Slow-Cooker Hamburger Soup

There is something comforting about a nice, hot bowl of soup. Even better when it requires little prep time and can be ready & waiting for you at dinner. This hamburger soup is very hearty, and my version is pretty low carb (so my diabetic hubby can have a huge bowl – this is his favorite soup!) but feel free to add potatoes, corn, carrots, anything you like.

Crock Pot Hamburger Soup

The nice thing about this recipe is that you can use pre-cooked ground beef for a “hands off” meal, or you can add the hamburger raw, allowing it to cook in the broth, but you have to be available to stir and break up the beef as it cooks. You also need to use very lean ground beef for this method, or you will have greasy soup! I’ve made that mistake, so I’ve learned to start writing the fat content on my ground beef if I am freezing it raw. However, I prefer to cook large quantities of ground beef in the crock pot, then freeze in 2 pound portions so it’s ready for recipes like this.

Hamburger Soup

Slow-Cooker Hamburger Soup

Slow-Cooker Hamburger Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef*
  • 1 white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained (I like to use Delmonte Diced Tomatoes w/Green Peppers & Onions)
  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) green beans (I drain one, and use the liquid from the other, depends on the amount of broth you like)
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon crushed bay leaves (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme (optional)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • *pre-cooked or raw. If adding raw beef, soup will need to be stirred & beef broken up as it cooks.

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to slow-cooker.
  2. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  3. Stir before serving, add additional salt & pepper as needed.
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I sometimes add carrots, but as stated earlier, feel free to add any veggies you like. It’s also good with rice. I usually have Cornbread Muffins or Copycat King’s Hawaiian Bread with it, because the kids and I still love our carbs! (This can also be made on the stove top, but it’s just so easy to let it simmer in the crock-pot all day!)
I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) Little Miss DexterousThe Tumbleweed ContessaI Should Be Mopping the FloorHuckleberry Love (Tuesday) Naptime  Creations, Memories By the MileVMG206The Cookie Puzzle (Wednesday) Sew Crafty AngelThe Newlyweds PilgrimageFluster BusterGinger Snap Crafts (Thursday) Joyful HomemakingMiz Helen’s Country CottageLamberts Lately (Friday) Project InspireJust Us FourDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,Close to HomeWalking on SunshineVintage ChicDaily DishThe Diary of a Real Housewife, Life with Lorelai (Sunday) My Husband Has Too Many Hobbies

Black Bean Brownies – Take 2

You’ve probably heard of making desserts with chickpeas, avocados and black beans. Have you tried any? I was on the chickpea train for a while, and now I’ve made black bean brownies for the second time. All of my avocados end up as guacamole, except that time I attempted to make chocolate pudding (you should read it, it’s comical), but I plan on giving it another shot (and follow a recipe this time). So anyway, I’m here to tell you, desserts can be made healthier AND still taste good. These brownies are a perfect example!

Fudge-y, chocolate-y, and no, they do not taste like beans at all. As a matter of fact, the only difference between black bean brownies and regular brownies is the texture. It’s not a bad texture, just a little different. They are moist without being too gooey and they are not crumbly.
This recipe came from the cookbook Vegan Beans from Around the World by Kelsey Kinser.
I was interested in reviewing the cookbook because my family definitely does not eat enough beans. Since beans are loaded with protein, vitamins, and minerals (and they are cheap!) I would love to incorporate more into our diets. Even if it is in brownie form!
I also want to try Kelsey’s Chickpea Cupcakes and plan on making the Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas very soon! Of course, if you are a more ‘traditional’ bean eater, there are salads, soups, burgers, etc. to choose from.
Black Bean Brownies from Vegan Beans from Around the World
(reprinted with permission)
 
