Trimming and Cutting a Beef Tenderloin

People, this has changed my life. I watched this episode of Alton Brown back in a time long ago when I still watched The Food Network. I was intrigued but never actually did this until last summer when Teresa and I wanted to make steaks for a crowd. This is by far the best way to get a great steak for a very reasonable price (about $45 at a warehouse club). And not only will you get ONE steak, you'll get at least ten PLUS A ROAST. Consider how many meals you're getting for this price! You can freeze the steaks and have them any time you want a great meal.
Watch part one and two to get the details. It takes roughly 20 minutes to trim the loin (it's easy and fun too, if you consider cutting giant cuts of meat fun, which I kind of do...) and you will be shocked how good this tastes.

Part 1:

Part 2:


Grilled Pizza

So look, you have no excuse for not grilling your pizza. Way better than lame-o oven baked, much faster and no messy pizza pan to scrape out later.
If you have a grill you can do this, no matter if it's charcoal or gas. I prefer charcoal regardless, but that's just me. If you got fancy you could even fire up some wood in your charcoal grill. I'm just sayin...
So here we go. The ingredients are just pizza dough, olive oil and your toppings. The process is simple but it might take one or two tries to get the hang of it. This recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated by way of my mother-in-law.

I'm telling you how to go about this from a charcoal grilling perspective, as this is my experience. If you're a gas griller you can figure it out I'm sure!

Stack your coals so one side is higher and thus hotter. Take your dough (rolled out into small mini pizzas) and slather on some oil. Put it oil side down on the coals for a few minutes until it starts to bubble up. Pull it off the grill and onto a cookie sheet or whatever you are using. Turn it over so that the cooked side is facing up. Brush on a little more oil and then your sauce, toppings, cheese, etc.

This time put the pizza (toppings side up, of course) on the cooler side where your coals are stacked lower. Cover the grill and let it sit for a few minutes. Usually by the time the cheese is melted it's time to pull it off. I usually pop them in the oven on 200 until they are all done to keep them warm, but you can certainly pass them off for eating as soon as they ar done. This is great for parties and summer grilling. Enjoy!


Holla for Challah!

My mother-in-law buys challah pretty regularly from Central Market for Sunday dinners. She pronounces it "halla," which sounds hilariously ghetto coming from her (I keep waiting for her to say something at the table like, "Pass that HOLLA back, girl!" but have the feeling I'll probably be waiting for a long time). I think that "halla" is probably the most accurate way to pronounce it. I say "Calla," just because the dictionary says it's OK. Enough about pronunciation...

This recipe is adapted from Baking with Julia, which admittedly, has been sitting on my bookshelf until recently, when I watched Julie and Julia. I picked out the challah recipe because my husband loves the stuff, and unlike Central Market, I will make it with love, which always makes everything taste better, right? (ha!) It makes 2 gorgeous, billowy, golden-brown loaves.

2 tablespoons (approximately) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup tepid water (80 - 90 degrees)
1/3 cup sugar
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon mild honey
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
6 1/2 cups (approximately) high-gluten flour, bread flour, or unbleached all-purpose flour

Brush a large mixing bowl with some of the melted butter. Reserve the rest for coating the top of the dough.

Whisk the yeast into the water, adding a pinch of sugar. Let it rest until the yeast has dissolved and is creamy, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut up the butter into little pieces and combine with milk in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter is melted. After the butter is melted, add sugar, salt, and honey and combine well. Wait until the mixture is no hotter than 110 degrees and add yeast. Mix well with a wooden spoon, then add 5 cups of flour. Mix for 3 minutes before adding additional flour. You want to add enough flour to be able to handle the dough, or until it pulls cleanly away from the bowl, if you're using a stand mixer with a dough hook. A word of caution about stand mixers: I have the typical Kitchenaid stand mixer and it couldn't handle the volume of this dough without the dough creeping up over the hook. I mixed it in the mixer until I could handle it, then kneaded it by hand. Knead for about 10 minutes, form the dough into a ball, and plop into your buttered bowl. Cover with a buttered piece of plastic wrap, then cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise 1 - 1 1/2 hours, until doubled.

Punch down, and let rise again 45 minutes to an hour, until doubled.

Punch down and shape into 2 loaves. You can leave them round, or separate each dough piece into 3 or 4 pieces, roll into long pieces, and braid *, which is what I do - FANCY, I know!

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and transfer your shaped loaf to one of the baking sheets. Repeat with the other piece of dough. Cover with a towel (a cotton tea towel would be good - something that's not covered with lint) and let rise at room temperature for about 40 minutes until soft, puffy, and almost doubled.

