Category Archives: beef

Amy’s Virtual Baby Shower!

You guys! This is so exciting! There’s a party going on and we’re celebrating the virtual way across many miles and many states. 🙂

See, I’ve been a part of a cooking forum out on the interwebs for more than six years. Although I’ve never met any of the ladies there in person, I can say all of those girls feel like friends. It’s so great to come home at the end of a long work day, pop open the ol’ laptop and jump into great conversation with friends. 🙂

One of the best parts of the board is celebrating all of life’s joys with each other and that’s what a few of us are doing today. Carrie of Carrie’s Sweet Life is hosting a virtual baby shower for our sweet friend Amy of Amy’s Kitchen Creations! She is expecting a baby girl this month! Hip, hip hooray for baby girls! We are so excited for you!

The theme of the shower is recipes for busy moms. Perfect! When deciding what to share today, I wanted the dish to meet two criteria: 1. Easy to make. No fussing around with tons of prep work or babysitting. I turned to the golden child of the too-busy-to-cook cook’s kitchen: the slow cooker! And 2. It should make a lot. Like a ton. So much you could eat it every night for a week. Considering how close I am to becoming a mom myself, these slow cooker french dip sandwiches were a great way for me to flex my supermom muscles and get tasty and easy dinner on the table and have enough leftover to stash in the freezer for a quick meal later on. Busy moms take note, this is about as simple as it gets.

A large chuck roast is tossed into the trusty crock on a bed of a sliced onions. A flavorful mix of beef stock, soy sauce, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard is poured over the top. It’s left to simmer and at the end of the day you have tender shredded beef with a great dipping sauce to have on the side. Total active time about 12 minutes: 10 minutes to get the stuff in the crock, 1 minute to slice up some rolls, and 2 minutes to broil a bit of cheesy goodness on top.

Another great thing about these sandwiches? Perfect for parties. Couples shower perhaps? Maybe to celebrate a perfect bundle-to-be? I’m thinking yes.

Amy, congratulations again! We are so excited for you and we can’t wait to “meet” your sweet baby girl and welcome her into the “family.” Click on over to Carrie’s Sweet Life to see the full round-up of recipes for this wonderful celebration!

SLOW COOKER FRENCH DIP SANDWICHES (Recipes source: As seen at The Dainty Chef, originally from Confections of a Foodie Bride)


  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced into quarter inch rounds and the rounds kept in tact.
  • 3/4 cup beef broth/stock
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp creole mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2.5 to 3 lb. chuck roast
  • salt & pepper
  • 6-8 sandwich rolls, split (a good, crusty roll is best! Better to soak up that juice!)
  • 6-8 slices of provolone or swiss cheese


  1. Place the onion rounds in the bottom of the slow cooker. In a small bowl, whisk together beef broth, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and garlic. Add to the slow cooker over the onions. Salt and pepper both sides of the roast and place on top of the onions. Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or until the beef is fall apart tender.
  2. Once the meat is done cooking, transfer the roast to a cutting board and shred using two forks. Remove the onions and set aside. Strain the drippings into a large “defatter” measuring cup to get rid of the oil that collects on top (a mesh sieve works too).
  3. Heat the broiler. Place the split sandwich rolls on a lined baking sheet and toast for 1 minute or just until the bread begins to brown. Remove the tops from the pan. Scoop the shredded beef onto the bottom of the rolls and top with reserved onions (if desired) and cheese. Return to the oven just until cheese is melted, about a minute more. Top with sandwich halves and serves with small bowls of au jus.




Filed under beef, sandwiches

Crazy Hot Dog People

I remember being quite nervous as my now husband, then boyfriend, and I got ready to head up to the Chicago area from Champaign so he could meet my parents for the very first time. That’s never an easy situation. Would everyone get along? How many long awkward pauses would there be? Would baby pictures make an appearance? Home videos of me singing the Super Bowl Shuffle in all my three-year-old glory?

I actually had no doubt in my mind that the meeting would go swimmingly. He was a fine upstanding young man on the straight and narrow path to success. My parents were about easy going as they come. Even so, I felt the need to warn my adoring boyfriend of one small detail before we embarked down the road to meeting the parents.

Thing was, I wasn’t sure how to bring it up. It was so….stupid. I knew he had to be ready for it, but I wasn’t quite sure how to tell him about it without sounding like a total nutcase. We’d only been dating a couple months at that point – not long enough to completely come to terms with the other’s particular brand of crazy. This could have been a total game changer.

I decided to just put it out there. He could either go with it and laugh about it, or stop returning my calls. Either way…

I just turned to him and blurt it out. “Eric, I need to tell you something before we go!”

I watched his expression change. His eyes dropped sideways, his finger drumming nervously on the side of his thigh. I can only imagine what he thought was about to come out of my mouth next. Her parents are closet cat hoarders. Her dad cuts off the fingers of St. Louis Cardinals fans. They live in a van down by the river.

“Eric,” I said slowly, calm and cool, “when we get to my house someone in my family may ask you…” I stopped, unsure of how to continue.

“Ask me…” he prompted.

It came up fast, words clawing at my throat, tumbling out my mouth. There was no turning back now. Out with it, out with it!

“Someone in my family may ask you if you put ketchup on your hot dogs!”

He looked at me for a second, confused and surprised by just how silly I sounded. He lasted about 2.7 seconds before busting into a fit of laughter.

When he finally stopped laughing long enough to tell me, no, he doesn’t put ketchup on a hot dog, I knew we were a match made in heaven. I had gotten that out of the way, I was ready to bring my boyfriend home to meet my family and he was going to charm the ever-loving pants off them. Sans ketchup.

Ketchup on a hot dog is a touchy subject in Chicago. It’s just not done. The 10 and under set gets a free pass but everyone else gets the side-eye if ketchup gets anywhere near that dog and it’s bun. With Eric not being from around those parts, I breathed a sigh of relief knowing he wasn’t about be banished for eternity for his hot dogs sins.

I, however, may be banished for mine after sharing this hot dog concoction I whipped up (Sorry, family). Now, there’s no ketchup, but there’s also no piccalilli relish, no sport peppers or pickle spears. No sprinkling of celery salt, no tomatoes or tangy raw onions. There is a poppy seed bun, because, well, come on. That’s a given. 😉 But other than that, I took everything I know about a hot dog like a good Chicago(area)in should and tossed it right out the window.

Forgive me, for I have sinned.

This sweet, savory, tangy dog is smothered in shredded white cheddar and dijon mustard and then topped with a delectable topping of leeks and apples braised in cider and bourbon. The combination is out of this world delicious. It’s meaty, it’s juicy, it’s cheesy and it’s got a nice kick from the dijon. The leek and apple mixture includes caraway seeds (totally under used and under appreciated little seed, by the way. I happen to love it) so it gives the entire thing a definite sauerkraut feel, but without that whole acquired taste thing. I just loved the combination of flavors here and I think you will too. Totally classed up tailgate food. All the components can easily be made ahead and reheated. I promise no one will miss the ketchup (pssshh…sinners.) 😉

Now, in case you were wondering if someone in my family did actually ask my husband if he put ketchup on his hot dog within the time frame of their very first meeting the answer is….YES! After a few hours of lovely conversation, my very dear mother did in fact ask Eric that very question, just like I told him they would.

See. Told ya so. 🙂

CHEDDAR DOGS WITH CIDER-BRAISED LEEKS AND APPLES (Recipe Source: Bon Appetit, July 2009 via Epicurious)


  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 2 cups (generous) thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only)
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • Pinch of ground allspice
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 1-1/4 cups apple cider
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 6 grilled hot dog buns (Hey! I made my own! Recipe coming at ya in the next post!)
  • Dijon mustard (Side note: I’ve become quite the fan of Boetje’s since moving to the QC and that’s what I used here. Made right here in Rock Island for more than 100 years! A true local favorite.)
  • 6 grilled all-beef hot dogs
  • 2 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (1/2 cup packed)


Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and apple and stir to coat. Cover and cook until the mixture is tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add caraway seed and allspice; then season with coarse salt and pepper. Add cider and bourbon and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, until most of liquid is cooked away, about 16 minutes.

Spread buns with mustard, then top with grilled hot dogs. Sprinkle with cheese and top generously with leek and apple mixture. Makes 6 dogs



Filed under beef, fruit, sausage

Whatchya Makin’?

By the time Eric gets home from work, I’m usually already up to my elbows in dinner. I like to use the hour between when I get home and start making it until he gets home to sneak a vegetable or two into the meal. 😉 Quick! Pulverize this pepper, spinach, carrot and zucchini to a pulp and dump it into the chili before he gets here…

Oh no, there’s the garage door going up, his truck’s in the driveway! Dispose of the evidence! Throw the food processor bowl out the window! Hurry, hurry! 😉

He strolls in, says hey in the worn-out-after-a-hard day way he has about him. Looks through the mail BEFORE putting his laptop bag down. Empties his pockets on the edge of kitchen table. Tosses his button down shirt over the back of a chair. After a hug and a kiss hello, he peers over my shoulder into my various pots and pans and asks innocently “Whatchya makin’?”

If it’s something I know he enjoys, I come right out and say it. “It’s a steak with a side of bacon covered in nacho cheese sauce, babe! Your favorite!”* 😉

*Note: Ahem, I don’t actually feed my husband a steak with a side of bacon covered in nacho cheese sauce, but you get the idea. He’d probably worship me if I did though!

If it’s something new and I’m not sure what kind of reception it’ll get, I whip out my stealthy dinner information tactics:

1. Tell him what it is without really telling him. “It’s chicken. In a brown sauce. With cashews. Over rice.” That’s Cashew Chicken to you and me.
2. Change, leave out, or whisper important information and hope he doesn’t ask anymore questions. “It’s like chicken parmesan,” I tell him innocently. “Except with eggplant.” Hey, not my fault he’s halfway to the recliner by the time I get to the eggplant part and misses my semi-audible whisper. 😉

Seriously though, I’m just teasing. He’s very good at eating what I put in front of him, even if he may be a bit nervous at first. He gobbles up the cashew chicken and really enjoyed my recent venture into baked eggplant parmesan earlier this week. I just have to give him a hard time.

It’s what I do. He doesn’t call me the Pest for no reason. I own it, man!

I was unsure how to describe this meal to my husband when he walked in. It’s beef, that’s always going to be a thumbs up for him, but I wasn’t sure what he’d think of combination of spices.

What’s a girl to do?

Think fast!

Me: “Um. It’s like a meat pie…thing. With chili meat except not. And cornbread on top.”
Him, nodding in approval: “A meat pie, huh? Sounds good.”
Me: “Erm. Yeah. Except there’s no, like, crust or anything. It’s like a cobbler….a meat cobbler.”
Him, completely straight faced: “Oh, sure. A mobbler. Sounds great.”
Me, in hysterics at this point: “A WHAT?!”
Him: “A mobbler. A meat cobbler. Get it?!”

Ah, such classic Eric humor. He’s so good at breaking the ice. That’s when I knew all was right with the world. We sat down to this delightful Spiced Beef and Cornbread Cobbler and enjoyed every last bite. It’s easy but unexpected, warm and flavorful but quick to put together. I will be making this again as we start bracing for cooler weather ahead.

When you present this dish, you’d expect to find some sort of spicy chili concoction under the delightful, golden topping. It is, to a certain extent, but instead of the usual chili powder and cumin, you’ll find a warm, spicy mix of cinnamon, ginger and cayenne. It’s really very delicious. I used fire roasted tomatoes for an added flavor punch and tossed in some chopped carrots. It’s pretty customizable too, which is always a plus. Sub ground turkey or chicken for the beef or toss in some extras to bulk it up. Corn, peas or beans would all be great additions.

SPICED BEEF CORNBREAD COBBLER (Recipe adapted from: Gourmet, December 2009 via


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (cut in half for less spice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 (14- to 15-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 ounces coarsely grated sharp Cheddar (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) – I subbed pepper jack because that’s what I had on hand.


  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a 9 1/2-inch (6-cup capacity) pie plate.
  2. Cook onion in 2 tablespoons oil in a deep 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until edges are golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add carrots and cook until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes more. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add beef and cook, breaking up large lumps, until no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Add sugar, spices, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice and briskly simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. While beef simmers, whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together milk, egg, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a small bowl, then stir into cornmeal mixture until just combined. Fold in 1/2 cup cheese.
  4. Spoon cooked spiced beef into pie plate with a slotted spoon, reserving juices in skillet. Skim off and discard fat from juices if desired, then pour juices over beef in pie plate.
  5. Spoon 4 mounds of corn bread batter over beef, then sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons cheese over batter. Bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted into center of corn bread comes out clean, 15 to 25 minutes. Serves 4.


One Year Ago: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Two Years Ago: Bacon Cheeseburger Calzones with Spicy Cajun Ketchup


Filed under beef

Make new friends, but keep the old…

I made a couple new friends this weekend. We met on Saturday morning at the grocery store. I knew I was going to bump into these two there at the store, the list in my hand told me so, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to have the guts to look at them. I was fully prepared to pull the old Oh, There’s Someone I Don’t Want to Talk To so I’m Going to Pretend to Concentrate Really Hard on This Display of Flour trick when I approached them in the aisles.

I was nervous. See, I haven’t exactly been warm toward these two in the past. One of these guys, I have just come right out and said I didn’t like them. Out loud. In a snotty way. In front of others. The other, I just flat out ignored.

Who did I make amends with this weekend? Who did I bond with over a cart with a wobbly wheel? Who did I invite into my home for a lovely summer meal? I think you’ll be surprised!

My first new friend? Cilantro. Yes. I know. I know! I can’t believe it either. My arch nemesis. Cilantro and I are friends now after this weekend! Squee!

My second new friend? Anchovies. It had never occurred to me to buy them before and they’d basically gone unnoticed until now. They’re a little…stand-offish, don’t you think? All packed down in that little can, lifeless and oily. Not exactly friendly if you ask me. But, I think they’re just shy. Because these guys brought a whole bunch of life to the dinner party last night.

I brought my two new friends home, we talked through our differences, and I combined them into something really special and really delicious.

Crunchy romaine hearts, colorful bell peppers, fresh tomatoes, sweet corn kernels, and spicy baked tortilla strips, all tossed with an herb-kissed Caesar dressing and topped with juicy strips of perfectly grilled sirloin. Also known as: Texas Caesar Salad.

So good. This was the perfect light meal for a hot summer night. Eric, being the meat and potatoes kind of man he is, isn’t really big on the idea of a salad as dinner. Not manly enough. Or something.

That’s why I added steak. Ha. That certainly gets his attention. We both enjoyed this on such a hot July night. The dressing had a great punch of flavor and brightness from the cilantro. Since there are so many strong flavors going on, I didn’t find the cilantro overpowering at all, which was a very pleasant surprise!

Add an ice cold beer (or your favorite wine), some nice crusty bread and you’ve got a delicious dinner. Invite some new friends. May I suggest cilantro and anchovies? 😉

TEXAS CAESAR SALAD WITH GRILLED SIRLOIN (Recipe adapted from: Bon Appetit, July 1999 via


For the dressing:

  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeño chili, seeded, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

For the salad:

  • 8 cups bite-size pieces romaine lettuce (from 2 heads)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced (I subbed an orange bell pepper)
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 ears fresh sweet corn, grilled until tender and slightly charred, then cut from the cob
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • Baked chili-lime tortilla strips (Recipe follows)
  • 1 lb. sirloin strip steak, grilled until desired doneness and sliced into thin strips
  • Additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Purée first 9 ingredients in processor until smooth. Gradually add olive oil and process until blended. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
  2. Combine romaine, bell pepper, scallions, corn, tomatoes and half the tortilla strips in a large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Divide among 4 serving dishes, top with steak, and garnish with additional Parmesan cheese and the rest of tortilla strips.


  • 2 medium flour tortillas
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • Zest of one small lime
  • Kosher salt and pepper taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Using a pizza cutter, cut the tortillas into long, thin strips. Toss with olive oil and other ingredients. Spread in an even layer on a foil-covered baking sheet.

Bake until golden brown and crunchy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Cool before using.


Two Years Ago: Candy Kiss Cupcake Bites


Filed under beef, salads, veggies

Each time I roam…Chicago is…

Calling me home!

Growing up, I never really had that strong desire to leave home. It seems like all 18 year olds have only one thing on their mind – getting as far away from their hometown as possible.

This was not me. Crappy winter weather and all, I had accepted the Chicagoland area as my home. In fact, I honestly believed I’d never move.

Until I did. Move, that is. And it’s not like Iowa is super far away or anything, or I have to get on plane to see my family but it is…different. Smaller. Slower. Rural. Not bad – just not home.

Plus, people are always telling me I talk funny? Me?? Talk funny?? Like how?! This part I just don’t understand. I didn’t grow up in the city or anything, but apparently I have that nasal-y twang in my voice that just screams Chicago. Just ask the random girl who came running up to me poolside in Vegas thinking I was her long lost high school friend, Meredith. When I told her she was mistaken, she asked me where I was from. When I told her,  she responded with “Oh, I should have known by your accent,” before turning and walking away.

::side eye:: ::head scratch:: Hm. Ooohhhhh-kaaaay. Whatevs, man!

Well, say what you want about me and the way I talk, but I’m proud of where I come from! Growing up in area that is so ingrained in it’s traditions, you kind of develop tunnel vision as a kid and it becomes hard to imagine life outside your bubble.

As a kid, I thought everyone in the entire country had the pleasure of enjoying the awesomeness that is EAGLE MAN.

“Oh. Look at those low rates.”

Your sneakers are my gym shoes. I’ve ALWAYS said gym shoes. Shoes that are actually worn to the gym are gym shoes. So are the sleek pink and gray Pumas I have for bopping around town on the weekend. Gym shoes are all encompassing. I’ve gotten the side eye for this one in the last few years since moving away. “Sorry, Ms. D – can’t dress today. Forgot my gym shoes.” (In my locker, where I left them…on purpose…five minutes ago.)

I end sentences with prepositions (in speech) all.the.time. I hear this is a Chicago thing? Maybe? “I’m going to the store, do you wanna go with? Okay, where are my car keys at?” I also add superfluous ‘thes’ where they aren’t needed. “I’m going to THE Target.” “I’m going to THE HyVee.” This must come from years of shopping at THE Jewel and THE Dominick’s. 🙂

And it wasn’t until I moved away that I realized that the entire rest of the country is DOWNRIGHT DEPRIVED because they can’t just head on down the road and find the PERFECT Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich. Growing up, I really didn’t understand the specialness of this sandwich. There was a beef place on just about every corner it seemed – even within walking distance of our house! (Although that place wasn’t particularly good…and it’s long gone now.) Every catered event from sports banquets to family reunions included piles of this delicious thin sliced beef swimming in its meaty juices with chewy Italian rolls on the side.

Now I’m in a place where people have never even experienced this sandwich. Say WHAT?! It leaves me wondering – at least once a month when that unmistakable craving hits- Where’s the BEEF?!

Well, for the Super Bowl, I planned to bring the beef right to my own house. I could call up Portillo’s and have them ship me a pile frozen…or I could dive right in and make it myself.

Browsing recipes, most of the ones I came across involved the crock pot and packets of Italian salad dressing mix. Meh. Tasty, I’m sure and certainly easy, of course. But NOT Italian beef. There’s no way you can thinly slice a beef roast that’s cooked in the crock all day – shredding is your only option. That just wasn’t going to cut it. I wanted to keep it as authentic as possible.

Then I spotted this recipe over at The Paupered Chef. This recipe calls for coating a sirloin tip roast in a spice mixture and roasting at a high temperature for about 20 minutes to get a nice crust going and then reducing the heat, adding water to start your juice and slow roasting the meat to a perfect pink on the inside. Then the whole thing is popped in the fridge overnight for the flavors to get down in there real good. The next day, it’s popped in the freezer for about two hours, thus making it just icy enough to slice paper thin with a knife. (You got a meat slicer? Yeah, me neither. It was a knife or nothing!)

The verdict? Drum roll, please! It came out GREAT! It’s a bit time consuming, but most of it is inactive time so all you need to do is plan ahead. The Paupered Chef tossed the meat in the juice on stove top for just a minute or two before piling it on a roll. But since I was making it for a crowd, I decided to reheat the meat and juice slowly in the crock pot for a few hours before we were ready to eat it.

I must confess – I spiked my juice with beef stock. I didn’t want to, I really didn’t and I totally negated my goal of keeping it authentic by doing it…but when push came to shove the juice just wasn’t beefy enough – I added about 3/4 cup and it was perfect.

Even though our team wasn’t playing last night (Ahem. Bears.) this was still great game food. Let’s talk about serving. The roll, in an authentic Italian beef is important, but I had to go with what I could find…a chewy, white sub roll would have to do. And if you want to do it up right, you gotta top it with hot peppers or giardiniera and dunk the entire thing, bread and all, in the juice. Or make it “wet” as they’re known about town. I actually prefer mine “dry.” That is, not dunked. And I wasn’t sure if my party guests would be down with the whole hot pepper thing, so I caramelized a bell pepper/onion mixture to top them off. The sweet bell peppers are an acceptable alternative to the hot – the onions…mmm. Not. To the purists. But, hey, when you go to the trouble of making it at home, and I already spoiled it by adding the beef stock, I didn’t feel too guilty about taking a few more liberties with authenticity. I can’t wait for an excuse to make this again!

HOMEMADE ITALIAN BEEF (Recipe Source: The Paupered Chef)


  • 2 1/2 pounds beef round or beef sirloin tip roast (Mine was a bit bigger, about 3.3 lbs.)
  • 1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 quart water
  • Pinch grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Beef stock, broth or bullion to taste, if needed.
  • Bottle of giardiniera (if desired. I made a bell pepper/onion mixture instead)
  • Italian rolls, for serving


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Mix together the red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Rub half of this mixture on top of the meat.  Set the meat in a large roasting pan and set in the oven.  Roast for 20 minutes (I roasted mine for 30 minutes since it was a bit bigger), then reduce the heat to 250 degrees.  Cook for another 20 minutes.

After the 20 minutes, add the rest of the spice mixture to the quart of water.  Pour the mixture into the roasting pan. Cook for another 30 to 45 minutes, or until the temperature of the middle of the roast is 130 10 140 degrees.

Remove the meat and set aside to cool.  Set the roasting pan on your stove top burners and turn the heat to medium high. Scrape up the brown bits that have stuck on the bottom.  Reduce mixture slightly for a few minutes.  Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool.

Cover the meat and put the juice in a container. Store in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.

Before serving eat, transfer the meat to the freezer for 2 hours. Then slice the meat as thinly as possible.

Yes, that’s a wadded up paper towel in the background of this photo. We didn’t eat that. :-p


Warm the liquid in a saucepan on the stove.  Add the grated nutmeg.  Reduce the mixture if it is too watery.  Then dump a handful of the sliced meat into the juice and cook for 2 minutes, or until just heated through.


Combine meat and and liquid in the crock pot. Heat on low for 2 to 3 hours or until just heated through.

Pile the meat directly from the pot onto rolls. Dunk in the juice, spoon a bit more liquid on top of the sandwich or serve on the side to dip. Top with hot or sweet peppers or giardiniera.


One year ago: “Me Time” Pizza – Check out my one of a kind masterpiece I created during a lazy weekend home alone last winter. 🙂


Filed under beef

Books ‘n’ Butter

Food and books. The two (non-human) things that make my world go round. Give me good food and a good book and I am happy camper. There’s something about holding a book in my hand that’s comforting in the same way as holding a spoon and digging into a bowl of homemade ice cream. And don’t new books smell awesome!? Just like bread or cookies or brownies baking at home.

I’m weird. I know. It’s okay, I’ve accepted it.

So naturally, I’ve developed quite the love for COOKBOOKS! It’s the best of both worlds! In fact, I’m becoming sort of obsessed with them. I could literally spend a half a day in Barnes & Noble. Two hours to browse and gather a stack of novels a mile high and two hours to get lost in cookbooks of all kinds.

