With the change of the seasons comes the transition of my appetite. Fresh summer fruits and salads are no longer as appealing to me now that fall is upon us and I'm starting to think more along the lines of hearty, stick-to-your-ribs meals to combat those long, cold and dreary winter days that are just around the corner. My menus become heavy on the meat 'n taters!
Flank steak makes a regular appearance on the Harris Teeter weekly sales flyer and while it's not one of my absolute favorite cuts of meat, I'm learning to like it. If it is cooked and cut properly, it can make for a tasty, fairly inexpensive entree. This cut of meat is also incorrectly referred to as London Broil, which technically describes a method of cooking instead of an actual cut of meat.
Special care must be taken when preparing flank steak or else you'll end up with something equivalent to shoe leather on your dinner plate ~ over-cooking is detrimental so it only requires a few minutes of cooking per side. Marination is also important for a successful flank steak ~ look for marinades that contain acids like vinegar or citrus juices because they break down the fibrous tissues in the meat. After cooking, the meat needs to rest for about 10 minutes and most importantly it MUST, MUST be sliced against the grain.
An excerpt from Beef Recipes from Lowes Foods' Kitchen explains it best: "When a recipe calls for slicing meat against the grain, looked at the cooked meat and located the direction of the string-like fibers (the grain). Slice the meat in the opposite direction of the grain to provide a tender slice of meat. If you cut the meat in the same direction as the grain, the result will be a chewy slice of meat. Example: if the grain is going north/south direction, then cut the slices in an east/west direction."
This Cooking Light recipe called for marinating the meat with whiskey and I was curious if it was acidic enough to do the job like vinegar or citrus juice. But I suppose since drinking whiskey rots your liver, surely laying in it for at least 24 hours would tenderize a piece of meat, right? I'll admit to leaving this in the marinade for more like 36 to 48 hours because I'm lazy like that and it didn't appear that my flank suffered from cirrhosis. If anything, the sweet and mellow whiskey flavor was a very nice compliment to the overall flavors. Served with a side of oven roasted vegetables, it got my vote for hearty and delicious!
Rubbed Flank Steak with Horseradish Cream
Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2000
1 (1 1/2-pound) flank steak
1/4 cup rye or bourbon whiskey
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
To prepare steak, trim fat from steak. Place whiskey and soy sauce in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add steak; seal and marinate in refrigerator 24 hours, turning bag occasionally.
To prepare horseradish cream, combine yogurt, horseradish, mustard, and garlic in a small bowl. Cover and chill.
To prepare rub, combine sugar and next 5 ingredients (sugar through salt). Remove steak from bag; discard marinade. Rub sugar mixture over steak; chill 30 minutes.
Prepare grill or broiler.
Place steak on a grill rack or broiler pan coated with cooking spray, and cook 8 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices. Serve with the horseradish cream.
Raise your hand if you've ever eaten raw cookie dough. Pretty much everyone, I see. Now, raise your hand if you've ever gotten sick or died from eating raw cookie dough. Uh huh. I thought so.
I'm sure someone somewhere did, in fact, get sick from eating cookie dough and therefore the FDA felt the need to put the fear of God into every child and adult left standing about the dangers of dying from indulging in it. Okay, so maybe you won't actually die, but you'll spend a great deal of time being sick and wishing you could just die and get it over with. I grew up eating the stuff straight from the bowl and look how well I turned out. Tick. Twitch. Shudder.
For those of you rule followers who've heeded the warnings and never known the absolute pleasure of eating the ooey, gooey sweet chocolate goodness in its raw form, do I have a treat for you today! Originally shared with me by my friend Liz over at That Skinny Chick Can Bake, these Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies are seriously way over the top. They start out with a chocolate brownie layer, end with a layer of rich chocolate ganache, and the best part about the whole deal is the middle layer ~ cookie dough that is totally safe to eat because there are no raw eggs. If you eat this straight from the bowl, you may be a little put off by the granular texture of the dough but once it's incorporated with the other layers, you won't even notice it. The graininess comes from the fact that there are no eggs to "smooth out" and blend the sugars in the dough. Even still, I ate my fair share before I layered it onto the brownies.
I can attest to the fact that if you eat one of these chocolately, sugar loaded treats for breakfast, you will not only clear off nearly 8 hours worth of office work from your desk in just under 4 hours, but you will also go home on your lunch break and clean the entire house and still have 15 minutes to spare to eat your lunch. Talk about a sugar rush but oh, so worth it!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies
adapted from Recipe Girl and shared by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup flour
Cookie dough layer:
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
3 Tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips or semi sweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup cream
Preheat oven to 325º. Grease 9 x 13 pan and line with parchment paper lengthwise with a slight overhang on each side. Grease parchment. Set aside.