Position the oven racks to divide the overn into thirds and preheat to 375 degrees. Whisk together 1 large egg, 1 egg yolk, and 1 tablespoon of water or heavy cream, and mix really well. The recipe says to whisk it until it's broken up and then push the glaze through a sieve, but I'm not doing that. Brush the tops and sides with glaze; let set for 5 minutes and brush again. Reserve the leftover glaze for brushing the loaves during baking. If you're topping the loaves with anything (sesame, poppy, caraway seeds, etc.), dust them with the topping. Sprinkle coarse salt over the loaves.

Bake for 20 minutes. The loaves will expand and expose some of the inner dough, so brush the newly exposed dough with the reserved glaze. Bake 15 - 20 minutes longer, or until loaves are golden and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. If they start browning too quickly, cover with foil. Cool before slicing.

* You can do a three-strand braid, which is like braiding hair, or a cool four-strand braid. Here's how:

Strand A Strand B Strand C Strand D

You may want to anchor the strands at the end with something heavy, like a coffee cup. Start with Strand D, bring it to the left over Strand C (it's the new Strand C), then bring Strand B all the way to the right, over Strands C and D (it becomes the new Strand D). Now, you'll repeat on the opposite side. Bring Strand A over Strand B (becoming the new Strand B), then bring Strand C all the way to the left, over Strands A and B (becoming the new Strand A). Then repeat the process. Sometimes, especially when I repeated the process, it seemed like it wasn't going to work, like something didn't get crossed correctly. I've determined that it's because I've spent my whole life making three-stranded braids, so my brain just gets a little wonky. Just stay the course - it will work out!


Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

These enchiladas are made almost weekly in my home. They are easy, relatively healthy and delicious. The recipe is from the AHA's Low-Salt Cookbook but I've adjusted it to bring back the flavor and fat (although I still wing it with the salt). You can substitute reduced-fat cheese, fat free milk and take the salt out of everything (including the chili powder) and still have a very good meal but, come on, why punish yourself if you don't have to.

1 C milk
1/2 C chicken broth
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 C Monty Jack cheese (Cheddar is also good)
1 tsp lime juice
1 pinch salt or to taste

8 6-in corn tortillas
2 C cubed, cooked chicken (about 10 oz cooked)
1/4 C thinly sliced green onions (regular onions work too)
1-2 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1-2 pinches salt or to taste
1/2 C Monty Jack cheese (again, Cheddar is just fine)
2-3 Tbs canned chopped mild green chiles (I use an entire 4 oz can)

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spray a 13x9x2-inch baking dish with vegetable oil spray. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, broth, flour, pepper and salt. Bring to a simmer over med-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes, or until the mixture thickens slightly, whisking occasionally.

Whisk in the 1/2 C cheese and lime juice. Remove from the heat. Set aside.

To soften the tortillas, wrap in aluminum foil and warm in the oven for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together the chicken, green onions, garlic, cumin, chili powder and 1-2 pinches of salt.

To assemble, place the tortillas on a flat surface. Spread 1/4 C chicken mixture and 1 Tbs cheese in the center of each. Roll up jelly-roll style and place with the seam side down in the baking dish. Pour the sauce over the enchiladas. Sprinkle (or spoon over) with the chiles.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the filling is warmed through.


Meat Free Recipes?

Post your Lenten favorites! If you're not a contributor to this blog and would like to add something, email me at kathryn.lemieux@gmail.com and I will gladly make you an author or post your recipe.



Hungarian Goulash (Slow Cooker!)

Ok, don't let the name scare you off, this is delicious. It's just been sitting here in my trusty old America's Test Kitchen book for the last 4 years and I tried it for the first time tonight. After trying Goulash for the first time on my 10-day in Germany, I have at least had it in my mind that this was something worth trying again because it was amazing there. Why it has taken me so long I don't know. I also figured I needed to get in as many hearty winter meals as possible before it gets to a normal Texas temperature around here.

In a new commitment to not eating out I have been using my crock pot roughly 5 times a week. Mine tends to cook extremely fast so I cooked this on low for about 6 hours and it was perfect. A word of warning: if you are prone to heartburn or indigestion this may not be the dish for you as it is chock full of red peppery goodness.

You will need:
1 boneless beef roast cut into 1 inch pieces (or pre cut stew meat, which is what I used- the recipe says 5 lbs but that is WAY more than what I used and it was fine
5 TBSP sweet paprika (make sure on this or have a nice spicy surprise for dinner)
2 TBSP oil
3 onions, roughly chopped
2 red bell peppers, roughly chopped (stemmed and seeded, obvs.)
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 TBSP tomato paste
1/2 cup flour
1/2 sour cream
3 TBSP red wine vinegar
1/4 parsley, minced (I left this out)

Brown the meat (or don't if you want to save time) and remove from pan
Add peppers, onions, 1.4 tsp of salt and paprika. Cook about 5-10 min until veggies are soft
Stir in garlic until fragrant and add tomato paste and broth
Bring to simmer and add to slow cooker
n.b. I think you could omit all of this prep and put it directly in the slow cooker- ATK seems to think differently but hey, not all of us have endless amount of prep time

Cover and cook on high for 6-7 hours (depending on your crock pot) until meat is tender
About 20 minutes before serving mix water, broth and sour cream together and add to pot. Let it cook until the sauce starts to thicken, about 20 minutes longer. Add vinegar before serving (I gave it another 5 minutes after adding to let the flavor mix in)

I served this over egg noodles per the recipe's suggestion.


