My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!


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Making Something From Nothing. Or, To Be More Accurate, From Another Person’s Trash. 

When you think of trash, what comes to mind?  It’s not something most people seek out and for good reason.  Yet, there is one form of “trash” which is actually a treasure!

What trash you ask?  This kind:

Lovely, isn’t it?  Can you tell what it is?   It is the typically discarded parts of veggies like carrots (ends and peels)’ onions, orange peppers, etc. I often include celery, but I don’t have any yet.

 
Well, I pull my trusty discard bag out of my freezer whenever I prep vegetables and save whatever I think will make a good broth. Then, I stick it bag into the freeze until I have enough to make this:

 

 

Homemade Chicken Stock

For years, I wanted to make broth, but I didn’t, because I rarely buy bone-in chicken.  Then, I made an amazing discovery.  You can used cooked bones to make broth!  Your broth will be a bit darker in color, but the bones from a roasted chicken or turkey give a lovely flavor.

 
YAY!   Now I save the chicken carcass whenever I buy a roasted chicken from Costco.  I put it in a bag and save it in my freezer along with my “garbage” bag of veggies.  (I saved my turkey carcass last year and used it to make broth as well.)  When I have a few chickens, I stick them in a big stock pot or two with my veggies. I let them stew for at least 24 hours to get out all of the chicken and veggie goodness and into my broth.  Then I skim any yuckies off the top of the broth and refrigerate it to make it easier to skim the fat. At this point, the broth is ready to season and use. I prefer to wait to add salt until I’ve cooked my broth, but you can add salt earlier in the process.

 

Here are a couple of pictures of my broth in process.

 

(This is one of my pots with chicken bones and veggie trimmings.) 

(This is my broth after it cooked for several hours.) 

Of course, I made an insane amount of broth at this point, at least 6 gallons. Unless I’m cooking for a crowd, I will never going to use all this broth before it goes bad.  This is where my handy dandy pressure canner comes into play. I can my broth, so I don’t have to pay for it at the store.  Canning it is not completely free, because I need to pay for the seals, but even with the cost of energy and water I’m using, I’m paying less than 20 cents for a quart of broth. That’s a smokin’ deal!

To can the broth, I simply wash and rinse my jars in not soapy water, then fill them with the hot broth (which I reheated after refrigerating and skimming the fat) and add salt. Then, I wipe the rims with a wet paper towel and place the seals (warmed in a pot of warm water) on the jars. Finally, I screw on the rings until fingertip tight.

The jars go into my canner along with the vinegar and water listed in my canner instructions. I put on the lid and turn on the heat. The water in canner needs to come to a boil and vent for 10 minutes before putting on the weight and allowing the canner to come to full pressure (10 pounds at sea level, but it is 11 pounds where I live). Once it’s at the correct pressure, the jars are processed to 20-25 minutes (20 for pints and 25 for quarts). When the timer goes off, I turn the heat off and let the canner depressurize on its own as it cools. Once it has depressurize done, I remove the jars to a cooling rack where I let them sit for 24 hours before moving them.
And this is the result!  This is not all the broth I canned. I ended up with 21 quarts and 9 pints. Not too shabby!

 

How do you make the most of the things you buy?

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Saving Money Never Tasted So Good: Chicken Tikka Masala

Who here doesn’t like saving money?  Let me see a show of hands.  No one?  That’s what I thought.  I like saving money, and I have been called cheap, but even I have my limits.  I want to save money and have a rich, full life including eating delicious international cuisine.  If you find the right recipes, you can enjoy delicious food at home at a fraction of the cost of eating out.  Today, I’m going to show you my tried and true Chicken Tikka Masala recipe.

 

Before you say, “Whoa!  I can’t make that!”, let me assure you: this recipe is doable and delectably delicious!  You can find the spices at most grocery stores, but I HIGHLY recommend visiting an Indian market if you have one in your area (British markets often have them as well).  The Indian market near my home has the best prices on spices and blows Costco out of the water.   Enough of the preamble, let’s get to the good stuff!

 

Chicken Tikka Masala, Gobi Aloo, and Rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala, Gobi Aloo, and Rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Adapted from a recipe on food.com found here

 

Marinade

1 1/2 c plain Greek yogurt

4 tablespoons lemon juice

4 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground red pepper (or more if you like it spicy up to 4 teaspoons)

4 teaspoons ground black pepper

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoon salt

1 piece ginger root 1 inch in length, minced or grated (you can use jarred fresh ginger or use 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger)

3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1 inch cubes (You can use chicken breast tenders and skip cutting the chicken)

 

Sauce

4 tablespoons butter (unsalted is best)

4 garlic cloves, minced or put through garlic press

1 jalapeno chile minced, optional (or more if you like it spicy)

4 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoon garam masala (McCormick makes garam masala, but it is much less expensive at an Indian market.)

1 teaspoon salt

24 ounces of tomato sauce (3 8-oz cans)

2 cup heavy whipping cream (You can use half and half, whole milk, fat free cream, or evaporated milk, but cream tastes the best!)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

 

Prepare marinade by combining all ingredients except chicken in a medium bowl.  Thread chicken on bamboo skewers, place skewers in a 9×13 casserole dish, and top with marinade.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (overnight is best).  After marinading meat, remove chicken from the fridge and discard marinade.  Grill or broil chicken until cooked through, about 8 minutes.

