out and post them here giving you full credit, of course.

Happy potlucking!

© 2016 by Tom King

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Crock Pot Cornbread



Thanksgiving is coming up and the oven is going to be a crowded place. Here's a trick to free up some space in the oven and get your cornbread done for stuffing. Not only that, but it makes great cornbread and minimizes the potential for burning it.  It also makes a nice compact and attractive cornbread for potluck. The process is simple.

Ingredients:


  • Cornbread mix (Martha White is the best - no lard)
  • Eggs and milk as called for by the mix 
  • Optional: 1/4 cup grated Velveeta or cheddar cheese
  • Alternate:  Cornbread batter from scratch
  • Butter or Margarine
  • Crock pot
Directions:
  1. Turn the crock pot on high
  2. Melt butter or margarine in the bottom of the crock pot and brush it around on the sides and evenly over the bottom of the pot so the cornbread won't stick
  3. Mix up the batter while the butter is melting.
  4. Optional: Grate the quarter cup cheese and blend in with the batter
  5. Pour the batter into the crock pot and cover with the lid.
  6. Bake for one to two hours depending on how hot the crock pot runs
  7. Bake till a knife inserted into the cornbread comes out clean.
  8. Turn off pot. If the crock is removable, lift it out and use a spatula to loosen the sides and bottom.  Turn out onto a plate and voila!  Cornbread!
Note:
Adding a little honey to the mix makes a nice sweeter cornbread if you like that sort of thing. To make Mexican cornbread add cheese and jalapeno or diced poblano peppers and onions. This is the easiest way I've found to make cornbread. Because it cooks slow, it's forgiving to cooks that don't multi-task well - giving you a 20 minute or so window to take it off the heat. The crock pot gives you that nice even heat like an iron skillet and makes a crisp crust with the melted butter on the bottom. And it gives you a nice cute cornbread to take to potluck. You could make two or three on Friday while you are working on your Friday housekeeping. And it'll only cost you three 50 cent boxes of cornbread mix a little milk and a few eggs. Three cornbreads this size will give you plenty to go around at the potluck and people will be amazed at how good it is warmed in the microwave just before serving.

© 2016 by Tom King

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Mammaw's Tea Cakes



It's funny how words get misheard and preserved, especially among close-knit cultural groups. I was looking for this recipe in the box of recipes my wife inherited from her Mammaw Jenny. This recipe for old-fashioned Tea Cakes (the kind you have at tea time if you're British, was in an old newspaper clipping along with a recipe for cornmeal pie. It was listed as a recipe for old-fashioned "T" cakes. Not sure what the local newspaper thought the "T" stood for. There was another recipe by someone named Miranda for a "Sheith" cake - or a sheet cake as it is known throughout the rest of the world.  So T-cakes or Tea Cakes, whatever you want to call them, these are a great party cookie that's not very sweet, but just right for a little snack or a light dessert after a big old potluck.

Mammaw's Old Fashioned Tea Cakes


Ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix all ingredients well
  3. Roll dough thin
  4. Cut out cookies with a cookie cutter 
  5. Place cookies evenly on an ungreased cookie sheet
  6. Bake until cookies are a light golden brown. Do not overcook.
Note:

You can also spoon the batter onto a cookie sheet. The original recipe also suggests using an insulated cookie sheet. I like to bake them till they crisp and turn darker around the edges.  These are very simple and come out like a cross between a cake and a cookie. Very civilized for a simple something to go with a warm drink or iced drinks. You can even substitute Truvia for sugar and lower the calories even further.

© 2016 by Tom King

Friday, September 2, 2016

Neat Vegeburger Shepherd’s Pie



Atlantic Natural Foods has a couple of new products called “Neat” and “Neat Egg” that I tested out on my potluck version of shepherd’s pie.  It works pretty well and makes a nice sized shepherd’s pie.  I’ve already posted a shepherd’s pie recipe and my Sweet Baboo’s mashed potato recipe which is the base for any good shepherd’s pie.  I actually liked the NEAT burger crumbles because they were a little crisp from the prep process. I like my vegeburger with a little texture. If you don't like it a little crunchy, just don't cook it as long.

Neat Burger Crumbles


Ingredients:
 
  • 1 package NEAT
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 2 Eggs or NEAT Eggs prepared according to pkg.
  • Half an onion finely chopped
  • Half a bell pepper finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1 small can of diced tomatoes

Instructions:
  1. Mix NEAT with water and eggs or Neat Eggs (see recipe below) in a bowl.
  2. Flatten mixture and press flat into a lightly oiled skillet on medium heat.
  3. Cook until the bottom starts to crisp and flip.
  4. Once the other side starts to crisp break it up into crumbles and stir. 
  5. In a separate pan or skillet sauté onions and peppers and sage in a little olive oil
  6. When the onions and peppers are caramelized, add diced tomatoes and barbecue sauce and heat
  7. Add sauce mix to Neat crumbles mixture and you’re ready to go.

Serving Suggestion:

Fill casserole dish with mashed potatoes. Pour NEAT mixture over the mashed potatoes cover with foil and reheat once you get to potluck. Makes a really nice casserole.








NEAT Egg Prep.

  1. Mix 2 TBSP water, 1 TBSP Neat egg mix per egg required in the recipe.
  2. Mix well
  3. Add to recipe just as you would an egg. 
  4. NEAT egg isn’t a standalone substitute for eggs. It serves strictly as a binder in other recipes. It does a nice job in this one.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Sloppy Joes



This one is another potluck recipe that's good if you're feeding a bunch of kids. Throw in huge bags of chips and some fruit or something and you're all set.  Here's how you do it.

INGREDIENTS:
  • Morning Star Grillers Crumbles®, Loma Linda Vegeburger®, Worthington Vegeburger®, whatever kind of vegeburger you want
  • Chopped onions
  • Chopped Peppers
  • Oil
  • Manwich® or other barbecue or tomato-based sauce
  • Burger buns
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Sautee onions and peppers till carmelized
  2. Add vegeburger just before the onions are soft
  3. Brown the vegeburger, peppers and onions
  4. Add Manwich® sauce or barbecue sauce or whatever tomato sauce you use as a base.
  5. Heat to gentle bubble
  6. Spoon on burger buns and eat 'em up.

    SERVING SUGGESTIONS:

    Just keep adding vegeburger, veges and sauce until it looks like you have enough for everybody. A can of Manwich® and a bag of Griller Crumbles® or a can of vegeburger ought to make six to eight teenager-sized sandwiches, maybe more. Just give them buns and put a spoon in the pot and that's all there is to it.


    © 2016 by Tom King