pan-fried chicken salad with honey mustard dressing

Pan-Fried Chicken Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing 1

I know, I know. You guys are probably like, but you just DID salad, Carter.

Yeah, well… welcome to my house. I’m not really all that creative.

(It’s why I picked food instead of fashion. Also, I can’t sew.)

Seriously, even Lindsay asked me what’s up lately:

Well, I’m in charge of cupcakes for the St. Patrick’s Day party this weekend. So there’s probably going to be booze AND dessert here on the blog soon. Possibly in the same dish, no less.

But for the meantime – back to salads. (You need to eat lots of salad to counteract all the green beer this weekend, right?)

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Last night, I emailed B asking him if he was going to make it home for dinner (if he doesn’t come home, I tend to default to a bachelorette-style bowl of noodles. Don’t judge me.) What are you going to make? he asked. Was thinking crispy chicken over salad greens… nothing fancy, I typed, hoping he wouldn’t remember we had eaten the same thing for dinner just last week, and probably the week before. One of my favorites, came his answer. Honey mustard dressing?

Well… crap. I’ve never made honey mustard dressing before.

But I HAVE made honey mustard dipping sauce before… meh, I’ll just wing it.

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And although it might sound self-righteous, I have to say… this might be the best honey mustard dressing I’ve ever had. Tangy and not too sweet, and not so thick that it’s like trying to mix concrete into your salad greens. (I hate that.) With the crispy chicken, it’s like a grown up version of chicken nuggets. Minus the uncomfortable driver’s seat and soggy fries, of course.

We loved this dressing so much, it’s probably going to be the new default dressing ’round here for the next few weeks. But, should honey mustard not be your thing (not everyone likes mustard – I don’t know who you are or what’s wrong with you, but I know you’re out there) this goes perfectly with the balsamic vinaigrette or champagne vinaigrette I featured the other day.

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Pan-Fried Chicken

Serves 2

1/4 pound chicken tenderloins (or chicken breast, trimmed of fat and sliced laterally into 1/4-inch-thick pieces)
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
a pinch cayenne, optional
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon milk or water
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup panko
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 tablespoon safflower oil or other high-heat oil
chopped mixed greens and honey mustard dressing, to serve

Combine flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a wide, shallow bowl, and stir to mix. Whisk together egg, milk or water, and mustard in a second bowl. In a third bowl, mix panko and grated parmesan together. Dip each piece of chicken into flour mixture, coating lightly. Shake off excess flour and dip each piece into the egg mixture. Shake off excess and finally dip each piece into panko mixture. Press panko mixture onto chicken with your fingers. Put coated pieces of chicken in a single layer on a baking sheet or plate. Ideally, place your baking sheet or plate in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes – it will help the crumbs adhere to the chicken during cooking – although if you don’t have time, skip the refrigerator.

Heat safflower oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When you think the oil is hot, drop a few stray panko crumbs into the pan – if they start to sizzle and brown immediately, your oil is hot enough. Carefully place chicken in pan in a single layer, and cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Turn chicken to other side using tongs or a fork, and cook another 2 minutes, or until browned. Remove to a plate covered in a paper towel, and let drain.

Cut into slices and serve over mixed greens, if desired.

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Honey Mustard Dressing

Serves 2

one heaping tablespoon of yellow mustard
two teaspoons honey
one tablespoon olive oil
one teaspoon mayonnaise
one to two teaspoons water

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake to combine. (Note: if you have access to a microwave, heat the honey up for 15 seconds – it will mix in much more readily with the other ingredients.) Adjust seasoning to your preferences.

Spicy Beef Stir-Fry over Brown Rice

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Y’all, I have a new crush.

No, it’s not Jeremy from Vampire Diaries, although Bekah and Lula and I are all over the moon that the producers finally gave him a better haircut. (And a plot line, for pete’s sake.)

