Tag Archives: Vita Mix

Crockpot Chili

When the weather gets cold, I always think about chili.  This batch is probably my easiest.  I will admit that I do cook all of my beans from dry, which is easy enough, just time consuming.  Growing up, we mostly had vegetarian chili, so I’m used to beans, and lots of them.  Then, typically I add in peppers and corn.  I was keeping it simple, so just frozen corn this time. So, I prefer a variety of beans.  I had about 2 cups of black beans still – cumin flavored.  Then I cooked about 4 cups total of red kidney beans, pinto, cannellini, navy and small red beans.  Some tomatoes (pureed and diced), some ground turkey, chili powder and 8 hours in a crock pot.  I warn you, this makes a ton of chili.  Make freezer space, or plan to share.  But if you can prep the various things in advance, it’s so easy to just dump, simmer and enjoy.


Crock Pot Chili

6 cups beans (any variety)

1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes

1 6 ounce can tomato paste

1 4 ounce can green chiles

1 pound ground turkey (or beef or bison)

1 large onion, diced

1 cup liquid ( I keep my cooking juice from black beans and mix that in now, or you can add water, or any other appropriate flavor – beef broth, red wine or chicken broth would also work nicely)

1/4 cup chili powder

Other spices as you like them – oregano, garlic, cumin, onion powder, etc.

1 small bag of frozen corn

Cook meat and diced onion until meat is cooked and onion is soft.

Puree whole tomatoes with juice in blender, VitaMix or food processor.

Mix tomatoes, beans, meat, onions, green chiles, tomato paste and diced tomatoes (with juice) in crock pot.  Add additional cup of liquid.  Add spices and give one stir.  The pot will be full, the beans should be just barely covered by liquid.  Turn the pot on low and simmer at least 6 hours (or on high for about 4 hours).  30 minutes before eating, add in the bag of corn, stir.  Serve with rice or corn bread.  Top with cheese or sour cream.  Yum.

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Posted by on December 11, 2013 in Hump Day, Seasonal Soups and Salads


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Peanut Butter

ImageWe love peanut butter.  When we first got married, we would buy peanut butter in 4lb containers…and eat it in a month!  Slowly, grocery stores stopped stocking them, so we would check for stores on road trips.  I think one time we bought 10 containers of it!


Fast forward a few years and we still love peanut butter.  But now we have a Vita Mix!  Possibly the most utilized gift our family has received was the gift of time and labor and resources from our parents to create our wonderful kitchen in our new house.  But the second most utilized gift is probably our Vita Mix.  We use it at least 4 times a week.  During the summer, Brad and the kids make smoothies several times a week, we make soup and sauces, refried beans and PEANUT BUTTER!  The concept is simple enough.  Dump in peanuts, turn it on, tamp the peanuts into the blades and voila!  My mom helped with a suggestion of a bit of coconut oil (2 teaspoons) and I drizzle in some honey.  This is spreadable, delicious, natural goodness!  If you don’t have a Vita Mix, just ask us for some…we love making peanut butter and are happy to share 🙂


1 lb peanuts (50% salted is great.  If they’re unsalted, you should just add some salt to the peanuts – maybe 1/2 teaspoon, otherwise the peanuts don’t grind as smooth)

2 teaspoons coconut oil

2 teaspoons honey

Put everything in, turn Vita Mix on, slowly increase to 8.  Blend and tamp until peanuts start to grind.  It takes about a minute.  Scrape into a jar and top.  What doesn’t get scraped gets turned into a peanut butter smoothie 🙂


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Posted by on November 19, 2013 in Homemade Staples


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Breaking Bread Together – Pumpkin Swirl Bread

Every day, but especially Sundays seem like a good time to reflect on breaking bread together.  Breaking bread together is not about the food, although I really enjoy the cooking part of it.  It’s really about the together.  In this act of sharing a meal, the most basic of human functions – to eat – we grow community.  I thought this chef reflected beautifully on the power of gathering around the table –  So, gather around the table…and break bread.

For this particular blog, associating breaking bread with the Sabbath means fun bread recipes on Sundays…reminding us of the literal and figurative ways that we can break bread together.  And yesterday morning, we had some Pumpkin Cranberry Cinnamon Bread.


