Category Archives: Meats

THE STUFF THAT BELL PEPPERS ARE MADE OF…

My family is definitely meat lovers. Now that is not to say that they don’t get their vegetables and fruit. On occasions I have been known to serve a no meat dinner. We never call it vegetarian, just “no meat.” When I do the meaty dinners you can bet that I slip in those vegetables. My meatloaf is always loaded with vegetables. Another great meal to serve that get those all-important vitamins and grains hidden in all that meat is STUFFED BELL PEPPERS.

The stuff you need:

  • 1 Sauté Pan 12”-18”
  • 1 4-6 qtr. Pot of water heated to a boil
  • 1 large bowl of ice water
  • 1 – 9X 12 baking pan (casserole)
  • Aluminum foil

The Filing:

  • 2 tbsp. Trader Joes Garlic Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Trader Joe’s Mire Poix (yup – this stuff is great)
  • 1 to 1-1/2lb of ground beef or ground turkey
  • 2 tsp dried herbs
  • Diced bell pepper pieces form the pepper tops
  • 1 cup of leftover rice, lentils, Joe’s Multigrain blend with vegetables or whatever you have
  • 1 cup spaghetti sauce or even ketchup will work. ½ cup for the filling and ½ cup for the topping)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (more if you like)
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce or Braggs Aminos
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I really like Lawry’s Season Salt)
  • Approximately 2 ½ cup of shredded cheese (your choice)

Pour oil into pan at medium- high heat. Allow to heat and add the Mire poix, dried herbs and diced peppers and sauté until veggies are still slightly firm. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Now add your ground meat and cook until no longer pink. Next add your rice, lentils, or whatever you have. Stir together and add spaghetti sauce, Worcestershire, soy sauce or Braggs. Adjust seasonings. Remove from heat. Now add half of your cheese and mix together.

The Peppers

6 medium sized bell peppers combination of red, yellow and orange. I don’t particularly care for the green ones.

Cut tops off of the peppers and remove seeds and fibrous membrane. Rinse. Take the pepper tops and pull off the stems and cut into small dice and reserve. We are going to add them to our filling.

With tongs, submerge 2 peppers in the prepared pot of hot water at a time. Leave for about 2 minutes. Remove and turn upside down to drain and submerge again in your bowl of iced water. Remove from water, drain and place on the baking pan and continue the same method with the remaining peppers. Lightly salt the interior of the peppers.

Fill with prepared stuffing. Top with spaghetti sauce, ketchup or even BBQ sauce.

Place in oven preheated to 375 degrees. Cover with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes Remove foil, top with your favorite cheese and pop back into the oven for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove, let rest for 5 minutes and serve.

Stuffed Bell Pepper w/ Salad
Stuffed Bell Pepper w/ Salad

FOODISTORY

If you have been following my blog you will have noticed I use a lot of the Trader Joe’s Mirepoix, the mixture or melody of vegetables incorporated into a dish, like my stuffed Bell Peppers. It’s a great way to hide those essential vegetables loaded with all those more important vitamins and get them into your persnickety kids.

These combined diced vegetables are a cooking technique that is probably older than time itself. I can imagine a Homo sapiens or Cro-magnum Man crouching down over his stone cutting board using his sabretooth tusk knife cutting up the food he found lying around to put into his Simple Gourmet dish. The term mirepoix dates back to a 18th century Frenchman by the cuisine chef by the name of Charles-Pierre-Gaston Francois de Levis, duc de Levis-Mirepoix (1699-1757). He as a field marshal and ambassador and a member of the noble family of Levis, lords of Mirepoix (kind of getting where the name came from?) in Languedoc. According to Pierre Larousse (Oxford Companion to Food) the duke of Mirepoix as “an incompetent and mediocre individual who owed his vast fortune to the affections of Louis XV”. His only claim to fame is, you guessed it, gave his name to a sauce made of all kinds of meat and a variety of seasonings.

The term is not encountered regularly in French culinary texts until the 19th century, so it is difficult to know what a dish à la mirepoix was like in 18th-century France. Beauvilliers for instance, in 1814, gives a short recipe for a Sauce à la Mirepoix which is a buttery, wine-laced stock garnished with an aromatic mixture of carrots, onions, and a bouquet garni. Careme in the 1830s, gives a similar recipe, calling it simply Mire-poix; and, by the mid-19th century, Gouffe refers to a mirepoix as “a term in use for such a long time that I do not hesitate to use it here”. His mirepoix is listed among essences and, indeed, is a meaty concoction, which, like all other essences, was used to enrich many a classic sauce. By the end of the 19th century, the mirepoix had taken on its modern meaning and Joseph Favre in his Dictionnaire universel de cuisine (c. 1895, reprinted 1978) uses the term to describe a mixture of ham, carrots, onions, and herbs used as an aromatic condiment when making sauces or braising meat.

