The $5 Chef. How to Save Cash and Cook Fast.
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WHITE BEAN AND CHICKEN CHILE                                Serves 6 to 8

This delicious do-ahead chile is a nice change from the standard red meat, beans and tomato variety. It's lighter in color and taste because of the chicken (or turkey) and white beans. Spice it with your favorite chile flavorings if you don't like the ones listed below.

Serve it with homemade chips (tortillas cut and baked on a cookie sheet with no oil, in 350 degree oven, about 15 minutes).

1 pound large dry white beans

2 large onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

6 to 8 cups water or chicken broth

2 stalks celery, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped, optional

1 tablespoon chile powder, or to taste

1-1/2 teaspoons cumin, or to taste

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried chile flakes or cayenne, to taste

1 small can chopped green chiles, optional

2 to 3 pounds chicken or turkey parts, skinned, see note
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Soak beans in water overnight and drain. Or put beans in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cover pot, remove from heat, and let sit about 45 minutes. Drain.

2. Add remaining ingredients, except chicken, salt and pepper, to beans and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and cook about an hour or until beans begin to soften.

3. Add chicken and salt and continue cooking until chicken and beans are done.

4. Serve garnished with grated jack cheese, chopped fresh cilantro or your favorite
condiments.

NOTE: It's okay to use already cooked meat, BUT add it at the last minute to reheat or it
will overcook.



FISH WITH SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE                            Serves 4


Use this sweet and sour sauce with your favorite roasted meat, turkey, chicken, shrimp, or meatloaf. For a fast and tasty dish, I paired it with red snapper cooked in the microwave.

Along with rice and a salad, this makes a delicious low fat meal.

1/2 onion, sliced

1 carrot, sliced in thin 2-inch strips

1 stalk celery, sliced in thin 2-inch strips

1-pound snapper fillets

6 snow peas, thinly sliced, lengthwise, or other vegetable such as red or green pepper strips

Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Lay vegetables, except snow peas, on a microwaveable dish. Put fish on top, sprinkle snow peas on fish. Season, cover and microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes.

2. Pour off liquid.

Sweet and Sour Sauce:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup white vinegar

16-ounce can pineapple juice

Dash Worcestershire sauce

1 to 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water

1. Combine all ingredients, except cornstarch, in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

2. Add 1-tablespoon cornstarch and boil until sauce thickens. Add more cornstarch for a thicker sauce.

3. Serve with sauce poured over fish.


ROAST CHICKEN                                                                   Serves 4

Roast chicken is one of the most satisfying dishes to eat, especially during the cooler winter months. It's also easy to make. I like to use the Spanek Vertical Roaster, (available at www.spanek.com) which makes the best and juiciest chickens.

1 whole fryer, at least 3 pounds

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 whole orange or lemon, pricked with a fork

1/4 onion

Small handful fresh parsley, optional

1. Remove giblets and liver from chicken cavity. Rub cavity and skin with salt and pepper as desired. Place orange, onion and parsley (if used) in cavity

2. Roast breast-side-down in a preheated 375 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until juices run clear when leg joint is pricked with a fork. If a crisp skin is desired, turn chicken breast up half way through cooking.
NOTE: For a quick chutney to serve with the chicken, remove orange, parsley and onion and process in food processor with some of the pan juices for flavor. Or make a simple gravy with the pan juices.

Pan Gravy

1. Pour juices into a large measuring cup or bowl. Skim off fat.

2. Return liquid to roasting pan and place over medium high heat. Scrape up bits of brown on bottom and cook until reduced by one-half.

Mushroom Gravy

2 tablespoons degreased pan drippings

1/2 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 to 1-1/2 cups water, chicken stock, wine or a mixture
Salt and pepper, to taste

Use the chicken pan for the sauce. Pour off grease; leave about 2 tablespoons of drippings. Add water to loosen the bits off bottom. Add mushrooms and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, medium heat. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper.

UNDER-THE-SKIN TURKEY                                                Serves 6-8

Whether whole or in parts, turkey is available year-round. It's economical, light and nutritious meat. For the summer months, it's convenient to throw on the barbecue and use leftovers for salads, sandwiches or soups. Like chicken, a whole turkey is a good buy. Already cut parts, however, save cooking time and are more economical for smaller households.

The trick with this recipe is to put the flavors under the skin, so that they permeate the meat as it cooks. Try it for the holidays.

1 turkey breast or 4 legs or 4 thighs

1 handful fresh parsley, finely minced

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon herbs, Italian or Mexican seasonings, oregano or your favorite

1 orange, thinly sliced

Gently run your hand under turkey skin to loosen it from the meat. Do not remove skin; simply loosen it to make a pocket.

Mix parsley, garlic, olive oil and herbs together. Dip the orange slices in the mixture to coat, and then gently shove them under the skin.

Bake or barbecue in moderate heat (about 350 degrees) 30 minutes or more, depending on size of turkey pieces. It's done when meat is firm to the touch and juices run clear, not pink, when pricked with a fork.

