Thursday, August 4, 2011

Slow Cooked BBQ Beef

I love my slow cooker. It makes great things without me having to do anything. Well, that's not quite right. But the steps that are required to make something in the slow cooker are suuuper easy. I think everyone should have a crockpot and use it as often as possible. 

BBQ Beef, Chicken, Pork. All of those are great. Chili - another good crockpot candidate. Spaghetti sauce, Moroccan Chicken, Garlic Chicken, Stews, Soups, and even desserts like apple pudding, or apple crisps are doable. So, essentially what I'm saying is get a crock pot, if you like eating but don't enjoy cooking all that much. 

Oh, and it's easy clean up, too. Can it get any better? 
I mean seriously! Anyone can cook with a slow cooker! Barbecue chicken for example is as easy as pouring a bottle of good barbecue sauce over a few chicken breasts that have been placed in the slow cooker. Donzies. 

Now, I'm not advocating making barbecue chicken that way, but if you wanted to, you could.

Making the sauce feels a little more like cooking... So, I bought a hunk of meat, put it in the slow cooker for 4 hours, made this barbecue-ish sauce, drowned the hunk of meat in it and let it sit for another six hours. Dinner? Done! 
Oh, and then a few days later I used the left over barbecue beef for pizza. Barbecue beef pizza. It was tasty. I'll share a picture of that, too. Here ya go.
Oh and I made pesto pizza, too! With homemade pesto! Remember?
Anyways, here is how to make Barbecue Beef in a slowcooker without store bought Barbecue sauce. 

Start by putting the meat into the slow cooker with about a cup of water. 
I should say something about the meat, shouldn't I? Get whatever you want/whatever is on sale. Since the meat is being cooked in the slow cooker, all the muscle and collagen (connective tissue) will break down eventually. 
Even rather tough cuts that you would generally try to avoid, work fine and turn out to be tender if prepared in a crockpot. Any kind of beef chuck works well for your belly and your wallet. 
I bought a pieces of beef shoulder roast. It's a cut that's already boneless. Usually if you tell the butcher you want meat for a slow cooker they can tell you what to get. In case you're still unsure. 

Get out an onion.
Chop up ze onion. This is how i usually chop up onions.
1. Cut onion in half
2. Cut slits into onion.
3. Cut into pieces.
Now put the chopped up onion into the crockpot. Lift up the hunk of meat and evenly spread out the onion pieces on the bottom of the crockpot.
Now let all this (meat, onion, and water) sit for about 4 to 5 hours.
Prepare the barbecue-ish sauce. 

Get out all the ingredients. Ketchup, brown sugar, honey, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, ground mustard, red pepper flakes, worcestershire sauce, and white wine (or cider) vinegar. Oh and salt and pepper, too.
Combine everything in a medium sized bowl.
When the beef has been in the crockpot for about 4 to 5 hours add in this sauce. And let it cook for another 6 hours.
Serve as a sandwich on a Ciabatta roll to switch it up a little. Or a Hawaiian Roll if you prefer soft bread. Or maybe you like the non-messy version better? I do...
Mhmmm, balsamic roasted corn, cucumber and asian cole slaw. Good meal. 

Guten Appetit!

Slow Cooked Barbecue Beef

- boneless beef chuck (2-4 lbs)
- 1 cup of water
- 1 large vidalia onion

- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon of paprika
- 2 teaspoons of sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
- 3/4 cup of white wine or cider vinegar
- 4 teaspoons of worcestershire sauce
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of honey
- 1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon of garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Place the beef in a slow cooker with 1 cup of water. Chop up an onion and place the onion under the beef roast on the bottom of the slow cooker. Let the roast cook on low heat.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and wait until the beef chuck has been in the slow cooker for about 4 to 5 hours. Pour the sauce over the beef and let it simmer on low heat for another 6 hours.
Shred the meat using two forks. Serve as desired.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lemon Lime Bars

Looks good, right? I'm a fan. I'm a fan of all things lemony. Actually more of all things citrusy. Yummy, yummy lemons.

Especially in the summer. I like really tart things. I can drink plain lemon juice and enjoy it. I think some people might think that's a little odd. 

Oh, can I tell you something else that's a little odd? The boyfriend's 8 year old niece is spending the night at our place and just performed a dance for us.  Now this wouldn't be odd in general. What was odd about it was the fact that she performed it to the song "Crank That" by soulja boy. Odd, right? I'm trying to figure out why her dance teacher chose this song. If you don't think it's a little strange look up the lyrics. 

But I guess we probably all do things that seem a little odd to others from time to time. I drink plain lemon juice and eat lemon slices. The boyfriend yells out "Teleport successful. Fuck yeah, bitches!" in the middle of the night (this is another story...) His 8 year old niece can dance to "Crank That" like one of Soulja Boy's baggy clothing and bling wearing 20-year old background dancers.  

What's odd about you? Tell me. I want to know. Maybe you can do odd things with your face? Or you like odd food combinations? Or maybe you just want to read about lemon lime bars. That's not odd. I'll let you read about lemon lime bars now. And you can look at all the pictures, too if you want. And then you can make some lemon lime bars. Since you'll probably get hungry anyways. Just saying...

