Wednesday, January 29, 2014

One Quick Tip:
How to Freeze Tomato Paste in Convenient Portions

How to wrap leftover tomato paste to freeze in convenient portions.

How to wrap leftover tomato paste to freeze in convenient portions.

This is the first of an occasional series of posts I'm going to call "One Quick Tip" ... because, well, each one will include a single quick tip, quick to absorb, easy to adopt, memorable to use.

Do you have One Quick Tip you'd like to share? Leave a comment or send me a quick e-mail via This week, how about we collect tips on how to preserve/save/use up little bits of food stuffs, something that would otherwise go to waste? Old or new idea, big or small idea, I'd love to know how you run your kitchen!

WHAT IS TOMATO PASTE? Tomato paste is a much-condensed tomato purée. In the U.S. anyway, it usually comes in a tiny three-ounce can and a still-small six-ounce can. You can also find tomato paste in convenient tubes – you squeeze it out like toothpaste – but it's harder to find and is often more expensive.

WHY FREEZE TOMATO PASTE? So if you ever used an entire can of tomato paste, you'd never have any leftover to freeze. But tomato paste is often used a tablespoon at a time, its deep, dark tomato flavor can make all the difference in a sauce, a soup, a gravy, etc. And it's not so much that you're saving a bunch of money using up all the tomato paste but that it seems there's otherwise no having a can on hand when you need one.

FREEZE TOMATO PASTE A TABLESPOON AT A TIME That's why I get out the plastic wrap whenever there's leftover tomato paste, to freeze it as I'll use it, a tablespoon at a time.

HOW TO Just tear off a piece of plastic wrap. Use two spoons (one to scoop, one to scrape) to collect dollops of tomato paste about a tablespoon big, leaving about two inches between the dollops. Wrap the plastic wrap around the dollops, then twist the plastic wrap between the dollops, separating the dollops into individual sections.

HOW TO FREEZE Place the tomato paste dollops in a freezer bag – double bagging prevents freezer burn – and then when you need some tomato paste, just snip off one dollop at a time.

THAT'S IT! Really!

Recipes Calling for the Special "Oomph" of Tomato Paste

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Winter Tomato Soup Chocolate Chili Champion Chicken

© Copyright 2014 Kitchen Parade

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Chillin: Favorite Chili, Chowder & Cornbread Recipes

So we've all survived the Polar Vortex but Mama Winter, she's ain't through with us yet. (My northern soul is grateful!) So we'll still need to call upon a potful or two or three of chili to gird our constitutions (to say nothing of our bellies) for what lies ahead. (How lucky is that?! Does anyone else mourn the end of chili season?)

And besides, there are two big playoff games plus the Super Bowl to go and hasn't chili become the go-to thing to serve? Here I've collected my favorite chili recipes plus a couple of chowders for the chili-haters, all served with cornbread on the side. If you're not the chili or cornbread maker, you'll find plenty of football-friendly fare here in Football Fever!

Favorite Chili & Chowder Recipes with a Side of Cornbread, a recipe collection from Kitchen Parade.

Some Of Us Just Can't Get Enough
(I'm Not Sayin' Who)

Chocolate Chili. Yes, there's a touch of chocolate plus warm savory spices. My oldest (still best!) recipe for chili!

CHOCOLATE CHILI (pictured above) is the "granddaddy" of my chili recipes but it's also my "newest" recipe because it's just been updated to move "spice forward". And I don't mean hotter – Chocolate Chili isn't a "sweet" chili but it's also not a "hot" chili recipe. It is "spicy" with warm spices like cinnamon and cumin and coriander. And yes, there's even a touch of chocolate! Here's the recipe for Chocolate Chili.

BEST FOR Weight Watchers (just 2 or 3 points per cup) and those who don't like beans in chili (no beans).

COOKED on the stovetop or in the oven.

Crockpot Chili, just cook the ground beef and spicy pork sausage, then dump the rest into the slow cooker. Man-friendly!

CROCKPOT CHILI with SPICY SAUSAGE (pictured above) is my sister's recipe, it mixes ground beef with spicy sausage. Yum! This is a man-friendly chili, rich and extra hearty. Plus it's one of those recipes where you brown the meat, then dump it and everything else into the slow cooker all at once. As easy as it is, it's perfectly balanced, the right amount of spice, the right amount of meat. Here's the recipe for Crockpot Chili with Spicy Sausage.

BEST FOR big appetites, heat lovers and slow cooker mavens.

COOKED in a slow cooker or on the stovetop.

White Chicken Chili, a spicy-but-not-too-spicy concoction of chicken, spices, chilies and white beans.

WHITE CHICKEN CHILI (pictured above) is a chili that every so often, I just crave. I think it's the green chilies, it gives the chili a southwestern flair. I always use a rotisserie chicken for the meat, so easy! Here's the recipe for White Chicken Chili.

BEST FOR those who don't eat red meat, those who love the smokiness of green chilies.

COOKED on the stovetop.

