Archive for ‘Meats/Fish’

May 1, 2014

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Are you like me and secretly hide your love of Hamburger Helper – the ease of it all, the fact that your kids love it, and so do you? My favorites are Beefy Pasta and Cheeseburger Macaroni. I don’t think I have really cared to try the rest since I know it’s over processed and not healthy and I am already addicted to two of them. It’s a guilty pleasure, and a rare occurrence in my house. But when I bust out the Hamburger Helper in my house you can hear the cheering and there is never any left. And if there is my husband or my one stepson (I have two stepsons and one daughter) happily take it for lunch the following day. Well, I wanted to come up with a way to have my hamburger helper and eat it, guilt-free, too.

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1 lb ground beef

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. garlic powder (you could also use 2 cloves fresh minced garlic)

1  tbsp. dried onion flakes

1 tbsp. cornstarch

1/4 tsp. pepper (or more to taste)

2 large beef bullion cubes (or 3 small ones)

1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni

2 1/2  cups hot water

1/2 cup milk

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

 

Brown the ground beef in a pan with the worcestershire, garlic powder, onion flakes, and pepper.

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Crumble the bullion cubes into the meat and stir. Add the cornstarch and stir to coat the meat.

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Slowly add the water and milk. Stir until mixed and add the pasta.

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Cover and cook for 12 minutes (or until the noodles are tender). Add the cheese at the end and stir until completely melted.

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It’s that easy! Just as easy as the boxed stuff and I promise just as good. You won’t go back! At least I will not go back, I’ll work on the cheeseburger mac next.

Enjoy~

Amanda

 

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June 13, 2012

Stuffed Bell Peppers on the Grill

Stuffed Peppers

Twice now Stuffed Peppers has been on my weekly dinner menu. Twice now, I have decided to make something different with the ground beef because I did not want to turn the oven on and heat up the house for an hour. To solve this problem, I decided to try to make the peppers on the grill. I thought 350 on the grill is the same as 350 in the oven, right? Right!

So I prepared these babies wrapped them up in foil and cooked them indirectly on the grill. It takes about the same time 45 minutes or so but I’m not heating up the house! And you can really get creative if you add some mesquite or hickory wood in a little foil bowl or in a little foil wrapping, and add a whole other flavor to the mix (Note to self, try that next time).

Stuffed Peppers

1 1/2-2lbs lb. ground beef (or a mixture of beef and pork, heck even try turkey)

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup minute rice

1 egg, scrambled

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

4 bell peppers (green are my favorite)

Topping:

1/2 ketchup

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon sriracha (or any hot or chili sauce)

Mix the ground beef, ketchup, rice, egg and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl.

Wash the peppers, then cut the peppers in half lengthwise. Remove the stems, seeds and veins.

Stuff the peppers evenly with the meat mixture.

In a separate bowl mix the ketchup  , Worcestershire, soy sauce and chili sauce together. Pour the sauce over the top of the meat.

Wrap the peppers in foil and heat the grill to 350 degrees. Turn off one burner in the middle of your grill and place the peppers over that burner so that the flame is not directly under the peppers. Keep the grill temperature at 350 and cook the peppers for about 30-40 minutes or until the internal temperature measures 160 degrees.

This is what it looks like when you open the foil and they are done…YUM!

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That is it! Not so bad right?

~Enjoy~

Amanda

September 5, 2011

Easy 5-step Baby Back Ribs

RIB FAIRY DUST (Just for those guys out there…)
3T. Kosher Salt
3T black pepper
2T brown sugar
1T paprika
2T garlic powder
1T onion powder
2t. mustard powder
dash of cayenne (or more if you like the heat)

Easy Baby Back Ribs

While these ribs do take a couple hours to cook, they are simple and do not require much attention or preparation.

1.  Pull off the membrane from underneath each rack of ribs and cut each rack in half.

2.   Coat the ribs evenly with the spice rub, making sure to get both sides.

(At this point you can place the ribs in a glass baking dish cover the ribs and allow them to sit overnight. Or you can move on to the next step.)

3.  Wrap each rack in foil.

(place one piece of foil on the bottom and one on top. Crunch the sides together, leaving room for any steam to move around in the packet.)

