Tag Archives: family meal

Osso Bucco w/ Creamy Polenta: BFR Beef Partnership

BFR Beef graciously reached out to me offering their osso bucco beef products gratis for a full review. All opinions are my own.

You know that supporting local is very important to me. One of the local farmers I’ve been enjoying supporting is BFR Beef. I first found them on High Country Food Hub. BFR’s farm is owned by the Brown family since 1942 and is located in Boone. You can order their products from the hub or on their website as well as visit them at the King’s Street Farmer’s Market in Boone and Blowing Rock Farmer’s Market.

For me, the most convenient way I purchase their products is through the High Country Food Hub, which is basically an online farmer’s market featuring many local farmers and artisans in the High Country. It’s a great one-stop source for lots of my produce and beef, even baked goods. You can find out more by visiting their site. Or for a review by me, click here. By the way, the market is open through Monday at 11:59pm! Click here to shop from the hub.

I have seriously never been disappointed in any of BFR Beef’s products. My first product was their Beef Italian Sausage — it’s so good in spaghetti sauce! But I also love their soup bones, which make for a wonderful broth, but they have so much meat on them, you literally can make chili with them, then save the bones for later (for that broth).

Recently, BFR Beef reached out to me to see if I’d like to try my hand at beef Osso Bucco. I’ve only made Osso Bucco once EVER so I jumped at a chance to collab with these great folks. I’ve found that you treat Osso Bucco much like you would any other type of beef that needs braising with a slightly longer cook time. The size of the BFR shanks are literally like a “personal roast” for a hungry adult. My kids split one and it was plenty for them. Take a look at how I made these osso bucco for a delectable Father’s Day meal. These osso bucco shanks did not disappoint. The beef variety is not quite as tender and unctuous as veal, but it’s rich and meaty and so homey. You’ll find a bit of fat in and around the shanks but it cooks down quite nicely. And honeys, I know the photography here is not the best. Osso Bucco in the evening is very difficult to photograph on a dark, rainy evening. You get the idea.

And full disclosure regarding the polenta. I literally used a tube of it from Trader Joe’s and added milk until it got heated and creamy, then added a handful of leftover fontina and allowed it to melt through. I then folded in some fresh parmesan. You can use instant polenta from a package too. Just follow the package directions. Mashed potatoes would be an obvious excellent choice or since we’re talking Italian here, why not some pasta with browned butter or your favorite marinara?

Beef Osso Bucco w/ Creamy Polenta

Beef Osso Bucco (one shank per adult, Veal would work fine too)
2 carrots, sliced
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 bunch Italian parsley
2 tbs. tomato paste
1 cup red wine
2-4 cups beef or veal stock
salt/pepper to taste

Instant polenta
Milk
Butter
Salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 300-degrees.
Heat enough oil in a hot deep skillet or dutch oven to cover the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle s/p on both sides of the shanks. Sear both sides until browned. Remove from heat. To the hot pan, add any oil as necessary (you shouldn’t need any) add tomato paste and cook until deeply browned but not burnt. Add onions, carrots and saute until slightly softened. Add wine to deglaze then add garlic. Return the shanks to the pan. Add enough broth to just cover the shanks and toss in your herbs. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 – 2 1/2 hours. Occasionally you may want to lift the lid and check that the liquid isn’t absorbing too quickly. If it is, just add a bit more broth. At the end of cook time, the beef shanks should be very tender. Serve atop polenta and fresh thyme and parsley as a garnish.

For the polenta:
Prepare according to package directions, finishing with milk or cream and a great melty cheese plus parm.

















Staying at home…so enjoy Thai Chicken w/Sweet Potatoes & Peppers

It’s been a minute since I’ve been on, foodies.  There have been many things going on. A quick catch-up on all that, outside of the obvious of course.

Right around the time the CoVid-19 pandemic got super serious around here and they started shutting everything down, schools, restaurants, facilities,  etc, my father, who has battled Parkinson’s Disease for years, took a turn for the worse and he passed away on March. 19. This was made exponentially more difficult because his skilled care center was on lockdown and only end of life visits allowed.  On top of that, my mom, who had been in the hospital with a non-Covid illness (at least we think so as she tested negative) was just released from the hospital and moving into rehab and then back to HER assisted living facility, which was ALSO on lockdown. So we could visit him and so could she, but she has not been able to receive visitors at all in the past 2 weeks while she grieves. We had to settle for a private graveside service with no hugs, which was very difficult. But we shall celebrate my Daddy’s life in a few weeks, months, whenever it is safe to do so.

So…here we are.
I hope you are all doing well. After a hectic week and a half going back and forth to the Triad, I actually am so grateful for being at home with my family and cooking and only going out for essentials. As much as I like to eat out, I am a homebody. As you may know, I homeschool, so our schedule hasn’t changed too much other than we don’t go to our school co-op on Friday or church on Sunday. I like an excuse to stay home for sure.

