Mexican Style Pinto Beans

I have lots of bean recipes.  You what they say about the whole "musical fruit" thing...I guess we go for it because we eat lots of beans.  I love, love, love the typical refried beans and I usually make those, but my sister made these beans and we all loved them.  I made a double batch of this recipe to take to our small group nacho bar potluck and didn't have many leftovers!  What was leftover my kids ate with a spoon for lunch today.

These ranch beans are perfect wrapped in a tortilla, dipped with tortilla chips or in chili.

Mexican Style Pinto Beans
adapted from sparkpeople.com

1 lb dried pinto beans, or 2 c. dried beans
3 Tb. cumin
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
3 tsp. smoked paprika
3 tsp. granulated garlic
2 Tb. chili powder
1 Tb. salt
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped (any color)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can Rotel, undrained
1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
3-4 c. water (or more if you don't soak the beans head of time)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Rinse the beans and cover them with water and soak overnight.  If you don't have time to soak the beans, just add more cooking time in the morning and 1-2 c. more water.  Rinse the soaked beans and add to your slow cooker.  Measure all dry seasonings, add to the slow cooker, and stir the beans to coat.  Add in the onion, bell pepper, garlic, rotel, tomatoes and water, and stir.  (You want enough liquid to cover the beans.)  Cook on low 4-6 hours, adjusting salt or seasonings as you like.  Stir in the cilantro once the beans are cooked. You can keep the beans on warm as long as you need before serving.  
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Vegan Red Beans and Rice

I'm posting this recipe just to show you all how simple it can be to make food you already like vegetarian or even vegan.  Now, I still insist that I have no intentions of becoming a vegan but I do believe that eating fewer animal products could do everyone a little good.  So, this recipe has so been done before, but we really, really love this meal (I probably make it every other week),  it freezes well (minus the rice) and is very inexpensive, easy and flavorful.  All that to say there isn't anything eye-opening about this but it's easy.  When I'm making something like this I up the seasonings a little bit to make up for the sausage that is usually in this meal, which adds flavor and salt.

On a side note, the best vegetable base/stock/bouillion I've found is Organic Better Than Bouillion Vegetable Base.  It's so good.  I haven't found it at my regular grocery store but Sprouts has it all the time.

Vegan Red Beans and Rice

1 lb dried small red beans, rinsed (kidney beans are not the same)
6 c. water + 2 Tb vegetable base
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. Tony's or seasoned salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. smoked paprika
dash of liquid smoke

For Serving:
cooked rice
4 green onions, sliced
Frank's Red Hot

Put all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low 6-8 hours.  Mash the beans some with a fork or a potato masher.  To serve, ladle some beans into a bowl and top with  rice, sprinkle with green onions & serve with Frank's Red Hot.
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Chicken Lettuce Wraps Salad

Taking a little break from the vegan recipe posts! We all loved this lettuce wrap recipe, I'm excited to try to make it vegetarian.  I think if I (you) subbed 1/2 a block of tofu chopped for the chicken and doubled or even tripled the mushrooms it would be a great vegetarian/vegan option!  

Turns out that it's kind of a pain to make lettuce wraps for a family of five, and then the dressing is dripping down everyone's arms so...we made it into a salad and loved it! I ate the rest the next day for lunch and had some of the sauce left over for a salad the following day.  I used a packet of lettuce wrap mix for the wrap filling, but I found the sauce recipe here.  So I guess you could call this a semi-homemade Chicken Lettuce Wraps Salad. It's yummy!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps Salad

1 1/2 lb ground chicken (I'm sure turkey would work fine)
8 oz mushrooms, chopped
2/3 c. chopped water chestnuts (I had fresh ones I peeled and chopped but a can works great)
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 packet lettuce wraps seasoning packet (I used Sun Bird)

1 head iceberg or bibb lettucce
2-4 c. cooked brown or white rice for serving (depending on how much rice you like)

Mix the lettuce wrap packet together as directed and pour over the ground chicken.  Cover and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat and saute the chicken with the marinade, mushrooms, water chestnuts and green onions for 8-10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  Then it's your choice to assemble lettuce wraps or a salad! To make wraps or salad layer lettuce, rice, chicken mixture and drizzle with sauce.

