Hasty Tasty Chili

We love chili around our house, any variety. Beef or turkey, with or without beans, with or without pasta, with or without corn, Cincinnati-style or Tex-Mex chili, mild or mouth-blistering, we’ll eat it. I like to make chili with a cooked-all-day flavor that takes only an hour. It can be done! All you need is a pressure cooker. 

I’m currently at work on my new cookbook, HASTY TASTY MEALS UNDER PRESSURE, experimenting with all our favorites using a pressure cooker. Mine is twenty years old, and has all the safety features missing from earlier models. But newer cookers are available now, including the electric models that have push-button selections and timers. I haven’t tried one yet, but my friend swears by hers.

Here is my latest version of chili using the pressure cooker method. You certainly can use canned chili beans and cut the cooking time, but cooking from dried gives me more control over my ingredients. However, I use canned corn if fresh is out of season (after rinsing and draining).

Don’t want to use a pressure cooker? No problem. Adapt the recipe for your slow cooker and cook on Low for 6 hours, or until beans are tender. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

RECIPE

Hasty Tasty Chili

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 pound ground lean meat or turkey
  • 1 pound dried pinto beans (I make an assortment of pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, and red or pink beans)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon chili seasoning (I use Bloemer‘s brand)
  • 1 10 oz. can Rotel® diced tomatoes and green chilies (Pick your heat level)
  • 1 16 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 15 oz. can whole kernel corn or 2 cups fresh corn kernels (Optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 32 oz. filtered water (or replace some of the water with a bottle or can of beer)
  • Kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Spray inside of a six-quart/liter pressure cooker pot with cooking spray. Preheat over medium.
  2. Add meat, stirring occasionally to brown. When meat starts browning, add the onions and garlic.
  3. Stir in chili seasoning.
  4. After rinsing and inspecting dried beans for any debris, spread the beans over the browned meat mixture.
  5. Cover the beans with the contents of the can of corn (optional). Add the filtered water and bay leaf (be sure beans are completely covered with liquid).
  6. Close pressure cooker, increase heat to medium/high, and watch closely for it to reach pressure. When pressure valve jiggles, lower heat to the lowest setting possible while maintaining pressure. (Most models emit a low hiss when at correct pressure. If your cooker makes a lot of noise, lower the heat)
  7. Once cooker reaches pressure, time for 40 minutes.*
  8. Remove from heat and allow pressure to drop on its own, approximately ten minutes.
  9. Carefully open the cooker (watch that steam!) and check beans for tenderness. They should be a bit firm at this point. Add the contents of the cans of Rotel and tomato sauce. Stir, close cooker, and bring back to pressure.
  10. Cook an additional 10 minutes under pressure. After pressure drops on its own for 10 minutes, release pressure and open the cooker.
  11. Test for seasoning and add salt to taste. Stir and serve with your choice of toppings.

*Pressure cookers vary by model. You may need more time if your cooker is 10 psi instead of 15 psi. As you use your cooker, you’ll learn to judge its cooking time. Just remember, it’s easy to quick-release pressure, check your food, and then return to pressure for additional cooking time. Also, the new electric cookers take the guesswork out of timing.

Leave a comment

Filed under beans, Chili and Stew, Healthful Eating, kitchen equipment, Recipes, Soups & Stews

Chili Beef Casserole

I’m always scouting ideas and recipes for covered dish dinners, whether it’s for a church social or a party. I want to contribute food with universal appeal yet healthful. Here’s one such recipe: Chili Beef Casserole. It’s reasonably low-fat, and the whole grain pasta is “smart-carb.” The chili seasoning gives it a Tex-Mex flavor. Choose your heat level based on the Rotel® you buy. We prefer medium, but you can choose either mild or hot.

RECIPE


CHILI BEEF CASSEROLE

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. chili seasoning
  • 8 oz. dried whole grain pasta, cooked al dente
  • 1 10 oz. can Rotel® tomatoes and green chilies
  • 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • nonstick cooking spray (Pam®)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet (sprayed with Pam®) over medium heat, saute the onions until softened.
  2. Add the ground beef and brown, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the garlic and chili seasoning and cook for 30 seconds, just enough to “bloom” the spices.
  4. Add Rotel® and tomato sauce. Reduce heat to low and cover skillet. 
  5. Cook just until the mixture is warmed through.
  6. Meanwhile, spray a 10″ X 14″ baking dish with Pam®. 
  7. Spread the cooked macaroni into the baking dish.
  8. Pour meat mixture over the macaroni. Gently toss with tongs.
  9. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top, tent with aluminum foil (do not allow foil to touch the cheese), and allow cheese to melt. Serve.
  10. To make ahead, you can cover and refrigerate after step 8. Add the cheese right before heating, and cook the next day in a 350° preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Note: I’ve made this dish with lean ground turkey, and it’s delicious.😉