Vegetable Chili with Sweet Potatoes & Chipotle

VEGETABLE CHILI with SWEET POTATOES & CHIPOTLE (pictured above) is a brand-new recipe at A Veggie Venture, all vegetables and a confetti of rainbow colors, it's my less-spicy version of a restaurant recipe from here in St. Louis. Here's the recipe for Vegetable Chili with Sweet Potatoes & Chipotle.

BEST FOR vegetarians, vegans and vegetable lovers.

COOKED on the stovetop or in the oven.

For Something a Little Different, Try a Big Pot of Chowder

Not everyone's as keen on chili as well, the rest of us. Maybe it's because so many chili recipes are so-so spicy? (I've learned to never order chili out! Too spicy for my taste!) So for a little something different, try making a big pot of chowder. For a big party, you might even serve both side by side, chili and chowder!

Smoked Turkey Chowder, homemade chowder made with slow-cooked caramelized onions, mushrooms, potatoes, smoked turkey, milk.

SMOKED TURKEY CHOWDER (pictured above), wow-oh-wow is all I can say. I made a pot this week for the first time in a long while. The mix of smoked turkey (ham would work too), caramelized onions, potatoes, mushrooms and rosemary is homey and comforting, light and filling at the same time. Here's the recipe for Smoked Turkey Chowder.

BEST FOR a change of pace from chili, feeding a crowd on the cheap.

COOKED on the stovetop or in the oven.

Salmon Chowder, fresh salmon in a creamy broth with carrot, potato, fennel.

SALMON CHOWDER (pictured above) poaches fresh salmon in a milky broth that's slightly sweet, thanks to carrot, potato and especially fennel. It's a study in contrasts, color, texture, shape, flavor. Here's the recipe for Salmon Chowder.

BEST FOR Weight Watchers (only three points per cup) and those who don't eat meat but do eat fish.

COOKED on the stovetop.

Please pass the cornbread. Again, please? And again?

Skillet Cornbread, an adaptable, forgiving recipe, one I've made for many years which remains my favorite recipe. Stays moist for a couple of days.

SKILLET CORNBREAD (pictured above) is my first and still-most-favorite recipe for corn bread. It's so adaptable, so forgiving, accepting with grace whatever I throw at it. Thanks to folding in whipped egg whites, it stays moist for a couple of days. Here's the recipe for Skillet Cornbread.

BEST FOR making ahead of time, preferably the same day but in a pinch, the day before.

Simple Cast Iron Southern Corn Bread, six tips for perfect cornbread every time.

SIMPLE CAST IRON SOUTHERN CORN BREAD (pictured above), that said, is the recipe I carry along when we travel, small bags of stone-ground cornmeal, flour and leavening, needing only egg, oil and buttermilk onsite. I take it along so often, it's become a signature recipe! We even make it over an open fire! Here's the recipe for Simple Cast Iron Southern Corn Bread.

BEST FOR serving hot, straight out of the oven.

Savory Cornbread Muffins, A cornmeal muffin spiked with chili powder, a little jalapeno and red pepper and very decidedly savory.

SAVORY CORNBREAD MUFFINS (pictured above) are perfect for smaller bites for a crowd, you could even make these in mini muffin tins. I love that they are decidedly savory, not sweet at all, with chili powder, a little jalapeño and red pepper. Here's the recipe for Savory Cornbread Muffins.

BEST FOR big groups and making ahead of time.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

© Copyright 2014 Kitchen Parade

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Slow Cooker Curried Vegetable Stew

We're an open-minded bunch, right? So we won't hold it against this recipe, will we, that it's called "curried"? A curry, after all, is just a spice mix and we all know what the right mix of spices does to foods, vegetables and meats alike, right?

A vegetable stew strikes such the right note for January, for any month really, but especially a month when it feels so good to return to what's fresh and what's healthy and what's, you know, every-day delicious versus sugar-and-butter laden holiday-delicious.

So please, if there's anyone in the kitchen who's prone to say, "I don't like curry" then please, just think of this as a "Spiced Vegetable Stew". I'm willing to bet, you'll love it.

PS Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real, a great choice for a side dish or Meatless Monday!

Slow Cooker Curried Vegetable Stew, a spiced vegetable stew, your choice of vegetables. Vegan, paleo, very Weight Watchers friendly!

Fresh fruits, they’re just soooo uncomplicated? Bite into an apple; peel a banana; pull a few grapes off a cluster; open mouth, insert berry or cherry. From impulse to input, only seconds pass.

But fresh vegetables, they’re harder! The exception is baby carrots which aren’t young, tender carrots at all, just bullets of carrot flesh carved from huge, honkin’ carrots that compensate for taste with convenience: no washing, no cutting, no waste, as easy as jelly beans.

But most fresh vegetables call for some slice-slice-chop-chop knife work, trimming, peeling, dicing, chopping or mincing. Nothing hard, mind you. Not even so time-consuming. We spend 23 minutes a visit on Facebook (source: MediaBistro) and untold hours staring at screens small and large. Surely we can carve out time for cooking healthy, vegetable-centric meals?