I got some really great cookbooks for Christmas. All different kinds that I can’t wait to dive into. It’s great to get some books I may not have necessarily picked out for myself – like the MEAT BIBLE. Thanks to my awesome brother-in-law for the great pick! It’s right up Eric’s alley for sure!

This book is full of all kinds of useful information about meat. It’s one area I could use a bit of schooling that’s for sure, especially when it comes to beef as I’m pretty sure I couldn’t tell you the difference between a ribeye steak and New York strip. I haven’t had time to really dive into the educational portion of the book yet, so I decided to start off with something easy and familiar.

Enter flank steak with an absolutely DIVINE and DECADENT Roasted Red Pepper Butter. Holy freakin’ yuminess, Batman. This was knock-your-socks off delicious. The original recipe calls for flat iron steaks, but I’m not overly confident in my abilities to cook steaks and not have them come out like shoe leather. I think I’m drawn to flank steak because I like how it’s served cut into thin strips as opposed to one giant hunk of meat. I like beef…in more delicate portions. On the side I served the steak with some roasted brussel sprouts (which I am obsessed with as of late. SO good.) and crash hot potatoes.

The butter is sensational and compliments the flavor of the beef PERFECTLY. The shallot and garlic blend perfectly with the smokiness of the roasted red pepper. The recipe makes way more than you’ll need for the steaks but it’s okay because you’ll want to layer this on just about every single thing you make for the next week. I used it on the steaks, on vegetables and fish before wrapping up what was left and sticking it the freezer. I’ll be busting it out again for steaks again soon for sure!

FLANK STEAK WITH ROASTED RED PEPPER BUTTER (Recipe adapted from: Lobel’s Meat Bible)


  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, 8 of the tablespoons well-chilled and cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme (I used dried)
  • 2 roasted red bell peppers (I used jarred, but you can roast you’re own in you prefer. If you do use jarred, drain and rinse the peppers thoroughly and then watch your salt addition)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons smoked sweet Spanish paprika or regular sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon (or to taste)  kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. flank steak
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a small skillet. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until just softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the thyme. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Put the 8 tablespoons well-chilled butter, the red peppers, paprika and salt in the bowl of food processor. Scrape the contents of the skillet into the processor and blend, pulsing at first, until smooth and well blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. Pack the butter into a ramekin or roll in plastic into a sausage shape. Refrigerate until firm.
  4. Remove the butter from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature while you prepare the steak. Salt and pepper the steak. Preheat a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat until almost smoking. Add the oil, swirling to coat the skillet. Add the steak and reduce heat to medium. Cook 4 minutes on each side, or until desired doneness. Remove from skillet and let rest for a few minutes. Slice the meat against the grain and transfer to serving platter, top with butter and serve.
  5. Store extra butter in the refrigerator for a week or in the freezer for a few months.


One Year Ago: I made ADORABLE little ‘butt’ cookies for my friend’s bachelorette party. Too cute!


Filed under beef

V is Victory!

I came. I cooked. I conquered.

Oh, the road was a long and weary one. One that involved nearly 5 hours of my Sunday. One full of cursing and causalities. Handfuls of quartered mushrooms tumbling off the counter and on to the floor. CRAP! The unfortunate discovery of a (newly purchased the day before) sprouty head of garlic. DAMN! The side of my thumb slipping off the potholder and sizzling against the handle of a dutch oven that had just spent the last three hours in a hot oven. $#&@!!!!!!!!

Ah, but in the end – with my feet tired, my hair a mess and my shirt stained. With my mushrooms rescued, my garlic desprouted, and my thumb thoroughly bandaged, the sweet (or savory, if you want to get technical) taste of victory – the rich, meaty, tenderness of success – it was all worth it.

I came (armed with nothing but a big ole’ pot, good intentions and a heck of a lot of prayers). I cooked (Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon.) And I conquered (the H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS out of that stuff.)

Ah yes, Beef Bourguignon – the quintessential Julia recipe. The recipe that introduced Americans to the art of the French cooking. The recipe that inspired a thousand home cooks to take on a challenge and really impress their families. The recipe that, literally, changes lives. Maybe even mine, in a roundabout way.

I won’t go on and on again about my recent epic epiphany regarding the novel Julie & Julia – you can read that here, if you are so inclined.

This recipe, upon first glance at the ingredients, does not seem all that intimidating. There is nothing unusual about any of them. Beef, bacon, veggies, spices, stock, wine. They are readily available and, dare I say it, CHEAP even. Well, except for the wine, of course, you can spend as much or as little as you want there. Personally, I don’t spend much over $8 for a bottle of wine I’m planning on cooking with, but that’s just me. How hard could it be, right – brown meat/veggies, add wine, stock and spices, simmer, braise, stir and serve, right? Piece of cake.

Well. In theory, yes, that’s it. In practice, no, definitely not.

This is the most time consuming meal I’ve made to date. There was little reason or planning to making this meal – I just kind of went for it. I sat down to do my meal planning for the week this past Saturday and it just kind of hit me – Julia’s Beef Bourguignon. For dinner. Tomorrow. YES!

I went about my usual Sunday chores – laundry, errands, baking (is that a chore? Heh.) Then I sat down on the couch with my computer to take a little break. It was then I decided to really take a good look at this recipe I planned to make for dinner. So I’m reading along, smiling and nodding. Got that. Okay. I understand. Yep. Then I get to part where it says to braise the meat in the oven for….3 to 4 hours. 3 to 4 hours?? Yikes! How did I miss that on my first read through? Panic set in as I looked at clock – 2:30 p.m. If I had any hope of getting this meal on the table at a decent time, I needed to get started, um, NOW!

I jumped off the couch like someone lit a rocket under my butt and bolted for the kitchen. I’m slicing bacon and drying meat and chopping veggies. I’m moving along as quick as can be – following Julia’s detailed instructions. I needed to get the pot ready for its three hour siesta in the oven as quickly as possible. In my haste, naturally, by the time I heaved slid my pot into the oven at about 20 to 4, it literally looked like a tornado had gone through my kitchen. Cabinets and drawers were wide open, assorted bowls and spoons and measuring utensils littered the counter tops, discarded veggie skins covered cutting boards, pointy knives jutted out at dangerous angles, and how the heck did I manage to splash beef stock all the way up onto the cabinets above my oven?


