Charro Beans

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Tools: Instant pot, slow cooker, or stove top

Preparation time: 30 minutes,  4-6 hours on high, 6-8 hours on low, an hour

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Ingredients:

1 Pound pinto beans sorted, soaked overnight, and rinsed

1 Bunch cilantro

2 Cloves garlic

1 Whole onion

1 Jalapeno, seeded and chopped

(this will not add heat, for a spicy pot of beans, add at least three)

1 Can diced tomatoes

3 Slices diced bacon (Optional)

3 Hot dogs cut into rounds

1 Packet bouillon of choice (I’m using ham)

Generous grind of black pepper

Seasoning salt to taste

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Method:

Instant pot: Combine all ingredients, adding water to cover two inches above all ingredients. Set on broth/ soup mode. Allow instant pot to release naturally. Remove cilantro, garlic, and onion. Season to taste with seasoning salt.

Slow cooker: Combine all ingredients, adding water to cover two inches above all ingredients. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-6 hours, adding water as needed. Remove onion, garlic, and cilantro. Season to taste with seasoning salt.

Stove top: Combine all ingredients, adding water to cover two inches above all ingredients. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-6 hours, adding water as needed. Remove cilantro, garlic, and onion. Season to taste with seasoning salt.

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Vegan Variation: Omit bacon. Use vegetable broth. Use your favorite vegan hot dogs.

Kosher variation: Omit bacon. Use vegetable or beef broth. Use your favorite Kosher hot dogs.

Have you ever had food so good you were haunted by it?

I’m talking years! I had Charro beans six years ago. Six! I had them at a wedding that was also a potluck (In my opinion the best way to eat at a wedding.) Unassuming on the buffet, resting atop a can of Sterno. Just a few scoops on my plate. I wasn’t prepared for the flavor. They were amazing. I haven’t had any like them since. Years of asking everyone I know from El Paso and New Mexico. No cherished family recipes! So I’m making my own. All the recipes I looked up instructed cooking the beans in water and then seasoning. You know what’s better than that? Cooking beans in a pot full of flavor. As I’ve told you before, your beans are only as good as your broth.

The right broth packet can make all the difference in your rice, beans, and casseroles.You know about Goya’s Ham broth, but for my Vegan and Kosher cooks, Try out this Goya bouillon with Mexican Saffron. (This does contain MSG if you are gluten sensitive.)

Charro beans are named after the traditional cowboys (charros.) It’s a working man’s dish. Oh, the sweet combination of meats, vegetables, and beans. This broth is like a drug. It might be my favorite one pot meal ever. I also plan on taking it to the next potluck I’m invited to in Carolina. Minds will be blown. Other versions of Charro beans add Linguisa or Chorizo. Use whatever you like. These are your Charro beans.

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Turkey soup with herbed Dumplings

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Tools:

Dutch Oven (or soup pot), crock pot, or instant pot, cheesecloth and some kitchen twine or heat safe rubber bands

Preparation time: Varies on method.

 

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Ingredients:

Soup:

Boquet Garnis (cheesecloth bundle): Any kitchen scraps (herbs, vegetable trimmings, bones) Whole spices you’d rather not fish out of a broth (rosemary, cloves of garlic or peppercorns in my case.) Tied and secured in cheesecloth.

1 tsp. tomato paste

1 cup broth or boillon equivalent

1 cup diced leftover cooked turkey and any remaining gravy

1 can navy beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup baby carrots

1 tbsp each: poultry seasoning, oregano, turmeric, seasoning salt, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika

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Herb dumplings:

1 cup self rising flour

1/4 cup unsweetened milk of choice

1 egg

1 tsp. poultry seasoning, smoked paprika, seasoning salt, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder

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Garnish: Green onions or squeeze of lemon

Method:

Dutch oven: Combine all soup ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and let cook one hour. For a soup with more broth, simmer covered. You may cook this longer, the flavors will only get better! Add water as needed. Season soup to taste. Once soup is finished, whisk together dumpling batter. Drop by rounded tablespoons in gently simmering soup broth. Very important- if you allow your soup to rise to a boil your dumplings will break apart and all will be lost! Cover, allow to gently simmer until dumplings are fully cooked, 15 minutes. Uncover and enjoy.

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Slow cooker: Combine all soup ingredients. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-6. Mix dumpling batter and drop by rounded tablespoon full into soup mixture. Cover, cook on high 1 hour.

