Friday, March 21, 2014

Philly Cheese Steak Subs at Home Or More Manly Man Cooking

We have a tradition in our family that you get to pick whatever you want for dinner on your birthday. Short of an 11 year old demanding shots of tequila, the tradition is pretty sacred at our house. Your birthday is YOUR special day, and you should get what you want on your birthday. I've written about this before when my husband chose ribs on his birthday (read about that day here ).  My mom always honored this custom and I loved it as a kid. I was a traditionalist and almost always chose spaghetti with meat sauce, my favorite thing that my mom made. Sometimes I picked apple pie for dessert, sometimes angel food cake. My youngest son likes to mix it up when it's his turn to choose. He's often chosen rockfish stuffed with crab meat, but this year he choose to have me concoct Philly Cheese-steak Subs.

The internet is truly a wonderful thing when you are searching for recipes. Instead of buying a bunch of cookbooks you'll never use again or spending hours at the library looking through recipes,  you have the info you need right at your fingertips. My husband got involved -- he's pretty sure that HE'S the KING OF SANDWICHES (not that guy on TV who claims he is) and he narrowed it down to 2 recipes, one on a website labelled "Real and Authentic" and one from Bobby Flay. Bobby called for using hot peppers and we decided we didn't want that this time, but maybe later we'll try that. The "Real and Authentic" recipe writer claimed that the secret of authentic Philly taste was to use only Olive Oil to fry the meat and vegetables, so that's what we did. Also, don't get smoked provolone if provolone is the cheese your prefer. My son had his sub cut in half, with provolone on one half and American cheese on the other half, both with mayo. He preferred the provolone, in the end. Here's how we did it at home.
Philly Cheese Steak Subs at Home

Philly Cheese Steak Subs
makes 5 - 6 large subs

1 3 lb. sirloin roast
3 T. Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive Oil
Large sub rolls
2 green pepper, sliced
1 large yellow onion sliced
1 can sliced mushrooms
Light Mayo (optional) 
Sliced American or Provolone Cheese
OR Cheese Sauce 


The method is the important thing here. Freeze your sirloin roast for about 45 minutes so that it firms up and will be easier to shave. Shave or slice the raw meat into very thin slices. We used our electric meat slicer for this. If you don't have one, make sure your knife is very sharp and that the meat is frozen until just firm. That will make it easier to slice. Try to slice it as thin as you can. After you've got it all cut up, preheat a large skillet and put a Tablespoon or 2 of olive oil into it and add the meat. Sprinkle with the Worcester, a pinch or 2 of salt and some black pepper. Fry it quickly, about 3 minutes, stirring it around to brown the meat on both sides. Don't over cook it. Remove the meat from the pan and chop it up like the guys in the deli do it. It's very manly, chopping meat with two knives, just sayin'. (IF you've got a man who loves to cook, try this!)
Sirloin Roast chopped and ready for Philly Cheese Steak Subs
 Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Set the meat aside and fry up your peppers and onions in the same pan with a drop more of olive oil. Add the canned mushrooms and push them to one side for anyone who doesn't care for the mushrooms on their sandwich.

While the vegetables are cooking put the buns in the oven, slicing them first to make them easier to handle. Toast your sliced sub rolls until they are starting to get crisp, 5 or 6 minutes. Swipe one side of the roll with mayo if desired and pile on the meat. Top with your choice of onions, peppers and/or mushrooms. Place 2 slices of cheese on top or spoon a little cheese sauce over the meat. Put the subs back into the oven for a minute to make sure it's all hot and bubbly. My son and husband prefer mayo and sliced cheese on theirs. I don't care for mayo so I prefer cheese sauce. I've included the recipe below.
The shaved meat in these was YUMMY as was the gooey cheese over the vegetables. I like peppers, onions and mushrooms, my son prefers his without mushrooms. It's all good, I promise!

PS My son took the picture of the sandwich. We need to keep this real, right?

