The Best Brisket Ever

Brisket is one of the cheapest cuts of beef you can buy, and this preparation method turned it into one of the most delicious meals I’ve made in a long time. This was actually the second time I’ve made this meal, but I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a fluke before I posted it. If anything, it turned out even better this time.

Ingredients

4lb brisket

2 tbs chili powder

1 tbs garlic powder

1 tbs black pepper

2 tsp dry mustard

1 bay leaf, crushed

2-4 cups beef stock

Process

IMG_5335Preheat the oven to 350. Combine all the dry spices to make a dry rub, and rub all over entire surface of the raw brisket. It will look something like this.

Roast brisket, uncovered, for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, remove from oven and add enough beef stock to the pan until it comes about half way up the roast. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, reduce oven temp to 300, and put the brisket back in the oven for about 3 more hours.

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When it comes out, it will look like this (photo to left) and be unbelievably tender and delicious.

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I let it sit as long as it took to roast some asparagus before slicing it, and it was an amazing (and easy to prepare) meal.

Simple Shrimp Stir Fry

During my monthly excursion to Costco last week, I saw some beautiful shrimp that I just couldn’t resist. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to use them for, but I figured that worst case scenario, I’d just sauté them quickly with some garlic salt and eat them with a salad.

What I actually ended up creating, however, turned out to be a whole lot more interesting…

shrimp stir fry

Ingredients:

1 lb shrimp, peeled and cleaned

1 lb asparagus (approx), sliced into about 1″ pieces

1 head of cauliflower (riced, or chopped up into small pieces–last night, the thought of having to clean the food processor was not all that appealing to me, so I just chopped up the cauliflower.)

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 med onion, diced

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

6 green onions, chopped

2 tsp fresh ginger, grated

2-4 tbs sesame oil

Salt & pepper to taste

Procedure:

Heat 2-3 tbs of the sesame oil over medium heat in a large skillet (I ended up needing a bit more cooking fat about half-way through the process, so keep your bottle nearby).

Once the pan is hot, add the asparagus. After about 4 or 5 minutes, add the diced onion and garlic to the pan. Once the onion starts to soften (3-5 minutes), add the bell pepper.

As the bell pepper cooks, add in your freshly grated ginger and mix well. If you don’t have fresh ginger, you can sub 1tsp of dried ground ginger.

At this point, I added some salt & pepper to the mix. I tend to season periodically during the cooking process rather than just all at once.

After about 3 more minutes, add the cauliflower to the pan and mix well. Once all the veggies are close to being done, toss in the shrimp and stir while they cook.

Once the shrimp are pink all the way through, the dish is done. Add some more salt & pepper if desired, toss in the green onions for a fresh note, and enjoy!

Meal Planning–The Only Way We Eat During the School Year

During the school year, when my time is really at a premium, the only way that I ensure that we eat a decent meal every night is to spend some time meal planning and prepping food on the weekend. This is a task that may seem difficult or too time-consuming, but spending a few hours on Sunday afternoon is a small price to pay for having a healthy dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less every night of the week.

While I don’t have a specific formula I follow every week, I always start out by looking in the fridge to see what veggies I have left from the week before; I know I definitely need to use those. Because we buy our meat in bulk from The Ventura Meat Company, my freezer is always stocked with our favorite cuts of beef, chicken, and pork. At some point before doing the grocery shopping, I will typically sit down with a bunch of cookbooks to get some inspiration for the week’s meals. And even though I don’t always follow recipes exactly, I definitely like to look at pictures of tasty food to give me good ideas.

Most importantly, I always make a list before I go to the grocery store. Not only does this ensure that I don’t forget anything I need, but it also helps keep me from buying a lot of random things that we don’t need and might not use.

Typically, on Sunday I’ll make a big dinner that will give us leftovers for at least one more dinner that week. That might mean roasting 2 chickens or just grilling up a couple of tri-tips. Either way, I plan for leftovers.

Also, I make at least one crock-pot or pressure cooker meal each week, and it’s usually pulled pork (see photo–pork shoulder in the crock-pot, ready to go). The versatility of pulled pork is really what keeps it in such frequent rotation in my kitchen. I can sauté some veggies and make some Paleo tortillas and we have some delicious fajitas, or I can season it with cinnamon and roast some apples and take the dish in a totally different direction. I can make a lot at a time and have leftovers for lunches (and breakfasts) for most of the week.