Instant pot: Combine all soup ingredients. Cook on soup setting. Transfer mixture to pot on the stove, mix dumpling batter and drop by rounded tablespoon full into soup mixture. Allow soup to rise to a very low simmer and cover, cooking 15 minutes. Very important- if you allow your soup to rise to a boil your dumplings will break apart and all will be lost!

Soup has been used in every culture to heal

Chicken Noodle. Chicken Dumpling. Goulash. Caldo de Res. Sancocho. Clear Noodle Soup. Tom Kha Gai. Pho. The mother of all- Jewish Penicillin -Matzoh Ball Soup. I could go on. The magic combination of broth and aromatics gives the body so many hydrating and sustaining building blocks. More importantly, it warms the soul. If someone makes you soup when you’re sick, you are loved. One of my favorite stories as a child was Stone Soup. It’s a story about someone who has nothing who starts cooking with water and a stone. As the neighbors become curious, everyone adds scraps until a wonderful soup is born and shared with everyone. I loved imagining what this soup made of friendship and community tasted like. If there was one story that represents my heart, it would probably be Stone Soup.

Just smelling a pot of soup simmering me on my stove is the promise that I will kick this immortal cold. Bone broth is really having a food trend moment for the collagen that can be unlocked by cooking. People are touting it as gut healing and skin rejuvinating. There are companies selling bone broth that cannot keep up with demand. People are encouraged to drink two to three cups a day. I am a big believer in what collagen can do for the body. Did you know the reason Jello is served so often in hospitals? It contains collagen. Can you believe you have everything you need to make your very own healing fountain of youth?

Let’s talk Boquet Garnis. It’s a fancy word, no? Think of it like this: Scrap bag. I save my kitchen scraps and throw them in a ziptop bag in the freezer. Chicken bones from rotisserie chicken or even chicken wing bones. Turkey wing tips. Onion and carrot ends. Tomato cores. Green onion trimmings. Ends from fresh herbs. They are saved for a day such as this when I need all the healing I can leach out of them. Scraps don’t need to look pretty, no one will see them and the cheesecloth will keep any small pieces safely inside. Throw them all in a cheesecloth, add any whole spices you wish, secure, and cook. No straining soup for bone pieces or fishing around to get those peppercorns out. When you’re done, wait for it cool, empty, wash your cheesecloth. Ready for reuse!

Why would you put gravy leftovers in your soup? Think of gravy as a bridge between buillon and broth. It’s a concentrated balanced flavor that can do a lot for your soup. What do you think of the extra pictures? Drop me a comment if you like the look.

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Base- A- Roni

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Tools: Saucepan with lid, rice cooker, or instant pot

Preparation time: approximately 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup rice

1 cup vermicelli pasta or pasta of choice (optional)

2 cups broth of choice (can be made with bouillon according to package directions)

2 tbsp. saute spread of choice (butter/ Earth Balance)

2 tbsp. Roasted Ranch ‘Rito spice mix or favorite spice blend of choice

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (optional)

1/4 cup minced onion

1 tsp. salt

Method:

Stove top: On medium high heat, saute onion until translucent. Add rice, pasta and spice blend, toast until rice has a nutty fragrance. Add broth of choice, bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Cover. Cook  mixture according to rice package directions. Uncover, fluff with rice and serve

Instant pot: On saute function, cook onion until translucent. Add rice, pasta and spice blend, toast until rice has a nutty fragrance. Add broth of choice, bring to boil, cook on rice setting. Allow to release, fluff with fork and serve.

Rice Cooker: Toast rice and pasta with spread/butter in a pan separately. Combine all ingredients in rice cooker bowl, set cooker on rice function (white or brown rice), fluff with fork and serve.

Variations:

Beef: Use beef broth

Chicken: Use chicken broth

Garlic and herb: Use vegetable broth, double the amount of spread/butter in recipe to 4 tbs. Add 1 tsp minced garlic or garlic powder and 1 tablespoon dried parsley to the spice mix of choice.

Wild Rice or Brown Rice: Simply substitute wild rice or brown rice and cook according to package directions.

Protein: Make this a one pot meal by adding ground beef when you toast the onion or adding diced chicken. If using Vegan beef or chicken protein crumbles, add at the last 5 minutes of cooking as it does not need a longer cooking time.

Vegetables: Add any you like! Add frozen mixed vegetables or broccoli when sauteing onion.

Indian: Use your favorite Indian spice mix or Add 1 tablespoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and turmeric, 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted coconut, and 2 tablespoons golden raisins before adding vegetable or chicken broth to cover.

Cheesy Broccoli: Add 1 cup frozen or fresh broccoli florets before adding broth. Before serving fold in 1 cup cheddar style cheese (I’m using Daiya Cheddar shreds.)

