Thursday, January 31, 2008

Stove-top Machaca Beef

Back in November I posted a recipe for slow cooked Machaca Beef. Every day since then I have had hits on that recipe and people searching for it. Last week I had a chuck roast that I didn’t get around to putting in the crock-pot in the morning before I left for work. When I got home, I decided to try the same recipe on the stove-top, in a deep pot. The beef came out tender and delicious, just like the slow cooked version. I decided to shred the beef by hand, after it cooled a little. We made wonderful shredded beef tacos out of the meat. I used the leftover meat and juice to make a very tasty beef and lentil soup the next day.

Here is what I did:

1-1/2 lbs. beef roast (chuck or round)
1 large onion, sliced
8 oz. can diced green chilis
2 beef bouillon cubes
1-1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup salsa

I used a 2 lb. boneless chuck roast. Brown it over med-hi heat on both sides. As you turn to brown the second side add the sliced onions and other ingredients to the pan. Add just enough water to barely cover the meat.

Cover the pot and simmer on low heat about 2 hours, or until beef is tender. It will depend on the size of the roast. Drain and reserve liquid. Shred the beef using 2 forks to pull it apart. It should come apart easily. Combine beef, salsa, and enough of the reserved liquid to make of desired consistency.

Use the meat to make tacos, burritos, or other dishes where you want a flavorful, but not too spicy beef. I add the leftover juice to my next pot of soup or chili for a tasty broth.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mixed Berry Pie – Crisp with Cherries

I wanted something sweet and pies are my favorite things. I had one frozen pie crust. It was the kind that is ready made, and then rolled up. You find them near the canned biscuits at the grocery store. I also had purchased a bag of frozen mixed berries, with Cherries. I set both out to thaw for an hour. I couldn’t wait and used them after 40 minutes, very carefully.

I first preheated the oven to 425 degrees. I stirred the berries in a bowl along with 2 very heaping Tablespoons of cornstarch; then sprinkled with a tiny bit of cinnamon. I let the berries sit for a while.

The crust is easy to roll out right into the pie dish once it’s thawed. I press into dish gently, trim off excess from the edges, and turn under the top rim a little. I use my thumbs to make an attractive pattern all around the rim.

I filled the crust with the berries and spread them out evenly. I lightly sprinkled the whole thing with just a little lemon juice.

In a small bowl I mixed about 3/4 cup old-fashioned oatmeal with about 3/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. I spread this on top of the berries, then dotted with butter, placed very closely all over the pie.

The pie went in the oven and took about 45 minutes at 425 degrees. The crust can get too brown in which case you place a little aluminum foil over those areas. Let it cool and serve wedges with whipped cream, or iced cream. The oatmeal topping gives a crunch that’s appealing with the berries and not too sweet.

Mer’s Tuna Macaroni Salad

Before I ever moved away from home, I went through my mother’s recipe folder where she kept family recipes written down. I latched onto this recipe and have made it ever since. My great-grandmother was known within the family as ‘Mer’. Everyone called her that and still refers to her as ‘Mer’, who passed away in the 1960’s. Her husband was ‘Per’. I remember her making this salad and I loved it as a small kid. She would serve it to her lady friends at luncheons, and make it for us when we visited. The recipe would serve 6 to 10 people, depending on the serving size.

Mer's Original Recipe:
2 cups cooked macaroni - the small salad type
1 can drained tuna chunks
1/2 cup chopped sweet pickle
2 tomatoes, chopped small
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon minced onion and sliced radishes can be added

Use mayonnaise thinned with cream or vinegar as a dressing.
Variations: add chopped cucumber, or fresh minced parsely

When I made it recently I only had one tomato, and half of a cucumber so I chopped those very small. I used about ¼ cup sweet pickle relish with the juices mostly drained, instead of the sweet pickle. I didn’t have the radishes. Mer’s always had the tiny sweet pickle chunks and very thinly sliced and matchsticked radishes, which gave it a wonderful kick. I thinned my mayo with cream, and then added a splash of rice wine vinegar after I had mixed it up. I gave a quick taste for salt and pepper and chilled it for 30 minutes. We ate it in bowls. It made a great early lunch. The following day I made a big green chef's salad, and placed a scoop of the Tuna Macaroni Salad on one side of the salad. It was great. It’s best if chilled.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Quick Strip Steak Dinner

The other day I needed to cook a piece of thinly cut round steak that I had purchased. This is what I came up with. It was delicious. I served it with saffron rice and green beans.

