Tuesday, March 5, 2013


I was actually kind of skeptical of Pumpkin Chili.  I mean, really, pumpkin in chili?  I've always thought of pumpkin in sweet stuff only.  I'm in a groove right now trying out new recipes and making them my own.  I get the basic ideas from posted recipes and then I add, subtract, and enhance the ingredients.  I was a basic kind of cook who thought of making dinner as a chore until I had bariatric surgery, lost 125 pounds, and have amazing energy.  I now LOVE to cook and enjoy making my own recipes and enhancing others, or just trying things that I thought would be too hard.  I have come to realize that fresh herbs are the only way to go and you can hide vegetables in just about EVERYTHING.  So, I made the pumpkin chili...it was just too intriguing...and it being a slow cooker recipe made it even more appealing.  I got the recipe on Pinterest and here:  http://punchfork.com/recipe/Crockpot-Pumpkin-Chili-with-Ground-Beef-Black-Beans-and-Kidney-Beans-Kalyns-Kitchen
I basically went by the recipe with just a couple of additions and subtractions.  Here is what I came up with.

Anaheim chili pepper, green (2oz) - I had a fresh one that I roasted in the oven, removed the skin and cut up
Dried chili pepper, red (1) - I pulled the stem out and poured out the seeds.  I then put it in my Ninja and made it in to a course powder.
jalepeno pepper (1) - finely chopped with seeds removed
2 cans black beans - rinsed
Fresh Cilantro - as much as you like..I LOVE cilantro
Ground Cumin - 1Tbsp
Fresh garlic - 3 cloves minsed or 1Tbsp
Green Bell Pepper - 1
Onion - 1 medium to large
Fresh Oregeno - 2 Tbsp
Fresh Rosemary - 1tsp
Fresh basil - 2tsp
15 oz fresh pumpkin puree (you can use 1 can puree, not pie filling)
28oz fresh tomatoes (I had some fresh frozen roasted tomatoes but you can use 2 14oz cans diced tomatoes)
1lb ground beef
1Tbsp chili powder
2tsp Olive Oil
Sea Salt and fresh ground black pepper - to taste
Dash of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper - to taste
1 yellow squash
1 zuchini squash
1 carrot
1 celery stalk

Brown ground beef until almost done and then add herbs and seasonings...sautee for about 2 more minutes then remove and set aside.  In the same skillet, add some olive oil and saute onions, bell pepper, jalepeno pepper, squash, carrot, and celery until almost soft then add garlic and saute for another minute.  In a blender (I use my awesome Ninja) add tomatoes and sauted veggies.  Pulse a few times until almost pureed.  Add beef, tomato veggie sauce and the rest of the ingredients into a slow cooker (crockpot).  Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours.  Remember, the longer you cook this, the more the flavors will be incorporated and enhanced. 
We put this on fritos for frito chili pie and added some cheese and sour cream (or greek yogurt for more nutrition.)
I now have a favorite chili...and yes, I'm from Texas and like the beans in this chili.  About the pumpkin...you really do not taste it but it does enhance the flavor with just a tad sweetness to tame the peppers, and add a little thickness.  This is a must try.  The following picture is from the original recipe owner.  Thank you Kaylynskitchen for this wonderful concoction. 

Monday, March 4, 2013


I cannot believe I have not added this recipe until now.  It is the best "refried" beans recipe you will ever find.  I have tried to make refried beans before and failed terribly.  These are no fail and extremely easy.  I got the recipe on Pinterest and here: http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2011/07/slow-cooker-refried-beans-without-refry.html

Slow Cooker Refried Beans (without the Refry!)

**This recipe makes a lot, but you can also use it to make bean burritos, bean dip, topping for a salad, etc . . . you will definitely want to use a large 5-6 quart slow cooker for this recipe.

Slow Cooker Refried Beans
1 onion, peeled and halved 
3 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed 
1/4-1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (I used about 1/4 because I wanted my kids to eat it and not think it was too hot) 
2 tablespoons minced garlic 
3 teaspoons salt 
1 3/4 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper 
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin (optional) 
5 cups water 
4 cups chicken broth

    -Place the onion, rinsed beans, jalapeno, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin into a slow cooker. Pour in the water and chicken broth and stir to combine. Cook on High for 8 hours, adding more water as needed. Note: if more than 1 cup of water has evaporated during cooking, then the temperature is too high.
    -Once the beans have cooked, strain them, and reserve the liquid. Mash the beans with a potato masher, adding the reserved water as needed to attain desired consistency. 
     -If you want to turn this into a big batch of bean dip, add the following: 
     2 cups salsa
    2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese
    2 cups shredded pepperjack cheese
    8 oz. cream cheese
    16 oz. sour cream 
    2 Tbls chili powder
    1/2 tsp. ground cumin
    Mix in with the beans and let cook a couple hours longer so flavors can blend. Makes a huge batch so just freeze leftovers!

