Monthly Archives: April 2013

Swiss Steak with Mashed Taters

We had a bit of a cold spell last week that knocked me right off my “here comes summer!” bandwagon.  Spring (if you can call it that) in Reno is such a tease!!  One day it’s hot, the next day a blizzard has blown in overnight.

Whenever it’s cold out, I think of eating either comfort foods or soups.  Well, this week, comfort food edged out soup.  I hadn’t had Swiss steak in a LONG time, and it just sounded like the perfect, warm, belly-filling comfort food that would do the trick.  I have no idea where my family acquired this recipe, but I believe it to be pretty similar to other Swiss Steak recipes out there.  All I know is that it’s yummy and filling.

For those of you out there who really like to watch your carb intake, this recipe is easily altered.  Substitute almond flour for the all-purpose flour, and make mashed cauliflower instead of using potatoes.  Yes – there is sugar, hence carbs, in the tomatoes, but this is really what makes the sauce.  I have no substitution for this ingredient.

This recipe only will be for the Swiss steak as I know many people have their own mashed potato recipe they like to follow.

Ingredients:
2 medium to large onions, sliced
2 cans halved tomatoes
1 package of cube steak
¼-1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Salt n pepper
Oil (for frying onions)

Directions:  Heat oil in pan on a medium to medium-high heat, and add sliced onions.  Allow onions to cook down.  Once cooked completely, remove from pan.

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While onions are cooking, season flour with salt and pepper and dredge each piece of cube steak in flour mixture.

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Add floured cube steak to pan, and brown on each side.  (A tip: the steak is ready to flip when pools of blood form on the upper side).

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Once meat is browned, add onions back in and two cans of tomatoes.  Cover and simmer.

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At this point, (if you’re making mashed potatoes) turn the water on to boil potatoes.  The length of time it takes you to cook the potatoes should be sufficient for the Swiss steak to finish cooking.

When the mashed potatoes are done, top with Swiss steak, tomatoes and onions and enjoy!

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Have a fantastic weekend!

Cucumber Noodle Salad

Often times, I crave pasta at lunch.  I don’t know what it is about twirling noodles on a fork that I find so appealing.  But since I try to be sensible about what I eat, I know that a daily dose of pasta probably isn’t the best choice to be making for the waist line.

I was sitting at work one day, pondering the possibilities of lunch, when the only thing on my mind was pasta… pasta… and pasta.  UGH!  There has to be a way I can combat this pasta craving with a healthier substitute.  (LIGHT BULB)

A few weeks back, I had encountered this handy little tool at William’s Sonoma.  It is a julienne peeler.  Hmm… well that could enable me to make noodles out of nearly any veggie.  An idea was hatched… I will try my hand at making cucumber noodle salad.

Ingredients:
2 English cucumbers
½ red onion
salt
¼ C rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp red pepper flakes (or more depending on desired spiciness)
¼ c water
toasted sesame seeds

Directions:  Peel English cucumber lengthwise to create long “noodles”.  Continue around the cucumber until you’ve reached the core, do not peel the seeded portion. (I just save the middle of my cucumber and cut it into slices for a snack).  In a bowl, salt the cucumber noodles to help extract the water.  If you have time, allow this to sit refrigerated for up to an hour.  (I gave myself about 15 minutes, and my “noodles” were a little soggy, but still eatable).

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While cucumber noodles are refrigerating, thinly slice the onion.  Shoestring slices are preferable to match the noodle consistency of the cucumber.  Blanch sliced onions (this step is optional, I don’t like an overly strong onion flavor because it literally gives me a headache when I eat it, I’ve found that if I just shock them with some boiling water, then drain that the flavor is more palatable).

Mix together ingredients for dressing: rice wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, sugar and water.  Once cucumber noodles are done “draining” combine it with red onion and dressing.  Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and serve.

