Archive for MEAT

Tomato-Braised Pork Ribs

One of my family’s favorite ways for me to cook pork ribs (other than Chamorro BBQ) is to braise it in a thick and sweet tomato sauce.

My mom used to make this for us growing up, only she used tomato ketchup (I still make it this way sometimes).

What is braising, you ask? Braising is a form of cooking with liquid so that the moist heat breaks down connective tissues in tough cuts of meat, leaving them quite tender and fall-off-the-bone good.

I usually cook this dish in a large soup pot (I start it a couple of hours before I intend to serve it), but if you’re pressed for time, you can easily prepare this in a pressure cooker.

Give my recipe a try. I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Tomato-Braised Pork Ribs

image

Ingredients:

  • 2 slabs baby back pork ribs
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses

Directions:

Rinse each slab of ribs, then trim off any excess fat. Separate each rib then place into a large pot over medium high heat.

image

Add the soy sauce, vinegar and garlic to the pot. Stir to evenly coat each rib with the liquid and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even browning.

image

Add the onions and water to the pot.

image

Stir in the crushed tomatoes and molasses. Blackstrap molasses is not too sweet, but adds just the right amount of sweetness for this dish. If you don’t have molasses, you can add a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar.

image

Now it’s time to start the braising process. Cooking the ribs in this delicious tomato sauce, long and over medium-low heat, is the key to creating fall-off-the-bone yumminess. Bring the sauce to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low. Place a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil over the top of the pot, tightly sealing it. Place a lid over the foil. Simmer the ribs for at least 2 hours.

This is what the ribs looked like before braising.

image

This is the “after” photo. Notice how the sauce reduced and thickened (it’s so good poured over steamed white rice!).

image

Serve with hot white rice (don’t forget the sauce, too) and ENJOY!

image

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

No Tomato Chili

My family loves chili. Chili with rice, chili dogs, chili with Frito’s corn chips, or Chili with Doritos chips — you name it, we love it.

Lately, however, I’ve noticed that I get heartburn when I eat foods that contain too much tomatoes, and most chili recipes (mine included) are tomato-based.

I created this recipe for two specific reasons. First, I wanted to create a tomato-less chili recipe to keep the heartburn at bay. Second, as you’ll read below, I wanted to create a healthier recipe that is right in line with my attempt at eating “cleaner”.

You’ll see my basic recipe below, but scroll down a bit for some ingredient substitutions that make this a better choice when you feel like indulging in this, a typically UNhealthy (but oh-so-delicious) menu option.

Give my recipe a try, and if you can, swap out the usual ingredients for the healthier options. I think you’ll like it, and your body will thank you for it too. 😉

No Tomato Chili

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds ground beef *(see note 1 below)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt (more or less, to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 roasted poblano chilies, diced
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour *(see note 2 below)
  • 1 box (32 ounces) chicken stock *(see note 3 below)
  • 3 cans (15 ounces) pinto beans, drained and rinsed *(see note 4 below)
  • 3/4 cup tomatillo salsa
  • Optional:  2 smoked chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped
  • Optional:  1 tablespoon chipotle flavored Tabasco sauce
  • Optional:  1/4 cup sour cream *(see note 5 below)

*Ingredient Substitutions for a Healthy Version of my Chili Recipe:

Note 1:  Instead of ground beef, opt for ground turkey, or boneless, skinless chicken breast. Look for free-range chickens (and turkeys too, for that matter) if you can find it (read more about this below).

If you have a husband like mine who prefers ground beef chili, buy good quality beef that’s relatively low in fat.

An even better choice is to buy grass-fed beef, if you can find any in your grocery store. Cows that are NOT grass-fed are typically fed a mixture of grains and animal byproducts. Now what cows do you know of that naturally feeds on animals? The photo below shows an example of a label for grass-fed beef. There is a stamp on the label that states it was inspected and passed by the USDA.  You should also look for a USDA Organic stamp on the label. Most importantly, in addition to seeing “Grass Fed” on the label, you should also see that there are no antibiotics, hormones or preservatives in the meat.

