Thursday, June 30, 2011

Steak and potato kabobs

Who says a steak and baked potato dinner can’t be portable? These meat-and-potatoes kabobs are perfect for enjoying at a there’s-not-enough-chairs cookout, but also work as a sit-down meal with a nice salad. Even better, the whole meal can easily be completed in less than 30 minutes, including the time it takes to heat up a gas grill!
Here’s what you’ll need:
1-pound sirloin steak, seasoned or marinated as desired and cut into cubes
1 baking potato
Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
3 skewers
Now, let’s get started:
Heat grill to medium-high heat.
Wash the potato. Prick with a fork and cook in the microwave for 5-6 minutes. (Since the steak won’t take very long to cook, you want the potatoes pretty much cooked/tender when they go on the grill. They’ll have time to absorb some grill flavor and char up a bit, but won’t need to cook much.)
Cut potato into cubes and season generously on all sides with Lawry’s.
Thread the steak and potato cubes onto the skewers.
Cook about 4 minutes per side.
They’ll look like this:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Apricot Brandy Cake

I love this cake, but in all fairness, that’s not saying that much — I love a lot of cakes.
But my mom on the other hand, she’s not really in to sweets. She eats her cake and leaves the icing (that’s more for people like me, I say). One time, circa 2005, I gave her a sip of my frozen Krispy Kreme beverage that was flavored like one of their Original Glazed doughnuts. She said it tasted like a candle.
And yet, my mom loves this cake. It’s a cake that transcends dessert (or breakfast, or mid-morning snack) preferences.
Of course, I can’t take the credit. My grandmother has been making this cake for years and shared the recipe with me about the same time she gave me my Kitchen Aid Stand mixer. (Which, really isn’t a coincidence — this cake is a whole lot easier to make with stand mixer.)
So, let’s get to it!
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare a Bundt pan with non-stick baking spray. Put a pan of water on the lower rack of the oven.
Add the following to large mixing bowl, beating as you go:
2 sticks margarine
3 cups sugar
6 eggs (beat after each)
3 cups flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon lemon extract
½ teaspoon rum extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 teaspoon butter extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sour cream
½ cup apricot brandy
Beat well. The longer you beat it and let the many ingredients mix together, the better! Bake about 1 hour and 40 minutes. Dump pan about 5-10 minutes after removing from oven. Cool completely before serving. (And, it gets better the longer it sits! This cake is actually better 2-3 days later than on the first day.)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fun Fact Friday: Now that's efficiency!

Today’s Fun Fact Friday is a tribute to one of my favorite groups of people, ranchers!

Did you know? America’s beef producers are producing more pounds of beef with fewer resources than at any time in history. If 1950s beef production practices were used to produce the amount of beef raised today, 165 million more acres of land would be needed. That’s about the size of my home state, Texas!

Happy Friday, everyone! I’ll leave you with a photo I took back in the winter. I love a good baldy cow, and this one’s photo now hangs in our house.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dry aged steaks and garlic fries

A couple of weeks ago, I learned that I too could dry age steaks at home with only paper towels, a baking sheet and a cooling rack — and, of course, a little extra room in the fridge. I was super excited to try it out for myself, but my travels kept me from being in the house for 4 days in a row until this Saturday.

So, upon my return, I set out to find the 2 best-looking steaks in my grocer’s full-service meat case for my project. I chose 2 Certified Angus Beef brand ribeyes with lots of marbling. Now, to be perfectly fair, these 2 steaks would’ve been delicious whether I did anything extra to them or not. But, I like experiments and I love a good dry-aged steak, so I brought them home, followed the instructions and let them live in my fridge for 4 days before cooking them up.
They were delicious and extraordinarily tender and, most of all, it was a fun little project. I definitely recommend it for those of you who love a dry-aged steak!
I served the steaks with one of my favorite treats — ballpark-style garlic fries. I only make these about 2- to 3- times a year, and they definitely fall in the “treat” category because they are so good. (And, because, well, they're French fries that you add oil and butter to.) 

