Saturday, October 30, 2010


This is not a meal to make in an hour.  Repeat, this is not a meal to make in an hour.  However, I thought I would post how to make chili.  It is the weekend and I usually fix a little more elaborate meals on the weekend.  We often have guests for dinner, so they are usually good for a crowd.  Making chili is not difficult.  Trust me, if it was hard, I wouldn't do it very often.  It does take time.   The first thing you have to do is make Brown Beans (yummy!).  I know it seems silly to make Brown Beans and then not eat them, they are so good just the way they are with fried potatoes and cornbread.  That is a meal worth shouting about.  Yahoo!  If you don't know what I mean by Brown Beans, I am talking Pintos.  Around here we just call them Brown.  Why, I know not.  But it might make an interesting research project for a homeschool kid.  So, you will learn to do two meals in one.  To make Brown Beans...use dried pintos (not canned, ugh).  I always make a bunch, don't know why I just do.  I usually have enough beans or chili to feed four times the number in my family.  Oh well.  Try this for measuring, but I really don't know, 1/2 cup of dried pintos per person.  Pick out all the broken, weird looking, or moldy beans.  Rinse well.  Place in a large stock pot and fill with water.  Salt, don't skimp.  I like to use Kosher, but you use what you have.  Just put plenty.  Then Pepper, not too much.  This is important, Bacon Grease.  When I cook bacon, I save the bacon grease in a jar in my refrigerator.  If you don't have bacon grease, you can use bacon, I just don't like the slimy bits in my beans or chili.  Put on the lid and simmer.  Stir occasionally and add water as needed.  Cook until beans are tender.  Taste.  Add salt if needed. Do not add water near the end or the beans will be watery and that is not good. Now you have Brown Beans.  To make Chili...
Brown 1 lb. of ground beef in a skillet. Season with salt and pepper.  Add 3 Tbsp of Williams Chili Seasoning.  Williams is available at most grocery stores.  I buy it in a jar from Sam's.  But it comes in packets.  Ignore the directions on the packet or jar.
Add to beans.
Add 2 small cans tomato sauce
Add 1 can of rotel tomatoes
Then add 3 more tbsp of Williams Chili Seasoning
Sprinkle a little Cumin on top of the pot.
Sometimes, I add some minced garlic.  Depends on my mood.  Some Turmeric is good too, but not too much.
The chili should have a deep reddish color.  It should smell delicious.  Your pan may be messy.  Don't sweat it, it will wash.  It is worth the effort.
Serve over Fritoes, top with grated cheddar, a little chopped onion, and some guacamole and sour cream.  Yummy!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pizza Pasta

Tonight is Friday!  Yeah!  With two Band nerds in the family, we have a football game to go to.  Dinner must be yummy, quick, and easy.  Here is one of our favorites, Pizza Pasta...
Boil 2 cups of Penne Pasta (I did three)
While the Pasta is boiling cook the meat.
1lb. of Ground Beef or Sausage
Drain the pasta and the meat.
Mix together with a large jar of spaghetti sauce (feel free to make your own, you need two to three cups, its not hard) and about 2-3 cups of grated mozzarella cheese. I cheated and used jarred sauce, I was in a hurry. Stir well.  Place in baking dish.  Top with more cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly and the cheese is melted.  About 20 minutes.

That's it!  Serve with hot Italian Bread, or Garlic Bread or "The Bread" from the PioneerWomanCooks.
Add a Tossed Salad and you have a yummy meal.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Curried Pork Chops with Pineapple Salsa, Black Beans, Homemade Tortillas, and Guacamole

This is really a Summery dish.  I had one package of pork chops left from the last hog and needed to use them.  When I decided to fix this meal earlier in the week is was still rather warm.  Oh well, it was yummy.  Not hard.  It does require some advanced planning if you want to do it quickly.