I figure no time like the present to pop in for some recipes and what’s going on in the local restaurant world when I hear about it. For one, DO try to support local restaurants by ordering takeout occasionally. They need your support now more than ever. But since you can, enjoy cooking at home too.

So here’s the first of a few recipes I plan on posting that will hopefully get you out of the doldrums and pack your plates with flavor. I didn’t take a lot of photos because I was throwing it together, however it was just so pretty, I decided to snap one.

This dish turned out so great and was gone in a flash.  I cooked it in the Instant Pot but it can easily be done on the stove, you just need to cook longer until the potatoes are cooked through.

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Thai Chicken w/ Peppers & Sweet Potatoes

1 1/2 pounds chicken, boneless thighs preferred here
1 red pepper, sliced in strips
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
1 bunch of arugula, kale, spinach (optional)
1 large knob of fresh ginger, divided
1/4 onion finely diced
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 Tbs. Thai red chili paste
1 Tbs. ground or fresh turmeric
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk
1 Tbs. fish sauce
juice of one lime
Handful of cilantro (optional but really not)
red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste
green onions for garnish
2-3 Tbs. oil, sesame oil or ghee
salt/pepper to taste

Before you start cooking, rub the chicken with the turmeric and half of the ginger. Let it hang out overnight or a few hours but if you forget, it’ll be fine. Turn the IP to sauté and once hot, sear the chicken on both sides until lightly browned.

Add the onion, garlic, sweet potatoes, chili paste and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add garlic remaining ginger, broth, coconut milk, cayenne or red pepper and fish sauce if using. Here, you may add the red pepper but I like it a little crisper, so you can add it at the end if you prefer.

Turn the Instant Pot to manual pressure and cook on high for 8 minutes. Quick release the pressure, remove the lid, add the red pepper, greens, lime juice and season if needed.  Turn the heat to sauté and reduce the broth a bit, until peppers are tender crisp. This won’t take long. Stir and check for flavor, being careful not to bust up your sweet potatoes. Serve over rice. Top with fresh arugula or cilantro and or green onion.

Stove Top version:

In a dutch oven, heat oil of choice. Follow all the steps as above at medium heat, adding the peppers to the pot, but once you get to the pressure cooking part, turn the heat down to a light simmer and allow to cook partially covered for 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are mostly tender (you don’t want them falling apart). Add some broth if it gets too thick. Once fully cooked, add your greens, lime juice and spices as necessary.  Top with cilantro or arugula and green onion and serve over rice.

Enjoy!

A Take On Takeout: Sichuan Noodles

If there’s anything you’ve heard me griping about, it’s that my children are so weird with their food choices. They are keen to eat junk all day (if I’d let them) but I’d say about half the time I make a meal at home, I can barely get them to eat half of it. But NOT when we make anything from some other continent. Spaghetti? Pizza? They gobble it up. Asian food? They pretty much inhale it and then lick the plates (not really but they really really like Asian food. And Indian food.) Weird?

So I’ve been trying to add to my repertoire, if you will. Mr. foodie has already bought a wok and tried his hand at General Tso’s chicken (amazing), Lo Mein (also delish) and in our regular rotation is the Korean Beef Bowl from How Sweet Eats. I can’t describe the goodness of this bowl…impossibly delicious!

So a loooooong time ago, I saw Maggie Zhu’s recipe of Omnivore’s Cookbook for Sichuan Chicken aka “Saliva Chicken” and it included her Red Oil Sauce. You’ve seen similar sauces at Asian restaurants and maybe at the store. But homemade is best, obvs.

And I have yet to make that recipe…but I have all the ingredients. But I am still going to, honest. It’s not even a difficult recipe…I have no excuse really.

Then I saw Tieghan Gerard’s “easy” Szechuan noodles recipe on Half Baked Harvest and I decided to use HER noodle recipe and marry Maggie and Tieghan’s chili oil recipe to make a little Mag-Tiegh chili oil baby. 😀

It also helped that I had some ground chicken I needed to use up. 🙂

I jooshed up both recipes to incorporate what I had on hand and what I know my kids like, but I’m so glad to have these ladies for inspo. Like I say, you get inspiration from all over…just keep your eyes and mind open. Note: Maggie’s tip says you can use bay leaf and star anise in your aromatics. After playing, I love the combo of flavors below.  You can make the oil in advance and use it on all kinds of things later. The noodles themselves come together in less than 20 minutes (if you count cooking the noodles).

Oh, and in case you were wondering….yes indeedy, this dish was a hit and gobbled right up by all the humans. Go figure.

