Overnight Crockpot Baked Beans

While I will admit to a fondness for baked beans, I’ve always shied away from the canned version because I am not a fan of sweet foods. Sure, I’ll indulge if I encounter the canned version, but I won’t buy them unless I have a serious craving.

Yeah, I crave baked beans.

If the craving is minor and time is plentiful — or I know I need a killer dish to bring to a barbecue — I go straight for my crockpot and let the beans cook overnight. The slow cooker does all the work of cooking the beans through while developing a rich sauce that is just sweet enough with some tangy and spicy flavors to balance that sweetness. Best of all: no soaking required! I just toss everything into the crockpot, and let it work while I catch up on TV and much-needed sleep.

Spicy Pineapple Salsa

Many people believe the pico de gallo — a mix of tomatoes, onions, pepper, and cilantro — served in many Mexican restaurants is the only type of salsa there is.┬áSalsa is, quite simply, Spanish for sauce, and these sauces can be as varied as sauces in any other cuisine.

For fish tacos, nothing beats a fruit-based salsa. I love the flavor of this spicy grilled pineapple salsa. It comes together quickly, and can be used for other dishes as well!

Easy Chicken Pho

As with so many of my recipes, this is not truly authentic. I’m lucky there are many Vietnamese restaurants in Southern California that serve delicious gluten-free pho (both beef and chicken). I’m also aware that every place I’ve ever gone has a slightly different variation of the broth.

Some are salty and a bit spicy. Some have a bit more sweetness. Most are very rich, with intense meat or vegetable flavor.

These different flavor profiles make me confident my soup is just fine for those times when I don’t want to venture outside to get my pho fix. And when I say this soup is addictive, you can either take my word for it, or, well, become an addict yourself!

Yes, beef pho is traditional, but I haven’t mastered a good beef broth (I’ve mastered an okay beef broth), so I stick with chicken when I’m dining at home. Some things, I believe, are best left to the experts.

Chile Verde

I love chile verde, and, despite all the steps in the recipe below, it’s pretty easy to make. A long, slow simmer on the stove (or, heck, you could do this in a 225 degree oven, if you prefer) brings lots of flavors together. The pork will be falling apart, and the whole dish is tangy with just a hint of heat.

While pork is traditional, chicken is also an option. My recipe for Chicken Chile Verde is right here.

Chicken Chile Verde

Chile Verde is a green, tangy tomatillo-based salsa or sauce. While you can certainly use the sauce for dipping chips or chilaquiles, I love simmering chicken or pork in the sauce for a quick weeknight stew. I love the addition of jalapeno to the sauce, but it can be omitted if your prefer your food less spicy.

(You can also ramp up the heat by using additional peppers or adding a few dashes of red pepper flakes or chipotle powder.)

There is no need to add a thickener to the salsa — the tomatillos have lots of pectin to do the job.

Finding the Right Chile for Your Chili

I crave chili during weather extremes — when it’s very hot or when it’s very cold. Okay, I also crave chili when I’m running late for book club and need to throw together a fast dish for the group (see: how many times has Kassia made Frito Pie featuring Amy’s amazing vegetarian and gluten-free chili in the past year?).

Seriously, chili is a great dish for parties, for dinner, for lunch, for just about any meal. It can be hot and spicy or suffused with a nice mellow heat. Best of all, with a little prep work, chili can cook away in your crockpot all day — it’s just a braise, when you get down to it — while you secretly dream of toppings while you’re pretending to work.

It makes me sad that more restaurants don’t serve gluten-free chili. As you can see from the recipe linked below, this dish really doesn’t need the addition of wheat-based ingredients! Continue reading “Finding the Right Chile for Your Chili”

Avocado Sauce

I love my avocados any which way. When they’re just ripe, nothing is better than sliced or diced avocado with just a smidge of salt. When they’re starting to soften, they’re perfect for guacamole because they still have a bit of body. And when they’re overly soft?

This amazing sauce. It takes just minutes, and is a great way to utilize avocados that aren’t quite firm enough for any other use. You can adjust the seasonings to suit your personal taste.

I’ve love this sauce with fish tacos, in a cole slaw, and with crab cakes. It also makes a fun salad dressing.