Note 2:  I’m not gluten-intolerant, but for the next few weeks, I’m going gluten-free AND corn-free. If you recall my recipe for Beer Chili, I add crushed corn tortilla chips to serve as both a flavoring as well as a thickening agent.  I had to figure out what type of non-wheat or non-corn flour would serve the purpose of thickening the chili without adding contrasting/offending flavors. 

This substitution nixes the all-purpose flour and tortilla chips and uses stone-ground rice flour instead.  The rice flour thickens the chili nicely without masking the traditional chili flavors.

Note 3: The best chicken stock in my view is homemade stock…if you have the time to make some, that is. I’m usually looking for time-savers in the kitchen, so I buy chicken stock most of the time. This substitution calls for organic chicken stock made from free-range chickens. Like grass-fed beef, free-range chickens are just that–chickens allowed to roam free and eat what they naturally eat, not a feed mixture that also usually contains animal byproducts, hormones and antibiotics.

Look for broth that is low in sodium. You also want to see that USDA Ogranic stamp on the packaging.

I’m a big fan of reading ingredient labels too. Not all organic and free-range broths are all that healthy. Most contain added sugar (to compensate for the decreased sodium). I’ve also found several brands that claim to be organic, but when you read the ingredient list, there is not one (or very few) ingredient that is organic! This is what you should see when you turn the box over and read the ingredient list. Organic…organic…organic…and no sugar added.

Note 4:  Now there’s not much you can do to substitute pinto beans, aside from choosing to soak and cook dry beans or buying canned beans. Remember when I stated earlier that I’m all for saving time in the kitchen? Well, that means soaking and cooking dried beans are out–I buy canned beans all the time.

The substitution I’m advocating for here is to look for cans that claim to have a Non-BPA lining. This photo shows what I’m talking about.

BPA is the common acronym for the industrial chemical, bisphenol A, found in thousands of commercial products. BPA has been linked with reproductive problems, brain impairments, cancer, obesity and more. Eliminating exposure to BPA is probably not possible, but you can take measures to reduce your exposure.

For example, rinse food (like canned beans) from cans before eating or cooking. Choose ceramic, glass or other microwave-friendly dishes, instead of plastic. Don’t use plastic containers with recycle codes 3 or 7 (look on the bottom of the container for the number) and look for (and don’t use) plastic bottles with scratches on them.

 

Note 5:  Adding sour cream is completely optional in this recipe.  I do like the tang that you get by adding sour cream.  To go (cow) dairy free, substitute with sheep’s milk plain yogurt, or omit the sour cream altogether.

 

I hope I didn’t scare you off trying my recipe. It’s really delicious even if you DON’T make these substitutions, I promise!

With these 5 simple substitutions, you can turn this recipe into a healthy version of traditional chili.  At the risk of being repetitively redundant (get it? 🙂 ), give my recipe a try. I think you’ll like it. 🙂

 

Directions:

1.  Place a large pot over medium high heat.  Add the ground beef (or ground turkey or chicken pieces).

2.  Add the cumin, chili powder, oregano, sea salt and black pepper to the pot.

3.  Stir well; cook until the meat is browned.

4.  Add the onions to the pot; stir to combine the ingredients.

5.  Cook until the onions are translucent.  Add the garlic to the pot; stir to combine the ingredients.  Cook for about a minute.

6.  Add the flour to the pot.  Stir to thoroughly mix the flour into the meat mixture.

7.  Pour the chicken stock into the pot, stirring the mixture as you add the liquid.  Turn the heat up to high.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally.  The mixture will thicken as it cooks.

8.  While the chili is cooking, roast the poblano chilies.  I just place the peppers over one of the burners on my gas stove.

9.  Rotate the pepper as it grills to ensure even cooking.

***Don’t do what I did and forget to peel off the charred skin! Or, you can forget, like I did, but then you’ll be fishing blackened pepper skin out of your chili. 😉

To remove the charred skin, let the peppers cool slightly.  After the peppers cool, use a damp paper towel to rub the charred skin off the peppers.