Either you’ve heard of this recipe before and love it or you are scratching your head and thinking, “There is no way this is going to be good.” Trust me. It’s good. It’s really, really good. Also, this recipe benefits from the surprising bonus of being a gluten-free dessert option. So go ahead and try it. With about 5 to 10 minutes of actual active cooking time and a brief and inexpensive ingredient list (for which you probably already have everything already), you have nothing to lose and a delicious, fudgy, surprisingly guilt-free world to gain. Canned black beans are used in this recipe for convenience, and the point is to not taste that is made from beans so the quality of flavor is not as important, but feel free to substitute 2 cups of well-cooked black beans.
(Note: This recipe produces a more fudge-like brownie. If you prefer yours more on the cakelike side, double the amount of flax seeds and water.)
Serves 9 to 12
1 (15.5-ounce) can of black beans, rinsed and drained (or 2 cups of well-cooked black beans)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (coconut oil can be used but will result in a slight coconut taste)
2 1/2 tablespoons of fresh ground flax seeds whisked into 3 tablespoon of warm water*
1⁄4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1⁄4 cup and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (sifted if need be)
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coffee (optional but worth it; can be left over from the morning)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

walnuts or dairy-free chocolate or carob chips for topping (optional)
     *Blogger’s Note: if not vegan, can use an egg in the place of flax and water 
 
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Using either a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients except for toppings. Blend well, stopping at least once to scrape down the sides of the blender carafe and blending again. You do not want any large chunks of beans in this batter. It should be very smooth.
Pour batter into 8- by 8-inch glass baking dish. *Blogger’s Note: I suggest spraying pan with cooking spray.
Bake on middle rack of oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a knife poked into the center comes out clean.
  
Cool for at least half an hour before cutting and serving. 
*I added chocolate chips to the tops after removing from oven
 
Do you have any “unconventional” desserts that you and your family enjoy? My kids have actually enjoyed my bean desserts, and considering how uber picky they are, that’s saying a lot! (If interested in checking them out. – Biscoff Cookie Dough Dip, Double Dark Chocolate Cookie Balls, Deep Dish Cookie Pie)
I was sent the above cookbook for review. No compensation was received, all opinions are my own.


This recipe was featured at:

DIY Vintage Chic

Peanut Butter Cookies {4 ingredients; GF; low carb option}

When I discover a recipe that allows me to make cookies by only messing up 1 bowl, 1 spoon and uses 4 ingredients…I’m so in. This is a great recipe for the kids to make for the same reasons – super easy, and not so messy! In fact, my kids made at least 3 batches of these cookies in one week! (One batch was included in the end of the year teacher gifts.)

You can make them with the traditional criss cross markings on top, which for whatever reason is my favorite.
You can make them as drop cookies or roll them into balls, AND you can add chocolate chips – if you want to make it 5 ingredients. Chocolate makes everything mo’betta.
You can also make these with regular peanut butter, natural peanut butter, or peanut butter replacements (WowButter, Sunflower butter). You can also make them with sugar substitutes, like Splenda, for a low carb, low sugar version. {and yes, I’m aware that some people are totally against Splenda. I personally prefer Stevia as a sugar sub, but Splenda seems to work better in baking. When you have a diabetic in your family, sugar substitutes are going to be a part of your life.}
We tried different versions, and the best texture comes from regular peanut butter and powdered sugar. The ones with Splenda were a little crumbly, with a slight artificial sweetener aftertaste, but were still good and a treat when you need something low in sugar and carbs. The ones with the natural peanut butter were also good, they are just a little greasier than when using regular peanut butter, but I always buy natural peanut butter (the no-stir kind with no hydrogenated oils), so this is how we will usually make them. When made with peanut butter replacements, they are going to taste like the replacement used, and depending on which one is used, they may be a little greasy or crumbly. I like the flavor of Sunbutter best (I have an easy homemade version here), but WowButter is cheaper and easier to find around here. *There are a couple of other cookies on the blog using PB replacements here and here*  These cookies are flourless, so they make a great snack for anyone who is following a gluten-free diet too! (Just make sure other ingredients used are gluten free.)
Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar (or Splenda for sugar free)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone liner.
Add all of the ingredients to a medium size mixing bowl, and stir until combined and smooth.
Take about a tablespoon of dough and (1) roll in a ball, then use a fork to press down in one direction, then the opposite direction to make your criss cross markings on top OR (2) drop onto cookie sheet 2 inches apart and bake for 8-10 minutes. *The original recipe said 10, ours only needed 8-9 minutes*
Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Have any low carb dessert recipes? I’d love to hear about them!
 

Low Carb Pizza Crust (that you can pick up, hold and fold!)

