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Monday, January 3, 2011

Retail Beef Cuts

Here is some valuable information from Rick Bakas, who I recently started following on Twitter. Rick has a wonderful website: http://www.rickbakas.com/ which is a "cornucopia of wine and food geekery." Rick is a Certified Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers. His passion is finding the perfect wine and food pairing. His blog is a place where he shares success stories and not-so-successful stories while on this quest.


Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all the choices of beef cuts avaiable, so I found this very helpful. I hope you do too! Just click on the image to see the full size graphic.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup- Crockpot Style

Yesterday was a snowy, stay in the house kind of day and I had chicken. I looked at cookbooks several cookbooks, and finally found inspiration on the Tastefully Simple website. Did you know you can enter in a product you have and an ingredient and it will list all of the recipes using those ingredients? It's pretty helpful- you should check it out.

Anyway, I found a recipe there that was an inspiration for this creation. I loved the fact that I threw everything in the pot and let it go all day. If you don't have the Tastefully Simple ingredients, you can improvise, of course. OR- you can always call me or visit my website to order ;-) www.tastefullysimple.com/cferguson1


3 Chicken Breasts
1 Jar of Corn & Black Bean Salsa
1 Can of Black Beans
1 Can of Corn
1 Can of diced Jalapenos (mine were hot, and well...quite frankly this soup was even spicy to me!! I would suggest medium or mild)
1 Can of diced tomatoes
4 Cups of Water
4 Chicken Bullion Cubes
2 TBS of Fiesta Party Dip (TS)
Salt, Pepper, hot sauce to taste
Some crushed tortilla chips if desired

Combine all ingredients in your crock pot. Cook for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high, stirring occasionally. Before serving, remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with forks and place back in pot.

Serve with shredded cheddar and sour cream, if desired.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Crock Pot Potatoes Au Gratin

I'm not really sure why, but I think you need to eat beef on Christmas Eve. When I woke up the morning of the 24th, I found my fridge at a whopping 87 degrees. It was a disgusting mess with the melted butter running down the back and all the containers fogging up from their decomposition. Needless to say, the pot roast I was planning to cook was lost, so I had to completely recreate my Christmas Eve Menu.

I decided on steaks (which were OK- I have to remember that making the extra trip to Fresh Market or Whole Foods is worth it for good steaks- Publix...mediocre at best.) Since the idea of pot roast potatoes I had planned had perished in the fridge fiasco, I had to come up with a plan B.

I sliced my potatoes thinly with the mandolin and threw them in the crock pot on high. I added a little olive oil, cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese and yes- Velveeta because nothing that contains melted cheese can be denied this white trash delicacy in my opinion. I spiced it up with Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic, salt and pepper. I set the sucker on high and went to church. About two and a half hours later, I had this amazing Potato Au Gratin waiting for the steaks. I threw a bit of bread crumbs on top to finish it off and there you have it. Super easy and a happy, yummy creation courtesy of someone not getting the fridge closed all the way the night before. I'm not pointing fingers, however....it wasn't me for the record. ;-)

Crock Pot Chicken and Noodles

I'm not sure about you, but sometimes fixing dinner is the last thing I want to do after a busy day. I love good crock pot recipes because you come home to a wondrous smell and dinner is done. Kind of like that Ronco thingie: set it and forget it (ha!)

So I threw this together the other night, cooked up some egg noodles and served it with a salad and I was done. I have to admit, it was pretty tasty!

Boneless, skinless Chicken breasts
1 can of Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom Soup
2 Chicken bullion cubes
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc. seasons to your taste
Egg noodles

Ok, this is pretty simple: put the chicken in the crock pot, cover with soup, add seasonings and bullion cubes and cook on low all day (at least 6 hrs). Prepare egg noodles when you come home and serve chicken and gravy over noodles. Add a side salad to get your "green" points for the day.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Beer Cheese Soup

There's a restaurant in Denver I used to haunt called Woody's Wood Fired Pizza. On their buffet, they had this amazing beer cheese soup which is what inspired this recipe. Perfect for football!

1 Cup Flour
1 Stick Butter
Diced Potatoes (about 6 cups)
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 Diced Onion
2 Diced Shallots
Celery Seed
Garlic Powder
Salt
Pepper
Shredded Cheddar Cheese (about 2 Cups)
Velveeta (about 6 oz)


In one saute pan, cook your onions and shallots until translucent in a bit of olive oil. In a big stock pot, melt the stick of butter and add flour to make a roux, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat until golden brown. Add in the onions and shallots. Add in the diced potatoes and bouillon cubes and enough water to cover for cooking. Stir. Turn up the heat to start a boil, then reduce temperature and continue cooking until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.

When potatoes are tender, add about 2 cans of beer- any kind. The more flavorful the beer, the more flavorful the soup. Continue cooking on low, and add garlic powder, celery seed, salt, pepper and any other seasoning you might like.

Time to add the cheese. Dice Velveeta into cubes and immerse in hot soup. Sprinkle shredded cheddar in the mix too, stirring all the while. Taste. Need more cheese? Add more to taste.

I like to serve the soup topped with shredded cheddar and bacon bits on top.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Groovy Gravy

Does the art of gravy making escape you? For many years it did me. I've tried many techniques, and this is the winner. Tried, true, tested and simple...here's the secret:

2 tsp of butter
2 Tbs Flour
Juice from meat

Melt butter in large sauce pan
Add flour to the melted butter and stir, over medium heat so the flour can cook (rids it of the raw taste) and combine with the butter fat. When butter/flour mixture is brown in color, add juice 1 ladle at a time. Continue stirring with a wooden spoon, making sure to mush out any and all flour lumps. Continue to add juices until gravy is at the desired consistency.

Crock Pot Pot Roast (with beer)

So, this is so simple I hesitate to call it a "recipe" but I promise you won't be disappointed!

1 Sirloin Roast (This cut is the key for ANY pot roast, trust me!)
Garlic Cloves
Onion
Potatoes
Montreal Seasoning (or any other garlic/pepper/salt seasonings you have)
1 Crock Pot

Place roast in crock pot. Stab meat with paring knife and make pockets into which you will place peeled garlic cloves at random. Sprinkle with Montreal seasoning. Place whole, small red skinned potatoes on top.(Don't bother to cut them up, you can do that later) Add chopped onion (about 1/2) just on top of the meat. If so desired, you may also add more root veggies like carrots to the mix. Final touch: one can of beer. You pick the flavor. Place crock pot on low and cook it "low and slow" (the other key to a good pot roast) for 7+ hours. Come home to the smell of yummy goodness- separate components to serve...with something green- I insist!!! (can o green beans is good and quick or roasted Asparagus pairs nicely) and make fab gravy to accompany (recipe to follow).