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Week Eats with Whole Parenting

February 11, 2015

Hi all – I am linking up with the lovely Nell at Whole Parenting who hosts a Week Eats on her blog that is always yummy and delicious. Nell is also like a Renaissance woman since she used to be an attorney, and now makes the cutest baby clothes and runs after her three little ones while making delicious healthy food. She also is the cheerleader of the internet since she is always encouraging others and leaves a “so presh!” comment under every cute baby pic on Instagram.

This coming week involves a ski trip, Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, a Wine Party, and the start of my Whole30 cleanse with Kelly Mantoan of This Ain’t the Lyceum blog. Basically every possible extreme when it comes to food.  I thought it would be funny/insane to give a real representation of what we will be eating and hopefully the links will lead you to some yummy food ideas no matter what you are doing this Lent. There are some vegetarian, vegan and meat friendly recipes, so something for everyone!

Monday – 

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Breakfast:  Breakfast Burritos. I love making these and they are great for assembling with a big crowd. We will be skiing with friends and these will fill up our belly before we all travel home. Plus these make great lunches and dinners for lent too.

Lunch: Sandwiches on our way home.

Dinner: I am making this Beef Bourguignon Crock Pot recipe for our ski weekend and I am hoping to have a lot left over for Monday’s dinner when we roll home. If you don’t want to use a lot of wine for your kids you can also make this Crock Pot Pot Roast. So yummy if you make it on a lazy Sunday – the flavors only get better.

Tuesday –

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Breakfast: It is Mardi Gras! They don’t call it Fat Tuesday for nothing and so for breakfast I am having chocolate. And bread. Plus whatever leftover Valentine’s Day candy that is laying around. Seriously, I am going to make a bunch of this banana bread with chocolate chips for the ski weekend and will leave some for Tuesday morning before I have to say goodbye to bread and sugar.

Lunch: These Caramelized Onion and Avocado Quesadillas look amazing and could be a great Lenten meatless dinner too. Going to get my intake of cheese while I can.

Dinner: In honor of this holiday, I am making Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo which is a popular New Orleans dish. I will likely use Smoked Kielbasa since my kids like it and it isn’t too spicy.

Wednesday – 

Breakfast: Ash Wednesday means fasting, and I will roam between coffee, smoothies, water and Kefir probably. The kids will have their usuals, yogurt, berries, waffles.

Lunch: Cheese, crackers, carrots and humus for the kids.

Dinner: We will be hungry for our (meatless) dinner. I am making Giada’s Cheesy Baked Tortellini  because I can make it ahead of time and we will likely have to run to church to get ashes. I am going to do the Whole30 cleanse during lent but I have a wine tasting party on Thursday so I am starting it on Friday. (Feel free interject a heavy eye roll. I am actually hosting it and I didn’t realize I put it during lent. Ha ha.)

Thursday –  

Breakfast: A smoothie. I use this vegan protein powder in Vanilla and Chocolate, and I usually add organic berries and spinach.  Going to start to get into the routine today.

Lunch: This Greek Salad without the chicken. I just can’t get enough of this salad dressing. And you better believe I will have Naan/Bread/Pita with it.

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Dinner: My last meal with cheese and bread. So, I am going to make this  Chicken and Gnocchi Soup which my kids love and is just amazing with Crusty Bread.  The meatballs are so good with garlic and parmesean in them and it is really easy and quick to make. I will fill up on this before the wine party, my last hurrah for 30 days.

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Friday –

 

Breakfast: The cleanse begins! It starts with a vegan smoothie with organic berries.

Lunch: This Warm Kale Salad is so delicious, and so easy to make. For anyone doing a Whole30 during lent, this salad (sans cheese) is your friend.

Dinner: We usually do cheese pizza for the kids! But I will be making this buddha bowl which does not look AT ALL to me like fasting or sacrificing, rather it looks like heaven in a bowl.

Thanks Nell for allowing me to guest post! I hope you all have a great week, and a great start to your Lent!

Yummy Crock Pot Pot Roast

February 6, 2015

Anyone else have a white flag of surrender waving re: cabin fever? I feel like I just got done with Motherhood Olympics, a contest where your only goal is survival, and your hurdles include a husband on a weeklong business trip across the country, a snow storm with 2 snow days from school and a stomach flu shared by one and all including the momma.  Translation: you will not be leaving your house for 8 days. Seriously I am not proud of how much you can beg/yell at your kids to please stop talking to you for a minute.

