Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tex Mex Meatloaf

This recipe was a complete accident and turned out great!  I had a bunch of chopped peppers left over from making chili (I'll post my recipe on that soon), was looking for something to make, had a pound and half of ground beef and saw the bag of peppers in the frig.... so here's the concoction I came up with:

1 1/2 Pounds of Ground Beef (I used 1# of Grass Fed plus a 1/2# of Wagyu for a little extra fat)
Couple handfuls of chopped bell peppers, or whatever peppers you like (equal to 1 large bell pepper)
1 Pasture Raised Egg
2 Slices of stale bread, throw it in the toaster to dry it out more, then chop it up (I used Village Baking Co Sourdough)
3/4 Cup of your favorite salsa, one that's pastier rather than chucky is better for use in meatloaf (I used Xochitl Chipotle)
1 t Salt
2 t Cracked Black Pepper

Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes or until internal meat temperature reaches 160 degrees.
Serve topped with salsa.

I made a side of Cilantro Lime Rice to go with (which was perfect since they both cook the same amount of time):

1 cup of rice (I used Brown Basmati)
2 cups of water
Juice from 1 lime
1/4 cup of fresh chopped cilantro or 1 T of dried
2 T Lucky Layla Butter
Dash of salt

Bring to a boil, stir once, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

Local Checklist: Beef, Egg, Bread, Salsa, Butter
Cost: Approximately $10 to feed 4

Friday, February 26, 2010

My favorite BEEF cookbook!

Texas Cowboy Cooking by Tom Perini  is my all time favorite cookbook!  Tom Perini is a famous Cowboy Cook and owner of the Perini Ranch Steakhouse in the big metropolis of Buffalo Gap, TX.  On top of being a great cookbook, it has a host of stories and photos of ranch cowboy life and chuckwagon cooks.

Great chili, several stew variations, simple instructions on cooking a great steak, biscuits, cornbread, appetizers, on and on ..... and it makes a great countertop ornament to boot!  If you are a camper/campfire cook, you'll love that this book caters to dutch oven cooking!

Heck, if Robert Duvall has this to say, you can't go wrong: “I wish I’d had Tom along when I was filming Lonesome Dove, because his is kind of food that my character ate on the cattle drive – wholesome, authentic, delicious food that can be cooked in one pot.” - Robert Duvall

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Don't Rush a Roast

A loin tip roast was on our menu for the week.  I have proof that you can give a really good cook a mediocre piece of meat and they can make it good, then you can give a mediocre cook (or a rushed one) a really great high quality cut of meat and it can be ruined!  Often we blame the poor outcome of meat on the quality of the meat rather than our cooking ability or mess ups.  So, this is my confession today that I take full responsibility for this roast being dry, it is not the roast's fault!

We still ate it and it had good flavor, we just had to keep it soaked in lots of juice to keep it somewhat moist.

What I did wrong:
1. I forgot to take the roast out the day before to let thaw in the refrigerator overnight.  So, I took it out in the morning and soaked in lukewarm water.  This is an acceptable way to thaw meat as long as you put the meat in plastic freezer bag so no water gets to the meat, but I wouldn't recommend this method for a roast, they really need a longer chilled thawing time.  Since I was working from home instead of the office this day I though all would be okay and mentally planned to put the roast in around noon.  Well... roasts take much longer to thaw than other cuts of beef, and I know this but ignored my knowledge in the morning.  So without the roast being ready for the oven, I rushed off to lunch with a wonderful mentor of mine thinking I'd swing back by the house before my appointment with my midwife.  But, in my excitement to go see my midwife and hear my baby's heartbeat, I forgot to do that after we finished lunch.
2. I cooked it too fast!
When I returned back home at 3:30 and finally got to the roast, seasoned it, browned it and got it ready for the oven, it was after 4:00.  I cooked the roast at 250 degrees for 2.5 hours.  Way too hot and fast for a roast!  Let me point out, I have eaten many roasts cooked this way and they all too often are cooked this fast in our busy society.  I think we have gotten a little too use to mediocre food because of this.  This method will give you an edible dinner but not a great one.  So, if you want a great roast instead of a simply edible roast, I encourage you to try cooking one slow and low!
3. I should have abandoned my menu and just cooked the next day's meal and saved the roast for another day!  Because I really don't like mediocrity when it comes to food.

