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Garden 2.0

April 20, 2011

My car smells so wonderful right now. I thought it was about time I get my garden started up again, so I stopped by home depot and bought all these babies. Hooray for herbs! I also bought strawberries and blueberries. I expect Billy will be happy about the blueberries. Time to go home and plant!

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Billy’s Birthday Dinner- The Steak

April 18, 2011

I told you I would tell you about Billy’s birthday meal, and I don’t like to break promises!

This meal was so divine, if I do say so myself. I had a little help though. Billy grilled the steaks better than he’s ever grilled steaks before. So amazing. The sauce and the marinade for the steaks helped, but he did a wonderful job keeping them really nice and pink in the center, while getting those great grill marks. Uhhh….I wish I was eating that steak right now.

The steak was the show stopper of the meal, but the accompaniments were really wonderful as well. I served shrimp in a garlic butter white wine sauce with a parmesan crusting, green beans, potato slices, and for Billy, some garlic butter-lemon-white wine marinated mushrooms.

My goodness we were full. I made an attempt to keep the portions small enough while I was cooking so that we could focus our energy on the steak, but we still both came away almost uncomfortably full.

I will list the recipes for the meal, but unfortunately, we got most of the way into the meal before I remembered that I wanted to take pictures to share with you guys, so I basically only have the recipes to share with you. I’ll post all the accompaniments in the next post.

I knew I wanted to serve a heavily peppered steak since Billy adores freshly ground black pepper. I was planning on just grilling them with a nice crusting of pepper on top, but then I found this recipe online, and thought I might try making my own sauce to go along with the peppered steaks. I’m so glad I found it.

Pepper Crusted Steak with Worcestershire Butter Sauce

Ingredients:

For Steak:

  • 2 large New York strip steaks
  • 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire to marinate the steak in
  • ground black pepper in mill
  • kosher salt
For Worcestershire Butter Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup of dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • reserved juices from cooked steaks
Directions:
  1. Preheat grill.
  2. In a dish or on a plate with raised sides, pour the two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, and place steaks side by side in Worcestershire sauce. Generously sprinkle the tops of the steaks with kosher salt, and then, using a pepper mill, grind the black peppercorn onto the tops of the steaks until it has a decent coating. Billy and I really like freshly ground black pepper, so I used quite a bit.
  3. Cover the steaks with saran wrap and allow them to rest while you prepare the sauce.
  4. For the sauce, saute the diced onions in a tablespoon of oil until they are translucent.
  5. Add the Worcestershire sauce, dry red wine, chicken broth, and thyme. Allow the sauce to simmer on medium heat until it reduces a bit. Stir in the two tablespoons of butter and then remove the sauce from the heat.
  6. Go grill those steaks!
  7. Using aluminum foil, tent the steaks and allow them to rest for about 10 minutes  before digging in.
  8. Once you plate the steaks, take the leftover juice from the plate they were resting on, and add it to the sauce.
  9. Enjoy!!!
These steaks were enormous. I got Billy to pause for a moment so I could get an image of his before it disappeared.

Meatloaf

April 16, 2011

This picture doesnt look all that pretty, but this meatloaf was so tasty.

Billy has been encouraging me to make my own meatloaf recipe since I started cooking almost a year and a half ago. He was quite pleased with this one, so I think this might have to at least be the basic recipe that I spruce up over the years. This meatloaf recipe is something that I threw together. None of the recipes that I was scoping out online had quite the vibe I was looking for, so this is what I came up with, and it was wonderful. I loved the texture, as it was very compressed and a bit more like gyro meat. The flavor was outstanding too. I’m sorry to say, but it was much better than the recipe that I used for the last batch of meatloaf that I made from a friend’s recipe, which I may or may not post the recipe too anyway. So tasty.

Ingredients:

  • 3 small carrots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 8 oz. pork sausage
  • 8 oz. ground chicken thigh or ground turkey
  • 8 oz. ground beef
  • 1 egg
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients and mix until well blended. Put in a loaf pan and tap to make sure you don’t have any air bubbles.  Place loaf pan on a cookie sheet so that the juices don’t spill over into your oven. Bake for a half hour to 45 minutes or until a thermometer reads 180 degrees.

Tamale Pie

April 16, 2011

I keep forgetting to take a picture of the insides. It ends up being eaten so quickly.

