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Crockpot Chili

When the weather gets cold, I always think about chili.  This batch is probably my easiest.  I will admit that I do cook all of my beans from dry, which is easy enough, just time consuming.  Growing up, we mostly had vegetarian chili, so I’m used to beans, and lots of them.  Then, typically I add in peppers and corn.  I was keeping it simple, so just frozen corn this time. So, I prefer a variety of beans.  I had about 2 cups of black beans still – cumin flavored.  Then I cooked about 4 cups total of red kidney beans, pinto, cannellini, navy and small red beans.  Some tomatoes (pureed and diced), some ground turkey, chili powder and 8 hours in a crock pot.  I warn you, this makes a ton of chili.  Make freezer space, or plan to share.  But if you can prep the various things in advance, it’s so easy to just dump, simmer and enjoy.

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Crock Pot Chili

6 cups beans (any variety)

1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes

1 6 ounce can tomato paste

1 4 ounce can green chiles

1 pound ground turkey (or beef or bison)

1 large onion, diced

1 cup liquid ( I keep my cooking juice from black beans and mix that in now, or you can add water, or any other appropriate flavor – beef broth, red wine or chicken broth would also work nicely)

1/4 cup chili powder

Other spices as you like them – oregano, garlic, cumin, onion powder, etc.

1 small bag of frozen corn

Cook meat and diced onion until meat is cooked and onion is soft.

Puree whole tomatoes with juice in blender, VitaMix or food processor.

Mix tomatoes, beans, meat, onions, green chiles, tomato paste and diced tomatoes (with juice) in crock pot.  Add additional cup of liquid.  Add spices and give one stir.  The pot will be full, the beans should be just barely covered by liquid.  Turn the pot on low and simmer at least 6 hours (or on high for about 4 hours).  30 minutes before eating, add in the bag of corn, stir.  Serve with rice or corn bread.  Top with cheese or sour cream.  Yum.

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Posted by on December 11, 2013 in Hump Day, Seasonal Soups and Salads

 

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Homemade (from scratch) Chicken and Rice Soup

Homemade soup intimidated me for a long time, especially making your own stock.  It seemed much easier to just buy chicken bouillon cubes at the store.  I can’t recall why exactly I started reading about making my own stock but I was impressed by the nutritional value.  The idea that we should eat chicken soup when we’re sick is less about a red can of processed soup and is really rooted    in the original soup making, homemade stock and all.  Stock is nothing more than water and stuff simmered for hours.  In this case, it’s chicken bones, onions, spices, carrots and some spinach.  For vegetable stock, it’s lots of vegetables.  By simmering the bones, you release all kinds of nutrients in the marrow.  And with the vegetables, you know how folks say not to overcook vegetables because they lose all their nutrients?  Well, you probably lose some in temperature, but most in the liquid.  So now, that stock is PACKED with nutrients.  So stock is easy – time consuming, but easy.

I recently discovered the easiest method yet of cooking a whole chicken.  Now, buying a whole chicken is the most economical way to eat chicken, not always the most convenient, but definitely the most economical.   Different methods have different flavors and textures, but if your goal is cooked and tender chicken, pull out your crock pot.

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If you can plan ahead, start first thing in the morning.  Stick an onion inside a whole chicken and couple of vegetables in the bottom.  Put your chicken and seasonings in the crock pot (read – NO LIQUID).  Put on the top.  Turn it on.  8 hours later, open the top, pull out the chicken and let it rest.  Leave the liquid (yes, now there is liquid) in the pot.

If you want shredded chicken, start pulling it apart as soon as you take it out, while it’s still warm.

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If you want chunk chicken, try to pull off the skin and pull out the bones, but leave the chicken in tact to cool.

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As you’re pulling off the skin and bones, just dump everything back into the crock pot, leaving it on low.  Add about 2-4 cups of water, more seasoning, if you want and cover.  About 8 hours later, come back.  Strain and reserve the liquid off the wilted vegetables.  Discard bones, skin and vegetables.  Savor the stock!

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After you cool the stock, it should get gelatinous.  This is good, it means you got good nutrients and marrow from the bones.  It’s delicious, nutritious and easy!  To use the stock, you will probably add about 1 cup water for each cup of concentrated stock.  I like to pour mine into ice cube trays and smaller containers so I can pull out a little at a time.

This particular night, I transitioned to chicken and rice soup (printable recipe: Chicken Rice Soup)

1 1/2 cups stock

1 cup brown rice

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

1/4 onion, finely diced

3 stalks of celery chopped

1 bay leaf

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp oregano

In a large pot, heat homemade chicken stock with 2 cups water.  Add vegetables and cooked chicken.  Liquid should cover vegetables and chicken by about 1/2″. About 1 hour before eating, add 1 cup brown rice and 2 cups water.  Let boil and simmer.  Serve warm.

 

 

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Budget Black Bean Soup

We’re trying to  address my desire to grocery shop and thus overspend on our grocery budget. Dave Ramsey recommends eating rice and beans to cut down on spending. And well, that just sounds a little boring. But sometimes, when life gives you rice and beans, you make some black bean soup.

Now, for years, I have been intimidated about cooking dry beans.  I don’t know why, but it seemed like they were either crunchy or popping open.  My mom finally stepped me through the process and I finally had some success!  I have to admit, black beans are probably the easiest ones that I have found.  While I describe soaking the beans below, you really can skip that and just turn it on to a low simmer for about 45 minutes.  Dried beans are cheaper plus you avoid added sodium and the BPA from the cans, but it is completely acceptable to use canned beans here.  You need about 4 cans.

(photo courtesy of babble)

1 lb black beans
1 bag frozen corn
1 small can green chiles
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cilantro
1 tsp garlic powder
8 cups water

Put beans and water in a large pot. Turn on medium-high until boiling. Turn off heat, cover. Soak. Do this in the morning while you’re brushing your teeth. Let them soak all day. Add seasonings and about 1 tsp salt. About 2 hours before dinner turn the pot back on and bring them to simmer for about 45 minutes. Taste one – if it’s firm but soft and chewy, turn off the heat. Otherwise, keep cooking.

Drain beans, reserving the liquid in a bowl.
Set aside 2 cups beans.
Dump beans, green chiles and 3 cups liquid into blender and blend until liquidy.
Pour back into pot and simmer, adding back the 2 cups of beans and bag of frozen corn.
Serve hot, over brown rice, if you want and top with diced avocados, shredded cheese, sour cream or anything else you enjoy!

Printable version here: Budget Black Bean Soup

 

P.S.  If you’re looking for some cuban-style black beans, you should check out Kara’s: http://vegetariansalmon.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/guest-post-kdks-cuban-black-beans/

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2013 in Meatless Mondays, Saving Dough

 

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