A Lenten Addition- Clam Chowder

I got this recipe off of the "All Recipes" site and changed it a bit to suit our preferences. This is my version. Really good and really hearty!


2 cans (10 oz. each) whole baby clams
1 bottle clam juice
1/2 cup carrots
2 large potatoes cubed to bite size
1/4 cup minced onions
3 cloves minced garlic
2 cups milk (2% or skim, whatever you have, even whole is fine)
2 cups half and half
3/4 cups butter (stick and a half! eek!)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
pepper to taste


Cut up all veggies, mince garlic and onion. Add all veggies to a big pot with a lid. Drain juice from clams over the veggies, also add in the extra clam juice (as much as desired, I use about a third of the bottle) and add water as needed to cover the veggies fully. Put on the lid and heat/boil on high for about 15-20 min. or until veggies are tender.

While veggies are cooking, melt butter in large skillet, wisk in flour until smooth. Continue to wisk in the 2 cups of milk and 2 cups half and half . Continue to wisk until completely smooth. When veggies are done, add the flour and cream mixture to the big pot. On low heat add salt, pepper and vinegar. Lastly add in clams, stirring on low heat until soup is heated through. Do not let soup boil, the clams will get tough. Serve hot.

I would taste the chowder before adding salt, taste after adding salt, taste after adding vinegar. I dont like my foods very salty at all so you may prefer more salt or vingear.

For the non-seafood lovers out there. Add diced chicken to the veggies pot, use chicken broth instead of clam juice. And leave out the red wine vinegar and otherwise follow the directions exactly the same and you have a great chicken chowder.

Recipe Update

Awhile back I posted a recipe for Very Easy Quesadillas and I wanted to report that kind of by accident last night I figured out how to make them even easier! I had plans of making shredded chicken tacos and kind of just threw a bunch of leftover stuff with 2 (frozen) chicken breasts in the crock pot. I had a green chile salsa, rotel, mexicorn and a tupperwear of leftover diced tomatoes and black beans from a dinner last week. I think there was even a little wild rice in there, not sure. The end result was an even more flavorful mixture for quesadillas that only required me to scoop into tortillas and bake 20 minutes before we ate. I even used cheddar cheese because that's all I had. I have a lot leftover too for tacos or soup or whatever. I am finding more and more these days that I can stretch 4 chicken breasts into at least 2 meals. Enjoy!

Chewy Granola Bars

This from (where else?) Smitten Kitchen. She advertises these as super chewy and they are. I usually am not a granola fan due to how hard and crunchy it can be, but this is just right. This recipe is amazingly adaptable and easy to substitute. I left out a lot and switched some things around. This is also a great "kid helper" recipe. Caroline helped pour and mix almost all of it and it was a lot of fun to make together! For the oat flour I used whole wheat and intended to mix some wheat germ or flax in but completely forgot. I also used a mix of honey and maple syrup because we were getting impatient waiting for the honey to pour out and I really think the corn syrup is completely optional. We used dried cherries, almonds and a handful of dark chocolate chips in ours.

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (use more for a sweetness akin to most purchased bars; use less for a mildly sweet bar)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (total of 10 to 15 ounces)
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (I used almond butter) (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional, namely because I was not convinced that the flavor came through)
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)

Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.

Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)

Once cool, a serrated knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars into squares. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.

*Suggestions: Dried cranberries, apricots, pecans, sunflower seeds, coconut, walnuts, sesame seeds, pepitas, dried pples or even chocolate chips. Her mix: 1/2 cup wheat germ, 1 cup dried cherries, 1 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup pecans and 1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes. Because my pieces were all pretty coarse, I pulsed them in the food processor a few times to break it up a little, though this isn’t necessary if you don’t mind yours chunkier


When-Harry-Met-Sally Rolls

When Harry Met Sally is a classic in my book. From the quaint little vignettes of "well-seasoned" couples scattered throughout to "too much pepper on my paprikash," I could watch it again and again. Even if you haven't seen the movie, you may be familiar with the movie's most famous (and infamous) clip, the scene in the dinner where Sally takes Harry's sexual confidence down a notch or two over a few bites of pie. All of this to say, I've been a little deceptive. "When Harry Met Sally Rolls" is not, in fact, the name of this recipe, but more on that in a minute...

