April 22, 2012

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

I have always been scared of making red beans and rice, mostly because my husband loves them so much.  On Friday, I tried making them in the slow cooker.  It was a success!

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice (from Weight Watchers Best Eats)
Serves 4

--1 small onion, chopped or 1 Tablespoon onion powder*
--1 garlic clove, minced
--2 crisp-cooked bacon slices, crumbled**
--2 cups chicken broth
--1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
--1 (10 3/4 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
--1/2 cup uncooked white rice
--2 tablespoons minced chipotles in adobo
--1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
--1/2 teaspoon salt
--1/2 teaspoon black pepper
--1 tablespoon chipped cilantro

*I didn't have an onion, so I used 1 Tablespoon onion powder and it still turned out great!
**I used the pre-cooked Oscar Meyer kind found in the refrigerator section to cut down on time.

1.  Spray a medium nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and place over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened.  Add the onion mixture to the slow cooker.*
2.  Add the bacon, broth, beans, crushed tomato, rice, chipotle en adobo, oregano, salt, and pepper to the slow cooker.
3.  Cover and cook on low until rice is tender (3.5-5 hours depending on slow cooker)**
4.  Stir in cilantro just before serving.

*Skipped cooking the onion and garlic and just added the onion powder and garlic clove to the slow cooker to save time.
**I cooked mine for 5 hours and it was the perfect consistency.  My slow cooker has a timer, so I set the time for 5 hours and my slow cooker kept dinner warm until we got home from work.  You don't want to overcook the rice and beans because it will make the dish too thick.

April 18, 2012

Lunch or Side Dish - It's a Winner! Tortellini Salad

This is a great salad to make on Sunday night for lunch during the week, or a quick side to whip up for a summer picnic.  It has a fresh, light taste and is a great alternative to a tired old pasta salad.  Plus, it's a Weight Watchers recipe (4 pts per 1 1/4 cups serving).  What could be better!

Tortellini Salad (from Weight Watchers Best Eats)
Serves 8

--1 pound package of frozen spinach tortellini
--1 can (15.5 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
--1 can (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
--1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
--1 1/2 cups of shredded red cabbage
--1 medium yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
--2 scallions, chopped
--2/3 cup reduced-fat Italian dressing
--3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
--1/2 teaspoon salt

1.  Cook the tortellini according to package directions.  Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water.
2.  Meanwhile, combine the beans, artichokes, tomatoes, shredded red cabbage, bell pepper, scallions, dressing, cheese and salt in a large bowl. 
3.  Add the tortellini and toss to coat.

April 1, 2012

What' for Dinner? Black Bean and Corn Salsa Chicken, Guacamole and Black Beans with Quinoa

On Monday, I had a few girlfriends over for dinner.  Without my slow cooker, it would have been so hard to pull dinner together after work while getting the little one ready for bed.  Luckily, the black bean and corn salsa chicken cooked all day while I was at work and the rest was easy to throw together when I got home.  There was even enough chicken leftover to make two freezer meals for later.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa Chicken (www.sixsisterstuff.com)

-2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
-2 cans corn, drained
-1 package taco seasoning
-4 to 5 chicken breasts
-1 cup salsa
-3/4 cup water or chicken broth

-Put beans, corn, taco seasoning and water/chicken broth in slow cooker and mix together until seasoning is dissolved.
-Place chicken breasts on top and spread salsa on chicken.
-Cook on low for 8 hours.
-Shred meat.

Serving Suggestion
I served with flour tortillas, hard taco shells, cilantro, shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped tomato and guacamole.

Guacamole (from www.allrecipes.com)

-3 avocados - peeled, pitted and mashed
-1 lime, juiced
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup diced onion
-3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
-2 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
-1 teaspoon minced garlic

1.  In a medium bowl, mash together the avocados, lime juice, and salt.
2.  Mix in onion, cilantro, tomatoes, and garlic.
3.  Refrigerate one hour for best flavor or serve immediately.

Black Bean with Quinoa (from www.allrecipes.com)

-1 teaspoon vegetable oil
-1 onion, chopped
-3 cloves garlic
-3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
-1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
-Salt and pepper to taste
-1 cup frozen corn kernels
-2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
-1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1.  Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
2.  Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.
3.  Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth.
4.  Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.
5.  Bring the mixture to a boil.
6.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
7.  Stir frozen corn into the saucepan and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through.
8.  Mix in the black beans and cilantro.

What's for Dinner? Slow Cooker Green Chile Pork Tacos

This is another SUPER easy and SUPER delicious pork taco recipe.  This recipe made a ton, so we froze half for another time.  I still love the slow cooker pulled-pork tacos but this recipe has a much different flavor.  I hope you enjoy!

Slow Cooker Chile Verde Pork Roast (from www.letsdishrecipes.com)

--2.5 lb pork roast 
--16 oz bottle salsa verde (green salsa)
--3 tablespoons lime juice

1.  Place pork roast in slow cooker.
2.  Pour salsa verde and lime juice over roast.
3.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
4.  Remove pork from slow cooker and shred with two forks.
5.  Return to slow cooker and stir.

Serving Suggestions
-The original recipe suggested combining a chopped onion with one cup fresh chopped cilantro.  Then at the end, stir in one half of the onion cilantro mixture to the slow cooker and using the rest as a topping with chopped tomatoes. 
-I served with chopped tomatoes, avocado, shredded monterey jack cheese and sour cream.  
-I always serve a variety of tortillas and hard taco shells.
-I also served black beans with quinoa and corn bread.