Make it From Scratch, or Make it Convenient - Corn Chowder and Chili Con Carne

I like to provide nutritional food for my family.  That's why I keep chickens and let them free-range, for the most nutritional eggs.  It's why I can and freeze fresh produce and make my own sauces.  It's why I'm working toward growing fruits and vegetables on our homestead.  I want to feed my family less processed foods and turn more to fresh, wholesome ones.  

Growing and preparing wholesome foods takes time, and I don't always have the time. So sometimes, I use canned and packaged foods.  But when I do, I read the labels and look for products that are lower in saturated fats, sugars, carbohydrates, and sodium.  I try to avoid foods that have words on their labels like hydrogenated fats, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and high fructose corn syrup.

Many processed foods contain additives such as sweeteners, salts, artificial flavors, trans fats, dyes, chemicals that alter texture, and preservatives.  The trouble, though, is not just what's been added to the food, but what has been taken away.  Processed foods are often stripped of vitamins and nutrients that we need, along with the soluble fiber, antioxidants, and "good" fats. 

So, sometimes I make it from scratch, and sometimes I make it convenient.  The goal is to eat a balanced, nutritional diet overall and to make good food choices.  I'm sharing two of my favorite recipes here:  Corn Chowder and Chili Con Carne.  I offer a "make it from scratch" version and a "make it convenient" version for each recipe.  You pick the one that is a better fit for you and your family.

Corn Chowder

Make it From Scratch                               -  or -                                  Make it Convenient

Makes 4 servings

1/2 lb. bacon
1/2 C. chopped celery, including tops
1/2 C. chopped onion
3 T. reserved bacon fat
2 T. flour
4 C. milk
1 qt. fresh or frozen creamed corn (or 1 17-oz. can cream style corn)
2 C. diced and boiled white potatoes (or 1 17-oz. can sliced white potatoes)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Cook bacon in skillet or microwave, reserving fat. Break the cooked bacon into small pieces. In a soup pot, saute the chopped celery and onion in 3 T. of the reserved bacon fat until tender.  Stir in the flour.  Add the milk and stir frequently until the mixture reaches a boil.  Boil and stir for 1 minute.  Stir in the corn, potatoes, salt and pepper and heat through.  Garnish servings with bacon pieces and a sprinkle of parsley and paprika.

Homemade Creamed Corn

Husk fresh ears of corn and remove as much of the silk as you can.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Blanch the corn in the boiling water for 4 minutes.  Transfer the corn to a pot of ice water for 4 minutes. Drain.  Scrape the corn kernels off of the cobs with a sharp knife.  For creamed corn, scrape the cobs with the back of the knife to "milk" the corn cream out of the cob.  Freeze the corn with its milk in quart-size freezer bags.

Chili Con Carne

Make it From Scratch                               -  or -                                  Make it Convenient
Makes 4 servings

1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1 C. chopped celery
1 C. chopped green pepper
1/2 C. chopped onion
1 qt. canned diced tomatoes (or 1 28-oz. store-bought can of diced tomatoes)
3 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. cayenne red pepper
2 C. cooked kidney beans (or 1 store-bought can of kidney beans)
For thicker chili, add a roux of 1 T. corn starch, or masa harina (corn flour) to 2 T. water (or 1 can of condensed tomato soup).

Brown the ground beef with chopped celery, green pepper and onion and drain off fat.  Add diced tomatoes and heat.  Stir in roux thickener or condensed tomato soup. Stir in seasonings.  Simmer uncovered on low heat for 45 mintues. Stir in kidney beans and heat through.

Canning Recipes 

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  1. I love having options. Great post, Katie!

    1. It's always good to have options! Thanks Becky!

  2. I love the idea of making it from scratch or making it convenient. I, too, try to make as much from scratch as I can to provide the best possible food for my husband and me. But sometimes it's just not gonna happen! I try not to feel bad if I have to cut some corners every now and then, because I do prepare the majority of our food from scratch. All about progress not perfection, right? :)

    Clicked over from the Backyard Farming Connection Hop!

    1. We're right at the same place Tammy! I do have to buy some convenience foods, but I try to choose the best ones possible. Thanks for coming by and commenting! ~Katie

  3. set another place at the table for me please! :)

  4. Oh, corn chowder is one of my most favorite meals! We're having Navy bean soup with ham hocks and cornbread tonight... Thank you for joining in 'Rurality Blog Hop #1' Hope to see you next Wednesday for #2...

  5. Thanks for sharing this on The HomeAcre Hop!

  6. Katie 0 love these recipes. Corn chowder is one of my all time favorite. Making it from scratch tastes better every time.