At first you should grease your pan. With butter. Lots of butter. Everything is better with butter. Everyone knows that. Seriously, though. Make sure you cover every part because otherwise it'll be hard to get the lemon bars out. And they might fall apart in the process of getting them out.
Now, get your dough ingredients. Flour, sugar, sea salt and butter. The dough is almost like a shortbread dough. Very few ingredients. And fairly light.
The butter needs to be softened. So that means either taking it out of the fridge about an hour before the actual baking process or taking it out, melting it in the microwave for about 30 seconds and popping it into the freezer for about 10 minutes. Add the softened butter to the sugar. 
Measure the flour and have it ready next to the sugar-butter mix. 

Start mixing the sugar and butter until the mixture gets very light in color and creamy in consistency.
Slowly add the flour in about three parts. The dough will seem crumbly at first but will come together eventually. 
When the dough comes together and can be formed into a ball stop mixing and start pushing it into a  9x13 inch baking pan. Then put the whole thing in the fridge for about thirty minutes.
While the dough chills you can make the lemon lime filling. Here are all the things you'll need for the lemon lime filling: limes and lemons, sugar, flour, and eggs.
Add the eggs and the sugar to a bowl. For some reason I decided to use half brown and half white sugar. Don't ask.
Zest all your lemons and limes. That's a lot of work. I know. But it's worth it. I promise. 
Now squeeze all your lemons and limes until you have a cup of juice. 
Now add the lemon juice to the zest and add a splash of vanilla extract to the zest-juice mix. Measure the flour and then put the two bowls next to the egg and sugar mix. Start mixing with an electric mixer until the eggs are well incorporated.
Add the lemon lime juice and zest mix and the flour to the sugar mix and keep mixing.

Preheat the oven!
Get the pan with the dough out of the fridge and put it into the oven for about 15 minutes so that the dough can bake up a little before you pour the lemon lime filling in. I had some left over dough which I used to make some lemon lime mini cupcakes.
When the dough is done baking take it out. Mix the lemon lime filling again to make sure everything is still blended together. 
Now pour the mix onto the dough and put the baking pan back in the oven.
When the lemon lime bars are done baking, take them out of the oven and let them cool down to room temperature. You can cut them into squares or triangles or little pieces and serve them as lemon lime bites. 

Guten Appetit!

Lemon Lime Bars
Shortbread Crust
- 2 sticks of softened butter
- 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
- 2 cups of flour
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt

Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light.
Add the flour and salt and combine with the butter mix until dough comes together in a ball. 
Press the dough into a greased baking sheet and let chill in the refrigerator for at least thirty minutes.
Bake the chilled dough at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes. 

Lemon Lime Filling
- 6 large room temperature eggs
- 2 and 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
- zest of 3 limes and 3 lemons
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice (about 3-4 lemons and three limes)
- 1 cup of flour

Whisk together the eggs and the sugar with an electric mixer. Add the juice, the zest and the flour.  
Make sure you mix the filling right before filling to avoid a separation of the lemon juice from the egg mix.
Fill the lemon lime filling into the pre-baked crust and put the baking pan back into the oven for about 35 minutes.
Let cool until it reaches room temperature and cut into squares/triangles or small bites.

Traditional Basil Pesto

Pesto is just another summer recipe. It's quite versatile. Pasta, pizza, bruschetta, as the base for a salad dressing or just on top of crunchy bread accompanying a green salad. 
Pesto is easily one of the simplest things that can be homemade. It pretty much can't be messed up. And it only has 6 ingredients (including the salt and pepper).
I love green foods. Green things are good for you. I like eating things that are good for me so that I can eat dessert for dinner frequently.
Oh, aaaand I like making things that I can then use in other things. Like barbecue sauce or pesto or liquor infused strawberries. Did you know that you can make Eton Mess or a dessert trifle with bourbon infused strawberries? 
Let me tell you about this pesto now, though. I bought three bundles of basil when we went to the farmer's market. Oh and I only got charged for one because I put them in a bag and the lady at the register thought I only had one bundle.
The basil smelled fantastic. It looked nice, too. Especially after I washed it.
Before getting the rest of the ingredients together you should wash your basil so that it will have some time to dry.

Lay the basil out on some paper towel or on a kitchen towel so it can dry while you get the rest of the ingredients.
Let the basil dry for a while and get the rest of the ingredients together. Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, garlic and pine nuts (toasted hazelnuts work well, too). Oh, and you'll need a grater if you have fresh Parmesan cheese that comes in one piece.
Grate about 1/3 of a cup of the Parmesan cheese.
Toast the nuts either in the oven or in a frying pan over low heat. 
Peel the garlic and then start the fun part. Pushing the blender button=fun part. Smush all the basil in the blender.

