It's the end of February and I'm ready to put away my winter clothes. I'm tired of winter boots and scarves, I'm ready to swap them out for t-shirts and sandals. I'm ready for the daffodils in my front yard to burst into bloom. I'm ready to put away my hearty winter recipes and start making some lighter spring meals. Before, I retire my winter menu though, I have one more hearty and delicious meal to share with you. Brisket Carbonnade from Cook's Country was an excellent way to end our season of hearty winter meals.
3 1/2 pound beef brisket
2 Tablespoons oil
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cups beer
4 springs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Remove beef from skillet and transfer to a 9x13 baking dish.
Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in skillet again. Add sliced onions and cook until golden brown.
A super delicious meal for a cold February night. It was a great winter but I'm looking forward to a some nice warm March days. Anybody else excited about Spring already or am I jumping the gun?
I LOVE February days in the 60's. It's the glimmer of hope that I cling to that spring is right around the corner. One sunny afternoon is all is takes for me to pack away my winter sweaters and break out the sandals. I also love grilling without my winter jacket.
Apparently, Mia loves warm winter days as well.
And of course, the very first thing that she does on a warm day is to roll around in the grass on top of her rock.
60 degree temperatures + a rock = 1 happy dog.
I would like to say that I plan my grilled meals based on the weather but the truth is, I plan my menu so far in advance that most nights, I just take whatever weather is thrown at me. (Which is why I end up grilling in the rain quite often.) Fortunately the weather worked in my favor last week and I had a beautiful, sunny evening to grill my Hawaiian Marinated Flank Steak from theclevercarrot.com.
Hawaiian Marinated Flank Steak
1 1/2 -2 pounds flank steak
1/2 bottle teriyaki
1 cup pineapple juice
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
2 sprigs rosemary
Let rest 15 minutes before slicing.
Not sure how to describe this steak to do it justice other than to say that it was BY FAR the best flavored flank steak that I have ever had. Seriously delicious marinade.
My family ate their steak in taco form. I served it with whole wheat tortillas, fresh salsa and sliced avocado. Super yummy.
Anything that you add sugar and salt to has got to be good, right? Take ketchup for instance. A plain tomato becomes infinitely more appealing with the addition of a little sugar and salt. Ever tried to convince a small child to eat a tomato? Ever had any trouble getting a child to dip something in ketchup? Seriously, salt and sugar are the keys to getting kids (and adults) to eat almost anything. The trick is in the ratio. Even a tiny bit of sugar and salt can go a long way in making a vegetable more appealing.
Our adult palettes can get so accustomed to added sugars and salt in our food that we hardly even notice its presence. Restaurants commonly use the trick of adding extra sugar and salt to their meals to make them more appealing to customers. I've eaten restaurant meals that I would never have described as "salty" and yet hours later, I find myself with an unquenchable thirst. (Not to mention the extra 2 or 3 pounds that show up on the scale the following morning.)
I'm not going to go into the specifics of why we need to limit our sugar and salt intake but I will say that there are a lot of misconceptions out there about their value. Yes, they do make food taste better - that is not what is up for debate here. But, they do come with certain health risks if they're consumed in large quantities. Take for example this recipe that I found on the internet for caramelized salmon. (I'm choosing not to mention the site because I don't want to point the finger at any one website.) The recipe was simple. 5 ingredients + 20 minutes = a delicious "healthy" meal.
This was more of an experiment than a recipe per se. I wanted to see if my family would notice the overly sweet and salty fish in comparison to the normally, minimally seasoned fish that I normally serve.
The scary truth is that neither Ryan or Ben even seemed to notice that the fish had been DRENCHED in sugar and salt - TWICE! What does that say about our taste buds when we can't even tell when our food has been uber-seasoned? Have we become so accustomed to the taste of sugar and salt that we don't even realize when we've our food has been overloaded with them?
We each consumed only a tiny piece of this sugary and salty salmon because I didn't want to cause my family to experience any unnecessary blood pressure issues or other health problems as a result of my experiment.
This little sugar/salt experiment was a wake up call for me. I think that I'm going to have to revisit some of my other recipes to see where I can start cutting down on sugar and salt. Time to get our taste buds back into gear and so that we are able to detect even "normal" amounts of salt in our food.
Who's with me? Anyone else ready to rethink their "healthy" recipes that are loaded with sugar and salt? We can do this together.
It's meatless Monday blog friends! For the record, I am not a vegetarian but I do enjoy a meatless meal every now and then. I follow several food bloggers that participate in Meatless Monday so I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and give it a try. Who knows, if this catches on, maybe I can propose French Fry Friday?
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadilla
1/2 sweet potato
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tablespoons low fat colby jack cheese
1 whole wheat flour tortilla
Sprinkle beans over potato.
Place on a griddle, sprayed with cooking spray. Cook until browned on each side.
Cut into thirds and enjoy.
Talk about a super delicious - and filling - dinner. I had one whole wheat tortilla, half of a sweet potato and a quarter cup of black beans and I was STUFFED!
I didn't even try and feed these quesadillas to my family - I made them rio grande quesadillas instead. The great thing is that they're easy enough to make just one for myself. I actually made myself another quesadilla for lunch the next day. They're just that good.
I would like to make an average meal for my mediocre family --- said no one EVER!
I just can't settle for making an ordinary dinner when I could make an extraordinary meal. Like so many of you, I have an exceptional family and they deserve extravagant meals. Of course, spectacular meals don't happen everyday - let's face it - I'm human. But, I love to see the smiles on the faces of Ben and the kids when I do have the opportunity to make a great meal.
Maybe it's my OCD and my never ending quest for the best recipe but I just can't seem to settle for average. Take granola for instance.
The only real problem that I have with this recipe is that it's crumbly and not really a pick-it-up-in-your-hands kind of food. I like granola pieces that you can hold between your fingers. Not that crumbly isn't delicious when it's sprinkled over yogurt but sometimes, I want to eat granola - without a spoon. I want a crispy little piece of granola that sticks together without crumbling.
I found this recipe in my America's Test Kitchen cookbook. After reading through the recipe, I discovered that I had been going about the granola process completely wrong. I stirred my granola throughout the cooking process to ensure even browning but what that was doing was breaking up all of my granola pieces. Their strategy was to press the mixture into a pan and bake it, undisturbed. It worked - delicious granola pieces! Yup - an extraordinary recipe!
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 cups old fashioned oats
2 cup whole almonds
Fold in oats and almonds.
Let cool and then break into pieces.
Enjoy all by itself or serve with yogurt and fresh fruit.
I've already started to think about how I'm going to modify this recipe. I think I'm going to make it again - without almonds and press it into greased muffin cups to make small granola bowls that I can fill with yogurt and fresh fruit. I'm thinking these would be perfect for our Easter brunch. (I'll let you know how they turn out.)
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