Commence deep cleaning of kitchen! I wiped, scrubbed and washed my way through easily an hour of my meal’s cook time. Then it was time to get started on the onions and mushrooms. So off I went to dirty up the very kitchen I just meticulously cleaned. Blarg.

Now, I diverted from Julia’s recipe in two places – 1. The bacon. I’m not really sure where one goes about purchasing chuck bacon with the rind intact, etc. So the store-brand center cut that was on sale this week was just going to have to do, thankyouvermuch. 😉 That said, I skipped the entire first step of the recipe. And 2. The small onions that are added to mix just before serving.

I stood at the grocery store surveying my options. Hm. What to choose? In the end, I picked up a package of small, white boiler onions. The package said “Great for Kabobs!” Which I took to mean “Great for Julia’s Beef Bourguignon!” Heh. Hey, I was desperate. Julia’s recipe calls for browning the onions in a skillet in their skins.

In their skins? Then what? Peel them later? Eat the skins? I consulted the recipe for my answer but it was not to be found. Hm. I decided I just couldn’t see myself eating onion skins and since these little babies really did look like mini-onions complete with the hairy little root at the bottom, I decided I would peel them and cut off the ends. Seemed like the most logical way to go about this. I blanched them for a minute to make peeling easier, cut off the onion-looking parts and then proceeded with the recipe as written.

And then promptly became impatient. It smelled so.freakin.good in the house I just couldn’t wait to eat. I’d set my oven timer at 3 hours and by the time I finished with the onions and mushrooms it had been in there for about 2 hours, 40 minutes. So I peeked. I’m sure Julia would frown on my peeking, but I just couldn’t help myself. The sauce had reduced down to thick, delicious yumminess and the meat was perfectly fork tender. I deemed it done. My pieces of meat were a bit smaller than the two inch chunks called for in the recipe so that’s probably why it cooked a little bit faster.

This meal is the definition of pure, sinful decadence. It is so rich and so delicious. The meatiness of the sauce with the wine in the background was an exceptional flavor combination. Sweet mellow onions and earthy mushrooms put everything in perfect balance.  We love red wine so we thought it was great that the flavor remained prominent. Those that are not lovers of red wine, consider yourself warned! This dish is worthy of any special occasion (or a boring Sunday in September, apparently.) Eric was in HEAVEN – he kept thanking me for making it all night. We loved it. Absolutely loved it.

Will I make it again? Maybe.

Anytime soon? Um, no. 😉

JULIA CHILD’S BEEF BOURGUIGNON (Recipe Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, 1961)

This picture SUCKS, I know and I apologize…but after 5 hours of cooking. Well, you know… yeah…


  • One 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon (I used about six pieces of sliced center cut bacon)
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy)
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • A crumbled bay leaf
  • 18 to 24 white onions, small (I used about a dozen white boiler onions)
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
  • 1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered

    Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry. (I skipped this part)

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
    Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.

    Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons.

    In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat.

    Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

    Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes.

    Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust).

    Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

    Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.

    Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind (I omitted rind). Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.

    Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

    While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.

    Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet.

    Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins (I removed the skins). You cannot expect them to brown uniformly.

    Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet.

    Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. (I didn’t have quite as many onions, so I only simmered mine for about 30 minutes) Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.

    Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms.

    Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.

    When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan.

    Wash out the casserole and return the beef and lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top.

    Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. (I skimmed off some fat but I really did not find the sauce to be overly fatty at all.)

    If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.

    Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.

    Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.

    Now take a load off and ENJOY! 🙂

    One Year Ago:

    Chocolate Chip Orange Muffins – So easy and so delicious
    “Grown Up” Mac & Cheese – Cheese, pasta and bacon? Yes, please!
    Pumpkin Spice Kiss Oatmeal Cookies – A great way to use up those pumpkin Hershey kisses!


    Filed under beef, veggies

    Kids, Don’t Try this At Home

    What are some of those iconic lessons your mom taught you? Hm. Don’t play with matches, don’t run with scissors, don’t make that face or it will stay that way, and, of course, don’t melt your plastic bowls in a hot oven:

    I know a lot about melting things. In fact, not to toot my own horn or anything, but I’m kind of an expert. I started young. The accidental Lego on a hot light bulb for about six hours experiment turned out exceptionally well. The results were a thoroughly melted Lego mess and a very stinky bedroom. Then just today, Eric informed me he found a fun size package of Whopper candies in the glove compartment of my car. (Um, two questions. 1. How long have those been in there? And 2, how is it possible I didn’t immediately eat them?) He said they were so melted, the package felt like a ketchup packet (LOL).

    So the melted bowl. How in the world did I pull that off? (Please refer to post below regarding blond moments. Thanks.) I decided to tackle a yeast roll today, as I hadn’t worked with yeast in a while. When I make a dough like that, I usually let it rise in one of two places. 1. In the garage. It’ warm, it’s draft free, it’s the perfect place to let the dough rise! However, if it’s winter, or if your husband is working out there and has all the doors open, you gotta rely on plan B. 2. In a cool oven with a bowl of warm water on the lower rack.

    Can you see where this is going yet? Yup, I made my bowl/hot water set up there in the oven, let my dough rise, took my dough out, promptly forgot that the bowl was in there and then turned the oven on two preheat. Enter melted bowl!

    I had the oven preheating while my rolls rested a second time, but I was cooking something else on the stove top at the same time. In the back of my head, I kept thinking I was getting this whiff of melted plastic, but I never did investigate. Until, of course, I opened the oven to put my rolls in! Imagine my surprise! LOL.

    Good thing I opened the oven when I did, because that thing was about the cave in on itself and melt ALL OVER my oven racks. LOL. Needless to say, that bowl had to be retired. I wonder where my adventures in melting things will take me next. . .

    Anyway, on to the food. This is the first free weekend I’ve had in over a month. After spending all day yesterday cleaning (I mean ALL DAY…Ever scrub old basement paneling before? It sucks. Although putting on a New Kids on the Block Pandora station helps a lot. Nothing like dancing around cobwebs singing along to Debbie Gibson’s Only in My Dreams, followed by a rousing rendition of Please Don’t Go, Girl 🙂 ) I knew I had to make today count in the kitchen.