My first semester of college, a friend and I roadtripped down to San Marcos to visit friends at what was then Southwest Texas State, now Texas State University. We visited this area quite a lot. It's right on the Eastern edge of the beautiful Texas Hill Country, along the banks of the San Marcos river. While we were there, our friends introduced us to this wonderful, crazy-simple dessert. It wasn't "When Harry Met Sally Rolls," but ______ Rolls, where ________ is something that rhymes with schmorgasm. That's my way of being honest with the title, while attempting not to offend a mixed crowd, or myself for that matter. It must be the cradle Catholic in me. I can't even watch a movie with my mom if people start getting a little randy. I'll always find an excuse to leave the room. I. Just. Can't. Do. It.

Anyway, back to the rolls. These are incredibly simple, economic, and wonderful. They'd be great for Valentine's Day. They're rich and decadent, but also light and unassuming. "I'll have what she's having," indeed!

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 pint strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
    2 T white sugar
  • 6 croissants (or 12 mini ones) - don't try to pull a fast one and use cheaper Poppin' Fresh crescent rolls, or you may find them a little, ahem, "lackluster."
  • 3 chocolate bars - we always used Hershey's because we were poor college students, but if you've got some Valrhona or Scharffen Berger burning a hole in your pantry (wha??), knock yourself out.
  • Whipped Cream - again, we always used the canned stuff because we were on a college budget and most of us didn't have a Kitchenaid at that point in our lives, but by all means, whip yourself up homemade if you want

1. Combine the strawberries and sugar and set aside. Obviously, you want to macerate these puppies, so it can be done ahead of time.

2. Turn on your broiler

3. Slice each croissant lengthwise, as though you're going to make a sandwich, and place cut side up on a baking sheet.

4. Break up the chocolate bars and distribute evenly along the bottom part of each croissant.

5. Pop the croissants into the oven and broil until the choclate starts to melt/get shiny and the croissants start to brown and toast Be careful, as this can happen quickly. It usually takes mine anywhere from 1 - 3 minutes, depending on where my oven rack is set that day. This can be a tricky variable, so be vigilent...

6. Remove croissants from oven and top the chocolate covered bottom pieces with strawberries. I use a slotted spoon so I don't have crazy amounts of juice dripping everywhere.

7. Top the strawberries with whipped cream.

8. Place the top half of the croissant on top and enjoy.

Eat like a sandwich if you don't mind the mess (our friend in San Marcos said they're titled as such because they cause intense euphoria and can sometimes be messy - such a jokester!), or if you're a little more prim and proper, use a fork and a pretty dessert plate.

Happy Valentine's Day!


SuperAwesomeEasy(HEALTHY) French Toast

I just got "Deceptively Delicious" and tried the very first receipe in the book. It was so easy and delicious so I am passing it on to you.

The basic gist is that you puree something like banana, squash, sweet potato, carrot, pumpkin, etc. and just mix it in with your eggs when you dredge the bread. I used pumpkin because I had a can laying around from Thanksgiving. I made this for myself and Caroline and halved the recipe, which yielded 3 slices total. This is a great way to sneak in something healthy with stuff you already like, which benefits everyone!

4 large eggs
2 TBSP healthy puree of your choice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
4 slices whole wheat bread
nonstick spray
2 tsp margarine
maple syrup and powdered sugar (optional)

Whisk the eggs, puree and cinnamon together in a bowl. Add the bread turn them to soak up the mix, no longer than 30 seconds.

Coat a nonstick pan or griddle with the cooking spray, once it's hot add the margarine until it's sizzling (she recommends adding flaxseed too but we did not have that on hand-i bet wheat germ would work as well). Cook until golden brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes. Serve with syrup and sugar if desired. I also cut up some fresh fruit for the topping.


Crock pot Potato Soup

I got this from a friend, who got it from a friend, who got it from a friend...well, you get the idea. If it's been passed down among that many friends, it must be good!

This would be a great 'Lenten Friday' recipe - if you sub vegetable broth for the chicken broth (and skip adding bacon).

Crock Pot Potato Soup

6-8 Potatoes - peeled and cut into bite sized pieces - if they're really big, 3 is usually enough
1 Onion - Chopped
2-3 Carrots - peeled and chopped
2 Celery Stalks - sliced/chopped (optional, tastes fine without it)
4 Chicken Bouillon Cubes(for Fridays, use veg broth or just add extra salt & spices)
1 TBS Parsley flakes
4-5 cups of water
1 TBS Salt - (if you use sea salt, you can probably half the amount)
1/3 cup of butter
2-4 tsp pepper (to taste - 2 was fine for us; 3-4 is probably almost too much)
1-1.5 cup sour Cream

Toppings (optional):
Shredded cheddar
Bacon - cooked & chopped

Place everything, except the sour cream, in the crockpot.
Cook on low for 10-12 hours (or High for 3-4).
Add the sour cream about an hour before eating it.

Serve with toppings if desired.