just a little preface...
This blog consist of meals that are practically all purchased with the help of my footstamp budget, I work full time, but as a single mom with two children at home I am classified as "poverty level". I thank God everyday that my children get good homecooked meals, because there are so many kids in the USA that go hungry every day. I just wanted to add this so if you think you cannot purchase good food and create good meals on a tight budget I hope my blog makes you think of food in a different way. noturtypicalgma

the only thing i ask in sharing these recipes with you, is that you must really love the person you serve them to....cooking is how i show my love to the special people in my life.....

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why I decided to do a Food Blog...

I am having the best time writing this blog, I mean its about food..Something I have had a love affair with for years. But what a lot of people don't know is that most all of my food is purchased with a food stamp allotment that I receive. I work full time and  as a single Mom, I am what my government classifies as poverty level. My hours have been cut a little at work and its been even tighter for us lately, but that is all temporary and I know things will get better. For goodness sakes we have been homeless before, so we appreciate what we have right now. I have even gone to a food bank this year, something many people have had to do for the first time in their lives. I was hoping to get a garden in but it has not happened yet no extra funds, but did you know that food plants and food seeds are food stamp eligible? Learn more about the food stamp program at this link http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/ and what you can purchase at this link  http://www.gettingfoodstamps.org/whatfood.htm

 Being on food stamps should not be something you have to be ashamed of or stigmatize you. If you need to feed your family then you do what you need to do. What I wish more food stamp recipients would do is stop buying processed foods and really learn how to cook healthy, inexpensive, meals made of fresh ingredients. Obesity is on the rise and kids today are more sedentary than in years past. I hope to add a feature that shows you just how much I spent on my meal per person and also add the nutrition value of the meals I prepare... mind you I love food its not all gonna be salad...but there are ways to cut the fat and carbs and sugar in comfort foods too. Also I love to make a variety of foods and will be adventurous, sushi or shawarma, or tandoori chicken some recipes I cannot wait to make for you! So stay tuned and enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

MY Southern Smothered Porkchops and Mashed Potatoes

Today I was craving comfort food (which I do a lot) but in particular I wanted smothered pork chops, I think my loves, Auntie Bonita first introduced me to these. God rest her soul...that's when I learned what Southern soul food was, I love greens too. His family showed me how to cook those also, I think Auntie Pink, either way I love this stuff. So tonight I made some smothered chops and mashed potatoes no greens though, next time. I worked late and I technically would consider this a Sunday dinner meal, but in actuality it took me 15 mins of prep time and 30 minutes to cook. So be adventurous make em on a weeknight!


My Smothered Pork chops
9 thin sliced pork chops center cut
1 cup sliced onion white or yellow
1&1/2 cups of flour
1tsp paprika
1 &1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1tsp garlic powder
oil (canola) for browning
2tsp butter/or margarine
2&1/3 cups of water

Mashed Potatoes
3 russet potatoes cut into cubes
3 white potatoes cut into cubes
3 large cloves of garlic peeled
1tsp salt plus salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup of Philadelphia cooking creme plain
2tbsp butter/ or margarine

I did not even use the milk after all!

Once potatoes were in the pot I started my chops.

Peel and rinse potatoes, add to 3 qt pot add cold water, add in garlic cloves and 1 tsp salt and boil over med heat till cooked through... I left some skin on just to give it that home cooked appeal. Once potatoes have cooked and been drained do not remove garlic, add 1/3 c of Philadelphia cooking creme, and 2tsp of butter or margarine, mash, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile rinse chops in cold water do not shake off excess dip immediately into flour mixture. Dredge chops in flour that has been mixed with paprika, salt, garlic powder, and pepper.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the flour for smothering onions when I add onions right before the addition of the flour I add 1 tsp of butter or margarine just  to introduce some fat for the flour  to create the gravy! I brown the chops about 6 minutes each batch (I did 3) because they are thin, you may need to alter that cooking time if you are cooking thicker chops. Cooking time after being added to gravy is about  14 minutes. So a total of 20 minutes to cook these chops.
Watch as I cook this meal. Watching a video is always easier than looking at photos.
I had to video myself so sorry for the shakiness....but you will get the idea and you will love this recipe....by the way when I am making the gravy I say its ok if its thick I meant to say thin after adding 2 cups of water...Hope you try it!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Enchiladas and SCREAMIN Enchilada Casserole

An enchilada is a tortilla that is filled with any number of fillings, shredded beef, chicken, ground beef, etc. My Mothers specialty was black olive and red onions with sharp cheddar cheese. No meat. These were often made on special days like Christmas, Thanksgiving and during the lenten season. I started making them with ground beef one year and my Grandpa Gonzales who was a usual grouch about everything really liked them. So I still make them that way now I use turkey and ground beef mixed together. Here are my version of my Mothers enchiladas.

