Category Archives: Recipes

The Quick Green Chile Stew Recipe That Time Forgot

It’s interesting how some things that I thought I’d put on the Internet years ago never actually found their way into cyberspace. Fortunately, I never delete anything that I create, so lost-in-time items like this one are always around when I remember to introduce them to the world.

My simple and quick green chile stew recipe was created in an attempt to duplicate and perhaps improve upon the version of this dish served at Pancho’s Mexican Buffet, a mostly defunct chain of mediocre Mexican food places. (Only a dozen or so loosely connected locations remain.)

While much of the food at this chain was lackluster or worse — accounting for its disappearance from most markets, I’m sure — the green chile stew was uncomplicated and very good. And I suppose it still is at the remaining locations. I haven’t actually been to one of the chain’s restaurants in years.

So here’s the recipe. With nothing to do but brown some meat, cut some potatoes and open some cans, you can have this ready for dinner in 30 minutes or so.

Quick Green Chile Stew

Brown in a stew pot:
1 pound of pork stew meat in some olive oil with salt and pepper

When done, add:
6 ounces (½ bag) frozen seasoning blend vegetables (onions, bell peppers, celery, parsley)

When cooked through, add:
1 can mild Hatch green chile enchilada sauce
1 can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 can chicken broth
1 can water
4-5 medium potatoes, diced in chucks small enough to fit on a spoon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt

Cover and bring nearly to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are done, about 15 minutes.

Allow to reduce without lid for 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Here are a few notes that may help you in preparing this recipe:

  • Those are 14.5-ounce to 16-ounce cans, so adjust accordingly if you get your products in different sizes.
  • If you can’t find anything called “seasoning blend”, just use onions. Or make up your own collection of aromatic veggies to add to the soup.
  • If you can’t find pork stew meat, you can cut up a pork roast or pork country style ribs. The recipes tastes great with chicken or beef as well.
  • Potatoes don’t freeze well, so I don’t recommend freezing this stew. But it’s great after a few days in the refrigerator.

So there you have it: my long-awaited green chile stew recipe.

It’s actually better than the version that Pancho’s served, as it should be. When you’re trying to copy a recipe, you owe it yourself to make it better. While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, I’m not trying to flatter anyone. I’m trying to make good soup.

Mock Chicken-Fried Steak For The 21st Century

More than 20 years ago when we got our first apartment, I didn’t really know how to cook anything. We ate out much more than we could afford, but I also quickly learned to make some simple dishes.

Even though I’ve watched thousands of cooking shows and experimented with hundreds of dishes since then, I still prefer simple, elegant meals to complex ones that require a long list of ingredients.

Sometime during that first year in Fort Worth, a friend gave me a recipe for a dish he had made for us: Mock Chicken-Fried Steak. Essentially, it’s a meatloaf served under cream gravy — and it’s delicious. The recipe he gave me was printed on a dot-matrix printer on a piece of that paper with the invisible perforations along the edges. It was one of the ugliest pieces of printed material I’ve ever owned, apparently spewed from some recipe-organizing software that was more concerned with function than form.

I lost that piece of paper years ago, but something compelled me to make Mock Chicken-Fried Steak again recently. I recreated the experience using more modern sensibilities, reducing the ingredients list, making portions smaller and carefully considering just how much gravy I wanted to put over my piece when I served it.

Here’s the new re

cipe I created:

Mock Chicken-Fried Steak For The 21st Century

1 pound 85/15 ground beef

1 egg, slightly beaten

9 saltine crackers, coarsely crushed

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Place ground beef into a mixing bowl and add the egg. Add the coarsely crushed crackers and the seasoning, then mix with your hands until just combined. Shape into six patties, then cook like burgers in a skillet with a little oil.

If you like cream gravy, make your favorite recipe for it with the pan drippings — or better yet, buy a package of Pioneer mix. That’s what I did. Cream gravy is essentially hot milk or cream thickened with cooked flour and pan drippings, then seasoned with plenty of salt and pepper. The French might call it a béchamel sauce.

I don’t remember the original recipe exactly, but I know I changed three things about it:

  • First, it originally made only four patties, but I prefer smaller portion sizes of meat now.
  • Second, it originally included Worcestershire sauce, but I don’t keep any around, so I omitted it. You could add some soy sauce, I suppose, or some steak sauce.
  • Third, the original recipe called for frying the patties in an inch or so of oil, but I don’t see why that’s necessary. Even using only a couple tablespoons of oil, the mock steaks came out just fine.

