New Meals inspired by Food TV (food)

I was watching Food TV yesterday, and Paula Dean’s show was on. It caught my undivided attention because she was using recipes for crockpots and slow cooking, particularly the first recipe, Creamy Macaroni and Cheese for the crockpot … which is something that she said they use in their restaurant (in Savannah, GA) a lot.

I immediately got up and started making it once she had put it together on the show. (I did go to the website and print out the recipe for my binder as well.)

It was an easy thing to make, but I made it more complicated due to “making most everything from scratch” being my main methodology in the kitchen.

The recipe called for a can of condensed Cheddar Cheese soup. I don’t use condensed soups most of the time …

So I put 1/2 cup of water in a sauce pan, and added couple Tablespoons of arrowroot powder, stirred it well, then added 2 cups of milk and stirred and heated until it started to thicken, then added shredded cheddar — in essence I “made a simple cheese soup” and in that was included some of the ingredients from the recipe.

The recipe is good, it has a couple of differences from mainstream recipes for such a dish: sour cream and eggs. It’s a true casserole, not just “mac and cheese” — and a good dish to serve with dinner. It’s really quick to put together, and just needs to be in the crockpot for 3 hours on “low” — yes you need to cook the pasta a bit before putting it into the sauce in the crockpot, but just “7 minutes”. I used Kamut pasta (elbow macaroni made by Eden Organics that I obtain at Whole Foods Market.)

On the same show Paula made “Swiss Steak” and it’s moreso a normal recipe I guess, but I’ve never made it that way. I used “cubed steaks” just one way generally — pound them flatter with flour, and brown in oil and butter on each side in a skillet (cast iron being best,) and then let all the meat cook a bit longer on a low heat. Before cooking them I often carmelize a very large sweet onion in the very skillet the meat will cook in, and then hold the onions in a dish, and when the meat it done put the meat on a platter with a foil tent covering it, put the onions back into the skillet, stir to loosen up and warm up, then put in a cup of sour cream with 1 tsp. of salt, stir to warm, not boil. That is a lovely carmelized onion beef sour cream sauce to use with the meal. On top of the meat, or dipping the meat, or mixed with rice, etc.

Paula used cubed steaks, seasoned them, put flour on them (but no pounding) and brown them in a cast iron dutch oven, then pulled them out, put in green bell pepper slices, onion slices, and garlic … canned tomatoes, and eventually put the steaks back in and added water and cooked on a low heat for a while.

I decided to do that, so I went to the website and printed the Swiss Steak recipe and put it in my binder, sent DH to the meat store to get some cubed steaks since we didn’t have any (but I meant to have some in the house the last time we got meat) and made that for dinner along with the mac and cheese.

Oooh, it was so good! I used Red Bell Peppers, don’t like green, and prefer the Red for their vitamin content anyhow. The Swiss Steak was a great hit for the whole family, but I most particularly loved it and said I’d make this at least twice a month, and maybe never make that other cubed steak dish I make again. (It’s good, but I’m really tired of it, KWIM?)

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Last week I saw another show, which gave me an idea to make my usual asian inspired dish, red peppers and onions and tamari sauce , etc. and usually has noodles in it, and beef …

This time I marinated chicken breasts in lime juice, tamari sauce, and toasted sesame oi, grilled those on the stove with my cast iron grill pan. Then I let them “rest”; and in my cast iron big skillet I put: Red Bell Pepper strips, green scallions, garlic finely diced, snow peas, water chesnuts, toasted sesame seeds, tamari sauce, toasted sesame oil, and fresh pineapple chunks. Stir fried them not adding it all at once, but in that basic order as needed time for each thing, then add left-over marinade, and at the end applied Arrowroot powder dissolved in water (3 tbsp. Arrowroot and enough water) to the stir fry, mixed it well, and cooked until thickened.

I served it like this: White basatmi rice with strips of chicken placed atop, and finished with a good amount of stir fry and sauce on each plate.

It was really good, and next time I’ll use MORE pineapple — it’s fresh pineapple that I cut myself, BTW.

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