Friday, September 13, 2013

Chile, Soups & Stews

Patsy's Chili Beans

Patsy's Chili Beans

This recipe is a perfect example of why I journal my recipes. When the time comes, that I am no longer living on earth, I know that my recipes will be passed down, to future generations. I feel it is important for those future generations to have the back story on each recipe. Through this recipe I am going to introduce my Aunt Patsy. Aunt Patsy has been a huge influence in my life. She is the kindest, most sincere person you'd ever meet. When someone says, "so and so would give the shirt off their back.", they are referring to my Aunt Patsy. She has given, of herself, to so many family members. She helped to raise my brothers and I when my parents were having a difficult time of doing so. She stepped in and treated, my brothers and I, as her own children. If you ever need a person in your corner, Aunt Patsy is the one to have! I remember when I was a young adult, and moved back to California, on my own. It was my Aunt who I called on for advice. My cooking style is heavily influenced by my Aunt. She cooks with a lot of soul. She understands how to season food, simply, but effectively. I am so fortunate that she helped me to build some pretty awesome recipes, that are going to stand the test of time, now and for future generations.
Chili Beans are, by far, my most requested item to bring to family gatherings. Although this is my own recipe, I must give credit to my Aunt Patsy, for teaching me how to make this dish. I am going to share some of her tips in this post.

Start by cooking ground turkey with a chopped onion. If you don't care for ground turkey, use ground beef.
Discard the fat.
It's time to blend in the spices. Two important tips I'd like to share, from my Aunt: Season the meat heavily. The seasoning will disperse when cooked with the beans, and water is added. Now is the time to spice things up! Also, 1/4 cup of chili powder may seem like a lot. It is not. After all, we are making Chili Beans. The second tip is to let the spices cook with the meat. You want the spices to cook for a couple of minutes. So, add a little water to the meat, if you notice the spices are starting to stick to the pan. Did you know that cooking the spices helps to avoid getting a stomach ache? According to my Aunt, if you were to simply throw the chili into the water, without cooking first, you could get a stomach ache. I know I am not about to chance it! Besides, doing that is bad technique. 
This is the perfectly seasoned meat. It is ready to transfer to the crock pot.
Add water to the meat and beans; covering by an inch. Sometimes my Aunt will chop up leftover meats she may have on hand: pork chops, ham, steak or bacon may be added for extra flavor.
Cover and cook, on high, for several hours: adding, a little, more water as needed. Just enough water to keep the beans hydrated, but not too much to make bean soup. 
When the beans thicken, season with salt. Do not season before, as the beans will break and be mushy. Our goal is soft tender whole beans, in a rich, thick chili sauce.
Whether a side dish, or the main dish, I hope you enjoy this recipe, as much as our family does.

1 Pound dry pink beans, cleaned and soaked
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 White onion, diced
1 Pound ground turkey, or ground beef
1/4 Cup chili powder
2 Tablespoons Spanish paprika
1 Tablespoon granulated garlic
1 1/2 Teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 Teaspoons kosher salt
Water to cover beans
Place cleaned beans in a crock pot; set aside. In a large frying pan, over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add onion and ground turkey. Cook until meat has cooked through. Drain grease. Reduce heat to low. Add chili powder, paprika, garlic and pepper; blending well. Cook for a minute or two. You may need to add 1/2 a cup of water, to make sure the spices are blending and not burning. Add meat mixture to beans. Cover with water, by an inch. Cover the crock pot and cook on high for several hours; adding, a little, more water, as needed. Season with salt, after beans have softened, and a thick sauce has developed. Beans should hold their shape, and not be cracked and mushy.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chili Seasoning Mix

This is a seasoning mix I like to keep in my pantry. It replaces
Mc Cormick's Chili Seasoning packet. I like that this recipe utilizes ingredients I keep in my pantry.

Just process all the ingredients in a mini food processor, until combined. Store, and label, in a recycled spice container.

2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon seasoning salt
2 Teaspoons cumin
1 Teaspoon oregano
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon onion powder
1/2 Teaspoon garlic powder

Blend ingredients in a mini food processor. A magic bullet blender works well for this. Store in an airtight container. Makes 1/4 cup.

Beef & Ground Turkey

Beef Stroganoff
Catherine's Hamburger BBQ (Sloppy Joes)
How To Make Ground Turkey Taste Like Ground Beef
Linda's Spaghetti Sauce
Turkey Burger Patties

How To Make Ground Turkey Taste Like Ground Beef

This tutorial, on making ground turkey taste like beef, is the most viewed post on this blog. Seems people like healthy eating, and that is a good thing! While I've used that recipe for many years, I have now changed it.