1&1/4 pound of ground beef
1&1/4 pound of ground turkey
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
1 c. chopped onions
1 can of  whole black olives/ slice them yourself
1 whole potatoe diced finely (optional)
1/2 bell pepper diced finely (optional)
36 corn tortillas
oil for frying (canola)
20 oz of grated sharp cheddar cheese
Recipe of Grandma Ruby's Mole About 5cups

Chop your onion, bell pepper, and potato

Brown and drain your turkey and hamburger
I rinse the meat as well under hot water

Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Cook down potatoes, pepper and onions till soft

Chop the olives and add to the meat filling
add about 1 cup of the mole sauce to the meat mixture

Heat oil in a pan and let tortilla just soften turn and do both
Drain on paper towels
Get your cheese, tortillas that have cooled, mole sauce that is cooled and pie plate, meat filling, cheese and pan that has been sprayed with pam or wiped with canola oil
assemble your enchiladas.
Watch as I roll mine


Ok this video is of enchilada casserole, and I thought about editing it but then as I was watching it I realized this is me, this is who I am... with my dog walking around as I cook and my kids in the background being well, kids. I yell when my kids are rude or  piss me off...for goodness sakes its not like I am gonna be on the Food Network with this video so be warned this is footage of a real mom cooking a real meal! Hence the name for the casserole. Hope you get a laugh!

Grandma Rubys Homemade Red "Mole" Sauce

There is nothing fancy about this mole... (pronounced mo-lay) sorry I have to download a language setting for my computer to type Spanish words properly. It is a simple Americanized version of a red chili sauce, I don't know if my Grandmother Maria Avalos taught my mom to make it this way, but this is how she taught me, the only thing that is different is the addition of cooking oil, my Mother used to only use flour and chili powder, sometimes leaving her with lumps and having to start all over. Luckily as I got older I learned that what my Mother was making was similar to a roux, often used in creole cooking. So I experimented and we both were never so happy to learn who Chef Prudhome was...PBS cooking shows!

3/4 c. flour
1/4c. 1tbspchili powder
2tsp salt
1tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 cup oil
5-6 cups of water/or chicken stock

mix all dry ingredients

whisk them together

heat oil in a 3 qt pot

Now you can watch the video to learn how to make it...hope you like it!

You will notice that I have two separate measurements of liquid, one to create the mole and the other to thin the cooked mole out I use approximately 5 cups of water total...using all chicken broth will result in a richer deeper taste, especially good to use when making the "chicken mole" recipe.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Future Featured Recipes....

I just wanted to share some pics of future recipes I will be posting.....my little obsession of photographing my food gives you a sneak peak...

Moms Enchiladas

Moms Chile Rellenos

Fresh hamburger rolls

Tamale Pie


Sopes (pronounced so-pays) are something my Mom never made, but I did some googling and learned how to make them, they just seemed like they would be good! My kids love them.The sope is a cornflour or masa disc that is thick and topped with whatever you can think of. It is served as an "antojito" or "little bite". There are even dessert sopes. The sopes I am going to show you are Roasted Chicken sopes. Traditionally sopes are fried, which you can do but I made these as a clean eating version and skipped the frying altogether.
For the Masa
2c. Maseca brand cornflour
2c. warm water
2tsp of salt

For toppings
Refried beans of your choice, pinto,white or black see my Boiled Beans recipe
Roasted chicken see my Easy Roasted Chicken recipe or buy one precooked at the store
or use some roasted beef, or barbecued tri-tip
salsa- see my Easy Blender Salsa recipe
fresh guacamole
shredded lettuce
diced tomato
cotija cheese (fresh mexican cheese)
sour cream
For the masa mix all the ingredients until a soft dough forms add 2nd cup of water in intervals using only the amount needed to form a dough you can easily handle.
Dough should look like this and be easy to roll into balls about the size of a baby lemon this recipe should yeild you 8 sopes

Take the sope ball and place between two sheets of plastic, I opened the sides of a large storage bag. This shows you how to do it without a tortilla press. Next take a plate and press down on masa. This should form a 3 to 4 inch disc.
This sope is ready to heat up in a cast iron pan or comal, which is a griddle...pour a drop of canola
oil onto a napkin and wipe surface of your pan or griddle.

heat through as you would a tortilla, the sope will be dry on both sides

Once the sope is out of the pan pinch up the edges with your thumb and forefinger,this creates a lip on the sope, be careful not to burn yourself! At this point you can make all of the sopes and set aside. When building your sope if you prefer to fry them do so in a pan with a little bit of oil till both sides are golden, drain on paper towels. I prefer them unfried they are just as tasty and healthier.