100_1408

Leave a comment

Filed under Healthful Eating

Perfect Carrots

Carrots are a root vegetable. Carrots are nutritious, delicious, and inexpensive (even the organic ones). They typically are colored orange and contain carotenes (B, A, Z), lutein, and zeaxanthin. Carrots are rich in fiber, too.

If you think carrots are tasteless, perhaps you’ve been served carrots boiled to death in water. My mother-in-law says my carrots are the best, better than any restaurant. What’s earned me such high praise? Want to know my secret? 

Two rules: One, buy good carrots. Pass up those baby cut carrots and buy whole organic carrots. (Bunny Love is available where I shop, and they are organic) Second, don’t let your carrots touch water while cooking

Three methods I use to cook carrots, depending on time restraints: One, I steam over low heat in my waterless cookware (KitchenCraft, 360 Cookware by Americraft, or similar brands). No water. Just gentle, slow cooking. Takes about twenty minutes. Two, pressure cook for four minutes under pressure in a basket above the water. Do not submerge carrots in water! Water leaches out flavor and nutrients. Occasionally, I stir-fry carrots with other vegetables in very little oil in a hot skillet.

Preparing carrots takes only a little time. Peel or scrub, depending on your preference. I let appearance be my guide. If the peels look fairly clean, I scrub them with a vegetable brush and leave them on. If not, I peel. 

Slice in similar size pieces for even cooking. I like cutting diagonally but any slice style works. The smaller the size, the shorter the cooking time. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2 Comments

Filed under Carrots, Healthful Eating, Vegetables

Survival Food

After the hurricane season of 2004 (when Francis knocked out our power for almost a week and then Jeanne hit three weeks later to knock it out again), I vowed to prepare for hurricane season every year. We bought a generator, yet it limits us to how much gasoline we can store to run it. Recently, one of my favorite cookbook authors and travel writers, Janet Groene, released a comprehensive book that covers preparedness for emergencies titled THE SURVIVAL FOOD HANDBOOK –Provisioning at the Supermarket for Your Boat, Camper, Vacation Cabin, and Home Emergencies. (Visit her amazon.com page to see her available books.)

51bz6phagwl-_uy250_

We’re RVers, and I originally discovered Janet Groene through Family Motor Coaching magazine. How delighted I was when she moved to my area of Florida and we finally met in person! She writes weekly articles for her blogs, including SoloWomanRV.blogspot.com and CampandRVCook.blogspot.com. You can read all about Janet’s credentials here.

Janet and I recently lunched at Dixie Grill, one of our favorite local diners, and I asked about the new book.

Me: Survival Food reminds me of Doomsday.

Janet:  Prepping isn’t just for doomsday. It’s for anyone who journeys by boat or camper, who has a vacation home, or who wants to be able to put on a meal for unexpected company. Power outages and other emergencies happen but there are also the good times, when extra food allows you to linger longer in a great campsite or secluded harbor.

Me: Are you talking about MRE foods? Those are expensive.

Janet: MREs are expensive, which is why I write about preparing your own with inexpensive food purchased from your local supermarket.

Me: Now you have my attention! Tell me more about this book.

Janet: The book is a guide to shopping the supermarket for shelf foods to make familiar dishes. No pricey survival supplies are needed. Chapters cover how to shop, plan and stow. Every recipe in the book is made with shelf-stable ingredients to aid in any provisioning plan.  Also in the book are tips on baking without an oven, what to do when the power is off for a long period and clean-up after a food or fire.

Me: Sounds like a book everyone can use! May I share an excerpt?

Janet: Absolutely!

RECIPE

Chickenacho Casserole

Serves 4–6

Use drained canned chicken or reconstituted chicken bites. Tortillas can be homemade, from the supermarket shelf, or long-life tortillas from specialty suppliers.

