As always I try to keep it really simple and tasty. This one is so easy and quick and of course very versatile. Here are the ingredients. Broccoli, Beef Broth, Soy Sauce, thin steak, or stew meat, Onion, corn starch, Water, Crushed Red Pepper, and your choice of Oil. I used Sesame, but its also good with Peanut Oil.
First pour your broth into a bowl and add 2 Tablespoons of Corn Starch, about 1 Tablespoon of Crushed red pepper, 1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce and a cup of water. The Corn starch is going to sink to the bottom and thats ok you can stir it all up later.
Meanwhile Cook up all that broccoli and onion in a little bit of Oil. I put about 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil in the pan and then added just a touch of Sesame Oil. That stuff is powerful so be careful. If your using Peanut oil then you can fore go the Oilve Oil and just use a couple of Tablespoons of that. Also I used a Vidalia Onion, but Its also really good with Spring Onions. Since I'm in the south I have to take advantage of the Vidalias...
When your done with the broccoli, which should be pretty quick, you want to just cook it until its tender crisp dump it into that bowl of broth and put your steak which you cut into bite sized strips into the pan. The pan should be scorching hot and I put the meat in just a few pieces at a time, because it cooks so quick. you are literally turning it over as fast as it goes in. The pan needs to be hot enough to brown the beef but not cook it all the way through. That way it will be melt in your mouth tender when you eat it instead of tough strips of leather!
Doesn't all that meat look tasty! Your pan should look like a huge mess to clean and of course thats a good thing because you are ready to dump the meat, and the broccoli and all the broth back in to deglaze and finish it all off.

Be sure to give the broth a good stir to get the cornstarch incorporated back in.

Bring the whole thing to to a quick boil and then remove from the heat. It will be all bubbly and begin to thicken. Its now ready to eat, so actually we should have discussed what to eat it with. I put it on top of some whole wheat noodles here and it was delicious.
This is the day after when I took the leftovers and put it on Rice. Very good as well! Enjoy!

Are you planning on cooking chicken on the BBQ for say, 30 people? Well, I have no pictures, but I thought it would be fun to post one of my favorite recipes, even if I haven't made and photographed it yet. This one, in particular, because I might not have an opportunity to make it anytime soon. (due to the large quantities!) Anyhow, I got this recipe from my good friend Keith, whom I work with. He uses it for scout campouts/bbq's etc. He taught it to me and we made it the year we were in charge of the office Summer Party together. (Good times!)

Anyway, here you go. (Oh, and this is my small disclaimer, the name is Keith's, not mine!)

Keith's "Damn Good" Chicken Marinade
(recipe good for up to 10 lbs. of meat -- approx. 30 boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
(1) Pint Soy Sauce
(1) quart 7-up
(1) T. Horseradish
(1) T Garlic Powder
(1) Pint cooking oil

1) Place defrosted chicken in large tupperware bowl (Doesn't everyone own one of those "That's a Bowl"?)
2) In separate bowl, mix marinade ingredients until fully assimilated)
3) Pour marinade into chicken-laden bowl, place lid on tightly & refridgrate for entire marination process
4) Marinate chicken for 12 hours - carefully shake bowl every hour (make sure lid is on and on good!)

First let me give credit where it is due. This is a modified version of a Rachel Ray recipe. Hers is probably way better than mine, but we use a few different ingredients.
So this is one of Bec's Fav meals and we always make it together. Also not all the ingredients are shown here. I had not picked the fresh thyme from the Garden when we took this shot and we only use about a Table spoon of Butter so don't be frightened by that big ol cube down there. I know we live in the south and all but we don't eat like some of the folks here do. I also used some apple cider vinegar and some apple juice. Bec Also thought it was important to show a cup of water as part of this pic too.

What you will need;
3-4 Leeks that actually look good. sometimes the Leeks look pretty scary
at least 4 Chicken Breasts, thighs wings legs whatever
4 cups of Chicken Broth, or two cans of chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter
2-3 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
1/4 cup Apple Juice
1/8 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Cup of Water!
Salt and Pepper
1 Lemon Zested
as Much thyme as your taste buds can handle - or a few sprigs :) I love thyme.

Make the rice first because it takes longer to cook. the Rice should be done around the same time as everything else.
First Dice up your Shallot and Sauté it in about 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and 1 Tablespoon of Butter until softened and translucent.
Next add your rice and brown for about 2-3 minutes stir frequently, or shake the pan violently around and back and forth, thats what I do.
Add 1/4 cup of Chicken Stock and a splash of apple juice and a splash of apple cider vinegar and allow all that to evaporate, but don't burn the Rice, it will evaporate pretty quick.
Next add 2 cups of Chicken Stock, 1 cup of Water and another splash of the juice and vinegar, bring to a simmer, cover and cook till tender and liquid is gone, about 25 minutes. When it is finished stir in your Lemon zest.
This Rice is awesome, your gonna love it.

put about a tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the pan, or enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Salt and pepper your chicken and then put it in the hot pan. Hey the chicken is going to stick to that pan and its gonna be a pain to clean later! yup its gonna stick and the pan will be a mess but you will deglaze it later and get to eat all that sticky goodness later so just relax.

