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Monday, May 31, 2010

spicy peppered beef

Three day weekends are wonderful, but they are also exhausting.  I'm falling asleep as I sit here writing this...I'm so tired!  I look forward to sharing with you what I did this past weekend in future posts (it involves a fabulous vacation with my sister and her boyfriend all over northern California), but for now I'm going to just get to the basics.

The basics of beef, that is. :-)

After a long, tiring weekend like this one, the last thing I want to do is slave over a hot stove.  If you can identify with me, then this is the recipe for you.  It involves a slow cooker...a bit of beef...a smidgen of spices...and a lot of taste.


Let me introduce you to the cast of characters.  The star of the show is a slab of beef (I used a 2 1/2 pound beef chuck tender roast).  Any beef would do...or pork even.  This is a very versatile recipe.

The Oscar for the supporting roles goes to salt, Italian seasoning, thyme, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, black pepper, white pepper, ground red pepper, and cayenne pepper.

Did someone say pepper?


Place your meat into a large slow cooker and pour a half cup of water over the top.  I recommend placing the meat with the fatty layer on top.  When it cooks, the fat will drizzle through the meat to flavor it.  What can I say...we like flavor in our house. 


Mix together 1 teaspoon each of the salt, Italian seasoning, thyme, paprika, and cumin.


Add to those spices 1/2 teaspoon each of garlic powder, freshly ground black pepper, ground red pepper, and white pepper.


Finally, finish off your spice mixture with 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  Mix it up well!


Pour your spice mixture right over the top of your meat.


There's no need to rub it in (although you could if you wanted).  Just let it all rest on top, put the lid on, and cook for 7-8 hours on low.


And this is my favorite part...the waiting.  During those 7-8 hours, you can take a nap, read, watch TV, clean your house, work on a hobby, or just go to work knowing that you won't have to worry about dinner when you get home.  I love slow cookers!

When you take the lid off, this is what you will find...


...it's tender, it's juicy, and it's got quite the kick!

To ensure that the spices make it into each bite, place your cooked meat and all of the juices in a dish and shred with two forks..


The result is a fabulous pile of deliciousness.


You can serve this any way you like.  Here's how we enjoyed it...

We served it plain alongside a baked potato and salad.


We enjoyed it in between two thick slices of bread, drizzled with barbecue sauce with homemade fries on the side.


We loved adding it to a simple pasta medley - it added such a nice burst of flavor!


And we really enjoyed crunching down on a delicious fresh salad topped with our warm, peppery beef.


We hope you had a wonderful weekend.  Now go relax with beef...it's what's for dinner!

Spicy Peppered Beef
2-3 pounds beef tenderloin, roast, or other favorite cut
1/2 cup water
1 t. each salt, Italian seasoning, thyme, paprika, and cumin
1/2 t. each garlic powder, black pepper, white pepper, and ground red pepper
1/4 t. cayenne pepper

Place beef in slow cooker, fatty side on top.  Pour water over the top.  Mix together all of the spices, and pour evenly over the top of the beef.  Cook on low for 7-8 hours.  Shred and mix with juices before serving.

Note: This spice rub would be amazing on any grilled meat!  Check out today's FoodBuzz daily special - a Cuisinart Griddler GR-4N.   It's a panini grill, flat press, contact grill, and griddle all in one! FoodBuzz has daily specials going all summer long - check back every day to find the best deals on kitchen ware!

This recipe is linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday , Tasty Tuesday, and Tuesdays at the Table 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

gooseberry patch giveaway and homemade chicken stock

I'm sooooooo excited!  Why?  Because Delightful Country Cookin' is being featured in a spotlight by my favorite company of all time - Gooseberry Patch!  I've mentioned them before here and here, but in case you missed it, just know that Gooseberry Patch makes the best cookbooks in the world...hands down.  It's such an honor to have them notice my site!

Click here to read their spotlight on Delightful Country Cookin'.

In honor of this wonderful occasion, Gooseberry Patch has donated a free cookbook for me to give away to a lucky reader!!! 


I'm giving away Dinners on a Dime, one of Gooseberry Patch's newest cookbooks (and one that I personally can't wait to own).  This cookbook contains over 200 hearty (and yet inexpensive) recipes, such as batter-topped chicken pie, honey wheat bread, do-it-yourself onion soup mix, Amish fried chicken coating, cider apple butter, and watermelon pickles!  There are chapters on slow cooker recipes and canning, and scattered throughout are also handy tips to make your cooking experiences a success.

