Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Day Twenty-Four - Black Bean Burgers (2.25.14)


Ingredients
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 slices reduced-fat pepper Jack cheese
  • 2 whole wheat hamburger buns
  • 1/2 cup fresh salsa
Instructions

1) Combine 1/2 can black beans and garlic in a food processor; pulse until smooth, adding 1 Tbsp water, if necessary.

2) Coarsely mash remaining 1/2 can of black beans. Stir mashed black beans, bell pepper, cilantro, egg, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper into pureed bean mixture until combined; form mixture into 2 patties.

3) Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; brown patties 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

4) Top each with a slice of cheese; cover and let stand 1 minute or until melted.

5) Place patties on each bun half; top with salsa and bun top.

We enjoyed this dish with chips and guacamole and salads.

Opinions

Potter: I've never made black bean or non-beef burgers before, so this whole thing was an experiment from end to end. Things I learned: the less water you need to add the better, a blender does not always work in place of a food processor and be careful flipping them they are delicate. In spite of all of that these things turned out pretty delicious. We had homemade guacamole instead of salsa which was also delicious. Turns out these things are really quick and easy to make and surprisingly filling all while tasting delicious.

Katie: This black bean burger was delicious! I've had spicier ones, so the proportions could definitely be played with if you like spicy. Homemade guacamole is always great and tonight was no different; it worked so well with the burger. :) I was still surprised (as I always am) that these burgers are so filling!

Day Twenty-Three - Shrimp Orzo (2.24.14)


Ingredients
  • 8 oz large uncooked shrimp
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp sugar
  • 8 oz orzo pasta
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp thinly sliced fresh mint
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 Tbsp butter
Instructions

1) For shrimp, peel and devein shrimp. Add oil to 10-in skillet; heat over medium-high heat 1-3 minutes or until shimmering. As skillet heats, combine salt, black pepper and sugar in mixing bowl; add shrimp and toss to coat.

2) Arrange shrimp in a single layer over bottom of skillet and cook about 1 minute or until one side is browned and edges are pink. Remove skillet from heat and turn shrimp over; let stand an additional 30 seconds or until centers are opaque and shrimp is cooked through. Remove shrimp from skillet, set aside.

3) For orzo, in same skillet, combine orzo, pressed garlic, broth and clam juice. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 10-13 minutes or until orzo is cooked through.

4) As orzo cooks, zest lemon to measure 1 Tbsp zest; juice lemon to measure 1 Tbsp juice. Thinly slice mint.

5) Remove skillet from heat and stir in peas, butter and lemon juice. Arrange shrimp over orzo; cover and let stand 3-5 minutes or until heater through. Sprinkle with lemon zest and mint before serving.

Opinions

Katie: This dish was very good. It had a very strong lemon flavor, so if you don't like a lot of that, I would reduce those numbers and maybe also play with the other ingredients.

Potter: This was a pretty tasty dish. I had never had orzo before and didn't know what to expect but it's pretty much just bigger grained rice. I would say I prefer a higher ratio of shrimp to orzo so I will up the amount of shrimp I cook next time. In addition to that, our mint wasn't good so we didn't use it which I think would play well with the lemon flavors Katie mentioned above. Don't used precooked shrimp either, it makes it way harder to cook it correctly.

Day Twenty-Two - Marinated Flank Steak with Orange-Avocado Topping (2.23.14)


Ingredients
  • 1 lb flank steak
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice, divided
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 orange, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, pitted and chopped
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Instructions

1) Place flank steak in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag.

2) Combine oil, 2 Tsp lime juice, Worcestershire sauce and garlic in a small bowl; pour over steak, turning to coat.

3)Refrigerate 1 hour; remove steak from marinade.

4) Preheat grill or heat a grill pan over medium-high heat; sprinkle steak with salt and pepper.

5) Grill or cook 6 to 7 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness; let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

6) Meanwhile, combine orange, avocado, shallot, parsley and remaining lime juice in a medium bowl; serve over steak.