Flip the chicken when its good and browned, by the way did I say you want to cook on pretty high heat? And you might want to use a splatter screen because uhh... well you'll see.

See all those golden sticky chicken bits in the pan? Those are going to add some nice flavors to your Leeks. Your chicken should be browned on both sides and don't be concerned if you think it might not be cooked all the way through. just take it out and let it sit on a plate for a while. Now add your leeks to the pan. Oops! Your supposed to clean and cut those bad boys up first. We could discuss this one for a while, and unfortunately I didn't take a lot of pictures of this meal. even though Bec requested an action shot of her chopping away on the leeks. Cut the ends off the leeks and split lengthwise then cut into chunks discarding the darkest greenest tips. You can figure it out. Oh yeah these grow in Sandy soil so rinse the cut up pieces really well. I put them all in a colander and then dump them into the pan, right about now!

Let em Sauté for about 5-7 minutes stirring around occasionally, and then take that chicken and nestle it all down in the leeks. Now add about 3/4 cup of Chicken stock and a splash of apple Juice and a splash of Apple Cider vinegar. Just a word here about vinegar. that stuff id pretty powerful, and tasty. You don't have to use Apple Cider vinegar, you could use White wine Vinegar, or Rice wine vinegar, or red wine vinegar or whatever. Let the whole thing simmer for another 5-7 minutes

Now is when you get all fancy and stuff and slice your chicken on an angle and fan it out on top of a bed of leeks. Unfortunately for us the rice was not done in time for this picture. We were hungry and ready to eat. However notice those 2 tupperwares back there? Can you say awesome lunch tomorrow

So here is a shot with the rice. I'm pretty excited about lunch tomorrow. If your job sucks, and your boss is a jerk, and your co-workers are mean, and your commute is long, and you wake up on the wrong side of the bed and your underwear is too tight... At least you can eat a good lunch and that will make most of those things bearable.

OK I know you are all saying... "Steak and Potatoes?!" But seriously this one gets messed up all the time. Just ask yourself how many times have you chewed a piece of leather steak forever, or crunched on a burnt piece, or ate a steak with no flavor at all? I'm sure you can think of an instance. If not consider yourself lucky. I married someone who did not like steak before we met. Frankly I don't blame her. Her old man used to fry, (thats right I said fry) up a chuck, (thats right I said chuck) steak in a frying pan in vegetable oil until it was black and then crunch away on it. Can you say NASTY! Also I just have to say this before we get started. If you put ketchup on your steak... Well I don't even want to go there. Now lets grill up some awesome steak!

Who's coming to this party?

Lets discuss the ingredients a little. When buying steak you need to buy something worth eating. If the steak is really cheap then there is probably something wrong with it, or it was never meant to be eaten as a steak. Lots of steak lookin meat was meant to be stew meat or something else. The best steak I ever had cost at least $35. It was worth every penny. Lets just pause and savor the experience again... Mmm... that was good. Next time you are feeling spendy head out to Ruth's Chris It will cost you a pretty penny but oh it is so good. I promise you will never look at a steak the same way again. By the way this is my wife's 2nd favorite restaurant. Where were we? Oh yeah the ingredients...
A good cut of meat. This one is a sirloin. We try to go lean. My favorite is a Rib eye, lots of fat and lots of flavor. If you are going to buy a really expensive steak shouldnt need anythig but salt an pepper to please your palate. However this cut of meat was on the budget side so it needed a little something to help it out. I use Canadian Steak Seasoning This stuff rocks! I buy it at Sams Club. I use it to marinade steak, Pork, and Chicken. I know it says Steak Seasoning but Im telling you it is awesome on the other meats as well. The only thing I change is the Vinegar. For Steak I use Balsamic vinegar. So bust out a zip lock pour in some balsamic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Water, and Steak seasoning and a good cut of meat and your set. You will want to marinade for at least an hour. I recommend 24 hours.

What better to go with a steak than a baked potato. I like to crust my with salt. rub a tad of butter on your potato and I mean a small tad. the potato should look wet when you are done. Then put it on your foil and cover it with a nice layer of salt. If you use too much butter you will be using the self cleaning option on the oven after dinner. Wrap that spud up and let it bake for 45 minutes at 450 -500 depending on your oven. A fork prick or two will help speed the time up.

Hopefully you have marinated for at least a hour. If so put that steak on the grill. you might want to light it first and let it heat up. You want your grill to be just about as hot as possible. This way you can sear your steak and keep the flavor in. Now it comes without saying here, that you should know thy grill. There are hot spots and not so hot spots... Also how do you like your steak? Are you like my wife and you want it to have nice grill marks on the outside and absolutely NO pink in the center. Or are you like me and you want it to be hot and pink in the center. adjust your cooking time accordingly.