BUT….now that we are all feeling better I am trying to find the sweet spot in the heart of Winter with cozy easy meals. So let’s start with a classic…pot roast. But let’s make it SUPER easy…with a crock pot.

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I know a lot of you ladies and gents love a good Lipton Onion Soup + Roast treatment for pot roast, and I have done it. But something about this flour coating on the roast + homemade red wine gravy on the top does it for me.  Plus nothing beats all the fresh herbs cooked low and slow with meat.

You start by putting flour, salt and pepper on your roast, then browning it in a pan. (Don’t forget to save these pan drippings to make the gravy on top! )

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Then you layer it with yummy veggies….

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And let it cook on low for 8 hours (4-6 on high if you are in a pinch but low & slow makes it fall apart tender).

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You can pull out the meat and let it rest when it is done cooking, then slice it.

These vegetables are just so amazingly flavorful and tender, my mouth is drooling looking at this picture. IMG_5622

And adding flour and wine to browned meat pan drippings = delicious. Every time. If you don’t want to use wine you can just use more beef broth in its place. IMG_5616

If you have a chance to make mashed potatoes they soak up this yummy gravy really well. If not, just grab some from the store pre-made (along with a bottle of red wine) and add some chives. No one will know the difference and you will feel like you outsmarted the world.
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I also love that there are usually leftovers to make beef stroganoff or beef and barley soup with. Or a yummy sandwich the next day.

Carry on you warriors of winter. Spring will come, but until it does, I hope this warms your bellies.

Crock Pot Pot Roast (printer version here)

Ingredients

One 4-pound beef chuck roast

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for coating

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces

3 stalks celery, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

3 cloves garlic, mashed

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup red wine

3 cups low-sodium beef broth

3 bay leaves

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 cup loosely packed parsley leaves, chopped

 

 

Directions

Sprinkle the roast all over with 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Coat in flour and shake off any excess. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the roast to the skillet and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes, turning as needed. Transfer the roast to the insert of a 6-quart slow cooker, along with the carrots, celery, onions and garlic.

 

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet over medium heat. Add the tomato paste and stir until the oil begins to turn brick-red, about 1 minute. Add the flour and wine and whisk until thick (it’s OK if there are some lumps). Add the beef broth, bay leaves, thyme, allspice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper and bring to a simmer, whisking, until the gravy is smooth and thickens slightly, about 4 minutes.

 

Pour the gravy into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. The roast and vegetables should be tender.

 

Remove the roast and let rest for a few minutes. Discard the thyme stems and strain the vegetables, reserving the gravy. Toss the vegetables with half the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Stir the remaining parsley into the gravy and season with salt and pepper. Slice the roast against the grain. Serve the meat and vegetables on a platter, moistening them with some of the gravy; serve the remaining gravy on the side.

 

Source: The Food Network

 

Farm To Table Dinner

September 2, 2014

A few years ago, I went to a meal where Melissa Kelly, the chef of Primo in Portland, ME presented and she talked about Farm To Table eating, about knowing where your food comes from, and about honoring the food and the people who bring it to you. This girl is legit: her whole restaurant, wait staff, chefs and all, show up one day to slaughter a pig every year and they use every part of the pig in their menu.

Chefs like Melissa inspire me so much. This time of year, when everything is at the height of harvesting, or have just been harvested and are sitting in piles on kitchen counters or farm stands, it is especially easy to be inspired by Farm To Table eating.

Like every mother on the planet, a return to school means something in my brain kicks into gear and shouts: So much depends upon an early, healthy dinner. 

Because it does. Really. We have had the best summer with lots of fun but dinner always revolved around the fun, and often meant pizza or hot dogs or clam chowder. But with a return to the school schedule, the need for a nutritious dinner comes back into focus. This year we have football or soccer every night! Despite my best efforts at being a laid back mama and everyone only having 1 activity each during each season, well, four kids means…every night. So we are starting early and I will share my friends, I will share what meals were delicious and easy on The Humble Onion.

One thing that really makes it easy is that we live around the corner from this farm:

I love everything about the idea of Farm To Table eating, not because we are the pillars of health (see pizza and hot dog reference above) but because it is always delicious.  Sourcing fresh, local/organic ingredients and preparing them simply is my favorite way to cook. So when I drive by and see that list of vegetables, my mind turns with what I could do with it all. I don’t belong to a CSA because I know I can stop in here and grab something growing that day.