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No, my new crush is Ching-He Huang, from “Chinese Cooking Made Easyon the Cooking Channel. Have you seen her show? I’m totally in love with her. Not so much in a let’s-get-married-in-Vermont way (although she is pretty adorable), but more in a omg-your-show-is-brilliant-please-teach-me-everything-you-know way. (And maybe in a read-me-the-phone-book-in-your-spare-time way, because her accent is absurdly charming.)

Although Brad has always been a huge fan of Chinese food, I didn’t grow up with it, unless you count the occasion Chinese take-out I had over at friends’ houses. And take-out isn’t really the best place to start with Chinese, right? The fried rice and greasy noodles always made me feel nauseous, instead of hungry. So I kind of got off to a rough start.

But I caught Ching’s show on the Cooking Channel a few weeks ago and was ridiculously impressed. (Tangent – one day we need to discuss how the Cooking Channel compares to Food Network, and how MTV circa 1992 compares to MTV circa 2010, and how IT’S EXACTLY THE SAME RELATIONSHIP.)

Ching’s show focuses on using fresh ingredients to create flavorful dishes Chinese dishes. Honestly, I don’t even think of her dishes as really “Chinese” cuisine; I guess that’s because whenever I think of chinese food, I think of greasy take-out. I just think of them as tasty, yummy, simple food. This is much lighter, and much healthier food, based on fresh vegetables and fresh meat and seafood. Once I tried the Fragrant Pork dish from the series opener, both Brad and I were hooked. I made this dish for Brad to take for lunch one day, and it’s now a staple in our current repetoire.

If you’re not a “fan” of Chinese cooking, I’d have to say, give it one more chance with one of Ching’s recipes. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Check out her website and the Chinese Cooking Made Easy recipes on the Cooking Channel website for more ideas!

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Spicy Beef Stir-Fry over Brown Rice

Adapted from Chinese Cooking Made Easy
Serves 2

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It took me weeks to finally track down Shaosing rice wine (sherry will do just fine here as a substitute) but let me give you the long story short – you can find it at your local Asian grocery store. (I had to ask someone to help me, but they did have it!)

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Gather:
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound flap steak or other lean beef cut, sliced thinly into 1/4-inch-thick strips
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 large handful fresh cilantro leaves and stalks, roughly chopped
1 spring onion, finely sliced
cooked brown rice, for serving

Prepare:
Combine the cumin, red pepper, black pepper, and salt in a medium bowl. Dredge steak strips in spice mix, covering on all sides.

Heat peanut oil in a large skillet  over medium-high heat. Add the beef strips to the hot oil, keeping the strips in one layer in the pan, and using the back of a spatula or a spoon to press each strip into the hot skillet to get a good sear. Cook beef for 1 minute, and turn to other side. Add rice wine and soy sauce. Let cook for another 30 seconds, then remove to serving dish. Garnish with cilantro and green onions, if desired, and serve with brown rice.

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Fiveng / Easythis is on repeat at my house right now! Sounds a bit like my second husband, Noah Lennox/Panda Bear

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Lacinato Kale and Sausage Risotto

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Whenever Brad works too many long hours at work, he ends up eating too much take out and then complains that he is [any combination of the following:] fat, lazy, a whale, a “lard bucket,” or one of many other creative terms he comes up with when he’s sleep-deprived. This week he wasn’t feeling too healthy, so he requested homemade meals to take for lunch.

One thing I will not understand about B is that he always requests lots of meat for lunch, or dinner, or even breakfast. Comparatively, when I really buckle down and want to eat uber-healthy, I tend to focus on eating LESS meat, and I eat more whole grains and beans. Brad, on the other hand, really just wants to eat lots of meat, whether it be multiple pounds of beef, pork, or chicken. Someone (preferably someone packin’ heat ifyouknowwhatimsaying) PLEASE explain the logic behind that. It’s that kind of dude-thinking that will confuse me until I die.

In the end, I have to temper a bunch of meat with carbs, whether it be pasta, rice, or a whole grain. Otherwise, if I just fed Brad straight-up seasoned beef for lunch, we’d be spending $40 on beef for him to eat everyday (that’s assuming beef is $10 a pound, and yes, he could eat 4 pounds of beef in one sitting if I let him. I still haven’t figured out where it goes and we’ve been together 8 years.)

