Archive for Beef

Easy recipe: Stuffed bell peppers

Know what’s better than eating delicious food served on a beautiful dish? Eating delicious food and the equally delicious dish it’s served in. If you’ve ever had soup in a bread bowl, you’ve already enjoyed this experience. But summer is around the corner, and soup is going out of favor. Thus we turn our attention to something in season, a versatile something that’s not only great on its own, but one that can act as a delicious bowl: the bell pepper.

Bell peppers are available year-round, but they can be pricey in the milder months. Now that summer is nearly here, so are the deals on bell peppers, including the usually more expensive orange and red varieties. I recently scored half a dozen for just a few bucks at Sprouts Farmers Market. Though peppers are great cut up and grilled or roasted, “Why not use them whole and stuff them?” I thought.

When I was young, my mom made stuffed bell peppers regularly because they come together quickly, can be bolstered with a variety of leftovers such as rice and vegetables, and even freeze well for future lunches and dinners. They also stretch your dollar. If you can find peppers cheap, the only other main ingredient required is ground meat. Beef was the staple when I was young, but I now prefer leaner turkey or chicken. Seafood lovers can go a more exotic route with crab or shrimp, and vegetarians can get stuffed by using whole beans or tofu as foundation for the filling.

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The most important tool in the kitchen

(Updated with latest USDA info on pork)

Ask any chef to pick their favorite tool in the kitchen and there’s a good chance he or she will lovingly look toward their biggest knife. But that favorite kitchen tool and the most important one are probably quite different.

That’s because the most important tool in the kitchen, at least when it comes to your health and safety, is one that many folks don’t even have: a cooking thermometer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tens of millions of Americans become ill due to foodborne pathogens every year. And we’re not just talking about an upset stomach here; thousands of people die each year from them, the CDC says.

If you routinely make food for an elderly person, a child or a person with a weakened immune system, it’s even more vital to be sure your foods are as safe as possible for consumption.

Two of the biggest factors contributing to foodborne illnesses are cross-contamination and not cooking meats, poultry and fish to a safe temperature.

The first can be controlled by thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing work surfaces and tools that have touched raw meat, poultry and fish. The second is where the thermometer comes in.

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Homemade meatloaf is totally manageable

Meatloaf is one of those classic comfort meals that you can really sink your teeth into, literally. It’s a dish that many of us have fond (or not-so-fond) memories of our moms and grandmas making, but it’s as relevant today as it was in decades past.

After all, feeding hungry mouths while pinching pennies is nothing new, and meatloaf make a few bucks go far. I also dig it because it’s so adaptable.

Meatloaf is far from just ground beef, bread crumbs and ketchup baked in a loaf pan. Any manner of ground meat or fowl can be used, singularly or in combination with others. It’s a wonderful meal to make when you need to use that ground meat you got on sale and can’t stand another burger.

To make my own version go the distance, I load it up with grated veggies. This also adds plenty of flavor, texture and visual pizzazz to what can otherwise be a pretty boring thing to look at. In the recipe here I use carrots and zucchini. You can use whatever you like and have on hand. If you’re a fan of mushrooms or caramelized onions, say, then throw them into the mixture.

Homemade meatloaf also rocks because it’s super adaptable for meal planning. The stuff freezes easily (uncooked or cooked), reheats well, and can be eaten the next day in a sandwich hot or cold.

If you’ve never made your own version of this classic dinner, here’s your chance. If you’re an old hand at it, try this version and see if it works in your own recipe arsenal.

Let’s make some meatloaf!

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Bold & Brawny Barbecue Sauce

Ah, barbecue. Was there ever a word in the culinary realm that had so many meanings, not to mention cause for so passionate of debates?

While most of us throw the word around as a verb, adjective and noun – as a cooking method, type of food eaten and the apparatus with which to cook said food, respectively – to others it’s cause for fiery remarks as to what is “real” barbecue when it comes style of both recipe and cooking method.

I’m not going to step into that hornet’s nest today. Instead I’m here to share a sauce. A barbecue sauce. A sauce that, no matter what position you take on all things barbecue, I think you’ll enjoy.

Of course, even the sauce used in food that is said to have been “barbecued” – the term so often used for grilling or charbroiling – is a candidate for debate. Many of us are familiar with a tomato-based sauce that is sweet, sour and spicy. Other parts of the U.S. of A enjoy theirs with a foundation of mustard, vinegar and even mayonnaise.

In my book, they’re all tasty. What follows here, though, is a tomato-based version (ketchup, actually, which is of course based on tomatoes). It’s so easy to make that gathering ingredients might just take longer than actually cooking it.

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Fabulous French Onion Soup

Fabulous-French-Onion-Soup

It sounds fancy and can be found on the menus of classy restaurants everywhere, but French onion soup is actually very easy to make. This classic will warm your heart and soul any time of year, and — even more enticing — it’s cheap to make. All it takes is some patience and perseverance through the tears.

Here’s how to make Fabulous French Onion Soup:

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