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Chinese Chicken Maifun Salad

Sadly, this week, I have no funny back story for this recipe.  There are lots of versions of Chinese chicken salad out there, and this is merely one of them.  This was a re-engineered recipe of a Chinese chicken salad I’ve enjoyed over the years from Flaming Wok at Meadowood Mall.

I know, it may seem silly to reconstruct a salad made from a Chinese fast food place, but it was one of my favorites, so I had to try.  Plus, every time I would buy this salad I thought, why can’t I just make this?  It’s not complex; very few ingredients.

If you take anything away from this blog post, I hope it’s that you learn the ease and deliciousness of poaching chicken as a cooking method.  And seeing how fun it is to fry maifun noodles.

Ingredients:
3-4 chicken tenderloins; poached; then thinly sliced
1 head iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced
Maifun noodles (cook as many as desired, sometimes you can get carried away cooking them because it’s so fun!)
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 green onions chopped (optional)

For the Dressing:
2 Tsp. Sesame Oil
1/4 Canola Oil (salad oil)
1/4 Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Sugar

– Directions –
To Poach Chicken: Boil a pot of water large enough to house chicken pieces. Chicken can be frozen or thawed.  Once water is boiling, drop in chicken, and turn heat down to a temperature where the water is swirling, but not boiling. For frozen chicken, you may have to leave it in for 15 minutes, thawed chicken; it should cook within 5-6 minutes.

To fry maifun noodles:  Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a pot.  Temperature should reach 375-400 degrees, but if you don’t have a thermometer, it’s OK. Monitor the oil, and periodically drop in a bit of small noodle.  If it sizzles and rises to the top fast, your oil is ready.  Proceed to cook as many noodles as desired.

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Dressing:  Combine ingredients, and mix thoroughly.

Assemble the salad:  Combine thinly sliced lettuce with chicken, and sesame seeds.  Just before serving, toss in dressing and maifun noodles.  Serve immediately.

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I hope you enjoy this simple salad.  Let me know what you think.

Siracha Kale Chips

Here’s another edition of “Lessons learned the hard way by Cindy.”  One of the things I love about cooking is the experimenting; laughing at myself, then sharing it will all you lovely people.

This week’s lesson is on Kale.  All kale is not created equal.  Ok… well nutritionally, it’s more or less the same, but in kitchen cooking it is not exactly the same.  There are three types of kale: curly kale, red kale and lacinato kale.

Lays Potato Chips just had a contest to have consumers help pick the next big potato chip flavor.  Chicken & Waffles, Garlic Bread and Siracha were the three flavors vying for the winning spot.

It seems to me that it would be a no-brainer that Siracha should win hands down.  I’ve tried the Lays chips, and they were good.  I didn’t think it tasted THAT much like the real thing, but it was a spicy reddish colored chip and I managed to eat nearly an entire bag of them so they couldn’t have been that bad.  However, since I wasn’t that satisfied with the flavor, and eating a whole bag of potato chips isn’t a healthy thing to do, I decided to try to make Siracha kale chips.

Round 1:
I used curly kale.  Why? Because it was already cut, washed and ready for me in a bag and I figured it would be good enough.  The flavor was… “meh” at best.  I didn’t add enough siracha mixture to the kale prior to baking. The result was just average, not above average.  I deemed it more or less a fail, and thought “not sharing this one with the world…”

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Round 2:
Next, I tracked down some lacinato kale.  It has more of a flat appearance.  I ramped up my Siracha mixture and took another stab at it.  MUCH better results this time around!!  Siracha Lacinato Kale Chips = success!

Both types of kale will work, but now that I’ve had curly kale and lacinato kale, I prefer the lacinato kale for chip purposes.

Ingredients:
Lacinato Kale
1 Tbsp. Siracha
1 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp red vinegar

Directions:  Wash and dry kale really well.  Break kale into large chip size pieces.  Remove stems (they can be bitter when cooked).  Combine Siracha, olive oil and red vinegar well.  Toss with kale.  Lay flavored kale out on a cookie sheet, single layer.  Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes until crisp.

