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Beef Jerky – GF, Low Carb, Paleo, Just Plain Good

July 18, 2016
Finished Beef Jerky

Sometimes you just need a chewy, umami rich snack, you know? Enter The Jerky. Beef jerky specifically. I find it’s the easiest meat to work with and scares me the least since I already eat raw-ish steaks… (dried meat isn’t the same as raw meat, I’m just silly)

Really, if you do your homework and keep things clean there is nothing to be scared of. I promise.

That said, I am not including the drying directions. Why? Because all dehydrators are different and you MUST follow the instructions on yours to get the desired results. Thus, I don’t include that part, lest someone follow my instructions and wind up with a less than satisfactory product. So do your reading!

My marinade below is an Asian type flavor, like saltier Pari-Pari. It has lots of flavor but no heat, and it’s a strong flavor. Be warned. Now you CAN add more honey or agave nectar (thinner) to make “sweet hot” jerky if you add 1 tablespoon of red pepper FLAKES. Just remove any solids when you pat dry.

Now I need a snack, so let’s get started.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds flank steak, or sirloin – a nice lean piece – FROZEN for 1-2 hours but NOT solid
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup Mirin or sweet rice wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke

Hardware

  • A SHARP knife
  • A freezer
  • Lots of paper towels
  • A strainer
  • A dehydrator

Directions

Par-freeze your meat. That is, put it in the freezer for 1 hour per half inch of thickness. It makes it MUCH easier to slice.

Beef Jerky Partially Frozen Meat

Take your partially frozen meat and remove the fat around the edges. I then cut mine into easy to manage pieces that I think I can cut through in one slice of the knife (one smooth motion, not sawing it) Slice the meat with the grain, into long strips. I make mine just shy of a quarter inch. But refer to your dehydrator instructions, some models specify different thicknesses.

 

Beef Jerky Ready to Slice

Beef Jerky SlicedPut your strips and all the other ingredients into a bowl with a lid or a zip top bag. Shake the bowl or massage the bag to get the marinade everywhere. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight IF you are going to dry it starting early in the morning. Soy sauce is potent, it will be VERY salty if you wait more than 8 hours.

Beef Jerky MarinatingBeef Jerky Draining

Strain meat. Layout on paper towels. Pat dry on top with more paper towels. Remove any pieces of garlic. Once at room temperature, place in the trays of your dehydrator, follow the manufacturer’s directions. Follow them for spacing. Follow them for time and temp. Just FOLLOW MANUFACTURER’S INSTRUCTIONS.

Beef Jerky Drying

Once ready (there may be little beads of moisture on top of the pieces even though they are dry… this is FAT/OIL – not water – just dry it off BEFORE you store it), store in a cool dry place, in an airtight container – it’ll last about a month… or a day if it’s in my house.

Finished Beef Jerky

Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto

September 8, 2015
Asparagus Mushroom Risotto

One of my favorite things when Spring rolls around is asparagus. This is a glorious time to live when we can get spring-like fresh asparagus nearly year round in the local mega mart! I admit I indulge in this dish whenever I can. It’s not that it is much of an indulgence really, it just seems that way since it’s so creamy and luxurious on the tongue. Give this or any risotto a try and you’ll instantly see what I mean.

You can easily leave out the wine too, if you like. I do, not because I don’t like the taste it’s just that I don’t want to schlep to the store to buy wine I don’t drink and then only use a half cup! Seems like a waste to me.

This is labor intensive. Not hard, not at all. Just “busy work”.  You will STIR and stir and stir. It’s SO worth it.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 small diced white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or chicken broth)
  • 2 cups arborio rice, may be labeled risotto rice
  • 6 cups chicken broth, heated to simmering (or vegetable broth for a vegetarian dish)
  • Asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1.5” pieces
  • 3 small portabello mushrooms, peeled and sliced
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté your mushroom slices in a bit of butter, let them release their liquid and shrink in size. Then add your sliced mushrooms and asparagus to the 6 cups of chicken broth. You can easily make this vegetarian by using vegetable broth! Bring broth to a simmer and leave it alone. You’ll need it in about 5 minutes.