Why the change? I was poking around on my pinterest boards, when I noticed someone pinned the original recipe. She tried it, then posted it under one of her boards, titled something to the effect, recipes that were not that good. Right away, I knew I had to improve it. I mean, I can't have someone not like my recipes.

I am not one to get sensitive over criticism. Back in high school, a dear classmate taught me that it was okay to accept constructive criticism. From that, we learn to better ourselves. It was a lesson well received. You see, this lady wasn't saying I was a bad person, or that she didn't like me. What she was saying, was the recipe wasn't great. So with that in mind, I set out to make this recipe the best that it can be. I hope you like it as much as I do.

I only use lean ground turkey. I think this brand is readily available, but I happen to find the best price at Sam's Club, at  $2.39 per pound!

All you have to do, is add 1 tablespoon of Kitchen Bouquet Browning & Seasoning Sauce per 1 pound of ground turkey.

Then incorporate the Kitchen Bouquet into the meat. Now, this is to give the turkey the flavor of beef. So, before you begin any recipe, you will do this, then continue on with your recipe, by adding the required seasoning ingredients.

To crumble, just give your cooking surface a coat of oil.

And cook up, as you would ground beef. You are going to need to season it, as you would beef. So if you just want ground beef, add a little salt and pepper. Or better yet, follow the recipe that you intend on making.

I like the coloring and caramelization that the Kitchen Bouquet gives to the meat. I really could not tell that it was ground turkey.


1 Pound ground turkey
1 Tablespoon Kitchen Bouquet Browning & Seasoning Sauce

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine Kitchen Bouquet Browning Liquid into the ground turkey. Use this meat mixture as you would ground beef, per your recipe instructions. 

Now that you know how to season the ground turkey, to taste like ground beef, let me direct you to a great tasting Sloppy Joe recipe, using this technique. Just click the link. Catherine's Hamburger BBQ

If a burger is more to your liking, learn how to make Turkey Burger Patties. No more bland, dry turkey burgers!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Classic Wedge Salad

There are so many things I love about the wedge salad: the decadent blue cheese dressing, the extra layer of crumbled blue cheese, the cool crispy crunchy lettuce and fried BACON! I mean, come on. Who doesn't love bacon? Not anyone I know.

Start with clean, chilled iceberg lettuce. You can learn an easy way to clean the lettuce, by clicking the link.

Top the lettuce wedge with dressing, tomato, bacon and crumbled blue cheese.


1 (1/6th wedge) Iceberg lettuce
1/2 Small tomato, diced - or - 6 grape tomatoes
2 Slices bacon, cooked, chopped
2  3 Tablespoons (See Blue Cheese Dressing)
1 Tablespoon crumbled blue cheese

Prepare dressing a couple of hours prior to assembling the salad. Clean iceberg lettuce by slamming the core against the counter; pulling the core from the lettuce. Rinse, drain and refrigerate for optimum crispness. To cut the wedge: slice lettuce in half, starting from the core and cutting downward. Slice each half into thirds; cutting from the core downward. Place, a wedge, on a salad plate. Top with Blue Cheese Dressing, tomatoes, bacon and crumbled blue cheese. 

Blue Cheese Dressing

I made a resolution, a few years ago, to give up bottled salad dressing. It has been the easiest, most satisfying resolution I've ever made.
This recipe for Blue Cheese Dressing is quite simple. Just put all the ingredients into a bowl.

Then stir, to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.
I like this dressing on a Classic Wedge Salad, which I will be sharing next.


1/2 Cup mayonnaise
1/2 Cup sour cream
1/2 Cup buttermilk
1 Teaspoon onion powder
1 Teaspoon garlic powder
1 Teaspoon dry mustard
1 Teaspoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 Teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 Cup crumbled blue cheese

Combine ingredients in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

* Use as a salad dressing, or as a dip for fresh vegetables or hot wings.

How To Clean Iceberg Lettuce

I want to share an easy method to cleaning iceberg lettuce.

See the core?

Slam it against the counter!

Then pick it out.

It should come out in one piece.

Now to the cleaning of the lettuce. Remove one, or two, outer layers.

Then rinse, thoroughly, under cold running water.

Place in a container. Then refrigerate. Once the water has drained, store in a plastic bag. Keep refrigerated, until ready to use.