Monday, April 17, 2017

Cooking with Chef Tess Wicked Enchilada Skillet Casserole (full video)

This week's episode was was amazing! Here are the recipes. First the Enchilada Skillet Casserole, and then the Homemade taco seasoning!

Enchilada Tortilla Skillet Casserole
  • 1 poblano* pepper, (or bell pepper works too.)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb hamburger, very lean (or well seasoned ground turkey or chicken)
  • 2 tbsp Homemade Taco Seasoning
  • 1 can organic(15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups organic thick and chunky salsa, (roasted variety has more flavor)
  • 4 cups broken baked organic tortilla chips 1 cup
  • (4 oz) organic shredded cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese blend (for a lower fat version, try using only a 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar!)
  • Snipped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • Taco toppings like: fat free Sour cream, chopped avocados, fresh tomatoes and black olives (optional--but a must have around my house!)

1. Remove stem and seeds from poblano pepper, chop. Combine hamburger, onion, peppers and seasoning mix in a large skillet (12 inch or larger with a lid). Cook over medium high heat for 5-7 minutes until peppers are soft and meat is no longer pink. 2. Drain and rinse black beans. 3. Stir beans and salsa into hamburger mixture. Gently stir in tortilla chips. Grate cheese over casserole. Cover 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted everything is hot. If desired, snip cilantro; sprinkle over casserole. Yield: 6 servings *Poblano peppers are dark green chilies with a rich flavor that varies from mild to slightly spicy. Poblanos are about 2 1/2 in. wide and 4-5 in. long, forming a triangular shape.

For a freezer meal: Put in a freezer safe casserole dish. Combine all ingredients according to recipe until you get to the last cooking time. Don't cook. Cover, label, and freeze. To cook, heat in microwave 15-20 minutes from frozen or 5-7 minutes if defrosted. For solar oven/conventional oven baking: Bake 1 hour from frozen, or 30 minutes if defrosted. Allow an extra 15 minutes of baking for every time you open a solar oven.

Chef Tess Taco Seasoning
For one packet (I usually store in a snack size zipper bag):
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground black pepper (and 1/2 tsp salt optional)
2 tsp ground oregano
2tsp onion powder
2tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp coriander (ground)

Combine and mix with 1 lb cooked ground beef with 1/4 c water for taco meat.

There you go darlings!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Monday, April 10, 2017

Foil Dinners for Camping And Freezer Meal (full Video)

Episode 3 of Cooking with Chef Tess aired on Saturday in Las Vegas on channel 34.2 and Cox cable channel 97. The Heartland TV Network! Here's the recipe...

We've got summer vacation coming up soon...and that mean camping trips. What mom, dad or granny wouldn't love to be prepared way ahead of time for that big camping trip...or dinner tomorrow? I think this freezer meal will shock and amaze even the pickiest eaters in your house. We call it a Hobo Dinner (or Foil dinner), but it's one of those classic comfort foods that we always had as a kid when we went camping. It's basically a hamburger pot roast cooked over hot coals in the woodland setting. Or, at home it can be baked in the oven (or solar oven) They can be made fresh for dinner, or frozen for later use. However you do it, be prepared to sing a rousing ensemble with your favorite hillbilly harmonica songs. It's campfire good. Down home good. If you precook the veggies and meat, it's even fast and good. we go:

Foil Freezer Dinner's A La Chef Tess

5-6 large russet potatoes, cleaned well and cut into cubes, cooked in microwave or stove top until fork tender OR 4 lb frozen cubed hash browns
1 lb baby carrots, steamed 5 minutes (or frozen)
2 medium red onions, chopped, steamed with the carrots
2-3 T Chef Tess All Purpose Seasoning
3 lb cooked hamburger patties, about 12
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
2 Cups dark brown mushroom gravy of your choice (I use homemade Gravy Mix made easy)

12 sheets of heavy-duty foil (use the heavy stuff if you don't want a mess) about one foot long each.

In a large bowl, combine the carrots, onions, potatoes, and seasoning.
Place one cup of vegetable mixture onto a lightly oiled sheet of foil. 
Place the cooked hamburger on  top of the vegetable mixture and wrap tightly.
 I roll the ends and sides very well. Repeat until you have used all your hamburger and vegetable mixture. You can use veggie burgers if you choose instead of meat. Top the meat with a few tablespoons of the prepared gravy. Place 4 meals in a gallon size freezer bag and remove as much air as possible.

 Label with baking directions:
Remove from plastic bag and place in a 400-degree oven for 35-40 minutes until heated through, or place in a solar oven Pot, cover the foil with a dark sheet pan, and close oven. Cook 45 minutes to an hour. In the on hot coals and cook 25 minutes.

Pour contents onto a plate and sprinkle with parsley if desired.
There you go. Quick and easy on the go for camping, oven baking, or solar cooking.

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Monday, April 3, 2017

Full Video: 3 Freezer Meals from One Beef Base

For those of you who don't live in Las Vegas, here's the full video of last Saturday's show. It was so much fun! If you want the Recipes click here.

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Today's Episode:3 Quick and Easy Freezer Meals from One Beef Base

This Week's Episode of Cooking with Chef Tess on 
Heartland TV  in Las Vegas on
 channels 34.2 and on Cox cable channel 97 at 1:30...

