Thursday, May 21, 2009

London Broil and Sides

My mom came over with Papa and the twins and we made a quick meal together. It was very loud because the rain was pouring down and the kids couldn't play outside. It turned out a very comforting food and we followed directions between a Bobby Flay show and the following:

Mom's Pan-fried London Broil Steak

2 lb top round cut of steak
Dry mustard
Butter, softened to room temperature

1 Remove steak from refrigerator 2 hours before cooking to bring to room temperature (only do this with whole cuts of meat, never with ground meat.) Rub dry mustard into both sides of the steak. Add salt and freshly ground pepper. Use a meat pounder to even out the thickness of the steak if necessary.

Cut away any tough connective tissue on the surface of the steak.

2 Heat a large, cast iron skillet to medium high heat. Rub soft butter over both sides of the steak and place in pan. Let cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, check before flipping to make sure it has nicely browned.

At this point, if you have a steak only an inch thick or less, you can take the skillet off the heat and just let the steak sit for several minutes in the skillet, which will retain enough heat to cook the steak to medium rare. You can test for doneness by using a small sharp knife and cutting into the center to check the color. Also, if the steak is brown on both sides and it is weeping red juice, it's done. Mom uses a finger pressure method to test for doneness.

3 If you have a thicker steak, as we did in the steak pictured, you can finish it off in the oven, at 325°F for 15 minutes or so. Use a meat thermometer to test the internal temperature of the steak. It will be done at 130°F for medium rare. If you are using the oven method, when done, remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes.

You want to cook the steak only to medium rare, as cooking it further will make it more tough.

4 Slice the steak thinly, against the grain, on a diagonal.

Serves 4.

For a side dish: I found pasta in the fridge (egg noodles) and thawed broccoli. I tossed these in a hot wok with some oil until heated all the way through after adding a sprinkling of Kosher salt.

I used some of the drippings of the meat and some butter to make up a cheese gravy. I just heated the drippings and butter and whisked an equal amount of ground pastry flour until smooth. After that, I added milk to make as much as we'd need and when it was almost at the desired consistency ... I added a cup or two of shredded, sharp, cheddar cheese. I stirred until all was smooth and added a few jigs of worcestershire sauce. This was poured over the broccoli and egg noodles.

More from our kitchen later!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lunch & Dinner: Monday

Stir fry with cooked chicken added over basmati rice
Whole grain spaghetti
Peanut butter bars

I am so tired. I have been up since 5:30 am and haven’t stopped for much of the day.
This post will possibly reflect that. Smiles…

The stir fry stretched really well. My DIL and I served three children and ourselves and later, our home-for-the-summer son and teen daughter.

I am now trying out different recipes for stir fry as well as buying big, frozen bags with sauce packets in them. There are some ridiculously expensive smaller versions not at all worth the money and I don’t purchase those. The bags I buy are usually quite large and are all vegetables. I add my own meat when meals call for it but keep it out most of the time.

The last trip to Sam’s yielded a big bag of stir fry for a very low price and it was devoured both times I made it. There are two sauce packets per bag so I make two large meals for two or more families out of each one.

I put the sauce packet in hot water while heating up and then oiling the wok and then toss the vegetables in. I stir them around for five or more minutes --- just until there is nothing frozen or cold and then add the sauce packet. There are basic directions on the bag and I somewhat follow those.

I have always made the boil-in-a-bag rice (long grain white or brown) and this is such an easy way to make it. You literally just throw the bag (or in our case two bags at a time or more) in boiling water and let boil for around 10 minutes. When cooking time is complete, you just pull the bag out, open and empty!

I have battled making different kinds of rice over the years and finally settled on not making it anymore until I could afford a rice cooker. I had one I used a lot but it was aluminum and non-stick and I quit using either of those in my kitchen.
After reading various things online, watching uploaded videos, reading “how-to’s” and more. . . I decided to dive back. I have heard too many success stories to give up.

One thing I always do is rinse/wash the rice. I pour water to cover it and swish that around… scooping off/out anything that floats to the top. This is a sanitary thing because from harvesting to our stove tops … a lot can happen. There are other reasons but this is getting long so I’ll carry on.

I then put it in a wire mesh sieve/drainer and rinse under cold, running water for a few minutes. Next, I soak it anywhere from a few minutes to overnight depending on what I’m making when.

