Thursday, January 15, 2009


Chili can be made so many different ways and with so many different kinds of meats or no meat at all. Again, I prefer to use the dried beans and just let them soak overnight then rinse in the morning canned beans have more salt then you probably want in your diet anyway and again they are also cheaper on the budget.

For vegetarian or just a meatless meal, try adding a bag of frozen Italian vegetables instead. I do use canned chillies and I do use the mild variety. Old El Paso is my favorite brand. Chili powder is one of those spices that can bite you in the butt if you add too much too soon. The heat and other ingredients help it to release it's power so watch out. My mother always made chili with hamburger and for years I did too. Then I got to thinking about the men on the cattle drives, did they really grind the meat first???? Doubtful so I sometimes make what I call Chuck Wagon Chili and it is a favorite with my friends. Again you don't have to use stew beef which is usually higher in price than say a large round steak or a roast that you can get on sale. I put about a teaspoon of olive oil is a fry pan and then throw the beef in and stir it around until the meat changes color then add it to the chili. Turkey has a tendency to pick up the taste of what ever spices it is cooked with so you might just pick up a turkey breast on sale (it goes on sale and you can just cut off what you need for the chili and bake the rest. And then again, we can go back to those boiled chicken thighs and tap into them again. Mexico does have a lot of chickens, don't you think they thought about this first?? If you don't have the time or talent that it takes to open a box of Jiffy corn meal and muffin mix or you just want to try something different, why not try serving your chili with tostitos and make everyone think that you are treating them to a real treat. Gather up the points while you can.

If you live alone and/or have no friends that you can share meals with, most of what I talk about can be frozen and then thawed for a quick meal in the microwave. So, what new excuses are you going to give me? Get cooking with the old broad here who used to have a catering business back in Washington, D.C. about 20 years ago, when I was 9, LOL.

Eat and enjoy,
Auntie Stella


If you don't have a crock p0t, now would be a great time to invest in one. They are easy to use and you can get them with the lift out container which is easier to clean and you can get everything ready the night before an just stick it in the fridge until you are ready to leave for the day and come home to the aroma of beef or chicken stew or soup. The supermarkets are full of bags of vegetables that will fit your needs or you can use canned veggies (my choice) and packages of the kitchen wonder drug MTB broth. Yes, something better that bullion cubes has come along but I still prefer to use my chicken stock when I can but the beef is out of this world. I get three packets for around a buck and it's worth every penny because I also use it in my Bloody Mary mix, voted the best in Washington, D.C. three years in a row.

In your crock pot, put two packages of the beef broth in the bottom of the pot, throw in a package of stew beef (or if steak or beef roast is on sale buy it and cut it into stew beef size pieces) and toss it in the pot. Open 2 cans of potatoes; 1 of whole kernel corn; 2 cans of green beans; and one of carrots and pour them into the pot. If you have a cup of coffee left over from breakfast add that and then throw in a sliced onion and maybe a piece of celery chopped and you are done. Yes, you do add the water from the veggies until you are about an inch from the top. Turn the crock pot on low before you leave the house (leave yourself a note on the front door). You can also make sandwiches if you want but the soup with some "dipping bread and butter" might be enough. For stew, leave out the corn and to thicken the soup into stew, you can fuss with flour or corn starch or do what Auntie Stella does and add some instant mashed potatoes when you get home. (Who knew!!! HE, HE I did) The bags of frozen veggies work great too but let them thaw in the fridge over night before putting them in the crock pot. You and your families can come home and dinner is all but done and the whole house smells great.

Next we're on to chili,


Now is the perfect time for this category when my friends outside of Florida (and it's cold here too) as they are freezing their butts off. Some of you are probably like me and after a dinner you take the left over veggies to the kitchen and put them in bowls and put in the fridge until they are unidentifiable before throwing out (or) eating them so that you don't waste food. Well, I have a new idea for you that isn't actually new, just forgotten. Save those veggies in a large container that will fit in your freezer and just keep adding them until you are ready to make soup. It can be thawed in the fridge overnight or just throw them into a pot or crock pot and you have a soup base. When I cut a fresh onion I always cut off both ends and throw them in the bowl as well to help season the soup. Do you buy fresh celery? Cut off the leaves and slice the celery at the base and clean it up and chop it into smaller pieces and freeze that as well for seasoning. These are simple things that you can do to make a great pot of soup.

