Archives- Day 10- The Butcher Laughed at Me

Original Post- 3-14-2011

Have you ever noticed that beef tenderloins are impossible to find? I mean, I know you probably don’t go straight to the meat section every time you step foot into a grocery store and then lurk up and down the case looking for it like a crazy person, but I did this for over a week trying to figure out why I couldn’t find the stupid things. I was too embarrassed to find a butcher and ask one (because my meat stalking looked stupid enough) so I just lived in quiet frustration.

At some point last week, I had to go into Piggly Wiggly. I was in a foul mood because it was coming a monsoon outside and I had successfully waited until it was raining to get what I needed for dinner. Once I got inside, I went straight to the meat area and walked up and down the case two or three times. I see the butcher at the end restocking and, being in the non-caring mood I was in, decided I wanted roast beef and I was going to find a beef tenderloin no matter how stupid I sounded! I flagged him down through a window, as he had already went back into the little butcher room or whatever in the world it is, and he came out and talked to me. Here is the conversation:

Butcher Guy: Can I help you?
Me: See this? (I hold up my recipe card.) I’m not domestically inclined by any means and this thing says I need a 2.5 lb tenderloin. Now either I’m blind or there isn’t one in that case thingy over there. Can you please help?
Butcher Guy: (laughs and then looks at me like he feels sorry for my husband) How much do you need?
Me: 2 1/2 lbs. (Again I wave the recipe card at him…Andrea is thoroughly amused at this for some reason.)
Butcher Guy: Um, ma’am, do you realize that it is $10.99 a pound?
Me: (I literally had to tell myself to shut my mouth.) Are you serious?!? Um, okay I guess a pound and a half will work. Oh yeah, and where do I find the cooking twine in this store?
Butcher Guy: I will just give you some that we have in the back. (I think he felt sorry for me because I have no idea what in the world I’m doing.)

While he was cutting and packaging the tenderloin for me, I finished up the last few things I had to get.

I went to the produce and after fussing for at least five minutes with Andrea about how we were not going to get any apples or grapes because we already had some at home, I realized that there weren’t any fresh chives. So I went to the dried spice section to look there too. Let me just make the point here that, when I am in a bad mood or dealing with my kids in public, I’m not thinking clearly at all. Andrea was giving me a play by play of EVERYTHING on the shelf and then harassing Jake (who was kicking her in the back because she was sitting in front of him and it got a response out of her). I finally realize at some point that I have green onions at home which, essentially, is chives. At this point, I’m beyond flustered. I get my $16 beef tenderloin back and finally leave the store. On the way out Andrea decided to jump in this monstrosity of a puddle and then whine the whole way home about being cold because her clothes were wet…. Jesus help me.

So we get home, and after dealing with Andrea’s clothes, trying to keep the kids entertained and busy, waiting on Russ to get home, and figuring out how to fashion another makeshift pan out of the ones I have because every stupid recipe calls for a unique pan, I started up the tenderloin a little later than I had planned, but it still should have been done by 7:30. An hour later than I like, but it’s still food.

I start cooking the tenderloin and the recipe said 30 minutes for medium-rare. I’m not a fan of anything medium-rare so I decided to cook it a little longer. At 9:00 PM the tenderloin was still cooking. I checked it at 30 minutes and it was not even near the temperature for medium-rare so I cooked it for another 20 minutes, and then another, and so on until 9 PM rolled around. At this point, Jake wasn’t the only one gnawing on his hand so I sent Russ out to pick up some fast food. We had Wendy’s, but the next day we had some really great roast beef sandwiches (albeit a little on the peppery side).

This was a “Family Approved Lunch” and I hope to cook it again so that we can actually eat it for dinner. I’ll just start around 9 AM next time!

Best-Ever Roast Beef- By: Healthy Meals in Minutes
Serves 8
1- 2 1/2 lb beef tenderloin, trimmed
2 1/2 tsp. coarsely cracked black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 T chopped fresh chives
1 tsp. dried tarragon

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rub the cracked pepper evenly over surface of beef, pressing gently to help pepper adhere.
2. In a small bowl, combine parsley, chives, and tarragon. Mix well. Spread herb mixture evenly on a plate or a sheet of waxed paper.
3. Place beef on top of the herbs. Roll beef in herbs to coat completely, pressing gently to help herbs adhere. Loosely tie beef at 2-inch intervals with kitchen twine along it’s length.
4. Place the beef on a roasting rack in a large roasting pan. Roast beef until an instant-read theremometer inserted in center registers 145 degrees for medium-rare, about 30 minutes, or until desired doneness.
5. Transfer beef to a carving board and let stand for 15 minutes, allowing the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. Remove string and carve into thin slices. Serve immediately.

Archives- Day 7- Two Burnt Fingers and the Black Hole Pantry

Original post- March 4, 2011

Oh wow!