Asian Style Rice: Substitute favorite Asian spice blend or 1 tbsp. garlic powder, soy sauce and 2 tsp. fresh grated ginger or 1 tsp. ground ginger. Prepare as directed. You may also add a whisked in egg near the end of cooking time, stirring until completely cooked.

Paleo: Substitute cauliflower rice and prepare as directed.

My procrastination in going to the grocery store has become a clean out the pantry challenge.

When I do go to the grocery store, it’s going to be a massive trip. I haven’t figured out how to do this while transporting baby. Wait, I just realized I could wear him in a wrap. Nonetheless, my next shopping trip will be when my parents are in town for additional baby towing power.

I’ve been enjoying using what we have, it feels like a challenge. It’s time for lunch and I open my pantry. Why do I have twelve cans of chickpeas left? I also have about fifteen bags of different kinds of rice. My friend gave me some of her high quality bouillon from Puerto Rico and this recipe is born! I highly recommend you try some of this Goya Ham bullion. It’s the best I’ve ever had.

We don’t need to buy a box of rice, pasta and a salt lick in a packet at an outrageous markup. We can make our own! We can control our ingredients!  We can use whole grains so it has more fiber. We can avoid unnecessary gluten and MSG. And we save money.

When I was a child I took the motto on the box to heart. I imagined San Francisco had chandeliers made of boxed rice mix. I fantasized it was on every trolley. I was a little surprised when I visited the first time and discovered it was only at the grocery store like everywhere else.” The San Francisco treat, my foot!” Fortunately I also visited Chinatown and Ghiradelli and my food related expectations of this beautiful city were salvaged. Once you have crispy duck you tend to forget about packaged side dishes. (Yes, I was still a child when I visited.)

I call this Base-A-Roni because it really is a base for any flavors you would like. Please try it or let me know if you come up with any variations!

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Curry in a hurry

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Tools: Saucepan with lid, instant pot, slow cooker

Preparation time: Varies based on cooking method

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas, rinsed

1 diced potato, skin well scrubbed or peeled

1/4 cup frozen peas

1/4 cup onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 cup broth of choice (vegetable, chicken, beef)

4 tbsp. tomato paste (may add more if you like)

1/2 cup full fat coconut milk with 2 tbsp. flour or cornstarch whisked in

1 tbsp. saute oil of choice or butter or ghee

1 tsp. cinnamon, cayenne pepper (optional), cinnamon, turmeric

1 bay leaf

2 tbsp. curry powder, Garam Masala, onion powder, smoked paprika

salt to taste after recipe is fully cooked

Method:

Stove top: Saute onion in saute oil of choice until translucent, add garlic, diced potatoes and all spices, cooking until fragrant. Add broth, chickpeas, peas, and tomato paste. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover. Cook for thirty minutes. Uncover, bring to boil, add coconut milk/flour mixture and boil an additional 5 minutes or until sauce coats the back of a spoon. Adjust sauce to your liking, adding salt and additional seasonings, remove bay leaf. Serve with rice and naan bread.

Instant pot: Saute onion in saute oil of choice until translucent, add garlic, diced potatoes and all spices, cooking until fragrant. Add broth, chickpeas, peas, and tomato paste. Cook on manual for 15 minutes. Release, bring to boil, add coconut milk/flour mixture and boil using sauté function an additional 5 minutes or until sauce coats the back of a spoon. Adjust sauce to your liking, adding salt and additional seasonings. Remove bay leaf. Serve with rice and naan bread.

Crock pot: Omit saute oil, add all ingredients except coconut milk/ flour mixture and salt. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-6 hours. You can lessen the cooking time if you need to as there is no meat. Move mixture to pot on the stove, bring to boil, add coconut/flour mixture. Boil 15 minutes or until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Adjust sauce to your liking, adding salt and additional seasonings. Remove bay leaf. Serve with rice and naan bread.

Garnishes: Toasted coconut, cilantro, toasted fennel seeds, pomegranate seeds, saffron

Variations: You may add diced firm tofu,  goat, lamb or chicken in the beginning as you saute the onion. Continue with the recipe as normal.

Have fun adding whatever vegetables you like.You may also add cauliflower, diced squash, diced sweet potato, or carrots when you add the potato to the pan.

You may also whisk in 1/4 cup plain yogurt once removed from heat for additional creaminess.

For more of a tomato based sauce, omit tomato paste and substitute  small can of tomato sauce.