At least one place (and I think possibly the first) I found out about soaking the rice beforehand was Sally Falon’s: Nourishing Traditions cookbook. I also check out and try out many of the recipes on my friend, Crystal’s: blog and site. I share her name/site a lot, I know. Great help in homemaking and more!

Anyway, a friend on my cleanandcozyhome email list (hi, Mary Lou!) told me how to soak rice for awhile and cook without draining. All of these combined have been ways the Lord allowed me to learn the art of making beautiful rice!

After years of a mess to clean with rice stuck all over the bottom of my cooking pans… I can have rice done better than in the rice cooker I used to use!

I don’t have my notes on brown rice right now because I am still without my computer where all that info is. I will share my most used rice because we get it in huge bags from Sam’s. This is the Basmati Rice I mentioned above.

Here are the basic instructions:

How to make basmati rice

(I will use the most used amount here but you can make any quantity you want. Just do the ratio of twice the amount of water as rice)

Rinse really well. Put in water and take off anything that floats. Put two cups or desired amount in a pan and cover with twice the water . Four cups for the two here and so on .

Let sit with lid on until ready to cook.
Bring to a boil. As SOON as it starts boiling, cover, put on lowest possible heat (I often use a simmer mat {} and set a timer for exactly 20 minutes. Do not open the lid, jar it, or anything for the whole 20 minutes. Beautiful results!

For dinner, we had Quick Chicken Spaghetti and for a snack in the day, we ate the Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars and hot cups of coffee!

For the Quick Chicken Spaghetti, I cut up two chicken breasts and used the blade to “grind” them in the food processor. Even though the results were delicious, I will definitely seek a different route next time. The raw chicken was very hard to clean and I didn’t like trying. The last time I used chicken breasts in spaghetti, I had cooked chicken breast and ground that so I’ll probably do it that way from now on.

Anyway, I browned the ground chicken breasts just like ground beef in my cast iron skillet but with some olive oil and butter. This was added to a big jar of commercial spaghetti sauce (we are now trying to make our own to cut down on sodium but we keep a few big jars from Sam’s shopping trips. There are many times around here that we’ll go from one family to two, three, four or more at a time so I need to have fast ideas when those times happen!

The meal turned out so nice when I grated fresh parmesan over them. If I had more time, I would have put the whole grain spaghetti in a baking dish, covered with the sauce, covered and baked until really hot. Then, I would have grated the cheese over the top and broiled for a minute or few. Whole grain pastas hold up really well to baking.

Peanut butter bars from These served three families and were a huge hit with every single age. The only thing my daughter and I didn’t care as much for were using butterscotch chips instead of chocolate. I was out and took a chance but I don’t like butterscotch chips in the first place. I can’t wait to try them with what this called for!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

½ cup butter
½ cup cane juice crystals (I had none so I used brown sugar and the Sucanat called for)
½ cup Sucanat
½ cup peanut butter (no added sugar and non hydrogenated)
½ t vanilla
1 cup whole wheat pasty flour
1 cup quick oats
¼ t salt
1 cup chocolate chips, grain sweetened if possible (used butterscotch chips my sister gave us)

1 cup powdered Sucanat (or powdered sugar if you can’t find the powdered sucanat)
¼ cup peanut butter
3T milk

Heat oven to 350. Spray 9x13 pan with non stick spray. In Bosch (or KA) combine butter, sugars, peanut butter and vanilla until smooth.

In a small bowl combine flour, oats and salt. Add this mixture to the butter mixture in your mixer. Mix all until just combined.

Press dough into pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Bake for 20 minutes.

While cookie bars are baking make Icing…

Combine powdered sugar and peanut butter in mixer bowl. Add milk until icing consistency. Add more milk if too thick and a little more powdered sugar if too thin.

After you take the bars out of the oven pour icing over the top while the bars are still warm. Swirl the icing with the chocolate chips. Let it cool completely. Cut into bars.

These definitely do better when you let cool completely like suggested. I tried to hurry things up by starting the cutting while they were still hot and it was messy. Left the rest alone and they did much better when cooled.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Low Cost and Little Effort Main Dishes

We have been working during fat and lean times alike to be wise with our budget. This is especially important in the food department because when we tracked our spending (we have learned SO much from Dave Ramsey and Crown Financial Ministries) and food is one of the biggest expenses.

