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Author Archives: TaMara

Friday Recipe Exchange: Slow-Cooker Meals By Request

I received a request from The Mighty Trowel, friend of blog from Down Under, for some slow-cooker recipes as they move into fall.  I think Slow-cookers are one of the most versatile appliances in the kitchen – you can make a nice pot roast dinner, or recipes as simple as soups and stews. The best part is coming home from work or long hike and know dinner is ready to go and the house smells wonderful.

For recipes, let’s start with JeffreyW’s Italian Beef, pictured above and the recipe here.

A surprisingly easy and tasty Spinach Lasagna recipe is here.

Pulled Pork two ways, click here for both, makes great sandwiches or wraps, .

Then something different, and a childhood favorite meal, Brunswick Stew, recipe here. (Posting this makes me smile, because the last time I posted the recipe, commenters informed me that REAL Brunswick Stew is made with squirrel. You’re welcome to substitute as needed).

And finally, a Turkey Bean Soup,  recipe found here.

For all our slow-cooker recipes, click here and here.

I also posted my updated recipe for Extra Crispy Oven Fried Chicken today, you can find it here.

What’s on your menu this weekend? Have any slow-cooker recipes to share with The Mighty Trowel – I’m sure they would be appreciated. Vegetarian recipes would be great, we like to do at least one a week here, so new ideas are always welcome.

I really like tonight’s featured recipe because it is very simple, but so very tasty. I often make it when I have a crowd visiting. The recipe below serves 4 and I always double it.  It’s a great recipe for letting everyone help themselves when they are hungry. I toss the pasta with olive oil and put it in the refrigerator and leave the beef simmering in the slow-cooker on low for the entire day. They can mix the two when they are hungry. The longer the beef cooks, the better it gets. It’s always a hit with everyone.

Portuguese Beef & Pasta

  • 1 lb round steak, cut into thin strips, remove excess fat
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced (reserve ¼ for beans)
  • 1 green pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 2-14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf (remove before serving)
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 8 oz dry macaroni**

Slow-Cooker and saucepan

Add beef, salt, pepper, onion, green pepper, garlic, paste, diced tomatoes, water, bay leaf & red pepper to Slow-Cooker. Cook according to manufacturer’s directions (usually 8-10 hours on low) until beef tears easily with a fork. In saucepan, cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain well (you don’t want any water in your beef mixture) and mix beef and pasta in serving bowl.



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Extra Crispy Oven Fried Chicken

I’ve been playing with the different uses of potato starch. It works as a great alternative to corn starch when stir-frying and makes the silkiest gravies. I decided to give it a try with my Oven Fried Chicken (original recipe here with complete dinner menu) and it turned out amazing. The potato starch seals the chicken, keeping it incredibly moist. Combined with the rice chex cereal, it creates a super crispy crust. It’s become a favorite here that I’ve been making about once a week. And bonus, it’s gluten free!

Extra Crispy Oven Fried Chicken

  • 2 bone-in, skin on chicken breasts
  • 2 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
  • 2 chicken legs (or two additional thighs)
  • 2 eggs, beaten with 2 to 3 tbsp water
  • 2 cups crushed rice chex cereal
  • 1-1/2 cups potato starch
  • 1 tsp each: garlic powder, dried basil, dried oregano, dried rosemary, dried sage, paprika
  • 1/2 tsp each: salt, pepper,
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (opt)

Crush all spices together (either by hand, in a mill or with a mortar and pestle) and mix well with potato starch and cereal on the plate.

Add egg and water into bowl and beat well.

Bath chicken in egg and then dredge into cereal mixture, pressing the mixture into the chicken, turning and coating both sides evenly. Move directly to a foil or parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake at 400 degree F, turning pan halfway through cooking, until internal temp is 165 degrees, about 45 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes a great dinner with Garlic Mashed potatoes (recipe here) and buttered green beans.



Spring! Spring! Spring!

Friday Recipe Exchange: Corned Beef and Cabbage, Reprise

Corned Beef by JeffreyW

Corned beef is really one of the perfect foods to do in a pressure cooker. You get a nice, tender beef and instead of mushy, colorless vegetables, you get perfectly cooked vegetables infused with that great corned beef broth flavor.

Tonight’s featured recipe uses a bit of dill pickle juice in place of some of the water and a touch of spicy brown mustard. But I saw recipes that used chicken broth, sherry or beer in place of some of the water. I think you should experiment and use what sounds good to you. I really  like dill pickle juice. And I have become a big fan of Napa cabbage with my corned beef.

A lot of recipes call for 3-4 lbs of corned beef. I picked up two, since both the pressure cooker and slow-cooker recipes are easy, you don’t need to save corned beef and cabbage for a special occasion. Just freeze the other one for another day.

I know I’ve been very busy and haven’t posted a lot of new recipes, but I have been doing a lot of cooking and just bought some new cookware (here). I’ll try and do better…I’ve got a great new technique for very, very crispy oven chicken and I’ll try and get that posted.

Are you a corned beef fan? Reuben’s anyone? What’s on your plate this weekend?

