Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rice with Poblano Chili Peppers

Poblano chili peppers are the most versatile Mexican chili pepper. They are used for stuffed Chile Rellenos and when dried (called an "ancho chile") makes a  Red Chili salsa. And, I like to stuff them like a bell pepper (my recipe here.)

A pastilla pepper is another name for poblano pepper.

For most of my Latin recipes I make Mexican Rice using tomato sauce. But, I like to mix it up, so here's my Rice with Poblano Chili Peppers recipe.

Poblanos are mild for a chili. They are larger than familiar hot chilis, about the size of a bell pepper, so you only need a couple to make this recipe. And at Latin markets they come cheap. Look for pastilla or poblano peppers, they are the same thing.

I blacken them on my gas stove top burner. It only takes a few minutes to do, but use thongs so you don't burn yourself. You do have to watch and turn them as they burn. Next, you cover the heated chilis and allow the skin to soften, so you can peel off the blackened skin, which reveals the tender, smokey, green flesh.

Now, you know that rice is a good deal, especially at Oriental and Latin grocery stores. The other ingredients, garlic and onion, come cheaply.

If you are into Mexican food then give my Rice with Poblano Chili Peppers a try. It's a delicious change of pace over boring white rice or typical tomato sauced rice.

And, just click on the following entrees to see one of my blog post recipes that will pair perfectly with my Rice with Poblano Chili Peppers side dish: Pozole, Calabsitas, Fish Veracruz, Cactus Quesadilla, Charro Beans, Pollo en Mente (Mint Chicken), Stuffed Poblano Chiles, Salmon Enchiladas, Fish Tacos, Albondigas Soup, Mexi/Turkey Burger, Carne Asada (steak) Taco, Carnitas (pork) Taco, Mole Chicken, Mexican Chorizo and Eggs, Scrambled Eggs with Refried Beans, and a hearty Breakfast Burrito,

  • 2 poblano chili peppers
  • 1 cup of rice - white or brown
  • 1/2 onion - chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic - chopped, fresh or from jar.
  • 1 tablespoon of oil - to saute onion.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 and 3/4 cups water - or follow package directions if brown rice is used.

Char poblano peppers on stove top. I have a gas stove so it's pretty easy to do. You can blacken peppers in a pan on an electric stove top. It takes longer to do. Place poblano on the gas grill with fire on medium/high. Be careful and rotate poblano as it blackens. You don't need to blacken the total surface - charring half the surface is good enough.

Place blackened poblano peppers in a bowl and cover it with a plate, so the skin will continue to steam. This will make it easier to rub off the burnt skin. Let the cooked peppers set covered about 5 minutes.

While peppers steam covered, saute chopped onion in your rice pot with a tablespoon of oil. Saute about 5 minutes to soften. Add chopped garlic to cooked onions and saute another minute.

Add a cup of rice and saute it with the onion for another 5 minutes. (You can skip this stage if you are in a hurry.)

While rice is cooking you can rub off blacken skin from poblano peppers. Open the peppers and remove seeds and the stem. Give the peppers a quick rinse of water to get the remaining blackened bits. You don't have to remove all the char, though - it's extra flavor.

Next, add the cooked, chopped, poblano peppers.

Add 1 and 3/4 cups of water (or follow rice package directions.) If you have a preferred way to cook rice, then do it your way. Salt and pepper to taste.

 Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover the pot. Cook about 20 minutes covered.

After the rice is cooked, uncover the pot and give the rice a stir. Cover the pot again and let it set another 10-15 minutes. This will give all the rice a chance to cook evenly.

Rice freezes well, so make plenty to serve with my other Mexican recipes, anytime.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Split Pea Soup with Ham - Video Recipe

My hearty Green Split Pea Soup with a leftover ham bone will have you coming back for seconds...and thirds! Be sure to check out my recipe video below to see what I mean.

I was never a fan of Split Pea Soup as a kid because it was usually served from a Campbell's soup can. It's much better when you can control the seasoning and fresh veggie additions yourself. And it doesn't hurt to have tender chunks of ham mixed into the soup.

I always get a large cooked half-ham during Easter week, because that's when it's cheapest. Cooked ham freezes well, so the first thing I do is slice it into single servings and reserve the ham bone. Meat closest to the bone is difficult to remove, so just leave it on. Once the ham bone is simmering in the pea soup for an hour it will easily peel off.

All the other ingredients are cheap too, like onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Of course, you can keep this pea soup vegetarian by leaving out the ham. Just substitute some water with a cup or two of your favorite veggie stock, for extra flavor.

I use cheap dried green peas from my local 99c only Store for this recipe. I've also seen yellow peas that you can cook the same way.

