02/17/15

Roast Beef & Horseradish Cheddar Quesadilla

Roast Beef and Horseradish Cheddar Quesadillas

A few ingredients with big flavors make for big taste. These quesadillas deliver the classic combo of beef and horseradish in a delicious, easy to make, handheld snack.

Disclaimer: Cabot Creamery makes my favorite Horseradish Cheddar, and the cheese for this recipe was provided to me for free, as a member of the Cabot Cheese Board.

Horseradish Cheddar & Roastbeef Quesadillas

Roast Beef & Horseradish Cheddar Quesadilla    

    1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
    2 large flour tortillas
    1/4 lb Italian roast beef (deli)
    1 cup, Cabot Horseradish Cheddar, shredded
    Cooking spray

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 11 minutes

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray, and place 1 tortilla in the pan.

Horseradish Cheddar & Roastbeef Quesadillas


Top the tortilla evenly with onion and cheese, allow cheese to start melting, and add roast beef. Fold tortillas in half.

Cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Repeat procedure with remaining quesadillas.

Cut each quesadilla into 3 wedges; serve.

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans

PS – Want a chance to win a year’s worth of delicious Cabot Cheeses, along with their new cookbook? Check out the details here!

cabotcontest.white

09/10/14

How to make the best steak sandwich ever…

How-to-make-a-perfect-steak-sandwich

This recipe isn’t included in our free meal plans, but it’s too awesome not to share…

I love it when the various bits of the flotsam and jetsam that bob randomly about  in my head occasionally drift together into something useful.

Here’s an example:

The Flotsam

Sparks-of-HopeSeveral weeks ago, we had the privilege of teaching some classes and hosting some special dinners for the awesome kids at the Sparks of Hope summer camps.

The regular meals were provided by the kitchen staff of the camp (best camp food I’ve ever had, btw), and one night, they grilled steaks.

Now, I’ll be perfectly honest, when the guy manning the giant bin-o-steaks asked me if I wanted medium-well, or well done, I had to fight not to shudder visibly, or possibly burst into tears, over such an atrocity being committed to a lovely bit of beef. But I was polite, I took one of the little brown hockey pucks and shuffled dispiritedly back to my table, where I sat and stared at it with an overwhelming sense on underwhelmation. (Yes, I made that word up…)

But, I had to be polite, right?

I had to set a good example for the kids, right?

So, I tried it…and instantly suffered one of the “paradigm shifts” that everyone is always yapping on about.

The steak was obviously well done, solidly brown all the way through, but it was also juicy, tender, and full of flavor…a condition I would have bet my favorite saute pan was not possible in an “overcooked” steak like the one I was eating.

Seriously, it was really, REALLY good!

Obviously, there was a secret here that I had to weasel from someone.

Chef Cris and I tracked the grill-master down, and he was kind enough to share his trick…we didn’t have to pull a knife or ‘nuthing…but I’m not going to tell you what it is quite yet (don’t panic, all will be revealed in the recipe…)


The Jetsam

At our new country digs, the nearest “grocery” stores are about 10 miles from our farm, and we pass them nearly every day. coming and going.

All on the same crossroad, sit a Fred Meyer, a Safeway, and a Dollar Tree.

Now I do most of my shopping at the local produce co-op about a mile further down Main Street, but I often pick up the rest of my odds and ends at one of these three. Dollar Store, in particular, is a great source for a lot of the gear and disposables we us in our MY KITCHEN classes.

Outside of the Dollar Tree hangs a big banner, proudly announcing “Rib Eye Steaks, $1 each!

Dollar Store Rib Eye SteaksThis banner has been bothering me for some time.

Like an itch between the shoulder blades that only becomes harder to ignore the harder you try to ignore it. Rib-eyes? At Dollar Tree? For a dollar? It became something of a sick obsession for me, I had to see them for myself.

I had to cook one of these “Dollar Tree Steaks” and find out what they were all about.

What I found was a 3.5oz, one-half inch thick frozen cross section of a rib-eye steak, each packaged individually, and each bearing a disconcerting resemblance to a Dr. Scholls sneaker insert.

Dollar-Store-Rib-Eye-Steak

Unfortunately, it’s been my experience that steaks this thin are nearly impossible to cook properly. To get the proteins to caramelize on the outside, you have to cook them far too long for the thickness, and then they toughen up, so…your options are tasteless and tender, or a delicious flap of shoe-leather.

I was disappointed, but not dissuaded. I threw a few of the frozen cow planks into my basket, and headed for the door.

Once home, I tossed them into the freezer, and promptly forgot about them.

Synchronicity

So, the swirling tide that brought the various bits of this post (and recipe) all together was another sick obsession of mine…Pinterest. One of my favorite “pinners” posted a recipe and a to-die-for picture of a rib-eye sandwich with fried onions.

I wanted it…I’m telling you…I wanted it bad.

And then it clicked…the Dollar Tree ribeye steaks (purchased the week before) were still in my freezer. Their shape and thickness practically begged for the addition of a toasted hoagie roll. Plus, I had a fresh bag of sweet onion…and the grill-masters secret ingredient, already in the kitchen.