According to the 1938 Larousse Gastronomique, a mirepoix may be prepared “au gras” (with meat) or “au maigre” (“lean”).[7] Mirepoix au maigre is sometimes called a brunoise. A mirepoix au gras contains diced ham or pork belly as an additional ingredient. Similar combinations, both in and out of the French culinary repertoire, may include leeks, parsnips, garlic, tomatoes, shallots, mushrooms, bell peppers, chilies, and ginger, according to the requirements of the regional cuisine or the instructions of the particular chef or recipe.

I find it interesting, because of my past blog on Jambalaya that in Cajun and Creole cuisine, a mirepoix is called “holy trinity” and is a combination of onions, celery and bell peppers.

Traditionally, the weight ratio for mirepoix is 2:1:1 of onions, celery, and carrots;[1] the ratio for bones to mirepoix for stock is 10:1. When making a white stock, or fond blanc, parsnips are used instead of carrots to maintain the pale color.

Once again I thank Wikipedia.

Coming soon, our StayCruise adventure.

As always……

Live Well – Eat Well

CHICKEN POT PIE – WHOLESOME – FEEL GOOD

With all the healthy people in the house now we have a lot of chicken. Sometimes there are leftovers, so what’s the best thing to do with left over chicken you ask? CHICKEN POT PIE!!! This is a wholesome, feel good meal with all sort of good vegetables, savory filling and, of course, chicken. This is always a great family meal, but what makes a good chicken pot pie? It’s not the chicken, let’s face it, chicken is chicken and the same can be said for the vegetables so that leaves only two other THINGS. The first is the savory mixture and it must be “saucy” enough, but the most important ingredient and what makes the chicken pot pie, THE CHICKEN POT PIE is the CRUST. It’s all about the crust! It must be flaky, the right thickness and have a touch of sweetness. If the crust ain’t right then it just ain’t Chicken Pot Pie. I’ve seen people, my family included, eat all the pie “innards” and save the crust for last. Now I will be the first to admit that I don’t make my own crust, I can but I’m usually in a hurry – hungry kids, husband, I’m sure you know what I mean. If some want to know the recipe let me know and I will post it but I like to save time and when there is a product out there that meets the grade – I will use it! Trader Joe’s has the best pie crust there it and you guessed it, with my handy-dandy discount you bet I use it!

Plated Pie

Ingredients

  • 8” X 8” Baking Pan
  • Package of Pre-made Pie Crust (of course I use Trader Joes’ – employee discount and all)
  • 3 cups of Roasted Chicken Meat (White and dark. If you are using leftovers and this is a good recipe for leftover chicken, using 2 cups is okay)
  • 2 cups of Trader Joe’s Organic Foursome or your favorite mixed vegetables
  • 2 tbsp. of Light Olive Oil
  • 1 container of Trader Joe’s Mire Poix
  • 4 tbsp. of Butter
  • 4 tbsp. Flour
  • 2 cups of Milk
  • 1 cup of Chicken Stock
  • 14.66 oz. packet of Knorr Chicken Concentrated Stock.

This is awesome stuff! But use what you got. Go to that Awesome Pantry that you have. OH! You Don’t! Well check out my last blog on what it takes to have a great pantry.

  • 1` tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp. or to taste Hot Pepper Sauce
  • 1 Egg whisked with 1 tsp. of water

Defrost Pie Crust according to instructions.

Heat a large Sauté pan with 2 tbsp. of oil to medium high heat. Add mire poix and sauté for approximately 4 minutes. Remove vegetables from pan and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium and add the 4 tbsp. of Butter to the pan. Heat until melted then add the flour whisking them together until they form a paste. Heat for approximately 2-3 minutes or until the flour does not taste raw and the mixture bubbles slightly.

Now add the Milk and Stock, whisking continually to avoid lumps. Add ½ of the container of Knorr chicken and incorporate (add more if you like according to taste).

Add additional seasonings and continue to cook whisking gently until sauce is thickened to a light gravy texture.

Add Chicken, Frozen vegetables and mire poix to the sauce and simmer another 3-4 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, get a bowl and add the 1tsp. water, break the egg into the bowl and whisk together.

Roll out the pie crust as directed. Now pour Chicken filling into the pan. Cover with the crust, trimming the edges. Brush Crust using a pastry brush with the egg mixture. Cut 4-6 one inch slice in the pie crust to release steam.

Butter Brush

Place in a 375 degree oven (or temperature indicated in the pie dough package) for approximately 30 minutes or until the Crust is golden brown.cooked Pie

Remove from the oven and allow to set for 20 minutes.

Add a nice green salad and you have an AWESOME meal!!