There are two very simple ways that you can enter to win this contest.  First, visit Gooseberry Patch and then leave me a comment telling me which cookbook you most want to own and why.  Second, become a fan of Gooseberry Patch on facebook (and leave me a comment telling me that you did).  As soon as they reach 40,000 fans, they are giving away a free download of 25 of their favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes...let's help them hurry up and get there! Winner will be announced next Friday, May 28.

To celebrate this cookbook giveaway, I'm going to share with you my own "dinner on a dime" tip - homemade chicken stock.

When a recipe calls for chicken broth or chicken stock, most of us go out and buy a box of Swanson.  But did you know it's cheaper...and healthier...to make it yourself?  And it's incredibly easy, especially if you use your slow cooker.


To start, you are going to need one of these beauties...


Yep, that's a chicken.  A whole chicken.

I'll admit, I'm a little grossed out by raw chicken.  Actually, I'm really grossed out by raw chickens.  I usually feign a sudden onset of weakness so that my husband has to be the one to take it out of the package, rinse it off, and put it in the pot.  I'm a baby like that.

For you, though, I touched the chicken.

Here, I used a 5 lb. chicken, but I normally use a 3-4 pound one. If you send your husband to pick one out in the store like I did, make sure you specify the weight you want.  Otherwise, your bird might not fit in your slow cooker...mine barely did.


Rinse off your bird, making sure that you check the inside.  Sometimes companies will put the giblets and other organs in there - you don't want those.  If you see them, discard them.

Once you've got your bird rinsed off and nestled inside your slow cooker, you add a few items for flavor - a few onions, a few carrots, a few celery sticks, a few sprigs of fresh parsley, about 2 teaspoons of salt, and 10-15 peppercorns.  (Be sure to chop your onions, carrots, and celery into large chunks to make them easy to remove later on.)  Why am I being so vague?  Well, because you don't really need to be exact.  These veggies and seasonings are for flavor, which means you just add what you have (and what you have room for) and don't worry about what doesn't go in.  In fact, you could even add other herbs like fresh thyme or basil.  That's the fun of it.


Arrange your extras over your bird...


...and then pour water over everything until it covers the chicken.  I managed to get about two quarts of water in my slow cooker (I did have a large chicken after all), but normally I add 3-4 quarts.  The amount doesn't really matter, though.  The more water, the more broth.  The less water, the more concentrated the flavor.  Either way it's a good thing. :-)


Cover and cook on high for about 6 hours (your broth needs to be at a rolling simmer for about 2 hours to ensure that the chicken is cooked).

By the way, your house will smell amazing.  I just wanted you to know.



When your chicken is done, first remove your chunks of vegetables with a slotted spoon.  You can either save these to eat at dinner or just discard them.


Then, still using the slotted spoon, remove your chicken and put in a separate dish.  The chicken should be so tender that it just falls apart.


All that liquid that's left over...well, that's your chicken stock!  Before you use it, you'll want to do a couple of things.  First, strain out the bits of peppercorn and chicken that may still be floating around.


Then, refrigerate your broth for several hours (preferably overnight).  When it cools, the fat will rise to the top, allowing you to skim it off later.


Just a tip - don't drop a big glob of fat on your kitchen floor right after you've mopped.  And then don't step in it...with bare feet.  Not that I have experience or anything...


After straining and skimming, your stock is ready for use.  You should have quite a bit of it!  I generally measure mine out into freezer bags and freeze for future use.  This stock is perfect for anything - soups, casseroles, etc., and you'll find that your budget thanks you.

Oh, what to do with all that chicken, you ask?  Well, use it!  Chicken that has been cooked this way makes the best chicken salad sandwiches, soups, enchiladas, casseroles, you name it!  It's incredibly tender and tasty.

Refrigerate your cooked chicken until it's cooled off to the point that it won't burn your fingers.  Don't refrigerate it so long that it gets cold...it's harder to bone at that point. Once it's cooled off, get out two bowls.  Put the yummy stuff (the meat) in one bowl and the gross stuff (skin, bones, etc.) in another.  It's as simple as that.

Yummy (eat this):


Gross (throw this stuff away):


Thanks for visiting Delightful Country Cookin' today, and make sure to enter for a chance to win a copy of Dinners on a Dime!  I heart Gooseberry Patch!

This post has been linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday , Tasty Tuesday, and Tuesdays at the Table  Foodie Friday and I'm Lovin' It!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

mexican braid

I made my husband the white meat and beans right before I left town for Washington, D.C.  I was going to be gone for two weeks, so I wanted him to have plenty of food.  I'm realistic, though...I knew he wouldn't want to eat beans for every meal.  In fact, if I'm really being realistic, I recognize that he would consider the white meat and beans a side dish and not a meal in itself.

