Archive | January, 2014

Chili Powder – Make Your Own!

30 Jan

“Illiterate?  Write today for free help.”  Newspaper Ad

As the new year rolls along I’ve decided to take my finances seriously.  Whoa!  I’m cutting out superfluous spending and using my resources only for necessities.  That’s food and air.

Part of this program is to quit my gym membership (I’ve gone twice) and exercise at home.  I have a Wii Fit as well as a yoga video.  The other thing I decided to do is clean out my food cabinet.  That’s the place where “interesting” dry goods go to die.

For some reason this cabinet contained a package of dried, Guajillo chilies.  This is such an obscure item in my world that spell check does not even recognize the word, Guajillo.  I think I bought the item because it looked interesting.  I’m sure this will come up in my sanity hearing.

In light of my new financial resolve I decided to Google recipes for Guajillo chilies.  Fortunately, I ran out of chili powder that very day as I stumbled upon a recipe for chili powder that contained Guajillo chilies.  Is the suspense killing you?

Unfortunately, the recipe called for two other dried pepper along with some spices in seed form that I was supposed to toast and then grind.  One of my friends put it best when she observed that I was not one for following directions.  What’s your point, I asked her.

ChPwd

INGREDIENTS – MY VERSION

8 to 10 dried Guajillo chilies (I forget how many were in the bag)

1T smoked paprika

1 T coriander

1 T cumin

1 T cinnamon

2 t oregano

1 t black pepper

DISTRUCTIONS:  WEAR GLOVES WHEN HANDLING ANY KIND OF HOT PEPPERS!!!  OK  I didn’t wear gloves but I know enough not to touch my eyes or other delicate parts of my body after handling hot peppers.  Wipe the peppers with a damp paper towel, place onto a baking sheet and toast in a 200 degree oven until the peppers are completely dry.  This took about 30 minutes even though the recipe said it would take about 10 minutes.

Remove the stems and seed from the peppers and discard the stems and seeds.  Put all of the ingredients into a spice grinder or blender or a trusty Ninja if you have one.  Whip it good.

Finally, pass the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any sizable pieces.  Put the mixture into a little jar and label it if you’d like.  Yes, the above picture is the actual chili powder that I made all by my own self.  For those of you who are curious the other peppers mentioned were Chipotle and Arbol.  I didn’t have any so they didn’t go into my mixture.

Let me assure you, however, that my mixture not only looked like chili powder but actually smelled like chili powder!  Isn’t life amazing.

Loveya – The Grandma

Mexican Chicken and Pepper Soup

28 Jan

“Self delusion is pulling in your stomach when you step on the scale.”  Paul Sweeney

The following recipe will make it unnecessary for you to pull in your stomach when you step onto the scale.  That’s because it follows the guidelines of Paleo eating.  Following these guidelines will make you svelte and irresistible to your heart’s desire.  I promise.  Have I ever lied to you?

I found this recipe, which sounded delicious, and of course I didn’t have the proper ingredients on hand so I improvised.  Didn’t have red and yellow peppers to cut into thin strips but I did have a bag of frozen red, yellow, and green pepper.  Didn’t have chicken chests so I used chicken thighs.  We all lived happily ever after.

INGREDIENTS – MY VERSION:

1 T olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

1/4 t chili flakes

1 t oregano

3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

1/2 bag frozen pepper strips

1/2 large can diced tomatoes

3 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

Parsley and lime wedge to serve

DESTRUCTIONS:  Saute the onion, garlic and chili in the oil until fragrant.  I started this whole thing in a large skillet.  Easier  for me to control.

ONSpSoup

This is what was going on in the skillet with the first four ingredients.  The original recipe called for a teaspoon of chili flakes.  Even cutting the amount to 1/4 teaspoon gave this soup enough kick for this spice-loving lady.  More or less to suit your personal taste would be a good idea.

Soup2

Next add the stock, tomatoes, and oregano and bring to a boil.  Lovely aromas will begin to waft through your kitchen!  Next, add a half bag of frozen peppers.  Easy and no sliced fingers!

Soup3

Frozen peppers just waiting to join the fun!

At this point in the original recipe you’re supposed to add chicken breast and simmer about 5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  However, I did not have chicken breasts so I added diced chicken thighs (cut with a scissors into diced-sized pieces) and put everything into my trusty crock pot on low for about two hours.

The results were delicious and picture perfect!

Soup4

The squeeze of lime cut some of the heat.  A lovely, light soup that’s simple to prepare.  Can life get much better?  Yes!  I discovered a way to make my own, delicious, chili powder.  Stay tuned.

Loveya – The Grandma

Crockpot Pot Roast

27 Jan

“It’s not rocket science.”  Voted one of the ten most overused quotes.

Throughout my “career” as a housewife (No, I was not married to a house) I had the goal of learning to make a luscious pot roast.  Instead, my pot roast creations most resembled beef jerky with gravy.  In retaliation I became a vegetarian.

Within the last year, however, my body began to crave meat.  I like to think that my body knows what it’s talking about so I went back to my carnivore ways and stuck with fish, chicken, and burgers.  But the pot roast craving remained.