Make brownie layer. Melt chocolate in the microwave using 30 second increments, stirring until melted and smooth. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and brown sugar till well mixed. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Mix in melted chocolate. Stir in flour; don't over mix. Spread into prepared pan. Bake 25-35 minutes or till toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.
Make cookie dough. With an electric mixer combine butter and both sugars. Mix in milk and vanilla; stir in flour. Add chocolate chips and mix to combine. Spread over cooled brownie layer. Cool till firm (can freeze to hurry along process).
Make ganache. Melt remaining chocolate and cream together in microwave, stopping at 30 second intervals to stir till smooth and chocolate is melted. Spread over dough layer. Chill for easier cutting. You may pull the whole batch out with the parchment to cut or just cut pieces from pan.
I always have a plethora of shrimp in my freezer, partly because I fall victim to the "Buy Three, Get Two Free"
I purchase the 16-20 count EZ-Peel frozen shrimp and on those nights that I'm running short on time or I've forgotten to plan for dinner, I can grab a bag and thaw it quickly under cool running water and throw dinner together in a snap (therefore I eat ALOT of shrimp!) The 16-20 are a good substantial size after cooking (it means it takes anywhere from 16 to 20 shrimp to equal a pound), but they are a tad more expensive than the smaller ones.
This meal was pulled together in less than 20 minutes ~ that's less time than you can get in your car and make a run to the fast food drive-thru and much healthier too! I served it over white rice.
Spanish Sherried Shrimp
Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2000
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons chopped fresh -or- 3/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cup chopped red or green bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup medium dry sherry
1 (14.5 oz) can no-salt-added whole tomatoes, undrained & chopped
2 teaspoon sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
Combine flour, thyme, 1/4 tsp salt and pepper in zip-top plastic bag. Add the shrimp; seal and shake well. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over med-high heat. Add the shrimp, saute 3 minutes. Remove shrimp from pan. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic; saute 2 minutes. Add sherry, cook one minute. Add 1/4 tsp salt and tomatoes, cook 4 minutes. Stir in shrimp and vinegar. Yield: 4 servings
The excitement of football season brings families, friends and even strangers together for team camaraderie. Whether fans retreat to their main caves, tailgate at the game, or gather at a friend's house to cheer on their favorite team, you know there is always food involved.
Today's recipe is a real team player because it can be made ahead of time in the slow cooker and the sandwiches can be assembled quickly before the game or during halftime. My friend Mary shared this recipe with me a few seasons ago ~ it's hearty with just a hint of spiciness and satisfies even the hungriest of fans.
After the roast has cooked, it will shred easily and can be placed back into the cooker with the juices and held warm until needed. I like to serve these open-faced on the small hoagie rolls to make them easier to handle. Build your sandwiches however you like, but my favorite way is with a squirt of mustard, piled high with roast beef, a few of the pepperoncinis for extra zing (or maybe some sauteed onions) and a layer of provolone cheese. Place the sandwich under the boiler until the cheese is melted and serve with a side of au jus.
No matter which team scores the most points, victory will be yours when you serve these on game day!
Game Day Open-Faced Roast Beef Sandwiches
1 packet Good Seasons Italian Dressing
1 jar pepperoncinis (including liquid)
Beef Chuck Roast, 3-4 lbs.
4 beef bouillon cubes, dissolved in 16 oz. hot water
1 TBLS dried Italian herbs
1 TBLS garlic powder
Place roast in crock pot and add remaining ingredients. Cook on low heat for 8-10 hours.
I'm not much of a shopper when it comes to clothes, shoes, purses and other "girlie" things. While my closet may contain vintage clothing in the truest sense, you can bet my pantry is over-flowing with food stuff and that I own the latest and greatest kitchen appliance and tableware. I'd go stark naked before I'd go without shopping for what I love most.
So it came to be that I was the laughing stock of all my friends ~ evidently sporting popped up collars on a Members Only jacket and huge earrings are no longer all the rage. Like, when did that become totally uncool? It couldn't be avoided it any longer ~ it was time to rid my closet of leg warmers, puffed sleeves, shoulder pads, and stirrup pants which pretty much did leave me naked and needing to go shopping.
I loaded up my arms at my favorite little boutique and headed to the dressing room to slip out of my comfy stretch pants and into some new threads. But the funny thing was, nothing seemed to fit! I double checked the size on the tags and sure enough they were the same as my discarded pile of 80's memorabilia, but things were a little more snug in certain areas. Could it be that they've...GASP! changed the sizing charts since the last time I shopped for clothes?? Yeah, I'm thinking that's exactly it because there is no way that my waist, thighs, and butt have expanded that much. Right?