The original post was:

Here's the information from today's show! 

Make-A-Head Ground Beef Base 

3 medium onions, peeled and chopped or minced fine
3 lbs. 90% lean ground beef or 93% lean ground turkey (or chicken breast pieces)
3 garlic cloves, pressed
2 carrots, peeled and shredded finely
2 stalks of celery, chopped finely

Cooking Directions: Place all ingredients into skillet (12-in or larger). Cook over medium-high heat, breaking into crumbles, 15-18 minutes or until beef is no longer pink. Divide beef mixture into three equal portions (according to your recipe choices below). Label clearly with cooking directions. Chill promptly!

Home-Style Chili

In a gallon-sized freezer bag or container, add the following:
⅓ of the meat base
1 (15 oz.) can roasted tomatoes
2 (15 oz.) cans kidney beans
2 Tbsp. chili powder or Chef Tess Fajita Seasoning
1 small can diced green chile or jalapeno

Directions: Chill in the fridge up to 4 days or freeze up to 3 months. Defrost and heat for 15 minutes over medium heat. Serve with shredded cheese and cornbread if desired.

Taco Rice Casserole

In an oven-safe non-aluminum 9x13 pan, layer in order:
3 cups cooked rice
⅓ of the meat base
1 cup tomatillo salsa or red salsa
1 packet taco seasoning of your choice (or homemade),
1 cup shredded cheese

Directions: Cover and store up to 5 days in the fridge or freeze up to 3 months. Defrost and heat for 20-25 minutes uncovered at 350 or 10-12 minutes in the microwave on high.

Sloppy Joe Filling

In a quart-sized freezer bag or container:
⅓ of the meat base
¼ cup brown sugar
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
2 small red bell pepper, minced
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Directions: Chill in the fridge up to 4 days or freeze up to 3 months. Defrost and heat 5-6 minutes in microwave. To serve, divide between 4 toasted burger buns. Serve with coleslaw or side of your choice.

How to Freeze Food Safely and Effectively 101

·         Buy Quality Fresh Ingredients: Freezing will not cover up inferior cooking or ingredients. Check the flavors and seasoning before freezing to be sure it tastes good.

·         Chill First: Make sure food is cold before you freeze it! This allows it to freeze faster and reduces the amount of drip loss (leakage of moisture that occurs during defrosting) the ice crystal will be smaller in chilled food, reducing the amount of water lost. The result is better texture and flavor. It will also reduce the amount of condensation (moisture that collects on the surface of food when frozen) when defrosted, the excess water will make the food soggy and tasteless.

·         Chill Cooked Food Uncovered: If you can’t bag and chill in labeled bags, it is essential that the food is chilled uncovered so the heat isn’t kept in the container (even plastic wrap!) If it’s a large pot of chili or meat, I freeze bottles of water and put them inside the pot to further hasten the drop of internal temperature.

·         Freeze Small: The smaller the item, the quicker it will freeze. Whenever possible, freeze in pint or quart-sized name brand freezer bags. Gallon size is perfect for pizza crusts and larger family sizes. I use quart-sized for my family of four. When you freeze it, do so with the bag laid out flat-- the increased surface area will not only freeze faster, but also be easier to store in stacks. I have a “freezer file” that I use. It’s an ice bin that I put the flat bags in just like files I can flip through!

·         “Open” Freeze Smaller Items: Smaller items like berries and cooked potato wedges can be placed on a parchment lined sheet pan (metal is best because of its temperature conducting qualities). Using this method will keep these smaller items from freezing in a block. I use it for twice baked potatoes and blanched vegetables.

·         Wrap Well: Squeeze out as much air as possible and label food clearly with permanent marker. Include defrosting and cooking instructions so anyone can cook it later (my husband needs it clearly marked to remove the ingredients from the bag before microwaving!) Preventing freezer burn is the key! There is nothing wrong with using two bags. I always use the name brand bags. If the store brand is used it needs to be double bagged anyway, so it is worth the cost of the quality bags. If able to use the specially made vacuum sealers and the freezer bags with them, it is a good investment.

·         Watch Freezer Temperature: On big freezing days, it is essential to check the temperature, as well as checking periodically to be sure the freezer stays cold on other days. Keep a freezer thermometer in the freezer. It should be between 0-30° Fahrenheit. If you are placing a large quantity of food in the freezer at once, turn the thermostat to the coldest setting until food is frozen.

·         Follow Defrosting Recommendations: It is best to defrost in the fridge or microwave. Do not defrost at room temperature because microorganisms like yeast, mold, and bacteria multiply quickly at temperatures above 40 degrees. It may still feel cool to you, but is a breeding ground for food-borne illness--don’t take chances! Cook defrosted food soon and chill leftovers as soon as possible.

There you go!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Pilot Episode! Full Video

In case you missed last week's pilot episode of Cooking With Chef Tess, my producer put it up on Youtube! Please feel free to share it...

You can find the recipes from the show in the links below:

French Onion Orange Chicken

4 Ingredient No Knead Bread Anyone Can Make

I am excited beyond words for this adventure on the Heartland Channels in Las Vegas!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess