Ten Tasty Nights: Round 7

No matter how I try, bacon doesn’t wrap around jalapeño poppers and then allow me to eat it without stretching the bacon to its limit and snapping me in the chin. It’s just bad news so I cheat.  

 I mix chopped bacon or, gasp if you must, packaged bacon with cream cheese to fill cleaned jalapeños. 

I don’t do anything else fancy. Call me crazy. They’re delish. And you can eat them in front of the TV. Or at a branding. You’ll be famous for your no fuss poppers.

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Ten Tasty Night: Round 6

I’ve never been able to duplicate the fajitas that are served in the Mexican restaurants all around our neck of the woods but I think I have it pretty close now.

I use a cast iron skillet and it has to be screaming hot. Crack a window, kids, it’s hot in here.

I use a combination of vegetable oil and butter. The butter gives the dark, crusty goodness. It’s key not to move the meat around once it’s in a layer in the skillet. Flip it once- otherwise, leave it alone. I cook the meat and then the veggies so the veggies get the good seasonings on them plus they cook faster.

 For seasoning, I use the cheap-o fajita seasoning mixes from the grocery store mixed with lemon juice. I want the lemon juice to help tenderize the meat but I don’t want a ton of extra liquid when I add it to the oil.

Marinate overnight if you can plan that far ahead, if not, that’s ok, too. There’s a ton of nights I crack open a freezer and stare at hundreds of little white paper packages of frozen meat without a plan in the world. It happens.

I top this meal off with fresh tortillas from the local taqueria, chopped cilantro, sour cream, and homemade salsa.

 Cheers!

Ten Tasty Nights: Round 5

You know that feeling that you think you forgot something? Like publishing a blog post? 
Me either.
Tonight is Round 5 and I fired up the smoker early this morning for this beautiful beef brisket.

The seasoning is important. Seasoned salt, garlic salt and pepper. That’s it.  

 The best advice about smoking meat is the saying, “if you’re looking, it ain’t smoking!” Our Traeger grill has a low heat smoke setting and that’s what I put it on, complete with a full box of Mesquite pellets, at 7 a.m. with plans to eat around 6 p.m.   

Two hours before I wanted to serve dinner, I turned the smoker to 275. Normally, I would have chosen 250 but it’s cold and windy today.

I checked that the internal temperature had reached 205 and once it had, I turned it off. Allow the meat to rest before slicing.   

 I served my brisket with peach barbecue sauce I canned over the summer. I got a fist bump from the Boss.   

You can love me for my smoke rings. I don’t mind.  

 Eat beef. We appreciate your business! 

Ten Tasty Nights: Round 4

I love when my family really enjoys something I’ve made for them and that’s why I like this treat so much. They’ve been called deadly and wicked good. And they’re easy!  

 Peanut butter balls:

Whip half a stick of butter and two cups of peanut butter together. Slowly add 4 cups of powdered sugar.

The mixture will be crumbly and will need some stirring and kneading. While you do so, melt a bag of chocolate chips in a glass bowl over a saucepan of boiling water.

Using a small scoop, form small amounts gently into balls. Roll in the melted chocolate.

Now you can either place the balls on wax paper or you can finely chop pecans to roll them in. I would always choose to roll them! You could also try pistachios or even sprinkles.

Refrigerate until chilled and serve to your family to knock their socks off.

My pro fantasy rodeo team is getting whipped! Tonight will be their night, though!

Ten Tasty Nights: Round 3

We have a crazy busy day today and on days like this, I like to have something easy to grab for a meal to keep everyone happy.

I spend much of the late summer and fall canning all sorts of foods and on days like today, I’m glad I do. For a fast and easy meal, I browned two pounds of home raised pork sausage and mixed it with a quart of pasta sauce I canned this summer. 

I would like to give my recipe but it’s really a matter of using what I have and adjusting it until it’s just right. My only secret is copious amounts of fresh basil. And cream cheese. 

I add a package of cream cheese to the sauce and let it melt. There is surely a fancy name for such a sauce but I just appreciate it for its creamy goodness.  

 My mom made oatmeal scotchies when we were kids and I like the stand by recipe right on the bag, even if I’m using gluten free flour.

The only adjustment I make is orange zest. It tastes fresh and bright and good.  

 In making these two fast and easy dishes, I realized I have a few items in my kitchen that I would rather not part with.