Precooking Mushrooms

 

Asparagus in Broth

Melt butter in a LARGE skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic until onion is clear and garlic is fragrant. Watch the heat and don’t scorch the garlic. If it’s turning brown through it out and start over – burnt garlic is bitter. Add your rice and stir it around to coat it in the butter – don’t let it stick but move it around for 1-2 minutes.

Increase heat it medium high and add wine or ½ cup of broth to deglaze the pan and further cook the onions. Let the wine/broth reduce/absorb till nearly gone – about 3 minutes.

Stirring in Broth

Add 1 cup of chicken broth, stirring constantly until most of the liquid is absorbed by the rice. Tip: when you drag the spoon through the rice on the bottom of the pan it should slowly star oozing back, but no liquid should rush in.

Repeat! Seriously. Ladle out broth 1 cup at a time into the rice. Let absorb while stirring. Do it again. And again. I know you may want to skip this step, but that’s what makes it creamy. You’ve been warned!

See how the first photo below the grains are smaller and more individual? The second photo shows the risotto a little plumper and creamier. (plus of few bits of asparagus sneaked in the ladles of broth)

Early Risotto

 

Stirring Risotto

When you’ve sufficiently broth-ed your rice (when the broth is gone and the rice is thickened and creamy (taste a bit to make sure it’s not crunchy – if it is you need more broth)) you can add your asparagus and mushrooms.  Toss in the Parmesan, salt and pepper to taste and stir.

Serve with additional Parmesan if desired. Now chow down!

Asparagus Mushroom Risotto

The Best Ever Green Beans

August 26, 2015
Best Ever Green Beans

I love green beans. It’s a shame I mostly eat them out of a can.  This recipe changes all that. While these little beauties are in season I pledge to only eat fresh green beans.

Think you don’t like green beans? Is it a texture thing?  Guess what – these actually resemble vegetables! There is no mush. They are nice and crisp while still being cooked through.  It’s a miracle.  Plus the shallot makes them a little sweet and the pancetta or bacon makes them crispy and salty.  Perfection.  AND it’s easy!

What is it adults are supposed to get?  Eleventy billion servings a day of vegetables?  I know I fail all the time… these make it a little easier.  This recipe serves four, so each of you is only getting 3/4 of a piece of bacon on average.

 

Ingredients

  • 3oz of pancetta or 3 strips of bacon
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups of raw green beans, about half a pound
  • Water for blanching
  • 1 tablespoon salt (for the water)

 

Green beans, get the freshest you can. If you can bend the bean into a frowny face without it snapping they are not what you want.  You want nice crisp beans free of slime, mold, blemishes and that are all roughly the same size.

Trim Green Beans

Trim the ends off the beans. Wash them in a colander to remove any remaining field dust. I wash them after I trim them because the pointy ends or included stems will get caught up in the colander and make the whole process harder than it needs to be.

Blanch Green BeansGreen Beans

Add salt to 4 cups of water in a large pot. Bring water to a boil.  Blanch (quickly par-boil) the beans for 5-7 minutes.  They will deepen in color becoming a brilliant green and be crisp tender.  Drain beans.

Drain Green Beans

Chop pancetta or bacon into small pieces about half an inch square.

Cook Pancetta Bacon

Sauté on medium in a large skillet.

Render Pancetta Bacon

When the fat has rendered out and the bacon is crisp, remove from the pan to drain on a paper towel.

Drain Pancetta Bacon

Add your thinly sliced shallots to the pan and sauté until clear and fragrant. (Shallots are just milder, smaller onions. Separate the bulb into its separate cloves to make it easier to slice.)

Separate ShallotsThinly Slice ShallotsShallots

Sautee Shallots

Add the drained green beans back to the pan and toss to coat with the rendered fat and combine with the shallots.