Drizzle some olive oil on the basil and start blending it. If you just have a blender (like me) and not an actual food processor, this will take some patience and pushing basil leaves down on the sides of the blender towards the blade. If anyone has connections to Santa, let him know that I could use a food processor. Thank you!!
Basil and olive oil mush. Pretty, right? So, what's left? Parmesan Reggiano, garlic and pine nuts. Oh and salt and pepper.  Add all that into the food processor or blender. Process some more and then get it out and clean up your mess. I usually try to save leftover glasses from Pasta sauces, jams, olives etc. for potential sauce making.  So if you happen to have an empty glass pour your pesto in that. Otherwise you can get glasses with tops at walmart, target or ikea.
And that's it, now make some pasta or smear it on some crusty baguette or ciabatta. Delicious.

Guten Appetit!

Basil Pesto
- about three cups of fresh packed basil
- 2/3 of a cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 a cup of toasted pine nuts
- 2/3 of a cup of grated parmesan reggiano
- 2 cloves of garlic
- salt & pepper

Combine 1 tablespoon of the oil and the basil by pulsing in a blender until the mix has the consistency of a paste.

Add the rest of the oil, the pine nuts, the parmesan cheese, and the garlic to the blender. Pulse until it reaches te desired consistency and season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Visiting the Farmer's Market

Yesterday, I went to the Farmer's Market. I had planned out dishes and baked goods that I wanted to make this week and weekend and had a list and the best intentions. The plan was to go to the Farmer's Market and get exactly the things that I had written down. Nothing else. Because I knew what I wanted to make and had already written down everything I needed. 
Well, it didn't work that way. Usually I'm pretty good about only buying list-items. Well, not 100%, but I  generally don't get more than three or four non-listed items. 
The Farmer's Market though is a whole different story. They just have so many delicious fresh AND organic foods. It's too hard to resist. And all the fresh herbs. I already want to go back. Just to smell the herbs...
The boyfriend and his niece accompanied me to the Dekalb Farmer's Market and took some pictures. Said pictures I'll now use to get everyone else tempted to go to the Farmer's Market as well. (If you plan on going, call me! I want to go with youuu!) 
Oh, if you d want to go be prepared!
1.  Come when you have at least an hour of time, you might get lost in the oil and vinegar section, as I did...
2. Bring a sweater. Even if it's 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside, you'll need it inside. Trust me. Just do it. 
3. Eat before you go. Another option would be to eat something at the bakery at the Farmers Market. Just eat before you shop. 
4. Bring your own bags. They do have some, but they rip easily and you can save the world. One grocery bag at a time. 

So, this is a little glimpse into our Farmer's Market visit.  
At one point, I got a little lost in the oil and vinegar section.

But who wouldn't? Just look at what they have! 
I had good intentions. I really did! See that grocery list in my hand? I meant to just cross things off the list. I swear! But then there were all these other good things... Fresh oregano, thyme, basil, parsley... And they weren't expensive either. 

Oh, and then I came across extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil. See that white tub? On top of the lemon? That's it. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is fantastic. Not only does it add a nice flavor to anything baked or cooked, it also has a very high heat stability and can therefore be used for stir-frying or other types of frying foods without burning. It has a lot of health benefits as well. But this isn't really a health blog. If you want to know more about it, though, look it up! There are plenty of informational sites about EVCO. 

But anyways, I got excited because I have this one recipe for a chocolate cookie cake that calls for shortening. And I really didn't want to use shortening. So, finding this oil kind of made my day. Seriously.

Well, and then there was the fruit and vegetable area. I REALLY got lost in there and spent wayyyy too much time looking at everything and picking out wayyy too many things. I'm going to have guests for dinner every night for the next few days... 
It just looked so good! All the fruits and vegetables looked so much fresher and richer than they do at other grocery stores. Will you look at that? Beautiful, right? 

Oh, the boyfriend caught me while I was contemplating buying $18,- organic tahitian vanilla beans. See those wrinkles on my forehead? I got busted with my hands on the vanilla beans. Kind of like a little girl with her hand in the cookie jar... 

And no, I don't always wear cute polka dot dresses when I go grocery shopping. 

After about thirty minutes the boyfriend and his niece lost interest. Weird, I know! It's the Farmer's Market! There is so much to look at that you could drop me off for a week and I could still find things to look at and be fascinated by.
Oh, here is a picture of the boyfriend's niece who came with us to the Farmer's Market.

The dairy section is also always quite tempting. I'm not really all that much into dairy products, but when I walk through the Farmer's Market's Dairy section I always remember all these recipes that I've wanted to make for a while but never had all the dairy ingredients for... Like Flammkuchen or buttermilk muffins or parmesan basil pesto. So, there are some of those non-list items... I don't have any pictures of the dairy section. I do have some pictures of fresh fish though!

Or maybe you like shell fish? Crab maybe? We saw some of those, too. Check it out!
Oh and then there is the meat section, too!

They have german sausage, bologna, salami and lots of other delicious goodies.
And that ends the Farmer's Market Pictures. Because for some reason picture taking isn't allowed in the register area. Actually, that's probably a good thing. Otherwise everyone could have seen how much I bought... And that would have made me look like I shopped for the fat person inside me that I usually try to hide...
Let's go Farmer's Market shopping sometime!