Category Archives: Picture

>Marinated Skirt Steak

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The Hub loves skirt steak. This is fabulous news for me, because, well frankly, it is pretty cheap. It is hard to argue with the beauty of getting all that beefy flavor for a low-down fantastic price, no?
Yes.
Skirt steak needs a little love to truly shine – it benefits greatly from a nice long set in an acidic marinade to help it break down a bit, and it is best cooked quickly over high heat. Oh yeah, and if it is overcooked, it is a tough as shoe leather. Luckily it is very easy to prepare well, and simply prepared is how we enjoy it most.
In a zip top baggie combine the juice of 2 limes and 1 tablespoon canola oil with 1 teaspoon of chili powder and 1 teaspoon of cummin and mix well. (Sometimes I zest the lime into the baggie as well, I was just feeling lazy yesterday.)

Add skirt steak (the piece I used was between 10 and 12 ounces) to the bag, close allowing extra air to escape, and massage the marinade into the meat so that the steak is coated evenly. Refrigerate at least 8 hours (I wouldn’t do this for more than 24 hours, even skirt steak will start to break down a bit too much if left in a marinade this acidic for too terribly long.)
Remove steak from refrigerator 1/2 hour before you want to cook it (it will cook more evenly if it isn’t chilled) and set oven to 35o degrees.
Heat large skillet or flat grill on the stove until it is screamin’ hot (hover your open palm just above the cooking surface – are you feeling lots of heat? Time for cooking!)

Place the steak in the skillet and rejoice at the sizzle – that noise is searing in all the juicy, flavorful goodness.

Let it get some nice dark color on that side and then give it a flip and sear the other side.
Now – here’s the thing: you can totally cook the steak from start to finish just like this. OR you can grill it on your Vogner Charking or whatever out on the back deck, if you prefer and it would be delish – no doubt. As long as you have nice high heat and take it off before it overcooks (which depends on the thickness – I’d go 4 minutes a side over direct, high heat, and then make a little cut in the center to see how it looked if you aren’t comfortable testing doneness by touch,) either is a great way to cook skirt steak.
But again, I was feeling lazy. So my steak got seared on each side about 2 minutes and then I popped it on roasting rack and put it in the oven to finish, which took about 12 minutes at 350 degrees.
That way I could concentrate on making some Martinis for The Hub and me while dinner finished cooking.
After cooking, I tented the steak with foil on my cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes (while I defrosted some frozen mashed potatoes and stirred in a bit of cheddar for a side dish) before cutting. This lets the juices re-absorb into the meat a bit.
How you cut skirt steak is important. It is best not to just plate it whole, because if cut with, and not against the grain of the meat, it will still seem tough, even after all that marinating and high heat cooking. So slice thin against the grain. (Slicing the long strip of it into shorter chunks first, which is slicing with the grain, and then slicing those portions thinly against the grain – as pictured at the top of the post.)
Dinner is served.

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Filed under Beef, Beyond Easy, Picture

>Crunchy Garlic Chicken and Roasted Broccoli

> Betty Crocker Crunchy Garlic Chicken
(This is the recipe as it appears on the Betty Crocker Website)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives or parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups Whole Grain Total® cereal, crushed (1 cup)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon paprika
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 3/4 lb)

1.
Heat oven to 425°F. Spray 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray. In shallow dish, mix 2 tablespoons of the butter, the milk, chives, salt and garlic powder.
2.
In another shallow dish, mix crushed cereal, parsley and paprika. Dip chicken into milk mixture, then coat lightly and evenly with cereal mixture. Place in pan. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons butter.(mine looked like this)
3.
Bake uncovered 20 to 25 minutes or until juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut (170°F).

What I did differently:
I used Kroger Brand Bran Flakes instead of Total
I used Smart Balance Light as my margarine product
(Here are my chicken breasts all coated and drizzled and ready to hit the oven)

This was good and easy – a nice change from normal bread crumbs on baked chicken. It was really crunchy on top and had a good garlicky flavor. Next time I make it, I think I might put the breasts on a flat roasting rack or broiler pan like I do with breaded chicken when I bake it – the bottom of the pieces can’t get crispy of air can’t circulate around them.

