Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Perfect Steak...

The perfect steak, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  Thick cut rib eye, with just the right amount of beef fat, juicy and packed full of flavor.  Oh that sounds so good.  After years, and I do mean years, of practicing I think I have managed to figure out "the perfect steak".  It is simple, uncomplicated and utterly delicious.

Buy the best meat that you can.  I love a good, lean rib eye and they can be found.  I like them cut about an inch and a half.  This is how I do it....

About an hour before you cook your steaks, remove them from the fridge so that they can come to room temp.  Cold steaks do not like being cooked, and your meat may be more rare that you like.  Rub both sides of the steak with olive oil, using kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper season well.  I love lots and lots of cracked pepper.  Set your steaks aside on a plate, they will be fine.

This is when I prep my baked potatoes, Idaho are my favorite.  Scrub them well, then prick them with a fork all over.  Rub them with olive oil and lots of salt, wrap in foil.  Place these on your grill, cover and let them bake for an hour.

Prep your salad, I grill my romaine, here is how....taking a heart of romaine, cut it length wise leaving the root end intact.  Drizzle olive oil over the cut side and again season with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Set aside.

Start your grill with lump charcoal and using the chimney starter get your fire going.  The entire menu will be cooked on the grill so use plenty of coals.  Clean your grill and let the grate heat up.  Bake your potatoes as stated earlier...
Hour later....
Price your potatoes and make sure they are done.  Now for those steaks.

Using tongs, never a fork, lay your steaks on one half of the grill.  Time it for 4-5 minutes.  Don't move them about, walk away if you need to.  Once the time is up flip your steaks to the other side of the grate that is still screaming hot.  Grill for 4-5 minutes, again walk away.  Depending on how you want your steak you can stop cooking them now, or you may flip them back over to the opposite side and turn them a bit to create cross hatch marks.  Rare is when the meat feels like the inside of your palm below your thumb, that is how I cook them.  Cook them a couple minutes more for medium rare.  Wrap your cooked steaks up in foil and let them rest for 10 minutes.  They need this to remain tender and let all those wonderful juices flow back through the meat.
While the steaks are resting, finish your salad.....take your romaine halves and lay them on the grill, cut side down, for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes and then flip.  Remove to a plate and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar or your fave dressing.

Cut your steaks into thin strips, break open a baked potato and top with butter, sour cream and shredded cheese...lay your grilled romaine on the plate cut side up and serve with some fresh tomatoes.

You now have the prefect steak and meal!!!
If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comment section...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chili Day

Today we are making chili, with the quintessential cinnamon roll.  We make our chili from scratch and make it mild for the students.  But on the East Side you will always find a container of red pepper flakes, so you can make it as hot as you like.  Here is some info about the how we make our chili:
We use very lean, already de-fatted burger, we use dark kidney beans instead of chili beans so that we can control the sodium, our tomatoes are a quality and not bottom of the barrel, we use the best spices I can get for the cost, and they are very good.

 We will be making this in our Tilt skillet so that we can get 200 servings in one cooking round.  Then today we will be cooking off the sausage we are using for our gravy for the CCA Prayer Breakfast.  Trying to use our time to the best of our advantage.  Since we have to clean the skillet today might as well kill to birds with one stone.

Now for the cinnamon rolls.....

Baking in the oven filling this entire end of the building with the aroma of warm cinnamon and yeast baking away.

Then the finished product, continuing to drive us crazy....after 10 years you know just how many cinnamon rolls one can eat and not look like one.

Oh the woes of cooking for 300 plus.....

but someone has to do it.........

Friday, February 17, 2012


This is how we measure our recipes.  Remember we cook for 300+ each day.  So everything is in large bowls, large bags and of course large skillets.
The kids eat the chicken and noodles fair.  Our numbers do drop when we cook from scratch.  Kids are not use to eating like we did when we were growing up.  We can rant about it, but I have learned it doesn't change things.  Kids can be taught to eat things from scratch, that comes with having them help out more in the kitchen and repeating that dozens of times. And I do know from whence I speak....I have a very very picky daughter, and I have taught cooking classes.  Exposure to foods, cooking, and eating all work together.  But in our current society we get lost, I know I do.  I work full time, I have a family of 5, all adults now to cook for.  I have a house to clean (yeah right) and also have 35 chickens, 2 donkeys (who had escaped from their stall into the muddy back is now churned up ready for seed), 2 dogs and a lone cat.  So I know busy....but I still need to cook, clean, do laundry and run around with the kids.