Easy Cheese Sauce
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1/3 c. milk
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
a pinch of salt
2 oz. grated provolone or American cheese or 2 thick slices of cheese, torn up
Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and stir until you can't see any white and the flour is absorbed by the butter. Add the milk and Worcestershire. Stir, stir stir, or use a whisk so that there are no lumps and the sauce is smooth. Put in a pinch of salt and add the cheese. Cook over low, stirring often, until cheese is melted. Taste the sauce and correct the seasoning Enough for at least 2 subs. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mustard Herb Crusted Rack of Pork

What, you may ask, is a Rack of Pork? I bought this pork roast a month or so ago, not really even sure what cut of meat it was, except I knew it was done in the "French" style. All that "French" style means is that the meat has been cut away from the bones so that they are exposed. You most often see it done to a rack of lamb or lamb chops. However, this was, for sure, pork. I've cooked many a pork roast before (See my first post about pork roast HERE) but this was a totally different cut of meat. SO, I searched my way around several food and recipe sites yesterday, and after reading a bunch of recipes, this is what I came up with. Using the mustard to hold the herb crust in place added great flavor and cut out some of the fat - several of the recipes called for rubbing the top with olive oil. The fresh herbs were a real treat and I think the bed of vegetables under the pork added to the flavor. The presentation was lovely, and it tasted delicious. This a great alternative for those who say they don't care for lamb, and I know there are a lot of you out there. It looks great on the table and on the plate and it was a lot cheaper than Prime Rib of Beef, that is for SURE!
Mustard Herb Crusted Rack of Pork ready to serve

Mustard Herb Crusted Rack of Pork
serves 4 - 6
1  2.5 - 3 lb. rack of pork roast
1 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, thickly sliced
1 carrot, cut in 1 inch chunks
1 rib celery, cut in 1 inch pieces
2 T. Whole Grain Garlic Mustard (We used the Kroger brand "Private Selection")
2 T. minced fresh rosemary
2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
2 T. of Kosher or Coarse Salt
2 T. coarse ground Black Pepper

The number of bones in the roast will determine the number of servings. 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Using a sharp knife, score the fat on the top of the roast by shallowly slicing a few X's into the surface of the fat. This will allow the herbs to penetrate into the meat and flavor it. 
Pour the olive oil in the bottom of shallow metal roasting pan and spread it so that the middle of the pan is completely oil. Put the sliced vegetables on the oiled part of the pan in an even pile. Place the roast -  fatty side up -- carefully on top of the veggies and spread the mustard over the surface. Sprinkle the rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper evenly over the mustard so that the top surface of the roast is covered. Gently pat the crust into the mustard so that it stays in place while roasting. 
Place the roast into the preheated oven and turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Roast for 20 - 22 minutes per pound or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the meat -- making sure not to touch a bone -- reads 145 degrees. This will yield a roast that still has a touch of pink at the bone. I know, I know, that's not the way your mom did it, and mine didn't either, but pork is a lot safer than it used to be. If you feel nervous about the pink, cook it for 25 minutes per pound but it will be a little drier than mine looks. 
Slice between the bones for each serving and top with a slice of the caramelized onion, if desired. I made some garlic mashed potatoes and a big salad to go with the pork. It was yummy, I promise. Give it a try for Easter or any time you want to make a festive and delicious meal. 
Mustard Herb Crusted Rack of Pork with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Salad 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

3.14 PI day...What kind of pie are you making?

Friday, March 14, 2014 is 3.14 and PI day or as the way I like t think of it -  PIE day. What kind of PIE are you making? Try one of mine, here are two of our favorites. Both of these pies are old, family recipes. What kind of pie do you like to make? My husbands' family loves desserts, and his dad refused to leave the table without one! Treat your family and try one of mine!

