July 31, 2007

In a Hurry Tonight

We live in a world where we are constantly on the go. Flying from here to there with no time to really take in the simple pleasures in life. We are all guilty of it from time to time…forgetting to “take time to smell the roses”…as my father still says today.

As I have grown from a child to a wife, I’ve learned many important lessons in my life. For instance, my house doesn’t have to be spotless if it’s full of friends and family, or that life doesn’t really end at 25, it just gets better and more fulfilling. Or how about learning what true friends are and that all you really need in life is a few close friends in life instead of a huge handful of “acquaintances.”

My point to all of this is take time for the ones that really matter in your life and don’t “sweat the small stuff,” because that’s all it is “small stuff.” To help you gain a little more time in the kitchen here are some of my favorite Quick Fix Recipes….Enjoy!

Mom's Make-Ahead Meatballs
By Lane

4 eggs
2 cups dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon salt
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 tsp. Italian Seasonings
1 tsp. garlic powder
4 pounds lean ground beef

In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add the next seven ingredients. Add beef; mix well. Shape into 1-in balls, about 12 dozen. Place in single layers in ungreased 15-in X 10-in X 1-in baking pans. Bake at 400ºF for 10-15 mins or until no longer pink, turning often; drain. Cool.

Place about 30 meatballs each into freezer containers. May be frozen for up to 3 months.

Makes: 5 batches (about 30 meatballs per batch).

Fajita Stir-Fry
By Lane

1 pound lean boneless beef (top round, sirloin)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 large red bell pepper, cut into strips
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced and separated
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Flour tortillas for serving

Cut beef with grain into 1" strips about 1/8" thick. Place skillet over high heat; when hot, add 1 T. oil and stir-fry meat until browned (1 1/2 to 2 minutes). Transfer meat to bowl with slotted spoon. Add remaining 1 T. oil to skillet and add garlic, onion and bell pepper. Stir fry until onion is soft, about 3 minutes. Stir together cumin, lime juice and cornstarch, then add to skillet.

Return meat to pan and stir-fry until mix is hot and bubbles. Place in serving dish. Put into tortillas, and garnish as desired with cheese, avocado, tomato, salsa, sour cream. Is easily doubled.

Mexican Lasagna
By Lane McConnell, adapted from Paula Deen’s Mexican Chicken

Sour cream1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cheddar cheese soup
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of onion soup(You can use other creamed soups as well)
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 whole chicken, cooked, boned, and chopped or 4 cups leftover cooked chicken or use 1 lb. of hamburger
1 (11 1/2-ounce) package flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Cheddar (I use a little more)
2 cans of green chilies
1 can pimentoes
1 diced pepper (I use whatever I have in my fridge)
2 cloves of minced garlic or use 1 tsp pf garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13 by-9-inch pan with cooking spray or use butter.In a large bowl, stir together the 3 kinds of soup all seasonings and veggies and the tomatoes. Stir in the chicken or beef.

I also like to add a small handful of cheese in the mixture. Layer the tortillas and the mixture in the pan, beginning and ending with tortillas. Sprinkle the cheese over the casserole and bake for 30 minutes.

July 25, 2007

Dressed Up Pot Roast

Probably everyone has a recipe for a pot roast, but it’s always nice to try something new. This is one way that I like to make pot roast from time to time. I get tried of the same recipe for pot roast, so I try mixing things up in my house.

Plus, this recipe fits my schedule in the summertime. Our house is very busy in the summer (gardening, work and my travel schedule, fishing, family) I am sure everyone has a very hectic schedule as well. This recipe lets me relax when I get home and get food on the table quick.

How do you make pot roast for your family?

Dressed Up Pot Roast
by Lane

Pot roast, about 3 pounds, chuck arm or shoulder, bottom round, or similar cut
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup apple cider or red wine
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon celery salt
salt and pepper to your liking

Trim beef roast of excess fat and cut to fit crockpot, if necessary; place in the slow cooker (may use a cooking bag for this). Combine all remaining ingredients; pour over the roast. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours.

Serve roast sliced with gravy and new potatoes from the farmers’ market. I also like to take some broth and boil pasta in the broth and make beef noodles. My mother always did this and it makes another great side to the pot roast.

Note: To make gravy pour the broth into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Reduce by about 1/4 then gradually add a smooth mixture of 2 tablespoons of flour and about the same amount of cold water. I stir the flour and water mixture in slowly until the mixture is thickened to my liking.

July 24, 2007

Recipes from the Farmers' Markets

Who doesn't like shopping at the farmers' markets for fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables, meat or whatever you might have listed on a shopping list.

I make my grocery list on the weekends for the next week's meals. Before going to the local grocery store, I ALWAYS hit the local farmers' markets in my area for the produce or fruit I don't grow in my own garden.

Buying from the markets is not only a great shopping experience because of the discussions with the local growers, but its produce that wasn't trucked in 1,500 miles to a grocery store from the coast...so the produce is much, MUCH fresher.
Besides the fresh, local produce at the markets are the recipe cards many vendors provide at their stands for the produce they sell.

I came across the St. Paul Farmers' Market site a couple weeks ago that lists a wide range of recipes from the vendors at the market. You can also find great recipes on the Seattle Neighborhood Farmers' Market website.

July 16, 2007

Lane’s Roasted Pork Loin with Asparagus in a Vinaigrette Sauce

I like to experiment in my kitchen and last week was an experiment.

