Repurposing Leftovers: Red Beans and Rice in to Bean Burritos

Last week, I made Slow-Cooker Red Beans and Rice, following this Southern Living recipe.  I’ve made this about three times, and it’s always delicious.  The only thing I do differently than the recipe is that since I have trouble finding andouille sausage, I use kielbasa – and I cook that separately in the oven (because it does not hold up in the slow cooker – lesson learned).

This make a lot of beans, so we had quite a bit leftover with no more sausage.  What to do with those beans???

Last night – for my first Meatless Monday – I repurposed them into Bean Burritos, adapted from this Martha Stewart recipe.  I love that she tells you how to freeze these.  As a bonus, I had made a corn side dish to take to a potluck on Easter, and we had some leftovers from that as well that I was able to use.

Here’s my adapted recipe:

Bean Burritos

  • 1/2 C uncooked rice (should make 1 C cooked)
  • 1 C water (or how much according to directions on rice)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • Leftover beans from Red Beans and Rice (I had about 3 C of beans)
  • 1/2 can Enchilada Sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Onion powder
  • Leftover corn (recipe includes corn, cream cheese, green chiles, and butter – tried to drain the melted cream cheese from the kernels)
  • 8 Burrito size tortillas (I like Mission’s carb-balance whole wheat ones)
  • 2 C shredded cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa

I used Garlic and onion powders instead of the real things because I was short on time.  I skipped the jalapeno because the beans, cooked in creole seasoning, already had some spice.

  • Add rice, water, cilantro, and lime to sauce pan.  Cook according to directions on rice package.
  • Heat up left over beans in sauce pan;  stir-in enchilada sauce, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  • Heat up leftover corn (if no leftover – follow Martha).
  • Assemble burritos:  lay one tortilla flat; spread 1 Tbsp sour cream down the center (if desired); spread 1/8 C rice over sour cream, followed by 1/3 C +/- bean mixture, and 1/8 C corn; sprinkle on 1/4 C shredded cheese and salsa if desired; fold ends of tortilla, the roll into burrito.
  • Enjoy or freeze for later!

Slow-Cooker Challenge

If you’ve read more than a couple of my blog posts, you’ve probably read about my love of my Crockpot.  I’ve been debating for some time about taking this love to the next level – making one slow cooker meal a week.  Last week, as I prepared a menu for the entire month of April (which I typically only make weekly menus), I decided to incorporate two things:  Meatless Monday and using the slow cooker on my busiest day of week.  Just for fun, I thought I make it a “challenge” for myself for the rest of the year – 39 weeks.  And for even more fun, I thought I’d post it on here, in case anyone else would like to join me!  (I’ve never participated in a blog challenge, let alone create one, and yet, starting today, I am taking on both.  Forgive me if I don’t know what I am doing.)  I know this is a little different from the “organizing my life” that this blog was created for – but it is a step to making my busy life a little less hectic – at least for one meal a week.

slowcookerchallenge

Okay – If you’d like to join in this Slow-Cooker Challenge, here are the rules I’ve made for myself:

Use the Slow Cooker for one meal each week for the remainder of the year.  I don’t care if it is the same day each week, but I am aiming for dinner on Wednesdays since I won’t get home until 7.  There are 39 Wednesday’s left in the year, so that means 39 meals.

One-Pot Meals are not required.  I haven’t tried any of them, but there are lots of recipes for things other than meals – such as desserts and side dishes.  You don’t have to make a “meal” – but you do have to make something in the slow-cooker as part of the meal.

Try different recipes.  I’d like to pretend that I won’t repeat a recipe, but I know there are some that we really like already that I will probably cook more than once.  No big deal – just so long as you don’t end up cooking the same thing every time.

Share a review of your recipe.  I know some recipes are sacred, so you don’t have to share the recipe itself if you don’t want to – but I am interested in what you thought about what you cooked.  I’ll be posting my reviews on Fridays; if you’re a blogger, write a post about the dish and link it up in the comments section of my weekly review.  If you’re not a blogger, you can still participate – just share a short review in my comments section.