4.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours @ 325 degrees.

(Place the ribs in a glass baking dish or on a baking sheet so any drips are not caught by the bottom of your oven)

5.  Once your ribs are done, remove them from the foil.  Finish directly on the grill until both sides are crisp and the rub starts to sizzle.

(If you like barbecue sauce on your ribs, add the sauce during this step. With the grill on med-low, add sauce to the top side of your ribs, close the lid and cook for a 2-3 minutes. Turn and coat the bottom half of your ribs, close the lid and cook a few minutes more. Repeat this step until you have a good layer of caramelized barbecue sauce on your ribs. (2 or 3 times).)

Some people par boil their ribs, but here my opinion why to avoid this method…boiling meat pulls the flavor out of the meat and into the water. Boiling  meat is for making rich Stocks, not to barbecue meat – would you boil a great Ribeye? Remember, tender meat comes from meat that is cooked low and slow over indirect heat, not from the boiling process. Have you ever cooked anything too long in the crock pot and found it was dried out although liquid was in the pot? Yep liquid can dry out meat. It also pulls the flavor from your meat, that is why most roasts call for wine, tomato sauce, or stock to add flavor to the meat while cooking low and slow.

However, If you insist on the boil method, I can attest that ribs do come out tasty, but think how much tastier they could be cooked in their own juices? 

-Enjoy

Amanda

April 25, 2011

Un-Traditional Easter Dinner

Since our family had to postpone Easter dinner until next weekend, I decided to make Braciole for Easter. It’s a dish I attempted and failed at before so it was time for another try.

Braciole is an Italian dish made with steak (sirloin pounded into think strips, or flank steak pounded to about a 1/4’”) stuffed with bread crumbs, cheese, and herbs, then stewed in a tomato sauce.

Technique: Braising. Braising and stewing begin with searing meats to lock in the moisture and create a good crust on the meat. Another great side effect of Braising is the sauce. Braising uses a small amount of liquid so by the end of the cooking process the sauce has reduced and developed deeper flavors.

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I begin with the tomato sauce since it should simmer for 30-minutes, then I use that time to make the stuffing and prepare the steak.

Tomato Sauce

2 cloves of garlic

1 onion, finely diced

8oz mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup white wine

crushed red pepper

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

4-5 basil leaves

salt and pepper

In an oven safe pot saute the onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper in olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add the mushrooms until they are softened. Deglaze the pan with the wine and allow to cook about 3 minutes.

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Stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper and let the sauce cook for about 30 minutes on medium-low heat. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

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After 30 minutes add the torn basil leaves to the tomato mixture and stir.

Steak

1 flank steak

1/2 c bread crumbs

2 eggs

1/4 c parmesan cheese

1/2 bunch of parsley

1 clove garlic

salt and pepper

NOTE: Add other ingredients to the stuffing such as, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, green onion, spinach, mushrooms, etc…

(Next time I am going to try spinach, provolone and sun dried tomatoes, and I won’t process it in the food processor).

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Place all the stuffing ingredients in a food processor and process until it’s paste-like.

Lay the steak out on a cutting board and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Spread the stuffing over the steak, then roll it up starting with the narrow end.

Tie the ends and middle with kitchen twine. Sear the steak on all sides until it is brown, then add it to the tomato sauce. Cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. The longer you cook it the more tender the meat.

I served the Braciole with roasted asparagus and basil butter orzo.

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April 14, 2011

Seared Ahi w/Mixed Greens

This post will, by far, be the shortest post.  That’s how easy it is.

Seared Ahi

I made this for Appetizer Extravaganza! for Shawnee’s birthday (with zebra cheesecake).

Not having a lot of experience with making sushi or serving rare fish I am very cautious. I’m not confident with the freshness of fish at the grocery store, so I will start by telling you I called in a favor to a friend who owns a restaurant.  So if you know your source and the freshness of your fish you’re good (Or if you are lucky and fortunate enough to have a friend like I do!)

On with the recipe!

6-8oz of Ahi per person

sesame seeds (regular and black)

1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper

salt and pepper

On a plate evenly spread the sesame seeds, red pepper, salt and pepper.