10.  Cut the peppers in strips, lengthwise, then dice them into small pieces.

11.  Add the peppers to the pot.  If you want to add the optional chipotle peppers and chipotle Tabasco, add them to the pot now.

12.  Add the drained and rinsed beans to the pot.

13.  Stir in the tomatillo salsa.

Note:  I bought a jar of organic tomatillo salsa for this recipe, but you can make your own from scratch.

14.  Place a lid on the pot.  Reduce the heat to medium.  Cook for about 5 more minutes.

15.  The chili should be nice and thick by now.  Stir in the optional sour cream (note that I did NOT add any sour cream to the chile pictured in this recipe).  Give it a taste and adjust the seasonings and salt to your liking.

Serve with rice (I opted for brown rice) or chips and ENJOY!

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

Chicken pot pie is a favorite in my family.  There’s something about the tender chicken, delicious vegetables and cream sauce that makes us happy-happy-happy.  My favorite part of chicken pot pies, however, is the crust.  Sometimes I go the extra mile and make a homemade crust, but lately I’ve taken to using frozen puff pastry.  You can also substitute the puff pastry with biscuits (find my homemade biscuit recipe here).  Just top the filling with cut out biscuit dough and bake as directed below.

Rather than bake up individual pies, I make it casserole-style, baked in a 9×13″ pan and topped with the puff pastry.

Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small bag baby carrots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons powdered chicken seasoning (or you can use 3 bouillon cubes)
  • 1 small bag frozen peas (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  • 2 egg whites

Directions:

1. Place a large pot over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and chicken to the pot. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink. Remove the chicken from the pot; set aside.

2. In the same pot used to cook the chicken, add the onions, carrots and garlic. Cook until the onions are translucent.

3. Add the mushrooms to the pot; cook until the mushrooms begin to soften.

4. Add the chicken back into the pot.

5. Stir in the flour.

6. Mix the water with the chicken seasoning then pour into the pot (or you can just add the seasoning or bouillon to the pot and pour in the water). Stir the chicken mixture as you pour the water into the pot to prevent clumping.

7. Add the half-and-half. Stir to combine the ingredients.

8. Cook for 15 minutes or until the mixture slightly thickens.

9. Add the peas to the pot.

NOTE: We forgot to add the peas when we made this last night (oops!), but this is the step where you’d do so. 🙂

Add the black pepper.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.  If you like it more salty, add more chicken seasoning.

10. Pour the chicken mixture into a 9X13 pan.

11. Top the chicken mixture with the puff pastry sheets. Cut off any excess puff pastry.

12. Lightly beat the egg whites. Brush the top of the puff pastry with the beaten egg whites.

13. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the puff pastry is golden brown (I baked this for a few more minutes so that the puff pastry was a deeper golden brown than what’s shown in the photo below.)

14. Let the pot pie cool for about 5 minutes before cutting.

Serve and ENJOY!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Juicy Cheeseburgers with Baked Smothered Fries

I may be dating myself, but one of my favorite burger places to eat was Cool Spot, a quaint drive-in burger joint in Barrigada owned and operated by Josefina and Francisco Cruz.  The juicy burgers and hot-out-of-the-frier french fries were the perfect lunchtime meal when I was going to high school.

Anyone can make burgers at home, but to me, it’s about the special sauce that set these apart from ordinary.  You don’t have to use my recipe below, but give it a try.  The addition of my special sauce sets these apart from ordinary cheeseburgers.

Juicy burgers are not hard to make, but surprisingly, you’ll find that most homemade burgers use store-bought patties that turn out dry and hard.  Here are some tips to ensure moist, juicy burgers every time.

  1. Use ground beef that has at least 18-20% fat.  Beef that is too lean will make your burgers too dry.
  2. Do not over-handle the meat.  Add your seasonings to the meat then mix as little as possible.
  3. Do not–I repeat, do NOT smash the patties with your spatula!  Doing this squeezes out a lot of the meat’s natural juices that keep the meat moist.
  4. In addition to not pressing on the patties as they cook, another tip is to flip them one time only.  If you like rare burgers, cook them for 2 minutes on each side, 3 minutes on each side if you like them medium-rare, 4 minutes on each side for medium, and 5 minutes for well-done burgers.

