Monday, March 29, 2010

pan burgers, potato puffs and asparagus

It IS the gymnastics season, and we're on the road alot, and once again, we were traveling and in a hurry. So, while we didn't eat at home today, here's a quick meal you can prepare... with the proper ingredients.

First off, you need to have a dear friend or relative give you a gift of "Omaha Steaks" - frozen burgers and potatoes 'au-grautin' - but I call them potato puffs. (Or you can buy your own hamburger patties, and you might substitute some sort of Ore-Ida frozen potato dish - tatertots, fries, whatever your creative mind might come up with.)

Season your burger patties with your favorite seasonings (I chose salt, pepper, ground garlic, and curry powder) and pan fry - turning occasionally, but re-seasoning with each turn.
My personal recommendation: Don't over-cook; I prefer my burger medium rare, despite the FDA recommendation to completely overcook all meat products.
Cook the Potato Puffs in your convection oven per instructions (like, for 25 minutes at 375 degrees - and pay attention to the beautiful photo posted above!), or cook your tater tots per instructions, or use left over mashed potatoes and fry up some potato pancakes.

For the asparagus, use fresh aspargaus (on sale) from the grocery store, cut off the bottom 1/2 inch or so, place on plastic wrap, lightly sprinkle with water, wrap in the plastic wrap and cook in the microwave for about a minute, maybe a bit more, according to texture preference for the asparagus (I prefer mine al dente as opposed to mushy - and who wouldn't?) Or you could substitute frozen corn if you want to be really boring.
And for you Veggie Fans, substitute a delicious Boca Burger, or whatever-the-hell those soy things are called, in place of the burger. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

St. Patty's Corned Beef Dinner

It is the week of St. Patricks Day, and nothing says St. Patty's more than corned beef and cabbage.

I have read a bit on how to make a brisket of beef a corned beef brisket - but I have no idea why it's called "corned." I do know it is delicious.

I bought a packaged corned beef brisket from Costco, about 5 pounds. You don't have to go to Costco for this - they commonly appear in most grocery stores during the month of March.

Preparation was really easy. The toughest part was peeling all the little boiling onions to line the bottom of the dutch oven. They were going to act as my rack to hold the meat off the bottom of the pan, but more on that later.

Next I put the corned beef on top of the onions, fat side down so it would be a prettier picture. Then I slowly poured in beer to cover the top of the brisket. This is where my "onion rack" technique revealed it's flaw - the corned beef floated in the beer and some of the onions popped up to the top of the pan. Oh well.
I preheated the oven to 450 degrees, then brought the beer floating brisket to a gentle boil. By that time, the oven was hot, I covered the dutch oven, and put it in the oven. Cook at the high temperature for 40 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 225 or 250 and cook an additional 8 or 9 hours - seriously. (I started at 250 but checked the pot after a couple of hours, and the oven boil was a bit vigorous, so I dropped it further to 225 - you know your oven better than I.)

Remove the brisket from the dutch oven and let rest for 20 minutes; if your brisket had a side with a fatty layer, the fat will just scrape right off after it's full day in the dutch oven if it didn't disintegrate already.

I supplemented the meal with Roasted Garlic Potatoes. Scrub and dice a combination of red potatoes and white potatoes. Chop one medium red onion. Chop several cloves of garlic. Toss all together in a baking dish with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven, covered, at 375 for 45 minutes. Uncover, stir the mixture, and continue to bake uncovered until it's to your desired crispiness.

Feel free to stir a few more times to get the most out of crunchy edged potatoes.

We also enjoyed cabbage wedges, steamed in plastic wrap in the microwave, and lightly buttered and salted and peppered.

Don't forget to add green food coloring to your beverage of choice.
AND, the leftovers make a GREAT corned beef hash - yummy enough for dinner. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Linguine with Sausage Sauce

Since I short-changed you with the Spaghetti in a Box post, I'll stick with the pasta theme and post a similar, yet oh-so-different, Linguine with Sausage Sauce.

You'll need:

1 package Linguine noodles

1 12 oz. package raw pork sausage (I used Farmer John's spicey sausage, but if your store brand is on sale, just use that!)

1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped (remember, the entire bulb of garlic, or "head" of garlic, is what you buy raw at the store. Each bulb consists of 15 -20 cloves - the individual sections of the garlic. You need to peel the onion-like skin off the garlic clove, and then chop it up.
1 jar Pasta sauce (I used Ragu because it was on sale - but any brand will do)
1 can mushrooms, sliced.
Salad stuff (however simple or complicated you want to make your salad.)

In a large frying pan, cook the sausage, drain the grease, and set aside.
In the same pan (using the sausage drippings in lieu of oil), saute the chopped onions and chopped garlic. Stir periodically, and remove from heat when the onion starts to brown.
Add to the cooked sausage. Stir in the sliced canned mushrooms. (If you're using fresh mushrooms, add the mushrooms to your sautee mix after the onions and garlic have had a head start).

Cook your linguine according to package directions (the usual big pan of water, a little oil and salt, bring to a boil, add the pasta, and cook for about 10 minutes).
While you're cooking the pasta, in a separate pan, heat the jar of pasta sauce, stirrring in the sausage and onion mixture. Heat over low, stirring frequently.
Drain and rinse the linguini, dish a serving size in a bowl, scoop on an appropriate amount of sause, and grate fresh parmesan cheese over the dish. Serve with a yummy chopped salad.

Spaghetti in a Box

Hi dear readers (all 22 of you!)

I have to sincerely appologize for not posting last week. I have a personal goal to post a new recipe/food idea every Sunday - but last week just got away from me. Brian and I were in SLC for a UTAH/Nebraska gymnastics meet, and we flew home late Sunday, AND it was Oscar Sunday.

So, what's a boy to do when he's so busy?
Cook Spaghetti in a Box.
Yes, really, Spaghetti in a Box.
Simply follow the directions on the box. Oh, I added some canned mushrooms, and served it with a simple salad. Simple, and remarkably delicious. I'll try to do better from here on out.