Dip all sides of each piece of fish in the sesame seed mixture.

Heat a grill pan over high heat, spray with a thin coat of oil.

Sear the Ahi 2 minutes on each side (watch out the sesame seeds started popping everywhere).

Slice thinly and lay on a bed of greens. I served this with Sriracha chili sauce and soy sauce because we all liked it simple.

Enjoy!

January 31, 2011

Classic Shrimp and Tomatoes

Ok so I found a recipe on Dinner: A Love Story (the “Love Story”) site and it’s pretty simple and easy. A Greek style dish with sweet shrimp and tart tomatoes and lemon. But it triggered an idea – I have a book called The Olive and the Caper (the “Caper”) written by Susanna Hoffman, who wrote her book after over thirty years of extended stays in Greece and learning from local cooks, fishermen, bakers and housewives. Not only does she explore recipes and the food, but there is some great background on Greece, the food and culture. I do love this book!

On with my point now, I know. While reading the recipe I thought I should check the Caper, for I knew it was likely there would be something similar! Alas! I was right! Classic Shrimp and Tomatoes. Well the Caper recipe included dill – which I had none of, because I planned for the Love Story version. The Caper version called for wine and tomato paste. So I clashed the two and went on my way…

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I know some of you out there do not like capers (Kim!) but don’t run away just yet – use lemon juice instead to get the tanginess.

1lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon olive oil

1- 28oz can diced tomatoes, drained

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 /2 onion very finely diced

1 tablespoon capers and the juice (or lemon juice)

1/4 cup white wine

1 teaspoon dried oregano (neither recipe called for this, but it’s very Greek)

Kosher salt

2 cranks freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 400°

 In an oven safe skillet (no nonstick pans) sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil a few minutes until it becomes fragrant. Add wine and sauté for about a minute then add the drained tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper, and capers and cook for about 10 minutes.

Add the shrimp and get them down into the sauce. Cook about 3 minutes, stir and crumble feta on top of the sauce. Bake until the cheese has melted about three minutes.

Top with 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley. Serve with some crusty bread or over penne pasta.

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Takes very little time – this is a great weeknight dinner – I have added it to my regular dinner list.

January 25, 2011

Asian Pork Noodle Soup

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So my kitchen organization and keeping items on hand in the freezer has really paid off! When, on Sunday, my chicken was unuseable, I had to readjust my weekly menu plan. Chicken Noodle Soup was on my list to use up the left over roasted chicken, so that had to be changed too. On Monday we ate the Cornflake Crusted Chicken Tenders. Tonight I pulled out some left over Roasted Pork Shoulder that was in the freezer.  When it comes to pork in soup, I just feel it should be with Asian flavors. So I decided to make it Asian Noodle Soup instead of Chicken Noodle Soup.

Some time ago I made an Asian pork soup soup, and regrettably I didn’t write the recipe down.  So I winged it tonight and took notes. This list of ingredients may sound long, but don’t get discouraged the soup comes together really fast! I would have liked to add cabbage to this soup too, so if you have it, shred some up and toss it in – it’s good!

2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
1/2 onion
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sriracha
8 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup Kikkoman Noodle Soup Base
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cups cooked shredded pork shoulder
1 – package of ramen noodles
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Dice celery, onions, carrots, and garlic. Cook this mixture on medium heat for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Stir often so the onions and garlic don’t burn.

Stir in the sesame oil, Sriracha, broth, soup base, and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and let boil 5 minutes. Then add the noodles and cook 3 minutes or so.

Garnish with thinly sliced green onion and chopped cilantro.

January 25, 2011

Cornflake Crusted Chicken Tenders

So my dinner menu had to be changed a bit this week – the whole chicken I bought was no good. My garage fridge may have had something to do with it. So I am going to have to push out the chicken noodle soup to later in the week. For tonight I made the cornflake chicken strips (pictured below with garlic potato wedges).