Variations: Use your favorite seasonings, or lemon instead of orange for a change. Also, use this method for a whole chicken, especially good if roasted on a Spanek Vertical roaster (www.spanek.com).

EASY RICE                                                                               Serves 4


Rice is one of the most versatile and inexpensive foods in the cupboard. Raw rice that is, not the prepackaged kind with seasonings already added. It takes the same 20 minutes to cook raw rice as it does to make the boxed version. And raw rice can be flavored to taste. The back of the rice package also has cooking suggestions. Make this dish plain as the base for a salad or flavored with any dried herb seasonings such as Italian, Mexican or even curry to go with grilled meats or vegetables.

1-tablespoon olive or vegetable oil

1/2 onion, finely diced

1/2 teaspoon herb seasoning, as desired, to taste

1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste

1-cup raw rice

2 cups water or chicken stock

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan and add onion. Cook until it begins to soften, about 1 minute.

2. Add herbs, salt and rice. Stir until the grains are coated.

3. Add water, bring to a boil, cover, turn heat down to simmer and cook 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.

4. Remove from heat and let rest a few minutes with the lid on. Makes 3 cups.



FRUIT AND NUT STUFFING                                A new take on an old Thanksgiving dish

Recently, while thumbing through a thoroughly enjoyable new book called Celebrity Stew (www.celebritystew.com), by Leo Pearlstein, I came upon Bill Cosby's Prune-Nut Dressing. The recipe was from years ago, and I wanted a more updated and versatile version for today's cooks who want good flavored foods with an ease of preparation. Even if you can't stand prunes, you can use a variety of other fruits. Whether it's stuffing the bird or making individual muffins, this side will be welcome at your dinner.

I decided to use foods we probably have on hand and to use a prepared stuffing mix (my favorite, Mrs. Cubbison's) to make a stuffing that is flavorful, yet is a nice counterbalance to the generally rich Thanksgiving meal. The recipe is versatile in that you can use your favorite juice, water, broth or white wine for the liquid, and mix your favorite on hand fruits. I've added some crunch at the end with flavored, sliced and roasted Almond Accents.

1 bag prepared stuffing mix, I prefer Mrs. Cubbison's

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup dried fruit mix, or use a trail mix (without the chocolate chips), or 1 apple, grated, or a mixture of them all.

1/2 onion, grated, optional

1-1/4 cups apple juice, orange juice, broth, water or white wine

2 tablespoons melted butter, optional

Pitted prunes for garnish, approximately 12 if making muffins, optional

1/2 cup Almond Accents

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients except the prunes and almonds. Put mixture into casserole, or make individual muffins. This recipe will make 12 muffins. If using prunes, gently push a prune on top of each muffin.

Bake for 20 minutes in 350 degree oven. Sprinkle with almonds and cook another 5 minutes. Almonds get soggy if they cook longer.

Stuffing can also be made on the stove or in a microwave oven. Follow directions on Cubbison box. If cooking this way, sprinkle almonds on top at serving time.

CORN-RAISIN CHUTNEY                                                    Serves 4

Here's a zesty raisin relish that includes fresh summer corn, though frozen can be used. Make it ahead; it won't spoil on a picnic. Use the relish a side dish with grilled chicken, or as a dressing for a cold salad such as greens or plain boiled potatoes.

1 ear fresh corn, kernels removed, or approximately 1 cup frozen corn kernels

1-cup raisins

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

1 small slice fresh ginger, finely chopped

1/4 small green or red pepper, chopped, optional 2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Dash salt

Dash red pepper flakes

1. Put all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil.

2. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Cool and serve


SAUTEED BANANAS                                                             Serves 4

Sauteed fruit makes a quick and easy dessert. I've used bananas here, but thinly sliced apples would also work. If you don't want to use any liquor, apple or orange juice works just fine.

1-tablespoon butter

2 to 3 tablespoons sugar, or to taste

1/4 cup rum Cointreau, or fruit juice

Zest and juice of 1 orange

4 firm bananas, peeled and sliced lengthwise

1. In a non-stick pan, heat butter, sugar and liquids until sugar dissolves.

2. Add bananas and cook on low to medium heat until barely soft.

3. Serve warm, garnished with zest, alone or with whipped cream or ice cream.

NOTE: Peaches, nectarines or apples also work well.


PUMPKIN CUSTARD                                                             Serves 8

Perfect for Thanksgiving, this custard is an easy alternative to the usual pumpkin pie.

3 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups milk, low fat makes lighter custard

1 cup pumpkin puree

3 tablespoons honey

1-teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or a mixture of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg

Dash salt

1. Combine all ingredients and beat with a fork until smooth.

2. Pour into 8 buttered custard cups. Place cups in a pan and fill with enough hot water to reach 1 inch up the sides of the cups.

3. Bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until custard is set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from water, cool slightly and refrigerate.

4. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.
All recipes excerpted from

All recipes excerpted from:
"The $5 Chef: How to Save Cash & Cook Fast" by, Marcie Rothman

Available at: www.5dollarchef.com