Black Beans
1 lb package of Black Beans, dried
Onion, chopped
Garlic, 2-3 cloves, smashed
Salt and Pepper
Chicken Broth (optional)
I will give you two ways to cook these.  I cooked them on my stove top.  You can also put everything in a crock pot in the morning and the will be done by dinner.  Put everything in a pot except the Turmeric and Cumin, and cover with water about 2-3 inches above the beans.  If using Chicken Broth add it and then additional water as needed.  Cook, slowly until beans are tender.  Add water as needed if they boil dry, but before they scorch. (Yuck)  About an hour before dinner, when you start to prepare the other dishes, add the Turmeric (just a little, about 1/4 tsp) and Cumin.  Stir, and allow to simmer until dinner is ready.

Curried Pork Chops
(This is a recipe adapted from Southern Living Magazine along time ago)
2 tbsp of Curry Powder
1tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp fresh ground Black Pepper
Mix together and Rub on both sides of Pork Chops.
Cover and let rest until time to cook.
Cook on the grill until done.

Pineapple Salsa
2 cups fresh Pineapple, chopped
1/2 red onion chopped
2-3 tbsp Cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
Salt and Pepper
Toss pineapple, onion and cilantro together.  In a small bowl stir with a fork remaining ingredients together.  Pour over pineapple mixture.  Stir well.  Let stand for 2 hours. (Or whatever.)

Homemade Tortillas
These are really easy, so don't freak out. They are worth the time.  My kids eat them solo.   Normally, I use Masa Harina (which is available at local markets)  but I was out.  I know not what it really is, it is just used to make tortillas, that is enough for me.  Follow the directions on the package (like flour).  Find it in the Mexican Food section of your market.  No need to panic.  I used the recipe from  This recipe was easy too, and worked fine.  I prefer the Masa Harina ones.  Just my personal preference.  However, it is just another ingredient to buy and Pioneer Woman's used regular flour and baking powder.  So whatever makes you smile.

The Guacamole
This is probably the hardest part. It is hard because I don't really measure.  I do it by smell and looks.   But mostly chopping.
4 Avacadoes
Cut in half, remove flesh with a spoon.  Smash.  (Side note:  The avacadoes should be soft, yielding to gentle pressure.  The ones I used tonight were not soft enough and made for some weird Guac)
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
Cilantro, (I like the stuff so I use a lot, you use as much as you like),chopped (use your kitchen shears)
Mix Ingredients together, smashing the avocados as you stir.
A couple squirts of lime juice
Chili Powder
Cumin  (I love Cumin, but don't use too much.  One time the lid came off while I was sprinkling it in the Guac, and it was not good.  There was no way to save it.)
Salt and Pepper
Stir Well.

This seems like a lot of cooking, but really it is not that bad.  I always have someone else do the grilling.  So the only thing that took time was the beans and those you can do in a crock pot, and the tortillas because there was so many of them. Tortillas are cooked one at a time.   Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ham and Baked Potatoes, Grilled Pineapple, Cheddar Bacon and Chive Biscuits