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At least one weeknight meal is a quick stir fry that takes less than 30 minutes to get on the table (if I have time the night before, I might even pre-chop the veggies). And we usually have some version of bacon and eggs for dinner once a week. I typically don’t cook on Friday nights, but we often have enough random leftovers so that everyone gets fed. And if we don’t, I’m ok with getting some take out or going out for a quick bite on Friday evenings.

Even if explicitly planning out every weeknight meal isn’t realistic for you, I strongly recommend that you plan at least 2 meals a week and try to do a bit of batch cooking on Sundays. It really pays off in the long run.

Check out this post and this post on my old blog where I detail an actual plan from a real week.

A Summer Vacation Miracle: I Baked!!!

I know. I almost don’t believe it either.

In anticipation of going to a playdate where I knew there would probably be a lot of sugary treats that I wouldn’t want Jackson eating, I was wracking my brain about what I could take to share with everyone that was a little more interesting than a bowl of fruit.

And then I remembered these oatmeal banana cookies that I had made once or twice before but hadn’t revisited in quite some time.

cookies

The reasons I love this recipe so much are that 1. I don’t really have to measure things too carefully, and 2. it contains no ingredients that I am in any way uncomfortable with.

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1/3 cup nut butter (I used almond butter from TJ’s. No sugar, just almonds.)

1 1/4 cup gluten free oats (also from TJ’s)

1/3 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup dried bing cherries, chopped (No sugar, just cherries.)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350.

Moosh all the ingredients together in a big bowl (“moosh” is a highly technical term). Make sure everything is mixed together thoroughly.

Spoon onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. I ended up with 15 cookies, but mine are definitely on the bigger side.

Bake for 15-17 minutes. And you’re done.

Enjoy!

Quick Weeknight Meal–Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes and Broccoli

This meal was so quick to prepare (and so delicious) that I don’t even have a picture of it (instead, here’s a picture of Jackson making a funny face).

And it was super easy to clean up.

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Ingredients

2-3 lbs chicken thighs (mine were boneless, skin on)

2 lbs potatoes, cut into 1-2″ chunks (I used golden potatoes, but any kind will do)

1 onion, cut into 1-2″ chunks

1 bag of broccoli florets (or 1 head of broccoli)

Salt & pepper to taste

Simple spice blend for chicken (I used garlic powder, cumin, paprika, and salt)

Process

Preheat oven to 425.

Put the potatoes and onion into a large baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper (or garlic salt). Roast potatoes and onion for 25 minutes. While veggies are roasting, sprinkle the chicken with the spice blend.

After 25 minutes, remove baking dish from oven, and arrange the chicken over the  bed of potatoes and onions. Return pan to the oven and roast for an additional 25 minutes.

With about 10 minutes left, sauté the broccoli in olive oil (or your cooking fat of choice). I did this in my wok and added a little bit of water so that it could steam slightly and cook a little faster.

After 25 minutes, I turned on the broiler for about 5 minutes just to crisp up the skin of the chicken a little bit.

This resulted in a delicious meal with tender potatoes that had absorbed the juices from the chicken. And it only required about 10-15 minutes of hands on time.

Enjoy!

Old Posts

Hey everyone!

As you have probably noticed, I recently moved my blog over to this new platform. If you’d like to see any of my previous posts, click here to check out a whole bunch of recipes and other good stuff.

And stay tuned to this site for lots more posts soon!

Ginger Lime Marinated Pork Tenderloin

Earlier this week, I created the most delicious marinade ever for some pork tenderloin. And I used a new technique for cooking the tenderloins that is now going to be my go-to method. After marinating the pork for 4 hours or so, I seared it for about 5 minutes per side in my cast iron skillet (Pork tenderloins have 3 sides. Did you know that?). Then I put it into a 425 degree over for just about 12 minutes (I waited until the internal temperature registered 140 on my handy in-oven meat thermometer and then I took it out.) Not only did this result in a great sear on the outside of the pork, but I also only used one pan. Win!pork tenderloin

For the marinade:

zest of one lime

juice of 2 limes

1 tbs freshly grated ginger

3 tbs honey

2 tbs sesame oil

1/4 cup coconut aminos

2 tsp chipotle powder

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small microwavable jar or bowl. Mix thoroughly and microwave for about 30 seconds, just enough time to get the honey to melt enough to combine with all the other ingredients.

Put the marinade with the pork in a ziploc bag, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

See above for pork preparation.

I served this with roasted bell peppers and onions, and it was a huge hit.

Enjoy