Category Archives: Pantry Staples

Bean Guide

Guide to Beans

Dried beans or otherwise known as legumes are easy on the wallet and available all year-long.  Extremely easy to store (think long-term storage).  Beans are low in fat, gluten-free and full of nutrition.  Beans are easy on the food bill.  So what’s not to love about beans.

Beans can be used in dips, soups, stews, salads, casseroles and used in making some treats.

Here are some do’s and don’t for beans.

  •  Do keep the water at a gentle simmer when cooking beans to help prevent the skins from splitting.
  • Do add cold water to beans periodically during cooking to ensure they’re covered at all times.
  • Don’t add baking soda to beans.  It destroys the B vitamin thiamine and could negatively affect the flavor.
  • Don’t add tomatoes or tomato products to the pot until the beans are tender.  They slow down cooking time

Black Bean:  Small and black widely available and a staple in Latin American dishes.

Pinto Beans:  Medium size mottled pinkish tan, kidney-shaped.  Used in Latin American cooking.

Navy Bean:  Small white rounded bean.  Mild in flavor used in baked beans and a substitute for other white beans.

Cannellini Beans:  Large white Italian kidney bean, most often used in salads and soups.

Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans:  Medium size, tan and acorn shaped.  Used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes.

Fava Beans or Broad Beans:  Large, green when fresh and brown when dried.  Used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes.

Kidney Beans:  Large, light or dark pink or red.  Used most often with rice and chili, stew and soups.

Lima Beans:  Small and large varieties in green, white or beige. Used in side dishes, casseroles and soups.

Great Northern Beans:  Large Kidney shaped and mild flavor.  Used in stews and with dips.

STORE BEANS:  Store in a dry and tightly closed container in a cool dark place.

SOAK BEANS:  Rinse and discard bad beans.  Place beans in a bowl cover with cold water.  Oak a room temperature for at least 8 hours.  Drain and rinse beans.

COOK BEANS;  Place soaked beans in a pan and add water to cover by 2 inches.  Boil uncovered, over medium heat for 1 hour or until tender.

Now go make some beans.  ENJOY!  Brownie Black Beans  Garbanzo Apple Cake gluten-free

Pimento Cheese

pimento Cheese

Growing up I can remember mom making homemade pimento cheese.  She had two different versions.  This one used shredded cheese and she always used it for dips and snacks.  Mom had a creamier version that we could spread on bread and make more of a sandwich type meal.

Either way you will enjoy making and eat your own homemade pimento Cheese spread.

pimento Cheese

pimento Cheese

2 (4 ounce) blocks extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 (4 ounce) jars diced pimento drained
2/3 cups mayonnaise
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Using a large bowl, stir together cheese, pimento mayonnaise, paprika, hot sauce, salt and pepper.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

Tips:  Blend cheese in a food processor to make creamier and add all rest of the ingredients.

Slice a baguette and brush with canola oil.  Place on grill for about 1 minute per side.  Serve immediately with pimento cheese.

ENJOY! Four Cheese Pimento Dip




Radishes Fermented

Radishes Fermented

Fermenting is something new I have been adding to my list of items I wanted to learn how to make and store.  When the garden is producing more than my family can eat, fermenting is the perfect way to up your food storage.

Don’t be put off by the process of fermenting.  The brine is simple to make and you can add all kinds of different fresh herbs or spices to change-up the taste.

2 cups Radishes ends cut off, washed and sliced
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup water
3 Tablespoon honey or agava
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Combine vinegar, water, honey, salt and red pepper flakes.  Warm over medium heat until honey and salt are dissolved.  Stirring whole time.

Place radishes in jar.

Pour brine over radishes.  Leave 1/2 inch head space.

Place weight in jar to weigh down the radishes so they are completely covered in the brine.

Fermented Radishes

See the weight in the top of the jar.  I used a very clean and sterilized rock.  Don’t judge it works.

Take a coffee filter and place over the top of the jar.  Place jar ring on and tighten down.

Fermenting Radishes

Allow the jar to sit at room temperature for one week.  Uncover and taste to see if they are sour or fermented enough for your taste.  If the radishes aren’t sour enough re-cover and let ferment for a few more days and up to 2 weeks.

Once fermented to your taste.  Remove the weight.  Secure top with jar lid and ring.  Store in refrigerator.

Don’t forget to try adding garlic, dill or pickling spices.  ENJOY!

Brownie Black Bean

Brownie Black Bean

These brownies are truly made out of cooked black beans.  There is no flour or egg involved in this recipe.  If you didn’t know these brownies were made from black beans you would never know the difference.

Full of protein, easy on the budget and for those who are into food storage, a great way to make a special treat.