 

Prepare sauce by melting butter in a large, deep skillet or pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and jalapeno, optional.  Cook for one minute.  Stir in coriander, cumin, paprika, garam masala, and salt.  Cook for 30 seconds.  Add tomato sauce and stir to combine.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir in cream and simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.  Add cooked chicken to the sauce.  simmer 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, optional, and serve with rice, naan, or pita bread.

 

Here’s my photo step-by-step.  It’s not as detailed as it normally is, because I wasn’t planning to post this recipe.  However, my friend, Kristina (who wrote a guest post you can find here) said I should post it.  So, here it is.

 

Why in the world am I starting with this picture?  It's the first picture I took after deciding to post this recipe.  It's not very attractive.  It's the leftover marinade after removing the chicken on bamboo skewers.  Prior to taking this picture, I mixed all the spices into the yogurt, cut up the chicken, threaded it on skewers, poured the marinade over the chicken, and let the meat marinade for a few hours.  Then I removed the chicken from the marinade and put it under the broiler to cook.

Why in the world am I starting with this unattractive picture? It’s the first picture I took after I decided to post this recipe. It’s the leftover marinade after removing the chicken on bamboo skewers. Prior to taking this picture, I mixed all the spices into the yogurt, cut up the chicken, threaded it on skewers, poured the marinade over the chicken, and let the meat marinade for a few hours. Then, I removed the chicken from the marinade and put it under the broiler to cook.

This picture isn't too hot either, but it's the chicken cooking in the oven.  No, that's not smoke.  I promise I didn't set the chicken or my oven on fire.

This picture isn’t too hot either, but it’s the chicken cooking in the oven. No, that’s not smoke.  Well, maybe it is, but I promise I didn’t set the chicken or my oven on fire.

While the chicken was broiling, I started the sauce.  First, I assembled the ingredients.

While the chicken was broiling, I started the sauce. First, I assembled the ingredients.

Then, I melted butter in a large saucepan and added my garlic.  I don't use both red pepper in the marinade and the jalapeno, because I don't love *HOT* spicy foods.  I like spicy flavorful foods, and using both puts it over the top for me.

Then, I melted butter in a large saucepan and added my garlic. I don’t use both red pepper in the marinade and the jalapeno, because I don’t love *HOT* spicy foods. I like spicy flavorful foods, and using both puts it over the top for me.

After cooking the garlic for about 1 minute, I added the spices.

After cooking the garlic for about 1 minute, I added the spices.

I let the spices cook for 30 seconds or so until they are aromatic.

I let the spices cook for 30 seconds or so until they are aromatic.

Next, I added the tomato sauce and stirred to combine.

Next, I added the tomato sauce and stirred to combine.  Then I let the tomato-spice mixture simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, my chicken finished cooking, and I removed it from the oven.  When I want this to taste extra good, I put it on the grill, but I usually do not.

Meanwhile, my chicken finished cooking, and I removed it from the oven. When I want this to taste extra good, I put it on the grill, but I usually do not.

After simmering for 15 minutes, the tomato sauce mixture thickens.  I slowly added the cream, stirring to combine.

After simmering for 15 minutes, the tomato sauce mixture thickens. I slowly added the cream, stirring to combine.  If you don’t do dairy, I’m sure you can use coconut milk or another dairy substitute of your choice.

See?  The sauce is coming together!

See? The sauce is coming together!

Rather than let the sauce simmer and thicken, I added the chicken immediately and let the mixture stew for about an hour on the stove.

Rather than let the sauce simmer and thicken, I added the chicken immediately and let the mixture stew for about an hour on the stove.

Super Yum!

Super Yum!

Dinner is served!  In addition to the chicken, I served Gobi Aloo and homemade Naan.  I'll post those recipes soon.

Dinner is served! In addition to the chicken, I served Gobi Aloo and homemade Naan. I’ll post those recipes soon.

Remember that I said this dish saves me money?  It’s a pricy dish, but it still loads less than buying it at a restaurant.  I doubled it, because we had guests over for dinner, so keep that in mind.  Here’s a breakdown of my costs:

 

Chicken – $13.14

Cream – $3.89

Greek Yogurt – $3.98

Butter – $0.63

Spices, lemon juice, ginger, and garlic – $3.00 (This is a generous estimate, because I don’t remember what I paid for some of the spices.  I think it’s actually a little under $2, but I didn’t want to underestimate.)

Tomato sauce – $1.50

 

Total cost for doubled recipe = $26.14

 

That’s a bit pricy for a home cooked main dish for dinner, so let’s look at the cost of the same dish at the local Indian restaurants.

 

Tandoori Grill – $12.95 per entree (need at least 6 to equal the amount of food I cooked) x 6 = $77.70

Karma – $14.95 per entree (need at least 6 to equal the amount of food I cooked) x 6 = $89.70

 

My cost ($26.14) versus the cost of a restaurant ($77.70-89.70).  I save $51.56 – $63.56! 

That’s a significant savings!  Granted, this is a time consuming dish, but saving 66% – 71% is totally worth it to me!

How about you? 

Do you have a favorite dish you make at home saving you tons of money? 

I’d love it if you would share it with my readers.