I wanted to make a nice dinner…I had cut out a recipe for a pork loin and asparagus with a vinaigrette and had all the ingredients ready, but then I started looking at the recipe and it just didn’t sound like a winner to me. So, I decided to do an experiment.

I know how to make a vinaigrette, therefore I just made my own little recipe. I also seasoned the pork loin the way I like too and I came up with this recipe.

Lane’s Roasted Pork Loin with Asparagus in a Vinaigrette Sauce

3-4 lb. pork loin
Kosher salt
Italian seasonings
Garlic powder
1 lb. asparagus

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash and pat dry the pork loin. Lay on plate and generously sprinkle seasonings over one side of meat and rub into the loin well. Turn loin over and sprinkle other side with seasonings and rub the seasonings into the loin. (Be sure not to be bashful with covering the loin in garlic powder and Italian seasonings)

Place loin on a roasting rack and place in over. Cook for 30 minutes per pound. The loin will be done when the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Be sure to let the meat rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing so the juices can redistribute throughout.

While the meat is resting preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim asparagus and place in shallow bowl. Place ¼ cup olive oil, sprinkle some kosher salt and crushed black pepper in bowl and toss.

Place asparagus on baking sheet that has been covered in alumni foil. Roast asparagus for about 8 minutes.

Drizzle sliced pork and asparagus with a Dijon Vinaigrette Sauce.

Dijon Vinaigrette Sauce
1/3 c red wine vinegar
2/3 c olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
1 T. minced parsley
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

July 9, 2007

Top Chefs Requesting Fattier Pork

My friend John passed this on to me the other day and I had to laugh when I read this story from the Des Moines Register: Top Chefs Requesting Fattier Pork.

First because any good coo knows the fattier...the tastier! I myself love to make homemade bbq with a Boston butt or shoulder because of the great taste.

From the article:

We're not talking just any pork here. This was a slab of expertly cured pork fat, cut from the leg of a hog.

The idea that a restaurant would panic over a blubbery cut of pork might strike Iowans as strange.

But, after falling from grace during the health-obsessed 1980s, pork fat is returning to the table in cutting-edge kitchens. This is especially evident on the East and West coasts, where some chefs actually know the names of Iowa farmers who specifically breed their hogs to have more fat content than common, other-white-meat hogs.

They are feeding the demand of customers who are in open rebellion against leaner pork that can often be dry and tasteless.

In New York City, destination eateries are making a name for themselves by moving away from lean pork and using juicier, brand-name pork.

July 3, 2007

4th of July Burgers

About three times a summer my husband and I have bbqs at our house. We invite the softball team, friends and family up from time to time for some good r&r.

I made these burgers two years ago for a MU football tailgate and they were a huge hit! I like to throw some crushed red pepper flakes in for a kick every once in awhile.

Be careful adding too much bbq sauce. You want the mixture to still hold together when it's grillin' up.

Be sure to butter your hamburger buns and toast them on the grill! No hamburger is complete without a buttery, toasted bun, with melted cheese.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July with your friends and family!

Lane's Holiday Burgers

1 lb. hamburger
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp. basil
½ tsp. oregano
1T. garlic powder
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Some sprinkles of Lawry’s season salt
½ tsp. pepper
About ¼ cup bbq sauce

Add all ingredients in order in a large bowl. Mix lightly and form burgers.

Serve these burgers this holiday with all the trimmings…

I suggest these sides dishes:
Fried Okra
Potato Salad (save yourself some time this holiday and buy this)
Chips or fried taters
Grilled Fruit for dessert

July 2, 2007

Mojo Beef Kabobs

I thought with this great summer weather that grilling out tonight might be a great option for tonight's dinner plans.

I've cooked this recipe many times and it always comes out just right!

If you have never been on some of the state or national livestock association's websites...now is you time to check them out.These websites, such as Missouri Beef Industry Council, National Pork Board and a number of other ag groups provide cooking tips and recipes for delicious meals that help promote their products.

I've found a lot of great recipes for beef, pork, poultry and even lamb on a variety of ag groups websites.Don't be afraid to wonder into the unknown either...if you have never been on these type of websites before now is your chance. A good list of a variety of ag groups can be found on the Brownfield website.

The following recipe and grilling tips come from the Missouri Beef Industry Council's site.

Mojo Beef Kabobs
As seen in The Healthy Beef Cookbook

1 pound boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 1 inch thick
1 tsp coarse-grind black pepper
1 large lime, cut into 8 wedges
1 small red onion, cut into 8 thin wedges
1 container grape or cherry tomatoes (about 10 ounces)

Mojo Sauce Ingredients
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp minced garlic

Whisk Mojo Sauce ingredient in small bowl. Set aside.

Cut beef steak into 1-1/4 inch pieces; season with pepper.Alternately thread beef with lime and onion wedges evenly onto four 12-inch metal skewers. Thread tomatoes onto four 12-inch skewers.Place kabobs on grill over medium heat. Grill tomato kabobs, uncovered, about 2 to 4 minutes or until slightly softened, turning occasionally. Grill beef kabobs, uncovered, about 8 to 10 minutes for medium rare to medium doneness, turning occasionally.

Serve kabobs with drizzled sauce.TipIf using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for 10 minutes prior to grilling.