Since I am mostly doing this for myself – to not feel so rushed on Wednesdays when I’d like to start going to Zumba after work – if I meet this challenge every week, I will be rewarding myself.  My reward is yet to be determined – maybe a new cookbook or some smaller clothes because I lost some weight with Zumba :-).  I am sure there are other similar challenges out in the blog world (though I couldn’t really find one, but didn’t do the most thorough search), so to entice you to join in with me, I am offering a random giveaway at the end of the challenge.  It will be more than just a cookbook; I have some fun ideas but I’m not quite sure what it will be just yet…

The giveaway will happen the first week of January 2014.  Entries into the giveaway are as follows:

  • 1 Entry per week for every recipe you make, review, and share in my comments.
  • 1 Additional Entry per week if it’s a “new” recipe that you make, review, and share in my comments. “New” means that you have not made it in one of the previous weeks.  It can be something you’ve made before, but not something you’ve made during this challenge; it can be something that someone else has made during the challenge, but you have not.
  • 3 Entries (one time) if you comment below “Challenge Accepted” and share at least one review during the time of the challenge.
  • 4 Entries (one time) if you share the Slow Cooker Challenge logo on your blog (and you link me to your blog in the comments below).

My first post will be Friday, April 5th, so be sure to check in on Fridays to share your reviews.  Your post can be made any time during the week (Sunday to Saturday of the week of the Friday of each post) – but please link me to it in the comments on my Friday posts.  The challenge ends December 31st, 2013, and since you can earn points weekly, it’s never too late to join in (except of course after December 31st of this year)!

Project List Update

Where has the time gone?  It’s officially Spring – and I have yet to Spring Clean (though I have been keeping the house “surface cleaned” and company ready).  I had big plans to break the deep cleaning up all through the month of March, but I was so bogged down with studying for an exam at the beginning of the month that I barely even registered it was March (side note – I found out last week, I passed the exam:  5 A.R.E. exams down, 2 to go!)

And then there’s my project list…with all the deadlines long since past.  I am working on them though – particularly #2:  home office/gym renovation.  We have stripped the walls down to the studs, ripped up the carpet, upgraded the electrical panel for the house that is located in this room, rewired a few of the circuits, replaced duct work to the den that previously ran through the kitchen cabinets now relocated into a fur down in this space, and stripped paint off of the ceiling beams.

Image from Houzz.com (my favorite website)

Image from Houzz.com (my favorite website)

 

I don’t have a picture of our room, but this is similar to what the ceiling looks like in the space – except that the beams have been painted (currently, they are a horrible yellowed off-white color).  We are working, one room at a time, to get the beams back to natural wood.  It’s not a fun process.

Apparently, at one time, the entire room – exposed decking, ceiling beams, walls, and all – was painted teal.  We’ve previously renovated the living room, and that entire room was painted mauve.  I really question what the previous owners were thinking, but then again, the house was built in the 50’s.

Anyway, home office/gym renovation is in full swing  and when we get that finished, I will be able to tackle the filing system (#1 on my project list) – as we have already designated a space for a beautiful new filing cabinet.  Most people probably don’t think a filing cabinet is a thing of beauty, but this should tell you how out of hand my current system is.

#3 on the list, clean out the storage shed, will happen one warm weekend.  We’ve had a recent return of winter, and there’s no way I’m going to tackle that dark, damp place in 30 degree temperatures.

#4 – lose 10 pounds – that’s the one I’ve been concentrating on the most.  Halfway there.

Well, at least there’s progress.  Who needs deadlines?

 

 

SlowCooker Thai Chicken and Vegetables

Dear Crockpot, my love for you never fails.  You work hard all day, cooking dinner while we are at work.  By the time I come home, the house is filled with a lovely aroma, and dinner is ready to be devoured by my hungry husband.  Thank you for your hard work.

Yesterday, I made Thai Chicken and Vegetables for dinner in the Crockpot.  My husband and I love Thai food, but there is not a Thai restaurant in the city where we live.  There are 15 pages of restaurants in the phone book, a plethora of hamburger and pizza joints, but not a single one that offers authentic Thai cuisine.

Not that I can promise this recipe is authentic Thai….but it is delicious!

