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Month: May 2008

Homemade Beef Stew with a Hint of Barbeque

Homemade Beef Stew with a Hint of Barbeque

I made this with homemade beef stock made from rib bones. The ribs were cooked in barbeque sauce.

2 to 4 cups beef stock
1 pound ground beef
Baby carrots
1 can petite diced tomatoes
2 cans water
1 Vidalia onion
1 bulb garlic

Roast onion and garlic at 400 for 30 minutes.
Place stock broccoli, cauliflower, and radishes (cut u to desired size) in a large soup pot. Brown and drain ground beef, and add to pot. Pour in tomatoes with juices and two cans of water. Simmer, covered, while onion and garlic cool for about ½ hour.
Peel onion and garlic. Place whole roasted garlic cloves in pot. Cut up onion or process in food processor. Place onion in pot. Continue to simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered.

This stew can be served right away or kept warm on the stove on very low heat and covered for a long time.

Use any kind of vegetables you like. It’s a good way to get rid of those which might otherwise go to waste. The roasted onion and garlic really make the flavor great!

Bone Broth Benefits

Bone Broth Benefits

If you aren’t making your own bone broth (stock) you should start. Not only are the health benefits unbelievable, it is also very cheap. If you have bones as leftovers you can use them. If not you can buy bones cheap.

Making stock is easy! Throw the bones in a pot add water, a splash of vinegar to pull the minerals out of the bone, and seasonings if desired. Simmer for several hours – five hours will do, overnight is great. You can do it on the stove or in the crock pot. The easiest way is to throw the bones from your meal in after dinner and let it slow cook.

What’s in real bone broth?

Chondroitin sulfate
Hyaluronic acid

The amount and types of substances in your bone broth will depend partly on the types of bone you use. Bone marrow and cartilage provide the most beneficial ingredients.

Bone broth is good for

Joint health
Cancer patients
Immune system
Cold, flu, sore throat
Digestive problems, including inflammatory bowel disease
Many other health conditions

Unlike most stocks, broths, and soup bases you can buy at the store, homemade bone broth does not contain MSG and you control the sodium level. Store-bought broth and stock typically does not have all of the nutrients and health benefits of homemade.

You can use it to make soups, sauces, cook rice, or even sip it as a tea.

I recommend reading the following pages for more in-depth information on the health benefits of bones broth:

Homemade Supplement & Super Food: Bone Broth

Traditional bone broth in modern health and disease

Alfredo Blue Cheese Chicken

Alfredo Blue Cheese Chicken

Boneless skinless chicken breast
Alfredo sauce
Blue cheese crumbles
Pine nuts (optional)

Pound chicken to about ½ inch. Chop up pine nuts. Pre-heat oven to 350. Heat Alfredo sauce and stir in blue cheese. Melt butter in an iron skillet. Cook chicken in the skillet until just done. Pour sauce over chicken and top with pine nuts. Bake for 30 minutes (uncovered) or until cheese sauce just starts to brown on top (the side may start to brown well before it is ready).

If your chicken is frozen, you can thaw it in cold water. Place the wrapped chicken in a bowl of cold water and change the water every 30 minutes. This is supposed to take about 1 hour per pound. To keep the chicken from floating, place a bowl of water on top of it.

You can make your own Aldredo sauce (see Basic Alfredo Sauce recipe) or, if you don’t have the time, energy, or confidence to make the sauce you can buy Alfredo sauce in a jar. You’ll find it in the spaghetti sauce section in your grocery store or in the refrigerated section near the dairy products.

The amounts are variable. I used 2 chicken breasts, 1 jar sauce, 4oz blue cheese, 2 or 3 tablespoons butter, and about ¼ cup pine nuts (or a little less) in a very large iron skillet.

Basic Alfredo Sauce

Basic Alfredo Sauce

Butter, 1 stick
Garlic, as much as you can stand to peel and slice
Half and half, 1 pint
Parmesan, 6-8 oz
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter on medium high heat. Add garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Add half and half and bring up to hot but DO NOT BOIL, whisking constantly. When half and half is hot add parmesan slowly, whisking constantly, it should melt pretty quickly. Whisk until thoroughly blended.