Add Green Beans

Sauté for 2-3 minutes and remove from heat.  Top with the crispy bacon pieces and serve.

These are SO GOOD.  I made enough for 4 servings and ate three of them in one sitting.  Nom nom nom!

Best Ever Green Beans

 

Portobello Asian Pork Chops Low Carb & Gluten Free

August 17, 2015
Asian Pork Chops Complete

A rich sauce makes everything better. I’ve been experimenting with Chinese brown sauce and found a great use for it with these delicious pork chops! They are low carb and gluten free too. Bonus, this can just as easily be prepared with chicken breasts or thighs (boneless, skinless), turkey cutlets, or small sirloin steaks (our mega-mart calls them breakfast steaks). Get ready to dig in!

Don’t let roux scare you.  Here I use cornstarch and water to make an easy roux to thicken the sauce.  Remember to remove all the solids you can from the sauce before you add the roux. It makes it MUCH easier to whisk in so the sauce can thicken.  If you are using a non-stick pan, use a Teflon whisk or a whisk with balls at the end (looks like a crazy spider thing) so you don’t scratch the pan.

Optionally: Peel the top layer off your portobellos. Grab the bottom edge near the gills and peel up toward the center. Remove the gills if you like, I don’t mind them so you’ll see they’re still on in my photos. I peel the top layer because I find it chewy, not a texture I like.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oilSlice Mushrooms
  • 4 boneless pork chops, trimmed of extra fat
  • 3 Portobello caps, peeled and sliced ¼” thick
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

 

Peel Mushroom Caps

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sear your meat until you get a little color on each side, 2-5 minutes per side.  Remove the meat to a plate and tent with foil.

Brown Chops

Drop in your garlic, moving it constantly so it doesn’t burn and turn bitter, till nice and fragrant – about 1 minute.

Sautee Garlic

Add your Portobello slices and let reduce in size and release their liquid, about 5 minutes.

Reduce Mushrooms

Add the chicken broth and soy sauce, stir to combine.

Unthickened Sauce

Add the meat back and the juice from the plate.  Let the sauce come to a boil, then cover the skillet, and reduce heat to low. Simmer chops until tender, 10 to 15 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking. Don’t overcook.  You may need to increase the simmering time for thicker chops or chicken.

Asian Pork Chops Thicken Sauce

Transfer chops and mushrooms to a serving platter. Whisk cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl until smooth to make a roux. Pour roux into the skillet and simmer until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Pour sauce over your meat and mushrooms & serve!

Asian Pork Chops with Sauce

 

Chocolate Pudding (Shhh with avocado!) Low-Carb and gluten free!

August 14, 2015
Avocado Header

Crave chocolate? Me too!  But what if you’re eating low carb or gluten free?  Here’s the recipe for you.  PLUS it has heart healthy avocado in it (don’t worry you can’t taste it and the pudding is not green).

Get good avocados.  At my mega-mart, the avocados are usually rock hard or light and dented (rotten flesh inside the thick skin). If this is the case where you are too, get the hard ones and watch them for a few days until the skin gives a bit under the pressure of your thumb (but doesn’t stay dented in – that’s too far).

So here we go: healthy, yummy, low-carb, and gluten free chocolate pudding.

Ingredients

  • 2 avocados, mashed
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup premium cocoa powder (I use DARK!)
  • 5 Packets of Truvia sweetener
  • 3 Tablespoons Sugar Free chocolate syrup
  • 4 Tablespoons plain yogurt

 

Combine all ingredients in stand mixer with the whisk attachement or even better, a blender! Puree/mix until smooth.  Adjust sweetness as necessary.  Blend/mix until you get the consistency you want for the pudding. The pudding will thicken a bit in the fridge due to the coconut oil.  That’s it. Now eat!

You can make this mousse by adding whipped cream (beat heavy cream until you have stiff peaks and fold in) or just add a dollop on top.