When I make chicken soup of any kind, I buy the large package of chicken thighs when they are on sale and cook the whole batch at once. Chicken thighs are not only cheap but they only have one bone and it's large enough that I can even find it without my glasses. I spice it up with onion, celery (seed or real); caraway seed (yep, the stuff that makes rye bread); dill weed while it's boiling. Once it's done you can just pull the thighs out, remove the bone and the skin (throw the skin back into the pot to boost your chicken stock) and just shred the thigh meat or dice it if you prefer. For those of you who keep telling me that you don't have time or can't cook, you can just put the thighs in the fridge or in the freezer until you are ready to make your soup. Homemade chicken and noodle soup, chicken and rice soup or chicken and vegetable. Beware though, when your family tastes these home made treats they will want more.

Many people say that I cheat when cooking but I prefer to think of it as cooking smarter and taking easier routes. Dry beans are much cheaper than canned and are actually very easy to do, trust me. I recently made a pot of split pea soup, a large pot actually and there were only 3 of us eating it and it was gone in one night. I soaked 2 packages of dry split peas (88 cents a bag) over night with 2-3 inches of water above the peas. Next morning I drained and rinsed them twice and put the same amount of water over them again. Threw in a slab of ham (you don't have to buy the whole ham but you can get a lot of meals out of one) diced into pieces about the size of dimes or pennies, and just boiled the hell out of them for about 1/2 hour. Removed from the heat and scooped out the peas that were still a little hard and threw them into the blender and hit the puree button and then returned them to the pot. Poured in a can of diced potatoes drained and a can of diced carrots drained of course and brought the mixture back to a boil. Slowly added a pint of half and half and it was done and ready to serve. Served with heat and serve rolls and butter.

I think that's about all I can get on one blog so I'll continue in minutes with part 2.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Years ago when I lived in D.C., close friends and I used to do progressive meals, soup at one house, salad at the next and so on and on holidays like Christmas and New Year's it was an all day event starting with breakfast at my place. My special breakfast doesn't have to be for a whole tribe of people, it can just be a special breakfast for that special person in your life for Valentines Day or maybe a birthday or anniversary.

The day before, cut up cantaloupe and honey dew melon in bite size pieces and rinse a pint of strawberries and cover and store in the fridge overnight. For breakfast you will need, two large eggs for each person; 1 piece of wheat toast for every 4 eggs, two pieces of raisin toast (preferably cinnamon raisin); one piece of uncooked bacon for each egg; one tablespoon of Chili Sauce (find in ketchup section) per egg and chopped black olives for decoration and a muffin tin. Also 2 cups of 10x sugar; 1 tablespoon of butter (or oleo) and 2 tablespoons of rum or 1 tablespoon of rum extract. Bacon or sausage for each person. I know this sounds like a lot but it's a no brainer. If I can do it New Year's morning hung over anyone should be able to do it.

First ting you do is take a hit off the rum bottle for courage. In the muffin tin, cut circles of wheat toast to place in the bottoms. Add chili sauce on top of toast and line the muffin tin with the uncooked bacon. Put the egg on top of the chili sauce and the olives on top of the egg and pop into the oven at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until a tooth pick will stand in the egg. Next fry the sausage or bacon to be served and let drain on paper towels to absorb the grease. Add the butter and rum to the powered sugar (10x) and beat by hand until you get a consistency of a drip. Put the eggs and breakfast meat on the plate then drizzle raisin toast with sugar/rum and add fruit and drizzle it with the same. You probably will need another shot of the rum to clean the kitchen but the praise will be worth it.
Auntie Stella