This recipe is from “Salt to Taste,” by Marco Canora. Brad actually says the author is on the current season of “The Next Iron Chef,” but I don’t keep track of that crap. I can’t remember the last time I watched the Food Network, during prime time anyways. I did, however, catch Aunt Sandy making a “cowboy potato salad” from frozen diced potatoes today. In true form, I really did want to jump into the television and whack her upside the head with the giant bottle of vodka she was holding. But that’s pretty normal for me.

Anyways, since the recipe is straight from a cookbook, I won’t be including it here. (My motto is, unless it’s published by the author on the internet already, I won’t type it up for all to see here. If I wrote a cookbook, I wouldn’t want people to freely share my hard work on the interwebz, either, unless they were sending me a $20 check in the mail each time someone read it.) Marco has a great breakdown of how to make the perfect risotto in his book, so it’s definitely worth perusing the next time you hit up your local (independent!) bookstore. I highly recommend you pick up his cookbook, Salt to Taste. I flipped through it upon purchase, and I think I might have to jump on the bandwagon and become one of those bloggers who cooks through the entire cookbook because EVERYTHING in that book looks downright amazing. The next recipe I want to make is actually featured on his website right now. Head on over and check it out. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

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Pelle Carlberg / I Love You, You Imbecile

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Thanksgiving 2010 | Steak over Butternut Squash Puree

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Guys, I know you’re disappointed, because as you can see, there is no mention of turkey in the title of this post. I know, I know, it’s a crime against the American dream, how could I be so unpatriotic, blah blah blah. We just don’t DO turkey at my house.

Don’t get me wrong, my parents make turkey every year for Thanksgiving, and B’s parents do turkey at theirs. So it’s not as if we’ve never seen a overgrown winged creature on our Thanksgiving table. But when we moved to Denver (and consequently gave up going home for the holiday thanks to exponentially higher airplane tickets) we started our own Thanksgiving tradition. Namely, why on earth would we make an entire 12-pound turkey when there’s only 2 of us to feed? I mean, Brad can put away a surprising amount of food for a lanky white boy (I blame it on growing up fighting over food with 3 older brothers). But given the choice, I’d rather not spend my Thursday night in the hospital after Brad “accidentally” eats 14 pounds of poultry “because it’s just so tasty.”

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So in the interest of both our wallet and Brad’s gastro-intestinal health, we forgo the traditional $70-turkey-to-feed-12, and instead choose to spend these few years of YMC (Young Married Couple) Thanksgivings trying out fancy-pants new holiday dishes. Last year, we had salmon poached in red wine, and the year before that, it was cornish game hens. Back in 2006, our first year here in Denver, we had a totally ghetto Thanskgiving, but that’s another story for another post…

This year it’s steak. This is based on a on a dish that B and I had at a local Denver restaurant called 1515. The original dish was steak over butternut squash puree with a roasted cherry tomato confit. While it was undeniably delicious… it was also late spring here in Denver when we had this dish. When fresh cherry tomatoes are definitely NOT in season. I racked my brain trying to come up with a locally-available substitute if I were to serve this for the Thanksgiving meal. I wanted something that would still have the sweetness to play off the gamey steak, and that would have a soft, but still chewy texture, but it had to be an ingredient available in late fall. I think I found the perfect (locally-grown) complement in caramelized onions.

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This is the most amazing dish. The butternut squash puree is delicious on it’s own (perhaps a side dish if you’re making turkey for the big day?) The steak is tender, chewy, and the perfect savory complement to the butternut squash puree. The caramelized onions are sweet but not overly so, and they burst with flavor when you bite into them, just like the tomato confit did in the original dish. If you’re hosting a YMC Thanksgiving this year, consider this for your entree… or consider this for a secondary entree if you’re cooking for a huge crowd on the Big Day.

And eventually, when we make it home again for Turkey Day, we will go back to turkey… but for now, we enjoy our non-turkey holiday dishes!

