Monday, January 13, 2014

Saving Time !!!!

Before we start this recipe, let me say that making this recipe can be very fast or slow depending on what you make ahead of time.  In previous posts I told you about caramelizing onions.  This one of those times to use ingredients from the freezer, I also make my Spicy Kale in bulk and freeze part of it to use later.  Kale takes a long time to cook if you like it tender, as I do.  I will start with that recipe.

Spicy Kale
              1 – Tablespoon – Coconut Oil
3   Bunches – Fresh Kale (washed and torn into small pieces)
(Kale stems are pretty tough. I tear the leaf from the stem; only using the leaf.)
              4 – Medium – Onions (thinly sliced and caramelized)
              1 – Large Jar – Salsa (seasoned to taste)
              1 – Tablespoon – Chili Powder
              1 – cup – Beef Broth (to
              Sea Salt (to taste)
1)  In a large skillet, heat oil (medium heat).  Add onions and cook until tender and caramelized.
2)  Add kale and salsa. 
3)  Cover and cook until kale is tender. (low to medium heat) Stirring occasionally. 
4)  Add chili powder and salt.  Mix well.
5)  Add broth. Stir well.
6)  Finish cooking until you reach the desired tenderness.
Note:  You can add extra garlic to this dish if you like garlic.

Caramelized Onions

       1 to 2 – Tablespoons – Coconut Oil
1 – 3lb. Bag – Yellow Onions (sliced thin or diced)
5 – Cloves – Garlic (diced or minced)
1 – Tablespoon - Paprika (this helps the onions brown)
1)  In a large skillet or wok, heat oil. (Medium/High Heat)
2)  Add onions, garlic and, paprika; reduce heat.
3)  Cook onion mixture until slightly translucent, browned and tender. Stirring often.
4)  Allow to cool.  Use small freezer bag. 
5)  Put onions in the bags to fill about ½ the bag.  Make sure the onions are packed down to get the air out.  Close the bag, making sure to squeeze the air out.  Roll the bag from the bottom to shape it into a cylinder shape.
6)  Use a maker or label to show what is in it.  Also date it.
7)  Freeze until you need them.
Tips:  I have found that cooking this slowly works best.  The onions will become translucent when they are the right doneness.  Remember that you will cook these even more when you add them to whatever recipe you are making.
You can add less or more garlic, depending on the recipe or your taste.  You can also substitute spray olive or coconut oil instead of the regular coconut oil.
Onions cook down.  It takes 2 or 3 onions to fill ½ of a small freezer bag. A 3lb. Bag of onions will only fill 2 to 3 freezer bags.  I usually cook a double batch.  I make these when I am already spending extra time in the kitchen making things like soup or stew.  I’m already there.  You can get your recipe started and while you are waiting, you can do the onions.

Spicy Kale and Black Bean Soup

I usually make this in a large soup pot (7 quarts).  I serve it for at least 2 meals (for 2 people) and then I freeze the rest in containers.  (Freezer Bags lay flat and take up less room in the freezer)  If you use glass containers, make sure to leave room at the top for expansion, about ¾  inch should do it.  I also put clear plastic wrap over the top to help keep ice away from the food.  Just press a double layer over the top before tightening the lid.  When you thaw the soup take the plastic wrap out and dispose of it.  Also, when freezing in glass, be sure to thaw slowly.  Using hot water or the microwave can result in cracking the glass and wasting good food.  The best way is to thaw in the refrigerator over-night. 
              2 – cups – Beef Broth
              1 – recipe – Spicy Kale (from freezer)
              2 – bags – Frozen Caramelized Onions (6 onions)
              6 – 15oz. cans – Black Beans (un-rinsed)
              1 – 15oz. can – Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
              Sea salt (to taste)
1)  In a large soup or stock pot, add beef broth.
2)  Start with medium/high heat.
3)  Add Spicy Kale from the freezer. If you froze it in plastic bags, just cut it open and slide the kale out of the bag. You can expedite the process by running warm water on the outside of the bag to loosen the kale. 
4)  Add caramelized onions to kale.
5)  Allow the kale/onion mixture to heat through.
6)  Add black beans. Stir well.
7)  Add Tomatoes. Stir well.
8)  Heat through.
If you want more liquid to make the soup soupier, just add more broth.
Water dilutes the flavor. Stock or broth enhances it.
You can substitute vegetable broth to make this a vegan/vegetarian dish. 
You can also use 1 bag of onions since the Spicy Kale recipe has onions in it.
As with most soups or stews, the taste gets better the next day.  So, you can serve it right away or put it in the refrigerator and re-heat and serve the next day.  
I hope that this is a helpful posting.  Remember that you can use the caramelized onions in any dish that calls for onions.  They always taste better than raw/uncooked onions in cooked recipes. 
In my next posting I will talk about preparing vegetables for quicker dishes.  If you have some freezer space, it is a great way to save time and money.  Cooking from scratch is much cheaper than paying for pre-prepared dishes.  If there is anything you need to know about anything that I have posted, email me or send a response or comment in the blog.
As always, I hope you enjoy cooking as much as I do.  I know your friends and family will love your home-cooking and appreciate the effort you are making.
Until next time.