SOTW: Crock Pot Creamed Lentil Soup

Yeah, I know we have lentil problems.  A lentil fixation.  A lentil leaning, as it were.  The truth is that lentils may well be the perfect legume, hearty full of all the goodness that the legume family can bring, but so very forgiving because they are so small.  Didn’t soak?  Bah.  Running out of time?  Never fear.  Lentils are the home cook’s best friend.   Lentils are easy, cheap, delicious, nutritious, and friendly to those of us who are a little lacking in the planning department.  If you haven’t drunk the kool-aid (and I am speaking purely figuratively here because I really, really don’t want you to drink kool-aid) on lentils with us before, it is high time that you did. Continue reading

Slow Cooker Burritos

My increasingly not so little ones are taking swim lessons.  They’ve been taking them for a while, but now I really feel like we’re starting to have swim, not just don’t be afraid of the pool, lessons.  They have a ball, and honestly I kind of love sitting in that humid air, watching them take instruction from someone else, splashing with their peers, laughing at themselves and at each other.  It’s good stuff.

The only problem is that the lesson happens at 5 p.m. on a school day.  Five o’clock is usually dinner prep madness and there’s nobody hungrier than two six year olds who’ve been in the pool kicking like mad and working on circle arms.  Here we come up against one of the reprted biggest drawbacks of scratch cooking – time.  So we arrive home at 6 p.m., half an hour after “usual dinnertime” and with two ravenous, cold, and exhausted children.  This is a carry-out dinner trap in the making…

Crock Pot, my old friend, do your thing.  While I admit to having scorned the Crock Pot in younger days, when one circulated at a White Elephant party I attended with aspiring teachers in their 20’s (I was a ripe 31 at that time), I knew they were missing out by mocking this lovely kitchen tool, and that I was about to score big.  My simple Crock Pot has been with me ever since.  Just two settings – Lo and Hi – and a timer that I bought to turn the lamps on when go on trips, but it’s still kicking and if it ain’t broke, don’t replace it with something fancy that will.

This Monday’s slow cooker offering was driven by a recipe in the Cooking Light Slow Cooker Cookbook.  As you know, I’ve developed a fondness for barley.  These barley, black bean and corn burritos caught my eye right away, so I set to getting everything going around lunchtime in order to come home to finished dinner, and the finished product did not disappoint.  As usual I made some changes based on what I had on hand and tipping the scales of possibility in favor of my most reluctant eater.  I’ll share my version with you, but feel free to check out the original for plenty of slow cooker suggestions.

Barley, Black Bean, and Corn Burritos

  • olive oil for pan
  • 1/2 c chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans (or equivalent dry, soaked and cooked), rinsed and drained
  • 15 oz tomato (diced, crushed, whatever – I used 15 oz leftover homemade pasta sauce)
  • 1 c uncooked pearl barley
  • 1.5 c water
  • 3/4 cup frozen whole-kernel corn
  • juice of 1/2 small lime
  • 2 T Bragg’s or soy sauce
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1/2 t chili powder
  • 1/2 t ground red pepper (opt – I omitted)

The recipe suggests putting all ingredients in the Crock Pot raw.  Personally, I prefer to cook my onions a bit first.  I REALLY don’t like onion crunch in cooked food, so I always sauté my onions for a few minutes and throw the garlic in for a few seconds once the onions are translucent.  I then moved the whole lot to the Crock Pot.  Follow with all of the remaining ingredients, stir, put the lid on and turn that puppy on low for 4-5 hours (ours took 5).

Once I got everything going in the crock pot, I chopped some fresh veggies and cilantro to go with the burritos so that I would literally simply have to take the bowl of veggies out, get tortillas out, a little cashew cheese for the parents, and serve it up.  Worked like a charm and my little man indulged in hungry swimmer thirds.  Picky pants was less impressed, but honestly wouldn’t you have been a little disappointed in her if she acquiesced in the face of several foods mixed together with a hint of cumin?  I knew it was a long shot and decided it just wouldn’t be her night (she had her favorite Crock Pot dish after last week’s lesson).  The rest of us were very happy. Delish.