I made a few purchases and headed home amidst thoughts of how to go about getting a handle on my love handles. Exercise? Diet? Ugh...it was just too much to think about on an empty stomach. I figured I'd start fresh tomorrow with a plan of action. In the meantime, what better way to beat the "I'm no longer a size 4" blues than with a pan of Baked Ziti loaded with cheesy goodness?
The recipe came from a recipe forum that I used to frequent and makes a huge pan of pasta ~ I suggest a deep 9x13 pan if you choose to make just one pan. I usually divide it up into a couple of smaller pans for the freezer, as it freezes beautifully. Just prepare it up to the point of baking and freeze. Thaw before baking.
NENZ'S BAKED ZITI
1 pound dry ziti pasta or rigatoni
1 onion, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce
6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced
1 1/2 cups sour cream
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1.) Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
Add ziti pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain.
2.) In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over
medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes.
3.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the
ziti, all the Provolone cheese and sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture,
remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture.
Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
4.) Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted.
Thanks to the power of persuasive Harris Teeter advertising, I was thoroughly convinced that I needed two 16 ounce containers of cottage cheese in my grocery cart last week. Not only was I convinced that I needed them, but convinced that I wanted them. That's 32 ounces. Two pounds. Of cottage cheese. At such a bargain, who cares that it was more cottage cheese than I have ever or will ever eat in my entire life. I was crazy to pass it up.
Then I was even crazier trying to figure out what to do with it all. Sure, I could load it up with some black pepper and eat it with fruit for breakfast, but remember we're talking bulk quantities here. I have my limits. After I used part of it in lasagna, I took to the internet for ideas. I had a really hard time deciding between this recipe for homemade bread and the suggestion that I found of mixing the cottage cheese with mashed up bananas and raisins. I can assure you that suggestion goes well beyond my limits.
I put all the ingredients into my bread machine, started the dough cycle and let it do it's thing because I'm lazy like that when it comes to making bread. I only use the machine on the dough cycle because I prefer to shape my dough differently or bake in a "regular" loaf pan. The square chunk of bread that comes out when you bake in the machine is just not my thing, and I think it turns out too dense anyway. When the machine finished, I kneaded the dough just a bit with some extra flour (I initially used only 3-1/2 cups of flour like the recipe suggested, but really needed more like 4 cups because it was way too sticky to deal with) and let it rise in a loaf pan until doubled in size. Baked at 350 for about 20 minutes or so, the bread was an excellent use of cottage cheese and you'd never even know it was in there! This might be a sneaky way to get some protein and calcium into the kiddies, unbeknownst to them. I'm thinking you could use this as a basic recipe and customize the dough to your liking with herbs, poppy seeds, sesame seeds or whatever your heart desires.
The loaf was best when eaten within 2 days of being baked and I enjoyed it toasted with a smear of butter and homemade plum jam for breakfast in the mornings.
Cottage Cheese Bread
1/2 cup water
1 cup cottage cheese
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups bread flour
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
Add the ingredients to your bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer, and start. You can use up to 1/2 cup more bread flour if the dough seems too sticky.
If you're only using the dough cycle, after the machine has finished place dough in a greased loaf pan; cover and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Bake 350 for about 20 - 30 minutes.
Not long ago, I turned to the over-burdened cookbook shelf for motivation and inspiration and happened upon my almost vintage collection of Cooking Light Annual Recipes. I used to be a loyal subscriber to the Cooking Light magazines and would buy the annuals at the end of the each year. It was a great way to have all the monthly recipes in one place without having to deal with stacks and stacks of magazines lying around the house. But somewhere along the way, I lost interest. I'm sure it wasn't any fault of Cooking Light, but rather that I began cooking for a living and that just didn't allow for the luxury of lounging around reading magazines.
Either way, I remembered why I enjoyed the magazines so much when I ran across this recipe for Chicken Fricassee with Orzo. An easy recipe that is pretty much a full meal all by itself ~ meat, starch and vegetables. I served this with a green salad and had dinner on the table in no time!
Chicken Fricassee with Orzo
4 (4-ounce) skinned, boned chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons butter (I used olive oil)
3/4 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced ham
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup Chardonnay or other dry white wine
1/3 cup whipping cream
3 cups hot cooked orzo (about 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice-shaped pasta)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Parsley sprigs (optional) Preparation
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from pan.
Add onions, carrot, ham, and garlic to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in broth and wine, scraping to loosen browned bits. Return chicken to pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from pan with a slotted spoon; keep warm. Add whipping cream; cook, uncovered, over medium heat 8 minutes. Spoon 3/4 cup orzo onto each of 4 plates. Top each with 1 chicken breast half, 1/3 cup sauce, and 1 tablespoon parsley. Garnish with parsley sprigs, if desired.