I happen to have a real sliced ham in the freezer.  We are trying to eat all the pork we have since we recently sent a hog to freezer camp and expect him to return any day.  First I mixed a glaze for the ham, it is already smoked, so I don't need to do much more than heat it.
1/4 to 1/2 cup orange juice
a handful of brown sugar
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
Mix together and spoon over ham before placing in the oven. And again about 15 minutes before the ham is done. Sorry for the vagueness, this is the way I cook most of the time.  I usually smell it to see if it smells good.
I placed the ham in the dish and spooned some glaze over it, covered it with foil and put it in the oven to bake.
Baked Potatoes
Wash potatoes, then dry, rub all over with Crisco or other shortening.
Place in a cast iron skillet and bake at 400 degrees until tender when stabbed with a fork.  The outside skin should get crisp.  (yum!)
Grilled Pineapple
Slice Pineapple in rings about 1/4inch thick or so.  You don't have to be exact.
Heat grill.  When hot, toss the rings on the grill, turning once.  You want grill marks on both sides, and for the Pineapple to caramelize.
Now for the biscuits.. I use the recipe for Drop (we call them Ugly) Biscuits in my "Joy of Cooking" cookbook.  Any recipe will do, just add a little extra liquid.  Add a handful of grated cheddar, 3-4 slices of bacon (cooked crisp and crumbled), and some chopped chives.  I used Garlic Chives, it is what I had in the herb bed.  You can bake them as drop biscuits, if you don't mind ugly or with a little extra liquid you can put them in muffin tins and bake.  Either way, they will taste delicious.
For those who want a vegetable, add a salad or other veggie that is simple to cook.  I will probably fix some broccoli.  To cook broccoli... Take frozen broccoli place in pan.  Run a little water over the top.  Sprinkle with Kosher salt, red pepper and add two cloves of garlic, smashed.  Heat with lid on until bright green.  Remove from heat until ready to serve.
I cooked several slices of bacon, some for the biscuits and some for the baked potatoes.  To do this, place sliced bacon on a baking sheet (it must have an edge)  and place in oven on 400 degrees for 10 minutes or so, until crisp.  Remove bacon to paper towels on a plate to drain.  Super easy way to cook lots of bacon, and another perk it comes out flat.
My kitchen helper (Molly Jo) made the biscuits.
Super easy meal that was delicious.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Tonight we shall have pizza.  Mostly because the Italian Bread I was making takes 6+ hours and so won't be ready to go with dinner.  So I changed my mind about dinner and we are having pizza.  I make two large pizzas with thin crust.  I make it all from scratch.  Doesn't take that much longer.  I will show you...
The Crust  Pizza Dough Recipe
2+cups of flour
a handful of Parmesan
about a tsp of salt
a sprinkle of dried Basil
2-3 tsps of yeast
1 1/2 cups of warm water
Mix all the dry ingredients with a fork, then slowly add the water while stirring.  You may not need all the water.  Then dump the dough on the counter sprinkled with a little flour and knead a few minutes, this is not hard, nor does it take long, just a few minutes.  Fold the dough, press with the heel of your hand, turn the dough a quarter turn, repeat.  Place in a bowl with a little olive oil in the bottom, use the dough to spread it all around the sides of the bowl, then turn the dough over.  Cover with a towel, and set somewhere near the stove (not too near, you don't want the towel to catch fire), but somewhere a little warm to rise.
Parenthetical Note without Parentheses
In an effort to take pictures for this blog, I forgot to add the yeast until I started to knead the dough.  Ugh.  No worries.  I hadn't used all the warm water so I put the yeast in the warm water, stirred.  Sprinkled some extra flour on the counter and on the dough, made a dent in the dough and poured the yeast and water in it, then kneaded it some more.  We will see if it works, if not... we will start over.

 While the dough is rising...
Cook the meat.  We are using hamburger, which was still frozen when I was ready to cook it, but that is okay, I cook it that way all the time.  Salt and pepper it.  You can use sausage, pepperoni, chicken, whatever.  Just get it ready while the dough is raising.
The Sauce
1 can of tomato sauce (I used home canned tomato sauce in a jar)
A handful of Parmesan
1 tsp of Oregano
1/4 tsp of Basil (I put a little more, I like Basil)
1tsp Minced Garlic
3/4 tsp Onion Powder
A sprinkle of crushed red pepper
2 tbsp of honey
Stir together and let sit while the meat cooks and the dough raises.  At this point you can make a salad if you like that kind of thing.  We just eat pizza and sometime Nacho Cheese Doritoes.
When the dough is about twice as big, or to use the cooking term "doubled," you are ready to "roll" out the crust.  I just use my hands to spread it and stretch it.  I divide the dough into two equal portions to make two pizzas.  Spread it to cover the entire pizza pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Spread half of the sauce on each pizza, add your meat and top with mozzarella cheese.  Bake for 15 to 20 more minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.  We like it a little browned.  If you want a softer crust, skip the baking the crust before you put sauce on it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Just for Fun! Beans, Cornbread, and Fried Potatoes for 100!

