Chorizo Baked Beans

This blog isn’t just about tasty dishes, it is also about finding ways to not allow the food budget get out of control. It is about the small choices we make that make big impacts to our budget. But I will confess that those choices aren’t always easy. Committing to make home-made from scratch meals and bake home-made breads are time consuming and it can be very easy to just toss in the towel and buy pre-made ingredients especially ever since I had a baby. One of the biggest adjustments for me has been using dried beans instead of tins, not only is it more time consuming it has also been a big learning curve for me. But when I started wanting to cave into the temptation we hit a hard month financially. My husband was changing jobs and that meant that we would have a three week gap in between pay checks. I had the challenge of trying to feed the three of us on a budget of £70 ($110) for almost a month. It was a challenge and it took more creativity then I thought I had some days. But I succeeded, with the help of my pantry items. This was an extreme month and one that I wouldn’t mind not repeating but I felt so proud that I was able to do it.

I mentioned that dried beans have been my what I would call my Achilles heal. It never failed that I wouldn’t remember to soak the beans the night before and 9 out of 10 even though I followed the recipe the beans were still hard. One thing that I have done to help me is when I am meal planning and adding the plan to my Google calendar I add little reminders to alert me the day before the meal if I need to do something like soak beans. So far I have yet to have anything other then lentils cook properly when I followed a recipe that had them cook with a sauce. I am probably doing something wrong but no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t get it right. So I started to cook the beans separately and add them to the dish at a later stage and it has turned out perfect every time ever since. It also enables me to cook up a large batch and then store the cooked beans either for 3 days in an air tight container in the fridge or in the freezer for several months.

Chorizo Baked Beans

500g (1 lb) dried Great Northern beans
350g (2 c.) diced dry-cured Spanish chorizo
2 medium onion, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 L (4 c.) water
4 Tbsp no-salt-added tomato paste
2 Tbsp oregano
2 Tbsp thyme
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp paprika
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp Worcester sauce
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

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Spicy Bacon and Cheddar Cornmeal Muffins

So I have a confession to make, up until last year I hated bacon. Even the smell of it was enough to make me nauseous. For years I thought that it was just going to always be one of the meats that just wasn’t for me. That is until last year. Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones changing my taste buds or just the fact that I was finally introduced to English bacon which unlike American streaky bacon is 90% meat. But what ever the reason was I finally found a love for bacon and I have so enjoyed making up for lost time. This recipe came about for two reasons, one I had quite a bit of cornmeal just sitting in the pantry not getting any love and two because I wanted to test out my skills at making home made baked beans, which I will share with you on Thursday. So after doing some research for inspiration I adapted a recipe from a website I have come to love, MyRecipes.com. It was such a perfect companion to the baked beans so I am so excited for Thursday so I can share with you the success of my first attempt at home made baked beans. But while you wait these delicious muffins.

Spicy Bacon and Cheddar Cornmeal Muffins

127g (1 c.) plain flour
95g (3/4 c.) yellow cornmeal
50g (1 c.) cheddar cheese, grated
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
4 bacon rashers, cooked and chopped (6 rashers if you are using American style)
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced fine
300mL (1 1/4 c.) skim milk
60mL (1/4 c.) oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten

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Lentil Burrito

I do want to eat healthier and make good choices when it comes to my diet but it isn’t always easy. I have a big sweet tooth, a love for greasy foods and I would have a glass of wine or a pint of ale every night if I could. But I know that it’s very important to make good choices and I want to be a good role model to my daughter. When I first thought about making burritos with lentils I wasn’t fully convinced that it would be a taste substitute for meat. And it actually took two attempts before I got it right, but in the end I was grateful that I had persevered because it was delicious. And it was the first time that I ate a burrito without the heavy feeling afterwards.

It was yet another reminder that eating healthier doesn’t mean that I lose out on some of my favourite meals. I am not sure why I seem to have to remind myself of this, you would think that after 3 years of eating healthier that I would remember. Now I am looking forward to the next healthy recreation.

Lentil Burritos

1 medium finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp oil
400g (1 c.) dried lentils, rinsed*
1/2 Tbsp chili powder**
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
600mL (2 1/2 c.) vegetable broth
226g (1 c.) salsa
315g (2 c.) Mexican Rice
1 can of Red Beans, drained
225g (2 c.) Cheese
235g (1 c.) Guacamole
8 Burrito wraps
recipe from allrecipes.com

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Healthier Chicken Alfredo

Every other week our town has a special Sunday market. Since we have swimming lessons with our daughter at 8 o’clock that morning we love to take a stroll through the market and pick out a special item for a meal that day. This past Sunday we happened upon a very eccentric elderly gentleman selling chicken. He was very chatty and wanted to talk about how he lived alone and even shared what he had eaten for dinner the night before. Like I said a bit eccentric, but absolutely lovely. But he mostly wanted to talk about his chickens and how far superior they were in flavour compared to store bought chicken. I chose two lovely chicken thighs from his stall for our dinner. I had already planned on making an Alfredo sauce since I had an excess of milk that needed to be used up. But when I informed him of my plans he proceeded to try to discourage me to not “waste such good chicken on a heavy sauced meal meant to be for the tasteless supermarket chicken”. So to honour this sweet man I decided to prepare my dish in a way that would highlight the flavour of the chicken rather then smothered in sauce. It isn’t like a typical heavy cream chicken alfredo dish but it had tons of flavour with less guilt so that made it even better.

Healthier Chicken Alfredo

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 chicken thighs
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
2 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme
4 cloves garlic, minced
(2 c.) nonfat milk
(1 c.) chicken broth
3 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
(1/2 c.) grated Parmesan cheese

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Dad’s Omelette Bar #SundaySupper

I am excited to be joining a fantastic group of bloggers today with this special #SundaySupper event celebrating Dad’s. My dad is the one who actually influenced me with my cooking. My mom did all of the daily cooking growing up, but for her it was something she had to do, not something she enjoyed. When it came to holiday cooking, especially baking, the kitchen was Dad’s territory. Over the years he became known for a lot of his dishes and one of his specialities is his omelette bar. I have such wonderful memories of walking around the house on Christmas day writing down everyone’s orders. He often had a list of up to 10 ingredients choices for an omelette and everyone, young and old, got to choose what they wanted in theirs. I have known my dad prepare this omelette bar for groups as big as 25+. Each person’s omelette was make carefully to order and it was perfect every time. I have no idea how on earth my dad achieved this task, because I found making 4 omelettes was hard enough. But I imagine that as with everything practice makes it easier. So to honour my dad, my amazing husband who is celebrating his first Father’s day, and my wonderful father-in-law I took on the challenge of trying to create the perfect French style omelettes that my dad is known for. It takes some practising to get it nice and thin and yet hold together but it is well worth the effort. So happy father’s day Daddy, I wish you could be spending it here with us.

Dad’s Omelette Bar

2 eggs per person
*Fillings of your choice

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