What I like about dried green peas is how quick they cook. It only takes about an hour to become a thick creamy soup. Other dried legumes like pinto, navy or black beans take 3 to 4 hours of slow simmering. Green Pea Soup with Ham is almost instant gratification.

My Green Pea Soup with Ham is easy to do, it just takes a little veggie chopping. It's the kind of one pot meal that's even better the next day, and you can freeze a few servings, too.

So give my latest cheapskate recipe a try, just check out my simply delicious video below, and leave a comment if you like it!

Split Pea Soup with Ham  - VIDEO

 Play it here, video runs 3 minutes, 36 seconds.

My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.

Ingredients (4-6 servings)
  • 1 pound dried green split peas - about 2 cups. Rinse and check for discolored ones or any small foreign object.
  • 1 ham bone - leftover from a whole ham. Okay to use a ham hock, a thick ham slice or a couple slices of bacon (saute bacon and pour off some of the fat.)
  • 1 onion - chopped, about 2 cups.
  • 1 stalk celery - chopped, about 1/2 cup. I cut off a bit of discolored tough root end. I also remove some of the strings on the topside of celery stalk. You can remove strings with a knife or a potato peeler - don't worry about removing them all.
  • 1 carrot - chopped, about 1 cup.
  • 1 teaspoon garlic - chopped. Fresh, dried or from a jar.
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • Black pepper to taste - ham has enough salt for me. Add salt if you are going vegetarian.
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil - to saute veggies.
  • 8 cups of water - for cooking pea soup. For vegetarian, substitute some water with veggie broth.

Chop 1 whole onion, about 2 cups when chopped. One clove of garlic (about a teaspoon chopped.)

Peel whole carrot and chop, about 1 cup. Okay to use shredded carrot or baby carrots.

Use a whole stalk of celery, chopped. I include the green leaves, if attached. Remove the tip of the white or yellowed end attached to the root.

Click on any photo to see larger.

Add a tablespoon of oil to a large soup pot. Add carrot, onion and celery. Saute over medium heat about 5 minutes to soften.

Next add chopped garlic and saute another minute.

Now add dried herbs to sauteed veggies. Sprinkle in a teaspoon of thyme and one whole bay leaf.

Season with black pepper to taste. I leave out salt, since ham, ham hock, or bacon are salty enough for me. You can add a little more salt if you need to, or if you are making this soup vegetarian.

Now time to bring it all together. While veggies are sauteing go through dried green peas to remove any debris. I hardly ever find any.

Add dried green peas. Pour in 8 cups of water. If you are keeping it vegetarian, then replace some of the water with vegetable stock, for extra flavor.

Add a ham bone, ham hock, or a few slices of cooked bacon (include some of the bacon grease, too!)

Mix well, increase the heat and bring soup to a boil. When boiling, reduce heat to a low simmer and cover the soup pot.

Cook covered for an hour, until the peas are fall-apart tender. Green peas will turn to a thick sauce, and that's okay.

Remove ham bone or ham hock. Allow to cool for a few minutes, while peas cook uncovered. Finally, remove meat and add back into the soup. Stir a final time, and reheat the ham pieces for a few more minutes.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Broccoli, Tangerine and Yogurt Salad

The Cheap$kate Chef's latest healthy recipe has it all: nutritious veggies, sweet and tangy  fruit, crunchy nuts, pungent dried fruit and creamy yogurt. And my Broccoli, Tangerine and Yogurt  Salad recipe is wife approved!

This low calorie delightful mix is simple to make and taste even better the next day. The most  complicated part is to give the broccoli a quick bath in hot water for a minute, then cool it  back down in cold water. Oh, and there is a little chopping of the broccoli and peeling a tangerine or an orange.

I get all these ingredients cheaply, of course. Fresh broccoli is always coming up on sale. I  like to use the whole thing, stem and all. Usually I peel some of the stem, it's more tender  that way. I blanch the broccoli for a minute, but if you like your veggies extra crunchy and  raw, then skip the blanching.

I used a couple of small tangerines. Oranges are a cheaper substitution and are just as tasty.  Be sure to take out any seeds though. Canned Mandarin oranges are an easy way to go.

I find dried cranberries on sale at my local 99c only Store, but if you can't, then just use raisins, the taste will be fine.

I sprinkled on roasted peanuts. It's best to use unsalted. If salted peanuts are on sale then  use them. Just be sure to brush off the salt. If you rinse the peanuts then blot off the  excess water. The peanuts don't have to be totally dry, since you are adding them to wet  yogurt. Of course, if you or anyone in the family is allergic to nuts, them leave them out, my  salad will be just as delish.