Was that a little tinge of happiness I just felt? Seriously?! I disliked cooking with an intense passion before this journey. Tonight though, I said to Russ,” I am really enjoying this!” and I truly meant it. With that being said, the night wasn’t without it’s flaws. And so we begin:

I pulled out my trusty recipe cards and got ready. It was time to make Kansas City Steak Strips. I’ve never been to Kansas City, other than in passing it on the interstate, so I’m wondering if it either is some sort of something they have there or after 1200 recipes the company was running out of names for cooked meat. Either way, it was interesting and fairly easy to make. However, the recipe really allows you to waste some ingredients and the cheapo in me got irritated, but I forged on.

Last week I thought I was the smartest person on Earth when I thought to cut up the flank steak and measure out the amount I needed before freezing it. I love that I did that. Tonight I thanked myself from last week. It was so nice to pull something out of the fridge and have it ready to throw into the pan with out any chopping or measuring involved! I got the ingredients out and was measuring them out before I started preparing dinner and… whoops…I was missing the beef broth.

I am absolutely not a fan of my soup stash anymore. In fact, I’m quite angry with it. I believe my pantry has a black hole that sucks in the labels it sees the most. Cream of Chicken..gone. Beef Broth…gone. Why isn’t it taking the tomato and the chicken noodle?!? I just don’t understand how a non-cooking woman is running out of stuff that she hasn’t used! Anyhow, I walked into the living room and had this conversation with my husband who was relaxing after a crazy day at school and then coming home and calming down a screaming infant:

Me: Russ…I love you.
Russ: (looks at me with a concerned grin) I love you too. What do you want?
Me: Um, I don’t have any beef broth. Can you run to the store for me?
Russ: (Makes a pouty sound like someone just took a toy away) Do I have to? Why didn’t you check first?
Me: I did. Well, no not really. I needed a total of one cup this week for recipes so I only bought one can not thinking. I guess I should have saved half of the can I used the other night.
Russ: Uh yeah…but fine.

He huffs and puffs around the house for a few minutes grumbling and whatnot. Then I realize I’m a little low on egg noodles. I ask if he can pick some of those up too. He looks at me like I just told him I was having quadruplets and leaves. Seriously, I’ve gotta get better at this recipe stuff.

So, after the beef broth fiasco was averted, Andrea and I got started cooking. She snapped the green beans while I chopped up the onion. Once again, I went through my entire “blind from onions” routine and Andrea thought I was crying. She patted me on the arm and said, “Aww mommy. It’s okay. You’re a good cook.” This makes me wonder if she thinks I was crying because I’m horrible at this? I sure hope not. She keeps telling me I “cook good” whenever she sees me in the kitchen. I’m starting to think Russ is paying her to say this so after the 30 days is over, I will keep cooking. Nonetheless, it’s nice to know that she is paying attention. This is a good place to add that I found out today that I’m not that different from other women. While in ballet class, two other moms said they ate out a lot. I honestly thought all these other women were out there, cooking nightly for their family and I was, in some way, failing. I’m normal! Well, not normal, (that’s quite a leap) but I am like other moms in terms of cooking. I have to give major props to my mother though, she cooked every night growing up. She cooked most mornings as well. She was (and is still) awesome.

Around the time I started the recipe, I decided I want to have an unusual side dish. Nothing crazy… just something a little different. Publix had a sale on carrots when I was shopping so I had picked up a few extra bags and just figured I would find a recipe with carrots and use them. I pulled down my favorite cookbook, and found Brown Sugar- Glazed carrots. I had two recipes going at once. YES TWO! And guess what? I didn’t get them mixed up! YAY!

Meanwhile, Andrea had taken on the job of crescent roll preparation so she was away from the stove and the possibility of getting burned. Once she was done, she tried to put them into the oven, but I ended up having to push them in because she is still a little too short to reach in without the door burning her. She kept going to the oven door and looking at the rolls. I hate that I’ve missed so much time in the kitchen with her. She helps measure everything out, laughs at my screw ups, and then always gets excited when she sees the finished product of the meal. At dinner we ate the most interestingly shaped crescent rolls and she was so proud of herself.

I’m rambling so I’ll wrap this up. I ended up burning my hand when I was draining the noodles and the pot slid out of my hand. My thumb has been on fire all night. Andrea was so excited about the crescent rolls she reached up to touch the pan before I could stop her. She burned one of her fingers as well. I have texture issues, so I wasn’t crazy about the barely cooked green beans. They were just too crunchy for me. Andrea liked the noodles the best, but Russ and I agreed we would use different noodles next time. The egg noodles have this odd taste… The carrots were amazing. They were sweet, but not too sweet. I’ll post both recipes below. This one isn’t quite “Family Approved”, but we aren’t ruling it out just yet. That’s the beauty of trying these. We get to tweak them, and try again. 🙂

Kansas City Steak Strips- Healthy Meals Made Easy
Serves 4
1 T. Veggie Oil
12 oz. beef top round stk, trimmed and cut into thin strips
1 large yellow onion, sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 can (8 oz) low-sodium tomato sauce
1/2 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
1 T. chili sauce
1/4 t. black pepper
8 oz egg noodles
8 oz fresh green beans, cooked or 1 package (10 oz) frozen cut green beans, thawed (SERIOUSLY? I HONESTLY JUST SAW WHERE IT SAID COOKED. NO WONDER THE GREEN BEANS WEREN’T THAT GOOD….UGH. I’M ILLITERATE.)