(BTW – check out the new look coming to ED&BK here)

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>Breakfast Tacos

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Coloring Easter eggs is a favorite tradition around The Tree House and always loads of fun – but it leaves this wife-of-a-non-hard boiled-egg-eater left holding the (Easter) basket when it comes to what to do with all those eggs.
Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE hard boiled eggs in all their many forms: a delicious egg salad, a tray of deviled eggs (reach for one of those and I might bite your arm off,) or just peeled and eaten plain with a sprinkle of salt – incredible, edible egg, indeed.
That being said – 18 eggs (what we colored this year) is a lot for one gal to eat (even skipping every other yolk like I am to keep the cholesterol in check.)

So for Easter brunch this year I devised a recipe designed to get The Hub to help me out with the task of eating his masterpieces. Breakfast Tacos!
I used my now standard method of making taco shells from the Prudent Homemaker (I made 4,) and then:
-Place one small potato, diced, into a frying pan and just cover with water. Allow to cook until water evaporates, and then spray potato pieces with a bit of cooking spray and allow to crisp.
-Add to potato 1 teaspoon ground Cumin, 1/2 teaspoon (more or less to taste) ground Cayenne pepper and mix to coat potatoes.
-Dice 3 – 4 hard boiled eggs and add to potatoes over low heat, stir.
-Add to egg/potato mixture 1/2 can Hormel 94% fat free Turkey Chili (we used the one with no beans) and stir over low heat, allowing mixture to heat through.
-Fill taco shells with the mixture, and serve with toppings of your choice (shredded cheese, diced tomato and onion, salsas, etc.)

Enjoy!

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Filed under Brunch, Picture

>Old faithful Crunchy Chicken Caesar Salad

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Perfect in its simplicity, a Chicken Caesar Salad is always well-received at our house. (Past posts will confirm that.)
Last night I used some left over flat-bread that I sprinkled with garlic powder, dried parsley, salt, and pepper, and toasted in the oven before cutting into bite sized pieces as croutons. I cut one large chicken breast into chunks and rolled them (no wet step needed) in whole wheat seasoned breadcrumbs.
The chicken went on to a rack in my roasting pan and into a 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes (it was about 18 for me last night) until it was cooked through and crispy. (you can pop the broiler on for a minute or two if the top needs help crisping up.)
I crumbled up a slice of extra lean turkey bacon and tossed it with 1/2 bag of prewashed salad (I don’t actually use bagged salad very often, too expensive, but I found a good sale this week and took advantage of it,) and 4 tablespoons of Ken’s Light Caesar dressing (yep, I measure, because it is good to know what you are really eating, but also because I don’t like salad that is soggy with too much dressing!)
On top of the dressed lettuce went the croutons and the warm, crunchy chicken.
Mmmmm.
So simple, but so, so welcome on a sunny spring evening.

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Filed under Chicken, My Faves, Picture

>Lazy-way Chicken and Broccoli stuffed pasta

>So what do you get when you take cooked Lasagna noodles and spread them with a mixture of:
1 large grilled b/s chicken breast, shredded

1 cup broccoli stems (cooked) chopped fine

1/2 block of cream cheese

3 BIG fresh basil leaves

(blended together in the food processor)

and then roll the noodles up around the filling:

And then bake covered in a simple cheddar cheese sauce at 350 for 45 minutes, covered?

You get stuffed shell perfection, without the hassle of actually stuffing the shells! (and if you are me, you get The Hub to eat the part of the broccoli he usually won’t touch!)

BTW – I was running around Sunday afternoon and evening, and The Hub actually got this out of the fridge at the appointed time, then turned on the oven and baked these all by himself – I arrived home to a piping hot dinner just coming out of the oven! Sah-weet!

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Filed under Beyond Easy, Liquid Cheese, New Twist, Picture

>Lighter Side Tostadas

> We eat A LOT of Mexican/Tex-Mex food at our house. The Hub grew up in Texas, and I spent years working in a Mexican restaurant in my younger days – it is a sure-fire go-to family of flavors that I know will always be a hit.

Then again, sometimes the same old tacos or fajitas over and over can get a bit dull, even to the biggest fans.
Not to mention the damage that you can do to your waistline piling on all of those toppings with reckless abandon!
These tostadas are a good solution to both problems.

I started by lightly spraying 3 corn tortillas with Canola Spray, and baking them until crispy on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven (this takes almost no time at all.)

