Monday, March 14, 2011

For the last meal in my series featuring Texas Beef Council Beef I wanted to do something relatively quick, easy and family-friendly. I say all this with a caveat (and possible rant), growing up family-friendly was any meal, my mom didn't tolerate or raise picky eaters so whatever the 'adult' meal of the evening was, chances are it was the kid meal too! While this isn't how everyone is raised I do feel strongly that healthy food that isn't 'kid' food is a must so I find it important to share things that I think even mildly picky eaters would enjoy : )

Greek Beef Kebabs

For the kebabs:
2 lbs. ground beef
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. cumin
salt and black pepper to taste

For the yogurt sauce:
1-1/2 cups Greek yogurt, strained
1 tsp. paprika
3 tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 a large seedless cucumber (or regular one seeded), diced finely

For the tomato sauce:
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz.)
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tbsp. vinegar
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
pinch of ground clove
1 cinnamon stick
salt and pepper to taste

Prep the kebabs:
1. Combine the ingredients very well in a large bowl if you have time chill them to allow the flavors to meld, otherwise shape them and place them in a greased (13x9) baking pan.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Once oven is heated to correct temperature, bake meat ball/kebabs for 35-40 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.

Make the sauces:
1. To make the yogurt sauce by combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mixing well with a whisk. Set in fridge to chill.

2. Prepare the tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Saute the onions until translucent. Add the garlic and diced tomatoes with their liquid. Add the sugar, vinegar, cayenne pepper, clove, cinnamon stick, and salt and pepper.
3. Simmer for 30-45 minutes.

The nice thing about this meal is that it can all be done at the same time. I served this with warmed pita and some veggies, it was super simple and very tasty, it also made great leftovers!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

When a house becomes a home...

For a little over a year and a half now I have been living in a great house in a suburb of Austin, my little yellow dog and I have rented it and have grown to love it, so at the end of last year when the management company asked if I'd be interested in buying it (something I'd not really considered as a possibility even) I jumped. As of early February I am now a homeowner! While signing what was the biggest loan of my life (eek) I immediately began wondering how I would celebrate this massive thoughts turned to the Texas Beef Council challenge I've been participating in and thus Beef Tenderloin with Cherry Balsamic Glaze graced the table.

I served the delicious and amazingly tender beef tenderloin with some very easy sides (roasted red potatoes and sauteed brussel sprouts) so that the meat and sauce could really stand on their own. While it's no cheap date, this tenderloin is well worth it!

Cherry-Balsamic Glaze

1/4 C Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 C Dry Red Wine
1/4 C Cherry Butter

Add all together in a sauce pan, cook down until sauce thickens, appx 20-30 minutes, stir regularly so that nothing burns to the bottom of the pan.

To roast the tenderloin I preheated the oven to 425. Roast at 425 degrees for 40-50 minutes until thermometer reads 140 degrees F minimum. Remove from oven and let stand, covered with foil, for 15 minutes.


I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did the evening that I celebrated my purchase of a little piece of Texas!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Happy Independance Day Texas!

As if it were any secret, I'm a big fan of my state, actually I'm really proud of my family too (see the two are pretty well intertwined). Texas is the only state in the union to have been its own country, we even had embassies outside the US! March 2 is the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence for Texas. Fifty-nine brave men put their names on the Declaration and countless others stood up to fight for Texas' right to be a Nation.

While the Republic of Texas only made it 10 years before annexation, it came to a close under the stewardship of a relative of mine, the last President of the Republic of Texas, Anson Jones. I am a direct descendant of Anson Jones on my father's side and have always been fascinated by the idea of Texas as a country. When I was younger (elementary school to middle school) we lived in the Ft. Lauderdale FL area, many times I would try to explain to other kids why it was so cool that I was related to this Anson Jones character, let's just say that outside of Texas it didn't translate at that age. Thank God I moved back to the mother country, here my thrill of being related to this historical figure isn't some oddity but instead something to be celebrated. So on March 2 each year we Texans celebrate our one-time independence and the characters who made that possible.

In honor of all who fought for Texas' freedom from Mexico, governed this great state as a Republic and to the amazing achievements since that day we celebrate! What celebration of the state of Texas would be complete without beef?? None! As the second installment of my posts featuring Texas Beef (care of the Texas Beef Council and Foodbuzz Featured Publishers' Programs) I would like to share a simple and tasty flank steak recipe that translates into not one, but two meals!

First, Coffee Crusted Flank Steak, originally this was served along side some of last summers pickles, pickled okra and a roasted potato.

