Friday, January 30, 2015

Recipe: Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast

I had a hankering this week - I'm not proud of it - but I can't help it. My Dad used to make this all the time - and it just popped in my head - so off I went to buy the supplies for...

Actually I never called it that - but my friend told me that's what she heard it referred to as. I always just called it Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast. 

It's easy enough to make - I had to fine the dried beef first. If this conjures up any memories - you can find this brand in the area with the canned tuna and spam - it was on the top shelf. I only used half the container to make this for myself. I diced the meat to prep it.  

In a skillet - I melted a little bit of butter and then added flour. This mixture gets pasty quick - so have everything measured ahead of time. Then you add your milk - be sure it's measured and ready when the butter is melting. If you're having this on toast - have your toast going when you put your milk in - it all goes very quickly.

This will quickly thicken up - you stir stir stir - keep stirring so it doesn't stick. When you see it bubbling like this - it's ready! Some recipes call for you to rinse the beef before you add it in - it's pretty salty - so keep that in mind as you're prepping. If you want to tame the salt - rinse the meat first.

At this point you add the beef to your gravy mixture. Stir Stir Stir. At this point you can add little extras like mustard and/or Worcestershire sauce. As you can see in the next pic - I put a little much mustard in - but it had a good flavor - just changed the color a little too much. I really like Worcestershire - so I always go with that.

Get your toast out - and you're ready to go. Comfort food and super simple! 

Creamed Chipped Beef


Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 2.25-oz. jar ARMOUR® STAR SLICED DRIED BEEF, rinsed, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire suace
  • 2 slices white bread, toasted
Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour and cook 1 minute. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add beef, mustard & Worcesterdshire and heat through. Serve over toast.
Makes 3/4 cup

Recipe from Armour-Star.com

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Restaurant Review: La Canasta

I've recently been fairly obsessed with taquerias - but the thing is - I've been driving by one for 3 years now and haven't gone inside. Well that was about to change! 

La Canasta is right by our favorite car wash (Royal Car Wash on Colerain) - it's a grocery store and taqueria. I didn't have much going on except grocery shopping - and I had my new authentic Mexican cookbook - so I was a little inspired.

I'm such a nerd when I shop at a Mexican grocery - I don't even know what I'm buying half the time - but I still buy it. These are some of the things I wanted to buy - but refrained from. I mean - I really want to know about the brown sugar in a corn husk. And please someone tell me how to use Exotic Spices from El Salvador! 

This was my haul from the store - rice, beans, sofrito, cheese and tortillas. While I was checking out - I ordered a couple of tacos at the register. They have a full menu - tortas, quesadillas, entrees and more. 

After about 10 minutes - my tacos were ready. they came with this itty bitty teenie weenie cup of red sauce. Little did I know - I was about to burn my tongue off with just a dab of this stuff! You'll see how much I put on - whoooooooooo! Just beware - this stuff is hot!

I got a pork and a steak taco. I love the small tortillas - those are what I really wanted to buy - but the ones I got were a little bigger. They were both good - the meat was tender and flavorful. Although - I realize how American I am - I long for cheese and sour cream. :-)

Why Should You Go? I have to admit - it's a little intimidating. I don't exactly know what I'm looking for but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I wandered a bit and wasn't sure where to order but I asked the cashier and she took my order. I think next time I'll try a torta sandwich. It's right on my way home - so I can grab & go!


La Canasta on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Recipe: Authenic Refried Beans

Let me tell ya - not every photo in this post will look delicious. But when the end product contributes to this: 

It's all good. 

My coworker Belinda is from Mexico and we're always talking about Mexican food and how much I love it. I'm always wanting her to give me traditional recipes. Lucky for me - over the holidays - she went back to Mexico and brought me back a present! Now for someone else - she brought back a giant bottle of tequila. But for me - this awesome cookbook!

Why is it so awesome? It's bilingual and Belinda said it's very authentic - so guess what? I'm sold!

I decided to start out with refried beans. I love that the recipes are in Spanish & English. It's kind of fun reading the Spanish and it reads like a church recipe book - not everything has measurements, some of it you have to figure out by looking at both, there are misspellings here and there. But you know it's all going to be good!

There's another recipe for actually cooking the beans - so I decided to start off with a semi-homemade and used canned pinto beans. I drained them over a bowl because apparently the bean cooking liquid/juice is very important. 

After draining the beans - I mashed them. I realized at this point - I don't know where my masher went. Luckily I had some sort of springy boingy whisk thing so I used that and it worked! I mashed away until they were all mashed.

I sauteed onions - I didn't have lard so I just used vegetable oil. I'm sure the lard would be better - I need to find some. I figure the meat market will have it.

Now at this point - I'm going to interject with a photo from Instagram (credit to eward18) - this is what I think of when I hear "refried beans" - right?
A photo posted by Ethan Ward (@eward18) on

So at this point - in my recipe - I had to add my mashed beans into the sauteed onions. I'll warn you - they look kinda like the ones up there from the can. I was hoping they wouldn't end that way! 