Just for fun, not that you would need to know very often, but I did this for supper this evening.
About 9 am, take two 10lb bags of pinto beans, wash them, pick out the broken or yucky looking ones and the ones that aren't pintos and place them in two turkey roasters.  (The electric kind like you cook a turkey in that sits on the counter top.  Add water until the roaster pan is full.  Sprinkle quite a bit of salt and pepper on them.  Add some bacon grease or ham.  (I used ham tonight.)  Turn roaster on to about 400 degrees.  Let cook all day, stirring occasionally and adding water as needed.  This is actually a little too much for the two roasters so have a crock pot handy to move some of the beans to if it seems too full.

While the beans are cooking...
Make the Brownies, follow the directions on the boxes.  Make two boxes of 4 packages of brownie mix.  Pour in two half sheet cookie sheets.  Bake as directed.
Next take 20 lbs. of potatoes, wash and slice thinly.  On three half sheet baking pans melt about 4 sticks of butter each (this was a little much butter, you could use less).  Toss the potatoes in the butter and spread on the baking sheets, preferably only one layer thick.  Bake in oven until, brown and crisp, about 325 degrees.  Stir once or twice while baking.  You will bake and empty each pan and refill it, using the same butter.  When you remove them from the oven, have a large aluminum pan lined with paper towels and spoon the potatoes into it, leaving most of the butter for the next potatoes.  Salt generously.  Keep warm in oven on low.

Next, using cornmeal mix make eight times the recipe on the package.  Pour on to two half sheet baking sheets and bake as directed.

When the beans are almost done cut the brownies and the cornbread into 120 servings.  Put out butter, sliced onion, and jalepenos for toppings.

Tada!  You have just cooked for over 100 people and it was yummy home cooking.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pork Chops, Baked Potatoes, and Broccoli

I did not want to cook dinner tonight.  I wasn't all that hungry and nothing sounded good.  I needed something fairly quick with a minimal amount of work, which translates at least for me to a minimal amount of mess.

Baked Potatoes
Wash 4 large potatoes, then dry.
Rub each potato with a good amount of Crisco, (we use Crisco, use whatever shortening you have)
Place potatoes in a cast iron skillet in the oven.  If you don't have a cast iron skillet, go buy one.  But in the mean time just place them on a cookie sheet or in an oven proof dish.  Bake at 400 degrees until tender when stabbed with a fork.  The outside will be crisp if using a cast iron skillet.  Yummy.
While the potatoes are baking start the Pork Chops...

Pork Chops
4 Pork Chops, whatever you have is fine.
1 cup of flour
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder
Olive Oil
Having the Pork Chops at least partially thawed will speed things along.  Just so you know.  Mix the flour with the salt,pepper and garlic powder on a plate.  I used a fork to mix it up.  Don't get too persnickety.  Heat a good amount of olive oil in a skillet, just cover the bottom.  I didn't measure it.  Just have enough to cover the bottom and a little extra.  Dip, roll, dredge (official cooking word) whatever the Chops in the flour.  Place in the hot skillet, brown on both sides.  Be sure to turn the skillet to medium or low after it gets hot.  Place on a wire rack on a cookie sheet in the oven after browning both sides.  If you don't have a rack, just ignore that and put them on the cookie sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees until done.

While the pork chops are browning start the broccoli.
I use frozen broccoli.
Place broccoli in a saucepan, run a little water over it.  Just a little, enough to get it wet and have a little in the bottom to make steam.  Salt with Kosher salt (any salt will do), add 2 cloves of garlic smashed and skins removed, and a sprinkle or two of crushed red pepper (depends on how spicy you want it).  Cover and cook on medium heat until bright green, stirring once.  Turn heat off and let it sit until the rest of dinner is done.
If your family must have bread (like mine, but I didn't fix it tonight)  now is the time to make biscuits from scratch, or cheat and use canned biscuits.
Dinner is ready in an hour to an hour and a half max.  Serve with applesauce or fresh fruit.

Normally I would fix these Pork Chops with French Fries and Cream Gravy, maybe some Onion Strings, but that was too much effort and mess tonight.  ; )