Finally serve it all up. put whatever you want on the potato to make it taste good, and add a veggie to the side. or for the ladies add a nice dinner salad. actually since I'm sure there are no men out there reading this blog... Ladies, if you can pull this meal off for your man, he will sing your praises forever!
One final word. have you ever eaten a steak that was cold before you finished it. Yuck thats no fun. Put your plates in the oven with the potatoes and heat them up to 500 degrees or so and put the steaks on them just make sure you warn whoever is eating that their plate is hot and be aware that the steak will continue to cook while you eat so... a little pinker is good.

So tonight I thought I would experiment. Nancy and Ariel were gone...and since they don't like mushrooms, I though it would be a perfect opportunity to try making cream of mushroom soup. I know Alan makes this often, and he probably has a perfect recipe, but it was getting late, and I didn't want to bug him, besides, sometimes I just like to experiment and see how it turns out. So, that is what I did. Just to explain a little about my cooking....I don't really do recipes. I like to approximate. So, see if you can keep up! Here we go. These are the ingredients I pulled out of my refridgerator:
Mushrooms (of course!) an onion, garlic, milk, chicken stock, butter and half and half. Okay, first of all I have to confess that I was in a big hurry when I picked up the half and half at the store. I thought I was only picking up like 3 items, I could do this on my own and just walk with my cane. It turned out to be challenging. We'll just leave it at that. But suffice to say that pushing a cart AND walking with a cane is not easy on the healing broken ankle. That said, I was in a hurry and accidently picked up "Fat Free" half and half. Fat Free? yes. I did not know there could be such a thing. It turns out, it worked decently well...but I'm not sure it is really better for you. Anyway, in the spirit of total disclosure, yes, that IS "fat free" half and half, and yes, I bought it. If you decide to follow my cooking experiment, feel free to try fat free half and half, or the real deal, or even cream. I'm sure they would all work just fine. For what it is worth, you can even stick with just just won't be as creamy. So, first things first, I chopped up an onion. Here is my method. First remove the skin (I didn't take a photo of that, but I'm sure you can manage! Next cut the onion in half from root to top and place the onion half (cut side down) on your cutting board. Next you are going to make a series of radial cuts, taking care not to cut all the way through the root, this will hold the onion together for now....see the picture?
Ok, next turn the onion 90 degrees and slice through, producing a very nice dice, if I do say so myself

Ok, now for the garlic. Take one clove of garlic, and you are going to smash it with the knife blade. Use the heel of your hand on one side of the blade to help give it some force.

If you have smashed it well, the outside papery "skin" will come right off leaving a perfect clove.

Give the clove a bit of a rough chop. Now, I was thinking I definitely did not want any chunks of garlic, but I did want the flavor, so I decided to make a garlic paste. Basically, once you've rough chopped the garlic, you are going to smash it into the paste. Again, using the heel of your hand, press the side of your knife blade onto the chopped up garlic. Throw a little bit of kosher salt on it to help grind the garlic up. Just rub the salt into the garlic with the knife blade...It works pretty well... put both the onions and garlic into your pan with a few tablespoons of butter.

Then add in your chopped up mushrooms:

And saute them for a bit.

Once they are nice and sauteed, add them to your blender along with a cup or so of chicken stock. Normally I would totally have left them in the pan, and added the chicken stock, and then blended using my new Cuisinart Hand Blender that I got for Christmas...but, sadly, the hand blender was downstairs, and I was upstairs, and with my was too much of a problem to go get it...but next time...and there will be a next time, that is what I will use. If you are lucky enough to own your very own hand can skip this step.

Meanwhile, back in our pan, I left a few peices of mushrooms hanging out with some butter. I thought it would be nice to have a few chunks of mushrooms in the soup. So, I added a few tablespoons of flour to the pan. Basically we are making what the French call a "Roux" - equal parts fat (in our case butter) to flour. Then you stir it around and "cook" the flour. The purpose here being that the proteins in the flour get cooked, and they thicken your soup without adding a "flour" taste. Long story short add about as much flour as you did butter earlier. If you find that it isn't quite coming together, add a little more butter or flour.

Here is what it should look like, consistency wise. Stir it around for a minute or two until it browns ever so slightly.

Then add your blended up mushrooms and chicken stock back to the pan

and again...I'll just mention...if you are lucky enough to own one of these, well, you are lucky!

Next add your cream, or half and half, or milk, or (in my case) fat free half and half

Bring the whole thing to a simmer so that flour can go to work and thicken it all

And YUM! You have something delicious to eat!

I served mine up with some oven roasted asparagus. (something else I love) They don't necessarily go together, but they were both delicious!

What did I learn? Well, next time I might leave out the garlic and add some fresh thyme. I didn't have any thyme or I might have tried it. I think I had too many onions compared to the other ingredients...or maybe they just weren't blended well enough. And, of course, that whole fat free half and half fiasco...well, I would try something different next time. All in all though, I'd give it a 7 out of 10. Not bad.

Post Script: After doing some internet research, I believe I now know where I went astray. I found this recipe And suddenly it all makes sense....use the food processor to finely (very finely) chop up the mushrooms and onions BEFORE you cook them. Yes, that is the ticket. I will try it! :)

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