So the night before school started, I took my two oldest kids with me for some bonding time and we picked blueberries:

and I checked what was growing to serve some side veggies to go with a flank steak from our grass fed cow we get from Farmer Bob (we have another meeting scheduled in November to get our next half-cow, so excited.)  I grabbed some beautiful kale…

and watched the owner of Blueberry Bay Farm dig up fresh potatoes…

and headed home to make dinner. I turned the potatoes into french herbed potatoes, the kale was sautéed with a little olive oil and garlic, and the flank steak was cooked on the stove with the best sauce I can’t wait to share with you. The result was the most delicious dinner.

Everyone was quiet for the first few minutes eating, which I love. It is amazing how good fresh potatoes are – little pillows of heavenly soft fragrant clouds that exploded with the flavors of vinegar, garlic and herbs. And all the kids loved the steak with this sauce I whipped up and oh my gosh, so easy.

 

I felt very grateful after this meal – grateful to live near this farm, to make food for these people I love, and because my belly was so happily full and satisfied with such healthy food. I think that is what I love the most about Farm To Table. You can’t help but create gratitude when you know where your food comes from and who grew it. So thanks to Farmer Bob, Blueberry Bay Farm, and Melissa Kelly, who helped our family prepare, body, mind and soul for the new school year.

And for dessert? Blueberries and Cream, of course.

 

Flank Steak with Soy-Garlic Sauce (printer version here):

Ingredients:

  1. 1 pound flank steak, trimmed

  2. 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  3. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  4. 2 T. olive oil, divided

  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic

  6. 2 T. soy sauce

  7. 2 T. Worchestershire sauce

  8. 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  9. 3/4 teaspoon sugar

Preparation:

  1. Heat 1 T. oil in a grill pan over high heat. Sprinkle steak evenly with salt and pepper. Add steak to pan; grill for 5 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 3 minutes.

  2. Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add second tablespoon of oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add soy sauce, Worchestershire sauce, mustard, and sugar; cook 1 minute or until bubbly. Remove pan from heat. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices. Serve sauce over steak.
French Herbed Potatoes (printer version here):

2 pounds small potatoes (you can use any kind, I used the small white ones Blueberry Bay Farm had, but fingerling or small potatoes are yummy too), scrubbed clean

4 tablespoons dry white wine or champagne vinegar

1/3 cup EVOO

2 shallots, chopped

2 tablespoons any variety of cut up herbs, chives, parsley, tarragon work well, or you can use 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

 Boil the potatoes for 14-16 minutes, depending on the size, until they are just tender throughout. Drain the potatoes and cut into quarters.

Mix together the white wine vinegar, oil, shallots, herbs, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and toss them gently. Sprinkle the potatoes with chopped fresh parsley.

Sautéed Kale:

Over medium heat, warm up 2 T. olive oil and 2 gloves of garlic, minced. Add kale (stems removed) and stir over medium heat until wilted, about 5-7 minutes.

 

 

The Drunken Half Cow

April 2, 2011

Last September, we bought a half of a cow. A friend and fellow mom, Jessica, did the research and found a farmer in Vermont who raises cows naturally, on a grass-fed, antibiotic free diet.  He sells his cows at $3.60 a pound, in ground beef or thick-cut, Cryovac-sealed glory. All we needed to do was buy a freezer to store it.

At first, my husband loved the idea.  His eyes turned glossy at the thought of a half cow worth of steak. Then it was delivered, and he was shocked at how little turned out to be steak.  That steak was only a portion of the cow, and that rump roast and rib roast and plain ground beef also made up the half cow, was a moment of disillusionment/crabbiness for him.  If we need evidence that we don’t know where our food comes from, I offer this up as Exhibit A.

Since then, however, our lives have taken an up-word tick.  Grocery bills have been slashed.  When stumped at the ‘what’s for dinner?’ question, plain old burgers can be made in 10 minutes. But oh-my-gosh is this delicious is the result.  Grass-fed burgers are heavenly.  I crave them.  So simple, yet there is nothing that comes to mind that is as satisfying and soul-filling as this dinner. 