Garlic cauli-rice on the side. As always, comment if you want that recipe! :)

Opinions

Potter: This dinner was pretty much your typical steak. Not a whole lot special done to it so not a whole lot to critique on. I will say I was amazed by the flavors when you were able to get a bite with everything. Orange, and really citrus in general, was never something I thought would go great on a steak but boy were those bites delicious. Something that might be fun to try with this dish is to cut the steak into bite sized pieces and just mix it in with the orange and avocado to make a weird salad.

Katie: This steak was good. The flavors were terrific and I especially liked a good bite with orange, avocado, and steak! The only thing I would have preferred was a bit more tender meat.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Day Twenty-One - Tomato and Spinach Chicken (2.22.14)


Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2 can dices tomatoes with juice
  • 1/2 package of spinach
  • salt/pepper
  • onion powder to taste
  • garlic powder to taste
  • 1 slice of bacon
  • 2 cups cooked rice
Instructions

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

2) Mix together tomatoes and spinach.

3) Place chicken breast on top of mixture.

4) Season with onion and garlic, salt & pepper.

5) Lay bacon strip on to of chicken.

6) Cover with foil and place into 350 degree oven.

7) Cook until chicken is tender.

8) Plate rice and put one chicken breast on rice and spoon over with the tomato and spinach sauce. Serve with a garlic roll. Enjoy!

We enjoyed lime cilantro garlic rice as the side with this dish. As always, let us know if you want the recipe!

Opinions

Potter: This one was ok. I think it came out a little bland and I feel like the tomato spinach portion could have used a little bit more. I would definitely use fresh tomatoes next time for a start. Also, make sure you're adding enough of the spices to the chicken. Because of how the dish cooks even the bacon doesn't have a lot of flavor. It's not a bad dish and pretty quick to throw together, just make sure you spice to your own taste. 

Katie: I enjoyed this dish a lot. The tomatoes and spinach were cooked just right and the chicken stayed moist. This recipe is great too because it allows for working with it to make the flavors unique to your own dish!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Day Twenty - John K's Goulash (2.21.14)


Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small onion (or for the lazy version, onion powder)
  • 1 1/2 cup elbow macaroni 
  • 1 can Campbell's Tomato Soup
  • 1 16oz can Busch's Baked Beans
  • 1/2 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt and Pepper (each)
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Crushed Rep Pepper (optional)
  • 8 oz bag of shredded cheese
Instructions

1) Boil a pot of water.

2) Brown meat.

3) Once finished add in salt and pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper (optional), crushed red pepper (optional) and diced onion (or onion powder).

4) After well mixed, add can of tomato soup and baked beans. Mix well. Turn down to simmer and cover.

5) By now the water should be boiled, cook the elbow macaroni and drain.

6) Mix everything together and add shredded cheese while mixing.

Opinions

Potter: This recipe is always a great dish. John's mom got it right. It's probably a bit different than most goulash you've had before but boy is it tasty. The spices gave it a decent amount of heat and a twist on the flavor. If you don't like spicy food i would halve the cayenne and red pepper to just give it a good warmth to sweetness balance; take them out all together if you don't like heat at all. Another thing that makes this recipe great is it is amazingly fast and easy, dinner for four in a half hour or less. 

Katie: I really enjoy this goulash! We've had it many times in the past (thanks John!) and today seemed a perfect night to make a more comfort food recipe. Potter's ingredient additions made it a bit spicier than John's base recipe, but it was still delicious. Thanks for sharing with us, John! :)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Day Nineteen - Meaty Cheesy Meatloaf (2.20.14)


Ingredients
  • 1 lb Jimmy Dean Sage sausage (add 1/2 tsp sage if not using Sage sausage)
  • 1 lb lean ground beef (or turkey)
  • 2 eggs (or 1/2 cup egg substitute)
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Ketchup (optional)
  • Brown sugar (optional)
Instructions

1) Combine all ingredients in large bowl, then place in large loaf pan.

2) Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Drain off fat. Top with ketchup and brown sugar (optional) and cook another 5-15 minutes.

3) Reduce cooking time as needed if using two smaller dishes or a shallow baking dish rather than a deep loaf pan.

4) Let stand a few minutes for easier slicing. Slices very well when cold and makes great sandwiches!