Men.  (sigh)

Anyway, I knew there needed to be something else sitting in the refrigerator for him.  That something else needed to be tasty, healthy, and a perfect compliment to the bean dish that he was probably (incorrectly, I might add), eating as a side dish.  Just because I love him, I came up with this Mexican braid.


As a side note, I want to apologize for the quality of my photography in this post.  I was more concerned about packing for my trip than plating my food.  It happens...


I started by tossing into a nonstick skillet one pound of ground turkey, 1 can of Rotel, and one small onion (diced).  I cooked these until the turkey was browned and onion was tender.

Then, I added a cup of frozen corn and cooked until the corn was heated through.


Once my meat mixture was cooked, I prepared the bread.  I used two loaves of Rhodes white bread (you can find it in the freezer section), that I thawed according to package directions.  The thawing takes a few hours, so don't wait until the last minute!

I foiled and greased two large cookie sheets, and I rolled out one loaf of bread on each one.  I didn't worry so much about width and length - I just rolled until the bread dough was about 1/4 inch thick.  Then, I cut slanted slits in the dough on each side about three inches in (making sure I still had a good sized middle section).  I know that sounds a little vague, but maybe the picture will give you a better idea of what I'm talking about.


I put half of the meat filling in the middle of each.


Then I topped with cheese (I used pepper jack, but mozzarella or cheddar could also work).


I folded the short sides in, pinching to seal.  And then, starting with one end, I folded the flaps over the meat filling (alternating sides), giving the bread a "braided" effect.  Pinch any ends to seal.  You may also brush the top with egg whites if you want to give it a nice golden brown color after it bakes - I was personally too lazy for that.

 
I baked at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until it was golden brown.


And it's done!  This braid was fast and easy, and it made a great side dish to the white meat and beans.  After my husband tasted it, he decided that he liked it even better than the white meat and beans - he said it had more "kick."  Coming from him, that's a very good thing...


Mexican Braid
2 loaves Rhodes white bread, thawed according to package instructions
1 lb. ground turkey
1 can Rotel
1 onion, chopped
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
8 oz shredded pepper jack cheese

Brown turkey with Rotel and onion in a nonstick skillet.  Add corn and cook until heated through.  Roll out each loaf of dough (about 1/4 inch thick) onto a cookie sheet that has been foiled and greased.  Cut diagonal slits on each side of the dough about 1 inch apart and 3 inches deep.  Place 1/2 of meat mixture in the center of each rolled out loaf.  Top each loaf with 4 oz. of shredded cheese.  Fold in short sides of dough, pinching to seal.  Fold cut dough flaps over the top of the meat mixture, alternating sides, to create a braided pattern.  Pinch edges to seal.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until browned.  Makes 2 loaves, serving 16.

Note: This recipe could be easily halved and freezes well.

Nutrition: 249 cal, 9g fat, 3g sat fat, 0g trans fat, 37mg cholesterol, 483mg sodium, 27g carbs, 2g fiber, 3g sugars, 14g protein, 0% vit. A, 2% vit. C, 1% calcium, 2% iron.

This recipe is linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday , Tasty Tuesday, and Tuesdays at the Table

Sunday, May 9, 2010

white meat and beans

I've decided that my husband needs to eat more fiber. 

I'm not sure that he agrees.

Fiber doesn't have a good reputation, and I can understand why.  Wheat bran cereal doesn't exactly get me excited, so I can't expect my husband to go running towards it.

But beans...now those are a bit different.  Beans are an amazing food.  They've got protein, soluble fiber, and insoluble fiber...and they can be made to taste great.

So that was my challenge - to make my husband a fiber-filled bean dish that is hearty, satisfying, and extremely tasty. 



When we do eat beans, they are always red or black beans.  I decided to go with something different this time to add a bit of variety.  I got a pound of dry Great Northern beans and let them soak overnight.


The next morning I put my beans into my large (brand new) 6 quart slow cooker.  I love slow cooking - it makes the house smell amazing and makes my job really easy.

Over the beans, I poured 4 cups of chicken broth (I used reduced-sodium), 1 large chopped onion, 1 heaping teaspoon of minced garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons of ground cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper.


I mixed everything together and then turned the slow cooker on low for 7-8 hours.


At this point, I taste-tested my beans to see if I needed to adjust the spices.  I didn't think so, but it's always worth checking!

To make this dish hearty, I added a can of green chilies, a cup of chopped grilled chicken, and 1/2 of a link of turkey kielbasa (sliced up). 