I was first introduced to the garlic fry at a magical place called Fry Depot, located at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. I knew I had to try to duplicate them, so I came home and spent about 2 days, off and on of course, Googling. I looked at tons of recipes trying to find one that looked like it would produce a legitimate replica. I finally ended up combining a couple and then making some of my own adjustments. These aren’t exact reproductions, but they are good!
To make the fries, you’ll need:
1/3 of a 28 oz. bag of shoestring-cut frozen French fries
Vegetable oil
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
1/8 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Sea salt
Fry the French fries in a skillet or deep fryer according to package directions.
While they’re cooking, heat olive oil, butter and garlic in a saucepan on medium low heat, stirring occasionally. Let it cook several minutes so all the flavors mix together.
When fries are done, drain on paper towels and then pour into a large mixing bowl. Toss with sea salt. Add garlic mixture in and toss well.
Our dinner looked like this:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Maw-Maw’s Mache

Since my grandmother’s salsa (known as “mache” in her family, hence the name of this post) recipe is so good and so easy, and since I just happen to be making some today for one of the Mr.’s friends, I just had to share it with you all.
Here’s what you’ll need:
7-8 large jalapenos
4 cloves garlic
3 cans diced tomatoes
1 lid full of vinegar
1 lid full of vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the jalapenos into a few pieces each and toss in the food processor. (I leave the some of the seeds and spines in to add a little more spice.)
Peel the garlic cloves and add to food processor.
Add vinegar and oil and chop until the peppers and garlic are diced.
Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and chop again. I do it in short bursts to make sure the tomatoes don't end up mushy.
Pour into container and refrigerate.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beef for breakfast: Steak, egg and cheese biscuits and skillet potatoes

Earlier this week, while I was many, many miles from home attending a cattle producers meeting, I had the pleasure of eating at a place called the Huisache Grill, at the recommendation of my editor who somehow always knows the good spots to eat.
I had a perfectly prepared, super delicious flat iron steak drizzled with a garlic butter sauce and some new potatoes that I talked about for roughly 2 days (just ask my coworkers).  But the best part was I left with a takeout box containing the leftover portion of my steak and one of the restaurant’s homemade rolls. Voilà — the next morning’s breakfast was taken care of!
That night, I decided I just had to showcase some other yummy ways to use leftover beef to make breakfast. (You know, other than just eating a cold slice of steak straight out of the fridge, which I’m perfectly OK with, too.)
So, today, I’m sharing my very easy steak, egg and cheese biscuits, which I’m serving with skillet potatoes.
Here’s what you’ll need to make 4 biscuit sandwiches:
Leftover steak, about 6 ounces
4 biscuits (canned or frozen work just fine)
2 eggs, beaten
3 slices American cheese (you won’t need a whole slice for each biscuit, so you can just cut them up a little to make them fit)
Salt and pepper
To make them:
Cook the biscuits according to package directions.
Warm the steak just enough to take the chill off, but not to where you’re still cooking it.
Pour beaten eggs into a microwave safe bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can also sprinkle in a little cheddar cheese if you’d like. Cook about 1.5 minutes on high. Microwaves seem to vary quite a bit on these, so you might check it at 1 minute. If it isn't done after 1.5 minutes, just add about 10 seconds at a time until it's done. You’ll know the big egg patty is done when it’s no longer runny.
Cut the egg patty into 4 pieces.
Add a couple of steak slices, egg patty piece and cheese to each biscuit.
Now, for the skillet potatoes, you’ll need:
1 baking potato
Olive oil
Coarse pepper
Sea salt
To make these super easy potatoes:
Cook a whole potato (with a few holes poked in it) in the microwave for about 3-4 minutes to get it started.
Cut into slices, and then cut each slice into quarters.
Use just enough olive oil to barely cover the bottom of a cast iron skillet. Heat to medium-high.
Add potato pieces and cook until brown and just a little crisp on the edges, about 12-15 minutes. Season with the sea salt and coarse pepper and serve with ketchup.
Our Sunday brunch looked like this:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