I’m not a newbie to low carb, and I’ve experimented with different low carb pizza crusts before. There was the egg and cream cheese crust and a previous cauliflower pizza crust attempt. The cauliflower crust had potential, so I decided to give it another try after I saw ‘The Secret to Perfect Cauliflower Pizza Crust‘ by The Detoxinista.  The key, she said, was to really squeeze all the liquid from the cauliflower before mixing your other ingredients.  I gave it a try.

Tip: Make your crust thicker than you think you need bc it will flatten out quite a bit once cooked (because of the moisture drying out.)  Once you bake your crust, add toppings and bake a few more minutes.
We had a little meat lover’s action going on.
But check it out!  Low carb pizza that you can pick up, hold, and fold, just like regular pizza!  Pretty cool.
It is also pretty tasty.  The only thing I will do differently next time is to add more spices to the crust.  The cauliflower has a little natural sweetness to it once baked, so I think adding more spices would help.

 Cauliflower Pizza Crust 

adapted from The Detoxinista – my changes in italics
{makes 1 large crust}

4 cups raw cauliflower ‘rice’*
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon basil
pinch of salt

*pulse cauliflower in a blender or food processor to achieve a rice-like consistency

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 F.
  2. Cook your cauliflower ‘rice’ by boiling about an inch of water in a large pot.  Add the cauliflower, and cover. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, then drain with a fine-mesh strainer.
  3. Place your drained cauliflower ‘rice’ on a clean, thin dishtowel. Wrap up the steamed rice in the dishtowel, twist it up, and squeeze all the water out! This is the key to having a crust that will hold together! Be careful, the cauliflower and water is hot, but squeeze it good (rubber gloves are handy for this step!)
  4. In a large bowl, mix your strained rice with the beaten egg, cheese, and spices. Mix well.
  5. Press the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or sprayed aluminum foil (mine still stuck to the foil a little, but not bad) into your desired pizza shape. Keep it about 1/3 to 1/2 inch in thickness.
  6. Bake crust for 35-40 mins in preheated oven. The crust should be firm and golden brown when done.
  7. Remove crust from oven and add toppings of choice.  I used pizza sauce, turkey pepperoni, turkey sausage, Canadian bacon, and real bacon bits, and cheese, of course!  Return the pizza to the oven, and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is hot and bubbly.
 **There are excellent step by step pics in the original post.

 

Pumpkin Pie Quinoa

I’m sorry, didn’t that Groundhog say something about SPRING coming soon?  I think maybe he was wrong. It’s cold. And raining. And I’ve been without heat for ELEVEN days.  Yes, 11 – I’m kinda pissed about it.  I’m fearful the heat repair man will not even come back since I pretty much went off at the without-heat-for-a-week mark.  Thankfully, I live in eastern NC and not Alaska, or Minnesota or places where people have to shovel out of their house.  And, at least I can eat stuff like this to help keep me warm…

After I made the Blueberry Pecan Breakfast Quinoa, and realized I actually like quinoa, I started playing around with different variations.  Since I have this obsession thing for pumpkin and oats (as evidenced by my Overnight Pumpkin Oats, Pumpkin Pie Steel Cut Oats,  and Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal), this was obviously the next breakfast quinoa to try!  Good call.  Good call.  It’s delicious.

Pumpkin Pie Quinoa adapted from Veggie Converter & Blueberry Pecan Breakfast Quinoa

1 cup raw quinoa, rinsed (and toasted if desired)
2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or preferred milk or water)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
 Topping – anything you like (or plain) I added dried sweet and tart cherries, and pecans
Bring the quinoa, and milk to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer (covered) for about 15 minutes or until tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.  Add pumpkin puree, maple syrup, spices and chia seeds (if using) and stir until combined.  Heat through.  Remove from heat, divide into 4 servings. Top as desired.
 
Verdict –  {warm!}comfort food. It’s delish, and healthy!  I divided mine up into individual servings, then placed the remaining 3 in the fridge to eat on for the rest of the week.  It was nice having breakfast already prepared, and all I had to do was give it a nuke in the microwave.  Just add a little milk if it is too thick.