It started on Friday night with me making some homemade pumpkin puree.  Trader Joe’s sells sugar pumpkins for $2.  Buy one, slice it in half, scrape the seeds, turn it face down on a pan and bake at 375 for about 45 minutes.  Let it cool for a few minutes, then pull off the outer peel, put the soft pumpkin meal in a blender with about 2 Tablespoons of water and puree.  This is what you get.

Pumpkin Collage

Now, about 2 years ago, I was scared of yeast breads.  I couldn’t seem to master them – they collapsed, they were inflexible and I failed.  So I stopped trying…until 2 friends decided to make an afternoon (read – 7+ hours) making a large batch of cinnamon rolls.  I was hooked!  So this is a yeast bread, but don’t be intimidated – it’s well worth it 🙂  I started with a recipe from Cooking Classy, made my modifications and enjoyed breakfast.  The one note to make is that it’s not worth it for breakfast.  Good yeast bread just takes time.  You can use various methods to rush it, but it’s best if you just give it plenty of time – less yeast, more time makes great bread.  Make it in the afternoon when you have time, not when you’re trying to have breakfast before 10AM!

Pumpkin Cranberry Cinnamon Swirl Bread

  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water, 110 degrees
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk, warmed to 110 degrees
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup homemade pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

For the swirl

  • 1 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup light-brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 2 Tablespoons walnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup milk for brushing on loaf
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer combine water, yeast and 1/2 tsp granulated sugar. Whisk until yeast has dissolved and let rest 5 minutes. Stir in milk, maple syrup, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, salt, softened butter, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla, egg and pumpkin puree until well combined.
  • Slowly add flour and knead about 10-15 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until double, about 1.5 hour.


  • Butter an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ in pan, set aside.
  • In a small bowl whisk together brown sugar, cranberries, walnuts and cinnamon, set aside. Punch the risen dough down and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a large rectangle, about 22″ x 8.” Brush with melted butter, coming within about 1/2″ of the edges. Sprinkle with cinnamon mixture, coming within about 1/2″ of the edges. Roll dough up jelly roll style, starting with the short side. After each exposed roll of the dough, brush with milk to make a better seal.


  • Place rolled dough in greased loaf pan and let rise in a warm place until doubled about 1.5 hours.
  • Bake 375 degrees for 45 minutes, tent loaf with foil halfway through baking to prevent excessive browning. Allow to cool in pan 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely (or at least 30 minutes) before slicing.


Printable version: Pumpkin Cranberry Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Let us break bread together on our knees

Let us break bread together on our knees

When I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun

O Lord, have mercy on me.


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Posted by on November 10, 2013 in Breaking Bread


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Budget Black Bean Soup

We’re trying to  address my desire to grocery shop and thus overspend on our grocery budget. Dave Ramsey recommends eating rice and beans to cut down on spending. And well, that just sounds a little boring. But sometimes, when life gives you rice and beans, you make some black bean soup.

Now, for years, I have been intimidated about cooking dry beans.  I don’t know why, but it seemed like they were either crunchy or popping open.  My mom finally stepped me through the process and I finally had some success!  I have to admit, black beans are probably the easiest ones that I have found.  While I describe soaking the beans below, you really can skip that and just turn it on to a low simmer for about 45 minutes.  Dried beans are cheaper plus you avoid added sodium and the BPA from the cans, but it is completely acceptable to use canned beans here.  You need about 4 cans.

(photo courtesy of babble)

1 lb black beans
1 bag frozen corn
1 small can green chiles
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cilantro
1 tsp garlic powder
8 cups water

Put beans and water in a large pot. Turn on medium-high until boiling. Turn off heat, cover. Soak. Do this in the morning while you’re brushing your teeth. Let them soak all day. Add seasonings and about 1 tsp salt. About 2 hours before dinner turn the pot back on and bring them to simmer for about 45 minutes. Taste one – if it’s firm but soft and chewy, turn off the heat. Otherwise, keep cooking.

Drain beans, reserving the liquid in a bowl.
Set aside 2 cups beans.
Dump beans, green chiles and 3 cups liquid into blender and blend until liquidy.
Pour back into pot and simmer, adding back the 2 cups of beans and bag of frozen corn.
Serve hot, over brown rice, if you want and top with diced avocados, shredded cheese, sour cream or anything else you enjoy!

Printable version here: Budget Black Bean Soup


P.S.  If you’re looking for some cuban-style black beans, you should check out Kara’s:

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Posted by on November 8, 2013 in Meatless Mondays, Saving Dough


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