Then I piled on my “filling” made by mixing together 1 cooked b/s chicken breast shredded, 1 palmful of chili powder, 1 cup fresh spinach chopped fine, and 1 tablespoon of cream cheese. (I tested for taste and added Salt and Pepper as needed.)

To The Hub’s (pictured at the bottom of the post,) I also added a sprinkling of shredded 2% cheddar cheese. Everything went back into the oven to heat the filling and melt the cheese.

I served mine with a salad, (picture at the top of the post) and a couple teaspoons of avocado puree. Mmmmm, crunchy and spicy and yummy!

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>Steak with Asparagus "Pesto"

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This is a genius idea – I stand behind that (less-than-modest) statement. That being said, my execution left plenty to be desired. (Making Keri a sad cook.)

The plan was this – use some lean, inexpensive, thin cuts of round steak to make yummy rolls, filling them with a sort of riff on pesto using the tender portion of Asparagus stems just below the “tree” tip which The Hub actually likes to eat. (I like to use this cut to wrap around filling, as in this recipe, which was fabulous!)

So I put the cooked stems into my trusty food processor:

And I processed them until smooth – then I added 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese and pulsed to mix.
I spread this mix on to the steak, which had marinated overnight in a balsamic vinegar and garlic mixture.
Then I rolled them up and baked them on a broiler pan at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.
All of this was fine – but upon biting into my creation, I knew immediately what needed to be done to solve the problem I was tasting. It was bland. Well, the filling was bland, the meat was actually a little too sweet from the balsamic reduction I paired with it at the last minute.

So, what should I have done? #1 – I didn’t salt the filling, because I thought the cheese would be enough. WRONG!!! Needed some salt to kick the flavor of the Asparagus up a bit. #2 – I omitted nuts in the “pesto” ripoff. Bad call. Traditional pesto has toasted pine nuts, but this would have benefited from some almonds in the mix to add a little complexity to the flavor. #3 – Balsamic was too strong a flavor for the marinade, and FOR SURE for the sauce. It was sweet when I was wanting something savory. No Bueno.

I served it all with my usual baked potato casserole, and I got to use my pretty new dishes (thanks to The Hub for buying them for me – I love them!) so it wasn’t a total loss, but I was disappointed that I didn’t execute my awesome idea in a better way.

This filling will rise again, I promise. In a much tastier version, natch.

And I will return to the kitchen tonight, licking my wounds a bit, but still happy to be there. 🙂

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Filed under Missed the Mark, New Twist, Picture

>Everyday Poached Chicken Perfection!

>So I picked up the Jan/Feb edition of Everyday Food to read on the plane back from Indiana earlier this week after visiting this guy:

(nephew Vaughn, seen here eating in a fashion very similar to Aunt Keri’s usual practices.)

By the time I walked through my front door, all I could think about was poaching chicken.

That’s right, poaching chicken. It gets a bad rap sometimes – because poaching chicken, especially white meat, correctly is an elusive process. Often the chicken is bland, or rubbery, or dry, or (gasp) all of the above.

But Everyday Food seemed to have come up with a foolproof process, and I was itching to try it, AND to use that poached chicken to make some of the things suggested in the magazine.

The recipe? (as I said – it is from Everyday Food, Jan/Feb 2010)

1/2 medium yellow onion, halved

1 medium carrot, cut into thirds

1 celery stalk, cut into thirds

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 sliced lemon (optional)

1 teaspoon coarse salt

3 springs thyme or parsley

4 b/s chicken breast halves (about 8 oz each)

In a large, straight-sided skillet or pot, combine all ingredients except chicken; cover with water by 1/2 inch. Bring to a boil over high. Add chicken and return to a boil. Cook 3 minutes, then cover and remove from heat. Let stand until chicken is cooked through, about 15-18 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove from liquid immediately.
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Ok, so first off, I did indeed, do a few things differently, (seriously, Keri NEVER could follow a recipe exactly) so:

I used a small whole red onion, cut in half (because it is what I had)

I used 2 small carrots cut in half (because I didn’t have a medium one)

I used an extra piece of celery (because why not?)

I used pre minced garlic

“coarse salt?” snort – Morton’s for me!

I opted for parsley flakes and no lemon

I actually did 5 b/s breast halves instead of 4

Here are the veggies covered with water:

And after bringing them to a boil I added the chicken:

It isn’t so much what is in that pot kids – it is the method I am interested in here… The whole “bring to boil and then cover and let rest off heat” thing. That intrigued me because cooking too fast is my biggest problem when I try to poach. Even uber-low heat can be too much, it seems.