To build your sope spread some refried beans on it, add shredded chicken or beef, top with lettuce, salsa,  guacamole, sour cream and cotija cheese. These are a hit at my house! Hope they are at yours!

Super Easy Blender Salsa

Salsa is in my blood, any true blue Mexican better know how to make it! Salsa has surpassed Ketchup as the number one condiment of choice, just wish my Dad would have known that when he was growing his "salsa garden" back in the day! We coulda been gajillionaires. My mom used to make salsa like this in a molcajete (pronounced moca-hetay) or mortar and pestle. I didn't even know to use a blender until my friend Liz Mares made this one day at her house to accompany some "carne asada tacos" she served me. This is my simple version of that salsa made in a blender. I make other versions like Pico de Gallo which is what my mom used to make or salsa fresca, all the ingredients are chopped or diced and put together for a chunky version. This is more of saucy salsa. For this type of salsa I use Roma tomatoes as they are fleshier and lend themselves to this type of salsa. I like regular red tomatoes for salsa fresca, much more juicy! Especially fresh out of the garden!

6 Roma tomatoes
2-3 jalapenos
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/2 small white or yellow onion cut into chunks
2-3 sprigs of fresh cilantro
squeeze of lime juice
salt to taste

Rinse chilies and tomato put in sauce pot and add water, simmer on a med heat till skins of tomatoes split. Take your garlic and smash it under a flat knife the skin will loosen and be easy to peel off, chunk your onion. When tomatoes are done usually no more than 10 minutes remove from heat and let cool. Once cool cut out end where stem was. If you are adventurous and like hot spicy salsa just cut off  the stem of the jalapeno, otherwise open up jalapeno and remove veins and seeds...do not touch your eyes! Rinsing your hands with milk helps, but I would wash them thoroughly! If you do get chili in your eyes take a lock of someones hair, if not your own (hopefully its long enough) and rub your eye with the hair. I don't know why but that is what my Mom used to do, must be an old wives tale! Put all ingredients into a blender or smoothie maker and pulse! Add salt if needed, I use sea salt or kosher salt. Store in a plastic or glass container for about 3 days if it lasts that long! It is better made ahead as the flavors mingle and marry. At my house its usually doesn't get a chance to cool! Hope you enjoy this, add more or less of the ingredients that you like, more cilantro,more garlic or try Serrano or  other chile's.

I did not get  a picture of the finished product...it got eaten before I could take one to post!

Easy Roasted Chicken

I always thought roasting a chicken was going to be some long drawn out process...the only roasted chicken I knew of as a kid was the kind you could by at the store. My Dad probably didn't like it so my Mom never made it. Come to think of it I don't recall my Mom roasting a turkey, maybe thats because my Grandma Katie would make the turkey on Thanksgiving day and Mom would bring her famous enchiladas. So I pretty much learned how to roast a chicken by trial and error. This recipe is simple and the same concept can be applied to roasting a turkey!

1 5 to 6 pound whole chicken
1tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1tsp garlic powder
roasting pan 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, set roasting pan near your prep area, mix paprika,salt,pepper and garlic powder, (not garlic salt!) together. Rinse your chicken and remove giblets, save to make broth if you would like! Pat chicken dry and place in pan. I tuck the wings and truss the legs with the chickens own skin, cutting slits big enough to slide the end of  the leg through. Did not get pics of how to do that! Pour 1tbsp of olive oil on your chicken, and rub in. This makes me think of my sunworshipping days as a teen for some reason! Come to think of it my chicken looks like it has a really good tan when its done! Take spice mixture and sprinkle over chicken. Then rub into oil. Stick your chicken in a 350 degree oven and roast for about 1 hour and 45 minutes. A good rule of thumb when roasting chicken is to roast 20 minutes per pound unstuffed. 20 x 5 =100 minutes which =1 hour and 40 minutes. I check for doneness at the joint where the leg and thigh are attached, if it pulls apart easily and juice runs clear its done. I have rarely used a thermometer but if you are new to cooking invest in one. Most thermometers have a poultry gauge which is about 170 degree mark. Remember no two ovens are alike and your roasting time may be slightly longer or shorter! You will notice that the paprika gives it a beautiful golden color! Sage would also be a great herb to add!  Let your chicken rest a bit before you carve it, if it is too hot when you cut it it will shred!

patted dry and olive oil added

spices sprinkled on

spices rubbed in ready to roast!

finished chicken, so easy and simple sooo good!

Boiling Beans....With Epazote..

