New Meals inspired by Food TV (food)

I was watching Food TV yesterday, and Paula Dean’s show was on. It caught my undivided attention because she was using recipes for crockpots and slow cooking, particularly the first recipe, Creamy Macaroni and Cheese for the crockpot … which is something that she said they use in their restaurant (in Savannah, GA) a lot.

I immediately got up and started making it once she had put it together on the show. (I did go to the website and print out the recipe for my binder as well.)

It was an easy thing to make, but I made it more complicated due to “making most everything from scratch” being my main methodology in the kitchen.

The recipe called for a can of condensed Cheddar Cheese soup. I don’t use condensed soups most of the time …

So I put 1/2 cup of water in a sauce pan, and added couple Tablespoons of arrowroot powder, stirred it well, then added 2 cups of milk and stirred and heated until it started to thicken, then added shredded cheddar — in essence I “made a simple cheese soup” and in that was included some of the ingredients from the recipe.

The recipe is good, it has a couple of differences from mainstream recipes for such a dish: sour cream and eggs. It’s a true casserole, not just “mac and cheese” — and a good dish to serve with dinner. It’s really quick to put together, and just needs to be in the crockpot for 3 hours on “low” — yes you need to cook the pasta a bit before putting it into the sauce in the crockpot, but just “7 minutes”. I used Kamut pasta (elbow macaroni made by Eden Organics that I obtain at Whole Foods Market.)

On the same show Paula made “Swiss Steak” and it’s moreso a normal recipe I guess, but I’ve never made it that way. I used “cubed steaks” just one way generally — pound them flatter with flour, and brown in oil and butter on each side in a skillet (cast iron being best,) and then let all the meat cook a bit longer on a low heat. Before cooking them I often carmelize a very large sweet onion in the very skillet the meat will cook in, and then hold the onions in a dish, and when the meat it done put the meat on a platter with a foil tent covering it, put the onions back into the skillet, stir to loosen up and warm up, then put in a cup of sour cream with 1 tsp. of salt, stir to warm, not boil. That is a lovely carmelized onion beef sour cream sauce to use with the meal. On top of the meat, or dipping the meat, or mixed with rice, etc.

Paula used cubed steaks, seasoned them, put flour on them (but no pounding) and brown them in a cast iron dutch oven, then pulled them out, put in green bell pepper slices, onion slices, and garlic … canned tomatoes, and eventually put the steaks back in and added water and cooked on a low heat for a while.

I decided to do that, so I went to the website and printed the Swiss Steak recipe and put it in my binder, sent DH to the meat store to get some cubed steaks since we didn’t have any (but I meant to have some in the house the last time we got meat) and made that for dinner along with the mac and cheese.

Oooh, it was so good! I used Red Bell Peppers, don’t like green, and prefer the Red for their vitamin content anyhow. The Swiss Steak was a great hit for the whole family, but I most particularly loved it and said I’d make this at least twice a month, and maybe never make that other cubed steak dish I make again. (It’s good, but I’m really tired of it, KWIM?)

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Last week I saw another show, which gave me an idea to make my usual asian inspired dish, red peppers and onions and tamari sauce , etc. and usually has noodles in it, and beef …

This time I marinated chicken breasts in lime juice, tamari sauce, and toasted sesame oi, grilled those on the stove with my cast iron grill pan. Then I let them “rest”; and in my cast iron big skillet I put: Red Bell Pepper strips, green scallions, garlic finely diced, snow peas, water chesnuts, toasted sesame seeds, tamari sauce, toasted sesame oil, and fresh pineapple chunks. Stir fried them not adding it all at once, but in that basic order as needed time for each thing, then add left-over marinade, and at the end applied Arrowroot powder dissolved in water (3 tbsp. Arrowroot and enough water) to the stir fry, mixed it well, and cooked until thickened.

I served it like this: White basatmi rice with strips of chicken placed atop, and finished with a good amount of stir fry and sauce on each plate.

It was really good, and next time I’ll use MORE pineapple — it’s fresh pineapple that I cut myself, BTW.

Grinding Meat (food)

I made spaghetti for dinner last evening. I didn’t make fresh Kamut pasta, my preference –what I haven’t done much in the past, but am trying to get going regularly now, but I did use Spelt pasta, bought at Whole Foods, a VitaSpelt product (Purity). It’s a dry boxed pasta, Angel Hair being my favorite type to use.