I also did cooking classes and loved it.  It was extra work on my part and J.M. who  would help me.  But watching the kids chop lemon grass, fresh ginger, smash garlic cloves (the boys love that) tearing apart cilantro and making "Sizzling Beef with lemon grass and scallions" then scraf it down and ask for more was astounding. So we can teach ourselves and our kids to eat better.

Eating Better: there is a catch phrase loaded with complication.  We tend to complicate it...we tend to complicate a lot of things.  We second guess everything we we have a baby, raise a baby, what we do with toddlers, what we feed them, what kind of clothes to where and so on.  We have trouble listening to our gut....our instincts that God gave us.  I remember having a 25 month old and a new born, wondering what have I done????  But I had learned to listen to my gut, instincts that God gave me in raising my children.  When ever I got my eyes off God and started to listens to man's advice that is when I grew dis-satisfied with my life.  That is a word we could use to paint our current lifestyle, dissatisfaction.

In our quest to find the perfect spot we grow so unhappy; dissatisfied with our lives.  I know I do.  When I no longer listen to my insides, that God voice, I become frustrated and start to hate my life.  What a dumb thing....
Take a deep breath and starting counting your blessings; house over your head, showers, heat in the winter, a car that runs and so forth.  It really does help.

So today we are having Cheesy Bread Sticks with Spaghetti Sauce to dip in.  The bread sticks have two ounces of cheese in them for the protein count and the kids love these!  We also serve a variety of fresh veggies and fresh fruit to keep it well balanced and yummy.

On to another issue...I am sure you have heard about the little girl who had her lunch taken away and replaced with a school lunch because hers was not deemed "healthy".  And of course I was asked about this and what did I know.  I was upset that any school would embarrass a child like this.  Her mom packed her a great sounding lunch-turkey and cheese sandwich, chips, banana and apple juice.  They replaced it with a chicken nugget meal (now sound have sounded off that the nugget was fried, it most likely was baked since most schools no longer fry, we haven't in over 5 years) with all the sides.
The person who did this was on a little power trip, I mean the child was only four....she had all her facts wrong and so does just about every other article I have read concerning this story.

First, the USDA has not given power to anyone to mess with lunches brought to the school from a parent.  Ever....If a school is in a poverty stricken area they have the ability to give a child a healthy lunch for free.
So if you are a blog writer and decided to go at this story, get your facts right.  When christian go off half cocked they simply look like idiots.  As God's children we should take the time to find out the truth.

Second, I am not an advocate for the National School Lunch Program even though we participate in it.  I do not have my head so far in the sand that I don't see what is happening.  The agenda from our government is to create a cradle to grave society.  That we need to stand against.

Okay done with the soap box.  Now back to work.  Have a great weekend all.......

Recipe for the day:

Bierock Pie

2 cans of crescent rolls
1 lb of ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 package of angle hair cabbage
2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 t. of Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
several dashes of hot sauce

Open one of the crescent rolls and keep them in their squares, there will be two of them.  Press the seams together then roll them out a bit.  Lay them in a 9x9 baking dish, half on each side and come up the sides.  Press everything together, this does not need to be perfect.
Bake this in the oven at 350 for about 10-15 minutes.  You don't want it to brown, but you want it to cook enough that it will not get soggy when the meat mixture is baking on it.

Meanwhile fry up the hamburger till all the pink is gone, drain and return to the skillet.  Add your onions, garlic and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add your cabbage and turn your heat off.  Keep stirring as the cabbage breaks down.  Add the salt, pepper and hot sauce.

Pour the meat mixture into the oven dish that has the pre-cooked crescent roll bottom.  Spread everything out evenly.  Top with the cheese and repeat the process with the other crescent roll package to make the top layer.

Bake the entire dish in a 350 oven for about 35-40 minutes.  You want the top crust to be a deep golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes.  Cut into pieces and serve with sweet and sour green beans and fresh fruit.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Comfort Food...

Today we are making a favorite of every adult, Chicken and Noodles!  Home made.  The girls are gathering up all the items needed to make a batch for 300!!!!  That is a lot of noodles.  Here is the Tilt Skillet that we use to make the recipe in.  Then we use cases of Reams frozen egg noodles.  The Skillets lets us make 200 servings at a time.  But it is a pain to clean. 

While this is going on we also put together the salad bar, and someone is washing tons of fruit for the students.  We balance a meal like this with veggies and a variety of fresh fruit for them to choose from.  We also believe in a bit of bribery and offer them a 3oz ice cream sandwich.