Slower Cooker Thai Chicken and Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 1 Can (13.6 oz) Light Coconut Milk
  • 7 tsp Red Curry Paste, divided
  • 1.5 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 large head Cauliflower (I used a whole small head)
  • 1 Lb Potatoes
  • 1 med Red Pepper
  • 2 med Carrots
  • 1.5 Lbs Chicken Breasts
  • 2 Tbsp Peanut Butter
  • 1/3 C Cilantro, chopped
  • 3 Scallions, chopped
  • 1 Lime, cut into 6 wedges
  • 2 Tbsp Peanuts (I used 2 Tbsp per serving…)

Directions

  • In slowcooker, mix coconut milk, 4 tsp curry paste, and salt until blended.
  • Wash, peel, and chop veggies (cauliflower, potatoes, red pepper, and carrots) so that the pieces are similar size; add to slow cooker and stir to coat veggies in coconut mixture.
  • If the chicken breasts are large, cut them in half to assure they will cook thoroughly; rub 2 tsp curry paste on chicken and place on top of veggies.
  • Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours.
  • Remove chicken and chop or shred; set aside.
  • Stir peanut butter and 1 tsp curry paste into slow cooker until blended – being careful not to smash the veggies.
  • Add chicken back to the slow cooker, along with cilantro and scallions.
  • Serve, topping with 1 lime wedge and 1 tsp peanuts (or 2 Tbsp as I did…)

1 serving is about 1.5 C; recipe makes 6 servings.

Couple of Notes

  • If you’re in to Weight Watchers, each serving is 5 original Points (6 if you add more peanuts like I did); 8 PointsPlus.
  • I usually cook chicken on low for 7-8 hours; since the veggies would get too mushy if cooked that long, I added the tip about cutting the chicken if the breasts are large.  I had to cook them a little longer in the oven because I did not do this.
  • I love cilantro and would add more.  If you’re not a fan of cilantro, it didn’t overpower the dish, so don’t be afraid of it.

Rambling about the New York Marathon

Warning:  This is completely off the usual topics of this blog...

Found from Google

Found from Google

Sometimes I wish I had a magic button to push to make the right decisions for me.  This would come in handy when I want to watch TV rather than put away laundry or when I want to eat popcorn for dinner instead of cooking (they both happen).  In truth, those are easy decision – where the “right” choice is clear, even if I don’t want to do it.  Not everything I need this magic button for is so clear though   Today’s conundrum:  Do I run the ING New York Marathon this year?

Four years ago, when I LOVED to run, I read a book about the New York Marathon, A Race Like No Other.  It was truly inspiring – and it made me want to run the NY Marathon.  I could say that then, because as I said, I loved running, seemed to have all the time in the world to myself, and I had not yet run a marathon nor gained 30 pounds.

Paula Radcliffe = awesome.  Image from Google.

Paula Radcliffe = awesome. Image from Google.

I entered the lottery to get in that year, along with a running buddy I convinced to sign up, and of course what I had guessed happened:  he was selected; I was denied.  The Marathon has a system in place that if you’re denied from the lottery three years in a row, you have guaranteed entry the fourth year.  Though I was a little jealous my friend got in, I just kept telling myself “2013 will be my year”.  I entered the lottery the next two years, and was denied, so as of last April, I’ve been sitting on a guaranteed entry into 2013.

Then a few things happened in 2012:  I got married, which means I no longer have all the time in the world to myself; I ran the Marine Corps Marathon, after which I decided I never wanted to run one again; and Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on New York City – causing them to cancel the Marathon last minute.

Since then, I have not known if they would still guarantee entry to those who had been denied three years, as the NYRRs were trying to find resolutions for the runners of 2012.  Then today, just 10 minutes ago, I received an email saying I still have guaranteed entry.

Part of me hoped that they would not guarantee entry.  I would have been furious, but I would not have to debate if I should run it or not.  Running the MCM hurt, but more than that, training took up every spare moment I had – and I didn’t have any.  That meant I had to put other things on hold – like studying for my remaining ARE exams.  I still don’t have the time to spare for training.  And then there’s the money issue:  $250 entry fee, $450 for a plane ticket, and who knows how much for a hotel room and food.  And that doesn’t even touch on the moral dilemma.

So in truth, maybe there is a clear “right” decision:  90% of me says “Save your money and time and don’t do it!”.  But then the 10% I’m attributing to my Type A personality says “You’ll never have another chance! (since they’re doing away with the denied 3 times rule)  You wanted this!”.   I’m sure the husband will weigh-in his thoughts – and I have as late as May 24 to decide….but for a while, I can tell this is going to be on my mind.

Anyone want to make this decision for me?

