Friday, March 30, 2012

Cooking From Scratch: Veggie Broth

Making veggie broth from scratch is even easier than chicken broth.  DIY veggie broth is quick, cheap and easy!

Veggie Broth

Veggies: carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes, kale, spinach, mushrooms, broccoli
Seasonings: bay leaves, sea salt, pepper, basil, oregano


1. Place vegetables and seasonings in a large pot, and cover with water.

2. Bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour.

4. Then, strain out the vegetables, and your broth is ready for use. 

There is no need to throw out the strained veggies.  Throw them in a blender for a quick and easy soup.  Add sour cream to the blended veggies for a delicious veggie dip.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cooking from Scratch: Chicken Broth

I found my go-to recipe for Chicken Broth at Finding Joy in My Kitchen.  This is an excellent recipe and can be frozen.  I have stopped keeping store-bought broth on hand now that I have homemade chicken broth in the freezer.

To make your own chicken stock/broth, you need:
a large kettle or crockpot
a chicken or turkey carcass {bones, skin & any tiny meat pieces leftover}
a whole onion
2-3 stalks of celery
2-3 carrots
1-2 bay leaves
4-5 garlic cloves
sea salt
black pepper
white vinegar
a strainer, preferably with fine mesh

Making your own chicken stock:

(1) Place the chicken carcass – bones, skin {if desired} and any meat still attached to the bone (small pieces are fine, but you should take all the large pieces off the bones before you make stock) into a large stockpot or crockpot. 

(2) Toss in one onion, cut into sections, carrots and celery. 

(3) Add the water, enough to fill the crockpot or stockpot.

(4) Add in the garlic, bay leaf and sea salt.  Be liberal with the sea salt. 

(5) Add a splash of vinegar – this works to really help break down the bones & get them to release their nutrients.

(6) Cover the crockpot and cook on low for 12-18 hours.  I do this overnight.  If you are cooking on the stove, cook on low/simmer, for 4-8 hours.
(7) Strain the broth through a large strainer or colander to remove the bones, skin and veggies.  Some folks puree their stock in the blender with the veggies … I haven’t tried that just yet.

(8) Place the broth into freezer safe containers.  Allowing the broth to cool down quite a bit, then, transfer the broth to the fridge for a few hours.  At this point, you can either toss your bones, or you can repeat the cycle, boiling them a second time.  This broth is less strong, but you can easily up the veggies as though you were making veggie broth, and you have a second batch!

(9) If you wish, after the broth cools, the fat will rise to the surface.  Simply take a spoon and scoop the fat off the top.  Then, transfer your broth to the freezer, or use with a day or two. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cooking from Scratch: Dry Beans

Before I get started with the myriad of delicious and healthy recipes, I think it is important to talk about cooking from scratch.  Dry Beans for example are terribly easy to make if you prepare in advance.  I make large batches at a time and freeze them for later.  I learned early on to label "what" and "how much" is in each container.

There are many ways to cook dry beans but to keep things simple I'm going to talk about pressure cooker beans and slow-cooker beans.

Pressure Cooker
I'm told that using a pressure cooker is the fastest and easiest way to cook beans, which is why it's on the top of my wishlist.  I prefer to pre-soak my beans for 12-24 hours before I cook them.  Fab Food has a table for cooking times for individual beans. For simplicity sake I'll list a few with 12 hour pre-soak cook times.

Adzuki   5-9 mins
Black (turtle)   9-11 mins
Black-Eyed Peas: No pre-soak  9-11 mins
Cannellini   9-12 mins
Chickpeas (garbanzo)  10-12
Great Northern   8-12 mins
Pinto   4-6 mins
Navy   6-8 mins
Red Kidney   10-12

To cook: 1 cup beans, 4 cups water, 1 tablespoon oil

Slow Cooker
As I stated above, I prefer to pre-soak beans for 12-24 hours.  I love using my slow cooker and it's easy.  Cooked on High, pre-soaked beans should be ready in 5 hours.  On low, pre-soaked beans should be ready in 8 hours.  

To cook: 1 bag (16 ounces) dry beans, soaked.  Add to slow cooker and cover with water (approx 9 cups).  Add water as needed.

Whichever way you choose to cook beans, they are delicious and nutritious.  Add them to any recipe that calls for canned beans for a healthier meal.  I'm told I make a great Texas Chili so I'll post the recipe here soon.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Deliciously Buttery Dinner Rolls

This recipe was originally posted at Back to the Basics.  I can't even count how many times I've made this recipe.  I've never used frozen dough but on many occasions I have frozen the rolls to use much later.  If you want dinner rolls without the nasty chemicals and preservatives, this is the recipe for you!

Angie's Perfect Dinner Rolls

2 1/2 cups warm milk
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons salt
7 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed
1/2 cup butter, melted

Pour milk into a large mixing bowl, and sprinkle yeast over the surface. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Beat in the sugar, eggs, 1/2 cup butter, and salt; blend thoroughly.

Gradually stir in the flour to make a soft dough. Cover bowl, and set in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough, cover the bowl, and allow to rise again. Repeat this step two more times.

Break off 2 to 3 inch size pieces of dough, roll lightly into round shape, and place in prepared baking dish, edges touching. Repeat to make 36 dough balls. Cover and let rise until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish

Bake rolls in preheated oven until tops turn golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. When rolls are finished baking, drizzle melted butter over the top, and serve warm. 
I made large and small rolls this time around.