Coffee Crusted Flank Steak
4 Tbsp Instant Coffee
2 Tbsp Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Dutch Processed Cocoa (Unsweetened)
1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
2 Tbsp Ground Dried Wood-ear Mushrooms
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt

Mix all ingredients together and rub generous amount on steak, grill steak to your desired done-ness.

The second way I used this tasty flank steak was in a leftover capacity, I turned it into a Philly Cheesesteak Pizza, here I used a ready-made crust for simplicity but a homemade one would be delicious too!

Philly Cheesesteak Pizza

1 Ready Made Thin Crust
4-6 oz thinly sliced Coffee Crusted Flank Steak
2.5 Cups Cheddar Cheese
1 Red Bell Pepper, Thinly Sliced
1 Green Bell Pepper, Thinly Sliced
1 8oz Container Mushrooms, Sliced
1/2 Large Onion, Thinly Sliced

1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
2. Saute onions for 5 minutes, until they start to get translucent.
3. Add bell peppers and saute another 3 minutes then add mushrooms and saute until they are starting to get cooked.
4. Spread veggie mix on pizza crust, top with cheese, layer steak slices atop cheese and bake 12-15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

One last recipe to share utilizes one of my favorite Texas-born products, Dr. Pepper (are you a Pepper?), this recipe is an oldie that many of you are familiar with, the special twist is the addition of a syrup found at one of my favorite haunts, Sarah's Texas Pantry, Dr. Pepper Syrup.

Dr. Pepper Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding:

1 loaf French bread, at least a day old, cut into 1-inch squares (about 6-7 cups)
1 qt milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup dried tart cherries, soaked in Dr. Pepper overnight
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Dr Pepper Syrup to sauce the finished product with!

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Soak the bread in milk in a large mixing bowl. Press with hands until well mixed and all the milk is absorbed. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, and spices together. Gently stir into the bread mixture. Gently stir the cherries into the mixture.
3. Grease a 13x9 pan very well with butter or cooking spray. Pour in the bread mix and bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes, until set. The pudding is done when the edges start getting a bit brown and pull away from the edge of the pan.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Texas Beef meets Aussie Pies

Of late I have been inspired by things around me, either restaurants in the area, food trucks who provide amazing goodies to us office dwellers at lunch or grocery stores/farmers markets. I am fortunate to be surrounded by amazing food and ingredients and have great inspiration. Our office has recently started having visits on Mondays by an Austin company called Boomerang Pies, each Monday they bring their little truck around and pull up outside our office and for about $5 you can get one of many tasty concoctions, my current favorite is the Thai Chicken, mmm just thinking about it makes my mouth water. I share this for two reasons, one because I love that Thai Chicken pie and two, because a cool Austin based company is now featured at Whole Foods, yup some of the Southern States Whole Foods will now stock these beauties! **Just to be clear, my endorsement of these tasty pies is wholly my own, no one from Whole Foods or Boomerang knows, has asked for or paid for my ringing endorsement.

For those of you who aren't lucky enough to live in the South ;) you'll just have to make your own pies. Thankfully I recently was selected to participate in a fabulous Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program for the Texas Beef Council and thus had ample beef with which to make a meat pie! This post is one in a series of four that will be focused on some of the fabulous lean cuts available from Texas Beef Producers, I am lucky enough to be smack dab in the heart of the great state of Texas and have ample product available to fill at least four posts with!

So, back to the meat pies. the Aussie Meat Pie became known as the 'national dish' of Australia back in 2003 when then Premier Bob Carr declared it as such. The meat pie a hand-sized treat containing largely diced or minced meat and gravy, sometimes with onion, mushrooms, or cheese. Imagine a version of a Hot Pocket that isn't fully of random processed foods but instead holds goodness and warmth and gravy! How can you make one of these you ask? Well, let me share my version of a Guinness pie...

Aussie Meat Pies
3 lbs Beef Chuck Roast, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 Cup Flour
3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/2 Large Onion, Diced
2 Tbsp Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Ground Coriander
1/4 Cup Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
1 14oz Bottle Guinness, or other stout beer
4 Sheets Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed and pliable
1 Egg, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Dredge beef in flour and brown. Add garlic and onion and saute for 4 minutes. Add spices, stir well.
3. Add Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce, cook until liquid is nearly gone.
4. Add beer, cook until meat is coated in a thick gravy.
5. Slice pastry into four pieces, spoon mixture into pastry and fold over to form a turn-over type shape. Place on parchment or silicone baking mat on baking sheet.
6. Brush with egg wash, sprinkle additional black pepper over the tops. Bake approximately 8 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve hot!

These were gone in a flash and got my wheels spinning on other great combos to fill the pastry with!