Baked Beans in the Crock Pot

Baked Beans in the Crock Pot

This makes 1 quart of beans

1 cup dry kidney, navy or pinto beans soaked (see below)

2 sweet, yellow onions, chopped fine

1/2 cup raw maple syrup (or brown sugar)

1/4 cup molasses

1/3 cup organic or homemade ketchup

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 lb bacon (from pasture raised pigs)

To soak the beans: Place beans in large bowl or pot, cover with 1 quart of very warm water (110-130 degrees). Soak for 8-24 hours. I put mine in the oven with the pilot light and oven light on, to keep them toasty. They next day, drain the beans and rinse.

Place beans and all other ingredients EXCEPT SALT in the crockpot, laying the bacon across the top. Adding salt to dry beans, keeps them from getting soft. Always add salt to beans after cooking. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

These are very good and very filling. I serve them with fresh cornbread right out of the oven and we usually eat way too much. This recipe freezes and reheats very well. I have made a quadruple batch before and froze it in individual containers (back when I had a chest freezer, geez I miss that!).

Crock Pot Tomato Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes

I was in the produce aisle searching everywhere for a piece of ginger and I happened upon an amazing sale on organic tomatoes. Normally I don’t can tomato sauce until the fall when tomatoes are super cheap. I usually buy 200 lbs at a time and can for a few weekends in a row until I have them all done. I don’t know why these were on sale, or where they came from, but I ended up talking to the manager and got a 25 lb box of organic tomatoes for $9.00. That is pretty awesome for Michigan in May right? So anyway, now I’m home and the tomato sauce is boiling away in the canning pot, so I thought I would post about how to do this. Most of you will have to bookmark this recipe until the fall, because tomatoes are definitely not cheap in the spring 🙂

If you don’t have a crock pot, any very large stock pot will do. If you don’t want to can it, it freezes very well. In fact, I have frozen several batches of this on purpose previously because you can add the meat! That makes dinner ready in 5 minutes. This recipe makes one batch, in case you just want to throw this in for dinner or something. I am crazy and make every thing in army size portions.

Crock Pot Tomato Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes

1 cup finely chopped celery

2 cups finely chopped onions

2 large, green bell peppers, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

8-10 tomatoes scalded & peeled

2 cans tomato paste

6 ounces fresh mushrooms

Pinch of each: Italian seasoning, garlic salt, parsley, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper.

You can also add 1 lb ground beef, venison, pork etc. But only if you plan to eat it right away, or freeze it. You can also add meat if you have a pressure canner (which I do not)

To prepare tomatoes: dunk tomato in boiling water for 1 minute, then immediately immerse in ice water. The skin will slide right off. Cut tomato in 1/2 and squeeze out the seeds (don’t worry about getting every last seed). No need to chop, they will break down as they cook.

Cook onion & celery in a pan 4-5 minutes (with meat if you are  using meat). Combine all ingredients in a crock pot and simmer on low for 8-10 hours. Taste and season as needed. Eat dinner now, freeze now, or continue with the canning steps below.

Meanwhile gather all of your canning materials, and sterilize your jars and lids. Get your large pot of water boiling. Fill hot jars with hot tomato sauce leaving 1 inch of head space. Place lids and rings on jars. Do not over tighten. Place jars in boiled water (using tongs) and process at a full boil for 35-40 minutes. There should be at least 2 inches of water covering the jars. Remove from water (with tongs) and place on a folded towel. As the jars cool, they will seal and you will hear a POP.

My 25 lb box of tomatoes made 7 pints of pasta sauce at 1.28 per jar. Not too shabby considering I don’t have a vegetable garden this year. If you never have to buy produce, you don’t know how lucky you are!

P.S I will post a complete canning tutorial in the fall, and also recipes for tomato paste, so you don’t have to buy that ever again.

I also wanted to remind everyone that if you ever see a great deal on tomatoes, you can freeze them! You just wash and place in a freezer back and freeze them flat, so you can stack the bags. Then the next time you need whole tomatoes in a recipe voila!

tomatoes ready to freeze

Real Food Taco Soup in the Crock Pot

Taco soup

Real Food Taco Soup in the Crock Pot

Makes 3 quarts

1 lb ground beef or venison

1 large onion diced

1/2 Tbsp chili powder

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne

4 cloves garlic minced

2 cans (15 oz each) pinto beans

1 can (28 oz) fire roasted crushed tomatoes undrained

1 can sweet corn

1 can (4 oz) green chiles

1 Quart homemade chicken stock

2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp pepper

In skillet brown meat, onion and garlic. Add spices and let simmer. Add meat mixture and all remaining ingredients to crock pot. Cook on low 6-8 hours.

