Category Archives: Healthful Eating

Stocks and Broths

In the past decade, there’s been an explosion of products containing bone broth. In fact, bone broths are touted as the latest health elixir. Well, guess what, folks: Bone broth is nothing but your great granny’s stock.

TV cooking personality Alton Brown defines stock as containing bones and water. Period. That’s it. No salt, no vinegar, no vegetables…just bones and water. Broth is created using stock with the addition of ingredients for seasoning, such as celery, onions, carrots, and salt and pepper.

Stock cooks for hours in order to extract all the flavor and collagen from bones. Then it’s strained and stored for future use. With a pressure cooker, I reduce cooking time to 90 minutes followed by natural depressurization. I store in pint-size freezer-safe jars.* After quick cooling in a sink filled with cool water, I refrigerate my jars of stock. The following day, I label and freeze the jars unless I intend to use the stock within a week.

Pint freezer-safe jar

*Freeze only in jars marked “freezer safe.”

Homemade stocks are better than store bought cans or cartons because you control the ingredients. Less expensive, too.

Broths made from homemade stocks are rich, healthy, and tasty. Stock can be used to make a quick gravy or sauce, or as the base for soup. It’s a perfect liquid for pressure cooking. It’s nutritious for dog food, too.

A couple of pounds of bones can yield a gallon of stock, although I usually use more. It isn’t an exact ratio. If you favor slow cooking stock, you’ll need a minimum of six hours. Over night works. When you open the stock to use it, you may find a layer of congealed fat at the top. Carefully remove this fat before using stock but don’t discard it. That fat (especially chicken fat) is rich in flavor and can be used to sauté onions, etc. in place of butter.

Vary your stock as you wish, depending on available bones. I love ham bone broth (stock) for making beans. Chicken stock is versatile and can be used in all poultry dishes as well as beef or pork. Beef stock is good for starting a vegetable soup or any number of beef dishes. Or mix your bones for a rich stock to flavor as you wish.

One last word of advice from Alton Brown. Skip the vinegar. It’s a myth that a teaspoon of vinegar accelerates the extraction of collagen. The amount of vinegar needed to have an impact would render the stock inedible.

Leave a comment

Filed under Healthful Eating

Quarantine Cuisine Day #30 -Benedictine Cheese

But for the COVID19 pandemic, this would be Kentucky Derby week in my hometown of Louisville. In its honor, I made a staple of Derby parties, Benedictine Cheese.

As a child, I had no idea what this stuff was, yet I loved it. To me, it was green cheese. Yummy stuff to spread on crackers, I now enjoy it on sliced zucchini, carrot sticks, and celery.

Here’s how I make Kentucky Benedictine Cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1/2 small sweet onion
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
  • (Optional) Fresh herbs for garnish
  • (Optional) green food coloring

Directions:

  • Add chopped cucumber and onion to food processor (I used my Vitamix) and purée.
  • Strain to remove excess liquid. (Cheesecloth works well)
  • Add seasonings and lemon juice. Blend.
  • Blend mixture with cream cheese until creamy.
  • Refrigerate until serving.
View inside the Vitamix

As April draws to a close, so does the quarantine (to a certain extent. Re-opening will vary from location). The Kentucky Derby may be postponed, but I can pretend I’m Derby-ing by enjoying the traditional Derby foods like Benedictine Cheese. Maybe I’ll bake a Derby Pie next, who knows?

Leave a comment

Filed under Healthful Eating, Recipes

Quarantine Cuisine Day #28 – Jambalaya

Another day of “improv in the kitchen,” I wanted jambalaya yet had no andouille sausage. But I have plenty of Jimmy Dean’s fully cooked turkey sausage patties. I chopped the sausage and substituted it in my jambalaya recipe. It worked!

I scaled down my original recipe for today.

Pressure cooker jambalaya

2 Comments

Filed under Healthful Eating

Quarantine Cuisine Day #27 – Oatmeal

Today we’re out of milk. The skim milk is gone, the unsweetened almond milk is gone, the evaporated milk is gone … we’ve even used the shelf-stable cartons of milk we typically stock for hurricane preparedness. No cold cereal today for breakfast.

Oatmeal to the rescue! Grocery stores frequently have oatmeal on sale as a BOGO (buy-one-get-one free), so we had two boxes of Quaker Old Fashion Oatmeal in the pantry. With a pressure cooker, perfect oatmeal is easy. Here’s how I cook it.