Fantastic burgers go hand-in-hand with french fries, but no ordinary fries will do.  Try my version — potato slices (wedges are good too) that are generously seasoned then baked and topped with shredded cheese and bacon.  Yum!!

Give my recipes a try.  I think you’ll like them. 🙂

Juicy Burgers with Baked Smothered Fries

Ingredients for the Smothered Fries:

  • 2 large potatoes (russets are great for this)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (I use garlic-infused olive oil for more flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (you can add more after baking if you’d like it more salty)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese blend (I like a blend of cheddar, mozzarella, asadero and queso quesadilla)
  • 5 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced

Ingredients for the Special Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons Best Foods real mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup sweet pickle relish

Ingredients for the Burgers:

  • 3 pounds ground beef, 80-82% lean
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 12 slices of your favorite cheese (I used American cheese in these photos)
  • 12 sesame topped burger buns
  • Optional toppings:  romaine lettuce leaves, sliced tomates, pickles, bacon strips

Directions:

1.  Prepare the fries.

Peel the potatoes then cut them into 1/4-inch sticks.  Place them onto a large baking sheet.

Drizzle the olive oil over the potatoes.  Use your impeccably clean hands to toss the potatoes to evenly distribute the oil.

Sprinkle the garlic powder, chili powder, paprika and salt over the oiled potatoes.  Toss to evenly coat the potatoes.

Bake the potatoes at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

After the fries are done, taste one and add more salt if you’d like.

Sprinkle the crumbled bacon and green onions on top of the fries.

Add the shredded cheese.

Bake for 5-10 more minutes, or just until the cheese melts.

Serve alongside the juicy burgers and ENJOY!

2.  Prepare the Special Sauce while the fries are baking.

In a small mixing bowl, place the mayo, mustard and ketchup.

Add the onion powder.

Add the Worcestershire sauce and relish.  Stir, mixing well.  Set aside.

3.  Make the burgers while the fries are baking.

In a large mixing bowl, place the ground beef, garlic, salt and black pepper.  You can also add some chopped onions (optional).  Mix together (do not over-mix) then separate into 12 balls.  Flatten each ball into patties, about 1/4-inch thick (they will shrink as they cook, so don’t make them too thick or you’ll have burgers that are much smaller than the buns).

Cook over a hot grill or skillet (see my tips above for how long to cook them).

Top each burger patty with a slice of cheese.

4.  Assemble the burgers.

Spread some of the Special Sauce onto each sesame bun half.  Top the bottom bun with a juicy burger patty, pickles, tomato slices, bacon strips and romaine lettuce.  Place the top bun on the assembled burger, serve with a side of Smothered Fries and ENJOY!

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken noodle soup is comfort food at it’s best.  This soup is quick and easy to make.  Cook up a batch when you’re feeling under the weather, or when you need something to warm you up on cold days.

Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Chicken Noodle Soup 

 Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (I use garlic-infused olive oil)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small bag baby carrots, sliced
  • 6 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons Dashida (or you can use 2 chicken flavored bouillon cubes)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 bag (8.8 ounces) dry egg noodles (see the photo below)

Directions:

Place a large soup pot over medium high heat.  Add the olive oil to the pot.  Heat the oil for about a minute.

Add the chicken pieces to the pot.

Cook the chicken until they are no longer pink.

Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pot.  Stir to combine the ingredients.

Cook over medium high heat until the onions are translucent.

Add the chicken stock, water, and Dashida (or bouillon) to the pot.

Add the bay leaves.

Add the black pepper.

Add the parsley.

Bring the soup to a boil then add the egg noodles.

This is the brand of egg noodles that I like to use.  You can use any brand you like.

After about 5 minutes (or until the noodles are done), remove the bay leaves from the soup.

Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Serve while hot and ENJOY! 😀

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
« Older Entries Recent Entries »