Sorghum and Garlic Roast with Sweet Potatoes

Sorghum and Garlic Roast with Sweet Potatoes

I have discovered a wonderful way to make roast juicy and tasty. Here’s what you’ll need:

Bacon grease
Sorghum (molasses)

Set the bacon grease out to soften. Slice garlic very thin. Mix together equal parts bacon grease and sorghum. Mix in garlic. Smear mixture thickly on the top and sides of the roast before cooking.

I like it heavy on the garlic, so that the entire top of the roast is pretty much covered with garlic slices. It will sort of run everywhere if your roast isn’t perfectly flat, and it only sort of sticks to the sides.

Sweet potatoes make a great addition. Cut them up and put them in the pan with the roast while it cooks. Depending on the size of your roast and the size of sweet potato chunks, they may take longer to cook than the meat. If so, you can remove them from the roasting pan into a smaller dish, spoon the roast sauce over them, and cook them some more while the roast rests.

Cooking Steak

Cooking Steak

I love steak, but over the years I have had a terrible time getting the right doneness consistently. Honestly, I still struggle with it, but I am getting a better feel for it.

If you are confused and feel like you’re getting mixed messages on temperatures and doneness of beef, it’s because the rules have changed. What has traditionally been called rare is no longer considered safe.

Personally, I like my meat rare. The real rare that’s pretty red and bloody. One reason that overcooked beef is so unbearable is that it is hard to find good beef. Most of the stuff sold in grocery stores comes out tough and dry – even T-bones (and don’t even get me started on Wal-Mart meat!).

Last night I was shooting for rare and got somewhere between medium-rare and medium. It was still very good! The steaks were about an inch thick or just under.

Here’s how I did it.

First I let the steaks sit out for about 20 or 30 minutes, to bring them closer to room temperature. I preheated the oven on broil, with the broiler pan in the oven so it would get hot, too.

Rub the steaks with olive oil on both sides, and coat with onion powder and coarse fresh ground pepper on top. When the oven is hot, put them both in the broiler pan. Broil for 3 minutes. Flip. Broil for 3 more minutes, then without opening the oven, switch it to bake at 500 degrees and leave them in for 1 more minute.

Remove from oven to plates. This is important! If you leave them in the hot broiler pan they will cook way too much! Let them rest for 10 minutes. They continue to cook while they rest.

Normally I used a meat thermometer to check for doneness, testing them before I take them out of the oven. If you do that, be sure to take them out when they are about 10 degrees cooler than you want them, because they will continue to heat up inside and cook more while they sit.

I decided to take my chances and skip the thermometer this time. I decided that if they weren’t done enough I could always cook them some more in a skillet after they were cut up. They turned out a little more done than I really wanted, but still very good. Although the steaks looked comparable, one was more done than the other.

A NOTE ON SALTING MEAT. I have always been a firm believer in salting meat before you cook it. It makes for great flavor, especially if you heavily salt a roast. However, I read that it will dry out the meat, so I decided to try skipping the salt. So far I find that it is true! The meat is much juicier and more tender if I do not salt it before cooking. The flavor is still good, too.

Pasta Salad with Tortellini

Pasta Salad with Tortellini

Tortellini (1 package)
Roast beef (sliced for sandwich meat, about 1/3 or ½ cup)
Carrots (2)
Peas (3/4 cup)
Broccoli (3 florets)
Feta (2 tablespoons)
Sharp cheddar (2 oz)
Italian dressing

This turned out really yummy. I used fresh carrots and broccoli and frozen peas. Steam all three on high heat for 10 minutes, then turned off the heat and left the lid on for 5 more minutes. Cut up the carrots and broccoli into very small pieces. Dump it all into your bowl. Save the water if you can for cooking the tortellini (you will need to add more, of course). While the water is heating and the tortellini is cooking, cut up the roast beef and cheese, into very tiny pieces and add to veggies. Cook tortellini al dente (in other words, DO NOT overcook, unless you prefer it mushy). When the tortellini is done, drain and rinse with cold water. Add to bowl, gently stir the mixture to mix evenly, add dressing and stir some more.