Sichuan Noodles with Red Chili Oil
(Prep: 5 min, Cook: 30 min.)
Serves 4 (you should make double, for real)

Chili Oil (adapted from Omnivore’s Cookbook & Half Baked Harvest)
1/3 cup peanut oil or vegetable oil
4-6 cloves garlic, sliced or minced
2 tsp. Sichuan chili flakes (these are what I used), regular is fine too
1 tsp. Chinese Five Spice powder
1 tsp, ground Sichuan peppercorns (optional + I left mine whole and it was fine)
1 inch knob fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 TBS. sesame seeds

In a large skillet, heat oil. Add garlic and cook 3-5 minutes until it sweats down a bit. Add all the remaining ingredients except sesame seeds and simmer for another 3 minutes. The oil will  turn a beautiful amber red color. Add the sesame oil and the sesame seeds and simmer for another minute. The oil will be probably be sizzling but don’t let it go hard or it will make your chili flakes and sesame seeds taste bitter. Carefully transfer to a heat proof glass jar or bowl.

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Sichuan Noodles (adapted from Half Baked Harvest)
(Prep: 5 min, Cook: -20 min)

16 oz wide Chinese egg noodle (if you can’t find, pappardelli is fine)
1 lb ground chicken (ground pork is also fine) or leave out if vegetarian
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbs. honey or brown sugar
2 tbs. garlic chili sauce
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (or more to taste)
2-4 green onions, chopped
2-4 stalks of bok choy, chopped

1. Cook the noodles
2. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, garlic chili paste + 1/3 cup water in a bowl.
3. Place the same skillet  over medium high heat. Add the chicken.  Season with salt and pepper, crumbling as you go and cook for 5 minutes.   Add the onions and bok choy, and cook until slightly soft, about 3 minutes. Pour in the soy sauce mixture.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the chicken is coated with the sauce, about 5-8 minutes.
4. Once noodles are cooked, drain and add to the chicken mixture. Add 2 TBS. chili oil and toss well.

Remove from heat, serve immediately and top with more chili oil, green onions and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Note: You can add more or less seasonings to taste. You can also add mushrooms if you love them and omit the meat if you prefer.

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Recipe: Most Requested Sweet & Spicy Meatloaf

Hello, friends!

A few weeks back I was inspired to host “Family Meal” at my home and this week we finally got around to opening the door to do just that. Family Meal is simply a time to gather around the table for food and fellowship. Nothing fancy, keep it approachable. We invited our neighbors over and several of these lovely people were able to join us and bring along sides to go with  what I made…what I consider the ultimate old-school family dish, “Meatloaf.” And my meatloaf is delicious and even my kids, who don’t eat anything much, absolutely love it. This meatloaf is adapted from writer and cook, Mary Beth Albright. There are a number of variations of this recipe all over the internet, but this is my pretty-close-to-hers, slightly modified version. It’s called sweet and spicy, but it’s not spicy hot just spicy spice. It has buttermilk and panko and I swear the secret is that mixture plus the fact that I use a meatloaf mix with beef, veal and pork.  Easily found at most grocers. I get requests for it a lot, so I’m making it officially official by locking it in. Right here.  PS…don’t let the somewhat lengthy list turn you off. It’s a snap to whip up except for the extra step of sweating the onions and garlic and you won’t mind that because it smell so darn good!  Also the photo shown is of my attempt to cook it in cast iron and it turned out amazing but it’s great on a lined cookie sheet and easier to clean up. 

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eh..kinda looks like a brain 😀

Sweet & Spicy Glazed Meatloaf
(adapted from Mary Beth Albright) | Serves 6

GLAZE:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup  BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s but anything rich and smoky will do)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • splash of red wine vinegar (optional)

Heat these ingredients through completely, careful not to scorch.  You’ll use some to glaze the meatloaf at the beginning and you’ll have plenty on hand for the meal and leftovers.

  • 2 lbs meatloaf mix (beef, veal, pork or 1 lb beef, 1 lb ground pork if you can’t find the mix)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup onion, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2-3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese 
  • 1-2 tbsp oil or fat of choice (bacon grease is good!)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instruction:

Mix the buttermilk and the breadcrumbs together and let it thicken for about 5 minutes. The panko will soak up the buttermilk.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet, saute onions and garlic for about 5 minutes until very soft but not brown. Add tomato paste and herbs and heat through.  Set aside to cool.

Add buttermilk mixture and tomato paste mixture to the meatloaf mix in a large bowl. Mix with hands to incorporate the ingredients.  Add salt and pepper and parmesan. 

Turn the mix onto a lined sheet pan and shape into a loaf.  Spread the glaze on top and sides of your loaf.

Bake at 425 degrees for 50 minutes or until done.  Rest for 5 minutes.

***Variations…you can use sour cream instead of buttermilk and regular breadcrumbs or almond meal. The texture may change ever so slightly.  Fresh herbs are key and I’ve only used freshly grated parm so I’m not sure what happens with the stuff in the can. I’ve probably used it before but I rarely use it anymore. 

Do you have a meatloaf recipe that you and your family love?

“People who love to eat are always the best people.”
–Julia Child