Chocolate Pecan Pie --rich, chocolaty and full of nuts, so good with vanilla ice cream! View the recipe here :
Chocolate Pecan Pie

Or try some lemon chess pie, another family favorite and a recipe that has been in our family for many, many years:
You can check out the recipe and the history HERE

Lemon Chess Pie
Not my greatest picture, the pie is actually dark golden brown on the top and rich yellow underneath. The thing that really matters is that it is absolutely delicious! Very lemony and tart, with just enough sweetness. A favorite family story is one time when my husbands' grandmother, who everyone called Maw, made a mistake and left out the sugar in the recipe. When the pie was served and everyone was choking down the first bite, Maw smiled and said, "I like it tart, don't you?"
Fearless, just like Julia Child! 





Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Blueberry Pancakes

I hate the phrase "But we've always done it that way!" especially when uttered in the workplace! Nothing stagnant in the world of work ever moves forward, at least not very quickly, and the workplace needs to be fluid, in my humble opinion.
That being said, I make these pancakes the same way I've always made them, because they are YUMMY! Some of you will turn up your noses at my shortcut of using Bisquick, but before you go all Downton Abbey on me, give them a try. They beat the stuffing out of pancake only mixes, and take 1/2 the time you'd take if you had to measure and combine flour, butter or shortening, baking soda or powder and salt. That's all Bisquick really is, a pre-mixed base for making biscuits, pot pie toppings, shortcakes etc. I always make my Strawberry Shortcake using Bisquick and Dick's dad, the undisputed KING of BISCUITS, told me it was the best he'd ever eaten. He was a wonderful man, and not just because he loved my cooking and my sons. He was so handy, and could fix lots of things. He had a wonderful sense of humor and loved to play cards and games. We miss him.
Blueberry Pancakes with bacon -- perfect breakfast or dinner! 

On to the pancakes! Your kids will love you for making these, believe me. So will your grandfather.... and your husband, or your wife, and your dad.... Here's to you, Gramps!

Blueberry Pancakes
makes approx. 14 3" pancakes

2 cups Bisquick Baking Mix
1 2/3 cups low fat milk
2 extra large eggs
1 teaspoon melted butter
1 Tablespoon (approx.) vegetable oil
1 pint washed and drained fresh blueberries

Drain the blueberries well and turn them out onto a paper towel or clean kitchen towel to dry. Mix together the Bisquick, milk, eggs and melted butter. Beat the  mixture until all the large lumps are broken up. Pre-heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add a few drops of vegetable oil and pour about 1/3 cup of batter into the pan. Wait about 15 seconds and then drop 6 - 8 blue berries onto the surface of the pancake. Wait until the edges of the batter begin to bubble and break open and the pancake is set before turning it. You do have to watch pancakes carefully -- they've gotta' brown and set without burning. Add another drop or two of oil about every 3 pancakes. That will give them the crusty edge that looks so pretty and tastes so good! Serve with your favorite syrup. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Lent, Mardi Gras, etc ...Pancakes!

Blueberry Pancakes! Delish!
Happy Fat Tuesday! Pancakes are the best! Recipe HERE - Enjoy! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

More Making Pizza at Home

I've often written about the fun and ease of making pizza at home (See here ). It really is easy and so much cheaper and better for you, because you can limit the oil you use, and pile on the vegetables that you love. After reading through my blogs about pizza, I realize that I've never included a recipe for homemade pizza sauce. It's so easy, and quick, that I guess I thought that everyone would know how to do it. Just in case you don't, here's my super quick, homemade pizza sauce. Of course, you could pour it over pasta or use it for a meatless lasagna if you wanted to!  Find my recipe here for perfect, low-fat pizza crust. Hooray for homemade pizza! This pizza was topped with pepperoni, onion, black olives, banana peppers, roasted red peppers, mushrooms and part skim mozzarella cheese. It sliced into 6 big pieces, but easily could have made 8. I cooked it at 410 degrees for 15 minutes, turned down the oven to 375 and cooked it 5 more minutes to make sure the crust was done in the middle.


