Friday, March 14, 2014

Corned Beef Brisket

Well Monday is St. Patrick’s Day and Fareway’s has brisket on sale for $1.89 so going to get some. You will need to get started on corn beef well before St. Pat’s day because it should be cured.  Great thing is you will probably be able to enjoy several terrific meals out of your work and effort.  At this price it would be a good idea for cold packing for those of you that have a canning pressure cooker.  I don't have one but I'm thinking about investing in one.  Great video on how to:


1 gallon water
2 cups Kosher salt
3 tbs. pickling spices
½  cup brown sugar
1 large bay leaves, crumbled


1 4 to 5 pound beef brisket
1 tbs. pickling spices

The brisket comes with it’s own pickling spices, but you can use what ever you like. Use a mortar and pestle to crush the pickling spices a little (or the back of a spoon).   You can use the information on the package or add about 3 tbsp. of the spice mix (reserve the rest for cooking the corned beef after it has cured), plus add half stick of cinnamon, and 1 large bay leaf to a gallon of water in a large pot, along with the Kosher salt, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate until well chilled.

Place the brisket in a large flat container and cover with the brine. The brine should cover the meat. The meat may float in which case you may want to weigh it down with a plate. Alternatively you can use a 2 gallon freezer bag (placed in a container so if it leaks it doesn't leak all over your refrigerator).  Place the brisket in the freezer bag and about 2 quarts of brine, squeezing out the air from the bag before sealing. Place in the refrigerator and chill for up to 3 to 4 days. Every day flip the brisket over, so that all sides get brined equally.

At the end of the cure, remove the brisket from the brine and rinse off the brine with cold water. Place the brisket in a large pot that just fits around the brisket and cover with at least one inch of water. If you want your brisket less salty, add another inch of water to the pot. Add a tablespoon of the pickling spices to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a very low simmer (barely bubbling), and cook 4 hours (or put in a cock pot) until the corned beef is fork tender. At this point you can store in the fridge for up to a week.  Remove the meat to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes before cutting.

You can also use the spiced cooking liquid to cook vegetables for a boiled dinner or corned beef and cabbage. Slice thinly against the grain to serve.

Left overs?

Make a grilled Reuben sandwich with rye bread, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese or make corned beef hash with potatoes and onion.  Yum.

I made this with left overs last year.  

Hope you have a great and safe St. Patrick's Day.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Spring Asparagus Potato Salad with Mustard Dressing

Fresh asparagus is only $1.28 this week at Fareways so thought this looked awful temping, simple and it says spring.

2 lb. new potatoes halved
4 to 8 oz. thin asparagus, steamed and chilled

Cut potatoes in half.  Leave skins on.   Cover with cold water. Bring to boil and boil for about 15 minutes or until cooked through and soft but still firm. Cooking time may vary depending on the size of the potatoes your using.

Steam your asparagus until it is tender.  Get new thin asparagus.

Drain potatoes and asparagus and set aside to cool.

4 tbs. olive oil
4 tbs. mayonnaise
2 tbs. stone ground mustard or mustard of your choice 
2 tbs. honey
Kosher salt and pepper (to taste)

I got some beautiful local honey at the Trading Post.  My last bottle came from Bella Souls when she had her boutique open for Christmas.  This bottle is beautiful and will be recycled and refilled with honey in the future.  I’ll only use local honey and I do not buy that stuff in the grocery store.  It has been filtered so many times that it is a by-product of honey and has no honey benefits left in it.   Like so many processed food, the goodness is taken out and no longer a pure product.

Gently toss the cooled asparagus and potatoes together.  Whisk your dressing ingredients together.  Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss again. Taste for salt and pepper and add more if necessary.  Isn't it beautiful and it says spring is comin’.

Variation – Don’t like a grainy Dijon mustard, just use a yellow mustard.

Did you know that yellow mustard’s main ingredient is turmeric? Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, cancer fighting, antioxidant packed, anti-bacterial and an anti-viral super food.  Try to put a pinch of turmeric in what ever dish you can slip it into.  The scalloped potatoes and chicken casserole from this week would take the spice very well and add even more yellow color to the dish.  I add it to my egg drop soup, regular potato salad, deviled eggs, and a lot of other soups.  I love honey mustard salad dressing and put mustard on all my burgers and brats.  It’s not that hard to increase turmeric into your diet.

Keep it simple and healthy.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Cheese Soup

So today it is snowing again and it is a good day to play in the kitchen.  Looking in the meat and cheese drawer I see I have some old cheeses I should use up so I’m making cheddar cheese soup to use as a base for other recipes.  