Now for the recipes:

JeffreyW tackles corned beef  leftovers – see his gallery of Corned Beef Sandwiches here. (lots of yummy pictures at those links)

My family weighs in on their favorite ways to fix corned beef, including grilling. (click here)

Now tonight’s featured recipes:

Pressure Cooker Corned Beef Dinner:

  • 3 to 4 lbs corned beef, trim the fat to about 1/4 inch
  • Water
  • Spices included with corned beef or the following: 1 tbsp black peppercorns, 1 tbsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp fennel seeds,
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed – opt
  • 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 – 6  medium to large potatoes, cut into four to eight pieces, peeling optional
  • 4-6 carrots, sliced in half and cut into 2” lengths
  • Cabbage, cut into 4 to 6 pieces – for a change of pace, I’ve used Napa cabbage to great success.

pressure cooker and cooking rack

Remove the corned beef from the brine (discarding the brine), rinse thoroughly and place in the bottom of the pressure cooker, fatty side up. [You don’t want to brown this beef, because it’s been brined.] Sprinkle spices over the top of the beef. Add enough liquid (water or water and a combination of ONE of the following: pickle juice, chicken broth, beer or wine) to come to the top of beef, about 3-4 cups usually.  Cover and bring to pressure and let cook for 1 hour. I use the cold water method to depressurize (that is when you run cold water over the pan in the sink, otherwise you can remove it from the heat and let slowly depressurize).

The key to getting the perfect corned beef and vegetables with the pressure cooker is to cook them separately. Prep the vegetables during the last 15 or so minutes of beef cooking time. Once the beef is done, put it on a cutting board, cover loosely in foil and put a towel over the whole deal.

Remove all but enough liquid to come to the bottom of the cooking rack when placed in the pressure cooker. Place potatoes first on the tray, then carrots and then cabbage, cover and bring to pressure. Cook for about 12 minutes. The vegetables will be fork tender, not mushy and the beef will be fully rested. Slice, plate and serve.

For the slow-cooker:

Place rinsed beef in the bottom of the slow-cooker, sprinkle spices, add liquid to come to the top of the beef,  and cover. Cook on low for 4 hours. At the 4 hour mark, add potatoes and then carrots. Cook additional 4 hours, adding the cabbage during the last 30 minutes. With the exception of adding the vegetables, try to resist the temptation to open the lid. You need it to stay covered to properly cook. Let the meat rest, covered with foil for about 15 minutes before carving.

There you go, some easy ways to put together a nice corned beef dinner.

Enjoy your weekend and watch out for leprechauns… – TaMara



 

Merry Christmas To Me!

One of my clients always gives me a great gift every Christmas. Often it’s a much needed spa gift card. This year, though, since I’d moved into a new home, he very thoughtfully gave me a gift card to a high-end kitchen store. Last week I finally had time to shop.

I used it to add new cookware to my collection. If you’ve been following along, you know I love my cast iron skillets. The rest of my cookware was high priced, high end JUNK. Seriously, it was suppose to be life-time cookware, purchased at a high end kitchen store that did nothing but pit, chip and stain. I replaced it several times under warranty, but gave up because it was more trouble than it was worth. And I wasn’t sure the chipping wasn’t toxic.

So I chose a mid-priced cookware set this time, figuring it couldn’t be worse than what I had and I was still going to rely mostly on my cast iron. I laughed  when I read the care instructions. A bit fru-fru compared to my indestructible cast iron. But I really like it, it’s been a dream to clean and heats up quickly – which I’m still getting used to – and cooks evenly



 

Friday Moment of Zen

I was out doing a bit of gardening when Bad Horse pointed to the sky and said “oooo”. I concurred. I am still alive and well. Been terribly busy with work and gardening…and still a bit of house stuff. I don’t know if I already mentioned, but we decided the rooms need crown moulding. I’m now the proud owner of air compressor, nail gun and chop saw. Uh-huh. I’m much happier with garden tools and cookware.

The other big projects are changing out my office ceiling fan and putting in a solar tube in the kitchen. It is cave like over by the sink and needs some help.

Gardening is an ongoing project that may never end….but I’m okay with that. It’s suppose to rain/snow tomorrow so maybe that will give me time to update you on the progress to date.

I’m doing corned beef and cabbage this Sunday, so I’ll post those recipes and some updated photos, too.

P.s. photo has a copyright on it because they used it on the evening news…



 

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!

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Saturday Dinner Music: Alison Krauss, When You Say Nothing At All

(Keith Whitley’s original version can be found here)

 

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Saturday Dinner Music: The Way You Love Me, Faith Hill

This CD used to be on repeat at full volume as I drove to LA back in the day:

Spring Gardening Continued…

When we last left the side garden it looked like this (click here).

garden-cleared-2

Above you can see I’ve started to add rocks. I did a few a day…

garden-cleared-1

And this is how far I’ve gotten this week:

garden-cleared-3

Next I’m going to plot out where the plants will be and create little areas for them and I’ll fill the rest in with rocks…of which I still have plenty.

Stay tuned…