Yes, I tried the foil wrapped, soup drenched hunks of meat, but my desire to avoid processed food soon ruled out that route.  And then I re-discovered my crock pot.  But because I still enjoyed the onion, mushroom flavors with beef, I decided to look for other ways to accomplish this feat without resorting to processed food.

Fortunately, for me, one of my friends, while walking in the woods, came upon a hoard of puff ball mushrooms, brought them home, and shared.  I took my share and dehydrated them.  Next, I put the dehydrated chunks into my Ninja chopper and turned them into a white powder that would probably pass for an illegal drug in a B Movie.

But on to the pot roast recipe that could!

INGREDIENTS:

Roast

Dried onions, so specified because that’s what I had on hand.  Chopped or sliced fresh onions would work.  This is not rocket science!

Powdered puff ball mushrooms

S&P

DISTRUCTIONS:  Brown the roast in a hot pan on medium-high heat about 4 minutes on each side.  I used coconut oil for this.  Next salt and pepper the browned roast.

Next, place the roast into a crock pot and sprinkle on the dried onions.  Finally, sprinkle liberally with powdered mushroom.  Your pot roast will now look weird.  

PtRst1

Doesn’t that look appetizing.  But wait.  All you need to do is let the little darling stew while you go about the important business of emailing jokes to your friends or playing video games.  You can even go to work if you have a real job and forget about the fact that your pot roast is overcooking.  Yes, this beauty will only require 4 to 6 hours so unless you have a part-time job you best do this when you’re home.

PtRst2

And here it is, ladies and gentlemen!  My mushroom and onion crusted pot roast which was delicious.   The roast created enough juice that I thickened with arrowroot to make a gravy.  And we all lived happily ever after, except I kept making pot roast because I could and we got sick of it.

Moral of the story – It’s not rocket science.  Recipes are best when used as suggestions.  Use your imagination and what you have on hand.  Live on the edge.  Blah blah blah!

Loveya – The Grandma 

Mushrooms in Red Wine

9 Jan

“The peanut is neither a pea nor a nut.” NARQ

So what does the above quote have to do with a recipe for mushrooms in red wine.  Nothing.  I just want to tell you about the mice in our house and the impact on our neighborhood environment.

Whenever mice come in for the winter they generally head for the kitchen drawer that houses jar lids.  Your guess is as good as mine.  The solution to this visit is to set a mousetrap baited with peanut butter.  Problem.  I don’t eat peanuts so I don’t have any peanut butter.  I do have almond butter and, luckily, it works wonderfully.

Part two of mouse visits is the role my husband, Larry, plays in this drama.  It’s his job to check the drawer when he gets home and dispose of the new mouse-of-the-day.  He does this by tossing the mouse out into the snow and magically, by morning, the mouse is gone.  It’s our firm belief that the neighborhood cats, roaming at night, enjoy a midnight snack.

So here’s the problem.  Our neighborhood cats are now accustomed to mouse with just a touch of almond butter.  Is mouse infestation just around the corner unless we find a way to get almond butter on each and every neighborhood mouse?  And you thought you had problems!

So the next question on the agenda is why make a holiday dish, Mushrooms in Red Wine, after the holidays?  You could make this dish because someone gave you a bottle of red wine and you’re not quite sure what to do with it.  I’m making it because it will be a nice addition to my leftover pot roast or to some hamburger patties.  Oh, how festive.  Or lastly, in my world, I’m making it so the house will smell like booze when my husband gets home and he’ll be so worried about me that he’ll forget to complain about his job.  Whatever.

MushB4

Mushrooms with parsley and thyme.

You will notice, when I finally get to the recipe, that the type of mushroom is not specified.  I therefore chose to use three types of mushrooms – button, shiitake, and oyster – because that’s what was available in the produce section and those are the easiest to spell.  (Don’t forget the second “i” in Shiitake.)  This will also give me a chance to report on which mushrooms seem to work the best.  

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound mushrooms

3 cups of pinto noir (or some kind of red wine that isn’t sweet)

3 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh parsley

1 cup chicken stock*

S&P

DISTRUCTIONS:  First, you’ll need to clean the mushrooms.  That means you’re going to remove the stems and wipe off the crowns of the mushrooms to remove any obvious dirt.  You might want to simmer the mushroom stems in some water and make a mushroom stock.  Just a thought.

Place all of the ingredients into a heavy bottom saucepan and simmer, covered, for several hours.  When you finally remember that you have mushrooms simmering on the stove, remove the cover and continue to simmer until the liquid is reduced and slightly thickened.

Remove the parsley and thyme.  Store in the fridge (the mushrooms, not the parsley and thyme) until party/meal time when you’ll want to reheat and place on the buffet in a small crockpot or chaffing dish, or pour directly over your hamburger patty.

Mush2

This was today’s breakfast.  A hamburger patty topped with mushrooms in red wine sauce, with a nod to the word, sauce.  The sauce never thickened.  But it was luscious.  I can’t imagine serving a crockpot of these mushrooms just to nibble on, but I can imagine reheating some cooked chicken in the mushrooms and red wine liquid.

Loveya – The Grandma

* I get my chicken stock by roasting chickens in a crockpot (12/9/13 post) and using the liquid that forms in the bottom of the crockpot.  Extra broth can be frozen.