Opinions

Potter: Alright, so, I may have screwed this one up. Through some confusion with the grocery list and not actually reading the directions I could have possibly doubled the amount of ground beef to use. Despite this (possible) fact it turned out pretty delicious. Any changes or suggestions I may have had (adding a bit more sage or thyme to enhance the flavor of the loaf) would definitely be rectified by using less beef. Also, I used slightly less than half a cup of ketchup and 3 1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar for the sauce on top and it was spot on (would have been absolutely perfect if the alleged cock-up with the beef hadn't occurred).

Katie: I thought that this dish was great. It was a good change up with the mozzarella instead of bread crumbs and it held the loaf together just as good! If the meat proportions hadn't been off (thanks Potter! :p) then the sage sausage would have really been the most prevalent ingredient in this dish. Even though the proportions were off, there were still bites that had great additional flavor coming from the sage sausage. The sauce receipt was amazing! I would suggest this for everyone but especially those who want to cut carbs from meatloaf to still be able to enjoy!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Day Eighteen - Super Easy Salmon (2.19.14)

Ingredients
  • 1/8 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 16 ounces fresh or thawed salmon
(You can do 1/4 cup of either maple syrup or honey if you prefer one over the other or just don't have one in the cupboard)

Instructions
  1. Combine maple syrup, honey, soy sauce and garlic in a gallon sized ziploc bag, shake/mix well then add salmon.
  2. Marinate in fridge for an hour, flipping after 30 minutes. 
  3. Pour salmon and marinade into baking dish and bake at 350 degrees, covered with foil, for 15 minutes or until salmon flakes easily at thickest part.
We had this with spicy curry cauli-rice. Let us know if you want this recipe (you do, it was delicious and went great with the salmon) and we'll post it in the comments.

Opinions

Potter: This turned out great and took a grand total of 20 minutes to make (not counting the hour to marinate) from prep to done. Salmon had wonderful flavor, a good sweet and salty balance from the syrup/honey and the soy sauce. It was sweet, though, so if you don't like your main dish to be sweet this recipe might not be for you. I tend to prefer my salmon with sweet sauces/marinades and this was one of the best I've had which was shocking for how simple it is. If you're hankering for some salmon and don't have a lot of time give this recipe a try.

Katie: This salmon was wonderful. I loved the sweet and salty balance of the ingredients in the marinate. I wouldn't change anything about the recipe, but as Potter states, if you aren't one for a sweet main dish then I would stay away from this one.

Day Seventeen - Brats (2.18.14)

Ingredients

  • Brats
  • buns
  • spicy mustard (optional)
  • chopped onions (optional)
  • ketchup (optional, and apparently brat blasphemy)
Instructions
  1. Cook brats to desired doneness.
  2. Place on buns and top as you will.
Our side this evening was shells and cheese. No recipe for this one.

Opinions

Potter: What can you say about this one? Brats are pretty much always delicious and tonight was no different. I am so gonna be ready for brat fest this summer. The rest of this week will be a bit more exciting for you guys but, really, I know you're jealous that we had juicy brats even if it made for a short post.

Katie: Brats are always great, and although these have been a staple of our menu in the past, enjoying them tonight was great. I love brats with both spicy mustard and chopped onions...hold the ketchup (crazy Potter!).

Monday, February 17, 2014

Day Sixteen - Bacon Jalapeno Burgers (2.17.14)


Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced
  • 1/3 lb bacon, crispy and crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Instructions

  1. Put small skillet on medium heat and add vegetable oil. Once hot add jalapeno and cook until toasted.
  2. Add all ingredients in mixing bowl and mix well.
  3. Form burgers patties and cook on grill to desired doneness.
We had baked beans and mixed veggies on the side. Sorry, no recipes for these.

Opinions

Katie: These burgers were delicious. I think that I would put in more jalapeno next time though. I've had this burger, homemade, previously and I think it had a great flavor from more pepper.

Potter: These turned out great but not as good as the last time I made them. We actually had a pound and a half of ground beef and not enough jalapeno or bacon to adjust accordingly. Next time I will probably also add some chili powder to help offset the beef/bacon flavors.

Day Fifteen - Super-Special Easy Crockpot Beef Roast (2.16.14)

 

Ingredients

  • 1 four-pound sirloin tip beef roast (or similar) {we used 2 two-pound roasts}
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspooon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup beef broth or stock

 Instructions

  1. Trim fat from roast; cut roast in half. Combine seasonings well; rub mixture evenly over roast halves. Coat roast halves with cooking spray {I just put the cooking spray on the skillet}
  2. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add roast halves, browning well on all sides. Once browned place roast in slow cooker.
  3. Add beef broth to skillet, scraping to loosen brown bits. Pour broth mixture over roast in cooker. Cover with lid; cook on high for 1 hour. Reduce to low heat and cook 6-8 hours or until tender.
  4. Remove roast from slow cooker. Let stand 15 minutes, cut diagonally  across train into thin slices. Serve with au jus (or thicken it into gravy with flour and milk mixture in a small sauce pan; make sure to discard bay leaf) {we totally made gravy}.
We served mashed potatoes and corn on the side. As always if you'd like our mashed potato recipe let us know.

Opinions

Potter: This turned out great. The rosemary and bay leaf were my own little touches to the recipe and I think they were perfect. The recipe calls for slicing the roast and I was able to do that to an extent but for the most part it was so tender it was just falling apart as I attempted to remove it from the crock pot. In making the gravy I added a little bit more pepper in addition to the flour and milk called for and it turned out delicious.

Katie: This was probably the best roast I've had based on the flavor, but especially based on the tenderness. I couldn't get over how tender the roast was - as Potter stated, it was falling apart as he took it from the crock pot. The juices held in the meat so well. Thank you Mary M for sharing the recipe with me at work - it went over very well in this house! :)

Day Fourteen - Samba Brazilian Grill (2.15.14)

Today was the first day during this challenge we went out to eat. What that means for you is we have no main course recipe and no picture to offer for your viewing pleasure. What we do have below is a brief description of the restaurant and our opinions on the food.

Description (Provided by Samba's website)

For those of you who are not current or former gauchos who roam the prairies of Brazil, you might need an explanation of our style of service. At the end on a long day of work tending to cattle and stock, Brazilian cowboys (gauchos) and their families would prepare great feasts. They would skewer various meats, roast them over a fire pit and bring them to the table for carving. There would be a bounty of seasonal vegetables, stews and salads using fresh ingredients from the fruits of their labor. Samba Brazilian Grill is inspired by this tradition.

When you first arrive at Samba, have a Caipirinha or Mojito before enjoying our opulent first course which features over 40 items.  You will find a variety of house-made salads, roasted vegetables, artisan cheeses, olives, breads, and much more.
Each table receives a cylindrical pillar, red on one end and green on the other. We start you on red, but when you are ready to begin meat service, turn the pillar to green.  On that cue, our gauchos will bring you a variety of grilled meats and carve them table side. Some of the meats you might enjoy during a dinner with us would be: Top Sirloin (Picanha), Cachaca Marinated Beef Tenderloin, Churrasco Seasoned Flank Steak, Beef Strip Loin, Parmesan Encrusted Pork Tenderloin , Leg of Lamb, Linguica Pork Sausage, BBQ Chicken Breast, and of course, Grilled Pineapple dusted with Cinnamon and Sugar.

Opinions

Potter: I love Samba! We have been there a few times now and it has never failed to disappoint. Don't let the description confuse you, this place is for meat eaters. It is not worth the money for vegetarians or chicken only eaters. When attending Samba (or any Brazilian grill) prepare ahead of time because the meat courses are unlimited and you will definitely find yourself letting out your belt. As for the meats they have had different options each time we've gone but have consistently had the variety listed above, just with different marinades or seasonings. I always try everything and love the beef cuts but I usually only have one taste of the sausage (it's usually a bit salty for my tastes).

Katie: I love Samba as well! I agree with everything Potter stated above. I also want to add that the grilled pineapple is the *best* part of the meal! I can keep eating it even when I am full from eating all the meat courses brought to the table.  My favorite meat courses are the Mango BBQ Chicken and the Churrasco Seasoned Flank Steak.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Good News Everyone!

So, Katie and I know we aren't the most punctual of posters and that we have a few regular readers. In an effort to reduce the anxiety you feel each day you navigate to our blog only to find there has been no new post we have added features.