Once this is all mixed together, let it rest while you prepare you other dishes. It will cool, but it does not need to chill. It goes very well with steak.

The ingredients can be varied a lot! Just make sure you don’t go crazy with everything else and overwhelm the tortellini (something I have a tendency to do). Bacon or other types of sandwich meat would substitute great for the roast beef. This is a great dish for getting rid of leftovers and the last bit of cheese that isn’t really enough to do anything else with.

Starting Seeds

Starting Seeds

The hardest part of cooking ribs is the waiting. We started seeds for the container garden we are planning, while we waited. This took about the amount of time it took for the ribs to cook. We started two types of corn, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, lavender, and chamomile. We planted the seeds in water jugs, and are starting them outside. The jugs are supposed to act like little greenhouses. I think we live in zone 4, but it could be zone 5. Hard to tell from the maps because we are in the mountains at nearly 8,000’. I have very little gardening experience and this is a new method for me. Wish me luck!

Baby Back Beef Ribs

Baby Back Beef Ribs

This is so simple and good! You’ll have a long wait, but there is very little hands-on time.

Preheat over to 250 degrees. Place the ribs on a baking sheet, fat side down, and coat with marinade or sauce of your choice. Flip them over, and coat again. Cover and seal with foil. Bake for 2 ½ hours. After the first 90 minutes, open it up and add more sauce if needed. After the full cooking time, remove ribs from oven. Leave them sealed and let sit for at least 10 minutes. They can rest for at least 30 minutes and still be hot!

I try to avoid using foil whenever possible. You could use a covered casserole dish if you have one that is large enough. Some recipes call for cutting the ribs apart. You don’t need to do that with this recipe unless it is necessary to make them fit in the dish or on the baking sheet.

I served these ribs with fried zucchini. One rack of ribs and one zucchini per person worked out perfectly for us; full, but not too stuffed, and no silverware was needed. We each had a plate for our ribs and just shared the bowl of zucchini. We kept the stockpot handy for the bones. With this cooking method they pull right out of the meat. If you don’t eat ribs often, be aware that you will find large pockets of meat hiding inside the fat, so don’t be afraid the dig around in there! For napkins, just keep the whole roll of paper towels on hand. If you use cloth, you may need all that you own! This is a very messy meal.

Save the bones to make stock! I am making some right now.

Deep Fried Chicken

Deep Fried Chicken

Deep Fried Chicken

I used tenderloins, but any chicken parts will work. You may need to adjust the cooking time for different sizes. Chicken should be thawed before attempting the process. You can use melted butter or milk instead of eggs.

2 ½ pounds chicken tenderloins
1 cup flour
1 cup bread crumbs
½ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt
2 or 3 eggs

Pre-heat the deep fryer to 375. That’s the highest setting on mine and, so far, everything seems to call for this temperature.

Put everything except the chicken and the eggs in a gallon size ziplock baggie, close and shake it up until thoroughly mixed.

Beat the eggs.

Dip chicken pieces in the egg. I put several pieces of chicken in at a time. Let the excess egg drip off the chicken.

Drop the chicken in the bag. You can put several pieces of chicken in the bag at once as long as you shake it just enough to cover each one before putting in the next. When you have several pieces of chicken in the bag, hold it closed and shake the crap out of it. You want to coat each piece of chicken completely in the dry mixture.

Place in deep fryer in just one layer. Don’t stack it or overfill. Fry for about 6 to 8 minutes. The coating will turn a dark golden brown. Dump chicken into a large bowl lined with paper towels, or whatever you like to use to soak up excess grease.

Repeat with remaining chicken.

Discard any leftover egg and coating.

This stuff is good served hot or cold. It makes a great main dish, appetizer, leftover, or snack. If you make it with skinless chicken it makes a great finger food. With the skin on it is very messy, but yummy! Make more than you think you need. This is one of those dishes that gets heavily munched, by the cook and anyone else in the house, on as you go!