Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Country Fried Steak with Macaroni & Cheese

If you are from the South, chances are you are familiar with this down home, rib-sticking meal.  Country fried steak with gravy, macaroni and cheese, green salad, and biscuits. My mouth is watering just thinking about this one.
I found the recipe for the country fried steak on The Pioneer Woman’s website. It has become my go-to place for good Southern recipes.  The Pioneer Woman Website  I have always loved country fried steak, but I have never really attempted to make it at home. Cracker Barrel always suited me fine. However, if you find a recipe that is quick, easy, and yummy who needs to go out? There is something so satisfying about cooking a restaurant-worthy meal at home.
The macaroni & cheese recipe is something that everyone must try. The original recipe came from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, but I made quite a few changes and am proud to call it my own. My husband LOVES this recipe. And by LOVES, I mean he asks for it on a regular basis. It’s a pretty easy recipe to make, especially if you make the night before, pop it into the fridge and bake the next day. In fact, I would recommend making it the night before. The noodles have a chance to soak up all the sauce and it seems even creamier.
To be perfectly honest, the gravy, salad, and biscuits all are what we will call semi-homemade (thanks Sandra Lee!). After all, we only have a limited amount of time before the hounds start to circle the kitchen. These are all quick and easy side dishes that compliment the meal really well.

Let’s get started:
Macaroni & Cheese
For a 9x13 casserole dish you will need:
16oz. Dried Elbow Noodles
4 Tbsp. Butter/Margarine
4 Tbsp. Flour
4 cups Milk
3-4 cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
2 cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Start by boiling a 16oz box of macaroni noodles until tender.

2. While the noodles are boiling, let’s start on the sauce. You will need another large pot because we will be adding the noodles to the sauce and trust me, a small pot is just a disaster waiting to happen. Start by melting the butter over low-medium heat, then whisk in the flour, whisking continuously.  This mixture is called a roux and helps to thicken the sauce. Do not walk away from this. It just takes a minute to come together and it will burn quickly. You want this to cook for a couple of minutes, just to cook out the raw flour taste.

This is what your roux should look like after whisking together the butter and flour

3. Whisk in the milk and cream of mushroom soup.  Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to incorporate all the roux mixture. Turn up the temp to med-high heat and continue to whisk until you notice the sauce beginning to thicken.

4.  Add in the cheese. I generally add about 2 ½-3 cups of cheese.  As silly as this may sound, when it turns the color orange you think it should be, it’s cheesy enough.

5. Add the drained noodles to the sauce and mix well. Transfer to a greased 9x13 casserole dish

If you are making the night before, go ahead and put in fridge. Add the top layer of cheese right before baking.
6. Top with more cheese

7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until mac & cheese is bubbly (*If you are cooking from the fridge, try to bring to room temperature first. Otherwise, it may take longer to become bubbly.).
If you like the cheese to be more brown, turn on the broiler for a few minutes. Just watch it closely!
**This recipe can easily be cut in half and prepared in an 8x8 casserole dish.  This is also delish served as a main dish with chunks of ham mixed in.**

Country Fried Steak
To view the full country fried steak recipe Click Here.

1. Start by heating your skillet/canola oil over med-high heat.
2. Coat your meat with the flour/salt &pepper mixture and shake off any excess. I like to go ahead and coat all the meat so Im not moving back and forth.

3. Once the oil heats up and you are ready to begin cooking, add the butter.

4. Once the butter has melted, add a few pieces of meat to the skillet. Try not to overcrowd the pan. This can drop the temperature of the oil and cause the meat to take longer to cook.

5. Let cook for about 4-5 minutes on the first side. You will notice the color changing on the sides of the meat. Flip and cook for about another minute on the 2nd side.

6. Remove from skillet and let drain.

Nothing goes better with country fried steak than white pepper gravy. I have not mastered the art of gravy making just yet. However, I have found the pioneer brand of peppered gravy is very good. I would highly recommend it. Especially when your kitchen is already in full swing, this is a quick fix to round out the meal.

