Crock Pot Refried Beans

Crock Pot Refried Beans

Lately, I’ve been falling back in love with my crock pot.  I tend to use it in cycles – I go for months without thinking about it and then all of the sudden it becomes a near-permanent fixture on my counter top.  I decided to lug it out recently to get better at using the many pounds of dried beans I have, one of my New Year’s cooking goals.  The wonderful thing I’ve discovered is that there’s no need to pre-soak the beans!

I’ve been cooking different kinds of beans overnight in the crock pot, then leaving them in the garage until I get home from work (it’s been cold enough for that lately!).  When I get home, I use them in soups, salads, or to make veggie burgers.  This recipe came about in a slightly different way…snow days!!  Stuck inside for days, I was craving chips and dip.  I wanted something hearty, warm, easy, healthy, and spicyish.  Refried beans sounded perfect, and would make a dent in the 5 lb. bag of dried pinto beans I’ve got…bulk buying!

Rosemary & Chili Roasted Almonds

Rosemary & chili roasted almonds

Happy New Year’s Eve Eve!  Are we really about to welcome 2014?  That doesn’t seem right.  I swear it was just 2010 and I was going bananas that it was already a decade into the new millennium.  Time doesn’t just fly by; it whizzes past us in hyperdrive!  My son’s growing up too fast, my hair’s showing grays too soon, and I’m increasingly donning “pajama pants” too early in the evenings…it’s Ok to be comfy and ready for bed at 5pm, right?  But as time speeds by, it’s nice to have this day each year that forces us to review the year before, reminisce in the milestones that occurred, and relish in those precious moments that now follow the words “remember that one time…”.   For me, twenty-thirteen has been a year of travel, new friendships, farmers markets, filming (my family and I got to be extras in a movie – that’s for another post), and lots and lots of fabulous food!

And on that note…NUTS!  Because, when don’t you want spicy, earthy, salty, sweet, crunchy nuts?  Always.  Happy New Year!

Red Lentil & Butternut Squash Chili

Red lentil butternut squash chili

Feeling lazy?  Too cold outside to do anything?  Want to curl up on the couch and watch a movie with something warm and comforting to nosh on?  Don’t worry, I got ya covered.  Spicy.  Sweet.  Savory.  And loaded with veggies.  It’s chili time!

Make a big pot of this over the weekend and save the leftovers for those busy Monday nights.  Your Monday night self will give you a high five!

Spicy BBQ Tempeh Joe’s

Sloppy Joe’s…you either love ’em or hate ’em.  I love them; my husband hates them.  He thinks they’re annoying and unnecessary.  They’re messy; they drip all over your hands.  As you eat them, you’re increasingly left with less between the bun and more on the plate…but that’s one of the things I love about them!  When you’re finished noshing the sauce-soaked bun, you get to scoop up all the sloppy-laced fixins that lay strewn about on your plate.  Maybe you politely scrape them up with a spoon…maybe you dig in with your fingers and shove the fallen goodies in your face.  I’m just sayin.