    I found a recipe for pretzel rolls that I knew Eric would just love. Frozen soft pretzels are one of his favorite snacks (surprisingly low in calories…until you start dousing them with fake nacho cheese sauce, of course) so why not switch it up and make it a roll. That got the creative juices flowing and I dreamed up a burger on a bun-sized pretzel roll, topped with cheese and an interesting onion and apple “kraut.” YUM.

    Now, the reason a fake kraut came to mind is because I originally planned to make my burgers out of brat patties instead of ground beef. Pretzel roll, sausage, needed something tangy and sauerkraut-y to put on top (without actually being sauerkraut, of course, because I don’t care for it) Well, the brat patties didn’t work out. The grocery store I went to this morning didn’t have them, so I figured I’d pick some up this afternoon while we were out running around but then Eric didn’t want to back track to go back to the Super Target, yadda, yadda, yadda, we just had regular burgers.

    The results were very good! The pretzel roll may be a bit chewy to double as a hamburger bun, but I liked the taste a lot. I’m not a big fan of really soft bread anyway, so I didn’t mind that they were chewy. Others may be put off by it though, so keep that in mind. My fake out kraut was really good too. Perfectly tangy and delicious.

    BURGERS ON PRETZEL ROLLS WITH ONION AND APPLE “KRAUT” (Rolls from Bon Appetite, January 1994 as seen at Topping: me)

    For the Rolls:
    makes 8 dinner rolls or 4 sandwich rolls

    • 2 3/4 cups bread flour
    • 1 envelope quick-rising yeast
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
    • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (about) hot water (125°F to 130°F)
    • Cornmeal
    • 8 cups water
    • 1/4 cup baking soda
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 egg white, beaten to blend (glaze)
    • Coarse salt


    1. Combine bread flour, 1 envelope yeast, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar and celery seeds in food processor and blend. With machine running, gradually pour hot water through feed tube, adding enough water to form smooth elastic dough. Process 1 minute to knead. Grease medium bowl. Add dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then towel; let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 35 minutes.
    2. Flour baking sheet. Punch dough down and knead on lightly floured surface until smooth. Divide into 8 pieces. Form each dough piece into ball. Place dough balls on prepared sheet, flattening each slightly. Using serrated knife, cut X in top center of each dough ball. Cover with towel and let dough balls rise until almost doubled in volume, about 20 minutes.
    3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease another baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. Bring 8 cups water to boil in large saucepan. Add baking soda and 2 tablespoons sugar (water will foam up). Add 4 rolls and cook 30 seconds per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer rolls to prepared sheet, arranging X side up. Repeat with remaining rolls.
    4. Brush rolls with egg white glaze. Sprinkle rolls generously with coarse salt. Bake rolls until brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes. Serve rolls warm or room temperature. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm in 375°F oven 10 minutes.)

    For my Onion and Apple “Kraut”:
    Enough for two burgers
    This is a sweet and savory topping that gets it “kraut” kick with a a shot of apple cider vinegar and a generous sprinkling of caraway seeds. So it’s nothing like actual sauerkraut, but it’s inspired by it. 🙂

    • 1 small onion, cut into strips
    • 1 small apple, cut into strips (I used golden delicious)
    • 2 tbs. olive oil
    • 2 tbs. butter
    • 2 tbs. apple cider vinegar
    • 1 tsp. brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
    • Salt & Pepper to taste

    Heat oil and butter in a large skillet. Add vinegar and heat for about 1 minute. Add onion and apple. Sprinkle with brown sugar and season with caraway seeds, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the onions and apples and deep brown and caramelized.

    Put it all together with a perfectly grilled burger, a slice of extra sharp cheddar, a squirt of spicy brown mustard and ENJOY! 🙂

    One Year Ago: Shrimp Ettouffee


    Filed under beef, bread, fruit

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

    The last time Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday was in 2004.  I had been dating Eric for a couple months at that point and I would say that by then we were pretty serious. We were seniors in college so when Eric said he wanted to take me out for dinner for Valentine’s Day, I wasn’t sure what to expect. We hit the swankiest place we could afford…the Red Lobster in Champaign, IL. Yeah!!!

    We got there early…about quarter after 5. The line was out the door already! Everyone in the tri-county area decided Red Lobster was the perfect place to take their sweetie for a special night out. We sat at the bar for nearly two hours while we waited for a table, sucking down draft beers and shooting the breeze with the old, chain-smoking couple sitting next to us. I confiscated a couple of those red mardi gras bead things with the lobsters on them they’ve got there and wore them out to the campus bars later that night when we finally got back to campus. An appearance at the annual Bitterness Bash was still a given…who cares if we weren’t technically single. It was actually a really great night….for a couple of college kids. Now….um….fighting the crowds at Red Lobster and bar hopping has completely and totally lost it’s charm. Gee, I wonder why?? LOL.

    We’ve had a number of great Valentine’s Day since then…not that we need an excuse to show each other how much we love each other, we do that everyday. But it is fun to have a little holiday to celebrate in the middle of the winter when it’s cold outside and there’s nothing to do. I laughed when Eric suggested we should stay in for Valentine’s Day. I think the conversation went something like this:

    Him: “We should just stay home for Valentine’s Day”
    Me: “That’d be fine”
    Him: “You can cook for us.”
    Me: “Oh really, can I? Wow, thanks!” ::insert sarcastic eye roll here::

    LOL. I’m just kidding, of course! Staying in and cooking for Valentine’s Day sounded like a great idea to me! See, here in Waterloo, IA, our restaurant choices are pretty limited anyway and on a day like Valentine’s Day, unless you’ve made arrangements three months ago, forget about getting a table at one of the five (that’s right…five…that’s it) nice places. Can’t be done.

    When I was deciding what to make, I wanted it to be something special that I probably wouldn’t make on a regular day, and I wanted it to be something we’d both enjoy. Eric is a red meat fan, so beef was a given. I am a sucker to anything pasta, so I knew I wanted to combine those two. I had been eying this Short Ribs with Tagliatelle recipe from Giada for quite sometime, but never got around to making it due to it’s long cook time – about 3 hours total. Since I was going for out of the ordinary for this special occasion, I decided to go for it.