Nothing makes me happier than clean plates and full bellies. This meal accomplishes both. Trust me, try this one out! Cracker Barrel…eat your heart out!

Monday, February 21, 2011

And the winner is...


Congratulations, Donna.  Contact us at to claim your prize.  Thanks to all who entered the contest!  We will have many more giveaways so KEEP ENTERING for your chance to win!

Donna's entry. Isn't this the sweetest?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Email us your favorite vacation picture by Sunday, Feb 20. We will post them on the blog for a chance to win your very own Coconut Rum Cake. The winner with the best picture will be announced Monday.

Submitted by: Anna

Submitted by: Kirby

Submitted by: Brittany

Submitted by: Elisa
Submitted by: Audrey
Submitted by: Mike & Tamara

Submitted by: Shelly
Submitted by: Heidi
Submitted by: Tiffany

Submitted by: Jade

Submitted by: Donna

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Morgan's Coconut Rum Cake

I acquired this recipe from a follower who "SAYS" he created this recipe himself--but I'm thinking his daughter, Morgan, had something to do with it since it has her name on it...either way, it's really good, and I'm so glad he shared!

Before all you coconut-haters and/or rum-haters write off this recipe, let me tell you about it. If you have texture issues with coconut like my curly-headed sister does, this might be the cake for you. None of the coconut texture--all of the fla-vuh. This cake almost has the essence of a pound cake--almost--but maybe it's just the bundt pan that reminds me of a pound cake...This cake is super moist, and the subtle flavors of the coconut rum add the perfect amount to make it a very interesting cake that makes it really REALLY hard for me to get off these 8 last few lbs I gained during the holidays.

Grab your bundt pan, Beach Boys tape, huarache sandals, and let's get cooking. First thing, preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Next, spray your bundt pan really, really good with Pam or whatever non-stick cooking spray you use.

Cake Ingredients
1 pkg Butter recipe yellow cake mix
1 3 3/4 oz pkg instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup water1/2 cup coconut rum
1/2 cup oil
4 eggs

Icing Ingredients
1 cup sugar
1 stick of butter
3/4 cup of coconut rum

In a large bowl, combine your cake mix, pudding, 1/2 c. water, 1/2 c. coconut rum, 1/2 c. oil, and 4 eggs. Mix with a hand mixer just until ingredients come together.

Pour into greased pan.

Bake for one hour (At about 50 minutes, I started checking the cake to see if it was done. Cooking time can vary slightly depending on the oven.).

As soon as you take the cake out of the oven, in a small boiler, melt one stick of butter. Once melted, add 1 c. sugar and 3/4 c. coconut rum. [Side note alert: it's probably a good idea to remove the boiler from heat when you pour in your alcohol to avoid a fire hazard. I may or may not have done this.]

Cook until it comes to a boil. The longer you let it boil, the more the alcohol cooks out. I let mine boil for about a minute or so. Make sure you watch and stir continuously, as it will sneak up on you and try to jump out of the pot!

Once you've boiled your liquid mixture, pour it over the cake (it's still hot in the bundt pan).

If you watch closely, and if you greased your pan really good, you will see the cake float up in the pan. As soon as the liquid soaks in, flip your cake onto whatever cake plate you choose. It should come right out. Let it cool if you want before you serve, but I had to hack into it immediately.

Isn't it pretty! This cake is one of the best I've ever had. And guess what???? There's a bonus, too: it only takes a few minutes to get it in the oven. Give it a whirl. I think you'll love it...

Email us your favorite vacation picture by Sunday, Feb 20. We will post them on the blog for a chance to win your very own Coconut Rum Cake. The winner with the best picture will be announced Monday.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Boeuf Bourguignon


How does Boeuf Bourguignon sound for dinner?  After watching Julie & Julia, I knew this was something that I needed to try.  I found this adaption from the Passionate Homemaking site.