1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over mdm-high heat. Add stk; cook, stirring frequently, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer steak to a plate.
2. Add onion to juices in skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, broth, chili sauce and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes.
3. While onion is cooking, cook noodles according to package directions, but do not add salt.
4. Return beef to skillet. Add green beans; cook until hot and sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Drain noodles in a colander; place on serving plates. Top with beef mixture and serve.
**My finished product on Andrea’s plate.**


Per Serving:
Calories- 421 (19% from fat)
Carbs- 55 g
Protein– 30 g
Sodium– 209 mg
Fat– 9 g
Cholesterol– 102 mg

Brown Sugar- Glazed Carrots- By: Better Homes and Garden’s Cookbook
Serves 4
1 lb. peeled baby carrots (or mdm carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-in pieces)
1 T. butter or margarine
1 T. packed brown sugar
dash salt
black pepper

1. In a mdm saucepan cook carrots, covered, in a mall amount of boiling salted water for 8 to 10 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain; remove carrots from pan.
2. In the same sauce pan, combing butter, brown sugar, and salt. Cook and stir over mdm heat until combined. Add carrots. Cook and stir about 2 minutes or until glazed. Season to taste with pepper.

Nutritional info reflects a 3/4 cup serving:
83 cal., 3 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 8 mg cholesterol, 111 mg sodium, 14 g. carbs., 2 g fiber, 1 g protein

Archives- Day 5- This Looks Nothing Like the Pictures…Hmmm

Original Post- March 3, 2011

My hamburger meat from yesterday’s post finally decided to get with the program and thawed out enough for me to use. I guess I have “super” tinfoil for packaging because everything is taking a really long time to thaw out!

I made Swedish Meatballs on Monday night. I don’t know if it is because I had one child sitting on the island while I was chopping vegetables in front of him and the other grabbing my leg and swinging on her ladder right next to me or what, but this one went much faster. I would love to think it is because my cooking skills have improved so much over five days, but lets be realistic.

So first off, let me just say that too much of something can be bad. This recipe said to use 2 1/4 cups of bread crumbs and 3/4 lb of meat. I used a pound of meat because I’m not going to get that technical with the meat measurement (plus I figured I may just have a few extra meatballs). Well, there was WAY too many bread crumbs and WAY too little meat. I would hate to see the recipe if I had actually followed it correctly. Next time I will definitely subtract from that amount. Even Russ made mention of it when we had dinner.

I do have to admit that I am patting myself on the back over one thing. I had to have two egg whites in this recipe. I’ve never separated an egg in my life. I have this funky little device my mother-in-law gave me to use, but I have never used it so I was impressed that my un-savvy-in-the-kitchen self figured that little contraption out! Andrea was very upset that we weren’t eating the “yellow part of the egg” and kept asking questions.

Want to laugh hysterically? Bring a toddler into the kitchen one night.

The recipe called for 1-inch meatballs. Then it said to use an ice cream scoop to help scoop out the proper sizes. Okay, think of this in my perspective. I have a massive ice cream scoop. I’m thinking,” Okay, I’m not a mathematician by any means, but that ice cream scoop is going to make meatballs way bigger than 1-inch. I should follow the instructions though because I tend to mess things up when I don’t.” So I follow the directions. Um….yeah. These were not the cute little meatballs in the picture. In my defense, I know that most of the pictures of food you see are little pieces of inedible objects that are made to look pretty, but still.

Despite having something that resembled ping-pong balls saturated in bread crumbs, they turned out delicious and this is another one of our “Family Approved Meals”. I never imagined I was actually going to love some of these recipes!

Swedish Meatballs- By: Healthy Meals in Minutes
Serves 8
3/4 lb lean ground beef
2 1/4 cups bread crumbs (don’t do it!)
2 egg whites
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 t. allspice
1/3 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1/2 cup reduced-sodium beef broth

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, combine beef, bread crumbs, egg whites, onion, allspice, salt and pepper. Mix well. Shape beef mixture into 1-inch balls.
2. Spray a large skillet with vegetable cooking spray. Heat skillet over mdm-high heat. Cook meatballs, in batches, until browned, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, place meatballs in a mdm baking dish.
3. Pour broth over meatballs. Cover baking dish with foil. Bake until meatballs are heated through, about 25 minutes. Spoon meatballs and broth onto individual serving plates. Serve immediately. **A picture below of Andrea’s plate with the finished product. Looks kinda nasty here actually. hahaha**


Per Serving:
Calories- 219 (33% from fat)
Carbs- 21 g
Protein- 15 g
Sodium- 380 mg
Fat- 8 g
Cholesterol- 36 mg