A cookbook very helpful in this area (I've mentioned it before) is:
Farm Journal's Country Cookbok. I have three really good recipes (tried and true) and at least two families LOVED all of them. Simple ingredients, quick and easy to make and comfort foods... great all around. I've included the recipes with the notes from the cookbook under the recipe title.
Note: I've also tried one or two of the egg recipes in this book and it was so good (along with excellent info) that I'll be sharing alot more from here!


You spoon seasoned meat mixture over hot buns --- quick, easy, and good.

1 T. shortening
½ c. chopped onion
¼ c. chopped green pepper
¼ c. chopped celery
1 1b. ground beef (I used ground venison)
¼ c. cheddar cheese, diced
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 T. vinegar
1 T. sugar
1 ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
4 or 5 toasted hamburger buns, split in halves

• Melt shortening in top of chafing dish or heavy skillet directly over heat. Add onion, green pepper and celery; cook until lightly browned.
Add beef; stir with fork or spoon while meat browns.

Add remaining ingredients, except buns. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. To serve, spoon onto warm buns. Eat with fork. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Our oldest son, his wife and our grandbabies joined us for this meal and the men and children were outside. When we called them in for this one --- they went on and on!
All of us inside had the same reaction and decided on repeating these regularly.

Hamburger/Cheese Biscuit Ring

Savory meat mixture waits for tardy people. Add biscuits and bake when they arrive. Or fix meat a day ahead, chill and reheat at serving time.

2 lbs. ground beef (I used ground venison)
1/3 c. chopped onion
1 can condensed cream of celery soup
½ c. tomato juice
¾ c. beef bouillon
¼ c. ketchup
1 tsp. chili powder
¼ c. sliced pimento –stuffed olives

Cheese biscuits
Sliced pimento-stuffed olives (for top)

*Brown ground beef and onion in large skillet; pour off excess fat.
Add all ingredients except biscuits; simmer until slightly thickened.
* To serve, spoon meat into center of platter and surround with hot Cheese biscuits. Garnish with sliced pimiento- stuffed olives. Makes 6 servings.
Cheese Biscuits: Cut ¼ c. shortening and 1/3 c. shredded Cheddar cheese and 2 c. all-purpose buttermilk biscuit mix. Add 2/3 c. milk; stir with fork to make a soft dough; beat 15 strokes. Drop tablespoons full of dough onto greased baking sheet. Bake in a very hot oven (425) 12 to 15 minutes. Makes 12 large biscuits.

(This could be very versatile. It was tasty following the recipe and I love the idea of having it convenient for differing serving times. My husband is an independent business owner and his meal times are very erratic most of the time. This gives me an old fashioned and hearty meal to have ready at short notice.

Easy Burgers

Egg and milk help hold the meat together in these drop patties

2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 T. flour
1 T. finely chopped onion
1 lb. ground beef (I used ground venison)
¼ c. milk or cream
2 T. fat

• Beat together eggs, seasonings and flour until smooth. Stir in onion, beef and milk; mix well.
• Drop 12 spoonfuls into hot fat in skillet; flatten to make small patties.
• Cook 2 to 3 minutes; turn and cook on other side. Serve between slices of buttered bread or in toasted buns. Makes about 12 thin patties.

(We tried these before we put them in buttered bread and they were so delicious! We have decided next time to eat them without any bread.)

I served these with fried okra.
I soaked cut okra (partially thawed from the freezer) in an egg and milk mixture for a few minutes.

Next, I just poured some Cornmeal Mix into a bowl and added some Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. I heated oil in a cast iron skillet and as each little "batch" got coated completely, I fried until lightly browned. The entire platter and bowl full of them was gone by the end of lunch! We had a rare treat because my DIL had these on a Wednesday (we spend Wednesday's together with the grandkids) and both of our husbands managed to be here to eat with us!

English Muffins

I've been hoping to make these English Muffins for awhile now. I thought I sent this recipe along with what we were doing the day we made them but if I did... it must be on my computer. The one I cannot access... still!