Enjoy – Serves 4 – Generously!

FOODISTORY

Pie is where the dough meets the meat going all the way back to the Greek and Romans. I would imagine that there was a cook way back in ancient Roman looking at all the leftover meat from one of those Roman orgies and wonder what could be done with it all. We all know that the Italian are big on bread, so you got the dough on one table and the meat on another table and some clumsy help bumped into the tables, knocked them over, meat on top of dough, dough on top of meat well enough said. Fruit parties were always popular with the Greeks and Roman so it was a natural progression from sweet to savory. The Greeks placed cooked meat in open pastry shells called “artocreas.” The Romans were credited with putting the top crust on.

The pot pies got their names form England. The English formed a pie in what was called a coffin which was done by molding the pastry along the bottom of a pie pan or a pot. Thus the Pot Pie and with the chicken added we get the famous Chicken Pot Pie.

The Chicken Pot Pie was the first frozen pit pie made available in the US. It was developed by Swanson Company in 1951. My personal opinion is one of best chicken pot pie is made by Marie Callender’s.

Some Pot pies don’t make the grade.  would you dine on one of these:

  • Tongue pie
  • Ox tongue apples and sugar
  • Ox foot pie
  • Sea Pie made with pigeons, veal and pork

I think Marie probably passed on these!

Enjoy Life and Eat Well!  Pass up the Sea Pie though!

SHORT RIBS – NO “SHORT” COMINGS HERE

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This is one of my family’s favorite dishes. When they walk in the door and get a whiff of the rich aroma emitting from the kitchen the drooling doesn’t stop. I have to push them away from the oven. When those beauties come out of the oven, the color is so rich and immensely juicy and the meat just melts in your mouth. If you were a vegetarian you would be converted. I served this on a bed of Japanese sweet potatoes and the combination of the flavor of the meet and the sweetness of the potatoes would satisfy the pickiest of gourmet-ist.

Ingredients

  • 4lbs. Beef Shot Ribs
  • 2 cups of Flour

*****************

  • 2 tsp. Lawry Seasoning Salt
  • 1 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp. of olive oil
  • The above is approximate – you may alter the amounts to suit your tastes

*****************

  • 1 container of Trader Joe’s Mirepoix
  • or if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you…
  • ½ cup diced Celery
  • ½ cup diced Onion
  • ½ cup diced Carrots

******************

  • 1 tbsp. Tomato Paste and if you don’t have that try, God forbid, Ketchup Yup that’s right!
  • 1 – 2 inch sprig of fresh Rosemary
  • 1 -2 inch sprig of fresh Thyme
  • 1 cup of hearty Red Wine or 1 bottle of Dark Beer or Ale (now your talking!!)
  • 1 can of diced Tomatoes
  • 1 cup of Beef Broth
  • 1 Bay Leaf

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Place Flour and Seasoning in a zip lock bag. Place Ribs in the bag and work together with the Flour. Remove Ribs and shake off excess Flour.

In a large Dutch oven put the Olive Oil in and heat over medium high for approximately 1 minute. Add several Ribs. Be sure not to crowd the Dutch Oven. We don’t want the meat to steam. We what them to brown … so, brown the Ribs on all sides in batches. Remove Ribs for the oven and set aside.

Now, add the Mire Poix to the Dutch Oven (you may have to add more oil). Sauté the vegetables until tender. Reduce heat to medium. Now add the tomato paste and stir together for 1 minute. Next add Rosemary and Thyme and stir together for approximately 1 minute. Add the Wine (or Beer, Yeah!) and stir together for 2 – 3 minutes. Add diced Tomatoes and simmer together for 5 minutes. Return Ribs to the Dutch oven. Add Beef Broth to cover the meat halfway. You might need more but that’s okay. Add the Bay Leaf and bring to a light boil. Cover and place in over for 4 hours. Now you might think that is a long time but when those babies come out the will be so tender and juicy it will be well worth the wait.

Take the pot from oven. Place on stove top. Remove the Bay Leaf and Thyme and place Ribs on a plate.

If your sauce is a little too thin, mix 1 tbsp. of Flour with 1 tbsp. of Butter and mooch (a technical chef’s term) until well combined. Heat sauce to a light simmer and whisk in the butter mixture in little bits until the sauce thickens (approximately 3 minutes). Return the Ribs to the sauce and serve. You will have heaven on a plate or a cosmic awakening better than the Big Bang. By the way, I served this dish over mashed potatoes.

You will have heaven on a plate or a cosmic awakening better than the Big Bang.

Foodhistory

Dutch_Oven_-McClures_Magazine

In the recipe I use a cast iron skillet called a Dutch oven. I have one that has been in my family for decades and I use it every chance I get. As a matter of fact the Dutch oven over the decades were considered as inheritable commodities. Mary Ball Washington (mother of our first President, George Washington) specified in her will of 20 May 1788 that half of her “iron kitchen furniture” would go to her grandson.