Can I tell ya – this worked like dream!! I let the chicken rest in the liquid covered for 18 minutes, turning at 9 minutes (really quickly so I didn’t let too much heat out) and it was perfectly cooked. I mean PER-FECT. Juicy, tender, with a flavor that was mild but not bland in the least.
What to do with it? Well, you could just eat it with a light sauce made by reducing some of the poaching liquid, or:

Yesterday I took one of their suggestions and mixed some of the chicken (torn into shreds) with a drizzle of EVOO, 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, a sprinkle of dried parsley and basil, 4 oz of blanched fresh green beans and a whole cucumber chopped up. I let it sit in the fridge until lunch and all the flavors had combined – it was cool and crunchy and really a great lunch salad.
Today was good old chicken salad with a spoon of mayo and plenty of dill relish on wasa crackers with red bell pepper sticks on the side.

I also used some of the poached chicken to make shredded chicken tacos – I shredded the cold chicken and then heated (covered) very briefly in the microwave with a palmful of chili powder mixed in – then used that mixture to fill soft tacos and set out whatever fixins we had around. Mmm mmm good.

Simple, easy, versatile… a truly foolproof technique for poaching chicken.

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Filed under Beyond Easy, Chicken, Picture

>Valentine’s Day -Steakhouse at home

> The Hub and I are both huge carnivores – if we could get away with it, we would probably eat red meat 3 times a day, 7 days a week and be happy as clams. (Clams that love red meat, that is.)
But that isn’t good – for arteries, waistlines, OR the family budget. So a nice steak is always a way to make an occasion truly special at our house.
Our “Steak house at home” menu included grilled steaks with seasoned butter, steamed asparagus, and individual baked potato casseroles. To complete the experience, a nice dirty martini.

For this meal I actually went with a moderately priced cut of meat – the chuck eye steak (or chuck fillet as I have seen it labeled alot lately.) It is an underrated steak, in my opinion. You need to give a little extra time to selection when choosing one at the store – Look for a cut that has smaller, rather than larger, fatty deposits running through it -after all, you want to pay for meat, not just fat. But cuts from the chuck primal cut of beef can be very flavorful if prepared with a bit of thought.
I took ours home and marinaded in a mix of Worcestershire sauce and Balsamic vinegar in the fridge for about 4 hours, and then an hour before cooking, I pulled the steaks out of the fridge to let them come up to room temp so the inside wouldn’t be raw while the outside was already overcooked. I cooked the steaks (which were about 3/4 inch thick) 10 minutes on a preheated George Foreman grill (so handy because both sides cook at once) to a medium-rare finish.
The baked potato casserole was made with some thawed mashed potatoes from the freezer (about a cup and a half), which got combined with 2 tablespoons of sour cream, 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt, a bit of black pepper, and 1/4 cup of 2% cheddar cheese (shredded). I divided this between two ramekin’s, topped with a bit more cheese and 1 slice each of extra lean turkey bacon (crumbled).
Into a 350 degree oven about 15 minutes to heat through.

Before serving the steak each one got a pat of buttery-spread that I had mixed with a minced garlic clove and some salt and pepper. Mmmmmm.
The asparagus steamed for a minute and a half in the microwave.

The dirty martini is an art in our house, 2 oz Svedka (or vodka of your choice) in a shaker with 3/4 oz vermouth, 1/2-3/4 oz olive juice or dirty martini mix, and ice – shake until the shaker is as cold as you can stand holding it, then pour into chilled glasses. Add toothpick with 3 olives (has to be 3 in our house) and enjoy.

It was a really great meal.

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Filed under Picture, Sunday dinner

>Prudent Homemaker’s Yummy Tacos

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I am often in awe of The Prudent Homemaker… She makes chicken fried steak out of OATMEAL, for one thing (I will be trying that one soon). Everything she suggests turns out yummy, and she has taken stockpiling sale items to a level that can only be called an art.
These tacos are no exception. I seasoned my beef with salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic powder and onion powder instead of using prefab taco seasoning, but we were pretty true to her recipe otherwise.
I think these are the “go to” tacos in our house from now on – they are just too easy and too good to resist.

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Filed under My Faves, Picture