Here it is - yikes! You also add in the juice. By the recipe I calculated that if you have 1 cup of beans you use 1/2 cup bean liquid. I just poured out 1/2 cup from the canned beans. I didn't want to make a huge vat of them until I knew they were good - plus I think they're better fresh.

Once you stir it together - the juice really thins out the beans. They almost seemed watery! I was afraid I messed up! But - stir stir stir and they'll thicken up very quickly. I would err on the side of a little thinner because they thicken up as they sit.

But there you have it - homemade refried beans! They look pretty good. They tasted even better! 

I made some tacos that night with pork tips, avocado, quesadilla cheese, corn tortillas and my homemade refried beans! MMMMMMMMMMM.

Come on - they're so pretty you know you want to see them again. haha


Homemade & Authentic Refried Beans

1 cup cooked pinto beans (save liquid)
1 Tablespoon lard
1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 cup bean liquid

1. Drain the beans over a bowl and save the liquid.
2. Mash the beans 
3. Heat lard/oil in a skillet
4. Saute onions until soft
5. Add mashed beans and liquid
6. Stir, stir, stir
7. Serve! 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Recipe: Fun With Crescents

Sometimes when I get home - I'm just beat - so I try and have a few easy to put together dinners just waiting- in case I'm having one of those nights. My husband also likes really simple food - so on those nights - he's usually excited for dinner (rather than recipe experimentation night). 

So - we had Fun with Crescent Rolls night! 

We tried a couple different things - mainly because 8 of one kind is a bit much - so first up Pizza Pocket Crescents. It's easy - I really don't even need to tell you what I'm doing. I bet you can figure it out.

Those are cheese sticks cut in half. Super simple. 

Roll. Oven. Done. 

We mixed it up by doing half pizza and half hot dogs. The hot dogs are just as complex. ;-) 

Hey - it's simple - but good! In 15 minutes - dinner is on the table. Have a little salad first and you're good to go. 

These take a couple minutes longer to bake than plain crescents and I think the hot dogs could have used a minute or two more - just so they could plump up a little more - but they were fine.

And there you have it - dinner is served! It's not fancy - but hey - dinner doesn't always need to be fancy - sometimes it just needs to be on the table in 15 minutes. 

Pizza Pocket Crescents

1 package crescent rolls
30-35 pepperoni slices
4 cheese sticks, cut in half

Pigs in a Blanket

1 package crescent rolls
8 hot dogs

Instructions 

* Preheat oven according to package directions
* Spray cookie sheet with non-stick spray
* Lay out crescent rolls on cookie sheet
* Place either hot dog or pepperoni on crescent
* If using pepperoni, add half cheese stick 
* Roll up crescents 
* Bake according to package directions until golden brown

Monday, January 26, 2015

Restaurant Review: Mardi Gras on Madison

My husband works for a truck rental company that also refills propane tanks - so he's come across a few food trucks over the past few months coming in. One in particular chatted up with him - he mentioned his infamous wife ;-) and the rest is history! 

New Orleans to Go is said food truck and on their recent trips they mentioned that their physical location - Mardi Gras on Madison was about to open. Well - that's all it took - I was on top of it! Mardi Gras is in East Walnut Hills in the same strip as Suzie Wong's.

Just as an fyi - there is a parking lot behind the "mall" area. We parked there and walked around - you have to walk through in the corner to the sidewalk by Suzie Wong's if you park back there. Or - get lucky and park on the street. :-)

Sure enough when I walked in - they asked us how we heard about the place - I told them about my husband and the guy was like - Oh yeah - Larry!!! 

They have daily specials and that's pretty much the totality of the menu - so if you're going to head over - you probably want to check their Facebook page to see what the menu item for the day is. Luckily when we went - it was Po' Boys and we were all good with that!

They'll seat you - but there are no physical menus - so catch your eye on the chalkboard when you come in.

We all went for a mixture of the special and sides - I was up first with a Shrimp Po' Boy and Ms. Mabel's green beans. Let me tell you - the beans are spicy! They were a bit too spicy for me - but good flavor. The Po' Boy was awesome! Let me tell you - the portions are huge! I'd say 1/3 of the shrimp fell out and were snack food - which is not a bad thing. Large sandwiches can be hard to eat but this was well worth it. It also came with a side of the spicy honey sauce. Amazing. The bun was just right - sometimes they're too hard - which makes it harder to eat - but this was really great. Happy Camper! (It's so huge - you really don't need a side...but you'll want one.)

Susie got the Chicken Po' Boy and Spicy Honey Fries. The chicken - well there was enough for two people! She definitely took some home with her. The fries though - this is the real star. Really really crispy waffle fries are always a good thing - then they're topped with the spicy honey sauce. Oh my. Thankfully the sandwich was so huge that Susie was generous with her fries.

