This blog was created by guest blogger, Maggie Spieker, a dietetic student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Are you looking for something to spice up your weekday meals? Then this easy one pot recipe is for you. Inspired by down home Louisiana Cajun cooking, this chicken creole will not disappoint on flavor. The spiciness level is easily adjusted to fit any taste.
The chicken in this recipe provides lean protein, while the vegetables are loaded with antioxidants. It can easily be made gluten free by putting it on a bed of brown rice instead of whole wheat pasta. You probably have most of the ingredients you will need for this 20-Minute Chicken Creole already in your kitchen.
Since Lamb Lovers Month is nearly over I thought I would do a post on how to prepare the “Perfect Leg-of-Lamb” (or darn close to perfect). If you haven’t yet tried lamb, I encourage you to do so. If you are hesitant on preparing it, prepare it like you would beef! It can be expensive, but with the guidelines I provide below and those recommended by the American Lamb Board you will be on your way to becoming a great lamb chef!
I have 5 rules to eating/cooking lamb (and really these can be applied other species too) – these are very important!!
1. The lamb you eat must be young (under one year old – ideally 7-12 months old)! Lamb gets a bad rep because they used to serve mutton to persons in the military years ago. Mutton is old sheep and the meat is tough, has a strong flavor, and most people generally do not find it desirable. When the troops returned home, mutton (aka lamb) was off limits in the house. This has been a hard habit for the sheep industry to break…
2. It must be eaten HOT – not warm or warmish, and certainly not cold! If eaten cold, the fat in the meat kinda sticks to the roof of your mouth… So eat it HOT and by-pass that situation.
3. Lamb and garlic go together so nicely. Think of this dynamic partnership as powerful as macaroni and cheese, milk and Hershey’s chocolate syrup, or peanut butter and jelly (you get my drift).
4. Do not overcook lamb! Lamb is best at medium to medium well (should still be slightly pink). Overcooking it will dry it out, and make your eating experience not so desirable! Again, cooking lamb will be very similar to cooking beef.
5. Lamb and red wine are also very complementary.Cooking with wine adds such great flavors. If you are nervous about cooking with wine (kids, pregnancy, etc.) the USDA provides figures on the percentage of alcohol remaining of the original addition. In the case of slow cooking a leg of lamb, you can see that less than 5% of the alcohol would be left after the cooking process. If you are uncomfortable with wine, water will work just fine.
Alcohol Burn-off Chart
alcohol added to boiling liquid & removed from heat
no heat, stored overnight
baked, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture
Baked/simmered dishes with alcohol stirred into mixture:
Cooking lamb was passed down to me by my mom, and now I am passing the leg of lamb recipe onto you. You will not be disappointed.
Lindsay’s Perfect Leg-of-Lamb
Leg-of-lamb (our butcher cuts the leg in half, which is awesome for two people or a small family. But for a whole leg you would follow the same guidelines – except adjust your cooking time/temperature)
Garlic cloves (lots of it!)
Onion soup mix packet
Vegetables as desired
Completely defrost your leg-of-lamb.
Peel your garlic cloves.
Heat a frying pan to hot (medium high to high).
Meanwhile, in the leg make “+” cuts about 1 to 1 1/2 inches into the meat with a knife, you will shove the garlic into these cuts. Add as much garlic as you find desirable (note: the garlic flavor is not as strong in the cooked garlic as it is in the raw garlic).
You are going to sear your leg-of-lamb in the hot frying pan. Searing will quickly cook the exterior surface of the meat, this helps keep the juices inside the meat. Depending on how lean your leg-of-lamb is, you may want to add a little oil. I generally do not, and instead put the fattiest side down first. Do not put your meat in the hot skillet and walk away, you will need to be there watching it and turning it. You will only need to sear each side for about 30 seconds, make sure you get all sides and flip it up so the ends get seared too. Sometimes the shape of the leg-of-lamb will be awkward, just do the best you can.
Once the exterior is seared, you will transfer the leg to your crockpot.
Turn your crockpot onto to low.
Next mix together approximately 3/4 cup wine (water works too) and the packet of onion soup mix. I use whatever wine I have on hand (i.e. shiraz, cab, a blend, malbec – although never a sweet wine).
Poor this over the top of the lamb in your crockpot. Put the lid on and let it cook. I let this cook for about 6.5 hours. Again, the American Lamb Board has some good guidelines on how long to cook lamb cuts. Also, using your meat thermometer will help gauge how it is cooking.
Since I cooked this over the weekend, I added vegetables a few hours into the cooking process rather than throwing it all in there at once; as I would do on a work day. When adding vegetables I put the “hard stuff” (i.e. potatoes, carrots) on the bottom and then add the rest. This is a great time to clean out the veggie drawer in the fridge too!
Once your lamb is done, let it sit or “rest” before you cut into it. When meat is cooked the muscle fibers will shrink and the moisture moves to the outer part of a cut of meat. If you let that meat rest for 10-20 minutes before you cut into it, that moisture will seep back into the meat – resulting in a juicy meat experience! Be sure to cover it with foil so it stays hot. Once you cut the lamb, you will notice the garlic. Serve it up with the lamb, it is delicious. I usually don’t make a gravy, but if you do, the juices from the crockpot would be excellent.
I LOVE ribs! So much so in fact, that if I was putting together a menu for my “last meal” – ribs would make the list.
