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pasta and beef

A week ago yesterday, our neighbors, Allison and Ian, had a new baby girl. She joins two sisters, ages 2 and 3.  Since Allison obviously has her hands full (to say the least!) another neighbor, Kim, organized a sign-up for us to pitch in and bring dinners to the family for the next couple weeks.

genius

Kim used a great online tool called Signup Genius. I’d never heard of it before, but I guess it’s all the rage with mom’s of school age kids. I am so out of the loop! It really is genius though!

braised tri tip and spaghetti

Anyhow, I made a double batch of this dish yesterday afternoon. My three guys really enjoyed it for dinner last night. Hopefully Ian, Allison and their girls will enjoy it just as much tonight.

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February 17, 2014   1 Comment

Christmas dinner 2013

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.
We did.
Of course, the best part is having all my loves home with me!

o christmas tree

For Christmas Eve, we brought back a tradition we began last year (when I had a fractured pelvis and could not stand up in the kitchen to cook) and we once again had blue cheese fondue. We are all in love with the new simple, fun, and communal approach to a special family meal. The kids voted that we add in chocolate fondue for dessert in 2014. Dave and I made that vote unanimous.

2013 Christmas table

This was our Christmas day tablescape.

glitter L

For our Christmas day dinner, the main course was something I taught at Les Gourmettes, individual beef Wellingtons.

beef tenderloin

You’ll notice that some of the photos below were taken while I was prepping for that class.

tenderloin

I purchased a full beef tenderloin and cut it into 16 pieces. This was the most economical way to feed a crowd.

16 steaks

For our holiday meal, I purchased already cut filet mignon.

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December 27, 2013   2 Comments

sizzlin’ fajitas

Connor is between semesters at school so he is home for a couple of weeks. On Sunday, I asked him to decide what we’d have for dinner and he didn’t hesitate – he requested fajitas.

fajita fixins

It’s been ages since I’ve made ‘em, so I went all out and cooked up not only traditional beef, but also shrimp and chicken. The best part about that… we had plenty of leftover beef and had tacos on Monday night. Yay for leftovers!

flap meat

Connor and I shopped at Food City for our meal. In our search for skirt steak, we happily stumbled upon flap meat. Flap meat can be difficult or next to impossible to find at standard grocery stores like Safeway, so when I come across it, I can’t help but get a little excited.

Flap meat comes from the bottom sirloin, and although it’s from a similar region as flank steak or skirt steak, it’s a different cut. The flap is not very tender, but it is well-marbled and very flavorful. It’s sometimes called flap steak or bavette and is an excellent meat for carne asada and fajitas.

If you can’t find flap, use either skirt or flank steak for this recipe.

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August 27, 2013   2 Comments

salting beef

salt

When I have the time, I like to salt my beef and let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking. If I have even more time (and remember – that’s really the hard part – remembering!) I prefer to salt it overnight.

You may have heard or been taught to not salt beef until just before cooking. That can be true too.  I know, it’s so contradictory and confusing. Instead of trying to explain it myself, I am going to direct you to THIS ARTICLE, which explains the science of it perfectly, and also tells you what NOT to do when salting beef.

This is good information, don’t be lazy, be sure to check it out!

herbs

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March 16, 2013   No Comments

new “skinny” tag

skinny2

I’m adding a new tag to the blog. “Skinny” is the name. My long-time friend, Karen Mock (seen below with her husband, Bob) has become a Health Coach for the Take Shape for Life program. I started working with her last week. So from now until, who knows when, most recipes I post will be “lean and green” and tagged with “skinny.”  It’ll take awhile for “skinny” to show up on the tag cloud over there on the left, and who knows, it may knock “vodka” off of there. That would be kinda sad!

Karen & Bob * G&T's

I don’t think you’ll mind my new skinny recipes, in fact, the last three recipes I posted have been “skinny.” Some of them, I will create, others I’ll be modifying from recipes that Karen has sent me from the Take Shape for Life recipe files.

I modify them to add more flavor; not more fat, calories, or carbs. Mostly, I’ll be achieving this with the addition of spices and herbs, or with a change to the cooking technique.