You may also add sliced almonds when you add coconut milk mixture.

I love Indian food but I don’t always love the price tag.

I completely understand the price because funding exotic ingredients can cost a pretty Rupee! My cravings for Indian food have led me to get creative and make my own. I’ve been nailing down a curry recipe for a while, balancing these flavors is completely new to me. It’s like learning a new language. I love that writing this food blog has increased my knowledge of web page design, food styling, and now Indian cuisine.

My tastes veer towards creamier Indian dishes, so my best friend coconut milk makes an appearance. I use hardly any cayenne pepper, so please feel free to tinker with the heat level as much as you like. This recipe really comes into its own the next day after the flavors have a chance to blend. If I were having company I would even consider making this the day before!

This recipe is wonderfully thrifty and versatile. You can use almost whatever you have on hand, make it vegan, paleo, and gluten free. Research has also shown a diet high in spices like turmeric to be incredibly healthy! I like to serve a side of basmati rice with a handful of golden rasins, saffron, and shredded coconut tossed in when cooking. For my paleo friends, go to your old standby cauliflower rice.

In Germany I absolutely could not find Garam Masala. Luckily, a thoughtful friend who travelled to the States brought me back a hefty spice jar full. I wish I had known Amazon carried this spice so affordably.

This recipe goes out to someone who has been my friend for 16 years! He requested and I am too happy to oblige. May this sustain you body and soul.

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Cheater’s Chicken and Gravy

 

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Tools:

Whisk, crock pot, saucepan and lid or instant pot

Ingredients:

4 pieces boneless chicken of choice (Does not need to be defrosted!)

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon season salt

fresh ground pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika

1 cup water

2 tbsp. saute oil of choice

Method:

Instant pot: Poach chicken using tray insert. (pour water in bottom, place frozen chicken on top of metal steam tray) Set on meat setting or manual for 30 minutes. Once instant pot is done, dredge chicken in flour/ spice mixture, pressing to get a good coating.

Remove cooking water (now homemade broth) into another bowl, whisk in remaining flour where you have dredged chicken.

On saute’ setting, add oil and brown floured chicken. Set aside once both sides are brown.

Stirring constantly, add broth/ flour mixture back to instant pot. Cook until gravy is thickened to your liking. Add chicken back to pot. Serve.

Slow cooker Method:

Add chicken and water to slow cooker. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-6 hours. Remove chicken, dredge in flour and spice mixture. Saute’ in oil on stove top pan,  browning both sides. Set chicken aside.

Whisk remaining flour in broth in slow cooker. Transfer to stove top pan, stirring constantly on medium heat until gravy is thickened to your liking. Add chicken to gravy, serve.

Variations:

Gluten free: Substitute cornstarch for flour easily, your chicken will have a crunchier coating.

Ensure you whisk cornstarch into broth thoroughly so your gravy has no lumps.

Season with whatever you like, and always season to taste.

Happy belated Mother’s Day from the trenches of Motherhood.

As I type, I have a sleeping baby on me that wakes up the minute I put him down. He’s as large as a frozen butterball turkey, so my clavicle might dislocate at any time. The great news is he’s warm and clean and happily snoring.

This is my first time celebrating as a mother. It means a lot to me as our son was born early and had to stay in the hospital for a time. I’ll never forget the dinging of the monitors, for months I heard it anytime there was any kind of droning noise. Seeing babies smaller than ours gave me a sense of perspective some people will never understand.

I was an emergency C-Section. I endured severe agony for months getting my child to nurse, I would do it all again a million times if it helped our baby even a fraction. This is the gift of motherhood. This is the gift of fighting hard for what you love. I have never known a love this fierce and unyielding. You hear people talk about a Mother’s love, but I had no idea until this year.

As for daily mom life, it is crazy. This recipe is great for those days. There’s no defrosting! Put it in with water, brown it, and gravy it! It’s from scratch and let me tell you, it’s good. This was adapted from a Carolina recipe.

I love it because I hate futzing with raw chicken. This way you use the flour for both the dredging and gravy application. There’s no going back and forth with egg and flour making a mess. Sometimes from scratch can be easy.

It’s pictured with my microwave mashed potatoes and country style green beans. This is some husband pleasing food, and they will never know it was easy.