Most often to get crispy chicken strips, they are fried and unhealthy, and while they are oh so good, they aren’t something you can eat all that often. And any you buy in the store, or even at restaurants,  are full of preservatives or pressed chicken – ick! But it is probably one of the things most kids opt for when out to dinner. I know chicken strips are one of my daughter’s favorites so I knew I wanted to make a good crunchy homemade version, full of flavor and not bland covered in flour that is not well seasoned.  Cornflakes are a great coating for chicken and keep crunchy when you bake them.   As with fried chicken season the coating generously with spices and salt and pepper, otherwise your coating will be bland.

1 pound of chicken breasts or tenders
1/3 c. parmesan
1 1/2 c. finely crushed plain cornflakes cereal (or ½ c. bread crumbs and ½ c. cornmeal)
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
salt and pepper
2 eggs
4T. melted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.

Put the cornflakes in a plastic bag and press out all the air and seal the bag. Then toss the bag on the floor and step on it until the flakes are good and crushed (you can use a rolling pin or food processor too). Mix together the flakes, flour, onion and garlic powder and season generously with salt and pepper.

Mix butter and eggs. Slice chicken breasts into thin slices (or using tenders) and coat with the egg mixture then dip the chicken in the cornflake mixture.

Place the chicken on the baking sheet and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

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January 19, 2011

Pan Roasted Pork Saltimbocca

Thomas Keller’s book Ad Hoc at Home is a great book for home cooks who really want to go above and beyond cooking just to eat. You don’t find the complexity from Keller you would anticipate. I was impressed to see Keller is down to earth and not so engulfed in his executive chef status and he can relate to those of us at home. Basic techniques every chef – home or professional should know, are shared in the book. It’s a great book (seems that has been my thing lately – books! So here is a recipe using one of those “basics” Pan Roasting! And this a weeknight friendly meal.

Pan roasting uses two techniques – sautéing and roasting. This technique is good for cooking a thicker piece of meat in a shorter amount of time (sounds to me like a fantastic weeknight cooking method!).   Searing the meat seals in the moisture and finishing it off in the oven cooks the meat the rest of the way through, more evenly than pan frying would.

2T Canola oil  (Canola oil has a higher smoking point than veggie oil and olive oil and flavor is mild)
Thick cut pork chops

For each Chop (1 chop per person):
1 slice of prosciutto, 1 sage leaf and a 1 inch slice of Fontina cheese 1/4 of an inch thick, or a larger thinly sliced piece.

Sauce– 2 chops double for 4 chops 
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
1T flour
1tsp white wine vinegar
pat of butter

(You can make a balsamic vinegar sauce instead, omit the cream and white wine and just use the pan drippings, and balsamic vinegar, butter, salt and pepper – simmer the chops in the sauce – pictured below).

Set out pork chops and salt and pepper on both sides. Let sit for 30 minutes before cooking while heating the oven to 350°.

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Slice a 1 inch slit in the fat side of the chop. Keeping the opening only about an inch, use a small sharp knife to cut a pocket inside the chop, big enough to hold the stuffing.

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Roll up cheese and sage in the prosciutto and stuff the rolls into the pocket.

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Heat the canola oil in a sauté pan (oven safe no nonstick or plastic parts) over medium high heat until the oil is good and hot. Sear the chops on all sides about 3-4 minutes each side until you have some nice sear action on your chops.

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Finish the chops off in the oven for 10-15 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 170° (well) 165°(medium well).

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Remove the chops from the sauté pan and cover with foil. Add the wine to the sauté pan and reduce. Add cream, vinegar, salt and pepper. Finish off with a pat of butter. Place the chops over noodles or rice with roasted asparagus, drizzle sauce over chops and asparagus and finish off with some coarse sea salt.

If that doesn’t make your mouth water, I’m not sure what will…

January 12, 2011

Beef Bourguignon (#1)

To continue with my “Making it with Your Own Hands” goal, here is a recipe that is a good weekend dinner, and is excellent to freeze the leftovers for quick a weeknight meal. In the Basil-Garlic Bread post I mentioned I purchased a Tyler Florence book – Stirring the Pot, which inspired me to become more organized. The thing that intrigued me the most about the book is the suggestion to use a freezer to the fullest, rather than it being a graveyard of freezer burned foods that go to waste in the end.