A correlation of having the half cow in our freezer is that we also usually have beer in the fridge, and these make for a happy marriage (literally and figuratively).  I have discovered that if you cook good beef with beer, great things happen.  This equation is pretty fool proof.  Ok, I did have superb guidance the first time I attempted this : Fresh & Honest is the cook book from Chef Peter Davis, and his restaurant Henrietta’s Table is right next to Jody Adam’s restaurant Rialto in Cambridge, MA.  His New England style menus are simple and amazing.  Seriously, his Pale Ale Braised Short Ribs, made with our grass-fed short ribs were close-your-eyes-let-the -angels-sing-around-you delicious.  It helped that I made his mashed potatoes exactly as he instructed. And the meal was rounded out by his Brussels Sprouts with Bacon. 

I attempted to re-create this beer and beef nirvana when we went skiing recently.  Packing up 3 kids and a dog is made easier when you just grab a crock pot and grass-fed cut-up beef chuck and let it defrost on the way there.  The night before skiing, I attempted to follow the William Sonoma Slow Cooking Cookbook recipe for beef stew (a great resource, I love the Lamb and Spinach Curry recipe).  But, having to rely on a kitchen that was not stocked as my own, I combined two different recipes in the book, as I only had onions and potatoes, a very small amount of butter, an aged generic pepper shaker and God-knows how old Canola Oil Spray.  That’s right, spray.  I sort of sobbed as I cooked the well-floured and peppered high quality of beef in such a sad representative of cooking oil.  Then I deglazed with a Pale Ale while I drank one as well.   I refrigerated it overnight, and plugged it in in the morning before skiing. I commented to my husband on the chair that I did not have high hopes for the outcome. 

Happily, when we returned home, with tired kids and tired feet, the smell that greeted us at the door was simply heaven.  It was rich and peppery and succulent.  We hurried to put the kids down for a nap and grabbed our bowls and spoons.  Turns out that even expired Canola Spray cannot override the flavor of grass-fed chuck.  It was a perfume for the soul.  If I hadn’t just had the Pale Ale Short Ribs, I would have called it the best meal ever. 

So in an effort to use up Old Bessie (Barney?) I defrosted a small roast not knowing what I was going to do with it. Answer: braise it in beer. I looked up Julia this time, and her beer and onions roast looked good although she lost me at the cheesecloth bouquet step since I am chasing an 18-month-old and don’t have time to search for cheesecloth. I seared my meat, sliced some onions, chopped some thyme, threw in some Bay, and deglazed with Beer.  After braising it for a while (it was small so it only took an hour), I added some apple cider vinegar for a finishing flavor.  I served it with roasted veggies and mashed potatoes and celery root. Heaven.  When I served it to my kids I put it on egg noodles (I subscribe to the ‘alcohol burns off’ theory) and my son, who is 4 ½, said, ‘can we have this every night for dinner?’.  My reluctant taster turns fan. Thanks, half cow.

I’ll keep you posted on my future beer and beef adventures. Part of me feels like I am cheating on wine, since I haven’t cooked with it in a while.  Who knows, maybe Boeuf au Vin is in my near future as well.  All I know is drunken meat , in any fashion, is my friend. 

 

Beer Braised Beef and Onions

by Katie Curtis 

 

3 lb. beef roast such as chuck roast or rump roast.

(If your roast is closer to 2 lbs or 4 lbs, just adjust the braising time, about 1/2 hour per pound)

3 T canola oil

1 1/2 lbs. sliced onions (about 6 cups)

4 cloves garlic, minced

Salt & Pepper

1 cup beef stock

1 12 oz. beer, such as a Lager or a Pilsner (I used Sam Adams)

2 T light brown sugar

1 t. thyme, chopped

1 bay leaf

2 T apple cider vinegar

 

Directions:

Heat Canola oil on high heat in a large heavy pan, such as a Dutch Oven.

Cover beef with salt and pepper on all sides, and brown on each side for 3-4 min, 10 min. total.

Remove beef from pan and rest on a plate. Reduce heat to medium, then sautee the onions in the drippings, 5-7 min or until soft. Add garlic and cook for 1 min then add thyme and bay leaf, cooking for 1 more minute.  Pour in beer and deglaze pan, cooking for 3 min. Place beef back into pan.

Add beef stock, and cover with lid.  SImmer for 1-2 hours depending on size. After cooking, add apple cider vinegar to the remaining juices in pan and boil to reduce for 5 min. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If a thicker sauce is preferred, add flour or butter (or both mixed together). Serve over mashed potatoes or buttered noodles.