Thursday, August 9, 2012

Home Made Beef Jerky

I did it! I made homemade beef jerky! As usual, I found a recipe online, and tweaked it as I felt fit. Here's the skinny:

1 lb Beef (I used a shoulder cut, I think. It was lean and on sale)
1 Bottle Teriyaki sauce

You can make you're own sauce, dry rubs, etc. I tried two other flavors besides the teriyaki one, but didn't really like either one of them. Although, almost any sauce you like, will likely taste good on beef jerky. I used a homemake worcestershire based sauce that Forrest really liked, and I recommend finding one you like!


Slice beef into strips.

You can buy it in strips sometimes, or have the butcher do it. If you're opting to slice it yourself, try and cut at an angle, and slightly off of the grain. See bottom note for more details.

Mix in marinade, and marinate overnight, or at least 8 hours, in the fridge. I put mine in a ziplock bag, and squeezed most of the air out.

After marinating, lay beef flat on a baking sheet, and place in oven, preheated to 170-200º, whichever is the lowest temperature your oven will allow.

Bake 6-8 hours, turning once or twice after 3-4 hours.

Your home will smell amazing! Forrest LOVED it when he walked in the door and had such an awesome snack.

Bottom Note:
Here's what I mean about 'slightly off the grain'. Look at your beef and figure out which way the fibers are going. If you line your knife up with it, and cut into the beef, you'll be going with the grain. If you look at the slice, you'll see long lines going up and down. Now, if you turn your knife 90º and cut, you'll be going against the grain. So, if the grain is going left to right, and your blade is going up and down, it's against the grain. If you cut it, you'll see a bunch of sections, rather than long lines.
Now - how to cut slightly against the grain. Line your knife up with the grain. Now, turn your knife (or beef) slightly, like 5-10º. If you look closely at my pictures, you'll be able to see what it should look like.

Home Made Mozzarella Cheese

OH MY STARS!!!! I just finished making a batch of homemade mozzarella cheese, and I will never ever go back to buying the stuff at the store.

Here is the story about my recent cheese conversion:
One day, I was board out of my mind, so naturally I was on pinterest. I saw something about "Homemade mozzarella cheese in 30 minutes". I laughed and thought, "Ha, who makes cheese at home?!" Then of course I clicked on the link to see what it was about. Sure enough, on some mom blog a woman had a recipe for homemade mozzarella cheese. My interest was piqued. I read thought it, looked at what was involved, and started to browse the web. Eventually, I came across this website, It appears to be a woman in the Northeastern area who makes cheese. I bought a kit from her site that contained all the random things that would take me weeks to track down on my own. The kit sat on my counter and the milk I bought to make it sat in my fridge, and the trial kept getting delayed for one reason or another. Finally, as my milk was about to pass it's prime, I hauled everything out to embark on a delicious journey.

Basically, here are the steps. If you really want to do it, I recommend checking out Ricki's website.

Stir milk and citric acid, heat.

Add rennet. Wait.

*Get SUPER excited because you can see it working!!!!*

Cut, stir, heat.

Drain, add salt, microwave.

Stretch. Drain. Microwave.

Stretch and shape.

I shaped mine into mini logs (string cheese), a log (for caprice salads, a personal favorite), and bit size chunks. They all look as ugly as sin. I'll upload pictures when I get my computer to cooperate.

It's fantastic. It cost $30 something for the kit (including shipping) and $2.50 for the milk. It costs $8 at your typical store for a log of cheese half the size I made. While it'll take a few rounds of cheese to break even, the taste, texture, and just plain fun of making it, far out weight the initial costs of buying the kit.
The kit comes with enough product to make at least 30 batches (30x$8=$240 worth of cheese) and has excellent tips, and instructions.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lemony Lentil Soup

A word about lentils 
They are amazing. A superfood really. They're high in fiber and protein, and have been around forever.  I was on an eating regimen last summer to see if I could regulate my blood sugar, and lentils were a  saving grace. I found you could use them a ton of different ways, but my favorite was this Lemony Lentil Soup that my mom made for me while she was visiting me one weekend. Not only was it home cooked by mom, but it's savory and tangy flavor hits the spot and is very filling. I almost always double the recipe 

Lemony Lentil Soup 

1 15oz can of lentils* ( I used Eden Organics Onion and Bay leaf. If you want to cook your own lentils, see my note below.)
1/2 medium onion, diced
4 cups chicken, beef, or veggie stock (whichever you like best. I used beef)
1/2 cup cilantro** 
1/8-1/4 cup lemon juice. I use lots. 

If you're feeling healthy - 2 handfulls of baby spinach. 

In a medium pot, saute onions in olive oil. 

 Add stock, 1/2 can of lentils, and cilantro. Mash the remaining lentils in the can and add to soup. (I do this by taking a spoon and doing it right inside the can. You can also opt to put all the lentils in the pot, and use an immersion blender to blend it slightly. The mashed lentils add body and texture to the soup.)

Simmer on low for 10 mins. 

Add the lemon juice. (I taste it frequently at this point. If you're serving this for a group, I suggest adding a minimun amount, and placing a small dish of lemon juice on the table for guests to flavor as desired.)

Toss in the baby spinach if desired, stir and serve. Keeps for up to a week.

Serves 4

So, the picutre I took was HORRIBLE!!! Thus, a quick google image search revealed this one, and it's pretty much identical. Her recipe is here. I claim no rights to the picture.

*Whenever I cook lentils I can't get the flavoring right with the bay leaf, and they almost always turn into mush. So I opt for simple, and splurge on the canned ones. If you like a soup with more broth than lentils, use the original recipe. If you like really thick soups, add one can whole lentils, and mash a second can, and don't add any extra broth. Both ways are great!

Friday, July 6, 2012

I love food

Yesterday was Forrest's birthday, and so of course I baked a cake! It turned out great and it was enjoyable to make. With the leftover I tried making cake balls....which were a spectacular failure. Then, today I went grocery shopping for the two of us after I organized a weekly menu and shopping list. I came home, hauled all my groceries up three levels (elevator for one trip, stairs for the other), unloaded everything, and beheld the beauty of it (see below). All those wonderful meals waiting to get cooked. Sides waiting to simmer, veggies waiting to be chopped, potatoes to cook, herbs to prep... it was a small piece of heaven for me. And, thanks for a wonderful husband, and lots of praying and thinking, we opted for an apartment with a *GREAT* kitchen (again, see below).

It was that moment after unloading my treasure that I looked at my feeble cake balls which I shoved into a corner to make room and thought "I like cooking a whole lot more than I like baking." Don't get me wrong, I love baking! But I Love cooking. It's a form of edible, modern art. It can wrap you up in warm fuzzy feelings, and take the edge off a bad day, a rough week, or a lonely afternoon.
Anyway, as I usually do, I ignore my menu as fast as I can for my first meal because I thought of five other *amazing* things that I could do with the same ingredients. As I was taking a picture of my creation, I thought of a friend who has a beautiful blog about naturally sweet things, which is amazing. ( As I threw away the cake balls to clear room for my work space I thought about how she was a sweet-aholic who ate chocolate icing with no shame. I've never shared her passion for sweet stuff, but have always loved savory dishes more. (For example, I never really crave chocolate. In fact, I eat about one bite and I'm done.) But I Love savory food's, bright colors, and intense flavors - I can eat BLT's and Gorgonzola Bread Pudding till I burst. And it hit me. "I've been writing down recipes I create and love, and always take pictures, but never do anything with either of them." And that's when "Bright Bold and Beautiful Food's" popped into my mind. I thought I'd follow my friends lead and start blogging about it. I'll likely never have the following she does (Seriously, check out her blog   You won't be disappointed.) but it's here for all who would like to use it! Most of the dishes will be simple, intensely rich, and look fantastic when served up right.

Bacon and Blue Chicken with fresh broccoli and sliced tomatoes. Heavenly.
4 Chicken Breast's - Grilled

10 Slices Bacon, diced
1 medium Onion (Sweet Yellow is what I used)
2 tbs Olive Oil

1/3 cup blue cheese
Pepper to taste

Combined Oil, Bacon, and Onions in a medium frying pan. Cook until bacon is done, and onions are golden brown and semi translucent (or cook the bacon separately and add it when the onions are done to your preferred level of doneness. 

Move onions and bacon to a bowl, and start grilling the chicken in the pan you just used. After bacon mixture has cooled slightly, stir in blue cheese. Pepper to taste. 

Once chicken done, place on individual plates and top with Bacon and Cheese mixture. 

Serve with a bright green veggie and either a colorful fruit (tomato, diced mango's in lime juice,) or your favorite form of potato's.