Epazote (pronounced ep-a-zotay) is a new herb to me, but has been around for thousands of years, used by Aztecs as a medicinal herb in the form of tea. It is now being studied for its antifungal properties as well as its anticancer and antitumor properties. Epazote has long been used by Mexican cooks, from those who cook in a 1 room shack to five star restaurant chefs. Epazote is very potent and should be used sparingly, in high doses it is toxic. For more information on this wonderful herb go to this link http://www.rain-tree.com/epazote.htm The purpose of this herb in this simple recipe is to act as not only a flavoring but also for its antiflatulence properties. You can find this herb in Mexican groceries. Fresh or dried.
2lbs dried beans -white, pinto, or black
water for rinsing
2 tsp salt
2-3 leaves of epazote
1/2 small white or yellow onion cut in chunks
3 cloves of garlic
5qt pot
water to cover beans
additional water for boiling

Put your beans in a colander and fill a bowl with hot water, let the beans rinse and pick off any
thing that floats to the top or looks bad, you can let the beans soak for no more than 6 hours. I only soaked mine for about 30 minutes. Once beans are soaked and cleaned pour them into a 5 qt. stockpot and add water, make sure water is about 2 knuckles high over beans. Add epazote and salt, onion and garlic and boil on medium heat for 1 and a half to 2 hours, I added water as needed. The texture of the beans should be creamy. I made a large batch because I used  them in several meals. You can use these to be refried, actually I do not add an oil or fat to my refried beans. I just put the amount of beans I want in a pan and mash them and reheat. The epazote gives it a very traditional Mexican flavor....one that is hard to imitate.  

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Clean Eating Minestrone

This is my recipe! I made it tonight!
64 oz chicken broth
1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes
30 oz. can of kidney beans
3 c. of cooked white beans
2 c. of loose baby spinach
1&1/2c. baby carrots cut in half
1 large white potato diced
2 c. snapped green beans
3 small zucchini diced
1/2 diced green bell pepper
1 cup of shredded cabbage
3  cloves of garlic minced=1tbsp
2tbsp freshly minced parsley
1/4c. yellow onion diced
1heaping cup of canned corn
2tbsp of cornstarch
1c. water
1 tsp each dried thyme, oregano, basil
pepper and salt to taste
Pour broth and tomato into a 5 qt. stockpot
heat on med heat
meanwhile take fresh veggies and saute in
1tbsp olive oilfor about five minutes
add to stockpot with corn and spices
mix 2bsp of cornstarch in 1c. water
stir till dissolved and slowly
add to pot, soup will thicken slightly

This makes 20 1c. servings so beware if you do
not want to make that much cut recipe in half!
I am freezing half of it for a later date.
  Also I had to remove some broth as I added vegetable
reserve it in a bowl about 2 c. add at end as soup simmers down

64 oz. chicken broth, and 14and1/2 oz can of diced tomatoes
add garlic and onion first then saute diced vegetables
 in 1tbsp of olive oil  for five minutes or so 
add 30 oz can of kidney beans drained half way

add 3 cups of cooked white beans
(these were from a previous recipe)

add 1 heaping cup of corn

add 1/2 tsp each of dried thyme, oregano, and basil

add fresh minced parsley
I did not add salt it was tasty on its own!
add 1 7oz pkg of small shell pasta after 20 minutes
after soup has simmered a total of 30 minutes add
2tbsp of cornstarch to 1cup of cold water and stir
till dissolved stir while pouring into soup
stir constantly soup will thicken slightly

this is the finished recipe
very tasty with crusty breadsticks!

My Lifelong Obsession With Food......

I have been in the kitchen for as long as I can remember. Learning to flip an egg before I went to kindergarten...that always seemed to be where the action was. My mother making all of her specialties like enchiladas and chile rellenos and some that were recipes of necessity like spaghetti (with heaven forbid) tomato sauce. My tastes weren't very advanced in those days and hey it was pretty good. My mom and I spent a lot of time in the kitchen and she was my teacher, until I discovered cooking shows on PBS.  I was cooking dinner for five people and trying out new recipes, that my Dad would eyeball before deciding to eat it, when I was about 12. Then I took what I learned watching cooking shows and what my Mom had taught me and developed my own style. Now there is a whole food network and cooking has become the "in" thing, and technically I am what is known as a "foodie". I have had occassional flops some weird Bisquick recipe my family hated, but really they have little to complain about.
Being a most of the time single Mom I have had to depend on foodstamps and still do. I have learned to shop wisely and cook things that can go into more than one meal. Now I am cooking differently for health reasons, need to lose weight, but I refuse to give up taste. If it does not taste good forget how healthy it is for you....So in this blog-vlog I will show you healthy recipes and some not so healthy but damned deliciously sinful recipes, maybe I will even try to cut the fat in some of my old specialties. I hope that you enjoy this new venture of mine half as much as I love doing it!