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Steak over Butternut Squash Puree with Caramelized Onions

Inspired by 1515 Restaurant
Serves 6

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This recipe is easily adaptable to more or less servings – I would budget about 1/2 to 3/4 pound of beef per person (depending on if this is the main dish or a second dish to the turkey) and 1/2 an onion per person. Make the full serving of butternut squash puree because you’ll pretty much want to bathe in it, it’s so delicious.

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Gather:
1 large butternut squash, halved and seeded
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
10 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 sweet yellow onions, sliced into strips
4 pounds top sirloin steak
salt and pepper
baking sheet, cooling rack, cast iron (or oven-safe) frying pan

Prepare:
Prepare the squash. Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Place the two halves of squash on the baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with brown sugar, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and crumble the butter over the squash halves. Bake at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes or until the flesh soft, i.e. easily pierced with a knife. Scrape the inside of the squash into the bowl of a food processor/blender, and pulse until the squash is a smooth consistency. (Make ahead: can be prepared up to 2 days in advance; store in the fridge until ready to use, and reheat slowly over medium heat until hot.)

Prepare the caramelized onions. Add 4 of the remaining 8 tablespoons olive oil and the onions to a large saute pan. Toss the onions to coat with oil. Cook the onions over medium-low heat for about 90 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or more frequently, to prevent the onions from burning to the bottom of the pan. Add a tablespoon of brown sugar if after an hour of cooking, the onions still retain some of their bite. Remove onions from heat when they are dark brown and sweet, approximately 60-90 minutes. (Make ahead: can be prepared up to 2 days in advance; store in the fridge until ready to use, and reheat slowly over medium heat until hot.)

Prepare steak and assemble. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and let the oven sit at 325 for at least 20 minutes before starting the beef (to let the oven get good and hot). Season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper. Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet, and place the seasoned steak on top of the cooking rack. Bake the steak for 10 minutes, or until the steak starts to feel rare, using the finger test.

Meanwhile, while the steak is baking, add the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil to the frying pan, and heat over medium-high heat. As soon as the steak is done in the oven, use tongs to transfer the steak to the hot frying pan. Cook about 2 minute on one side of the steak, then flip and cook another 1 minute on the reverse side. Refrain from moving the steak in the pan; you want to get a good sear on the steak. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes, before slicing into 1/4 inch strips against the grain.

Spread the butternut squash puree down the middle of a serving dish, and place slices of beef over the top. Top with a line of hot caramelized onions down the middle of the steak. Serve.

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Thanksgiving Background Music Recommendation of the Day – in our house, we like a constant stream of mellow background music to enjoy along with our holiday festivities. Here is a week of safe-for-childrens’-ears, no-curse-words-to-creep-out-Grandma, soft tunes to accompany your turkey and mashed potatoes. (And not one of my recommendations will be a washed-up-musician’s rendering of Christmas hits, I promise.)

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James Vincent Mcmorrow / Early in the Morning

I’ve mentioned JVM before on the blog, but I really can’t get enough of his folk-ish pop rock. It won’t upset Grandma, I promise… she might even have a crush on him by the end of the night.

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Conchiglie with Mustard, Sausage, and Thyme

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If you haven’t been following me on Twitter lately, you might not have picked up on the fact that as of late, I’ve been a single woman.

Don’t worry, B didn’t leave me for Elizabeth Hurley, his current “get out of jail free” card. And I didn’t leave Brad for Ian Somerhalder, or Gerard Butler, or Caleb Followill, or Ed Westwick, or Taylor Kitsch, or any of the other men for which I have an “acute fondness.”

Unfortunately, B has just been out of town like CRAZY lately. I’m bored out of my MIND without someone to constantly nag talk to all the time. I’ve practically started talking to my TV, honestly. So after like, the third straight week of him being out of town, and him having to eat horrid restaurant food every night, he came home for the weekend. Last Monday, Brad made a special request for his grand Friday night return meal. B hardly ever makes straight-up requests for a certain dish… so when he asks for something in particular, I try to accommodate. Well, out of all things…

He requested pasta.