Quick Pizza Sauce

Makes enough for 2 large pizzas

2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 c. dry red wine
1/2 tsp. dried basil OR oregano (not both)
a pinch of kosher salt
a pinch of fresh ground black pepper
a pinch of sugar
In the bottom of small saucepan, heat the garlic in the olive oil over lowest heat until it becomes fragrant and is soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring the sauce to a boil. Turn down the heat to low and cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. The sauce should simmer gently so that all the flavors combine. Use about 1/2 c. of the sauce to top your favorite pizza. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cajun Pasta --Quick, Light and Delicious

Cajun Pasta, oh so good! 
I began my exploration of creating this dish by browsing a new cookbook, "Eat More of What You Love" by Marlene Koch. (Find it here) I like to read cook books like I read novels, front to back, re-reading parts that I love over and over again. So far, I am finding this book to be a great starting place for new recipes. Her philosophy, I LOVE. She believes, as do I, that you can eat whatever you want but you've got to be smart about it, in order to manage your health. I've written before about my struggle with my weight, and I am always searching out ways to make my struggle easier. I love to cook, I love to eat and I love to entertain my friends by cooking for them. For a middle aged, height challenged lady, with grown sons who love to eat, that is a lethal combination. Fortunately, I don't have any heath issues (so far, Praise God!) but I need to shed a few pounds. SO, I purchased this cookbook to get myself inspired to cut back, cut WAY back.

This is only the second recipe that I've adapted from the book, and I knew from the first one that they need some tweaking to suit our palates. I have not added any additional carbs, sugar or fat, but I have added in more flavor, with herbs, veggies and spices. I eliminated the butter she recommended using, but since I amped up the flavors, we didn't miss it. Her recipes are also extremely low sodium, so I did add just a pinch of kosher salt. I hope you like my recipe and my alterations. I think you will! While it looks like a lot of pasta in the picture, it's only 6 ounces, divided 4 ways. We ate it for dinner and again for lunch. Perfect.

This pasta dish is packed with flavor, vegetables, lean protein and is low in fat. While there is a little bit of chopping, it's worth the effort. I put this together in only 30 minutes, start to finish. The flavor is spicy, but not overwhelming. If you like things only mildly spicy, don't add the hot sauce and cut the cajun seasoning back by a teaspoon. We loved this and can't wait to eat it again! I would absolutely serve this to company as well as using it as a quick, healthy family dinner on a weeknight.

Cajun Pasta 
Serves 4
6 oz linguine
8 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 T.  + 2 tsp. McCormick Cajun Seasoning (divided use)
2 T, Texas Pete Hot Sauce (optional) 
2 tsp. olive oil
1 medium red pepper, cut in strips
1 medium green pepper, cut in strips
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 c. thinly sliced celery 
8 oz. peeled, raw shrimp
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 can organic diced tomatoes, with juice
1/4 c. low sodium chicken broth
2 T. seafood stock
a pinch of kosher salt
Start the water for your pasta in a large pot. Preheat a large, non-stick skillet and add 2 tsp. olive oil. Toss the chicken cubes with 1 T. cajun seasoning and add to the oil. Stir fry that for 2 minutes and then add the garlic and onions. Stir well to combine and let cook for 2 minutes. Add the peppers and celery, and continue to cook until the peppers start to soften. Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, a pinch of kosher salt, the additional cajun seasoning and hot sauce (optional if you like things very mildly spicy). Cover. Bring the mixture to a full boil, turn it down and let it cook.  Cook pasta according to package directions until just al dente. Drain well. While the pasta is draining, add the shrimp to the skillet and set the timer for 5 minutes. When the timer goes off, combine the pasta and the sauce together in one of the pans. Cover and let steam for 5 more minutes, over lowest heat. Serve in a bowl. 
Approx 325 cal for 1 1/2 c.