 
If you’re looking for no fail additions to your kitchen, here are some I love. Feel free to tag your hubs- Christmas is coming. (Hubs- she wants jewelry, too…)

I love my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and these Pampered Chef goodies. Coincidentally, I don’t sell Pampered Chef but my lovely Nebraska pal Kelsey Steinkraus does. I’ll  be featuring  one of her cocktail recipes this weekend. You can mix one of those up and take a look at her site. Sounds like a good time to me!
I have at least six glass mixing bowls. They have lids and are handy for marinating, baking, serving dinner off the back of a flat bed pickup and all manner of food prep. The white scraper is divine- I like the medium size- and the OCD girl in me insists on the scoop for cookies that are even and don’t look like I’m drinking and baking. 

I swear by orange zest and the microplane shown is my favorite. Try the baking sheets shown, too. The season on them is a badge of honor, people.

I have lots of good food coming your way this weekend including brisket and fajitas. And drinks. 

Here’s to a better night of Pro Fantasy Rodeo for my team tonight! 

Kelsey Steinkraus, Pampered Chef Consultant, Champion, Nebraska. http://www.pamperedchef.biz/kelseysteinkraus

Ten Tasty Nights: Round 2

Some people collect miniature knickknack-y thingies. Teeny tiny little purses, horses, dolls, and all manner of little pretties.

I like pie. As it turns out, it’s one of the only things I like in miniature. My grandmother was a pie kind of woman and I assume that’s why I have pie in my veins.

The trickiest thing about pie is getting the first piece out of the pan but these little beauties are the solution. I may or may not hoard canning jars and just happened to have this perfect, squatty style in my stash. After running them through the dishwasher, they were ready to roll. IMG_1403 (1)

Roll out your favorite pie crust recipe. My grandma swore by the butter flavored Crisco a la Loretta Lynn recipe. I like this classic recipe so much that my copy of the Better Homes and Garden’s red and white checkered cookbook is split in two at the exact page. I like pie, what can I say? You can find it here: http://www.bhg.com/recipe/pies/pastry-for-double-crust-pie/.

Mix up the filling while your dough chills for a few minutes in plastic wrap. I chop five Granny Smith apples with the peels still on and toss with a tablespoon of flour and enough sugar and cinnamon to coat the apples and make your kitchen smell delicious. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Set aside.

Roll out your dough and use a wide mouth canning jar to cut out circles of dough. If the circle of dough isn’t large enough to fill your jar, roll it out further and then tuck it to the glass sides. It’s supposed to look rustic so no need to get crazy but you can if you must.

They key to these pies is to overfill them with apples because the filling will cook down. Once you have lined the jars with the crust and filled them ridiculously full, it’s time to top them with some streusel. Duh.

I mix 1/2 cup each of flour and oats with a cup of brown sugar. Cut in one stick of cold butter until the mix is crumbly. Sprinkle and press atop each mini pie, place jars on a cookie sheet in case the pies bubble over, and bake 20 minutes or until bubbly and brown.

Don’t stress if the jars sink in the middle a bit. That is a pile of pie in there! I like to top with caramel ice cream sauce and a scoop of good vanilla bean ice cream.

Now all you have to do is stay awake to the end of the rodeo!

 

Ten Tasty Nights: Round 1

The National Finals Rodeo begins in Vegas tonight. Our friends are polishing their boots and boarding jet planes to witness the action. The fringe and Aztec print is going to be out in force!

For us, the NFR means some friendly family bets and food. Who am I kidding, every event here is marked by food! Since I’m cooking my way through the NFR, I thought I would share a few dishes that are favorites here at the feedlot.

The Boss likes to say that we periodically eat pork and chicken but we just don’t talk about it. Consider yourself shushed.

Tonight is ham steak with glaze and scalloped potatoes and here are my best tips. IMG_1402

The best basic scalloped potato recipe can be dressed up however you choose but here is the recipe in its working clothes:

In your favorite saucepan (mine is a coated Pioneer Woman cast pot) melt half a stick of butter, season with salt and pepper. Then add an onion sliced thin and a clove of garlic diced. I add two because I’m salty like that.

Once the onion is transparent, sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of flour and let bubble while you stir a few times to take the raw taste out of the flour. Slowly add 1 1/2 cups of milk. Lower heat and let bubble. Meanwhile, slice potatoes evenly. I use a mandolin and sliced about 10 medium potatoes. Layer the potatoes and sauce mixture. Bake at 375, covered for 30 minutes then uncovered until brown and bubbly.

As for the ham steaks, I smoke them on the Traeger like a boss. Here’s the key. Leave them alone. Meat smoked well will have smoke rings that will make your man proud. The other key is a glaze. I stole my grandma’s and it is simple! Mix 1/2 cup each of Dr. Pepper and orange juice, 1 cup of brown sugar and six shakes of Tabasco. Shake it like you mean it. Stir it together and slosh on the meat in the last five minutes of cooking with your smoker on hot. Check the internal temperature of the pork to play it safe and enjoy the first round tonight!