While I was out

You may have noticed the blog has been a little quiet this week. And those of you who don’t know me outside of the blogosphere, or who don’t follow Make Mine Beef on Facebook, may have wondered why. Well, not to worry. I didn’t tire of cooking or just decide to eat chicken all week — I was on the road. (Eating a lot of good beef, by the way — just one of the many perks of my job!)

But, I’m home now (and will be for almost a month), have bought some groceries and can’t wait to get back in the kitchen and back on the blog! I plan to start Operation: Dry Aged Beef at Home tonight, which means you’ll get to hear all about the resulting steaks in about 3 to 4 days when they are ready to cook. In the meantime, I know of at least 2 recipes I plan on sharing during the week and may just come up with a third.
Hope you all are having a great weekend, staying cool (I’m not sure that’s possible here — it’s 114 in the shade in our yard as I write this) and celebrating all the dads in your life!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Peppercorn roast and roasted garlic mashed potatoes

I’ll admit it: I’m a roast-in-a-bag kind of girl. You know those McCormick Bag ‘n Season Pot Roast packets? I love them. The roasts my mom and I have made in those little bags somehow became the roasts I compare all others to. (She mocks me for this, but not quite as bad as she does for my love of Shake ‘n’ Pour pancakes. What can I say? I have a sophisticated palette.)

But, for quite some time, I’ve been thinking about trying a new roast recipe. Something that doesn’t require the bag, that, admittedly, I always make a huge mess with upon opening.

That being said, I’m kind of picky about my roast. I like simple, tender and flavorful without a lot of extras that distract from the taste of the meat.

When I came across this recipe in my Internet research, I immediately knew it was the one I wanted to try. So, yesterday I bought a roast —a 2-pound Certified Angus Beef brand eye of round roast — and some Weber Grill Black Peppercorn Marinade mix since I knew I wanted to make it peppercorny. (Sure, that’s a word.)
I marinated the roast for a few hours and then cooked it as instructed in the Texas Beef Council's recipe.

It turned out awesome! By the time it sits for the required amount of time it's almost a little cool, but, as the Mr. pointed out, that made it an even better summertime roast. I definitely recommend it as a delicious way to enjoy a lean and economical cut of beef. I only wish I was going to be around tomorrow to enjoy some of the leftovers on a sandwich! Here's what the Mr.'s portion looked like:

For a side dish I made one of our favorites — roasted garlic mashed potatoes. This recipe is a mixture of a couple of different ones I found several years ago that I adapted to my liking. These are easy to make and oh-so-delicious. If you’d like to make them for 2 people, you’ll need:
1 baking potato
1 head of garlic (I use most or all of the cloves, but if you don’t love garlic the way we love garlic, just reduce the amount.)
Olive oil
Sea salt
Coarse pepper
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
To the roast the garlic:
Cut the top off and discard, exposing the cloves.
Brush or spray the exposed cloves with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and coarse pepper. Wrap in foil and roast in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes. (You can do this up to several days ahead of time and refrigerate it, or do right before you need it.)
When you’re ready to cook the potatoes (about 40 minutes before you’re ready to eat dinner):
Wash and cut the potato into 4 pieces. (You can peel it if you want, but I prefer skin-on.)
Place the potato pieces in a pot and cover with water. Squeeze the garlic cloves into the pot. Bring to a boil on stove and cook until tender, about 35 minutes or so usually.
While the potatoes are cooking, add the heavy whipping cream and butter to a saucepan and heat on medium. Allow to reduce. The process only takes about 10-15 minutes, but it won’t hurt to start it when you start the potatoes and just reduce the heat or even turn it off toward the end.
When potatoes are done, drain and pour back into pot or into a mixing bowl. (I like to use my stand mixer if it’s not already in use.) Add the butter and cream mixture a little at a time (you probably won’t need it all, especially if you’re like me and like your mashed potatoes a little on the dryer side) and mix using an electric mixer until you’ve reached your preferred consistency. Add some sea salt and coarse pepper and give it another quick mix.
Here's a picture of our dinner:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Beef buying basics: What’s in a name?