For instance, the recipe I’m giving you today was a TSL recipe, but instead of just throwing the raw boneless ribs into the slow cooker, I brown them first in a skillet that I’ve sprayed with Pam and then deglaze the skillet with water and pour that in the slow cooker too. More Flavor – No Added Fat!

walden farms

One of the products that Karen turned me onto that will help me boost flavor is the line of condiments from Walden Farms. All Walden Farms items are currently “BOGO Free” at Sprouts. The sale goes through 3/13/13. I saved $16 on my purchase of the eight products shown below!

$16 not $32

I honestly don’t think you’ll even notice a difference in the recipes I post, so please don’t worry, it won’t be anything like the dreaded 3-Week Cleanse that I did for most of last month!

If you’re interested in finding out more about the TSL Program, you can email Karen at karenmock@cox.net. You will LOVE her! And be sure to tell her that you learned about her here.

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March 11, 2013   2 Comments

crock-pot French Dip

Easy French Dip

My husband loves fires, really a little too much. For Dave, this blazing glory is a small fire. I think he has a problem!

fire

and…

French Dip Recipe

… Crock-Pots Rock!

That’s all I have to say as an intro for this super easy and super delicious recipe.

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January 4, 2013   2 Comments

2 ingredient crock-pot beef

After working for two solid days on the “Treasure Party” – aka our neighborhood yard sale, I am beat. Dead tired! I didn’t get out of my PJ’s all day on Sunday. In fact, as I type this post, it is 7:30 on Sunday night and I am back in bed.

I went to sleep at 8:30 on Saturday night (the sale day) and didn’t wake up until 8:30 on Sunday morning. Twelve hours was still not enough sleep and I had to take a nap on Sunday afternoon. I never nap. Naps are for wimps. So, yes, I admit, much to my dismay, I am a now officially a wimp.

We set up all the treasures on more than 3 dozen large (8-ft, 6 ft, and 60-inch round) heavy folding tables. We initially had to squeeze all those tables under the back patio and in the garages (because of rain) and then I got up before the crack of dawn and we moved them all into the yard and spread them out on the open patio for the sale.

Then there was the 4-hour sale itself. At times there were lines of people at the checkout and other times it was just the neighbors hanging out chatting it up.

Next it was time to clean it all up and break down the more than 3 dozen tables. Then Connor and I hoisted all the tables that were left at our house into the back of a truck and hauled them around the neighborhood to return them to their rightful owners. Finally, I put my yard back together – moving all the furniture that had been pushed to one end of the patio, to make room for everything else, back to their correct spots. By the late afternoon I was feeling like a wrung out dirty dishrag.

That is a lot of physical labor and a lot of hard work!

Aside from all that, the sale was really fun and we did pretty darn well. The remaining items are shoved and smashed into the third stall of our garage awaiting the Salvation Army pickup later this week.

After eating take-out for the three or four days leading up to the sale, I thought I’d better at least make an attempt at dinner for my guys on Sunday night. Thankfully, Connor agreed to go to the grocery store and pick up the two ingredients I needed to make this crock-pot dish, the epitome of  an “easy breezy” meal.

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November 12, 2012   2 Comments

take out at home

Mongolian beef is one of the easiest of your typical Chinese restaurant entrées to make at home.  An added bonus – it is so delicious that you may never order Mongolian beef for take-out again! Never again!

The recipe serves six, but can easily be cut down to serve 2 or 4.

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October 9, 2012   6 Comments

a hint of Asia

As summer drags on and I long to make soups, stews, and roasts. To heat the oven and roast vegetables instead of stand in the sweltering heat and grill them. Summer means burgers and we’re actually tiring of those too … so I decided to put a twist on the traditional summer burger and throw in some Asian influence. It was the perfect change!

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September 5, 2012   1 Comment

maple + mustard = yum!

We love flank steak, it’s a favorite “go-to” meal at our house. I usually make THIS version, with soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and brown sugar.

For a change of pace, I tried something new, that was even easier. My boys – Dave, Connor, and my dad – gave it six thumbs up!

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July 26, 2012   3 Comments