Category Archives: Cooking

Add Four Cups of Chicken Broth

Ignore this post if you are a purist.

So many recipes call for Chicken or Beef broth. I’ve never had the energy (or the pocket-book) to make my own. I’ve tried it, but it just wasn’t worth it. Sorry.

For a long time, I bought Tetra packed broth. Good stuff, but expensive, and it was okay.

Until I discovered the time and cost saving method to broth: Better Than Bouillon.

DSCN3990 (Large)

Get yourself a Chicken and a Beef jar. Once opened, store in the fridge. Gumbo calls for 4 cups of Chicken Broth? Add four cups of water (filtered is best, but no worries). Add 4 tsp of this magic mix, and there you go.

It lasts forever. It’s always on-hand. It’s cheaper and easier to keep. It allows you to COOK instead of running to the store.

Chicken Pot Pie, Soup, Beef Pot Pie, Beef Stew, broth for Stir Fries. Whatever. It works for all. And is great for the times when you Just Need To Cook. But don’t want it to suck.

Tin Can Chili

Want a bowl of chili, but don’t want to spend a lot of time? How about a vegan chili that tastes really good — like, you’ll never miss the meat?

I call it Tin Can Chili, because almost everything is a pantry item. It’s not award winning or hand crafted or simmered for a day. But don’t let the simplicity fool you. The only tricky part is blending part of the mixture — but that step is very important. It will turn what looks like just a big pot of beans into a chili.

You’ll need:

  • One onion, chopped fine. About a cup or two. Not picky.
  • 3 Tb chili powder.
  • 1 Tb minced canned Chipotle chili in adobe.
  • 2 tsp ground cumin.
  • 1 Tb minced garlic (optional). I keep pre-minced in the fridge.
  • 3 cans of Rotel (or similar — diced tomatoes & green chilies). Do not drain.
  • 1 large can (27 oz) of Red Kidney Beans, rinsed until water runs clear.
  • 1 large can (27 oz) of Black Beans, rinsed until water runs clear.
  • Pepper to taste.
  1. Heat about 1 Tb oil in Dutch oven or large (at least 3.5 Qt) pot, medium heat.
  2. When oil is hot, add onion and cook about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. It will soften slightly.
  3. Add chili powder, chipotle, cumin, and garlic (optional). Stir and let cook about 1 minute. You should smell the garlic and chili.
  4. Add Rotel (with juice) and beans. Stir and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Using a Pyrex measuring cup, put 2 cups of chili mixture in a blender. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. (You can also do this with a 4 cup measure and an immersion blender, but be careful of splatters. The blender avoids this. I usually don’t use blenders, but they work best for this recipe.)
  7. Return blended mixture to pot and stir well. Taste for salt and pepper. You probably don’t need salt, as the Rotel and canned beans are already salted.
  8. Serve!

Topping ideas: cheddar cheese, toasted bread, tortilla chips, raw onion, etc. Whatever you like on your chili. It’s fantastic “plain”.

Chili, like many soups, stores well, so this is a good make-ahead meal. Though, if you have everything on hand, it only takes about 30 minutes or less (including cleanup).

Helpful Hints:

  • I’ve used genuine Rotel and cheaper imitations. The imitations work fine.
  • If you are cracking open a new can of Chipotle (find San Marcos brand in the “Mexican” section of your grocery), it’s super easy to store. Just put some dollops on a small sheet pan lined with waxed paper or parchment, freeze, and put frozen portions in a ziplock bag and keep in the freezer. I do this for Chipotle and Tomato Paste. You can always tell which is which by the smell (paste is sweet, chipotle smells smoky). Works great and saves time.
  • You can easily adjust the heat by adding more or less Chipotle. I usually end up using about 2 Tb.

An Experiment: Wok On The Grill

One of the major reasons why your home-made “Chinese” food doesn’t taste like the best restaurants isn’t because you don’t have the right ingredients. If you live anywhere near a city, you can get all those. It isn’t the┬ásauces. There are a lot of great ones out there. The problem is HEAT.

If you do a stir fry, you need a wok. And you need it to be hot. Crazy hot. Why? If it’s not hot enough, the meat stews in its juices instead of cooking instantly. Same thing with the veggies. You want them to cook quick. Real quick.

And so now I’m experimenting. I learned that putting a wok on the grill — over charcoal — give you the super heat. But round wok on flat grill = something will go wrong.

But, a-ha! I see that Weber has their Gourmet BBQ System. Basically, it’s a grill that has a removable — round — grate. But, alas! The gas grill sold at Home Depot, which I’d love to have, is out of my price range at the moment.

But all is not lost! I recently learned that they make a version of the grate for the kettle grills! Horray! Now I can put an inexpensive ($15) 14″-16″ steel wok on the grill and not have it flip.

And so I got the grate ($35) and the wok ($15) for less than a new grill ($400) would run me.

Let the experiments begin…

Pork “Posole” Soup

This is one of my absolute favorite soups. Perfect for the icy cold Austin winters. :-) I’ve made one modification to make this a LOT faster and some more because I wanted to.

Posole

 

First, use Pork Tenderloin. About 1 loin worth — about a pound. Trim the silverskin and cut in to 1/2″ chunks. Using tenderloin means that you only need to simmer about 15 minutes. Plus, there is less meat, so you only have to brown in one or two batches.

Hint: Wait for tenderloin to go on sale — less than $3 a pound — then buy up a bunch and freeze them. There are two tenderloins per package and they make super great stir-fries. I’ve got about half a dozen packages in the freezer right now.

Second, instead of hominy, I used white canned beans (ex. great northern, or whatever). Use hominy if you want. I was trying to cut back on carbs.

Third, I found the lime juice to be a bit overpowering. So cut back, or eliminate. Like I said, overpowering, so I leave it out.

Fourth, I cut back on the broth a little. I usually use 3 cups. Just because. If you have a big pot, use 4. My pot would overflow with 4. :-)

Other than that, follow the recipe (I’ve never done the garnish).

I’ve made this about 6 times so far and love it.

A Month Of Amazing Meals

So, I got the newest issue of Cuisine at Home. Been a subscriber since before Cook’s. So, it’s been a while. And let me say, I’m Impressed.

Curry Roasted Drumsticks, Cuban Roasted Pork Tenderloin, interesting Tofu, a new take on Lasagna, Wings, Queso, Bean Dip, Asian Sloppy Joes, Spiced Beef Patties served in flatbread, Pork Stir Fries — this issue has it all.

Evelyn hasn’t been so impressed in ages — and so have I. Great stuff. Added bonus: The things like Drumsticks and Pork Tenderloin are super easy to prep (way ahead of time) — super easy to cook — and taste great. This is great food without a big hassle.

For once, the marketing lives up to the hype. I’m hungry just typing about it. Luckily, I’ve got some Asian Sloppy Joes prepped and ready to cook. :-)