RECIPE

Oatmeal for two

Ingredients: 2/3 cups oats, 2 cups water, 1/4 tsp. Salt (or to taste), 1 1/2 tsp butter, and 1 cup water for the pressure cooker.

Directions: Pour 1 cup water into the pressure cooker pot. Add trivet. In a separate bowl or pot (any vessel that fits inside the cooker for pot-in-pot cooking), combine all other ingredients. Seal pressure cooker, set for 10 minutes, cook, and allow pressure to drop on its own. Do not vent manually. Carefully open the pressure cooker, remove the inner pot or bowl using potholders or mittens, and stir oatmeal vigorously. Serve immediately.

My husband eats his oatmeal with a Tablespoon of honey stirred in. I like to add cinnamon and stevia. There are endless possibilities to flavor oatmeal.

If you want larger servings (Ours are approximately 100 calories per serving , not including toppings), simply increase the amounts of oatmeal and water while maintaining the 1/3 cup oats/1 cup liquid ratio.

We will enjoy oatmeal again soon. It’s a hearty and satisfying breakfast.

Leave a comment

Filed under Healthful Eating

Quarantine Cuisine Day #26 – Taco Soup

Social media abound with recipes for taco soup, also known as 5-can soup. It’s a good pantry recipe that requires few fresh items. The 5 cans refer to two different cans of beans, a can of hominy, a can of Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies, and a can of whole kernel corn. (The ingredients vary, but it’s basically a soup with similar elements)

Ingredients for taco soup

Taco seasoning mix, a can or cup of chicken broth, a pound of ground meat, and an onion round out the recipe. Some versions include a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing, but mine doesn’t. My version includes a bit of garlic powder instead. I also add a cup of tomato sauce.

Today I wanted to cook taco soup but had no canned beans. Fortunately, I use pressure cookers. There’s no need for canned beans when I have a pressure cooker and dried beans. Cooking a pound of dried beans takes less than an hour. I mixed a cup of pinto beans and a cup of black beans, cooked them under pressure 40 minutes, and allowed pressure to drop on its own.

Meanwhile, I browned a pound of ground turkey and chopped the onion. I added all the cans (corn, Rotel, hominy, and tomato sauce), broth, seasonings, and browned ground turkey and onions to the beans to slow-cook until mealtime.

Taco soup can be served with a variety of toppings, such as cheese, cilantro, and/or crumbled tortilla chips. It’s an inexpensive soup that yields 6-8 servings.

Taco soup

Leave a comment

Filed under Healthful Eating

Quarantine Cuisine Day #25 – Onion Burgers

Those who follow Dixie Pixie Dust (my travels blog) may remember we spent our wedding anniversary in El Reno, Oklahoma, dining at Sid’s, home of the original onion burger. It’s a classic diner along historic Route 66.

Today I duplicated the experience in our kitchen. I need to tweak my technique a bit, but we were pleased with the results.

I toasted whole wheat hamburger buns, which I discovered hidden in my freezer, on the griddle while frozen fries cooked in the air fryer.

Using two quarter-pound burgers from the freezer and one onion, chopped, I grilled the onions first before adding the burger. Onion burgers are created by pressing the meat into the onions, incorporating the onions into the meat. Sid’s uses 3 ounces beef, which yields a thinner burger.

The onion burger was born in the Great Depression as an economic move to stretch beef. Like many recipes of that era it’s now a popular, beloved dish. Onion burgers are a way to reduce red meat and add a vegetable to a meal. Unfortunately, I already had 4-ounce patties. Next time I will use 3 ounces of meat for a better meat-to-onions ratio.

I can’t compete with Sid’s Diner, but this was a close knock-off. Not bad quarantine cuisine.

Leave a comment

Filed under Burgers, Healthful Eating

Quarantine Cuisine Day #23 – Salmon Croquettes

I previously posted about salmon croquettes made from canned salmon. Today I took advantage of this pantry favorite and made enough patties for dinner today and again tomorrow (with different vegetables as sides).

Equipment used: While the croquettes browned in my large cast iron skillet, I steamed the squash and onions over low heat in my 1 quart stainless steel saucepan. The fresh green beans cooked in my pressure cooker for two minutes. Leftover salmon croquettes will be reheated a couple of minutes in my air fryer oven.

Salmon croquettes make a quick and satisfying meal. The salmon mixture can be prepared up to a day ahead. A 14 3/4 oz. can of salmon yields four servings.

Salmon croquettes

Revisit my original post Here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Healthful Eating