There haven’t always been so many labels to read and flashy signs to admire in your grocer’s meat case. As recently as the mid-1970s in fact, there was no such thing as a brand of beef. It was all just beef, and you made your decision based on quality grades and pricing.
But that all changed in 1978 with the inception of the first branded beef program — Certified Angus Beef. Since then, the popularity of branded beef has skyrocketed and today there are more than 70 branded programs certified by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. To see a list of all of these programs, or to compare criteria between them, click here.
But what exactly is branded beef?
First, a little background: When cattle started changing in the 1960s and 1970s due to a large number of breeds being introduced into U.S. herds, there was good news and bad news.
The good news? Cattlemen were able to breed bigger, more efficient cattle while improving muscle and leanness.
The bad news? Sometimes even amongst 2 steaks of the same quality grade you could get 2 totally different eating experiences.
So companies decided to start branding beef and marketing it as such. By setting specific criteria and only allowing qualifying cattle or products to be part of a brand, the idea was a consumer would have a better chance of having the same eating experience time after time.
Brands can be based on a breed or breed type, the live animal’s physical appearance, carcass quality, the way the animal was raised, or a combination of many criteria.
As a consumer, you’ve got to decide what is important to you in order to purchase the best beef for your family. If you’re interested in purchasing a branded beef product, I encourage you to do some research (which, of course, should include plenty of taste-testing). There’s a wealth of information online, and there’s nothing like going to the sources — your local butcher or cattle producer!
The most important thing to remember when buying beef, though, is simple: No matter what label you choose, you can feel confident you’re getting a safe, wholesome and nutritious product.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fun Fact Friday: Card trick

Did you know 1 serving of cooked beef (3 ounces, trimmed of fat) is approximately the size of a deck of playing cards? Pretty cool trick, huh? If your steak is a little oversized like these filets in the picture (and like the strips and ribeyes I usually cook), just cut the "extra" off and save it for the next meal. After all, leftover steak makes for an awesome sandwich or salad!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

WebLove: Dry Aging at Home

You just can’t beat a good dry aged steak. So when I saw this post from Evil Shenanigans shared via Beef Loving Texans on Facebook tonight — a post saying I too can dry age steaks at home — I was beyond excited. I’ll be on the road both visiting family and for work quite a bit in the next week or so, but when I get back, I will be trying this at home. I’ll be sure to report back!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Texas cheese fries

Make Mine Beef hit another milestone today — 100 likes on its Facebook page! To celebrate, I’m not only giving away a copy of the “Steak Lover’s Cookbook” to 1 lucky Facebook fan tonight (it’s not too late to get in on the action, by the way), but we’re also having one of my favorite meals — hamburgers and Texas cheese fries!
Now, I’m not going to lie to you and say this side dish is heart-healthy or waistline-friendly. But, if you want to splurge on the occasional super delicious treat, what’s better than fried potatoes covered in bacon, jalapenos and cheese?
To make 2 generous portions of my Texas cheese fries, you’ll need:
1/3 of a 28 oz. bag of shoestring-cut frozen French fries
Vegetable oil
4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
Mexican blend cheese
12-15 slices of pickled jalapenos
Coarse sea salt

Deep- or pan- fry French fries according to package directions to desired level of doneness. (I like my on the crispy side, but to each his own!)
While, they’re cooking, cover a baking sheet in foil and gather the other ingredients.
Once fries are done, drain on paper towels and transfer to baking sheet. Spread them out and sprinkle them to your liking with the coarse sea salt.
Spread the bacon and jalapeno slices over the fries and then cover with cheese.
Broil until the cheese is good and melted and they look like this:

Serve with ketchup or Ranch dressing.