Serve topped with cheese, sour cream, green onion, tomatoes or tortilla chips. Rob loves this with tortilla chips and lots of cheddar cheese. So do I! I made this large of a batch with the intention of freezing half of it, but we ended up eating it all before I had a chance to put any in the freezer.

This post featured on Easy Natural FoodAllergy Free Wednesdays

Making Yogurt in the Crock Pot

I am a huge fan of yogurt, but I don’t like any of the store-bought kinds I have ever tried. Even expensive organic yogurt is too sweet for my taste. I thought that making yogurt myself would be really hard, and require a lot of patience and messing with specific temperatures and formulas. I thought I needed to go buy a yogurt maker.  None of that turned out to be true. Here is the easy way!

Easy Yogurt in the Crock Pot

1 gallon milk (not ultra-pastuerized)

1 small container organic yogurt. Plain un-flavored

Pour milk into the crock pot and close the lid. I use raw milk from a local farm, but the healthiest milk you can get your hands on is fine. Ultra-pastuerized milk (it will say that right on the container) is heated to a very high temperature and doesn’t culture well.

  • Turn crock pot on HIGH and leave it alone for 2 hours.
  • Turn crock pot OFF and leave it alone for 2 hours
  • Pour in the container of yogurt and stir. Replace lid.
  • Place whole crock pot into your oven and wrap it up in 2 or 3 layers of bath towels or a thick blanket. Turn on the oven light.
  • Leave crock pot alone for 6  to 8 hours.

That’s it! You now have a whole gallon of yogurt and you didn’t have to do hardly anthing!

Now take 1/2 cup of this yogurt and put it in a container in the fridge and label it (so nobody eats it). Now you can use this yogurt to make the next batch, and you will never have to buy store-bought yogurt again!

My cost, even using expensive raw milk at $7.00 a gallon is only .05 cents per ounce.

I eat some over blueberries for breakfast. I use a piece of cheesecloth or a fine colander and strain the whey out of half of it to make greek yogurt. I use half of the greek yogurt and strain it even further, with a weight on top and make yogurt cheese. I use all that whey to ferment various other recipes. Amazing all the uses out of a single gallon of milk!

Homemade Yogurt Cheese

If you need a great resource for yogurt, kefir or sourdough starters, check out Cultures for Health. They have excellent tutorials on their site!

Real Food Chili in the Crock Pot

Real Food Chili in the Crock pot

1 lb ground beef or venison

1 Quart (32 oz) Tomato Sauce

1 Pint (16 oz) Tomato Sauce

1 Quart (32 oz) diced tomatoes

1 large onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

3 Tbsp homemade taco seasoning mix

4 cups soaked, cooked beans (black, pinto or kidney)

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 cup natural sugar of choice

2 tsp oregano

1 tsp fresh black pepper

2 tsp sea salt

3 tsp cumin

up to 1/4 cup of Chili Powder, depending on how hot you like it. I use 2 Tbsp.

Saute meat, onion and pepper. Add taco seasoning and simmer to meld flavors. Add meat mixture and all remaining ingredients to crock pot and cook on low 6-8 hours (or in a stock pot on stove 1-2 hours)

Eat with hot, fresh cornbread

Real Food Lentil Soup in the Crock Pot

I used to hate lentil soup. Every version I had ever tried was grainy and plain and boring and looked like gruel. So I’ve played around with it, and this is definitely worth a try. I love it!

Real Food Lentil Soup in the Crock Pot

1 onion

5 cloves garlic

2 celery stalks

1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes with juice

1 1/2 cups brown lentils

1 Quart homemade chicken stock

Sea salt & pepper to taste

2 tsp parsley

chop up onion, carrot and celery. Add all ingredients to crock pot. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Lentils absorb a lot of liquid so an extra quart of stock or water may be needed. Serve with parmesan cheese or crème frache and homemade sourdough bread. This soup freezes and reheats very well.

If you need a quick and inexpensive dinner, throw all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for 40-55 minutes. I only  use the crock pot because I’m at work all day and I love walking into the house to the smell of food.

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