Lettuce Wrap Sauce
recipe from epicurious

1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
2 Tb. soy sauce
2 Tb. rice vinegar
2 Tb. ketchup
1 Tb. lemon juice
drizzle of sesame oil
1 Tb. dijon or spicy mustard
1 tsp. sriracha (or more if you really like spicy)
2 cloves of garlic

Whisk all ingredients together and refrigerate.

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Roasted Veggie & Black Bean Tamale Bake

Eating vegan is no big deal.  I mean, don't get me wrong, the thought of eating vegan for a month freaked me out, but once I got into the groove of it (read: found a suitable half and half substitution for my coffee) it's no biggie.  I've made several vegan meals and my family of five has enjoyed them all, which is super exciting!

This recipe I adapted from the chicken tamale bake, and despite the vegan adaptions, it was great.  If you're  eating vegetarian feel free to use a real egg in place of the flax egg and sprinkle some cheddar cheese on top. If you have time to roast the veggies ahead of time that will make putting this meal together even faster.

Roasted Veggie & Black Bean Tamale Bake

2 small yellow squash or zuchinni, thinly sliced
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 bell peppers, any color, thinly sliced
1 can black beans, drained very well (I dried mine with a paper towel!)
1 box jiffy corn muffin mix
1 Tb flax meal + 3 Tb. water (or 1 egg)
1/3 c. milk of your choice (I used soy milk)
1 can creamed corn
1 tsp. cumin
dash of cayenne pepper
1 10 oz can enchilada sauce

Preheat the oven to 425.  Layer the yellow squash on one cookie sheet and the peppers and onions on a another cookie sheet.  Bake 10 minutes then stir with a spatula and rotate the pans.  Bake another 10 minutes.  At this point the squash should be cooked but the peppers may need longer.  Cook peppers & onions until they are soft.  Remove the veggies from the oven and then them cool.  
Turn the oven down to 350 and spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.  In a small bowl or ramekin mix the flax meal with the water and let it stand 5 minutes.  Stir the flax egg before dumping it into the corn mixture. Mix together the corn muffin mix, flax egg, milk, creamed corn, cumin & cayenne pepper and stir well to combine.
Pour the corn mixture into the 9x13 pan and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and poke holes in the corn cake with a fork.  Pour the enchilada sauce over the corn cake and then layer on the roasted veggies and black beans.  Return to the oven another 15-20 minutes or until the corn cake is cooked through.  Top with sour cream or tofutti "Better than Sour Cream", if desired.
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Spicy BBQ Chickpea Burgers

This burger is really good.  I would highly recommend not telling your kids it's a "burger" or else they'll be expecting a beef patty with ketchup & American cheese and I could see how that would be disappointing! I told my kids we were having sandwiches and they ate them happily.  

I found this burger on one of my favorite vegan blogs, Oh She Glows.  I did make a couple changes to make it simpler and more to our liking but for the most part, her recipe was amazing!  I just made these for the second time yesterday and I minced the veggies as small as possible without pulverizing them, and pulsed the chickpea mixture a little more in the food processor to make it a stickier batter and the burgers held together better when I cooked them.  You could definitely make this without a food processor but you'll need to mash the chickpeas with the rice really well with a potato masher or fork.  I recommend minute rice because it seems to cook softer (and much faster) and you want the rice soft to bind the burger together.  Either white or brown rice is fine, depending on what you like and what you  have on hand.

Spicy BBQ Chickpea Burgers, Vegan
recipe adapted from Oh She Glows

3/4 c. minute rice (white or brown)
2 cans chickpeas, drained well
1/4 c. minced red onion
1/2 c. minced red or yellow bell pepper
1 jalapeno, ribs & seeds removed, minced
1 small carrot, grated
3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/4 c. bbq sauce
1/2 tsp. Tony's (or other seasoned salt + dash of cayenne)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 Tb. ground flax seed

Prep the veggies before cooking the rice.  Put the rice in the microwave or cook on the stove as directed.  Drain the chickpeas well and add to the bowl of your food processor.  Once the rice is done add the hot rice to your food processor and pulse until combined, leave a few small chunks.  Don't try to use cold rice because it gets too firm.  Once the chickpea/rice mixture is ready pour it into a mixing bowl and add the veggies, cilantro, bbq sauce, seasoning and flax.  Combine well.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Form into patties, packing the burger mixture tightly.  Preheat a skillet, I recommend cast iron, to medium-high heat.  Cook the burgers 3-4 minutes on each side until browned well and warm throughout.  Serve on toasted buns with lettuce, tomato, onion and bbq sauce.  We ate these with oven fries.