And mustard.

Together. (Just in case you missed that part.)

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I know… it’s weird. I mean, we eat a LOT of mustard in our house (we have – let me count – 5 different kinds in our fridge right now? Overkill, I’m sure) but uh, I’ve never made a mustard-based sauce for pasta.

Well, there’s a first time for everything… right? I mean, mustard and pasta are like, our two favorite foods. Surely I could find SOME WAY to meld them in an amicable way. Well, Google came to the rescue — as usual — by leading me to a Food & Wine recipe. Pork and mustard go well together, I know this already. So it seemed like a reasonable conclusion that pork + mustard + carbs = mouthgasms.

Not surprisingly so… this pasta is delicious. It’s full of mustard flavor, so if you’re not such a fan of mustard, then maybe think about scaling back on the mustard by a tablespoon or two. The thyme here isn’t overwhelming, like thyme can sometimes be. Instead it just melds with the crushed red pepper and the mustard and cream to make a delicious tasting and delicious smelling sauce. This is also the perfect quick dish – the second time I prepared it, the entire dish was done in the amount of time it took the water to boil and the pasta to cook, about 20 minutes. You could easily substitute dried thyme in this recipe, just halve the amount of dried thyme.

I’m just saying… I know it sounds weird, but it’s just the dish to ease you into fall or winter… just trust me on this one!

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Conchiglie with Mustard, Sausage, and Thyme

Inspired by Food & Wine
Serves 4

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Gather:
1 pound conchiglie pasta (shells), or other bite-size pasta
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound mild italian sausage or ground pork
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
3/4 cup white wine
4 tablespoons coarse grainy mustard
3/4 cup half and half
salt and pepper

Prepare:
Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Season liberally with salt. Add pasta and cook according to package directions.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large shallow pan over medium heat. Add ground pork and proceed to break up the pork into bite-size pieces as it cooks. Cook for approximately 7 minutes, or until almost done. Clear a space in the pan, and add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to cleared space. Add crushed red pepper flakes and thyme to oil, and let fry for 10 seconds. Add wine to pan, scraping up any burnt bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the mustard and half and half, and toss to combine.

When pasta is al dente (tender to the bite), reserve a cup of pasta cooking water, and strain the rest of the pasta.  Add the pasta to the pan, and toss to coat the pasta with sauce. Add a little pasta water, if the sauce seems too thick and gloopy. Transfer to serving dish (if using, I won’t judge if you serve out of the pan, I’ve done it too) and garnish with a few springs of thyme.

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Rilo Kiley / Silver Lining I forgot how much I loved this song until I bought the album the other day… sigh. LOVE.

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Homemade Beef Jerky

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Wednesday was Brad and I’s third anniversary. In the grand tradition of our wedding anniversaries, we did something extra special…

We went out for pizza and beer. (We’re hardcore, I know.)

It’s not much of a change from what we did our first two anniversaries. We’re trying to get away from the fast food chains, though. (One of the anniversaries we went to Chipotle. *Cue your whispering* I KNOW. We’re so ashamed, you guys.)

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Anyhoodle, so I’ve learned that buying Brad gifts is really really hard. Like, extremely difficult. Akin to winning the Nobel Prize, even. Generally whenever B buys something for himself, he exchanges it 4 times before finally getting the exact thing he wanted. (This used to annoy me to no end, but now I think it’s kind of endearing… but I still won’t go shopping with him.) But, suffice it to say, whatever I buy him will either end up being exchanged too many times to count, or, sit unused in his closet because he doesn’t want to hurt my feelings by exchanging it.

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So the third anniversary according to the “traditional anniversary gifts chart” is leather. I’m sure there are tons of leather-specific, ahem, outfits, then I could buy, but I instead chose to go with something a little bit more… innocent. Instead of spending upwards of 20 hours searching for the perfect wallet, I chose instead to go with…

Homemade beef jerky.

GET IT???  You may commence rolling on the floor in laughter.