1 lb thin round steak
1 onion, sliced thinly
1-14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon thyme
1 beef boullion cube
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
seasoning salt

Slice the steak up into thin strips. Saute quickly in a large pan with a little olive oil. Add the onion and stir. When the meat is browned add the tomatoes, and all the seasonings.

Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes on low heat. Take the cover off and simmer until the juice starts thickening. Serve over rice or noodles.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Zucchini Bites

This is a healthy snack food which is actually very tasty. This would be another good Superbowl party snack.

2 zucchini
parmesan cheese

Slice zucchini into 1/2" rounds and place on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Spread with a layer of mayonnaise. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Then sprinkle with your favorite spices such as salt, pepper, chili powder, basil, cayenne, oregano, etc. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 - 10 minutes. Serve.

Blanched Fried Almonds

My mother gave me this recipe years ago and it is a tasty treat. You can spice these up any way you creative. These would be a good Superbowl snack.

Put 2 cups or less almonds at a time in a bowl. Cover with boiling water. Let stand 5 minutes, then drain. Cover with cold water. Slip off the skins. Pat dry with a towel. Put butter or oil in a skillet, add 1 cup of nuts. Fry over low heat, stirring, until brown. Drain on paper towels. Add salt, spices, or any other flavoring you prefer.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Max Gail's Beef Stroganoff

Sometime back in the '70s I saw Max Gail on a daytime talk show cooking this dish. It was the Dinah Shore Show, which probably gives away my age. Max Gail played Det. Stan Wojciehowicz in "Barney Miller" for several years. Anyway, he cooked this very simply and quickly and I wrote down the sketchy recipe he gave as he did it. I usually adapt it slightly but I always refer back to this one for the basic stroganoff.

This is THE basic recipe he gave:

1 lb. meat
1 cup sour cream
1 can beef consomme
egg noodles
salt and pepper

Put meat in a pan. When its on it's way to being cooked, add onions, mushrooms, consomme, and seasoning. Throw noodles in the same pot; not too many. Cover and cook until the noodles are tender. Add sour cream and heat. Serve.

Now this is what I do:

I use lean ground beef, or thin strips of round steak
1 medium onion thinly sliced 1/2 to 1 lb. fresh sliced mushrooms
5 or 6 handfuls of dry egg noodles
1 can Cambell's beef consomme
a couple dashes Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon dry parsley (fresh would be better)
1 teaspoon dried dill (fresh would also be good)
1 small container of sour cream

I use the same simple method, just give it a little flavor. Don't add more liquid or it will become soupy. The noodles need to be stirred in and stirred a few times until they are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Serve and sprinkle some parsley on top.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Spinach Maria

I had this side dish at a restaurant in Knoxville, Tennessee. I was never a fan of cooked spinach, but this changed my mind. I was given the recipe by my friend Danielle, who is a native of East Tennessee. Now I make it often. You can leave out the red pepper flakes, but it really is good with a little 'kick'.

16 - 20 oz. of frozen chopped spinach or 1 lb. bag of fresh spinach or a combination
1 med. chopped onion
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 to 1 cup parmesan cheese
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
Seasoned bread crumbs

Cook the spinach according to directions, or steam the fresh spinach, and drain well. Saute the onions and pepper flakes in the butter until translucent. Add cream cheese and stir until it is all melted. Add the spinach and parmesan and stir through. Place in a greased 1-1/2 qt casserole dish and top with a sprinkle of crumbs, followed by some parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

I posted this recipe quite a long time ago. I recently made the dish and photo recorded it. I thought maybe those of you who aren't familiar with it will be tantalized by the pictures.