This recipe is adapted from another recipe in the Cook’s Illustrated Best Make Ahead Recipes Book that I definitely want to own. I actually made this recipe weeks ago and am only now getting around to posting about it. It’s been a busy couple of weeks/months. I made this baby twice I think, and both times it’s been a huge hit. I had it in my arsenal for when Dave visited, and the guys definitely enjoyed it. It’s such an easy recipe to make, too.

(This recipe would work easily as a vegetarian casserole as well. I would substitute the meat for extra beans and maybe add some mushrooms to the mix for some meaty texture. The concept and the flavors are that good that I would hate to see you lovely vegetarians out there miss out on it.)

Tamale Filling
  • 8 oz. chorizo
  • 8 oz. ground beef
  • 8 oz. ground chicken thigh or turkey
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can refried beans
  • 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • salt and ground pepper to taste

Cornbread Topping

  • ¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour (3 3/4 ounces)
  • ¾ cup yellow cornmeal (3 3/4 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

2. Heat a sauce pan and in a tablespoon of oil, cook your diced onion until it is translucent. Add the garlic and chili powder.

3. Stir in the chorizo, ground chicken or turkey, and ground beef, the beans, and the can of drained diced tomatoes. Stir the mixture and break up the meat while it cooks. Allow this mixture to cook, while continuously stirring, for 10 minutes or so. You want the mixture to cook thoroughly, while loosing some of it’s excess moisture. Layer the meat and beans mixture in the bottom of a large casserole dish.

4. For the cornbread topping, I followed the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated exactly and it turned out delicious. Whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk and egg together. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture until uniform. Stir in the butter until just combined.

5. Dollop the cornbread batter evenly over the filling and spread into an even layer. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. If you’d like to add the cheese on top, remove from the oven after the cornbread is cooked and sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese evenly, and return to the oven for another 5 minutes.

6. I’d recommend serving it with some cold sour cream on top of each serving.

Visiting season has begun.

April 16, 2011

From Way Back in March!!

With the visit of Dave brings the oncoming visit season. This isn’t an official season, as you know, and I’m sure that it won’t happen again, but in my mind, it is visiting season. The start of March brought it on. And I’m sure that it won’t stop until well into the summer. I’m not going to let it.

On March 18th we’ll be back for a little less than a week for a wedding which is a very exciting occurrence. Our dear friend Joey is marrying our dear friend Liz. Too exciting.

During April, we might just get lucky and get a visit from Billy’s mom and her boyfriend when they make a trip to Vegas. We might even go to Vegas with them. Neither Billy nor I have been to Vegas, so that would be awesome.

And then in May is ACEN. ACEN is the most wonderful time of the year. Simply said.

The reason I’m writing about this is because I came across some photos of this wonderful indoor picnic that Grace threw almost a year ago, right before I moved out to forever sumer land. Seeing the photos made me so happy for this visiting season because I get to see all the lovely individuals depicted in these pictures from summer past.

I wanted to post the photos from the picnic to share with you and hope for Grace and everyone else who contributed to share the names and ingredients for the little dishes that we devoured at the picnic. I wish we could have picnics like that all the time, but while we can’t do that, I’m going to make do with using this website to share.

Grandma’s favorite recipes!

April 15, 2011

I’m very excited to report that my beloved grandmother allowed me to steal some of her recipes for future use. Some of my best memories revolve around my grandma’s cooking and being at her cottage in Lake Como, WI.

I’ve made a couple of her recipes in the past and they have never disappointed. I’ll be making some here and there, and if your lucky, and if I feel like they aren’t too much of a family secret, I might just post them.

My family rocks.

Billy’s birthday!

April 15, 2011

Tax day is Billy’s birthday, so instead of worrying about taxes (which we finished several weeks ago) we get to celebrate!

I won’t spoil his surprise by saying anything tonight, but it’s going to be a pretty fantastic meal with a whole bunch of his favorite foods incorporated. A good hearty meat and potatoes kind of meal, done with a few twists that I’m sure are going to make him a happy camper.

I’ll take pictures and post about them sometime in the next few days. I’ve been seriously slacking in the posting department. I have this bad habit of taking photos of our meals, starting drafts of the posts about them, and then forgetting to polish them up and get them posted once I get my recipe written down.

On the bright side, that means I’m still writing down all my recipes so that I can eventually share them with all of you!