If you're roast is continually coming out dry you are likely cooking it too hot and too fast, or not keeping enough liquid in the roasting dish while cooking it.  I've discovered that even the low heat setting on my crock pot cooks a roast to hot, and I've learned every crock pot is different, so yours may do the job fine.

The master meat cooker in our house, Matthew, says 5-6 hours in about 150 degrees.  We recently came across another method from
Place beef in roasting pan, uncovered and put in 375 degree oven for 1 hour.

Turn oven off, but DO NOT open the oven door.
For RARE roast beef:
25 minutes before serving time turn oven to 300 degrees
For MEDIUM roast beef:
30 minutes before serving time turn oven to 300 degrees
For MEDIUM WELL DONE roast beef:
35 minutes before serving time turn oven to 300 degrees.
That's all - don't peek!

This recipe leaves you to wonder, how long you leave it in (Matthew and I are making the assumption of about 6 hours) and do you cover the roast with water (My assumption is yes, cover with water at least 1/2 way. Without water it'll dry out no matter how slow and low you're cooking in the oven).

I'm going to try both of these methods within the next few weeks and I'll let you know which method works best.  But don't wait for me to report back, go ahead and give it a shot and let me know!

Mmmm Mmmm Good Meatloaf

Meatloaf is a classic and definite family favorite. Last week I served it up with mashed sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli.

Start with two packages of Genesis' ground beef (if you have light eaters you can probably half this, but our hearty growing kids love this meal and this also gives our family of four plenty of leftovers, which Matthew loves having for lunchtime meatloaf sandwiches).

Mix in:
About 1 cup of chopped onion
1 to 2 cloves of crushed garlic
2 free range eggs
1 can of diced tomatoes (I use Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted)
About 2 Tbs of Worcestershire sauce
Couple tsps of course ground black pepper
Couple pinches of salt
Couple tsps of basil (or Italian herb blend)
Crumble about 3/4 cup of crackers or bread crumbs (I often take heels of bread and dry out in my toaster oven on a low heat bake setting)

Mix all of this together by hand... yes, your nice clean hands!
Form into two loves, about 2 x 8 inches each. I place both loaves in 9 x 13 glass baking dish.
Bake at 350 for 35 - 45 minutes, until meat reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees. If you don't have a meat thermometer, I highly recommend investing in one, they're cheap!

Do not be alarmed by the amount of juice that cooks out of the meatloaves. This is NOT a bunch of grease, it is mostly water from the meat and other ingredients (mainly tomatoes).

Serve it up with a super food - sweet potatoes!  If you have not learned to love them, start trying!!  My favorite way to have sweet potatoes is baked, but this is time consuming.  So, I've started peeling them, cutting in chunks and steaming them.  Make sure you continually check the water when steaming, I made the mistake of letting the water run low one time and the moisture that seeped from the potatoes made a nice sticky scorched mess on the bottom of my pan! I typically cook 3 medium potatoes.  Add about 2 tbs of butter. Real butter from real milk, no fake stuff is ever allowed in my kitchen - it's bad for you!  Also add a couple tsps of cinnamon! I could eat these for dessert and they're incredibly good for you.  Well.... that is if you don't ruin their goodness loading them up with too much butter and marshmallows, brown sugar, red hots or whatever other crazy stuff people add to them.  They are sweet by design, God made them that way, just allow yourself to savor their natural sweetness and resist the urge to make them into a candied mess.

Happy cooking!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Simple Supper Sunday Spaghetti

I was not diligent with blogging last week, so here is last week in rear view, starting with Valentine's Sunday!  Sunday's are extremely busy days around our house.  Matthew and I both have a host of duties on Sunday mornings at our beloved Community Life Church that keeps us occupied from about 8:30 - 1:00.  So, we grab a quick lunch of leftovers or dining out.  We finally settle in for some relaxation around 2:30, then it's off to a wonderful parenting enrichment class at 5:30 for Matthew and I.  (We are thankful this class will be wrapping up soon, just in time for Adriatica Farmer's Market on Sundays).  Our evening class snack often serves as mine and Matthew's meal for the evening, but supper has to be prepared for the kiddos and sitter before we leave, so it's call for very simple suppers!

I probably don't need to tell anyone how to make this wonderful meal of convenience... but, indulge me while I share anyway!

This week, Austin's favorite... SPAGHETTI!