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Some of you might be thinking, That’s so lazy! Pick out a real gift, woman. Well, Brad LOVES beef jerky. He is cut of the “let’s go to Sam’s Club and buy 4 pounds of jerky at a time” cloth. I, personally, don’t get it at all. (My brother also likes beef jerky a lot… perhaps it’s a dude thing?) Someone might have to explain to me the merits of dried beef… to me it is the food equivalent of Lindsay Lohan’s next autobiography.

But, in the noble words of Vince Vaughn, “What my baby wants, my baby gets.”

I can’t speak to the deliciousness of the beef jerky in question, but B ate 4 pieces in the first 2 minutes. He specifically said that this beef jerky tasted “more beefy,” and “less like preservatives.” So apparently it was yummy? You let me know.

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Homemade Beef Jerky

Adapted from Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It!
Makes 1 pound

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I really liked this method because it was very simple, compared to some methods I’ve seen for drying beef jerky. The original recipe used top sirloin or flank steak, which are both great alternatives, but definitely more pricey. My butcher makes beef jerky all the time, and he said he uses top round because it tastes just as good or better, and is less pricey.

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Gather:
1 pound lean top round beef (see note below)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Canola oil or vegetable oil

NOTE: If you want to slice the beef yourself, let it sit in the freezer for an hour to firm up, which will make it easier to slice. Remove all fat from the meat. (Fat will go rancid much quicker than the meat part of the jerky.) Slice into 1/4 inch slices, and make sure the slices go against the grain. If you’re not sure how to tell which way the grain is going, watch this video. Alternatively, you can always ask your butcher to cut your steak for you (don’t forget to ask him to cut against the grain, and remove all fat.)

Prepare:
Lay the meat between layers of paper towels and press down to remove any surface moisture from the meat. Then lay the meat in one layer onto a cutting board. Cover with plastic wrap, and pound the meat using a tool of your choosing: a meat tenderizer, a hammer from your toolbox, a sturdy frying pan, or even a ramekin, like I used. Pound the meat until all slices are of an even thickness, around 1/8 inch thick.

In a bowl, mix the salt, soy sauce, sugar, crushed red pepper, and black pepper. Add the beef slices and toss to coat.

Place a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Wet a paper towel with a bit of canola oil, and lightly run the paper towel (oiled side down) over the cooling rack. (The oil will help prevent the meat from sticking later, so look for a light sheen on the rack.) Lay the meat onto the cooling rack, in a single layer, making sure no pieces of meat touch. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 hours. (The dry air of the fridge will help the marinade to stick, and also kick start the drying process.)

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. If your oven has a minimum temperature of 170 degrees (like mine, stupid oven), set the temperature to its lowest temperature and prop the door open with a wooden spoon. Dry the meat for 3 to 5 hours in the oven. Begin checking at 3 hours. The meat should not be brittle, but instead should tear into strips. It should be dark brown and the meat should not look raw inside.

Store in a glass jar or plastic bag in the fridge, up to 6 weeks.

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B -

Happy third. I think we lucked out.

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C

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Van Morrison / Beside You

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Pulled Pork Sandwiches with a Side of Good Looking Dudes

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This past weekend, Brad’s friend Nathan (see: blonde hair, plaid) came to visit. After I squeed about the fact that we were going to see Nathan for the first time in 2 years, I got REALLY excited about the fact that I now had two dudes to cook for. Which, naturally, means a giant cut of pork. (It’s the rule.)

Nathan was Brad’s roommate waaaaay back in the day when we were in college. (Read: waaaaay back in the day when I didn’t really know how to cook anything yet.) He says he’s been reading the blog since I started it; clearly he has nothing better to do with his day, I guess. We talked about how my blog is probably one of the only food blogs where you find frequent references to actors from horrible teen drama shows next to recipes for chick food. Both Brad and Nathan think that if I put more pictures of good lookin’ fellas on my blog then I’ll get more hits.

So that’s what they think, huh? Time for an experiment, I say.

