Mexican Fiesta

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure.  In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ~ Julia Child

Once I’d decided that Mexican was the choice for yesterdays menu, I went in the basement and pulled all the home-canned supplies from the shelves. The most exciting part of making the meal was being able to use the jalapeno peppers I’d just canned a few weeks ago. I’m not sure why I never thought to can them myself years ago, but when you start thinking one way…it’s almost impossible to change.

With the supplies at the ready, I opened first the tomatoes I’d canned last summer. Surprisingly these were my last two quarts. Good thing tomatoes are a constant during the summer. Having to wait until late August would be far too long a wait.

Once the tomatoes were pureed, I opened the peppers. Wow! My mouth began to water immediately. They smelled hot but I couldn’t control myself — I emptied the whole pint into the food processor and added the pureed paste to the tomatoes.

Here are a few pictures of the process:

My salsa isn’t very unique. My family does not like it chunky, so most everything in it is pureed so that the chunks are  small. I, myself do not like tomatoes. I eat them as a sauce mostly, but have never liked them raw. I think I have an alergy to them as well. Whenever I am in the garden trimming the plants or harvesting tomatoes, I end up with a rash all over me. Last year my daughter finally forbid me from going in the tomato garden. She took over so I wouldn’t spend the next day scratching and puffy.

I have added fresh onion and green or red bell pepper to the recipe on occasion, but for the most part, this is how we enjoy it. Here is the recipe if you’re interested.

Homemade Salsa

  • Servings: 3 Quarts
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Quarts Fresh or Canned Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 Pint Jalapeno Peppers
  • 12 – 16 oz. Chopped Green Chilis
  • 1 24 oz. Can Tomato Puree

Directions

  1. Put the tomatoes, peppers and chilies through the food processor and process to a consistency of your liking.
  2. Put in a bowl.
  3. Add tomato puree (I add this to thicken the salsa, but if you don’t mind the salsa a little runny you can omit it).
  4. Stir and chill for at least an hour.

Cooking Note

This is really just a starter salsa recipe. There are so many more options with this base. You can add in freshly diced onion, peppers, tomatoes or our favorite — cilantro. You can make this your own with whatever your preferences are.

 

Recipe by:  Tilly Frueh – Simply Grateful Housewife 2014

 

I have to admit that the full pint of peppers made the salsa very hot. I will be adding more puree to calm it down once we’ve eaten more of it. I’d add more tomatoes, but that shelf is bare.

As luck would have it, yesterday I happened upon two bags of green chilies on the discount rack at Meijer’s. I had put canning these on my Canning To Do List for the summer. Of course, who can wait until summer when there are two bags for less than $2.00 staring you right in the face. I picked them up and plan on roasting them today and giving canning them a shot. They have to be pressure canned. I’m not as comfortable doing this, but I did just pick up a new 12 quart pressure canner at an estate sale, so no better time to try it out.

After the salsa was done, I worked on the Mexican Tortilla Soup. Not sure where this recipe came from, but I have changed it so many times over the years, I’ll call it my own. Here is that recipe, very easy and quite hearty (so hearty in fact that the family asked me not to make the tacos with it last night — they figured they be too full from the soup to enjoy them).

Mexican Tortilla Soup

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 – 2 Pounds Ground Beef
  • 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 3 Pints Refried Beans or Canned Pinto Beans
  • 4 Cups Beef Broth
  • 2 Cans Enchilada Sauce
  • 1 Can Chopped Green Chilies (optional)
  • 1/2 Onion Chopped Fine and sautéed to translucent or 1/4 Cup Onion Flakes

Directions

  1. Brown hamburger in large pot. Drain grease.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for at least an hour. I leave mine on the stove all day just because I like to have my dinner done as early as possible so I don’t have to worry about it later. It needs to boil about an hour to allow the spices and flavors to infuse the meat and broth, but after than you can just put it on low.
  3. Garnish with tortilla strips or broken tortilla chips, sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped green/red bell pepper, diced onion, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and salsa — whatever you put on a taco or a burrito, will go great in the soup.

Cooking Note

This soup is really more like a chili. Definitely substantial enough for a meal, but if you limit everyone to just one bowl (good luck with that) you could serve a main course as well.

 

Recipe by:  Tilly Frueh – Simply Grateful Housewife 2014

So, yesterday’s dinner is under my belt and seeing as I didn’t make the tacos last night, dinner is planned for today, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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How Much Per Pound?!

Am I proving how old I really am when I say, “I can remember when I could buy hamburger for $0.99 per pound.”  Well I can and in my mind it doesn’t seem all that long ago.  Granted my kids were babies then, but that too doesn’t seem so long ago.

Nowadays, finding hamburger for $2.39 per pound on special is probably the best I can do.  Of course there are those rare occasions when I happen upon a package or two that might be $1.99 per pound, and you can be sure that I snap those up without hesitation.  I have even gone so far as to discuss this with the butcher at my local Meijer’s store and after sharing a trip down memory lane and agreeing that $0.99 a pound will probably never be seen again, he did tell me that a few times a year he does put hamburger on sale for $1.99 per pound.

I remember this!  Last year around Memorial Day and then again around the Fourth of July I was able to get hamburger for $1.99 per pound on sale, and for joy, for joy — even found several packages in the clearance section for $1.59 per pound.  I just love those red clearance stickers.  In fact, my basket typically will only have meat in it if it has those red clearance stickers on it these days.  Since I am going to bring the meat home and freeze it anyway, I could care less if it expires the day I buy it.  It will be eaten long before freezer burn even takes hold, so no worries.

This morning, before dropping my daughter off at college we stopped off to pick up four things from Meijer’s.  A half-full shopping cart later, I had three packages of $2.39 per pound hamburger, two packages of $0.79 per pound chicken leg quarters, and three packages of $2.29 per pound brat sausage, along with Duncan Hines cake mixes and brownie mixes 10 for $10 with the 11th item free. Yes I did manage to remember the original four items I specifically went shopping for, but what a great morning for bargains!

 

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I can think of no better way (okay this is a bit of an exaggeration, but it is still a pretty great way) to kick off a Monday morning.  I am definitely Simply Grateful for this!