    I made a couple of changes to the recipe – I had to sub in fettuccine for the the tagliatelle, I can’t find specialty shapes like that in any of the stores around here. Worked out fine. And I subbed thick cut bacon for the pancetta. Again, it’s just not available. I’ve looked and looked. It’s a good thing bacon is a great sub! I had never bought or made short ribs before, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect. They scared me a little bit when I picked them up at the store…as they are kinda weird looking but I pressed on.

    The end result, after a long slow afternoon on the stove top, was really very good. The meat got tender and pulled apart very easy and the flavor was very deep and rich. It’s extremely filling. I just served it up with a Ceasar salad and crusty bread. However, I feel I must point out, so it doesn’t surprise you if you try to make this, that an insane amount of grease and fat separates from the sauce and floats to the top of the liquid while it’s cooking. I guess that’s not a huge surprise, as it’s meat on the bone and marbled with fat. No need to worry though, skim it off and discard and your finished product will not be greasy at all. We popped a bottle of Gnarly Head Zin (one of our faves) and lingered over dinner and dessert in our pj’s. It was a great night! One of the more memorable Valentine’s Days we have had. Cheers to many more!

    SHORT RIBS WITH TAGLIATELLE (Recipe Source: Giada de Laurentiis –


    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 ounces chopped pancetta (about 1/2 cup) (I subbed thick cut bacon)
    • 2 1/2 pounds short ribs (I used slightly less than 2 1/4 pounds and it was plenty)
    • Salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 1 carrot, chopped
    • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1 (14-ounce) can tomatoes (whole or diced)
    • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
    • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 2 1/2 cups beef broth
    • 3/4 cup red wine
    • 1 pound fresh or dried tagliatelle (I subbed fettuccini)
    • 4 to 6 teaspoons shaved bittersweet chocolate (I omitted. Would have been a nice touch for Valentine’s Day but I didn’t have bittersweet on hand. I sprinkled with parm cheese and parsley instead)


    1. Place the olive oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium heat. Cook the pancetta (bacon) until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, season the short ribs with salt and pepper, and dredge in the flour. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta (bacon)  from the pan and set aside. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes total.
    2. Meanwhile, combine the onion, carrot, parsley and garlic in a food processor and blend until finely minced. Then add the tomatoes and tomato paste and pulse.
    3. Once the short ribs are browned, carefully add the mixture from the food processor to the pot. Return the pancetta (bacon) to the pot and stir. Add the rosemary, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, beef broth, and wine. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for another hour and a half, stirring occasionally. Remove the meat and bones from the pot. Discard the bones. Shred the meat and return it to the pot. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste.
    4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes for dried pasta and 2 to 3 minutes for fresh. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the pot and stir to combine. Add the reserved pasta liquid 1/4 cup at a time, if needed, to moisten the pasta. Transfer to serving bowls, top each bowl with 1 teaspoon of chocolate shavings. Serve immediately.

    ENJOY! 🙂


    Filed under beef, pasta

    Welcome to My Weekday

    Last week, Eric and I both had the day off on Monday for MLK Day. It’s a rarity that we are home together during a weekday, so it was fun to have an extra day to hang out. I think he was a little surprised to have a first look at my “home during the week” routine. LOL. I was off work all summer, so I got lots of practice in the whole home all day thing. My summer days usually consisted of getting up at a decent time (no later than 8:00, but usually closer to 7:15-7:30. LOL) and then making sure I had a good, productive day of chores and errands so I could relax a bit in the afternoon before Eric came home.

    On weekday afternoons, I always watched a rerun of Full House (LOL. I am so lame. I admit it) and then tuned in to Rachael Ray’s talk show. Say what you want about her but I LOVE her talk show. Her segments are interesting and relevant. She’s not pretentious at all. Not getting to see it is one of the things I miss most now that I am back to work! LOL. I was pretty psyched for my Monday off last week so I could watch. Eric was in an out of the garage working on something and when he came through the living room he said, “Full House reruns and now Rachael Ray?? I can’t believe this!” I just smiled and said, “Welcome to weekdays at home with me.” He just shook his head and laughed.

    She always does her what’s for dinner tonight segment and it’s usually something really quick and simple. She did this Cheeseburger Chili Mac and Cheese that day and I decided it was a perfect Eric-Friendly meal. This recipe was just begging for the addition of bacon. Because what’s better than a cheeseburger…why, a bacon cheeseburger, of course! The originally recipe calls for one and half pounds of beef but I just did one pound and I found it to be plenty. I also omitted the olive oil. I just didn’t think I needed it, having cooked bacon in the skillet before browning the beef. Rachael broiled hers in the oven before serving but I baked mine at 400 for about 25 minutes instead.

    I was actually surprised how much I liked this!! Sometimes I find dishes like this to be kind of bland and blah, but this was totally yummy! Tasted JUST like a bacon cheeseburger in a bowl. YUM. Eric, of course, inhaled it. I just know him oh so well, don’t I? I will be making this again for sure! Plus, it’s super easy!

    BACON CHEESEBURGER CHILI MAC AND CHEESE (Recipe Adapted From: Rachael Ray)


    • 6 slices of bacon
    • 1 pound ground sirloin
    • 1 large onion, finely chopped
    • 2 tablespoons chili powder
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 cup ketchup
    • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
    • 1-2 cups beef stock (I used about 1 1/4 cups)
    • 1 pound whole wheat elbow macaroni
    • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp yellow cheddar


    Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

    Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Drain off most the grease, leaving about 1/2 tsp. or so. Add meat and cook until browned. Drain in necessary.

    Return meat to skillet. Add the onion and chili powder, salt and pepper and cook until the onion is tender, 4-5 minutes. Add the ketchup, mustard and beef stock, bring up to a bubble and simmer until slightly thickened, 4-5 minutes.

    Salt the boiling water and add pasta. Cook to al dente, according to the package directions, then drain thoroughly and return it to the pot.

    Add the chili and the bacon to the pot with the pasta and give everything a good toss. Transfer to a casserole dish and top with the shredded cheese. Bake for 25 minutes until cheese is melted and golden brown.

    ENJOY! 🙂


    Filed under beef, pasta