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Hope you enjoy this recipe!  Let me know what you think.

Habanero Cheddar Cauliflower Fritters with Avocado Cream Dipping Sauce

Have you ever eating something that tasted so good and made you so happy that you found yourself dancing?  No?  That’s just me?

Maybe fritters just do that to me.  A little, lightly fried morsel made of a vegetable so it MUST be healthy.  It’s such a simple concept for food, but so yummy.  It makes me wonder, where did fritters originate?

It was really the cheese that inspired me to make fritters.  It’s one of those ingredients where things really can’t go wrong.  Cheese makes everything better.  Habanero cheddar not only makes it better, but it makes it spicy too.  And that’s a win-win in my book.

The best thing about this fritter recipe is that you can really substitute any cheese that you want.  So many grocery stores are now carrying a nice variety of delicious, cleverly flavored specialty cheeses that the combination possibilities for this dish are mind-bottling.

I had an afterthought while I was inhaling one of these fritters, and that was to try my almond flour from the Almond Flour Debacle to see if they would bind the fritter well enough.  I suspect that it will, but you may run the chance of a slightly “nutty” flavor.  I still think it’s worth giving it a shot.

Ingredients:
1 small head cauliflower, cut into chunks
1 large egg
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 oz. habanero cheese, chopped (or 3 oz. of any cheese)
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil (for cooking)

Avocado Cream Sauce:
1 avocado, chopped
½-3/4 cup sour cream (depending on how thin you want the sauce)
1-2 tbsp. lime juice

Directions:  Cut cauliflower into 1-2 inch chunks.  Place in microwave safe bowl, lightly drizzle with water and microwave for 5-6 minutes until cauliflower is soft to mash up into pea size bits.  Mashed bits will not be consistent in size, but that’s perfectly OK.  Allow cauliflower to cool.  In a bowl combine, chopped garlic, egg, cauliflower (cooled, if you put it in hot, it could scramble your egg), cheese.  In a smaller separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt and pepper.  Mix well and then add this mixture to the cauliflower mixture.  Mix until combined.

Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a nonstick skillet.  Scoop fritters into hot oil, and allow to brown on one side, then flip.  Prepare a plate with paper towel, or a cooling rack to rest completed fritters.

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Combine ingredients for avocado cream sauce.  Serve and enjoy!

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What cheese and dipping sauce combo would you come up with?

Huevos Rancheros – Costa Rican Style

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Costa Rica not once, but twice in the last few years.  This country is enchanting.  The views are breathtaking; you can get a variety of beaches, rainforests, and volcanoes.CostaRica5

You will never be bored when visiting this country.  Take a look at this website to see some of the possibilitiesCostaRica1CostaRica4

On top of the amazing scenery and activities, the people of Costa Rica, (aka Ticos and Ticas) are through and through some of the nicest people I’ve ever met while travelling.  Both trips to Costa Rica have been fun filled and adventurous.  I highly recommend adding this country to your bucket list if you haven’t already been there.

On my last trip there, I had the opportunity to stay at this gorgeous rental home in Domincal, CR.  The host of this vacation home employed the services of a personal chef while I was staying there.  One morning, this chef made what he called Huevos Rancheros Costa Rican style.


Well, what that means is he used Lizano salsa and black beans to create his style of huevos rancheros.  This is the country’s beloved hot sauce, which is not really that heat spicy.  For those of you who have been to Costa Rica and tried this salsa before, would you agree that it’s quite provocative?  It definitely has it’s own flavor that isn’t replicated by anything I’ve tried in the US.

I liked this salsa so much that I brought it back as souvenirs to my family and friends.  (What a boring souvenir hunh?)  If you’re planning on visiting Costa Rica soon, trying this salsa is a must, and if you like it, you can bring it back and execute this recipe. Or if you’re not going to Costa Rica anytime soon, you can buy it on Amazon.