Nana and Papa were here with the twins (Summer & Seth/4 years old) and we had homemade English Muffins for the first time. What huge hits! I let my dough rise in our dehydrater and it worked out very well. I made little sticks and tiny biscuits with the stray, left-over pieces and they were more popular than the regular sized!

We had these with a chicken salad my daughter, Lauren made. My parents, husband, and self declared it to be the best chicken salad ever! So completely delicious scooped onto hot, homemade English Muffins. I made mine on a cast iron grill (flat side) on the gas stove top.

Kim in Latvia made these first and she gave me the recipe (and has these on her blog: --- I'm guessing at the link. Don't have the info handy so I'll contact her and get it if needed. I cannot recall if this is the exact one she sent from or not. I'm sharing it as I think it is but will come back and change it if I'm wrong.
Am I ultra organized right now or what?

English Muffins
---notes from original recipe sender---
"I've used this delicious recipe for about 29 years. They are very good . . . much better than any store-bought English Muffins I've ever had."

1 cup milk
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/4 cup melted shortening
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

1. Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Let cool until lukewarm. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, combine the milk, yeast mixture, shortening and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Add salt and rest of flour, or enough to make a soft dough. Knead. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise.
3. Punch down. Roll out to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut rounds with biscuit cutter, drinking glass, or empty tuna can. Sprinkle waxed paper with cornmeal and set the rounds on this to rise. Dust tops of muffins with cornmeal also. Cover and let rise 1/2 hour.
4. Heat greased griddle. Cook muffins on griddle about 10 minutes on each side on medium heat. Keep baked muffins in a warm oven until all have been cooked. Allow to cool and place in plastic bags for storage. To use, split and toast. Great with orange butter, or cream cheese and jam.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2009 Printed from 5/1/2009

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Made Up Meal

God has been opening up so many possibilities using food right from our pantry and freezer shelves!
It has been truly interesting to see what He shows us and we have been amazed over how delicious every single thing we've made has been.

Recently, we had a very busy day and company coming for dinner. I wasn't prepared. I had been holding out for a grocery tip and for some planning time but neither happened.
I quickly checked my cabinets and shelves and came up with some tomato paste, tomato sauce, two packages of shredded mozarella I didn't even know we had and a partial bag of frozen stir fry.

Homemade pizza came to mind so I got four pizza doughs (two doughs and two recipes) started and my DIL had the idea to make the stir fry as a side dish when we found a bag of boil-in-the-bag rice in the cupboard. I was weary of serving such different types together but felt it would stretch the meal.
We all agreed it was wonderful and now plan to do the same again sometime!

My 14-year said these were the best pizzas (the first night) ever. We have made homemade pizza of one kind or another for 20 years so this is saying something. My husband said the same and even my son, Michael, went on and on over them.
All of us did but these three don't always get as excited as I do over a good recipe:)

Our Menu:

Two pizzas
Stir Fry
Fried Rice
Chocolate Cobbler
Coffee & Milk

Here is the best sauce I've tried yet:

It was listed as "Sicilian Pizza" but I only used the sauce and not the crust recipe bec I was in a hurry. The sauce was made up in seconds using a food processor and I love anything calling me to use that!

Mix sauce ingredients in blender or food processor or hand food mill until smooth.
Spread on the sauce, and let the bread rise again in a warm place for about half an hour, or until it is soft and spongy. Bake about 25 minutes in a well-preheated oven, 375 degrees.

Sauce Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, coarsley chopped
1 clove garlic
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
2/3 cup chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon, each, oregano and basil (I omitted basil bec/ I was out of it)
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Here is one crust I used: (this one, I let rise and then refrigerated until the next day and made it up for lunch)

Garlic Herb Pizza Crust
3 cups All Purpose Flour Oven 400 degrees
1 pkg instant yeast (.25 oz.)
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp chopped dried garlic
8 oz. lowfat milk, warmed to 110 degrees
4 oz. water, warmed to 110 degrees

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare pizza pan by spraying with non-stick cooking spray. Combine dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add warmed liquids all at once to the dry mixture. Stir until well mixed, incorporating all the dry ingredients. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and set aside for about 20-25 minutes, allowing the dough to rise. Empty dough out onto a clean, floured surface. Knead by hand 6-8 times, it may be necessary to add additional flour to the surface to keep dough from sticking. Roll into desired shape and thickness. Place rolled dough onto prepared pizza pan, add favorite sauce and toppings. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, depending on crust thickness.