I also have several bags of chicken hind quarters that were on sale for 99¢ a pound and some huge Idaho potatoes that were on sale for 88¢ a bag.  I also have some left over homemade frozen noodles I made so I am putting together a couple casseroles to eat on the rest of the week.  I’m making a scalloped potato recipe I saw on FB, but they made it much too complicated so I’m stealing their idea and making it my style saving a step or two.  I’m also boiling up some hind quarters and making chicken broth to make a cheesy chicken casserole with the noodles. 

So here are the recipes:

Cheese Soup

6 cups of 2% milk
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper
2 cups of shredded mild cheddar cheese (or what ever you like)
3 heaping tbs. cornstarch
2 tbs. butter

Warm your milk and add the onion powder, salt and pepper.  You can use grated onion if you like, but it’s so much easier to use the powder.  You can add more onion powder at any time if you want more onion flavor.

When it is warm, pour in your cheese and add the butter.  Today I also have some Swiss cheese and some American cheese so tossed them in.  You can also use sharp cheddar if you like, but the cheeses should total about 2 cups. Stir constantly.  When the cheese has melted and it is simmering, make a cornstarch slurry of cornstarch and water and mix well.  Add to the soup, stir and let it thicken.  The nice thing about cornstarch vs. a roux is you can always add more if it is not thick enough for you and it is just plain easier.

You now have the base for many different meals.  Try using it in a tuna casserole or pour over asparagus or add broccoli and have broccoli cheese soup.

I’m using it for scalloped potatoes and a chicken casserole.

Scalloped Potatoes

4 large Idaho potatoes
4 cups of cheesy soup
1 ring of smoked sausage
1 small onion
1 tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper

Peel your potatoes.  If you like the skins on, you do not need to peel them.  Today I peeled them.  Slice them as thin as you can to cut baking time.

Cut your smoked sausage in half down the middle and then into bite sized pieces. 

Put your onion in the food processor and chop it very finely. 

Spray a large casserole dish and combine the potatoes, sausage and onion.  Mix well.
Pour the cheesy soup over the top. You can sprinkle some extra cheese on top if you like.  Put a lid on the top. 

Put in a pre-heated oven of 350°.  I put a piece of foil under it to prevent clean up when it boils over because it seems to always be the case for me.

Bake the scalloped potatoes for 1 ½ hours or until potatoes are tender and casserole is nice and golden on top.

Variation – I took the idea of smoked sausage from a FB recipe.  I have always used cubed ham or left over ham for my scalloped potatoes, but it got me to thinking I was being too limited.  Use bacon or Polish Kielbasa or Spam (I don’t like the product but my son loves it and so do many others).  Use your imagination.  How about hotdogs for the kids?

On to the next casserole dish I making using the cheese soup recipe.

Chicken Casserole

Bag of your favorite Amish noodles or homemade
Chicken broth
2 cups of picked chicken
4 cups of cheesy soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup

I’m using chicken hind quarters today because that is what was on sale, but this would be good with chicken breast too.  It would probably better for you but more expensive.  I like dark meat the best so favor the hind quarters.

I covered my chicken in water adding an onion cut in half, a large pinch of Kosher salt, pepper and 2 bay leaves.  After the chicken was tender, I cleaned the chicken and refrigerated the several quarts of chicken broth for later dishes. When the chicken fat hardens, I pick it off and toss it away leaving an almost fat free broth. 

Boil you noodles in chicken broth to add favor.  Cook until they are al dente.  Drain and set aside. 

In a large sprayed casserole dish add your cooked noodles, chicken, cheese soup, and mushroom soup.  Taste test for seasoning.  Add Kosher salt and pepper if necessary.  Sprinkle a little cheddar cheese on top. 

I cut the above recipe in half and still have a jar of cheese soup for another recipe and left over  chicken for a salad.

Put in a pre-heated oven of 350° for 30 minutes until golden on top.  It is already cooked so you just need to warm through and toast the top. 

Variations – Substitute the chicken with 2 cans of white tuna.  I like to crush some saltine crackers and put them on top when I make this. 

Add some chopped mushrooms, broccoli or asparagus to the chicken casserole to add nutrition, color and more flavor.

Now I have to clean up my mess, but in the long run I will save other messes, time, money and know what has gone into the dishes.  I try to stay away from preservatives and long word ingredients that I don’t even know what it is. 

With a small salad or a veggie, these dishes will feed me for the rest of the week and into the weekend. 

Temps are coming up and I see a much better week ahead.  Hope the rest of your week is great.  Be happy, healthy and may God bless you and yours.