You know, I always liked the idea of buying in bulk to save money and trips to the grocery store. But it always seems I forget to “thaw” something for dinner and I end up looking in the freezer, walking away and deciding to go get something from the store when I have perfectly good food at home! On top of that, the only beef I will freeze is ground beef because steaks and other cuts have a different flavor after freezing/thawing that I don’t care for. Which Florence has some advice  in his book about freezing meat, and it becomes very apparent to me why I don’t like frozen beef. (Note, I’m not saying you shouldn’t freeze for bulk it just doesn’t work for me. I do freeze whole chickens and pork ribs that are vacuum packed and they seem to work just the same).

Florence suggests:
Beef = 1 week
Whole chicken = 1 month

Food Safety rules (USDA online)
Beef = 4-12 months
Ground Beef = 3-4 months
Whole Poultry = 12 months
Chicken Pieces = 9 months

Florence’s advice is not for safety reasons, but for quality purposes! Think fresh food, not a year old chicken with ice crystals!

Freezer burn is when food dries out. The moisture from inside the food is squeezed out during the freezing process and forms ice crystals – so food is dehydrated during freezing. Makes sense now! Sauces, cooked vegetables, and other prepared meat dishes hold up well the in the freezer. Especially foods with sauces are ideal because there is plenty of moisture in sauce, so the food doesn’t dry out as fast. This is exactly the type of information I want to put to use and share with you. The only problem with Florence’s book is that he doesn’t really dive into that idea – he only touches on it at the beginning and leaves you wanting more ideas…(we I did anyway).

As I mentioned before, I like to cook new things on the weekend – when I have time to spend three hours or more on Beef Bourguignon, or a few hours to roast a whole chicken. On New Year’s weekend I made Ham and Beans and Beef Bourguignon. There was so much left over I was able to add some to the freezer for future dinners. So I saved two bags of Ham and Beans and one of Beef Bourguignon – with enough to make one dinner for both my daughter and I out of each bag. Tonight we took out the Beef Bourguignon, and it was just as good as the first round. Stews have sauces so they freeze well and because there are no potatoes in the Bourguignon it’s a good stew to freeze your left over – or make extra to freeze for another dinner.

You can always add the potatoes the day you reheat a dish. While this recipe is really great, I must say I still have to try Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon to really “test” this recipe. But for now this still is a really great recipe, I like the flavor of the rosemary with beefiness of this meal (that is not in Childs’s recipe).

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Served with parmesan mashed potatoes and peas

(tylerflorence.com)

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 bacon slices, cut into 3-inch strips
  • 4 pounds beef chuck or round, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup Cognac (Brandy)
  • 1/2 bottle dry red wine, such as Burgundy
  • 5 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • Bouquet garni (2 fresh rosemary sprigs, 8 fresh thyme sprigs, 2 bay leaves, tied together with kitchen twine or tied in cheesecloth)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 pound white mushrooms, sliced thick
  • 3 cups blanched and peeled pearl onions
  • Pinch sugar
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish

Place a large Dutch oven over medium heat; drizzle with a 1/2-count of oil. Fry the bacon until crisp and then remove it to a paper towel; you’ll crumble it at the end and use it for garnish. Dry each piece of beef on a paper towel then add the beef to the pot in batches. Fry the cubes in the bacon fat until evenly browned on all sides; turn with tongs. Season with salt and pepper. (Don’t skimp on this step—it’s key.)

After the meat is browned, put it all back in the pot. Sprinkle the flour over the meat; then stir to make sure the beef is well coated and there are no flour lumps. Pour in the Cognac and stir to scrape up the flavorful bits in the bottom of the pan. Cook and stir to evaporate the alcohol. Pour in the red wine and beef broth; then add the tomato paste and bouquet garni. Stir everything together and bring the pot up to a simmer. Cook until the liquid starts to thicken and has the consistency of a sauce; this should take about 15 minutes. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 1 hour.

Uncover the pot and add the garlic, pearl onions, and mushrooms, along with the pinch of sugar to balance out the acid from the red wine. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes longer, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Remove the bouquet garni and then stir in the butter to finish up the sauce. Shower with chopped parsley and the reserved crumbled bacon before serving. Deep and rich flavor!