I did make meatballs how I prefer though. Last time at Whole Foods we got a little over a pound of Bison cubes. So I had fresh Bison and ground that up and added my favorite things and rolled it up into small balls, and then put those meatballs into my large cast-iron skillet that was heated with (First Cold Pressed) Extra Virgin Olive Oil at least a quarter inch deep. I turned the meatballs frequently to brown them on all sides, then added more of the EVOO and freshly diced onions, then later freshly diced garlic. When all that was soft I added tomato products, I use canned tomatoes (Muir Glen) and also something from Bionature to make my sauce. Then basil, oregano, parsley –at this point all dried herbs. Near the end I add sea salt to taste, and sometimes some cheese, like last night I used some leftover Romano (I grate it myself, it’s a sheeps milk variety, super tasty!)

I made some rolls to go with a garlic/olive oil dip (which I also made.)

The meatballs were so good, I am sure as long as I can freshly grind my meats again, and hopefully have Bison usually, I’ll have no qualms at making meatballs for spaghetti again. Last nights were so much better than the ones I used to make, back in the day. Many reasons for that, no doubt, but I view the freshly ground meat as the biggest cause for betterment. I wish to grind any “ground meat” needs from now on. I’ve wanted to, and it’s just a matter of getting the right cuts of meat to allow me to do it this way. DH is the one who goes to the meat store nearby to get things, we get most of our meat there, some at Whole Foods, and he likes getting ground meat, seeing as it’s cheaper and something useable for quick meals.

I don’t like having it though, it’s a stop-age thing to me, in using ground meat effectively and happily. I make blah things with it since it’s a lump of cold stuff, often frozen by the time I use it (since ground meat needs to be used right away or frozen.) Cubes of meat can be frozen and easily partially defrosted in order to grind the meat. This sort of thing is so much easier for me and floods the creativeness in me with energy.

It takes time to grind meat, but not that much, but it’s not a negative thing, that “extra time it takes to grind” … it’s actually more than positive and absolutely fuel for the kitchen to become a lovely place to make something grand, different, better, nicer. To be happy making something creative.

Having a meat grinder is the best thing since sliced bread.

Another thing that is ‘the best thing since sliced bread’ is whole loaves of bread made at home, and sliced manually with my 9-inch Classic WÃœSTHOF bread knife. 🙂

St. Patty eats (food)

Tomorrow is “St. Patty Day” …

I have Irish in my family tree (many, many years ago); and I had a beloved Aunt who was married to my blood-uncle — she was 100% Irish (as far as I know) but born (I think) in the USA, and raised in the USA.

I like having the American Tradition of “Corned Beef” for dinner on March 17th. I don’t do anything else for sure. Long ago I didn’t wear “green” on the “day” claiming I didn’t have to wear green clothing or accesories due to having “green eyes” –so “Don’t Pinch Me” was my motto — “I have Irish in me, and my eyes are green, don’t pinch me.”

So then, tomorrow I’ll put the natural ‘not-cured’ “corned beef” into the crock pot and decide what else to make with it. It was the only piece of corned beef left in the store the day we were there (Whole Foods) and it’s not as big as I would have liked it to be. (2.26 lbs. is too small for a family of 5, when you are talking good Corned Beef!) We’ll have to just be happy with less. FWIW

I haven’t made biscuits in a very long time (some years) and I’ve an appetite for some good ‘white spelt buttery buscuits’

I have two pie crusts in the refrigerator and want to come up with a dessert. I also have the stuff to make a cheese cake. I do have two cans of cherries that I bought when I was hungry for a cherry pie, but didn’t make one after all then. I really was looking for them weeks before and the store didn’t have but one can of what I wanted. It’s a cherry in cans that isn’t “sweetened” it’s just canned cherries. So I add what I want to make them good and wholesome. So I’m thinking a cherry pie, or I also have lemons and love “Lemon Meriange Pie” and haven’t made one in some years, maybe I’ll make one of those. Or a cheese cake. I love good old plain New York Cheese cake. Homemade of any of the above are great, way better than anything from a store. Amen.

Meatloaf (food)

I’m making a meatloaf for dinner, in the crock pot. I haven’t made many “meatloaf” dishes in the past few years, used to make them more in the past. I think I’ve done one in the crock pot before, but not more than that, usually prefering the oven … but today I am trying it in the crock pot again.

IF it turns out well, perhaps I’ll take a photo and post it.

Now then, I do like a good meatloaf, the way I like it. I like a simple “barbecue sauce” on top, made with ketchup, mustard, brown sugar and vinegar. Inside I use different herbs, fresh finely diced onion, and breadcrumbs (often fresh breadcrumbs), some ketchup, an egg, and whatever else I think of adding at the time.

Today I had 1 pound of natural ground chuck, and I had vacuum-sealed bison cubes in the freezer, so I defrosted the bison in the sink real fast, and put it through my Kitchen Aid Stand meat grinder attachment, then mixed the two meats together and added the rest of the stuff in. It’s bigger than a 2-lb meatloaf, and if it holds together well the leftovers will make nice sandwhiches, which reminds me, I need to get a loaf of bread going in the bread machine. 🙂