    Sunday, March 3, 2013


    I contribute weekly (most weeks) to Bountiful Baskets for my fruits and veggies...bread and tortillas also...well, and coconut and olive oil...oh yeah, and pure honey.  This coop is amazing.  When I just get the basket, it's $15 for at least 15 lbs of fruits and veggies.  Some I love, some I've never tried before, and some I'm not crazy about and usually hide them in recipes that overpower the taste of the particular veggie I, or someone in my family, doesn't like.  I did that today.  One of my teen girls is not a big fan of very many vegetables, so I have to desquise them in any way I can to give her the daily amount she needs.  I didn't go by any recipe, just started getting things out of the fridge.  First of all, I made some veggie stock from the CLEANED peelings of the vegetables I was using for the stew including the tops of the leeks and bell pepper, onion peels, carrot, potato and squash peelings and garlic peels.  I peeled the vegetables into a stock pan, covered those peelings with water, added some pepper corns, bay leaves, and about 2 tsps of chicken broth granules (just for a little added flavor).  I let that simmer for about an hour while I cut up my vegetables, then a poured the juice through strainer.  Came out GREAT!  It made about 2 1/2 quarts.  I used 1 quart for the stew, put some in an ice cube mold for individual stocks, and put the rest in a container and into the freezer for next time.  Saved about $5 on stock!!
    The good thing about this stew is it is really fool proof.  You can add whatever vegetables you have on hand...fresh, frozen, or canned.  The meat is really by preference as well.  I used pork because there was a big sale on pork sirloin).  You can also use fresh or dried herbs and whatever stock you have or can make...the vegetable stock I made was very easy and tasted AWESOME.  Here is the recipe for the Pork stew!

    1 ONION (the size depends on how much you LOVE onions)
    1 mexican squash (dark green squash...not zuchini)
    1 chayote squash
    2 leeks (the white and light green part..I put the dark green leaves in the pot for the veggie stock)
    1 bell pepper
    1 chili pepper
    1 jalepeno pepper
    4 carrots
    1 fresh tomato
    5 butter potatoes..small to medium
    1 cup sweet corn (fresh or frozen or 1 can sweet corn)
    1 lrg can diced tomatoes (I had some fresh ones that I froze)
    1 quart stock of choice
    1 can rinsed black beans
    4 cloves minced garlic
    1 tbsp fresh rosemary or 1tsp dried
    2 tbsp fresh oregeno or 1 tbsp dried
    1 tbsp fresh basil or 1 tsp dried
    cilantro to taste...fresh or dried
    1 lb pork sirloin
    sea salt
    fajita seasoning
    about 1 tbsp barbque sauce ( I used tequilla barbque)

    Peel and dice all vegetables and saute in large skillet until peppers and onions are tender (make sure potatoes do not get tender...just a little browned for taste.  While vegetables are sauteing, put fajita seasoning and barbque sauce on pork, coat, and add to heated George Forman.  Cook until browned...juices DO NOT have to run clear.  Add vegetables, meat, herbs, seasonings, and stock to Dutch Oven or stock pot and simmer for 1 hour (you can cook this until the potatoes and carrots are tender, but to get all of the flavors incorporated, at least 1 hour is best...I let me simmer for about 2 hours while I was running erands.)  This recipe could also be cooked in the crockpot...just add everything to the crockpot, bypassing the sauteing and grilling, for about 8-10 hours on low.  My friend says this is the best stew he has ever tasted. 
    Note: To make this an easy weeknight meal, just dice veggies, grill pork for about 3 minutes, and add all to stock pan and bring to a rapid boil...boil for about 10-15 minutes, then lower to simmer for another 10 minutes or until all veggies are tender.  Enjoy with cornbread, or tortillas (I made no fry refried beans that I put on a flour tortilla with cheese...very tasty).