Basic Pizza Crust

by Vickilynn Haycraft

*For this one, I followed the directions up to rolling it out and just rolled it directly onto my stone and pan. I used a fork to make holes in lines across and then heated in the preheated ovens for a few minutes before adding the sauce and cheese.*

makes ANY of the following:
• TWO 15 inch thin crust pizzas
• TWO 12 inch thick crust pizzas
• TWO 9 x 13 med-thin rectangular pizzas
• FOUR 10 inch personal pizzas
• SIX 8 inch thin personal pizzas
• SIX 8 inch thin calzones
• TWO dozen small breadsticks

• 1 1/2 cup warm water (100-110 degrees)
• 1 1/2 teaspoon SAF yeast
• 1 tsp. honey
• 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 3 tablespoons vital gluten (optional)
• 4 cups freshly ground hard whole wheat flour
• Additional flour if necessary

Place warm water in a mixing bowl and add yeast and honey. Stir until dissolved. Let stand 5 - 10 minutes until foamy. This is “proofing” your yeast. (If using SAF yeast, you may skip this step and add all ingredients together)
Add oil, salt vital gluten and 2 cups of flour. Mix well.

Add more flour, one cup at a time mixing well after each addition until dough clings together and you can turn out on a floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and springy about 10-12 minutes by hand or until smooth and springy.

Place dough in a bowl. Rub a little olive oil over the dough, turning to get all sides. Cover the bowl and let dough rise 30 minutes. Punch down, take dough out on a floured surface and divide into desired pieces depending on what size pan and how many pizzas you choose.

Preheat oven to 450. Roll out pizza dough out on the floured surface one inch wider than your pan. Turn the extra inch over towards the center to form a crust and press down to seal. Prick lightly with a fork over the surface of the crust. Bake empty in a 450 for 5 minutes or until just lightly golden, but not brown.
Take pizza crust out of oven. If freezing, place on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before wrapping and freezing.

If using right away, spread sauce evenly over crust, BE CAREFUL not to use too much sauce as this can cause the crust to become soggy. Add toppings and cheese if desired. bake at 450 for about 10 minutes or until the crust is brown and the toppings are cooked.

***Note, if you prefer and thicker, “breadier” crust, let the dough rise on the stone after shaping until puffy, then pre-bake and finish as directed.
***If you have 2 stones, you can piggy-back rolling, pre-baking and baking your pizzas.
***This works better if you get the metal handles for the pizza stones, it is easier to grab and not squash the crust.
If using a cake pan, jelly roll pan, round metal pizza pan or pizza screen, you may need to brush lightly with olive oil and dust with cornmeal to prevent sticking.
If desired, divide the dough into “personal” size pizzas ( 6 - 8 inches) and allow each family member to create their own pizza with different toppings.
You can also make this dough in an autobakery bread machine. Place ingredients in the bread machine baking pan in the order according to your machine’s manufacturer. Use 4 cups of whole grain flour. Choose “DOUGH” cycle. Check the dough after 5 minutes to make sure it is forming a ball. Adjust with water or flour as needed. and when the machine beep, remove the dough and shape and bake as described above.
Categories: Breads, Main Dishes, Recipes
About the Author

Vickilynn Haycraft
A student of health and nutrition for 30 years, Vickilynn Haycraft has over 20 years of actual hands-on experience reviewing and personally using different tools of the homemaking vocation, focusing on the areas of health and nutrition. Vickilynn is a magazine columnist, product reviewer and cookbook author, as well as being full-time wife and mom to 5 children. Vickilynn blogs at the RFL Blog.

Chocolate Cobbler

Servings: 8

6 tablespoons butter
1 cup self-rising flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
powder 1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups boiling water

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Melt butter in an 8x8 inch baking dish while the oven preheats.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, and 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa. Stir in milk and vanilla until smooth. Spoon this batter over the melted butter in the baking dish.
3. Stir together the remaining cup of sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa powder. Sprinkle over the batter. Slowly pour boiling water over the top of the mixture.
4. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until set. Serve slightly warm with ice cream.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2009 Printed from 4/27/2009