Simply cook a package of ground beef, adding in diced onion and seasonings (basil, oregano, rosemary, garlic) while browning. 
Pour in your favorite jar of marinara.  I keep a stock of organic varieties from Muir Glen and Walnut Acres on hand.  To stretch the sauce a little, I often add a can of stewed or diced tomatoes (Muir Glen Fire Roasted).
THEN: Sneak more vegetables into your kid's (and your) diet!!  Some wonderful additions I often make are chopped fresh baby spinach, diced zucchini or squash, a variety of bell peppers, or chopped broccoli.  Don't be scared of putting in several big handfuls of spinach, it cooks down a lot.

A dash of red wine adds great flavor if you have an open bottle around.

Let the sauce simmer for 30+ minutes, if you have time.

Spoon over your favorite cooked pasta and enjoy.  My favorite pasta is organic whole wheat cappelini.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What we ate this week...

In the Hamilton House this week....

Sunday - Abby's Easy Taco Soup
Monday - Spinach and Bacon Quiche, made with free range eggs, raw (unpasturized) milk, Penderson's Farms natural uncured bacon, organic baby spinach and whole wheat crust.  Recipe to come!
Tuesday - Pizza, Pizza (that's not a pie)
Wednesday - Chipotle (one of the few restaruants we are patrons of, because they support sustainable farming and ranching by offering free range chicken, grass fed beef and natural pork)
Thursday through Saturday the kids are with their mom, so I don't usually plan for these night.  Mattew and I have leftovers or prepare a spontaneous meal.  I'm thinking of Snowy Day Stew for tonight and we'll be attending our church Valentine's dinner on Friday.

Another glimpse into our family's food picks...
Our kids always take their lunch to school, cafeteria food is horrible!  We buy Applegate Farm's deli meat or low soium nitrate/nitrite free turkey from Sprouts, natural peanut butter and organic no sugar added jams for sandwiches.  We rotate packing: natural cheese puffs or organic lightly salted popcorn from Sprouts, different fruit varieties, carrot sticks and nuts.  Abby also loves taking salad.  To drink: WATER!  Kids desperately need to be consuming more water.  If soda and juice is not a choice you give them, they will never know any different, they follow and need your leadership!

May your week be filled with blessings and lots of LOVE!  (Don't get sucked into the commercialism of Valentine's Day, rather, make love your priority every day)

Pizza, Pizza (that's not a pie)

I LOVE PIZZA!  But, good pizza is so hard to find!  We resolve to making a pseudo pizza here at our house, and we all love it.  I've tried several different things, but this week's version was the best yet!

Things you will need:
1 package of Genesis' Ground Beef
Loaf of sourdough or rustic italian bread
Jar of your favorite marinara sauce
6 oz can of organic tomato paste
Organic baby spinach
Mix of mozzerella, provolone or havarti cheeses (provolone and havarti are your good melting cheeses)
Spices: garlic, basil, oregeno, rosemary, paprika
One of my favorite spice finds are Salt Free grinders made by The Spice Hunter.  I scored these jewels at Sprouts.  For this I use their Garlic Herb Sensation.

Place raw ground in skillet (preferably cast iron, we cook most of our food in cast iron!).
Add spices to the raw meat.  I used about 2-3 tsp of Garlic Herb Sensation and added a pinch of basil and oregeno and a few teaspoons of paprika.  I'm really guessing on the spice amounts, I just sprinkle in until it looks and smells just right. 

Brown your beef.  There should be NO need to drain grease off of your meat!

In a sauce pan mix your marinara sauce and tomato paste together and heat the mixture.

While sauce is heating, prepare your bread.  Slice 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick slices.  Electric knives make for much cleaner and easier slicing.  If it is already sliced by the bakery a little thinner it will still be fine.  Place on cookie sheet, brush with olive oil and toast (in the oven on low broil) VERY LIGHTLY.  I like to lightly toast both sides.

Remove toast from oven, spread a thin layer (maybe 1/4 inch) of sauce over bread.  Place a layer of shredded baby spinach, then pile on a hearty portion of  cooked beef, top with lots of cheese!  Place back in the oven on low broil for 4-5 minutes.  Make sure you watch it closely as I've found that different oven's broil settings vary greatly!  Leave in just long enough for the cheese to be good and melted!

Serve this with a large side salad and ENJOY!  As with all my recipes, I encourage you to add your own variations and make them your own!  I often top our homemade pizzas with other vegetables as well (but placing the spinach between the sauce and meat on this pizza was my favorite yet).

I promise to start including pictures, so you can see the process and finished product!  Have fun cooking and give me feedback when you try the recipes.  Let me know of your great additions so I can try them too!