After a little research on the pronunciation of bourguignon (and I hope you all use your inner French chef accent when saying it as I do!), I discovered that it was originally peasant food. It’s a type of beef stew from the region of Burgundy, France.  Peasants ate it because they couldn’t afford the best cuts of meats, so they would cook them for hours in a fluid, this time being red wine, to make the meat more tender.   This technique is cherished by the French, and it was adapted into haute cuisine.  Whoa, another foreign term!  Haute cuisine in French literally means high cooking, fancy cooking, cooking that takes elaborate preparations and presentations.
OK, so it’s fancy food, its peasant food, who cares? It’s different food!  Let’s take a spin on our traditional beef stew.  So what if the only difference may be a little red wine and the name?  How often do you get to say you had Boeuf Bourguignon (don’t forget the accent) for dinner?
Please read through all your instructions and be prepared!! I know we stress this more often than not, but I could have easily had a meltdown last night if there was someone there to listen to me.   Prep work could have saved me.  It didn’t ruin me, but it caused for my kitchen to end up looking like this.  (Don’t be cruel…I’m just being honest)
For kicks and giggles, let’s put on our pearls to make this. For Julia of course.
1.       Always say Boeuf Bourguignon in your best French accent
2.       Wear pearls
3.       Prep all your ingredients before you start your dish.
I guess we’d consider #3 the most important.
Let’s back up to our ingredients.  It’s not that expensive of a meal to prepare, and it doesn’t call for too many ingredients.  You probably have most on hand.  One ingredient in particular was arrowroot powder.  Have you ever heard of arrowroot powder?  Me either.  I think I’m grocery store handicapped.  I get in there, and I want to get out so quickly that I suddenly lose my vision and ability to read.  I gave up…I read you could use flour or cornstarch instead.  I used cornstarch.  On to the wine!  This recipe calls for Burgundy wine.  First, I had to figure out what exactly that is.  It’s a Pinot Noir.  This can run you very expensive if you get a true wine from Burgundy, but they always say get one you’d feel comfortable drinking.  I don’t drink red wine, therefore I felt comfortable buying some brand on sale with a rooster on it.

6 strips of bacon
2-3 lbs Stew meat, cut in 1 in cubes
5 carrots
1 onion
1 tsp salt/ ¼ tsp pepper
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3 cups Pinot Noir
2-3 cups Beef Stock
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp thyme
1-2  bay leaves
2 lbs mushrooms

When you get home from the grocery, set you meat out for it to come to room temperature.  Rinse, drain, and pat dry.  Let’s prep! Peel and chop your onion and carrots.  This recipe called for two carrots, but I wanted more hearty chunks, so I used five.  Do you still have the urge to bite one and say, “Eh, what’s up, doc?” Oh, you don’t?  Me either...
Let’s get cooking!  Preheat oven to 325. Use the largest stove top to oven safe dish you have.  In this case, I borrowed my mom’s Dutch oven.   Cook your bacon; remove from pan.  It’s going to be hard, but leave all the bacon grease.  Throw all your meat in there and brown.  I may or may not have had to open a window at this point due to smoke.

  • Add carrots, onion, and ½ cup beef stock.  Cook for a few minutes
  • Add crumbled bacon, then salt, pepper, and cornstarch
  • Add your wine, beef stock, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves and bring to a boil. 

Cover and place in the lower portion of your oven and cook for 2 ½  hours. 

Right before the two hours is up; cook your mushrooms on the stove top in butter and oil. 

This is what it looks like after cooking two hours.

Mix them into the party and cook another half hour- hour. 

Check after half hour; if the meat is easily pierced with a fork it’s done!
I had planned ahead to have this meal the next night so at this point, I let cool and tucked away in the frig, or you could serve immediately with noodles /mashed potatoes and garlic bread.
This is not a weeknight meal unless you plan on cooking it the night before.  I started around 6:00 and didn’t pull it out of the oven for good until 10:00.  The next night, I put back in a 325 degree oven to warm up for about 30-45 minutes.  This version of this recipe was delicious! Now, I think I’m ready to try Julia’s!  
Bon App├ętit!