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Archive for the ‘Beef Recipes’ Category

Creative Cooking

One of my favorite things to do is to look in my refrigerator with the goal of creating something delicious from whatever I find there. Using up leftovers makes me feel thrifty. Often, they even taste better because the flavors have had a little time to develop.

Here’s a perfect example of that. For dinner the night before this project, I had made chicken breasts dipped in egg and sprinkled with cheese. Two were leftover. I had also made corn on the cob and cut off the extra kernels from extra cobs. I found some extra dried cherries, left over from a diabetic cake I had made my mom and a number of staples, like onions. All of this turned into a flavorful chicken salad that could become sandwiches for lunch or a nice side for dinner. Another possibility was to make “deviled” eggs without yolks by filling the eggs with the salad. Believe me; it quickly disappeared! Simply warming up those chicken breasts and over cooking them would not have been the same.

"Deviled" Chicken-Cherry Salad Eggs, with Heirloom Tomatoes and Yogurt Dip

“Deviled” Chicken-Cherry Salad Eggs, with Heirloom Tomatoes and Yogurt Dip

Here is the salad recipe and some tips for using it as an egg filling for a healthy after school snack!

Chicken-Cherry Salad(Makes about 6 cups)

2 large chicken breasts, cooked

½ large yellow onion, diced tiny

½ cup cooked, fresh corn, sliced off the cob

1/3 cup pine nuts

1 cup dried cherries, chopped small

¼ cup cheddar cheese (This was already cooked onto my chicken as indicated above.)

Salt and pepper

Optional Garnishes: Sliced garden onion, red bell pepper, diced small

Method:

  1. Thinly slice the chicken, and then cut across the strips to make a tiny dice. (Chopping all ingredients very small protects your finishing options – especially if you think you want to fill eggs.)
  2. Mix all ingredients together except the garnishes (toppings). Taste it and if necessary add more spices.
Chicken-Cherry Salad as a Side Dish

Chicken-Cherry Salad as a Side Dish. Garnished with sliced garden onions.

Notes:

  1. You can mix the salad ahead and chop the garnishes. Cover and refrigerate. If making deviled eggs, make them up at the last minute. If serving as a side, add garnishes at the last minute.
  2. Older eggs peel better than really fresh ones. Every carton has a sell by date on it. Just make sure you stay within that time frame.
  3. Think of a boiled egg simply as a container. They can be filled with your favorite tuna or any other salad for variety. Make a small slice on the bottom of each egg half so it will sit on a flat surface and won’t go sliding around on your plate.

    Thinly Slice Egg Bottoms

    Make a small slice on the bottom to “anchor” your eggs and keep them from sliding around on the plate.

Steak or Lobster? That is the question!

Our meat supply is shrinking. Why? The Department of Agriculture forecasted in May that “Beef output in the U.S., the world’s top producer, will fall 5.3% this year to 24.35 billion pounds, the lowest since 1994.

Photo Credit: Food and Fire

Photo Credit: Food and Fire

According to The Wall Street Sector Selector, “At the start of this year (2014), the cattle herd fell to 87.7 million head, the lowest since 1951, following drought and high feed costs.” In addition… “Porcine epidemic virus has killed more than 4 million pigs, according to an industry group.”

According to Bloomberg News, “This is very unusual to see this kind of price increase this early in the season,” Donnie King, the President of prepared foods at Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson, the largest U.S. processor of beef and chicken, said in a March 13 presentation to analysts. Cattle futures reached an all-time high… up 25 percent from last year’s low in May. Hog futures surged … and are up 47 percent this year. Domestic wholesale pork has advanced even more, gaining 56 percent this year.”

What does that mean to you?  Increased costs to restaurants and retail stores get passed on to the consumer, so it’s going to cost you quite a bit more to eat beef and pork.

What to watch out for? Look not only at the price of the package of meat you want to buy. Check the weights on the packages too. Although retailers will cut what they can to keep their margins intact, he first thing you can expect to happen is that an attempt will be made to fool you by changing packaging. In other words, the price you normally see will be the same or very slightly more, but there will be less in the package, so you don’t notice the increase in price. Do notice it, though, because it’s definitely there.

What to do? Take a look at other products whose supply has increased, causing their prices to drop. An example is lobster – once brought into households only as a luxurious indulgence.