Chocolate Pudding

Party Chicken!  Add some fun to chicken breasts

June 2, 2015
Party Chicken

Cheesy, bacony, savory bites of awesomeness: party chicken. Why is it party chicken? Well, it’s a party in your mouth, good to serve at a party, and quick to make if you’re preparing to attend a party.  That’s like party X3.  Party cranked up to 11.  Did I mention its low carb and gluten free? Yup.

Sometimes it’s nice to just throw some stuff in a pan and be rewarded with a really good tasting dish. That’s what this is.  Good tasting and easy.

Ingredients

  • 2 large chicken breasts, cut up into 1” cubes
  • 4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar and jack cheese mix (if pre-shredded – make sure it’s GF)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon ranch seasoning mix (make sure it’s GF)
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Olive oil for sautéing

Chicken Breasts

Party Chicken Breast Cubes

Party Chicken Seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut your chicken breasts into cubes.  Salt, pepper, and season chicken with ranch seasoning mix.  Heat oil in large skillet over medium high and sauté chicken cubes.  Lightly brown each side, no need to cook through.

Party Chicken Sauteing

Remove to 8×8 baking dish.  Sprinkle bacon crumbles over chicken, then sprinkle with cheese.

Party Chicken Ready To Bake

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Party Chicken Baked

Enjoy!  For even more ranch flavor serve with ranch dipping sauce, or try sour cream.  Delish!  If serving for a party, serve warm with toothpicks.

Party Chicken

Not So Traditional Cuban Sandwich: What To Do With Leftover Pulled Pork

May 27, 2015
Brown Both Sides

Crispy, crunchy, yummy sandwiches are always welcome, right?  Thought so.  Today we have a take on a Cuban sandwich – and a great use of left over pulled pork.  Traditionally these are made with roasted sliced pork, but I know that every single time I’ve made pulled pork we always have leftovers. I made this the first time with that leftover pork and the texture and flavor from the slow roasted butt was a wonderful compliment to the sandwich.  This time we are making it with freshly roasted pork just in case you don’t have leftovers!

 

Ingredients

  • 8 oz roasted pork tenderloin (rub with your favorite spices and roast till done)
  • 4 oz sliced ham (four thick slices)
  • 8 sandwich sliced dill pickles
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 4 tsp yellow mustard
  • Hearty white bread, at least the size of the palm of your hand
  • Butter to cover 8 slices of bread

 

A word on bread. Everyone has a favorite and it’s completely subjective!  It’s hard to get good bread in a lot of areas, so just use a nice hearty loaf from the bakery section of the mega mart. Make sure slices will be at least as large as the palm of your hand (so NOT a skinny baguette).

Start with Good Bread

A word on shredded meat:  after baking, smoking, boiling, etc. ANY meat – simply pop it into the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment and turn it on low.  You get perfectly shredded meat and didn’t have to spend and hour with two forks trying to pull it apart!

Shred The Pork

Cut 8 slices of bread, half to three quarter inches thick. Butter one side of each piece.  Place them in your assembly area butter side down.

Add Yellow Mustard

Drizzle 1 tsp of mustard on 4 slices of bread. Cover mustard with pickles. Cover pickles with cheese. Cover cheese with pulled pork. Cover pork with ham (more pork!) top with another piece of cheese if desired or pop on the top (the other four slices of buttered bread).

Add Pickles

Add Swiss Cheese

Add Roast Pork

Butter the Bread

Heat a pan over medium high heat. Make sure one sandwich fits flat in the pan.  If you have a panini press please feel free to use it.  If you don’t, see the illustration below.  Make your own press, making sure to cover any rough areas (or pieces you don’t want to wash) with aluminum foil.

No Panini Press

Brown Both Sides

Brown sandwiches for 2-3 minutes preside until they are golden brown and the cheese is nice and melty.

Perfection!  Grab your beverage of choice and chow down!

Cuban Sandwich