Monday, October 24, 2011

Quick Fix Meat Tips

When I was growing up, eating any kind of red meat was an absolutely revolting thought.  Beef... not a fan.  Pork... maybe.  Ham... forget it.  Up until I met my husband, it was very rare for me to eat or even cook some sort of red meat.

After we got married and moved in together, it became apparent that I was going to be cooking red meat.  It was also apparent that I would have to eat the red meat ..... or possibly go hungry.  Just kidding.  I definitely cook healthier meats, such as fish and chicken, more often.

So what happens on the days when a time consuming pork or steak recipe is not option?  You know... the days when your dog needs to be walked, the kids need homework help, your neighbor stops by at random and the dishes aren't washed.  Suddenly a 90-minute braised pork recipe begins to look less and less likely.

Fear not... there are plenty of quick fix options that will still create a delicious dish.

Quick Fix Ideas:

1.) 10-Minute Breaded Pork Chops:  1 cup of garlic bread crumbs, 1/4 TBSP of onion powder, 1/4 TBSP of Thyme, salt and pepper.  I don't bother messing with the flour and egg prior to the bread crumb dunk.  This will still give you a crispy, tasteful crunch in less time.  If you don't have garlic bread crumbs, then add a 1/3 TBSP of garlic powder to the mixture.  Mix thoroughly in a small bowl.  Evenly coat the boneless pork chops in the bread crumbs.  Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 425. 

2.) 10 minute marinade:  1 1/2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 TBSP oregano, 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 TBSP of soy sauce, 1 TBSP Italian dressing, salt, pepper and a pinch of crushed red pepper.  Mix together and add to a large plastic zip bag.  Add the pork or beef to the bag.  Make sure the meat is evenly coated.  Set aside or in the refrigerator for 10 or 15 minutes.  Grill or bake for 15 - 20 minutes.  It's just that easy.

Quick fix ideas are very helpful on days when dinner is a last minute thought.  Do what ever you can to avoid running out to the local fast food restaurant or ordering a pizza.  Although, I am plenty guilty of doing this too.

Jon and I are blessed to have an ice chest freezer in our basement.  I usually watch for meat sales at the local grocery store and stock up when we can.  Typically, I will have a lot of fish, chicken and pork in stock.

Hopefully these quick fix tips are helpful to you and your family.  Take care, readers.  Have an excellent week. 

Coming soon: Flashback Friday - Chili

We could all use a hint of more time.
Copyright 2011 A Hint of Thyme.  All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Taste of Fall - Butternut Squash

Welcome to the Fall season!  This is my favorite time of year.  Apples, pumpkins, cider, squash, cranberries!  I cannot get enough apple cider or tastes of fall on my dinner plate.

Last night, I attempted to make something new.  My husband is big fan of butternut squash. 


Butternut Squash - 1
Mara - 0

I must admit that butternut squash has officially defeated me in the kitchen.  My Mom gave me an extra squash and it was the first time that I prepared it myself.  I've watched my Mom cut and prepare it.  How hard could it be?  I think I realized why she was so eager to give it away.

It seemed as though I had lost all culinary abilities as I stared blankly at the squash.  Where do I even start?  I grabbed a parring knife.  Too small.  I opted for the larger butcher knife.  Too large.  It was the most amateur display of knife cuts that I've ever done. 

Despite my lack of squash cutting talent, the recipe turned out fairly well.  I have also tried this recipe with sweet potatoes.  I hope you enjoy it... and that the squash cooperates with you.

Autumn Spiced Butternut Squash
- 1 butternut squash (or 4 medium sized sweet potatoes, if you prefer)
- 1 TBSP of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 TBSP of honey
- 1/4 TBSP of cinnamon
- Freshly grated nutmeg (just a few times up and down the microplane - a little goes a long way)
- Course black pepper and salt

Cut the squash into cubes (if you're making sweet potatoes... cut them into long french-fry-like strips).  Spread evenly over a baking sheet.  Cover with the remaining ingredients.  The easiest way to mix all ingredients thoroughly is to use your hands.  Make sure that all pieces are evenly coated.  Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.  It's quick and easy ... if you know how to cut it! 

I also prepared boneless pork chops to go with the squash.  Simply apply an even distributition of dried thyme, Worcestershire sauce, EVOO, granulated garlic, salt and pepper over the pork.  Bake at 425 for 25 to 30 minutes.  It was quite tasty!

I wish you all a delightful Fall season! 

We could all use a hint of more time!
Copyright 2011 A Hint of Thyme.  All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

El Beso - A Tribute to Friends and Birthday's

Ah, September.  The month of 8 million births! Admit it... you know at least 15 people born in the month of September.

I am very happy to share the same birthday with my good friend, Valerie.  To celebrate another year of life and friendship, we had dinner and margarita's at a new restaurant in Milwaukee. 

El Beso, in Greenfield, is a new Mexican restaurant in the Milwaukee area.  This place wins "A Hint of Thyme Award" for the best renovation of a building.  El Beso took over the abandoned Champps Americana and has transformed it into a Mexican hacienda and bar.  Unlike some other building-takeovers that have failed to reinvent the venue, these owners have completely redesigned the building to be unrecognizable as the former Champps restaurant.  It's incredible.

There are hand painted murals on almost every wall.  Every intricate detail of a Mexican paradise is creatively woven into the floor, ceiling, desert bar, and band.  I was in awe of the beautiful paintings and, I must admit, feeling a bit ADD as I looked around to take it all in.

The only negative comment about El Beso is that the high ceilings do create some extra noise.  It's very hard to hear all the people at your table without yelling.  If the band is near your section it's even more difficult to hear.  Word of advice... do not use this venue for an important meeting or talk.  However, lunch time might be different and not as crowded.

El Beso's menu is much like any other Mexican restaurant in the area.  It has the average selection with a few exciting options.  They have a great bar menu and the Bahama Mama's were fantastic!  I elected to try the Sopes for an entree.  Unfortunately, I had filled up with the free chips and salsa prior to the entree. 

I have read a few reviews about the restaurant will say that the food isn't very "authentic".  Honestly, I don't feel it necessary to whine about it's "lack of authenticity".  We very much enjoyed the food and it won't get much more authentic this far north of the Mexico border.

Valerie and I were subjected to 2 birthday songs.  The band, Trio Expucta de Oro, first sang a Spanish song that was unknown to us.  Then they sang happy birthday in Spanish - which was a real treat.  The band was fantastic and their harmonies were perfect.  The other servers came by after dinner with 2 pieces of chocolate cake and sombrero's for me and Val.  They all sang "Happy Birthday Cha-Cha-Cha".  It was probably the first time in my life that I didn't mind someone singing happy birthday to me because it was so fun!  

September birthday's indeed, the servers were busy singing "Happy Birthday" about every 3 minutes to a different person.  It was definitely a night of celebrations.

El Beso was a great place to celebrate our birthday's together.  Great pick, Val!

Valerie and I with chocolate cake and sombrero's

Sopes at El Beso

Copyright 2011 Hint of Thyme.  All rights reserved.