Archive for June, 2009

Beef/TVP mixture: Saving money, calories, and saturated fat

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Beef/tvp mixture for recipes calling for browned ground beef (like chili, spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes, tacos…)


2 lbs ground beef (80/20) optional (read “variations” part of recipe)

2 cups dry tvp (looks like grape nuts cereal, and is available in most health food stores, and some groceries)

1 (15 to 16 oz) can chicken broth (or 2 cups of hot water with 2 bouillon cubes dissolved in it)

Seasonings of your choosing (these are mine)

1 medium to large onion, diced

1 medium to large bell pepper diced (or a couple tablespoons dehydrated bell pepper)

2 medium stalks celery, diced fine (or a tablespoon dehydrated celery or celery flakes)

Garlic powder, or granulated garlic

Salt (I use chicken soup base – like powdered bouillon or “better than bouillon“ which is a paste, but regular salt is ok, also)


1-2 tsp oil (or if you’ve got a nonstick pan, you can use a spray of cooking pray or less oil)


In large Dutch oven, over medium heat, sauté vegetables (onion, bell pepper, celery) until soft. Add dry tvp and stir. You’re not wanting to toast or brown the tvp, just allow it to absorb any liquid from the vegetables, and pick up flavor from them.

Pour mixture into a bowl.


In same Dutch oven, that is now empty, brown ground beef. Add in tvp mixture about a ½ cup at a time, as beef starts to brown (the dry tvp, will actually help prevent the ground beef from clumping). Break up clumps, and add tvp as you go. When beef is browned.

Add broth:

Pour chicken broth or boillon into mixture and add garlic, salt (or powdered chicken soup base) and pepper and any other seasonings you like.


Allow mixture to cool before preparing for fridge or freezer


Put mixture into freezer bags or freezer containers. I use Ziploc freezer bags. Make sure there’s room in container or bag to break up mixture as it freezes. Every 20 minutes or so, shake container, make sure you hear that the meat is loose. If it’s clumping, “moosh” bag to break up pieces, or open freezer container and stir with a fork or spoon. Repeat until mixture is frozen. Pushing the extra air out of Ziploc bag will keep mixture fresher, so do this once it’s frozen, and each time you take mixture out of the bag. In freezer containers, if there’s a lot of air room, take a piece of plastic wrap or tin foil and press against the surface of the mixture, to protect it from air (and thus freezer burn). Scoop out in portions (about a slightly rounded ¼ cup).



This doesn’t have to be an exact recipe. Only the ratio of liquid to tvp has to remain the same – 1 cup of liquid to 1 cup of tvp. The quantities of the other ingredients can be just guesstimated. You can add more ground beef (or less) without having to change the recipe. It also doesn’t have to be made in such big batches, and it can be made in even bigger batches, as long as you have a big enough pot to brown the meat in.

You can omit the beef entirely. In fact, if you’d like to see if you like plain tvp, Omit the brown step and go on to Add broth step. If you like it, you have a completely meatless (except for the broth, but you can use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, or hot water and other seasonings). Taste. If you’re not happy with it, you can go back and do the brown step (it doesn’t matter, in other words whether you do the brown step before or after the add broth step.

I hope my explanation isn’t confusing, but this is a really flexible recipe, so instead of a “true recipe” I tend to think of it as general guidelines.



Chili like Lima bean stew

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

1 lb lima beans

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 large stalk celery, diced

1 medium onion, diced

1 handful of cilantro, chopped

4 oz beef “bacon” (smoked, sliced beef).

4 to 5 cups water (enough to cover all ingredients)

1 tsp dried diced garlic (or a couple cloves, fresh)

1 whole  ancho chili (dried poblano) or 1 fresh poblano

1 tbs chicken broth powder (or 2 bouillon cubes)

1 tsp Goya brand adoba seasoning bitter orange (orange cap) or regular (blue cap) – optional

1 rounded tbs chili powder

1 tbs dehydrated bell pepper (or 1/4 diced, fresh) 

1 tbs dehydrated jalapeno pepper (or 1 fresh or canned, diced)

1 large can tomato sauce (16 oz or larger).

1 tsp vinegar

2 tbs sweetener (Splenda, sugar, brown sugar, honey or any combination)


Mix all ingredients except  last three (tomato sauce, vinegar, and sweetener) in a crockpot.  Cover and cook on low until lima beans are tender.  Add final ingredients, and recover, cook at least 1 hour more.


If Life (or Walmart) hands you sour grapes – make popsicle nuggets

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

I bought some green grapes the other day at Walmart.  They were on sale for a great price, but they were very sour.  I bought them anyway, because sour grapes are pefect for popsicle nuggets (I call them that, because they taste like and have the texture of popsicles).   I freeze sweet grapes too, but usually don’t add the jello mix, because they’re plenty sweet enough on their own. 

I got the “recipe” (if you can call anything with two ingredients a recipe) at a Weight Watcher’s meeting. 

Remove grapes from stems.  Rinse in a collander, place in a ziploc freezer bag or container.  Pour in a package of any sugar free gelatin flavor (I used peach tonight).  Freeze

(I use only half a package if I’m freezing less than a pound of grapes.)



Lychee, new love of my life

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

A couple weeks ago, my husband introduced me to the magical fresh lychee.  I’d had canned lychees on oriental buffets, and have to say I wasn’t impressed.   Too sweet, too perfumey, and weird texture.

I’ve always heard that canned lychee doesn’t compare to fresh, at all.  So, when hubby added them to our cart while we were shopping in an oriental grocery (I LOVE ethnic groceries), I was looking forward to being pleasantly surprised, but my expectations weren’t really that high.

Wow, I now have a new fruit crush.   I love all fruit, but didn’t think I would ever find a fruit that would replace my unnatural affection for Ranier cherries (which replaced ugli fruit, which replaced watermelon as my “all-time favorite fruit.”

The grocer told us that “longan fruit is better than lychee” but the season for those is over, so I’ll have to wait until next year to see if longan fruit can push lychee off the pedistal I’ve put it on in my heart.

I did find a lychee juice drink that will sustain me when lychee season is over.  It’s way too sweet and caloric to drink straight from the can, but I add just a splash to diet Sprite and it’s wonderful.  A 12 ounce can lasts me several days that way.

Mmm lychee