I could write about how this is the perfect recipe for pulled pork, how the pork was totally the most hands off, easiest recipe IN THE WORLD. And about how this completely solidifies my belief that the Pioneer Woman is the Second Coming of Martha Stewart, Secluded-Ranch-in-Rural-Oklahoma-style.

But instead, I’ll just say… nothing.

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Ladies, feel free to send in your resumes and headshots. (I majored in Matchmaking.)

(I minored in Sarcasm.)

PS. Hands off the tall redhead.

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Spicy Pulled Pork

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cookbook
Serves 8-12

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Gather:
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons mild chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 5-to-7 pound boneless pork shoulder

Prepare:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place pork shoulder in a large roasting pan or dutch oven.

Combine dried oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt, black pepper, garlic, olive oil, white wine vinegar, brown sugar, and onion in a food processor or blender. Blend mixture until combined and pour over pork shoulder. Rub the mixture into all crevices of the pork shoulder. Pour 2 cups of water into the roasting pan, trying to avoid washing the rub off the pork.

Cover tightly (use aluminum foil if you’re using a roasting pan) and roast pork at 300º for 5 to 6 hours, turning once every hour if possible; I only turned mine over at 60 minutes, and then back again at 120 minutes, as afterwards the pork started to fall apart.

When the pork is fork tender (meaning you can insert a fork easily), remove the lid/foil and increase the heat to 425 degrees. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the top of the pork is crispy. Let pork sit for 15 minutes before shredding.

Shred the pork shoulder; using two forks works well. Transfer to a serving platter and pour pan juices over the pork before serving.

Serve on sandwich rolls with peach barbecue sauce, if desired.

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Ra Ra Riot / Boy

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NFMW 2010 Day Two: Brisket Sandwiches with Peach-Jalapeno Relish

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This week has been crazy, so there has been some delay in posting how National Farmer’s Market Week has been going for us. So far, we’ve been eating mostly vegetarian with lots of whole grains, beans, and eggs in our diet. I’m frustrated because I didn’t use up the squash blossoms that we bought on Saturday and by Sunday morning they had dried up in the glass of water I put them in. [insert string of profanities here]

That being said, I ate a peach for breakfast on Sunday morning, and we have a terrible habit of not eating lunch on the weekends, so this is what we ate for dinner on Sunday night. I wasn’t expecting the peach salsa to go so well with the beef, but I thought this was really delicious. This would probably go even better with pulled pork, if that’s what you have around the house.

(Note to self: New goal in life is to have pulled pork “just hanging around the house” at all times.)

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Brisket Sandwiches with Peach-Jalapeno Relish

Recipe from The Kitchenette
Serves 2

Gather:
2 peaches, washed, dried, pitted, and small-diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

slow-cooked brisket
2 rolls

Prepare:
Combine the peaches, jalapeno, and vinegar. Toss to coat. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before using.

Cut rolls in half, and toast. Heap a healthy serving of brisket onto a roll, and top with peach relish. Serve immediately.

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Bombay Bicycle Club / Ivy and Gold

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Flank Steak with Coffee and Balsamic Vinegar Marinade

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My dearest lady readers:

What we have here is called Man Food. As in, gi-normously huge pieces of beef to satisfy the abnormally insatiable hunger cravings of your favorite rugged cowboy, office drone, or rugged-cowboy-disguised-as-office-drone.

This is the food that you serve your husband/boyfriend/male BFF when they won’t quit talking about how much they need to “attack” a huge chunk of beef, because they’ve had “Girl Food” like lentils and farro and pasta with summer squash for a week straight.

But instead of serving him a ridiculously large, unseasoned, super-expensive steak to curb their cravings, while you make gagging noises in the corner because you just aren’t that enamored of plain old beef…

Instead you can serve him a properly-seasoned, mouthbomb of deliciousness cleverly disguised as a peace offering for when you accidentally dyed all of his underwear pink in the laundry.

It’s a win-win.

You can thank me later.

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PS. Ignore the crappy picture. I made this waaaaaaay back in the day before I got my Big Girl Camera.