My family likes to boil our ribs first – it decreases the amount of fat that can drip onto the fire, thus decreasing grease fires! We then throw the boiled ribs on the grill, and with less chance of grease fires, you can truly get a nice grilled flavor. BUT, since it has been so darn cold I opted to try another method of rib cookery – slow roasting in the oven. They turned out awesome, and had such a rich beef flavor; I would definitely make them again!
Oven Roasted Beef Ribs
1. Completely defrost your ribs (my beef ribs were great and I bet pork ribs would be too).
2. Pre-heat your over to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Put the ribs in a 9×13 pan (I sprayed it with cooking spray first, just to make clean-up easier).
4. Cover with your favorite rub, sauce, or marinade (I used my favorite meat rub).
5. I did not add any liquid to the pan because the ribs had enough fat, I knew they would not burn to the bottom. If your ribs are leaner, you may want to add a small amount of liquid.
6. Cover with foil and put in oven.
7. Let slow cook approximately 3.5-4 hours or until they become a nice brown color. You will start to smell their tasty goodness as they cook.
Since it is Lamb Lovers Month and because I love lamb, today I bring you a favorite Indian curry recipe! The hubs and I love the cookbook easy indian, by Das Sreedharan – always delicious and user-friendly! The best thing about this recipe is that you can modify it to fit your tastes and availability of ingredients.
This recipe calls for lamb, but you could use beef or chicken instead. Every year for Christmas my parents provide us with a cut and wrapped lamb (I know, an awesome gift!), so I throw the neck and ribs into the crockpot to cook, then separate the meat from the fat and bone.
Although the neck and ribs are not the meatiest parts of the lamb, they are flavorful and are great for curries and stews!
Together in a deep frying pan combine oil, garlic, peppers (I used Serrano), ginger (I usually get the packaged stuff so it lasts longer), and cook several minutes. Add the onion.
Add spices (it calls for curry leaves, since those are not readily available to me, I just use curry powder), tomatoes (I had some frozen ones from my garden I used instead of fresh ones), potatoes (I cubed a large baking potato), water, and lamb – if using raw meat. Since I used previously cooked meat, I just let the vegetables and spices simmer without the meat for a bit.
When the potatoes are nearly tender add the lamb and let simmer for several minutes until the flavors combine.
I like to serve this with Naan Bread or over rice. Yum!
Spicy Lamb and Potato Curry
5 Tbsp. vegetable oil (I usually never use this much)
1 inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped (pre-packed works too)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped (a big fan of garlic, so I add more)
2 green chillies, chopped (add more for extra spice)
15 curry leaves (can substitute with curry powder)
1 large or 2 small onions, peeled and sliced
2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground chili powder
3 tomatoes, sliced
14 ounces boneless lamb, cubed
7 ounces baby new potatoes, scrubbed (if using large potatoes, cube them)
1 tsp. mustard seeds (I substituted dry mustard)
1. Heat 4 Tbsp. oil in saucepan. Add ginger, garlic, chilies, and 5 curry leaves. Sauté for 3 minutes or until the ginger and garlic are golden brown. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes until lightly browned.
2. Stir in ground coriander, turmeric, and chili powder, mix well. Add tomatoes, lamb, and 14 ounces water. Simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Stir in potatoes and cook for 15 minutes, or until lamb is cooked and potatoes are tender.
4. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in small frying pan. Add the mustard seeds, when they start to pop add the remaining 10 curry leaves and stir well. Pour mustard seed/curry leaf mixture over the lamb mixture, stir briefly, remove pan from heat.
5. Serve with Malabar parathas or other Indian fry bread.
1-1/4 pounds ground beef (I usually just use 1-pound since that is how my hamburger is packaged)
1 package (9 oz.) refrigerated cheese ravioli (I use the ones found in the freezer section)
2 cans (14-1/2 oz. each) diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano – undrained
2 cups lightly packed fresh baby spinach
1 cup pitted ripe olives (I use black olives)
1/2 to 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1. Cook ground beef in deep skillet, pour off drippings.
2. Meanwhile, cook ravioli according to package instructions. Set aside.
3. Once the ground beef is thoroughly cooked, stir in tomatoes; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in ravioli; simmer 3 minutes. Stir in spinach and olives; cook until spinach is just wilted. Sprinkle with feta cheese before serving. Enjoy!
Cook’s note: I do add a little salt and pepper to the beef after cooking. We also like things to have a bit of spice, so I add a teaspoon or so of red pepper flakes to it!
I am not much of a baker. Things just seem to burn or never set or never rise… But beer bread is something I CAN make. And it is great with soups and stews on cold days. Three ingredient recipe included below – trust me, if I can make it so can you!
Beer is a great agricultural product, it can include wheat, barley, hops, herbs, spices, fruit/vegetable juice, and more! According to North Dakota State University, the average American drinks 20 gallons of beer a year. This equates to 21 pounds of barley consumed through beer! For more information on beer and ingredient production visit North Dakota State University, University of Kentucky, and University of Minnesota, to mention a few.
Warning: this is highly addictive!
Dr. Lindsay’s Beer Bread
1 beer – room temperature
3 cups self-rising flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
Mix all ingredients together. Grease a pan of your choice (I use a large loaf pan). Spread mixture into bottom.
Optional: a couple of small dollops of butter on top of the dough.
Bake at 400 for 30-45 minutes or until lightly browned on top.