Linking this recipe up at Eat at Home, and the Gooseberry Patch Blog

Blueberry Pecan Breakfast Quinoa

Yes. Quinoa for breakfast.  Weird, I know.  However, it is January and all, and I am *supposed* to put on a bathing suit in 3 months. Yikes.  Let’s not talk about that right now.  Let’s talk about breakfast.  I love breakfast food…pretty much anytime of day.  I also love grains…regular oats, steel cut oats, cous cous, you name it.  Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah” for whatever reason) – not my fave (and I read that technically it is a seed, not a grain, but whatev.)  I have made it a couple of times before and it just tasted….earthy.  Which is my nice way of saying it tasted kinda like dirt.  I figured it was because I wasn’t cooking it correctly – and I was correct.  
When I saw this recipe for Quinoa Porridge from Closet Cooking, I knew I had to give quinoa another try.  It is really good for you and I have been determined to incorporate it into our diet.  And by “our” I mean “mine” at the moment.  I’m working on winning everyone else over.

Blueberry Pecan Breakfast Quinoa

adapted from Closet Cooking

 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cup Unsweetened Almond-Coconut milk (can use any milk you like)
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  •  
  • Toppings – Pecans, Sprinkle of turbinado sugar, more Almond-Coconut milk (optional)

Bring the quinoa, milk, cinnamon, vanilla and maple syrup to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer (covered) for about 15 minutes or until tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat, stir in blueberries.  

 For serving – add choice of toppings.  I added pecans, turbinado sugar and more milk.  (Makes 2 servings)
 
Verdict?  Yummy-licious.  A warm, filling breakfast, that doesn’t taste earthy. You can reduce the calories by using a low fat, low sugar milk (The Unsweetened Almond Coconut Milk is only 45 calories per serving); sugar free syrup, and skip the raw sugar on top or use Stevia or something instead.  It just depends on how sweet you like it.  I am glad that I have found a way to enjoy quinoa, and I have been experimenting with other breakfast flavors too.  Like Pumpkin Pie!
 

Homemade Brownie Larabars

Do you eat Larabars?
They are made only with fruit and nuts.  And my favorites, of course, contain chocolate.  When I saw this post over at Chocolate Covered Katie’s blog, I knew I wanted to give it a try.  I found a large container of dates at Sam’s Club the other day, and decided it was time.

Homemade Brownie Larabars

from CCK
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 and 1/3 cups pitted dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3-4 T cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Dark cocoa)
  • 1/8 tsp salt (optional)
  • chocolate chips (optional) (of course I used chocolate chips! Ghirardelli 60% chips)
Blend all the ingredients, using a food processor, Magic Bullet, etc. Form into bars. (bars are sticky, so I placed in between waxed paper and shaped them into ‘bars’)
Verdict?  They taste just like Larabars!  Wholesome ingredients that are great for an energy boost or quick snack on-the-go.  You can change up the nuts and add different fruits to make your own varieties of bars.

Banana Ice Cream with Oreos

Yesterday I posted this pic –

and asked if anyone could guess what it is.
On Facebook I had a guess of “maybe a smoothie of some sort? With blueberries and chocolate??”
 
Excellent guess, but it was actually
Yes, once again, I have taken something perfectly healthy and uhh….de-healthified it?
oops. my bad.
My kids wanted a treat, and I had frozen bananas on the brain since having an email conversation with another blogger who is preggars, and ‘enjoying’ all the crazy food obsessions and repulsions that come along with pregnancy. And yes, that conversation included the healthy banana.
For whatever reason, I had Oreos in my house.  Which is such a NO.NO.  Since I have absolutely zero will power.  Anyways, I decided I would take the bananas we had in the freezer, blend them up and toss in a few Oreos.
My kids thought it was a delicious, decadent treat!

Oreo Banana Ice Cream

 I used 3 frozen bananas
4 or 6 Oreos (sorry, can’t remember!)
1/2 T. cocoa (mainly for color – my kids eat anything chocolate)
and had enough to fill 3 ice cream cones, plus some leftover!
**Don’t throw away those over ripe bananas, just peel and stick in the freezer in a freezer bag.  Then you can enjoy ‘ice cream’ whenever the mood strikes.  Leave out the Oreos, and it can be completely guilt free!