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Vegan Black Eyed Pea Bowls with Red Hot Tahini

Apparently I'm on Christmas Break too...but trying to get back into the swing of things, and back into the healthy eating swing especially! WAY too many cookies, chocolate pretzel bark, au gratin potatoes, shrimp scampi, etc... 

This month on Cracked Up Kitchen I will feature healthy recipes with vegan recipes at least once a week.  I know, I know, don't freak out.  I will throw a couple fun recipes in there also, but I know most people are trying to eat healthier in the new year and I think eating vegan gets a bad rap.  Lots of people think vegans eat weeds from the backyard and wear hemp cologne and smoke pot are hippies.  But vegan food can be delicious and even your family could like a recipe or two if you tried it.  

Now, we have no intentions of becoming permanently vegan or even vegetarian, we just want to attempt to eat healthier, reduce our animal product consumption, and be fit.  I have committed to eat vegan for the month of January (six days a week;) so I will be trying out lots of new recipes and I'll tell you how it goes! 

Today's recipe was a three thumbs up meal for the entire family.  As I was assembling my kids' bowls I said a little prayer that I would be patient if they were grossed out by it.  Which was completely the opposite of their reactions.  Two of my three little eaters ate seconds and Robbie immediately said, "Wow mom, this is good!" So if you're contemplating trying a vegan meal, try this!  I found this recipe at Post Punk Kitchen and I would've never thought I should make it just by  looking at the recipe but her photo was so delicious looking I had to try it and am so glad I did.  I realize that eating black eyed peas (Hoppin' John) is traditionally done on New Year's Day but I didn't feel like cooking so whatever!

A couple short cuts: You can absolutely use 2 cans of black eyed peas instead of cooking from dried.  I was really short on time yesterday so I used 2 cans of collared greens instead of sauteing my own, but fresh would be just perfect, probably better. Prep ahead of time, you can make the tomato salad, peas, rice & sauce ahead of time and reheat when you're ready to eat.  That's what I did and it made getting dinner on the table super quick.

Vegan Black Eyed Pea Bowls with Red Hot Tahini
recipe adapted from Post Punk Kitchen

Hoppin' John
1 lb bag dried black eyed peas
1 Tb. liquid smoke
2 bay leaves

2 cans collared greens, drained
granulated garlic &seasoned salt for seasoning

Tomato Salad:
2 c. chopped tomatoes, about 3 big roma tomatoes
3 large green onions, sliced thinly
1/3 c. fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt & pepper
2 Tb. red wine vinegar

Red Hot Tahini
1/2 c. tahini
1/3 c. Frank's Red Hot sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. water (or more)

6 c. cooked rice for serving, whatever kind you like.  I used long grain & wild rice.

You can cook your black eyed peas on the stove or in a crockpot, keep in mind they cook faster than typical beans. Either simmer the peas in water with the liquid smoke and bay leaf 30 minutes or until al-dente, OR add the peas to a slow-cooker, cover them with water, add liquid smoke & bay leaves and cook on low 2-3 hours. Drain water & remove the bay leaves before serving.

While the black eyed peas are cooking make the tomato salad by combining the chopped tomatoes, green onions, parsley, salt, pepper & red wine vinegar in a bowl and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.  To make the red hot tahini sauce add all ingredients to a blender jar and blend until smooth.  You may want to add more water to get a consistency that's good for drizzling.  Directly before serving heat the greens & seasonings until hot.  To assemble the black eyed pea bowls layer rice, black eyed peas, greens, tomato salad & drizzle the top with the red hot tahini.  Enjoy! I love the mix of hot rice, beans & greens topped with cold tomatoes and sauce.  So yummy!
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