So we have a full day....lots going on in order to get everyone fed.  Our soup today is our very own Chicken Tortilla Soup, the recipe follows.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
6 servings

1/4 c olive oil
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 cup of onion finely diced

2 32 oz boxes of Swanson Chicken
2 cans of tomatoes with green chilies
1-2 T. cumin
1 t. oregano
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
4 c cooked diced chicken (a lot of times I will use a rotisserie chicken from Sams)

Optional toppings: sour cream, diced avocado, lime wedges, taco chips, snipped cilantro
I have also served this with a mound of cooked white rice in the middle of the bowl and ladle the soup over the top.

In a large soup pot heat the olive oil and add your diced onions.  Cook till soft then add the garlic; continue cooking for another minute or so.
Add the chicken broth, tomatoes and heat to a bubble.  Add the spices, salt and pepper; taste and adjust seasoning.
Add the chicken and bring back up to a bubble.
Serve with anything you want.

I will make crispy tortilla strips also, take a corn or flour tortilla and cut the rounds into strips, drop them into a skillet with hot oil and cook till crunchy.  Drain on a paper towel and then serve them on top of the soup.  Yummy!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thank you...

To all the moms and dads, and grandmas and grandpas that came to our Valentine Lunch yesterday.  Wow...we never expected the response we got and we are so happy that you came.  You got to see "the lunch ladies" and go through the line, you got see how your child gets lunch and all the options in front of them. To you we are no longer a mystery, we have names and faces.  We know your child by name, we know what they like for lunch.  You have encouraged us greatly by coming.

Now for the nuts and bolts of yesterday.  Making home made lasagna for 400 hundred can be a bit daunting.  But we had our recipe in hand (for 100 servings) and made four batches and set up our assembly line.  We sauced, laid pasta sheets, more sauce and cheese and repeated.  Then foiled each full pan  (16 full size 2 inch steam table pans) and cooked them in groups of 8.  They took a bit longer to bake, and there was a bit of a moment there where we wondered if we were gong to get them out on time, but we did!  And they tasted great.

Earlier in the morning (our's starts at 7:00 am) J.G. made the cherry was the star of the show!

We also made a Basil Tomato Soup that was so simple, and yet so good!

So as sore as we are today, and boy are we, it was a great success!!!  We got to see parents we have never seen and the students loved having their parents eat lunch with them.  So a big thank you to the parents and my big thank you to my ladies who worked incredibly hard to put this lunch together.

Tomato Basil Soup

1/4 c olive oil
1 onion finely diced

2 cans (28 oz) or 4 cans of the 15 oz of whole tomatoes with basil and garlic.  If you can find San Marzano tomato even better.
1 small package of fresh basil, with the leaves torn up into small pieces

1 garlic clove smashed and minced
2-3 c of half & half
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
1-2 t sugar-this helps with acidity of the tomatoes, don't leave it out

In a large soup pot add your olive oil and allow it to come to a shimmer....add your onions and cook until soft and translucent. Add the tomatoes and let this simmer for 30-45 minutes on low heat.  This allows the tomatoes to fall apart a bit and some of the water to cook off.

Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and using a stick blender whiz it into a smooth south.  Let it heat up again and taste.  Adjust seasoning.

Serve in deep bowls with curls of fresh Parmesan on top and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine Day...

Tomorrow is a new venture for us in the kitchen, we are making home made lasanga for 300+.  We are also making cherry crisp, and we made the topping ourselves.  No mixes, and no chemicals.  How did this crazy thing begin....

Last month while I was making up the menu for Feb. I came across Tuesday the 14th; what to do, if anything?  Will my ladies still work for me after I tell them about this?  The answer to that is we are doing something and my ladies did stay on the job.  So then I had the brilliant idea to invite the parents, I asked my ladies if that sounded like a good idea, they were enthusiastic, so here we go. 

Menu:  Home Made Lasagna
Italian Garden Salad with grape tomatoes, croutons and shaved Parmesan cheese
Garlic Bread Sticks
Home Made Cherry Crisp
Variety of fresh fruit

I hope that with having the parents there, the students will at least try the lasagna.  It is not fancy or filled with strange things; pasta, spaghetti sauce, mozzarella cheese. 

 Now for the funny part; imagine 6 middle age ladies (some more middle then others) lining up to make an assembly line to build the lasagna.  We have never made this dish, but we have made the parts, we know serving it will be a bit of a challenge.  Rarely does lasagna come out of the pan it was cooked in willingly or intact.  We have over 60 parents coming, this always creates a certain measure of chaos.  So here we are getting mentally ready to pull this off.

I will take pictures tomorrow and document our fist Valentine Lunch Event.