Tag Archives: dinner

Ooh Chihuahua! (Homemade Enchilada Sauce.)

Enchilada sauce is one of those things I love, Love, LOVE, but don’t make often enough (or enough of it when I do), but I’m determined not to buy any more. It is so good (much better than store-bought in my opinion), and easy to make.  I looked in Nourishing Traditions for Sally’s recipe, but sort of combined it with what I’ve done in the past, which I learned from a Mexican family that has a huge tamale-making party every year. I use bone broth in the sauce, so this is another opportunity to use some of that wonderful broth in your freezer that you keep trying to get into your family during cold season!

My sauce is definitely on the mild side because that’s how we like it, but you can make it hotter by not using all of the water or broth when you blend/mill it. Likewise, you could make it even milder by adding more broth at the end. You could also experiment on which chiles you like best.  I used Chile California Entero for this batch.  I always try to find “less dry” chiles because they’re easier to work with (less crumbly).  Just give the bag a little squeeze and if there’s a little “give” to the chiles instead of totally crispy, choose that one.) I use my VitaMix to blend the sauce and I don’t have to strain it.  Most recipes say to use a food mill–this strains out the large pieces of skin.  Years ago, I tried a regular blender and was not happy with the sauce because there were little hard pieces of skin in it.  Not a good mouth feel.  So if you have a VitaMix, use it.  Or put it through a food mill. Or I suppose you could blend it, then strain well?? Oh, and do as I say and not as I do: use gloves to handle the chiles! Your skin will thank you.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

  • 3 oz. bag of dried chiles
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2-3 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2-3 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 quart hot tap water
  • 1 1/2 c. bone broth (I used chicken this time)

Use scissors to snip the tops off of all the chiles, then snip up the length of each chile and remove all the seeds and large rib stuff (not sure what to call that!). Put all the cleaned chiles in a pot with all the rest of the ingredients, except for the broth.  I save the broth for later, because if I need to adjust for spiciness I won’t be dumping that precious liquid down the drain!

Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the chiles are tender (completely limp when picked up with a fork!). Let cool slightly so you won’t crack your blender. Okay, and less hellishly spicy steam going into your eyes!

Now for the blending/food milling part. For your first time, you may not want to use all the water before tasting for spice.  This time, I bit the bullet and dumped the whole shebang in the VitaMix, and it worked fine. But you can hold back a cup or two of the liquid then add it later if you want, depending on your taste. Add the bone broth (or most of it, and adjust later as you did with the chile-water) and blend the heck out of it!  (Or pass the whole thing through a food mill.)  Now taste, adjusting your liquids as needed, and add more salt and/or oregano if you want.  Your sauce should be smooth, thicker than water but not gravy-thick. I divide it into zip bags and freeze for later.

When you’re ready to use some, thaw completely.  For enchiladas, I usually thicken it a little with a roux (which is what I do for store-bought sauce too). Melt some good fat (beef tallow, lard, butter…) in a skillet, add same amount of flour and whisk for maybe 30 seconds, then pour your sauce in and whisk til slightly thickened.  Amounts of each? Your ratios will be about 1:1 on the fat:flour, so for each cup of liquid you would use about 1 Tbls. each of fat and flour. Or in Grandma’s words, “1+1+1” instead of the “2+2+1” for a thicker gravy.  If this confuses you, ask me in the comments and I’ll clear it up for you 😉 .

I use this sauce for enchiladas obviously, but also in various casseroles (tamale pie, anyone?), tamales (add the sauce to your meat to fill your tamale), or for dipping tortilla chips. Mmm. This sauce makes me very happy.

Sorry, no photo of the finished product.  I bagged and froze it without thinking of the camera!  It just looks like enchilada sauce anyway.

This was a part of the Real Food Wednesdays carnival.


Killing my wolf. (How to cook beans.)

One of my favorite things to eat for dinner is bean tostadas.  A super frugal meal, and sure to scare away the wolf at the door.  Take a corn tostada shell (store-bought are cheap and of course easy, or you can make your own), spread with refried beans, smear with sour cream (or home-made kefir sour cream), top with whatever you like–tomatoes or fresh salsa, shredded cheese and homemade hot sauce is how we do them.

This is how I cook my pinto beans.  I follow Sally Fallon’s recipe for basic beans in her “Nourishing Traditions” book, which is basically the way I had made them previously, with a couple small exceptions.  I take a 2 pound bag of pintos, pick through them for rocks, etc., rinse them good and put them in a large bowl, covered with WARM water.  Black beans require a little whey also. Let them soak for 12-24 hours (I usually try for the 24), drain off the water, put the beans in my large crockpot covered with water, and cook on low for about 12 hours or until tender.  DON’T SALT THE WATER until they’re done, or you risk having tough beans that won’t ever get tender! Trust me on this.

