Saturday, September 22, 2012

Homemade beef broth

What?! Why would anyone make their own broth?! Oh, there are a million reasons! My main reason is knowing exactly what I'm eating. That's very important to me. =]

Homemade broths are one of the easiest things to make and probably the first "real homemade" thing I did... it came before canning, jamming, and all that other good stuff.

Right now, we're going to focus on beef broth. It's really simple, very versatile, and just plain good.

You want to start with some good knuckle bones and bones with marrow in them. That's where the flavors at, man! You can get these in any meat department - if you don't see them, just ask the butcher. You want them to have some meat on them still - not bare bones!
A couple onions
A bunch of carrots
Some celery
A few bay leaves

You can add any other spices you like, but these are fairly standard for me.  I'm not giving specific amounts 1) because I don't do that well and 2) because it depends on how much stock you're making and how many bones you have.

The trick, in my opinion, is to roast the bones before actually making the stock or broth.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Salt and pepper the knuckle bones generously, place them on a baking sheet, along with all your veggies. Roast them in the oven for about 45 minutes, turning a couple times so nothing burns.

Once that's done, place all the bones, meat, and veggies in a large stock pot, cover the bones with water by quite a few inches. Add the rest of the seasonings. Bring to a slow boil, reduce heat and simmer for hours and hours! =] I would simmer for at least 4 hours, but doing it longer won't hurt.

There will be some fat that rises to the top as it cooks, feel free to skim that off as it cooks. If the water runs low, feel free to add more. Be sure to add more salt and pepper too!

Once it's done cooking, use a strainer and transfer the broth into another large stock pot, allowing the strainer to catch all the veggies and bones. If you have dogs, kindly feed bones and veggies to them - they'll love you forever!

Leave the broth on the counter to cool. Then refrigerate overnight. The next day, skim the layer of fat off the top of the broth. At this point, I freeze. I put it in quart size bags, lay them flat, and store them in the freezer. You can also put them in freezable mason jars or plastic freezerware. All options work fine! I like having smaller portions for when a recipe calls for a cup of broth! It's so convenient!

Note - I am not beneath using bones if we have a big steakfest or a huge roast with a bone. I've done it! haha.

Happy broth making! 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Homemade Enchilada sauce.

I cooked the entire day yesterday. Well, I took some time out mid-morning, after the bacon cups and before the dinner began... Once I was back in the kitchen, though, it felt good! And I felt so resourceful yesterday!

It was Sharleen's birthday, so we wanted to have a nice birthday dinner. The only thing she requested I make was my banana puddin - and I did! It didn't at all match the rest of dinner, but it's what she wanted.

On the menu was some spicy bean salsa with chips, Mexican red rice, refried beans, chicken chimichangas, and, of course, the banana puddin!

In order to make all this happen from scratch, it meant starting early and using every bit of everything. Including the bacon grease from the mornings Bacon Egg cups.

One of the things I made was enchilada sauce from scratch - I've never done that before! It was so easy. I found the recipe here and I didn't really change anything about it.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used Olive oil - it's what I had)
1 cup diced onion
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons hot chili powder (I didn't have hot, so I just used regular chili powder)
4 1/2 cups chicken broth (homemade!)
1/2 (1 ounce) square semisweet chocolate (I used the whole square, I'm a rebel!)
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high high heat. Saute onion until tender. Stir in garlic, oregano, cumin and cinnamon; saute for a few minutes. Stir in flour and chili powder and make sure it's all mixed together. Slowly whisk in chicken broth; reduce until sauce reaches desired consistency. Stir in chocolate until melted and well blended. 
Here's what you get!  

Bacon egg cups!

I love finding things on Pinterest! Some things work, some things don't.

This worked! But obviously my camera didn't. I tried at least 10 times to get a non-blurry photo and it just wasn't working. You can get the gist of it, though, right?

All you need to make 12 of these beauties is:
12 strips of bacon
8 eggs
Shredded cheese
Salt and pepper

I precooked the bacon a little, until it looked like this. I didn't want it too done, but I wanted it to have a head start. While that's cooking, heat your oven to 350. Beat your eggs with a little milk, like you would normally scramble an egg. Add some salt and pepper, and whatever kind of cheese you like. I had some mozzarella and some cheddar - I used both. =]

Spray a muffin tin and start your construction! Add in the bacon by curling it around the muffin cup - it's going to be a little too long, so as you can see, I tore of the extra piece and put it in the bottom of the pan. Then add the egg mixture, I used a little cup to help make this process neater. Once all the cups are filled, place it in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the eggs are set. You may need to use a knife around the edges to pop them out, place them on a paper towel for just a minute, and then serve! Woohoo! 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Beef and noodles

I have NO clue where this recipe fits into my childhood, but I remember eating it. Someone made it and I loved it. I don't know who or when... but I do remember the food.

Beef-n-noodles. Simple food. I had to figure it out.

This was my very first try and there are a few things I will do differently next time, but it was enough of the same that I knew I was on the right track!

