Dinner, Uncategorized

The Best Crockpot Pork and Beans Recipe

Beans were a cheap and easy meal for my mom to make when I was growing up. I loved (and still love) salted pinto beans in a crockpot with cornbread.

However, when I got married, I quickly realized my husband didn’t feel the same way. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out what recipe to use that my husband would actually like.

As beans are super cheap, filling, and nutritious, I like to use them often. My poor hubby had to eat a lot of beans that he didn’t really like… Until I figured this recipe out. He sat down for dinner and was surprised that he actually loved them!!

Other recipes for ham and beans have left me wanting more. They often use a ham bone, which is fine if you like that flavor. It never really appealed to me.

Then one day, it hit me! I had some pork I needed to use, but I was tired of pork chops and potatoes. So I tossed the pork chops with our favorite pork rub into the crockpot, added some pinto beans and water… And got this delicious recipe!

This isn’t your typical pork and beans- it has a nice kick of spice and only a little sweetness to it. I don’t enjoy canned pork and beans mainly for the sweetness overload. If you try this recipe out, please let me know if you enjoyed it in the comments below!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups rinsed pinto beans
  • 1 1/2 Quarts of chicken or veggie broth or water
  • 1 Quart of water
  • 3 Pork chops/ pork cut of your choice (Or more- This recipe ends up being more beans than shredded pork.)
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon of paprika
  • 3/4 Cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 Teaspoon thyme

Directions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients in the crockpot (Except for the 1 quart of water) and set it to high.
  2. Let it cook for 12-36 hours. I tend to let it cook for at least 24 hours because I like the more mushy texture.
  3. Add in the 1 quart of water as needed- it can be the texture of chili or soup. Just make sure it doesn’t dry out and burn!
  4. Shred the pork chops and mix them into the beans.
  5. Serve with cornbread. (Optional, but highly recommended!)

Notes:

  • If you want a shorter cook time, I recommend soaking the beans in water overnight. Then cook them on high for at least 12 hours. I like to make sure the beans are cooked and mushy for better flavor and less gastrointestinal distress.
  • I have used pork roast or pork chops in the times I have tested this recipe and they have both been delicious! I think you could use any cut of meat that you like with beans. I just happen to like pork with pinto beans.
Dinner, Uncategorized

Great Northern Bean and Kielbasa Soup

Where I live, spring is full of chilly days that are asking for a bowl of soup and a cozy blanket. This is a soup that I turn to regularly for dinner when I don’t have time (Or don’t want to cook!). It has a few simple ingredients that make a hearty, and dairy-free, soup.

I highly reccomend using homemade chicken broth to up the deliciousness, but boullion works in a pinch. If you need some more ideas for improving your soup recipes, you can find more ideas here.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Medium onion
  • 4 Cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 Package of kielbasa sausage
  • 2 Cans of great northern beans
  • 1 Can of tomatoes (diced, whole, etc, whatever you like)
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons of Italian seasoning
  • 1 to 2 Teaspoons of salt
  • 1 1/2 Cups of water or bone broth broth (I just used one of the bean cans to measure)
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of chicken bouillon (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat a skillet to medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  2. Dice the onion and mince the garlic.
  3. When the pan is hot enough, add the onion and garlic. Stir occasionally until they are fragrant.
  4. Slice the kielbasa sausage into rounds or half-rounds.
  5. Add the kielbasa to the pan and continue to stir it until the onions are transparent and the sausage has gotten crispy and golden brown on the edges.
  6. Turn the heat down to medium, then add the cans of beans and tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt, and broth. Add pepper to taste.
  7. Stir it occassionally and bring to a boil. Let it boil for five to ten minutes.
  8. Serve with buttered bread or crackers.

I love using beans in soup- it adds protein, vitamins, and texture. They are so cheap too! I like to cook dry beans in my crock pot or Instantpot and then freeze any leftovers. It makes the next time I cook soup even easier! I used cans of beans in this receipe because it’s what I had on hand. Either option works great!

However, if beans aren’t your thing, you could add some noodles instead to increase the satiety factor. I would boil the noodles in the soup itself so the noodles soak up all that flavor, then add another cup of water or broth if needed.

If you try out this recipe, let me know how it turned out for you! I would love to hear any comments you have about the recipe.

Dinner, Uncategorized

How to Take Your Soups to the Next Level

Soups are a staple for me during the autumn and winter seasons. I particularly love hearty and chunky soups.

When I want a bowl of soup on a snowy day, canned soup just doesn’t cut it. If you feel the same way, you might appreciate this list of tips to take your homemade soup to the next level. Soup can seem deceptively easy to make- which they can be- but hard to master. (I am no master myself!)