Repurposing Leftovers: Boiled Potatoes to Potato Soup

After a few days of cramming for my ARE exam and eating away from home because I couldn’t spare the time to cook (or clean for that matter), I was ready for both to be over.   My exam was Monday (won’t find out if I passed for 3 to 6 weeks….), so back to our regular schedule.

One of those crazy stressed out days of studying I did manage to set up the Crockpot for a stress-free meal at home.   I made Crockpot Roast with potatoes and carrots.  There are several variations of this, but the staples of the recipe are roast, potatoes, carrots, and a sauce of at least Lipton Onion dry Soup Mix, cream of mushroom soup and water.  I admittedly didn’t pay much attention when I was peeling and washing potatoes, but after all the roast and carrots were gone, we still had a ton of leftover potatoes.

What to do with leftover cooked potatoes?  Last night I made them into Loaded Potato Soup.

I started with a recipe I found at Skinnytaste.com, then modified it a bit.  I was happy with the way it turned out.  Here’s my soup recipe:

  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Onion – chopped
  • Leftover potatoes, mashed – estimating 1.5C mashed
  • 1 ½ C Milk
  • 1 ½ C Chicken Broth
  • ½ C Sour Cream
  • Salt and Pepper – I go light on the salt, heavy on the pepper – my preference
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • Bacon – fried and crumbled – for topping
  • Shredded Cheddar for topping

 

  • Melt butter in large pot over medium heat.
  • Sautee onions in butter until transparent.
  • Add leftover potatoes, milk, and chicken broth; bring to a boil.
  • The original recipe said to use an immersion blender to blend soup.  I don’t have one, so I just used my potato masher to smash them a little more.
  • Add salt, pepper, oregano and sour cream; simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  • Serve and top with bacon and shredded cheddar (and chives, but I didn’t have any).

 

A couple of other options for repurposing I looked into were mashed potato casserole, salmon and potato cakes (wasn’t too sure about that combo) or potato salad…but I love soup, so it won.

HATE A CHORE? GIVE IT 5 MINUTES

As I’ve mentioned before, my least favorite task is folding and putting away clean laundry.  I’ve been really busy lately, focused on my diet, exercise, and studying – but I’ve managed to keep the house in good-enough-for-company shape…except (no surprise here) the master bedroom.  Though I refuse to let the bed go unmade, piles of laundry, both clean and dirty, have formed.   I blame my lack of a dryer for the dirty piles, because I haven’t had time to go to the Laundromat to dry towels…so I don’t want to wash them.

I need a spare hour and a half to tackle this…but with all my time and energy focused elsewhere, I don’t feel like I have that amount of time to devote to it.

This morning, pushed to my limit with the mess, I got the bright idea that maybe it doesn’t have to be 90 consecutive minutes.  Maybe I can just spend 5 minutes here and there and get our room back into shape.

So, how much can you really get done in 5 minutes?

Surprisingly, quite a bit.  I tried it out this morning.   I needed to cool off for a few minutes after blow-drying my hair (does this make anyone else extremely hot?) so instead of just sitting down and drinking my coffee, I tackled half of the can-be-worn-again pile that had formed on my side of the bed.  Tonight, before I get into bed, I’ll spend 5 more minutes and hopefully we’ll have one less pile.  Maybe I can talk the husband into donating 5 minutes for the cause too.

Once we get the room back in order, 5 minutes a day would be enough to keep it in order.  It takes about 2 minutes to make the bed (which I don’t count right now), one minute to hang up the days rewearables or put the dirties into the hamper and put away shoes.  That leaves 2 minutes to spare!  That could include dusting one day,  vacuuming another, folding laundry one day, and putting away the next.  Okay, some of those may take more than 2 minutes…but it wouldn’t take more than 10.

I actually adopted this idea from my mother-in-law.  I’ve heard her mention that when she doesn’t want to clean, she’ll set the kitchen timer for 30 minutes and clean until it goes off.  Sometimes, she’ll continue until the room is clean, and others, she’ll just work the 30 minutes.  I don’t feel I have 30 minutes at a time to spare (yes, I am keeping myself that busy)…or at least not to spare on my least favorite task…but I can spare 5 minutes, twice a day.

I’ll report how many 5-minutes it takes to tame our room…and then I’m going to do everything I can to keep it that way…so long as it doesn’t take time away from studying – ha!

What can you achieve in 5 minutes?