Ah heavens, regular readers, so sorry. I know you’re with me on this, I’ll get off my soapbox!

So instead, let’s talk knives and how we take care of them.

My favorite knives are circa early 1980s, Chicago Cutlery utility knives with that came in a set, the walnut handles now much faded. Last fall, a blade snapped in half – just like that, no warning. I harbor no complaints, however, that knife broke after thirty years of knife “abuse”: infrequent sharpening and daily dishwasher cleaning.

(I’d buy an identical knife in a heartbeat but unfortunately Amazon reviews from other long-time users indicate a dramatic drop in quality and longevity. It’s the China Effect, no doubt, low labor costs which force other manufacturers to sacrifice quality to compete on cost. But there I go again, another soapbox.)

That’s right, no babying knives around here! If a knife loses its blade every week or even every month, off it goes. If a knife can’t handle the dishwasher, it’s gone. What’s the state of your knives, are they coddled and caressed? Yes I know live with a cook like that.

ALANNA’s TIPS VEGETABLE CHOICES Aim for 4 to 6 kinds of vegetables, varying color and shape and kind of vegetable. Use all fresh vegetables or half fresh vegetables and half good canned or frozen vegetables. Good fresh vegetables include bell peppers (red for color, green for price), turnips, fennel, rutabaga, sweet potatoes (peeled), potatoes (skins on), turnips, parsnips, zucchini, bok choy, kohlrabi, cabbage. Be careful with broccoli and Brussels sprout unless you’re able to eat a large batch within a day or so. The stew that’s pictured included celery, turnips, carrots, green beans and sweet potatoes, twas wonderful! I love vegetable stews with just a touch of creaminess stirred into the bowl, a spoonful of Greek yogurt adds nice “tang” but a splash of cream makes for something almost ethereal!
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite slow cooker recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!


Real Food. Vegetarian. Vegan. Low Cal. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Gluten Free. Paleo. Primal. All that good stuff!
Hands-on time: 40 minutes
Time to table: 3-1/2 hours on high, 7 hours on low
Makes 11 cups
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, cut in large pieces
  • 2 pounds vegetables (see TIPS for vegetable suggestions), cut in large pieces
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 15 ounces canned beans (black beans, chickpeas, etc.), rinsed and drained
    TO FINISH (don’t skip!)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (agave for vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco or hot sauce or sirarcha
  • Chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

START on the STOVETOP In a Dutch oven or very large and deep skillet, heat oil on medium high until shimmery. Add onions and other vegetables as they’re prepped, stirring to coat with fat with each new addition, turning down the heat to keep up with the prep pace, you’ll want to aim for “golden” colored vegetables not “browned” vegetables. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 – 2 minutes. Add the spices and cook for 1 – 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and beans. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 5 minutes.

MOVE to a SLOW COOKER Arrange butternut squash pieces on the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the cinnamon stick and pour vegetable mix over top. Cook on high for about 3 hours or on low for about 6 hours. PET PEEVE: Slow cookers vary so much in performance so the first time you make this, watch your time and temperature to get it right for your specific cooker.

TO FINISH Pull out the cinnamon stick. Mix the honey, lemon juice and Tabasco in a small bowl, then stir into slow cooker. To serve, serve as a side dish or a vegan main dish, sprinkled with fresh parsley or cilantro.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Cup: 153 Calories; 3g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 488mg Sodium; 30g Carb; 7g Fiber; 9g Sugar; 5g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 2.5, WW PointsPlus 4 CALORIE COUNTERS 100-Calorie Serving = 2/3 cup
Adapted from Cooking Slow by Andrew Schloss. (Cool! He has a blog, Schloss Cooks with "inspired riffs" on published recipes, an excellent companion!) It's my favorite cookbook from 2013, purchased late in the year so this is the first recipe I’ve shared. The premise is slow cooking – allowing time to let flavors develop, mostly with long hours in the oven rather than the notorious unpredictability and sameness of a slow cooker. (Oh, man. One MORE soapbox.) Funny, though, that the first recipe I share actually uses a slow cooker! That said, it also starts with time on the stovetop, one of the tricks to developing flavor for dishes that finish in the slowe cooker. More later, I l-o-v-e this cookbook! DISCLOSURE My Disclosure Promise

This Week, Years Past 2002 - 2013

Low-Fat Vegetable Soup Quick Cauliflower Soup or Quick Broccoli Soup Two-Way Lentil Skillet Morning Oatmeal: How & Why to Cook Oatmeal Every Day Sugar-Free Chai Tea How to Lose Weight with Weight Watchers Quick 'n' Easy Raw Salad How to Make Homemade Vegetable Soup Why I Switched from Weight Watchers to Medifast

This Week, Elsewhere

Rustic Tomato Basil Soup
~ more Recent Recipes ~
A Veggie Venture

Jazzing Up Winter: More Vegetable Main Dishes for Cold Weather

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Squash & Carrot Stew Two-Way Lentil Skillet (Black Lentils with Tofu) Mediterranean Eggplant

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

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