You only need a small container of yogurt. It's best to use plain yogurt. Although I've used  lightly flavored ones like vanilla or honey. And you can use low fat yogurt.

When everything is mixed, keep it refrigerated until ready to serve. My cheap$kate veggie and  fruit salad travels well, either to a party, a picnic, or to the office.

Give this Internet Chef's Broccoli, Tangerine and Yogurt Salad a go. It makes a light and  refreshing  snack anytime of day.

Ingredients (about 2-3 servings)
1 pound broccoli - about 4 cups when florets are broken down and stems chopped.
1 small container of plain yogurt - 5 to 7 ounces or about 3/4 cup. You can use low fat, or  regular yogurt. Okay to add more yogurt to desired creaminess. You can use a lightly flavored  yogurt like vanilla or honey. Fruit yogurt may be too much of a good thing. (And, you can  substitute yogurt with mayo or sour cream.)
1 cup of tangerine or orange - peeled and sliced into bite sizes. Remove seeds if  necessary. You can add more or less to taste. Okay to use a can of Mandarin oranges, if they're cheap enough.
1/2 cup of dried cranberries or raisins - again you can add more or less to taste.
1/2 cup of unsalted peanuts - or any favorite or local nuts, like: cashews, almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc. If salted peanuts are on sale then use them, just rinse or brush off the salt first, or the salad will be way to salty. If you are allergic to nuts them leave them out - the Broccoli  Salad will still be delish.

Get a pot of water heating up to a low boil.

Prep the broccoli. Chop off the stalks. I like to peel the larger pieces. Chop the stalks into  bite sizes. Separate the broccoli florets into smaller sizes. If the floret is very large  then slice it in half or quarters.

Add the broccoli to boiling water. Cook the broccoli for no more than a minute. You don't want  to overcook. Crunchy is good for this recipe. If you like your veggies really raw then skip it  and go right to mixing all the ingredients together. You can use less water and just steam the broccoli for a minute.

After a minute of blanching add broccoli to a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. Drain  the broccoli before mixing all the other ingredients.

I use peanuts for my recipe, but you can use any nuts you like or find on sale. For salted  peanuts, brush or rinse them off. Allow the peanuts to dry for a couple of minutes or blot  them off with a paper towel. They don't have to be completely dry, as you will be adding wet  yogurt anyway.

Next, peel a tangerines or an orange. Slice the fruit into bite sized segments. Remove seeds if  necessary.

Now time to bring it all together. In a large bowl, add the drained and cooled broccoli. 

Mix in the fruit, nuts and dried cranberries (or raisins). Finally spoon on yogurt. Mix it all  together.

Store the Broccoli, Fruit and Yogurt Salad in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Of course, you can blanch or steam broccoli longer to desired tenderness.

Adjust any of the ingredients to suit your taste. If you want more creaminess, then  add more yogurt. If you don't care for yogurt then substitute with mayo or sour cream.

If you have a lot of peanuts to get rid off, then add more to the salad. Same goes for raisins, and tangerine or oranges.

And, best to finish this off in a couple of days, as the yogurt begins to deteriorate and break down - but you can refresh the salad with a spoonful or two of fresh yogurt.

This salad is easy to double for more servings. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

B.B.Q Pork Steamed Bun - Deal of the Day

I microwaved the most unusual Deal of the Day, B.B.Q Pork Steamed Bun by Tasty Select. You have to trek to a Chinese restaurant for Dim Sum to find these, but I got mine from my local Dollar Tree store.

Lately I've found that the frozen deli cases at Dollar Tree rival The 99c only Store's. A myriad of frozen $1 meals and cold produce like: turkey bacon, feta cheese, frozen veggie and fruit bags, desserts, etc.

Sometime you gotta take a chance, and when I saw these frozen  B.B.Q Pork Steamed Buns I went for it. And I was not disappointed. This is a savory and sweet snack you can hold in your hand.

Usually, I get golden baked B.B.Q Pork Buns to go from my local Chinese restaurant. This Cheap$kate Deal of the Day is the steamed version - a good second choice.

Steamed buns are light and soft like a snow ball. The slightly sweet dough is made right, with the texture of Angel Food Cake. It is a nice sized bun, too.

I was surprised by the well flavored B.B.Q pork stuffing. The gravy is typically sweet and seasoned nicely. Common Chinese spices are easy to spot, like: soy sauce, oyster and hoisin sauces.

And there are real pieces of B.B.Q pork. Now, they are small pieces, but it's the real thing, at least I think it is, or it could just be the flavor of B.B.Q sauce. Pork is at the top of the ingredient list, so I'll take their word. The pork is tender and tasty; a nice pairing with the fluffy steamed bun.