In fact, my new mock steak recipe is exactly like the one I lost, as far as I can remember. And it doesn’t require frying in a pan full of oil or buying a number of ingredients that I don’t keep in the house.

So go ahead. When you’re feeling decadent, give this modern mock chicken-fried steak recipe a try. It’s not a gourmet recipe, as you can see, but it reminds me of my past. Whether it will remind you of chicken-fried steak is another matter entirely.

Making Rice In A Crock-Pot: The Slow Cooker Rice Recipe You’ll Want To Try

I don’t have a rice cooker. I just don’t like the idea of a single-purpose machine cluttering up my home. Besides, I’ve always made instant rice, and I can handle that simple task in the microwave in five minutes. Who needs any other kind of rice?

Then, I discovered that jasmine rice tastes so much better than that instant stuff — and has a much better texture too.

When I learned that you can make perfect rice in a Crock-Pot in just a couple of hours, I was sold on the idea. You see, I often make pork or beef roast in my slow cooker — and it’s the best way to make pinto beans or black-eyed peas. But I don’t use the machine nearly as often as I should.

Based on some recipes I found online and tweaked to work even more perfectly, here’s how to make rice in a Crock-Pot:

Easiest-Ever Slow Cooker Rice

2 cups jasmine rice
3 1/3 cups water

Add rice and water to the slow cooker and stir. Cook one and a half hours on high, stirring at least once or twice during the cooking time.

Rice should be fluffy and just done when the cooking time is complete, but it will become stickier as it sits in the slow c

ooker (off or on warm) waiting for serving time.

Note that stirring when you first add the rice and water to the Crock-Pot and stirring at least once along the way are crucial to the success of this recipe. Also note that I don’t add any salt. Once you’ve experienced rice without salt, you’ll develop a whole new appreciation for the taste of it.

This will probably be exactly like the steamed rice you find at your neighborhood Chinese buffet — and better in taste and texture than you’ll get from most rice cookers.

You can make any other kind of long-grain rice the same way. Brown rice will work too, although you might need to increase the cooking time.

The rice from this recipe is perfect for making fried rice. Just heat some sesame oil in a skillet, then add the rice along with some garlic powder and ginger powder and season with soy sauce. Add leftover or frozen mixed veggies, any cooked meats you have sitting around and even a scrambled egg if you want. (Reheat the meats and veggies in the same skillet before cooking the rice if you want, and scramble an egg in advance in the skillet too.) Nothing makes a better quick-and-easy lunch than some leftovers turned into a flavorful fried rice.

Extra slow cooker rice can be frozen and reheated in the microwave. Just add a couple of tablespoons of water to the bowl or container when reheating so the rice will steam back to life.

Who knew making rice in a slow cooker was so easy? If I’d known this years ago, I would have never bothered with that instant stuff.

Vegetarian French Onion Soup Recipe

This recipe makes a small batch suitable for a couple of people with some leftover for next time.

First, SLICE a whole medium sweet yellow onion into thin slices, then CHOP the pieces so they will fit easily on a soup spoon.

Second, SAUTE in the bottom of saucepan with a little olive oil and a sprinkling of salt until they are very soft and almost caramelized (browning because they are releasing their sugars).

Third, ADD in one tablespoon of soy sauce and about one teaspoon of a good quality Dijon mustard and COOK two or three minutes to allow the flavors to combine.

Fourth, POUR four cups of vegetable broth into the saucepan.

When the broth comes to boil, the soup is ready. ADD salt and pepper before serving, if necessary.

SERVE topped with a large crouton or two (see below) and then a generous sprinkling of grated mozzarella or Swiss cheese.

A few notes:

  • The Dijon mustard is the secret ingredient! French Onion Soup is often made with beef broth, but in this recipe, the mustard adds the richness that the vegetable broth may lack.
  • To be more traditional, you could sauté the onions in butter instead of olive oil, but this isn’t necessary.
  • To make the large croutons, slice dry French or similar bread into half-inch pieces, sauté in a little olive oil or brush with olive oil and broil.
  • For this recipe, I like vegetable broth made from Knorr Vegetarian Vegetable Boullion Cubes. If you use something else, you may need to some additional ingredients to get a rich enough taste. You can often find these cubes in the Jewish section of the grocery store in tiny packages.
  • A little dried thyme added with the soy sauce and mustard gives the soup some additional flavor.
  • Use sliced cheese as a topping instead of shredded cheese and broil in the oven a few minutes. Works great as long as you use an oven-proof dish.