I told someone the other day - the real sign of a great new restaurant is that when I leave - I can't wait to come back for that one special dish. These spicy honey fries are that dish! I'm drooling just thinking about them. (Susie - we're going back!)

Dawn got the shrimp with sweet potato fries - again - delicious. The other nice thing was even though everything was fried - NOTHING was greasy or oily. I'm not sure how they do it - but I'm glad they do!

Matt & Criss chose the catfish po' boy - they were both pleased as punch. Everybody was STUFFED because of the large portions. But we were also happy as can be - because it was delicious! 

Why Should You Go? The food is fantastic! I can't wait to go back and try some of their other specials. Just fyi - service is a bit slow - but they've only been open a couple weeks and a sit down restaurant is different from a food truck - so they're still getting used to everything. 

Mardi Gras on Madison on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 23, 2015

Restaurant Review: La Mexicana - Newport, KY

There is an abundance of authentic Mexican in Cincinnati now - it's a bit crazy - you can pretty much find a taqueria in every part of town (Westside - are you represented?). I'm not big on the Groupons anymore but when one came up for La Mexicana in Newport - I snatched it up. 

Because we had $20 to work with, we started with guacamole ($4.99 - medium) - it's one of my favorites. The chips were very fresh and crispy. The guac was pretty good - could have used a little more lime - but still good - very chunky - that's the way I like it. And - of course - my Mexican Coke

I ordered tacos - from left to right - vegetarian, shrimp and chorizo. I think the American in me will always win out - to me - I want cheese and sour cream on my tacos. I like the vegetarian a lot - I always get at least one - I should probably just get all 3 that way - rice, beans, lettuce, tomato and cheese. Not very Mexican - but tasty nonetheless. The shrimp was good - I topped it with a little quac and loved it. The chorizo wasn't so great - it was dry and too crispy for me. 

Dawn got a chicken quesadilla - it was really large - with lots of melty cheese as well as the crumbly cheese. I wanted to steal a bite but refrained myself. :-) Dawn - if you're reading this - offer one up next time!! (hahaha - just kidding).

Why Should You Go? It's one of my favorite authentic places in the city. I love the two light corn tortillas with the tacos. I think the places like Mazunte & Bakersfield might actually have tacos I like better but there's just something about La Mexicana that I will always go back for. (Oh and they have a grocery and will do your taxes????)

La Mexicana on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Project: DIY Beer Coasters

I love making crafts - I just am not very disciplined. I get these ideas and I go to the store - get all the stuff - bring it home and set it in my spare room. And there it sits - for months! Over the holidays - we were off between Christmas and New Years and I promised myself - I'm getting some crafts done!!! Well - I got one done. 

I started with the DIY Beer Coasters as a gift for the hubby to use in his man cave. He loves finding unique craft beers - and the packaging is always so unique - it's a shame to throw it away. Now you don't have to! 

You start with coasters - I found this idea on the interwebs and they used tile coasters - but Hobby Lobby only had cork. I also bought felt - more needed when you use tile - but hey - my husband is a Colts fan - so he loves anything blue. :-)

I did pretty good eyeballing the squares to cut the felt out. 

Then you cut the squares out of your six-pack containers. I placed the coaster on the six pack and then cut out around the most interesting part of the pack. It's fun to make them tilted a little. The best part of this craft - is that I still have the other half of the packs to make another set! 

I love the designs on these - I just wished I had saved his six packs for the past 3 years! I'd have gift coasters for decades!

The Mod Podge is a process but not too bad:

1. Apply Mod Podge to the coaster and then stick the felt to the coaster.
2. Apply Mod Podge to the back of the six pack and then stick to the other side of the coaster.
 
Once those are dry and stuck on pretty good - then you cover the top of the six pack graphic in a coat of Mod Podge. Mine went on a little thick so I only did one coat. If yours is runnier - you might do a couple of coats.

The last step is to coat with the Mod Podge Acrylic Sealer. They suggest using that outside. I covered a cookie sheet with foil and then put the coasters on it. It was wet outside and I had to let it dry between coats. I kept in my breezeway until it was fully dry.

The coasters turned out really well and Larry was happy when he came home to his present! It's a great addition to the man cave. 

 I also had to do one with my husband's favorite - Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale.  

This makes a great gift for the beer drinking, man cave loving man in your life! And it was super simple - I did this while I was watching Maury Povich (my guilty pleasure!). 

DIY Beer Coasters

Tile or Cork Coasters
6 pack beer containers
Mod Podge 
Mod Podge Sealant
1 sheet of felt
scissors

1. Using tile/felt as a guide - cut out felt and 6 packs into coaster shape
2. Apply Mod Podge to the coaster and then stick the felt to the coaster. 
3. Apply Mod Podge to the back of the six pack and then stick to the other side of the coaster. 
4. Cover top of six pack cut out with another coat of Mod Podge and let dry. 
5. Once dry - apply 1-2 coats of Acrylic Sealant (should do outside). 
6. Enjoy with your cold beverage!

Inspired by PostGradCrafting.com