 Click on photo to see larger.

I microwaved the bun for about a minute and a half. The bun remained spongy and light and the meat sauce did not dry out. For variety, next time I would steam it.

I bet you can guess my Cheap$kate rating of 1 to 9, 9 being best. Well, I give B.B.Q Pork Steamed Bun by Tasty Select a perfect 9! This Deal of the Day is a real find and I will get more with the next Dollar Tree visit if they are still stocked - you never know, when shopping at 99 cent or Dollar stores.

Friday, March 27, 2015

French-style Cheese Omelette - Video Recipe

I have to give it up to Chef Ludo Lefebvre for this luscious French-style Cheese Omelette recipe, that my own version is based on. He trained and cooked in France until making Los Angeles his home.

You may know camera-ready Chef Ludo from his cooking stints on the Food Network and as a chef/mentor of NBC's The Taste.

I'm used to American diner-style omelets that are cooked well done and dry, except for the soft melted cheesy interiors. I always liked my omelets that way, until I watched his own recipe video of how to make the perfect French omelet, his way, and then tried it out for myself. Click here to see what I mean.

Ludo, you have opened my eyes and changed my taste for a simple omelette -- hey, I'll even give you props for changing the way I'll now spell the word, from omelet (sic) to omelette!!

What's different is the way his omelette is cooked. Mainly, you soft scramble the well mixed eggs, add the cheese while the egg is slightly damp, then gently roll it up. Of course, American tastes blanch at runny eggs. But the egg is cooked and warmed through, just slightly damp, and this makes all the difference.

But if you insist, you can continue to cook the omelette to your desired doneness.

Chef Ludo also cooks the omelette in lots of butter. And he uses a soft French cheese called Boursin (similar in texture to cream cheese.) For my recipe I just used easy to get Italian shredded mozzerella. You can use any soft cheese you like. I think the main thing is how lightly the omelette is cooked.

He finishes the omelette with a smear of butter and tops it with chopped chives. For my recipe I skipped the butter finish (gilding the lilly, methinks) and used a little chopped parsley, instead of chives, as a topping.

Eggs are still priced reasonably. I can buy a half dozen size container at my local Dollar Tree store, sometimes. I always find small packages of cheese cheaply.

This omelette is versatile. You can also add some sauteed spinach or mushrooms. If you have any favorite omelette ingredients, then try them out, too.

Any way you spell it, omelette or omelet, this recipe is one you can take to the bank! A buttery soft scramble with cheese makes a luscious breakfast.

And, here's my Americancheap$kate video recipe below. Once you try my version of Chef Ludo's French-style Cheese Omelette you will cry sacre bleu! And bon app├ętit from this Internet Chef.

French-style Cheese Omelette  - VIDEO

 Play it here, video runs 2 minutes, 27 seconds.

My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.

Ingredients (one omelet) 
3 eggs - I used medium size eggs.
1/4 cup soft cheese -  Add more or less to taste. Any favorite is fine. I used shredded mozzerella.
1 tablespoon salted butter - If you use unsalted, then add a little salt to egg. Okay to use a butter substitute, or just plain cooking oil. But, butter does add a lot of flavor.
Pepper to taste - I left out salt. I find the cheese and salted butter is enough.
A few chopped sprigs of parsley or chives - optional. Sprinkle on the omelette when serving.

For this recipe it's best to use a non-stick frying pan, (8 inch diameter.)  For a regular pan you can use more butter (or cooking oil) as needed to keep the cooking eggs from sticking.

Crack open eggs and add to a bowl. Whisk the egg for a minute to mix completely. Add pepper to taste to blended eggs. If you are using unsalted butter, then you can add a pinch of salt.

Add tablespoon of salted butter to a medium hot pan. Reduce heat a little, when the butter melts. You want a pan that's not too hot, so you can watch the eggs form a soft scramble.

The trick is to gently stir the heating eggs, but keep a solid layer of egg to add the cheese onto.

The egg is heated through, but not cooked all the way, yet. Add the cheese when the egg is still slightly damp.

Now you just gently roll up the omelet. Just lift the edge of cooked egg and fold it partway. Keep rolling to cover the cheese. When the omelet is rolled to the other side of the pan, it's ready to serve. I like my omelette slightly damp and creamy inside.

If you like your omelette well done, then keep cooking it for another 30 seconds to 1 minute longer. You can flip the omelette over to cook thoroughly. Check for desired doneness by slicing into thickest part of omelette.

Finally, top with a little chopped parsley or chives (optional.)

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