At the bottom of our blog there are now two new features: on the left you'll find a place to subscribe to our blog and have it fed into your favorite RSS feed and on the right you'll find a place to enter your email address for email updates when we post.

We hope you enjoy these new gadgets and we thank you for reading and (hopefully) finding new things to eat.

Day Thirteen - Wildtree Greek Chicken Burgers (2.14.14)


Ingredients

  • 2 lbs ground chicken
  • 3 teaspoons Wildtree Opa! Greek Seasoning Blend
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (panko)
  • 2 oz Feta cheese (optional)
Instructions

1) Measure ground chicken, seasoning blend, lemon juice, black pepper, egg and breadcrumbs into bowl. Mix well.

2) Form 5 patties. If using Feta cheese, form 10-12 thin patties, place Feta on 5-6 patties and top with remaining patties, press together along edges to seal cheese in the middle.

3) Preheat well-oiled grill or skillet to med/high heat.

4) Grill patties for roughly 4 minutes on each side or until patties are 165 degrees internal temperature.

We made our first attempt at spicy kale chips for the side and they turned out great!

Opinions

Katie: The chicken burgers were juicy, but the flavor was a bit bland. I did add more seasoning blend than the recipe (about 2 more teaspoons) and some black pepper (about a teaspoon), which improved the flavor, but unfortunately they were still pretty bland. 

Potter: They tasted alright but as Katie said still a bit bland. Try as we might to counter, what I call, the Wildtree-blandness our efforts came to not much. Now, we did not use the recommended recipe and put feta in the middle because I hate feta and I'm sure that would have stepped the flavor up a notch for Katie. Luckily, this was the last of our Wildtree meals and we are now the masters of our own spice.

Day Twelve - Italian Sausage Zitti (2.13.14)


Ingredients

  • 3 links hot Italian sausage
  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • dash of your favorite hot sauce
  • 3/4 box zitti
Instructions

  1. Remove skins from sausages. Brown meat in a skillet on medium high.
  2. Put sauce in sauce pan add spices and mix thoroughly.
  3. When meat is brown add it to sauce.
  4. Boil noodles to desired tenderness.

Opinions

Katie: Going back to a staple in our typical dinner calendar. I really love this sauce, especially the spice Potter gives it. There have been times that proportions have made it a bit too spicy, but tonight the recipe was just right (spicy, but not overpowering)!

Potter: So this is a recipe I normally just wing and add spices till it looks/smells/tastes right but I figured this time I'm going to have to give you guys some answers to how it's made so I measured it out. This works with your favorite brand of marinara sauce (over the years I've tried it with just about every brand out there) and your favorite noodles. If you're not a fan of spice cut the crushed red pepper in half and leave out the dash of your favorite hot sauce (let's be honest, if you don't like spice you probably don't have a favorite hot sauce).

Day Eleven - Sweet 'n' Tangy Pork Chops (2.12.14)


Ingredients

  • Bone-in pork loin chops (1 inch and 7 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, brown pork chops in oil.
  2. In a bowl combine the remaining ingredients and mix well. Add to skillet.
  3. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes or until pork juices run clear.
  4. Spoon sauce over pork chops. 
We made sliced avocados and oranges for our side. Per usual, let us know if you're interested and we'll comment with the recipe. :)

Opinions

Potter: This was some amazing pork chops. I had seconds and would have probably had thirds but we ran out of chops. The sauce was delicious though I had my doubts going into it because we didn't marinade them, just mixed it and cooked it per instructions. It turned out wonderful. As most of you probably know I'm a fan of spice so making in this in the future I'll probably throw in a little hot sauce every know and then to give it a bit of a kick (but this addition is definitely not necessary).

Katie: The pork chops were good. They were a decent cut and stayed tender. The sauce for the chops was delicious and I don't think I would change a thing for the sweet and tangy flavor it provided based on the original recipe.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Day Ten - Korean-Style Beef Bowl (2.11.14)


Ingredients

Steak and Marinade
2 green onions with tops, divided
1 lb skirt steak
2 garlic cloves, pressed
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Rice and Vegetables
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
2 medium carrots
2 cups bean sprouts

Instructions

1) For steak and marinade, thinly slice green onions, reserving 1 tablespoon of the tops for garnish; place remaining green onions into mixing bowl.

2) Cut steak crosswise into 2-inch pieces. Slice each piece into thin strips, cutting against the grain; add to mixing bowl. Press garlic over beef. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, black pepper and sugar; mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

3) As beef marinates, cook rice according to package directions.

4) Meanwhile, for vegetables, peel carrots; discard skin. Continue peeling carrots to make long ribbons. Place ribbons into ice water until ready to use.

5) To finish steak, add vegetable oil to (12-in/30-cm) skillet; heat over medium-high heat 1-3 minutes or until shimmering. Add beef to skillet in a single layer and cook undisturbed 2 minutes or until beef is brown. Stir; cook an additional 3-4 minutes or until beef is no longer pink. Remove from heat.

6) Remove rice from stove or microwave and fluff with a fork. To serve, divide rice among serving bowls and serve with beef, carrots and bean sprouts. Garnish with reserved green onion tops.

Opinions

Thanks for sharing this recipe Jackie!

Katie: Wow, this beef bowl was delicious! This recipe is definitely getting flagged to use pretty regularly after we get through this year. I wouldn't regularly change anything in this recipe; every once in awhile I may add something (like sriracha) to give it a kick if I'm feeling it. I am going to have a hard time waiting to eat this dinner again!

Potter: Delicious! I am a big fan of the quick throw it together stir-fry type dish and this blows every stir-fry I've ever made out of the water. Super easy to make and short prep time. We only marinated the meat for the time it took the rice to cook and the flavors were amazing. You could really do this dish without the carrots or bean sprouts so you don't have to make a special trip to the grocery store if you don't keep fresh veggies in your fridge. I will say make sure you buy the right cut of meat and cut it against the grain, that made a big difference in tenderness.

Day Nine - Lentil Shephard's Pie {vegetarian} (2.10.14)


Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons oil 
  • 3/4 cup chopped onions 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 tablespoons flour 
  • 1 1/3 cups vegetable broth 
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper 
  • 2 cups cooked lentils 
  • 1 10-oz package of frozen mixed veggies 
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes (I usually do more) 

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan. 
  2. In a 1 1/2 quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic, cook, stirring until softened, about 2 minutes. 
  3. Add the broth, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir in the flour until absorbed. Cook, stirring, until mixture comes to a boil. 
  4. Stir in the lentils and mixed vegetables. Spoon into pan, spread the potatoes on top (you can go all fancy with this using pastry bag and decorative tips). 
  5. Bake 40 minutes or until potatoes brown on top.
We had a side salad with this dish. Whole meal was vegetarian, which is abnormal for us!

Opinions

Katie: The dish was very good. I have never had lentils before and as the main ingredient in this dish, they were great. The only thing I really would have changed is add a bit more spice because I like more of a kick with my shephard's pie.

Potter: This recipe was supplied by my Uncle Tim and was our first vegetarian meal of this adventure. I'm a huge fan of shepherd's pie and this did not disappoint. For you meat eater's out there that don't think veggie dishes can be good or filling give this recipe a try. It was delicious, much better than some shepherd's pies I've had in Irish restaurants. I should point out that the original recipe only calls for 1 clove of garlic but as I love to garlic everything I cook I upped it to two cloves.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Day Eight - Wildtree Opa! Greek Kabobs (2.9.14)


Ingredients
  • 2 lbs cubed lamb
  • 2 teaspoon Wildtree Opa! Greek Seasoning Blend
  • 2 Tablespoons Wildtree Natural Grapeseed Oil
  • 1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Assorted chopped vegetables (1 onion, 2 peppers, 1 8oz package mushrooms)
Instructions
Measure all ingredients except chopped vegetables in a Ziploc bag. We had this in the freezer and once we defrosted we added 1 teaspoon Wildtree Opa! Greek Seasoning Blend. We also marinated our veggies in a soy sauce, teriyaki sauce and Wildtree Opa! Greek Seasoning Blend for about half an hour. Remove meat and veggies from bags and place on skewer. Heat grill to medium/high heat. Grill turning once, until cooked through (desired to taste).

We made a rice pilaf to go with this dish tonight. It turned out great! If you want the recipe, just let us know! This dish is also suggested to have a side salad, but we did not do that tonight.

Opinions

Katie:I enjoyed the kabobs much more this time than when we made them before we started this challenge. This was due to us taking a couple extra steps: adding the 1 teaspoon seasoning to the lamb and marinating the vegetables for half an hour. This tweak was a good improvement and the dish was very good. The only note is that the mushrooms absorbed much more of the soy sauce and teriyaki than the onion and peppers, so those did not taste as Greek as the rest but they were still good.

Potter:This was a dish Katie made at a frozen dinner party (you take all the raw ingredients for 10-ish meals and they help you season and mix them then you put them in freezer bags and enjoy at your leisure). Most of the dishes from this party have been a little on the bland side and the kabobs weren't much different, luckily we knew this going into tonight and so we took some extra seasoning steps to improve the meal (see Katie's piece). It turned out much better even though it was no longer, strictly speaking, Greek. 

Day Seven - Crock Pot Beef Stew (2.8.14)


Ingredients

    • 4 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2-3 cloves)
    • 2 lbs trimmed beef chuck, cut into 1-2-inch cubes
    • 10-15 small red potatoes, cut into cubes
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 2 cups sliced carrots {about 4 good sized carrots}
    • 2 cups sliced celery {about 3 stalks}
    • 1 cup apple juice or apple cider
    • 1 cup beef stock or canned beef broth
    • 3 tomatos, quartered
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
    • 1 teaspoon paprika
    • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
    • 8-oz container of sliced mushrooms {optional}

Instructions


Quick Method for the Beef Stew:
Turn crockpot on low. Toss all vegetables and meat in the crockpot. Combine spices {except bay leaf}, oil, apple juice, beef broth and whisk lightly to combine. Pour over meat and vegetables. Add in bay leaf. Give it all a light stir, cover and cook on low for 9-10 hours, medium 7-8 hours, high 6-7 hours. 

About 30 minutes prior to serving, ladle out about  1/2 cup of liquid from the stew. Whisk in 2 tsp flour and add it back to the stew, stirring gently to combine. This helps thicken it up! If you want it even thicker, you can repeat this process once, waiting about 15 minutes between to double check thickness.

15-20 additional minutes method:
This just gives the stew a better, more developed flavor. It's really not difficult, just a few extra steps but it goes fast. 

Put potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and celery in the crockpot. Have the beef broth and cooking wine measured out and ready.

Heat a frying pan up on high. Add in 2 TBSP oil. Add garlic. Once pan is hot, add beef. You're not trying to cook the meat all the way, you just want to sear it a bit. I let the meat cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring about twice. You want the meat on the bottom of the pan to brown and even coat the pan lightly.  Move meat into the crockpot. 

Do not wash the pan! The technical term here is deglazing- we're going to add liquid that will help loosen up and remove the flavorful meat remnants on the bottom of the pan. Return pan to hot stove top and add remaining 2 TBSP of oil. Once oil is hot, add in the onions. Wait about 3-4 minutes until the onions are beginning to be translucent and are sizzling. Add in cooking wine and beef broth. While the liquid is heating up, add in the spices, except the bay leaf. Once the liquid begins to boil, turn off the heat and pour entire mixture into the crockpot. 

Add mushrooms and bay leaf. Stir lightly to combine and cook on low for 9-10 hours, medium 7-8 hours, high 6-7 hours. 

About 30 minutes prior to serving, ladle out about  1/2 cup of liquid from the stew. Whisk in 2 tsp cornstarch and add it back to the stew, stirring gently to combine. This helps thicken it up! If you want it even thicker, you can repeat this process once, waiting about 15 minutes between to double check thickness.

(Instructions courtesy, i.e. stolen from, Butter with a Side of Bread. Check out their blog here.)

Opinions

Potter: This was another of my "find a bunch of recipes online and pick your favorite ingredients" experiments. For those of you that have eaten my cooking you know that can be hit or miss. I thought this one turned out pretty delicious. It did need a bit of salt and pepper which really should have been included in the recipe but wasn't. We all (Jackie and Dave were over, thanks guys for testing our beef stew with us) added it to our bowls and it turned out just delicious. The apple juice took the flavor up a level though I think it could have used a bit more paprika or a little cayenne just to give it a hint more spice. For those of you that are curious we used the longer method, with deglazing the pan, outlined above.

Katie: This stew was delicious. Like Potter said, we did have to add some more salt and pepper to our bowls that should have just been in the recipe, but once we did that it was great. I agree with Potter that if we wanted to make it even better, we would simply just add a bit more paprika or cayenne pepper to give it a little more kick. Thanks for enjoying the stew with us Jackie and Dave! :)


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Day Six - Jumbalaya (2.7.14)

Ingredients
  • 1 box Zatarains red beans and rice
  • 1 half sausage
  • 7 oz. cooked, tail-off shrimp
  • 1/2 tablespoon creole seasoning (we used 2 TBS, see results below)
  • Hot sauce to taste (we used Sriracha)
Instructions
  1. Start red beans and rice per instructions on box. Before covering add creole seasoning and hot sauce.
  2. Cut sausage and shrimp in bite size pieces.
  3. Heat skillet to medium high heat and add sausage. Cook 7-10 minutes and add shrimp to warm.
  4. Mix sausage and shrimp into rice. Add more seasoning/hot sauce to taste.
Opinions

Katie: Unfortunately, this jumbalaya came out way too salty. We used too much seasoning, and along with the sausage, the salt was overpowering. I ate more of my serving than Potter, but still didn't finish it all. Thank goodness we were going to a friend's house for an Olympic Opening Ceremony party so we got other food there!

Potter: This dish was the definition of an experiment gone wrong. It was inedible. I had to drink massive amounts of water between each bite just to handle the salt. As you can see I adjusted the recipe above from what we actually did. I would start with the half tablespoon or even a teaspoon of the creole seasoning and add more at the end to taste. Depending on how spicy you like it I would start with as much hot sauce as you use seasoning and adjust that to taste as well. That will make is spicier but Jumbalaya is supposed to be spicy.

Day Five - Lemon Garlic Tilapia (2.6.14)


Ingredients
  • 4 tilapia filets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • Dash of salt
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
Instructions

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
3) Melt butter in microwave.
4) Add olive oil, lemon juice, garlic salt, salt and parsley and saute for a few minutes.
5) Pour over tilapia in baking pan.
6) Sprinkle some cayenne pepper on top of fish.
7) Bake in preheated oven for about 13 minutes, and broil for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Tonight's side was frozen mixed veggies (a broccoli medley) and lemon pepper. The recipe for this one is easy, take your favorite mixed veggies and cook them then sprinkle lemon pepper on top. It's delicious and you'll love it.

Opinions

Katie: The tilapia was so good. I wish we had leftovers that I could have taken for lunch! The only thing I would have changed is less cayenne pepper on the top of the filets. One thing to note: we used about 2 tablespoons lemon juice instead of juice of 1 lemon.

Potter: This was a delicious dish. Definitely the second best tilapia I've ever had and the best I've ever made (the best was at a roadside place in the mountains in Costa Rica). The flavors balanced amazingly well and the kick of cayenne at the end was wonderful. It was a fast and easy recipe as well which up's the taste factor in my mind. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Day Four - Mojo-Roasted Pork Medallions (2.5.14)


Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into 2-inch medallions

Instructions

Combine orange juice, lime juice, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt and cayenne pepper in a zip-top plastic freezer bag; add pork. Seal and refrigerate 2 hours. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove pork from marinade; discard marinade. Place pork medallions on a baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in center reads 145 degrees; let stand 3 minutes.

We made garlic parmesan green beans for our side with this dish. Let us know if you want the recipe!

Opinions
Katie: This dish was good. The tenderloin held the citrus juices well which was good to keep it tender; however, the other spices in the dish were very subtle. I was expecting to taste the spices more. I think that we'll make a note on this recipe to play with the spices a bit to get a more robust flavor.

Potter: I liked the medallions. Make sure to cut them in even sizes because a couple of mine were a little overdone and just not as juicy. As Katie said they had a great citrus flavor but everything else was just a little too subtle. Dipped in some spicy mustard helped even it out a bit without overpowering the citrus flavors too much but cancelled what you could taste of the other flavors. As Katie said a bit of playing with it can make the mustard unnecessary.