1 3/4 cups cooked black beans or one 15 ounce can of black beans.  I used one pint jar of black beans that I had canned.
1/2 cup honey, maple syrup, agave nectar you choose
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 Tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 8×8 baking dish.

In a blender or food processor dump in black beans, honey, cocoa powder, vanilla, oil and baking powder.

Process until everything is smooth.

Pour into your baking dish.

Sprinkle chips or nuts on top of brownie batter.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes.

Cool and ENJOY!

Brownie Black Beans



Farm Eggs Wash or Not

Fresh Farm Eggs Wash or Not

Heading out to the chicken coop to gather our farm fresh eggs is a daily experience and one that I enjoy.  Sometimes the eggs are somewhat dirty.  Very first thing you would think to do after bringing them into the house is to wash them.  After all the eggs you purchase from the local grocery story are all nice and clean.

Let me share some facts about eggs.  Eggs are covered in bacteria and germs.  As you can see from the photo these eggs are not clean.   I like to call it have some of the farm left on them.  Biggest risk with eggs is with salmonella bacteria.

Let’s talk about the eggshell.  Eggshells are made of tiny calcium carbonate crystals.  Every eggshell looks solid.  Actually each eggshell is covered with pores.  These pores allow the transfer of bacterial between the inner and out eggshell.

Hold on if your thinking your never going to eat another egg in your life.  Nature has developed its own defense against contamination.  Just before Henrietta lays her egg, her body deposits a protein like mucous coating on the outside of her egg.  The protective coating is called the bloom.  The pores of the egg are sealed, which stops the transfer of bacteria from outer shell to the inner shell and egg center.

The bloom will remain intact as long as the egg is NOT WASHED.  Just running the egg under water will remove this protective layer and the egg pores open.

The U.S. is one of the few countries that requires washing of commercial eggs.  Compared to european countries who legally restrict commercial eggs from be washed.

For example in Ireland only unwashed eggs receive Grade A or AA standards.  Ireland can’t commercially sell eggs that have been washed.

My farm fresh eggs are never washed.  The bloom is left on and for this reason the eggs don’t have to be refrigerated.

Please share your thoughts on using farm fresh eggs over store-bought eggs.  I look forward to hearing from all of you.

Wednesday AIM Link Party –


Pioneer Maple Syrup Made from Corncobs

Pioneer Maple Syrup Made from Corn Cobs
Pioneer Maple Syrup Made from Corn Cobs

Our pioneer ancestors were very resourceful people, mostly because of necessity.  Nothing was thrown out until every single thing was used up.  They were the masters of frugality.

Some of you may be thinking no way can this come close to tasting like maple syrup.  No I did not add maple flavoring.

My wonderful neighbors are willing taste tasters (maybe not so willing sometimes) they always tell the truth.  This Pioneer Maple Syrup made from corn cobs passed the test with flying colors.

Come on, I’ll share how you can make some Pioneer Maple Syrup.

12 ears corn shucked and with the corn cut off.  (yes you can use the cobs after your family eats sweetcorn.)
4 cups packed brown sugar or one 32 ounce bag.

Rinse corn cobs with cold water.

In a large pot place corn cobs.  Cover with water one or two inches over the cobs.

Simmer on low for 45 minutes.

Remove cobs.  Strain liquid.  Rinse inside of the pot.  Return liquid to pot.

Add brown sugar.  Stir to combine.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer.

Simmer until liquid is reduced by half or to desired thickness.  Syrup will thicken as it cools.

Cool and store in an airtight bottle in refrigerator.  ENJOY!  Amish Cinnamon Bread



Snack Break Diabetic Approved

Snack Break Diabetic Approved
Snack Break Diabetic Approved

Stabilize your blood sugars with these quick snacks. I have a family member who has diabetes.  Does this mean enjoying a meal becomes a struggle or boring, absolutely not.  Every person who has diabetes is unique.

Today let’s talk about snacking healthy to help stabilize your blood sugars.  My family member eats three healthy small meals everyday.  We have found in-between those meals he needs to eat a snack.  This helps him avoid peaks and valleys in blood sugar levels.

In a perfect world your snack should pair a high-fiber carbohydrate with some protein.  Here I will give you several examples of great pairings

APPLE AND NUTS.  Eat the apple with the skin on, which provides a good source of fiber.  Add some nuts or nut butter and you have a wonderful energy boosting snack.  We are talking natural nut butters with no sugar or oil added.

HOMEMADE ENERGY BARS, BITES, TRUFFLES whatever name you call them.  Protein and energy bars if made from natural ingredients.  Peanut butter, almond butter, oatmeal, raisins, dried fruits and natural seeds.  Making your own is easy and much better over the store-bought bars.  If you feel the need to purchase energy bars watch out for added sugars, processed ingredients.

FRESH FRUIT AND YOGURT.  Homemade yogurt is the best and extremely easy.  You can learn how to make your own yogurt right here on this blog.  Yogurt has healthy bacteria your gut needs.  Most yogurt you purchase in the stores have added sugar and sweeteners including syrups.

Adding fresh fruit to your yogurt will give you the sweetness you might be craving.  Buy what is in season  and add them to your plain yogurt.

VEGETABLES AND HUMMUS.  Hummus is traditionally made with chickpeas, olive oil and sesame seed paste.  Hummus is a very heart healthy and has the good fats, protein and carbohydrates.

Add some fresh-cut up vegetables that are in season and you will have a crunchy, high in fiber snack.  Head out to your garden, farmers market or fresh produce section and pick up some carrots, cucumbers, celery for a start.

WHOLE GRAIN CRACKERS AND TUNA FISH.  Pick up some canned tuna when on sale.  Tuna adds protein and omega-3 fatty acids.  Forget adding mayo and use plain yogurt instead.  Add some fresh lemon juice and freshly cracked pepper.

Serve with some homemade whole grain crackers.  Check out the blog for some wonderful recipes.  Whole grain crackers will add complex carbs and topped with tuna you will have healthy fats and protein.

Enjoy eating these healthy and satisfying snacks.  ENJOY!


Healing Power of Honey

Healing Power of Honey
Healing Power of Honey

First and foremost, Pediatricians strongly recommend against feeding honey to children under one year of age.  The infant runs the risk of botulism.  Now that we have covered that,  we will move onto the wonderful the healing powers of honey.

Honey contains a treasure chest of nutritional, medicinal, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.

Honey is made up of 80% carbohydrates, 18% water and 2% vitamins and amino acids.

One tablespoon of raw honey contains 64 calories, is fat-free, cholesterol free and sodium free.

Raw honey is unpasteurized.  Most store-bought  honey is pasteurized, which is most commonly used honey.  The only difference is the filtration, which helps extend the shelf life on honey.

If your honey crystallizes or becomes hard, don’t throw it out.  The honey is still good.  Remove what you need and warm it up slowly in the microwave or on the stove over a pan of boiling water.

Some ways honey can help.

Alleviates allergies
Soothes cough
All natural energy drink
Loaded in antioxidants
Helps prevent memory loss
Helps prevent cellular damage
Sleep aid
Treats dandruff
Disinfect wounds and sores
Natural antibiotic
Relieve arthritis and rheumatism pain
Restores energy
Helps kill fungus
Use as a face cleanser
Prevents wrinkles and age lines
Use as a natural sweetener

Don’t over look the benefits of honey.  ENJOY!

Meat & Potato Squares One Dish Cooking

Meat & Potato Squares One Dish Cooking
Meat & Potato Squares One Dish Cooking

One dish cooking is always a plus when everyone is in a hurry,  Simple, meat and potato meal the entire family can enjoy.

1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons mustard
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped onions
Around 5 medium potatoes sliced
Cheddar cheese to spread on top (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl mix beef, egg, milk, salt, pepper, mustard,bread crumbs, onions.

Peel potatoes and slice.  Spray an 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray, or double the dish and use a 9×13 pan.

Place half of the potatoes in the bottom of our baking dish.  Spread met mixture evenly over potatoes.  Place remaining potatoes on top and pat down firmly.

Bake uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes until potatoes are lightly brown and cooked as well as the beef mixture.  Sprinkle cheese on top to melt right before serving.

If you don’t want to peel and slice potatoes, use shoestring french fries.

TIP:  You might have to drain off some of the cooking fat before adding the cheese.



Croutons Homemade

Croutons Homemade
Croutons Homemade

Why spend money on something which takes about 15 minutes to make.  Add different spices, herbs or cheeses and make it your own.  Once again no hidden ingredients.

Use any type of stale bread, doesn’t matter or mix them up.

1 loaf of stale bread
olive oil
1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Teaspoons salt
2 Teaspoons black pepper

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl pull apart bread into bite size pieces (big, little you decide).  Drizzle olive oil over the bread and toss.

In a small bowl add Italian seasoning, parmesan cheese, salt and black pepper.  Mix together.  Sprinkle over bread and toss to coat.

If you need to add more olive oil now is the time.

Layer on a baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes.  Toss bread to turn and bake 5 more minutes.  Let cool and store in airtight container.

Play around with different herbs and spices, garlic is a favorite, what about red pepper flakes.

See how easy that was.  ENJOY!