The cooked spinach is draining.

The onions and pepper flakes are simmering in butter.

Melty cream cheese mixture.

The spinach is added and combined.

Ready to go into the oven.
Nicely browned and ready to eat.

I served it with Buffalo chicken strips drizzled with ranch dressing. It was a good combination.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Apricot Nut Bread

I am on an apricot theme wishing for Summertime. The next best thing is using dried apricots for that intense flavor explosion. I've had this clipping for years; not sure where it came from.

1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons soft shortening
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup orange juice
4 teaspoons grated orange rind
3 cups sifted flour
3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped nuts
1 cup finely chopped dried apricots

Mix sugar, shortening and egg. Stir in milk, orange juice, and grated orange rind. Sift together and stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Blend in nuts and apricots. Pour into well greased loaf pan. Let stand 20 minutes before baking. Bake about 70 minutes at 350 degrees.

Granny's Apricot Pudding

I found this recipe in a Washington Cookbook. Since I love anything with dried apricots I had to try it. This comes out alot like the traditional banana pudding, only better!

1 package dried apricots
3/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
3 Tablespoons flour
3 eggs, seperated
1 Tablespoon butter
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 package vanilla wafers

Cook the apricots in very little water, then grind or sieve. Cook together until thickened; sugar, salt, flour, egg yolks, butter, milk and vanilla. Beat the egg whites and fold into cooled custard. Set aside. Crush vanilla wafers with a rolling pin(?) until they are crumbs. In serving dish, alternate layers of wafer crumbs, custard, and apricots. Top with wafer crumbs and serve chilled with whipped cream.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Turkey Cutlets with Honey, Dijon, and Lime Glaze

I recently bought some thinly sliced turkey breast cutlets in a package. I also had a box of sliced crimini mushrooms. This is what I came up with for dinner. It was delicious, and easy.

1 package turkey cutlets; pork or chicken would also work
1-8oz package of sliced fresh mushrooms
¼ of a medium onion, chopped fine or 1 shallot, finely chopped
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 Tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to season

Add to a large skillet a little olive oil and the garlic powder. Heat on med-hi and quickly brown the turkey cutlets. This only takes a couple of minutes if they are thin. Turn over and brown the other side. After turning add the salt and pepper, followed by the fresh mushrooms and onion/shallot smothering the turkey cutlets.

Put on a lid and simmer on med-low heat for about 5 minutes. Check and dot the butter over the mushrooms. Cook another 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are shrinking and becoming slightly browned.
Mix 2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Add a little water for desired consistency

Mix together and drizzle this over the top of the cooked turkey and mushrooms. Cover and cook on low heat for 5 minutes.

For a menu suggestion, serve with couscous and steamed pearl onions with frozen peas.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Tennessee Chess Cake

This is one of the desserts I used to make often. It is very sweet, but luscious. More like a cheesecake bar. This recipe makes a 9"x12" pan. I think you could adapt it by adding lemon zest or juice for flavoring in the topping.

1 stick of softened butter
1 yellow cake mix
1 egg

Mix well by hand and pat out in an ungreased baking pan.

8 oz softened cream cheese
1 box powdered sugar
3 eggs

Mix all together using an electric mixer. Pour on top of the crust mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Cool and then cut into squares.

Grape-nuts Lemon Pudding

I remember my grandmother making this and it was one of her favorites. I love anything lemony and the grapenuts make it a little crunchy. It is the ultimate comfort food and is well worth the time it takes to bake it.

Cream 1 teaspoon lemon rind and 4 Tablespoons butter. Add 1/2 cup sugar gradually, blending well. Add 2 egg yolks and beat well. Then add 3 Tablespoons of lemon juice. Add 2 Tablespoons flour, 1/4 cup Grapenuts cereal, and 1 cup milk. Mix well. Fold in 2 stiffly beaten egg whites. Turn out into a buttered baking dish and place in a pan of water, about an inch deep. Bake at 325 degrees for 1-1/4 hours. Serve cold.