When they’re done, I season with sea salt, turn the heat off and let sit until cool enough to fill several zip bags and pop in the freezer (lay them flat until frozen, then they can store upright-takes less space).  I always put some of the bean liquid in the bag with the beans, since I use these mostly for refried beans which require some liquid.

Let me tell you, homemade refried beans are a cinch to prepare and you will never go back to canned!  Thaw your beans. Melt a good amount of bacon grease in a skillet (I’m going to try beef tallow next time), put in the beans and mash with a potato masher or large spoon until they look right (I personally don’t mind some whole beans in there, but you can certainly mash your little heart out here).  That’s all I usually do, other than some S & P.  Maybe I’m a purist, but I don’t think they need anything else. Tostadas made with these beans are make-you-shout-halleluia good.

And if you didn’t understand the reference to the wolf, you need to read     M.F.K. Fisher’s book called “How to Cook a Wolf.”

Simple but satisfying. (Hamburger gravy on mashed potatoes)

Sometimes I put off writing a blog post, thinking I need to have something off-the-charts good or crazy original.  Maybe I need to just get some of my recipes (if they can be called that) out there to the blogosphere, for posterity’s sake.  A record of my cooking life, if you will.  Some of you NT foodies need not poke around too much (because I get a lot of my recipes from you!), but I have to believe that there are readers at every stage of learning and cooking skills that may benefit from my small repertoire or get inspired to learn more about the different aspects of Traditional Nutrition that I throw out there from time to time.

Most of what I cook is just good old-fashioned stick-to-your-ribs kind of food. Take tonight, for example.  My family came for dinner (parents, brother & his family), and we had mashed potatoes with hamburger gravy.  Carrots in the gravy too.  Oh, and fresh homemade bread. (My mom brought a yummy dessert.  Thanks, Mom!)  Sounds like a pretty sparse meal, as in “where’s the meat?” but the gravy was really full of the hamburger, and I had needed to come up with a meal that was yummy yet easy on the pocketbook, you know?It is truly this type of meal that I get the most compliments on!  Very comforting (as in comfort food) and nourishing. Here’s how I did it.

The mashed potatoes were pretty straightforward.  Five pounds of russet potatoes, peeled, chopped, boiled until tender.  Meanwhile, I put 2 (yes, 2) sticks of butter and a little (1/2 cup?) of whole milk in a pan to melt/get hot. When the potatoes were done cooking, I drained them and transferred them to my mixing bowl, threw in the butter/milk mixture, and whipped them into submission (or smooth).  BTW, I usually just use a hand mixer for smaller amounts of mashed potatoes, but since I had close to a ton to mash, I used my KitchenAid!  Added some salt and pepper, and let Little Boy lick the beater, which saved the day for a cranky toddler!

The hamburger gravy went like this:  Earlier in the day, I had chopped some carrots, and before I even started on the potatoes, I cooked them in some bone broth (a combination of chicken & lamb/beef–ha ha, nobody even noticed the unrecognizable broth flavor!).  After the potatoes were put on to cook, I threw in some hamburger and diced onions in a skillet to brown.  Then I transferred those carrots to the meat mixture and set the skillet aside.  The pot with the leftover bone broth in it (you didn’t think I would drain them into the sink, did you?! Ha!) I added even more broth and got it up to a boil.  I then took a mug of cornstarch &  COLD water (stirred until smooth), and whisked it into the boiling broth, adding as much of the cornstarch water as needed to thicken into a gravy.  Then I added the meat/carrot mix to the gravy.  Left it on low heat while I whipped those potatoes!

That’s it, folks!  The bread was already baked several hours previously, so I just sliced up a loaf and set out some soft butter.  They devoured that bread, by the way–only one piece was left over, and I think that was only because it was sort of hiding under the towel I had draped over it.  Best part of the dinner–hanging out with family.  And don’t get me started on Mom’s dessert; it was off-the-charts good.

This was a part of the Fight Back Friday carnival. For more Real Food Revolution ideas, visit http://www.foodrenegade.com/fight-back-friday-march-12th/

Cabin Fever (Crockpot Swiss Steak)

We’ve been cooped up in the house for several days while the weather does its thang!  I need a diversion!  We were going to have company over today, but driving conditions were so poor that nobody could come.  This is what we would have had (and may still have it tomorrow if the roads are any better).

Crockpot Swiss Steak

This is a good way to use an inexpensive cut of meat, and yet it gives you that old-time homey comfort food feeling!

Put in crockpot:

  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2-3 lbs. (grass-fed) beef (7 bone steak, top sirloin, london broil, really anything would work!)
  • 1 c. bone broth (I use chicken and it’s fine)
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes (home-frozen garden tomatoes would be even better–just add some diced bell peppers too)
  • Splash of vinegar

Let cook all day on low til tender.  Sea salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with mashed potatoes, well buttered!

Be sure to save any bones for future bone broth!  Store them in the freezer in a zip-bag til you have enough to use.

This post is a part of Fight Back Friday!