  • 3 to 4 cups cooked, bite-size chicken pieces
  • 2 to 3 cups torn corn tortillas
  • 1 can condensed cream of onion soup
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes (mild, medium, or hot)
  • 10-ounce jar cheese spread such as Cheeze-Whiz

Spray a large, nonstick skillet. Scatter chicken bits in the bottom and top with torn tortillas. Spoon by spoon, distribute soup, tomatoes, and cheese evenly over the top. Cover tightly and cook over low flame until everything is heated t

I won’t wait until an emergency to make this dish. This one certainly fits the category of a Hasty Tasty Meal. Thank you, Janet Groene, for sharing.

2 Comments

Filed under Healthful Eating

Solar Power! Make sun tea.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Florida isn’t called the Sunshine State for nothing. We have plenty of sunshine, and in the summer it can be relentless. But my daddy raised me to find the silver lining in every cloud (or cloudless sky), and here’s how I capitalize on all that bright, sunny weather. Sun tea!

I’ve had sun tea that tasted, well, … nasty. I didn’t think I liked sun tea, tea snob that I am. Turns out, the stuff I’d sampled had been brewed too long. Sun tea is safe and easy if you do it right. One hour is all you need. Well…one hour and bright sunshine. ☼

I prefer my tea medium strength so I use three family-size teabags per gallon tea. You may want to use four. (If you like sweet tea, boil equal parts sugar and water in a pan for a simple syrup to stir in after you brew your tea.)

Sun Tea

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart cold water + 3 quarts cold water*
  • 3-4 family size teabags

Directions:

  1. In a glass container (I use quart canning jars), add the teabags to 1 quart cold water.
  2. Close the lid and place jar in full sun.
  3. Set timer for one hour.(Too long and the tea turns bitter.)
  4. Pour 3 quarts cold water into a 1 gallon pitcher. Add the sun tea and stir (at this point, you may add your simple syrup to make sweet tea).
  5. Pour over ice and enjoy with a slice of lemon or lime.

*Use filtered water if you have chemicals or minerals in your drinking water. I use a Brita® pitcher.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Healthful Eating

Tilapia

Tilapia is a wonder food. Mild, adaptable, and plentiful, it cooks quickly and can be prepared in a variety of ways. My favorite method (and it’s the quickest) is to steam over low heat in a covered skillet. No oil, no batter, no breading…just a few seasonings like lemon pepper and/or garlic salt. Even frozen, it’s done within 10-15 minutes. Fresh cooks faster. When preparing a meal, I typically cook my tilapia last. I don’t want to risk overcooking it, and I certainly don’t want to serve it cold.

When you shop for tilapia, keep in mind the recommendations of the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Buy farmed-in-USA if available. Aquaculture is suited to the tilapia, making it a sustainable fish. If USA isn’t available, buy from Costa Rica, Equador, Honduras, or Brazil farms. Do not buy tilapia farmed in China or Taiwan! (For more information, consult the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Watch List.)

Tilapia is not a new fish. It’s most plentiful in Africa and the Middle East and is believed to be the fish Saint Peter caught. In the miracle of the loaves and fishes (Matthew 14:15-21) Jesus served the crowd of 5,000 from two tilapia and five loaves of bread. Bible scholars also believe tilapia was abundant in the Sea of Galilee (Lake of Tiberius) and would’ve been the fish Jesus served his disciples when He revealed Himself after the resurrection. That’s why some refer to tilapia as either Jesus’ fish or Saint Peter’s fish. 

All I know is it’s delicious and nutritious, perfect for a Hasty Tasty Meal!

100_1387

1 Comment

Filed under Fish, Healthful Eating, tilapia

Summer Pasta and Chickpea Salad

Just to reduce our consumption of red meat and for a change of pace, we observe Meat-free Mondays. I’m looking for creative dishes for my Monday menu. Here’s one that I modified from a Lidia Bastianich recipe featured in a recent issue of AARP The Magazine. I changed the dressing and added garbanzo beans (chickpeas) for more protein and fiber. 

So with apologies to Lidia, here is my recipe:

Summer Pasta and Chickpea Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cooked farfalle (Bow tie) pasta
  • 2 pounds grape tomatoes, halved
  • 12 ounces prepared fat-free Italian dressing
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or 2 cups cooked chickpeas)
  • 6-8 leaves fresh basil, cut into small ribbons

Directions:

  1. In the bottom of a large bowl, combine the garlic and Italian dressing. 
  2. Toss pasta in the dressing.
  3. Add tomatoes, basil leaves, and chickpeas. Fold gently into pasta.
  4. Cover and marinate at room temperature one hour (or in refrigerator overnight).
  5. Serve garnished with the mozzarella.



1 Comment

Filed under Healthful Eating