Without further ado, here are a few tips to make your next bowl of soup delicious.

1. Make and use homemade broth. I know, I know- this is a time consuming step. But I swear it makes the biggest difference. I always have a Snapware full of bones, chicken skin, and leftover pieces of veggies in my freezer to turn into broth. It’s super easy to make! Just toss your bones, veggies pieces, basically whatever you want to use, into your crock pot, instant pot, or pot on the stove. Cover it with water and add whatever seasonings you want. I like salt, bay leaves, and thyme. For the crock pot: I like to leave it running on low for at least 12 hours. Add a cup or two of water as needed so it always covers the bones/veggies. For the instant pot: I run it on manual for 3-6 hours depending on how long I have. For the pot on the stove: let it boil for a few hours and add water as needed.

When there is a nice layer of oil floating on top of the broth, you know it’s done. Strain it and pour into whatever container you plan to use. Of course you can use it right away to make soup, but I made large batches at a time, so I usually put it into glass jars and freeze it. (Make sure to leave plenty of room at the top of the jar, or else they will crack… I have lost too many glass jars that way.)

2. Use homemade noodles or dumplings for the coziest soup ever! There are so many recipes out there for homemade noodles or dumplings. They usually consist mainly of flour and eggs and can be whipped up in 5 minutes. Don’t worry, my egg noodle recipe is coming soon!

3. Never underestimate the power of onions and garlic. These are ingredients that are used very frequently- and for good reason! If you don’t have fresh onions, tossing a teaspoon or two of dried onions will work just fine. It adds that extra level of flavor that makes soups so satisfying.

4. Use more beans. There are so many kinds of beans out there. Beans are such a great source of protein and vitamins. I grew up eating a lot of beans, so they have a special place in my heart, err, stomach.

They are super cheap, especially if you buy dry beans. If you are worried about the possible *ahem* digestive effects of beans, I recommend soaking them overnight and then cooking them for at least 12 hours on high in a crock pot or a couple hours on manual in an instant pot. The more you cook beans, the fewer issues you will have. And of course, canned beans are an easy way to make a 15-minute soup.

If the texture of beans isn’t your favorite, you can add them to your soup and then blend them up to make a thick and creamy soup!

5. Use coconut milk (or your favorite Dairy-free milk) to add creaminess to any soup. The nice thing with soup is that the meat and veggies in the soup are the highlight. My husband isn’t a huge fan of dairy alternatives, but he usually can’t tell when I use them in soup.

I hope you feel inspired to make a warm pot of soup now! If you have any tips to add, let me know in the comments!

Dinner

Better-than-Takeout Potstickers

Gyoza is one of my husband’s favorite meals of all time- and I feel much better about feeding my husband gyoza instead of freezer pizza on busy nights. (We call potstickers by their Japanese name- Gyoza.) My mother-in-law so kindly shared this recipe with me. She lived in Japan for a year and a half and brought home some wonderful recipes! During the past three years of marriage, I have slowly tweaked the recipe (Such as amounts of garlic or soy sauce) to make the gyoza exactly how we want.

Something I figured out pretty early on is that gyoza is actually an easy freezer meal! While it is time consuming to fold all of the gyoza, after that, it’s super simple to pop some of the frozen gyoza into a pan and put some rice in the rice cooker and voila! A quick and delicious dinner in under an hour for busy weeknights!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of green onions, chopped finely
  • 1 cup cabbage, chopped finely
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef or pork
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of quality soy sauce (I like using 1/3)
  • 1-2 packages of gyoza wrappers
  • A small bowl of water for sealing the gyoza
  • A pan with a lid- I prefer to use a cast iron pan

Directions:

  • Mix everything together in a bowl.
  • Scoop about 1/2 a teaspoon of the mixture into a gyoza wrap.
  • Dip your finger into the water and brush it along half of the gyoza wrap’s edge.
  • Press to seal.
  • Crimp the edges.
  • At this point you can either put them on a baking tray to flash freeze them before placing into a container or you can cook them.
  • To cook, place 1-2 Tablespoons of oil into a heated pan and pan fry the gyoza for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add 1/4 cup of water to the pan and put the lid on.
  • Steam the gyoza until the water is gone.Serve with hot rice and steamed carrots or broccoli.

Side Notes:

  • Gyoza wrappers and wonton wrappers are not the same thing! Wonton wrapper fry up nicely, but don’t steam very well.
  • If the water is gone and you aren’t sure if the gyoza are done, cut open one of them to see if they are still pink.
  • For the frozen gyoza, you cook it the same way as the fresh gyoza. They take a little bit longer, but you don’t need to add extra water.
  • You can serve these with soy sauce, but our favorite way to eat them is with our teriyaki sauce recipe here.