Supplies of lobster have dramatically increased. Why? According to The Columbus Dispatch, “last year’s record haul of 126 million pounds is double that of just a decade ago.” That made prices very cheap. They go on to say, “No one knows exactly why lobster populations have increased so quickly. The answer, says marine biologist Robert Steneck, is likely a combination of warming water temperatures, the overfishing of inshore predators like cod and a long history of forward-thinking conservation measures.” That means that lobster is suddenly really affordable. It’s also very simple to prepare this delicious meat!

Photo Credit: LeOeuf

Photo Credit: LeOeuf

What to look for in buying lobster: Buy them live, as fresh as possible and as close to preparation time as possible. Retailers keep live lobsters in tanks. Make sure your lobster is lively when taken out of the tank. If it has a lot of energy, it will probably try to curl up. If lobsters are in the tank too long, they get lethargic and lose muscle mass because they are not fed there. You can ask the retailer when they arrived so you know exactly how fresh they are. Once you choose your lobster, keep them in the refrigerator until cooking time.

Here are the best two ways to prepare lobster:

  1. Bring a large pot of water (infused with 1 Tablespoon of salt) to a boil. You can usually cook several lobsters at a time, but it depends on the size of your pot. Plunge the live lobsters head first into the hot water and cook them until they turn pink, about 15-20 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well. If you want to spoil your guests, crack the back and claws in two with a large, sharp knife and serve immediately with fresh lemon quarters (to squeeze on the meat) and clarified butter. (What is clarified butter? When you melt butter, the white solids rise to the top. If you skim them off, that’s clarified butter.)
  2. If you buy frozen lobster tails, take them out of the freezer the day before you want to serve them and thaw them in the fridge. Sprinkle the meat side with salt and pepper. Squeeze on fresh lemon juice. Then get your grill hot and grill for 12-15 minutes. Again, serve them with a little dish of clarified butter for dipping and some fresh lemon.

Googling lobster will find many more recipes, but these are the simplest and in my mind, the most delicious. If you use too may spices, you will easily overpower the taste of the meat.

What wine to serve?  Loren Sonkin ofInToWine” suggests – and this is in order of price, with the first being the highest – a Montrachet (from Burgundy in France), a California Grand Cru Chardonnay, or a Gewurztraminer. He says, “In my opinion, boiled lobster with drawn butter begs for a medium bodied white wine with perhaps subtle nuances of oak ageing.”

So choose your wine price point and go enjoy that lobster while the prices are still lower than hamburger! 🙂

 

Fabulous, Quick Comfort Food!

ImageAll together now… B-r-r-r-r! If there was ever a month for comfort food, this is it! The problem with most comfort food, however, is that it takes a long time to prepare. The good news, though, is that dishes often use inexpensive cuts of meat, albeit tough ones! That’s why in our house we have recently discovered the pressure cooker and I can’t rave about it enough. Like many of you, the first time my husband turned it on, I removed myself from the kitchen! My mother’s stories of the top blowing off her pressure cooker are still fresh in my mind. (In fact, in our house, it blew off so many times that the pressure cooker became a simply popcorn cooker – great because of its heavy bottom, but not exactly its intended use!)

If you still have an old one, throw it out and get a new one. Really. Pressure cookers today are very different and are much, much safer. They are easy to use, to clean, and allow you to save money on groceries by using those tougher, cheaper cuts of meat. You can get one for about $100. There are plenty of great recipes on line and even the ones that come in the little book with the cooker are fabulous. That’s because a perfectly tenderized meat is unbeatable. They also cook so much faster that you will save a lot of time. And last but not least, cleanup is much easier because you can make a one pot meal. They sauté, brown, simmer, warm and cook at both low and high pressure. Amazing machines they are – really!

 

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Here’s one of my favorite recipes for pork BBQ: Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

2 pounds pork loin, cut into large, bite-sized pieces

2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into large, bite-sized pieces

¼ cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

2 large yellow onions, cut into strips

¼ cup light brown sugar

½ cup cider vinegar

1 teaspoon each, salt and pepper

1 jar of your favorite Barbecue Sauce (I like Cattlemen’s or LEGENDS Apple Cider BBQ Sauce)

1 pound extra-wide noodles (if desired), mixed with 2 Tablespoons butter OR soft buns

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your pressure cooker.
  2. Sprinkle the pork pieces with salt and pepper and brown them in batches.  Then brown the onions (Optional).
  3. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and pour the cider vinegar over the whole thing. Put the top on the pressure cooker according to the instructions in the manual. Cook for 50 minutes under high pressure.
  4. Release the pressure according to the instructions in the manual and stir in the BBQ sauce.
  5. Serve over wide, cooked noodles or on soft buns.

I promise you this will be a hit with your family!

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