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Back Pocket Turkey Roast

IMG_5259Tools: Instant pot, slow cooker or oven

Preparation time: approximately 5 minutes

Ingredients:

1 5 lb. boneless turkey roast or turkey breast roast (If you feel like a bit of carving)

1 cup white wine

1 cup chicken or turkey broth

baby carrots and diced peeled potatoes (optional)

1/8 cup minced onion

2 tbsp. flour mixed with 2 tbsp. water

(Substitute corn starch if gluten free)

1/8 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper

2 tbsp. oil of choice to saute’

Method:

Instant pot: Saute onion in oil, brown roast on all sides. Add carrots and potatoes, deglaze with broth and wine. Add all ingredients except flour/cornstarch mixture . Set instant pot on meat setting. Once complete, remove turkey and set pot to saute function. Once mixture is bubbling, add flour mixture, stirring constantly until thick. Slice turkey and serve with gravy.

Crock pot: combine all ingredients except flour mixture (omit saute oil.) Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-6. Remove broth mixture and boil with flour mixture on high, stirring until gravy is thick. Slice turkey ,serve.

Oven: Combine all ingredients in oven safe dish, bake at 350 until thermometer registers 165 degrees on the thickest part of turkey. Boil broth with flour mixture until gravy is thickened. Carve turkey and serve with gravy.

She has another recipe with gravy? You bet!

 I could eat turkey every day. This past year as I was recovering from my most invasive surgery on Thanksgiving day, we still had turkey. I was standing in the kitchen giving my husband orders, as I was not cleared to do ANYTHING. We were very happy, as we had just brought our baby home. Even though the stuffing came from a bag and the pie filling came from a can, it was one of our happiest Thanksgivings.

This is a back pocket roast because you throw everything in and leave it. It’s easy to keep a roast in the freezer and let it defrost overnight. The white wine really adds some depth to this. Of course, fresh ground pepper doesn’t hurt. Make this a one pot meal with carrots and potatoes. Easy cleanup all around!

Let me remind you about my amazing pepper grinder All the delicious pepper, none of the wrist work.

You better believe this can go with my microwave mashed potatoes and my country style green beans. You’ll eat like a king! You want a mighty fine turkey sandwich? Use this turkey and put gravy on one side of your bread and good quality mayo on the other with a generous grind of pepper. Thank me later.

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New Mexican Refried beans

 

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Tools: Instant pot, or crock pot, or stove top

Prep time: Varies on method

Ingredients:

1 pound dried pinto beans, (The lighter in color the better, fresher beans- such as from a bulk source are best) sorted of any broken or shrunken beans or stones, rinsed, and soaked in water overnight. (Discard any floating beans)

1/4 cup shortening or 2 pieces raw bacon

1 tablespoon salt

2 tbsp. all purpose flour (optional)

Method:

Instant pot: Pressure cook beans on manual setting thirty minutes. Remove pieces of bacon, use saute function and mash beans with potato masher or immersion blender. Add flour, continue to mash until desired consistency is reached.

Slow cooker: Cook on high 4-6 hours or low 8-10 hours. Please check bean texture ensuring beans are fully cooked! Skins will begin to separate from beans with fully cooked. Remove beans with slotted spoon and transfer to a pan on medium heat. Gradually add existing broth from slow cooker and flour, mashing until desired consistency is reached.

Stove top: Cook beans on medium heat until they are fully cooked. This can take anywhere from 2-3 hours it really depends on many factors. Check beans and add water as needed until fully cooked (skins will begin to separate from beans when done.) Remove beans with slotted spoon and transfer to a pan on medium heat. Gradually add existing broth from slow cooker and flour, mashing until desired consistency is reached.

Variations:

Gluten free- omit flour and mash, adding water until desired consistency is reached. If desired, substitute 2 tbsp. cornstarch

You may also add onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and garlic to your broth while cooking the beans.

Instead of bacon, you can also substitute a ham bone to bring flavor to your broth.

I have also used black beans and they are excellent!

Tip: Soaking beans overnight before cooking makes them easier on the digestive system.

The first time I had real Refried beans, I had an existential crisis.

What had I been eating from the can all these years? Was it dog food in disguise? I simply could not believe the difference in taste real Refried beans had. This is from someone who omitted rice and ordered double beans at Mexican restaurants.

This is another recipe from my New Mexican oracle- the Mother in Law. An important lesson I learned about beans- taste your broth and season it until you like it before mashing. Your beans are only as good as their broth. And oh, these are good. On a fresh tortilla (with cheese if you can have it,) or with some fried potatoes…or with eggs and Chorizo…I really love Refried beans.

Did I mention they only take 30 minutes in the instant pot? Can you believe it? Hours of checking and stirring condensed into a flavorful thirty minutes. Magic. To buy your own version of the instant pot I use, click here. (Help me get a small commission no matter what you buy!)

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