3# (or more) chuck roast
water, lots of it!
2 envelopes beefy onion soup mix

For the noodles:
2 c. flour (plus more for, well, you'll see why!)
2 eggs
pinch of salt
tad of melted butter (yes, tad is a measurement in my world - get over it! =] )

Place the roast in a crockpot on low. Add both envelopes soup mix and cover with water. Walk away. =]

After about 4 hours, you can begin your noodles. Just throw all the ingredients in a big bowl and mix it together - if it seems too thick, add just a bit of water. Once it's well mixed, flour a huge surface and begin to roll out your dough. You want it really, really flat. Continue to add flour to your rolling pin and the surface as needed.

I tried to cut mine two different ways, but I'm still not sure which way I prefer. I suppose, once I do it more, I'll have a preference.

One way was to use a super sharp knife and just cut thin strips while it's laid out on the surface. However, you don't want them that long, so you have to cut long ways and then cut the strips into smaller pieces.

Another way is to take your rolled out dough and roll it into a log, cut all the way down the length so you have two long pieces, and then cut into smaller pieces. 

Once your dough is all cut, add more flour to keep them separated. You can see that mine is all jumbled together, I wouldn't do that next time. I would be sure to have enough space to lay them out in individual pieces. Like I said, you will need a lot of room! Now just let them hang out for a little while. They need to rest.

When the meat is done, about 6 hours, remove it from the crock pot and shred. Now, this is where I ran into some problems, but I will conquer this! I, originally, put the shredded meat back into the crockpot and then threw in two full batches of noodles. I think it was way too much for the space and the noodles ended up clumping together and turned into more of a dumpling instead of individual noodles. Next time, I will put all the broth, along with some added water, salt and pepper, into a larger dutch oven on the stove and cook the noodles that way. Then add the meat back in for the little bit to heat it back up. When you add the noodles, you want a good bit of flour on them still because you actually want them to soak up most of the broth. This dish isn't meant to be soup, but it is meant to be beef with noodles and some gravy! When added to the crockpot, the noodles had to cook for about an hour. I'm not sure what the time frame will be when I try it on the stove.

I look forward to trying this again to see if I can master this simple, comfort dish that is so fondly burned into my memory.

Creamy soup remade!

It's been a long time since I've looked at some of these posts...

It's been a long time since I've written some of these posts...

The good news is - I'm a changed person! I see ingredients that I would never use now and even had to take something off my "pantry must-have" list over there on the side. Canned creamy soup. Any kind. It was *always* in my house. It was a well used ingredient!

I'm free of the canned creamy soup!! Praise Jesus! Right? Right!

Want to break free from the canned creamy soup bondage, too? Let me show you how!

4 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. flour
1/2 - 1 c. chicken broth (homemade!)
1/2 c. half and half (might be a little more)
salt and pepper, to taste

Melt the butter in a small saucepan then add the flour slowly to make a nice roux. Remove the pan from heat (turn the burner to low while the pan is removed) and add in the chicken stock until it's nice and creamy. Place the pan back over the low heat and slowly add the cream. Bring it to a gentle boil until it's a thick, creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper.

Note: There are SO many variations to this... This recipe will just serve as a base and can be used as is. Or you can add sauteed onions, mushrooms, celery, and any other seasonings you may like. It really depends on the recipe you're putting it into. Also, the measurements are very dependent on what sort of dish it's going into. A thicker sauce or soup base will work well for things like pot pie, while a thinner one would work well to make potato soup or something along those lines. Just try it - you'll find your rhythm! =]

I went MIA!

Remember a while back, I said I was moving... well, I did!


However, in the move, my computer was somehow broken. So, since then, I've been without a computer of my own and it's made blogging most difficult! I was also juggling a couple jobs, but I'm now down to just one and I'm committing to more blogging! I have to borrow a computer to do it, but I'm going to do my best to stay on top of things!

Hold me to it!

I have a lot to write about. =]

Breakfast pizza for dinner!

Breakfast Tortilla Pizza

Want to know how to make two 6 year old girls very happy? Good! I like to know these things too! =]

Enter flour tortillas. They are so dang versatile, aren’t they?!

I wanted to make individual flat bread pizzas tonight for dinner. However, I didn’t feel great and didn’t stop at the store for the needed flat bread. I had enough for the big people in the house, but not for the little people. Time to make a crunch last minute decision!

2 flour tortillas
Ground sausage
2 eggs
Shredded cheese, whatever kind you like
Cherry tomatoes, halved

Now let me say this… and it's really important - cuz I gots important things to say! =] If I were making this for grown folks, the ingredient list would be much larger. Also, if I had a more stocked fridge, it would be much larger. I had to work with what I had on hand to please the little mouths.

Brown the sausage in a skillet on the stove. Drain. Wipe *most* of the grease out, but leave a bit for frying the eggs. Add your eggs to the skillet and cook until almost done. Put your broiler on high. Lay the tortillas on a cookie sheet, top with the sausage, cheese, and add the egg in the center. Place the halved tomatoes strategically about and place in the oven. Don’t close the door all the way or they’ll get too done and that’s never good. After a couple minutes of constantly watching and the cheese is melty and the egg is done, pull them out. Sprinkle freshly ground salt over them and voila!