Our dinner looked like this:

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Steak and garlic shrimp kabobs

In the 9.5 months we’ve been married, I’ve brought up the idea of cooking shish kabobs approximately 5 times. Approximately 4 of those times, the Mr. gave the same response — “Why?” He didn’t understand why I’d let veggies take up valuable real estate on a skewer when we could just have steak with some sort of vegetable on the side. You know, where it couldn’t possibly affect the size of his meat portion.
But, on the 5th time, I upped the ante. “What if I made steak and shrimp kabobs?” I asked, not 15 minutes after we’d finished brunch yesterday. He immediately liked the idea of mixing 2 of our favorite proteins in a summertime version of surf and turf.
So, I did a little Googling to get some ideas on cooking times and all that stuff and decided they’d make the perfect Sunday lunch. Since I’m leaving late this afternoon for a work trip and the Mr. will have to fend for himself for the next 3-4 meals, I wanted to make something good for lunch. Something cool and fun and different that didn’t take up too much time that I needed to be spending packing and getting ready for my little trip. Voila!

(Note: This will make about 3-4 servings but I went ahead and cooked it all and wrapped up some leftovers since I was about to leave town. Serving size will vary based on side dishes, etc., so just use your own judgment.)
To make these, you’ll need:
(1) 1-pound or so sirloin, cut into cubes
12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
Lime juice
Garlic pepper
4 skewers
Start off by marinating the shrimp. I did mine overnight to save time on a busy morning, but a couple of hours would be fine. Mix the olive oil, garlic and a couple of squirts of lime juice in a Ziploc bag. Add the shrimp and refrigerate.
Season the steak cubes with garlic pepper.
Heat grill to medium-high heat.
Thread the steak cubes and shrimp onto the skewers.
Grill about 5-6 minutes on each side.

These would be great with just a salad or pretty much any veggie. Since my pantry and fridge were pretty bare, I used what I had and cut up a potato and roasted it in the oven in a foil pouch with a little butter and a lot of Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning. 
Our lunch looked like this:

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fun Fact Friday: Which would you choose?

I’ve heard you learn something new every day. While I’m sure there have been at least a handful of days I’ve learned absolutely nothing, I still like the idea. And, yesterday, I learned something cool from my friends at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association that I thought would make a good Fun Fact Friday post.
Did you know you would need to eat 670 calories worth of peanut butter (more than 7 tablespoons) to get the same amount of protein found in a 3-ounce serving of lean beef, which has only 180 calories? I know which one I’d choose.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Quick and easy tostadas

Tonight’s dinner is not only an example of just how versatile and delicious ground beef is, but it's also super quick, easy and inexpensive to make!
To make these super easy tostadas, you’ll need:
1 package of tostada shells
1 pound ground beef
1 package hot taco seasoning
1 can refried beans
Mexican blend shredded cheese
Plus, any of the following optional toppings:
Pico de gallo
Sour cream
Taco sauce
Fresh cilantro
To get started, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the desired number of shells on a baking sheet.
Brown ground beef on medium-high heat. Add taco seasoning/water and simmer according to package directions. (If you have a little more time, let it simmer a little longer. It'll only get better!)
Heat shells for 5-7 minutes in preheated oven while cooking the refried beans according to package directions. (For extra yummy refried beans, add a touch of vegetable oil, sprinkle some cheese on top and cook on the stove, stirring occasionally.)
Smear a layer of refried beans on the hot shells and then cover in ground beef, cheese and any other desired toppings.
In addition to the refried beans and taco meat, I topped my tostada with shredded lettuce, while the Mr. got lots of cheese and taco sauce on his. Our dinner looked like this: