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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Beef, Cranberry and and Pear Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

Recipe from The Healthy Beef Cookbook via my pal, Karen Hanson, RD, Manhattan Hy-Vee. 

Serves 4

Honey Mustard Dressing
1/2 cup prepared honey mustard dressing
2-3 Tbs. water
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. coarse-grind black pepper
1/8 tsp. salt

5 oz. mixed greens
1 medium red or green pear, cored and cut into thin wedges (I often substitute an apple when my pears aren't ripe enough)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

1 lb. beef tenderloin, flat iron, kc strip or top sirloin, cooked to your preference (I like medium rare, 140-145 degrees at center), cut into thin strips across the grain and on the bias

Whisk dressing ingredients together.  Place greens on serving plates and top with pear wedges, cranberries, and pecans. Divide steak strips evenly over each salad.  Top each salad with dressing and goat cheese crumbles.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  

Now You're Cookin', 
Chef Alli

Friday, May 17, 2013

Boy Scout Bacon Potato Skillet

·         8-10 bacon strips
·         3 sprigs fresh thyme
·         2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled, sliced thin
·         ¾ cup shredded Gruyere cheese, divided use
·         Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
·         1 ½ - 2 cups cooked, crumbled beef, pork or turkey sausage
·         1 sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced
·         4 garlic cloves, minced

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Using your favorite 10-12 inch cast iron skillet, place bacon strips across skillet, meeting at the center, creating what looks like spokes on a wheel. Let each strip hang down over sides of skillet.  Sprinkle thyme over bacon strips in skillet.  Layer half the potatoes onto bacon and thyme, covering the entire surface, slightly overlapping potatoes.  Sprinkle half of cheese over potatoes; season a bit more thyme, and salt and pepper, to taste.   Top cheese with onions and garlic, then layer with the remaining half of potato slices; top with remaining half of cheese; season top with salt and pepper and a little more thyme.  Fold hanging bacon strips towards the center of the skillet, over the top of ingredients within.  Transfer skillet to stove top and cook over medium high heat, 10 minutes.  Cover skillet with foil and transfer to oven, cooking for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and continue to cook until bacon is crisp and potatoes are fork-tender, approx. 30-40 minutes longer.  Let potatoes rest for 10 minutes, then drain drippings if needed and loosen edges around edge of skillet.  Cut into wedges and serve.  

Now You're Cookin', 
Chef Alli

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Choco Peanut Butter Freezer Cookies

My Mom used to make these for us when we were kids.  I prepare these treats in small batches and hide them in the freezer for when I need a chocolate boost, usually about 4:00 p.m. every day when I get my sinking spell, like Barney Fife.   I can't locate my Mom's recipe anywhere to give specific ingredient amounts, so I'm just going to give the steps below for how I typically prepare them - there's really no wrong way to make them!

1.  Place a small sauce pan over low heat.
2.  Add 1/4 cup butterscotch chips and 1/4 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips. ( I never measure but I know these two should be fairly equal in proportion to each other.)
3.  Fling in a spoonful of creamy peanut butter (approx. 2 Tbs., I'd say) and combine all ingredients, stirring occasionally until chips are melted and mixture is smooth.
4.  Add approx. 2 cups Rice Krispies to chocolate mixture and toss to coat.  (If you want your little chocolate blobs to be more luscious, stir in fewer Rice Krispies to the chocolate mixture, and vice versa.  Like I said, I never measure - I'm just adding and stirring by sight.) 
5.  Use your ice cream scoop and place in little bundles onto a cookie sheet.  
6.  Pop into the freezer and try to be patient for a few minutes while they solidify.
7.  Once frozen solid, remove from cookie sheet and place into a freezer bag.  This bag is much easier to hide from your family than that big, shiny cookie sheet - fyi.

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli 

Karen’s Beefy Breakfast Skillet

This recipe came from my good friend and teaching partner, Karen Hanson, the dietitian at Hy-Vee Manhattan.  She created this delicious recipe when working for the Kansas Beef Council. 

Beef Sausage
Combine 1 lb. 96% lean ground beef with 2 tsp. chopped fresh sage or ½ tsp. rubbed sage, 1 tsp. granulated garlic, 1 tsp. onion flakes, 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, ½ tsp. red pepper flakes and ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot.  Add beef mixture; cook 10-12 minutes, breaking into ¾ inch crumbles and stirring occasionally. (Cooking time is for fresh or thoroughly thawed ground beef; ground beef should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.) Makes approx. 2 ½ cups sausage crumbles. 

Breakfast Skillet
In same large skillet, over medium high heat, move cooked beef sausage to perimeter of skillet; add 2 cups thawed shredded hash brown potatoes and 2 chopped scallions to center of hot skillet and cook until hash browns are browned nicely.  Bring sausage into the mix from the edges of your skillet and stir in 8-10 beaten eggs (depending on the capacity of your skillet). Cook eggs to desired doneness, stirring occasionally until cooked throughout.  Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, then top with a bit of shredded sharp cheddar cheese.  Serve garnished with your favorite salsa, if desired. 

Now You’re Cookin’,
Chef Alli

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Asian Beef Bowls

This has quickly become one of my favorite go-to weeknight meals - fast, flavorful and fun - an updated ground beef classic!

1 lb. lean ground beef, browned nicely and fats drained
1/4 cup plum sauce
1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 scallions, chopped
1 cup shredded carrots
1-2 Tbs. nicely chopped cilantro
1 lb. coleslaw mix
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2-3 Tbs. canola or vegetable oil
chopped peanuts, for garnish

Add plum sauce and red pepper flakes to warm beef in skillet; stir to combine.  Toss in scallions, carrots and cilantro and cook until all ingredients are just heated through.  Meanwhile, whisk together rice vinegar and oil to create dressing; pour over coleslaw mix and toss to combine well.  To serve, place dressed coleslaw in bowls and top with warm beet mixture. Garnish with peanuts, if desired, for added crunch.  Enjoy at once.

Serves 1 hungry Chef Alli (and I ALWAYS am!) or 2-3 average appetites.  

Now You're Cookin', 
Chef Alli

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Chowder Recipes

These recipes are from Chef Alli's Culinary Class at HVT, held Thursday, April 25: The Bowled and The Beautiful Chowder Class. 

Cheddar and Ale Chowder with Potato and Pancetta
Adapted from a Brown Eyed Baker recipe

4 to 6 servings
4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 medium onion, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
1 medium carrot, minced
1 small stalk celery, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ cups (one 12-ounce bottle) light-colored ale
1 cup vegetable broth
2½ cups half-and-half (may substitute fat free, if you choose)
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons dry sherry
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Cook the pancetta in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, 4-5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
2. Add the onion and shallot to the pot containing the pancetta drippings and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the potato, carrot, celery, and garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring to coat the vegetables, until the mixture begins to brown on the bottom of the pot, about 2 minutes.
3. Gradually whisk in the ale, chicken stock, and half-and-half. Add the bay leaf and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vegetables soften, about 3 minutes.
4. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the cayenne and sherry and allow to cool slightly, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the cheese and thyme until the cheese melts. Stir in the reserved pancetta, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

Gram’s Clam Chowder
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 celery stalks, sliced into ¼ inch pieces
3 Tbs. flour
2 cups vegetable broth
20 oz. chopped clams, in juice
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 bay leaf
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste

Heat the butter in a large stock pot over medium high heat; add the onion and celery and sauté until softened, approximately 6-8 minutes.  Add flour to aromatics in sauté pan and stir to incorporate evenly.  Add the broth, clam juice, (reserve clams for now) cream, bay leaf, and potatoes; stir to combine and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly as mixture thickens, then reduce heat to medium low and cook for 25-30 minutes.  Stir soup often and simmer just until potatoes are fork-tender.  Now add in clams and season soup to taste with salt and pepper; cook soup for another 2-3 minutes, just until clams are firm.  Serve at once! 
Curried Sweet Potato Chowder
Serves 4
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
2-4 Tbs. evoo, divided use
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1-2 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp curry powder
5 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup of coconut milk, can use light, if preferred
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Slice the sweet potatoes into 2 inch rounds. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons evoo; season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Roast sweet potatoes 40 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F. and continue to cook potatoes until they are fork-tender; remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, in a large stock pot, heat the remaining 1-2 Tbs. evoo over medium heat; add the garam masala and curry powder and cook for 30 seconds, then add the onion and celery and sauté, stirring often, for 4-6 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds; remove sauté pan from heat.  Add roasted sweet potatoes and stir to combine.  Add stock and bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer soup for 15 minutes.  Let soup cool slightly before using a food processor (working in batches to process) or immersion blender to blend until creamy.  Place soup back into stock pot over medium heat; stir in coconut milk and heat until hot throughout. 

Ree’s Corn Chowder
Serves 10-12 
4 Tablespoons 1/2 Stick Butter
1 whole Onion, Chopped
3 slices Bacon, Cut Into Pieces
3 whole Bell Peppers, Finely Diced (red, Yellow, Orange)
5 ears Corn, Kernels Sliced Off
1/4 cup All-purpose Flour
3 cups Chicken Stock Or Broth
2 cups Half-and-half
1 cup (heaping) Grated Monterey Jack
1 cup (heaping) Pepper Jack
1/3 cup Sliced Green Onions

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Cook onions for a couple of minutes. Add bacon and cook for another minute or so, then add diced bell peppers and cook for a couple of minutes. Finally, add corn and cook for a minute; sprinkle flour evenly over the top of vegetables and stir to combine, cooking for 1-2 minutes to let flour cook a bit.  Pour in broth and stir well. Allow chowder to thicken for 3 or 4 minutes, then reduce heat to low. Stir in half-and-half, then cover and allow to simmer for 15 minutes or so.
Stir in cheeses and green onions. When cheese is melted and the soup is hot, check seasonings. Season with kosher salt and pepper as needed. Serve at once. 

Chef Alli’s Favorite Peasant Bread
2 tsp. yeast and 1 tsp. sugar dissolved in 2 cups warm water
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. Italian seasonings
1-2 Tbs. evoo
1-2 Tbs. cornmeal
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt and Italian seasonings; add water/yeast mixture and gently combine.  Cover bowl with a towel and set in a warm place to let dough rise for about 45 minutes – 1 hour.  Meanwhile, prepare a baking stone or baking sheet by drizzling it with evoo topped with cornmeal.  Punch dough down and place onto prepared baking sheet/stone.  Let dough raise for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees F. and continue to bake bread for an additional 10-15 minutes.  Upon removing bread from oven, brush with a bit of melted butter or evoo.  Let bread cool slightly before slicing.  Can toast slices, if preferred – mine usually never make it that far. J

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 Now You’re Cookin’!

Shoulder-to-Shoulder: Why Cooking Together is Good For Your Marriage.

To me, it doesn't matter how large or small a kitchen is, it’s a One-Butt Kitchen, and there’s only room for one butt:  MINE.  And though I've not been good at sharing my kitchen space in the past, I’m turning over a new leaf. The kitchen is a powerful place! The tastes, sights, sounds, and scents that erupt from this place we call the Heart of the Home definitely impact the senses. What better way to draw your husband in?

Here are 3 good reasons to get cookin’:

1.   Interactive cooking is fun and romantic
Improving your skills and learning together in the kitchen can make for one delicious and engaging evening. I can think of no greater aphrodisiac than seeing my husband helping me create dinner.  Adding a glass of wine, good music, and maybe a waltz around the kitchen brings even more relaxation with each other.  There’s only one rule: serious conversations are kept for another day – this is our special time together and the focus is US.

2.   A key ingredient:  pre-planned alone time
How often do you and your husband enjoy a regularly planned date night?  Yep, spontaneity is great, but if we don’t make date night a scheduled priority, it simply won’t happen.  Call a sitter or Grandma, or plan to cook once the kiddos are tucked into bed.  Creating an experience that allows you alone time together without distractions and interruptions lets you really connect, and it feels good to make each other a priority above all else.  

3.   Cooking together promotes teamwork
And what guy doesn't like being part of a team? Think about it; guys rarely do leisurely things together that are considered face-to-face. Team sports, hunting, watching TV – these are all activities guys enjoy and they do them shoulder-to-shoulder, with little conversation.

In his best-selling book, Love and Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs says this “Men communicate by sharing experiences.  Women share experiences by talking about them to each other, examining them and infusing the experiences with their impressions and emotions.  Men are different.  They share their experiences by sharing an activity.  This is what your husband wants to do with you.”  Keep this in mind when you first invite your husband into the kitchen to cook with you; simply enjoy being by his side as you work together towards a gratifying common goal:  DINNER.

Here’s to some SIZZLE in your sauté pan!
Now You’re Cookin’,
Chef Alli