I threw these in the pot and covered and cooked on low for another hour.

BAM!

(I've always wanted to do that...)


I love this dish served with a big piece of buttered cornbread.  My husband thinks it tastes best topped with salsa.  Either way, it makes white beans (and fiber!) taste good.


White Meat and Beans
1 lb. dry great northern beans
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped
1 heaping t. minced garlic
2 t. ground cumin
1 1/2 t. oregano
1 t. ground coriander
1/8 t. ground cloves
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
4 oz. chopped green chilies
1 cup cooked, chopped chicken breast
1/2 link turkey kielbasa, sliced

Soak beans in water overnight; drain.  Place beans in slow cooker.  Cover with broth, onion, garlic, and seasonings.  Mix together and cook on low for 7-8 hours.  Add chilies, chicken, and kielbasa; cook for another hour.  Serves 6.

Nutrition: 359 cal, 4g fat, 1g sat fat, 0g trans fat, 32mg cholesterol, 755mg sodium, 53g carbs, 16g fiber, 4g sugars, 29g protein, 1% vit. A, 23% vit. C, 17% calcium, 31% iron.

This recipe is linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday , Tasty Tuesday, and Tuesdays at the Table

Thursday, May 6, 2010

bacon-infused risotto


A few weeks ago, I had a package of bacon.  Remember it?

I loved that bacon.

One of my favorite creations to emerge from that package of bacon is what I have called Bacon-Infused Risotto.  It’s a fun twist on risotto that tastes phenomenal!


First, get about 4 cups of chicken broth warming in a saucepan…you’ll need it later.

Then dice up 3 pieces of bacon and cook in a large nonstick skillet until they get crispy.  Remove your bacon to a separate dish for now, but keep the grease!

That grease is the secret ingredient for our recipe.  Most risotto recipes that I’ve seen begin with olive oil or butter.  This one begins with bacon grease…flavorful, flavorful bacon grease.


Grab 1 cup of sliced mushrooms and 1 cup of baby carrots.

  
Add these to your bacon grease and saute until the mushrooms are tender.


Throw in a cup of Arborio rice and saute for 3-4 minutes.  Let it get infused with that bacon grease.

And before you start thinking that this recipe must be really bad for you, check the nutritional stats at the bottom.

Told you so!


Add your spices – garlic powder, oregano, and black pepper.  How much of each?  That’s up to you.  I added a smidgen of garlic powder and oregano and several dashes of black pepper.  But that’s just my style.  You can do it whatever you want – even add different spices.


Then add 1/2 cup of warm chicken broth.


 Cook and stir until the liquid has completely cooked off.  


And then do it again…

…and again…

…and again…

…and keep on adding 1/2 cup of chicken broth at a time, letting the liquid completely absorb each time before you add more.

After you’ve used about 3 cups of chicken broth, taste test your rice.  Traditionally risotto is cooked until al dente, but I often cook mine just a little bit more.  If your risotto has the texture you want, stop adding broth.  If it’s a little too crunchy, continue adding broth (1/2 cup at a time) until it reaches the texture that you want.


Once your rice is perfect, add about 1 cup of diced, cooked chicken and 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese.  Stir into your rice and let the cheese melt.


When you serve your risotto, top with those crunchy bacon bits for a final touch!


Bacon-Infused Risotto
3 slices bacon, diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup baby carrots
1 cup Arborio rice
Garlic powder (to taste)
Oregano (to taste)
Black pepper (to taste)
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, warmed
1 cup diced, cooked chicken breast
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook bacon in a nonstick skillet until crispy.  Remove bacon for later use, leaving bacon grease in skillet.  Saute mushrooms and carrots in bacon grease until the mushrooms are tender.  Add rice and saute for 3-4 minutes.  Add spices to taste.  Pour 1/2 cup of chicken broth into skillet; cook and stir until liquid is completely absorbed.  Continue adding chicken broth (1/2 cup at a time, letting it absorb in between each addition) until rice is al dente or reaches desired tenderness.  Stir in diced chicken and Parmesan cheese; allow cheese to melt.  Top each serving with cooked bacon pieces.  Serves 4.

IBS variation - use turkey bacon, cook carrots slightly before adding, and leave out the cheese.

Nutrition: 293 cal, 5g fat, 2g sat fat, 0g trans fat, 25mg cholesterol, 719mg sodium, 44g carbs, 2g fiber, 2g sugar, 16g protein, 108% vit. A, 6% vit. C, 8% calcium, 18% iron.

This post is linked to Foodie Friday!
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