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Flank Steak with Coffee and Balsamic Vinegar Marinade

Adapted from Simmer Down!

Serves 4

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Gather:
1 flank steak, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds
1 cup double-strength coffee
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 medium shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
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Prepare:
Mix all ingredients except flank steak in the bottom of a shallow dish or Ziploc bag. Add flank steak to marinade. Marinate steak at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours, turning every couple of hours.

Grill steak over indirect medium-high heat for 5-8 minutes per side, or until just cooked in the thickest part. Let steak rest 10 minutes before serving.

While steak is resting, bring marinade to a boil over high heat (this can be performed on the stove or using a grill; if using a grill, be sure you’re using aluminum or stainless steel cookware). Boil marinade until thickened and coating the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.

To serve, slice steak thinly against the grain, and drizzle with reduced marinade.

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Now Playing: Radio Dept / Heaven’s on Fire

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White Cheddar, Black Pepper and Chive Biscuits with Ham and Dijon

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The weekend before Memorial Day, my dear friend Emily married her sweetheart Carl. My mom and I were honored to bring the bride and her gaggle of bridesmaids some yummy treats for lunch on the day of the wedding. We ended up bringing these biscuits, a caprese salad (of sorts), the ever-popular wild rice salad, and cupcakes.

Oh, and we brought mimosas. Duh. I thought those were required for any bridal activities… yes?

Anyhoodle, the caprese salad and the cupcakes will come later… when I recreate them in my own house. Because due to some unforeseen circumstances involving a foot-long piece of fake hair and a bride who looked like she might cry, I was busy creating the Updo Of a Lifetime on the blushing bride, so I wasn’t able to snap any pics of the finished plates.

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That being said, I think these biscuits are perfect for a ladylike bridal party involving copious amounts of orange juice and champagne. We chose to leave out the chives so that there would be no hesitation on the part of the groom when he was able to finally kiss the bride.

Depending on the strength of the chives, these could end up having only a slight “herbiness” to the biscuits, or they might have a delicious onion-y whiff to each one. Feel free to leave them out if chives aren’t your thing. We served these with dijon and thin slices of a dry smoked ham. I used applewood-smoked ham when I made these at home, and then I used a Spanish Jamon ham when we made them for the bridal party. As long as it’s a dry ham (rather than a moist boiled ham), these will be delicious.

But be careful… it’s easy to tell yourself it’s okay to eat 12 in a row because “they’re mini biscuits.” (Ahem. Not that that happened to me. I swear.)

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White Cheddar, Black Pepper and Chive Biscuits with Ham and Dijon

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Makes 36 bite-size or 12 regular-size biscuits

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Gather:
3 1/4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 1/2 cups coarsely grated sharp white cheddar cheese (about 12 ounces)
1/8 cup minced fresh chives
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1 3/4 cups chilled buttermilk
1 pound applewood smoked ham, thinly sliced, for serving
dijon mustard, for serving

Prepare:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Using food processor or box grater, shred cheese. Remove (from food processor if using) to a bowl and set aside.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a food processor. Pulse for 5 seconds or until mixed. Add butter to food processor, and pulse until butter is pea-sized. Transfer flour mix to a large mixing bowl. Add shredded cheddar, fresh chives, and black pepper to bowl, and toss until cheddar is coated with flour. Add buttermilk to bowl and stir until combined. Knead lightly in the bowl to pick up any extra flour at the bottom of the bowl. The dough will be very sticky.

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“sticky dough” = understatement of the year

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Divide dough into four equal parts. Each fourth of dough should yield approximately 9 bite-size biscuits. Carefully pull apart a 1 1/2-inch piece of dough, and place biscuit on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

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Bake at 425 for 11-12 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Remove to a wire cooling rack, and let stand until cool enough to slice. Slice in half, and add one or two slices of ham to each biscuit. Serve slightly warm or room temperature with dijon mustard on the side.

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Now Playing: Janelle / Tightrope – This is so catchy… it makes my knees wiggle. But not in the way her knees wiggle in the video… because she’s way more talented than I in the dancing department.

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