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Or, if by chance you were like me and impulsively bought a ton of it and brought it back, now you are running out of ideas on how to use it, here you go.

Ingredients:
1 15 oz. can black beans
5-6 diced sweet bell peppers (or 1 green or red bell pepper)
½ cup diced onion
1 celery rib chopped
corn tortillas
eggs (to serve on top fried or poached)
¼ to 1/3 Lizano salsa (depending on desired consistency)

Directions:  Start by sautéing your chopped peppers, celery and onions in some olive oil on a medium to medium-high heat.  Once they soften, add in the black beans. Add the Lizano salsa.  Toss to coat; turn heat to low.

Warm tortillas and prepare eggs to desired doneness.  Poached or fried will work. Add the bean, veggie mixture to the top of the warmed tortillas and top with eggs. You can top it off with a little more Lizano as well.

In the picture mine are fried because I failed miserably at poaching them.  Poaching is healthier. Overall this is a fairly healthy recipe.

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Serve and enjoy!

Have any of you tried Lizano salsa before? How else do you like to use this Costa Rican salsa?

Pronghorn Antelope Bolognese Sauce

I bet you’re wondering why I labeled this blog post this way.  Well, it’s because I’m attempting to be as accurate as possible when labeling this recipe.  Instead of a traditional ground pork, and ground beef combo for this Bolognese sauce, a little “Nevada” has been added to it.  That’s right, pronghorn antelope sausage, killed, dressed, and processed into sausage by my father’s own two hands (and a Kitchen Aide).

My father is also the genius behind this unique Bolognese sauce.  My mom and dad took a trip last fall to Italy.  During their stay, they ate the most delicious Bolognese sauce in Positano, Italy on the Amalfi Coast and my mom wanted to try to replicate it when they returned home.  So she and I researched different sauce recipes and finally settled on a recipe we thought “sounded” close to what she had eaten while in Italy.  We made the sauce, and it was good… but it wasn’t great.  We scribbled our notes to what we’d change the next go round.

Fast forward six months and multiple attempts at this sauce, my dad was the one who took this sauce to the next level.  The minor tweaks he made resulted in a fantastic difference.  And I will share those tips with you momentarily.  But first, let me loop back around to the Pronghorn Antelope.  My dad and I were cooking this sauce together and he educated me that antelope in Nevada aren’t really antelope.  In Nevada, we have Pronghorn Antelope. Hunh.. who’d a thunk it.  Now you’re educated too.  You’re welcome.

I think this meat sauce would work with nearly any combination of meats.  If you have access to elk sausage, ground venison, or antelope sausage I encourage testing it out.

Ingredients:
1 carrot chopped (really,really chopped)
1 onion chopped
1 celery chopped
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp crushed red pepper
½ lb ground beef
½ lb pronghorn antelope sausage
1 cup white wine
3 basil leaves torn

Tomato Sauce:
4 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
4 garlic cloves chopped
1 28 oz can peeled plum tomatoes
1 tsp crushed red pepper.

Directions:  Chop carrot, celery and onion really fine, almost like a relish consistency (this helps make the sauce smoother & is essential to this recipe’s success).  In a pot, add the olive oil and butter.  Cook carrot, onion, celery and crushed red pepper for about 5-6 minutes.  Add the meat, and break up until incorporated with carrot, onion and celery.  Bolognese!Bolognese2

After meat browns, add white wine (and I stress white; I’ve tried red, but this recipe turns out better with white.)  Cook uncovered while wine reduces.

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Meanwhile, in another bowl, add olive oil, chopped medium onion, 4 garlic cloves, and can of peeled plum tomatoes into a bowl. Using immersion blender, combine ingredients. If you don’t have an immersion blender a food processor or blender will also work.Bolognese5

Once wine has reduced, add this tomato sauce mixture to the meat and veggies.  Cover and cook for 1 hours.  Serve with your choice of pasta.Bolognese7Bolognese9

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Enjoy and have a wonderful day!