The Cast Iron cookware appeared in the late 17th century. Many European countries has developed iron pots but it was the Dutch that developed the sand casting system that gave the pots a smoother surface. Abraham Darby, an Englishman studied the system and began producing cast iron cooking “vessel for Britain and the American colonies. The Dutch oven name has endured for over 300 years and has undergone numerous design. Paul Revere actually design the flat lid with a ridge and legs on the bottom. This was done to allow coal to be placed on top. A lot of cooking was done in the fireplace or, if you were a Mountain Man, in the ground. My husband was a boy scout and he has cooked many of a peach cobbler in the ground.

220px-Ijzeren_kookpot

I need to say a few works about cleaning the Dutch oven or any cast iron cookware. All I ever do is rinse it out with hot water and hand dry, not air dry. Never, and I mean, NEVER, use soap and water. A cast iron “furniture” needs to be seasoned. Use a thin coating of cooking oil to re-season.

If you have a new pot, “season” it with cooking oil and set in an oven at a low temperature for a couple of hours. Your continued use of the Dutch oven will make it dark black, very smooth and non-stick. With proper care you will be passing down your Dutch over to your great-grand children.

 

Kielbasa and Sauerkraut – Very Colorful!

Plating

This is one of my families’ favorite meals. My husband, who has a rather warped sense of humor calls Kielbasa, “Donkey D**k,” (TMI).  The dish is inexpensive to make, and with my “Chef  Shay’s Gourmet Hints” it takes a rather mundane dinner up a level or two worthy of not just your family but company as well. What makes this special is that it is very colorful.

Ingredients

Kielbasa

  • 1 14-16 oz. KielbasaPlacement (2)
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Orange Bell Pepper
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper
  • 1 Large Onion
  • ½ Red Onion
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp. Butter
  • 1 to 2 tbsp. of Spice  Cider, Apple Cider or juice

Sauerkraut

  • 1 jar (2 cups) Sauerkraut (Not Canned – A No! No!).   Hold back a couple of tbsp. of the juice
  • 1 Apple
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp. Salt
  • 2 tbsp. Butter
  • ¼ cup of Spiced Cider
  • 1/4 tsp. Caraway Seeds (optional)

Take the Kielbasa and cut it into medallions, on an angle called “bias.” Slice the three bell peppers into long, thin slices – Julienne style. Take the red onion and ½ of the white onion and cut into long, thin slices – again Julienne style.

Place 1 tbsp. olive oil and butter into a heated pan; once melted put in the medallions of Kielbasa and sauté for 5-7 minutes or until slightly golden. Remove from pan and add another tablespoon of olive oil and butter; sauté the onions and bell peppers. A gourmet hint: Add in a tablespoon of the spiced cider. When the bell peppers and onions are tender add the Kielbasa back in and sauté for another 3 minutes.

Take the Sauerkraut and drain in a strainer. Gourmet Hint:  If you like your Sauerkraut and Onion mellow lightly rinse with cold water. Core the apple and slice thinly.  Take 2 tbsp. of butter and melt over a medium heat.  Add the apple and Sautee with the remaining onion (another gourmet hint: add caraway seeds). When the apple and onion golden pour in ¼ cup of spice cider.  Simmer for 1-2 minutes to reduce the apple cider and concentrate the flavors.  Add in the sauerkraut and simmer for about 5-7 minutes.

Serve with the Sausage and Peppers

Serves 4-5.

Foodistory

The thing that makes this meal so appealing is the variety of colorful, sweet bell peppers that are being used.

bell peppers

The bell pepper is a fruit and in culinary context it is considered to be a vegetable.

Oh! To be so misunderstood and to be grouped in with those hotheaded cousins, the Chili Peppers.  Where is the justice!

Bell peppers come in a variety of colors, green, red, orange, yellow, and sometimes brown, black and even purple. Despite the variety they are all the same plant, known scientifically as Capsicum annuum. They are member of the nightshade family which includes potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant. Paprika can be prepared from the red bell peppers. Bell peppers are not “hot.” The primary substance that controls “hotness” in peppers is called capsaicin and is found in very small amounts in the bell peppers.

Their nutritional value is exceptional. They are a major source of carotenoids, vitamin C, and health-supportive sulfur compounds. They have an enzyme called cysteine S-conjugate beta-lysais that may be involved in some the anti-cancer benefits.

Bell peppers has been cultivated for more than 9000 years with the earliest cultivation having taken place in South and Central America. It was transported to Europe in the 1500-1600’s and was given the Spanish name pimiento.

Let’s ring-it-in for the Bell Pepper!