I swear, on the eyes of my children (which I always thought was kinda a creepy idea, even for The Godfather), I swear to you that this was, hands down, THE BEST steak sandwich I’ve ever eaten!

Here you go…thank you camp grill-master, thank you Dollar Tree, you came together and made something beautiful here…

Dollar Tree Steak Sandwich with Fried Sweet Onions
Serves 4

  • 4 – 3.5oz “Dollar Tree” rib eye steak, thawed.
  • 1 cup Italian salad dressing (I like Newman’s)
  • Grape-seed oil
  • 2 small sweet onions, sliced thin
  • Dash of salt
  • A-1 steak sauce (optional)

Newman Italian Dressings RecipesThe night before (this is it…the secret!) place the thawed steaks in a gallon zip bag, add Italian dressing, seal and squoosh the bag around with your hands until all the steaks are well coated. Put the bag in the fridge until dinnertime the next night, flipping it a couple of times in between.

In a small, nonstick pan, heat a teaspoon or so of oil over medium high heat, and add the peeled and sliced onions with a dash of salt.

Flip or stir the onions every couple of minutes until they begin to get golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a cast iron skillet*, heat a couple of more teaspoons of oil over medium-high heat. Remove the steaks from the bag and pat them dry. (Wet meat don’t brown.)

Fry the steaks in oil – no additional seasoning necessary – until browned on both sides, adding a little extra oil to the pan, if needed. Remove steaks from heat, tent loosely with foil, and let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, dump your fried onions in the steak skillet, and re-fry them for a minute, letting them caramelize in all those fantastic steak juices.

Split and toast your hoagie rolls (a must, always.) Give the bottom halves of the rolls a very thin coating of steak sauce (optional) and place a steak on each.

Top with 1/4 of the grilled onions, finish the plate with a chilled tossed salad, and serve!

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday. Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

Not only does the overnight marinating in Italian dressing tenderize the meat (keeping it juicy, but not tasting at all like Italian dressing,) but the acids and sugars help the steak caramelize faster, and add an amazing depth of delicious “steak-house-steak” flavor.

And…it’s dirt cheap! I’m guesstimating around $1.50 a serving, not including the salad.

Now, before the math nerds all wet their high-waters in a frenzy to point out that $1 for a 3.5oz steak equals just over four bucks a pound…I realize that.

$4 a pound is still a pretty freaking good deal for rib-eye, PLUS good luck finding a butcher who will sell you a 3.5oz cut of steak, especially one cut thin like this for sandwiches (and, NO…that nasty “steak-um” stuff doesn’t count!)

So, yeah…I’ll be heading back to Dollar Tree in the near future. I’m thinking we need a steak-roulade experiment…

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans

*Next time I’m going to try this recipe on the grill chimney, I’m guessing it’s going to be even better!

09/5/14

Big Changes at SimplySmartDinnerPlans!

Free weekly meal plans

Dear SimplySmartDinnerPlans Friend:

Please read this whole message. I promise it’s NOT a sales pitch…though it might start out sounding like one, lol.

I want to let you know about a major shift that’s happening with our SimplySmartDinnerPlans.

After almost three years of sending folks simple, delicious, healthy dinner recipes for each night of the week, along with itemized grocery shopping lists to make store trips quicker, easier, and more affordable…we’re changing some things up.

We love what we do, and the positive feedback we get from our customers on a weekly basis tells us that we’re on the right track!

However…

We’ve come to realize that, in our current economic times, even a $10/month commitment is a stretch for some folks, and people are becoming more and more leery about having their credit card information stored somewhere online. As Chef Terry, Chef Chris, and I continue to grow our outreach programs to feed the hungry, mentor at-risk youth, and teach young people how to cook healthy and affordably, we’re struggling more and more with the idea of charging people, even this small amount, for a basic life-skill that we passionately believe that everyone needs and deserves.

So…and please don’t think we’ve gone crazy…effectively immediately, the weekly meal plans and shopping lists will be FREE.

Yes, you read that right. No more monthly subscription fees, no credit cards, no PayPal required. The weekly plans and shopping lists, as well as the usual access to blog posts, recipes, and Q&A will be completely free of charge!

The Plan…

Our plan is that, with this new offer, we’ll not only be able to help folks feed their families healthier meals (without adding an additional burden to their budget), but that we’ll attract enough followers and visits to the blog to begin building a lucrative ad income, and attract corporate sponsors to help support our own families, and continuing outreach programs like our MY KITCHEN classes.

This is where YOU come in…

To make this work, we’re going to need YOUR help!

Please take this opportunity to let your friends, family, and co-workers know about who we are, and what we do. If you’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or other social media groups, please let them know that they can sign up for SimplySmartDinnerPlans at no cost or risk, effective immediately. I’ve added a very brief form letter, below, that you can copy and personalize, or post as-is, to spread the word, if that helps.

To sign up at no cost (ever), just go to THIS LINK , and choose which menu you would like. You can check out the meal plan options at the Meal Plans tab at the top of the website, as well.

Obviously, you can cancel this no-risk subscription at any time, with one simple email.

What this means…

You will see an occasional ad or banner on the main page of the blog, or imbedded into a post or recipe. You will NOT be receiving 3rd party ads, offers, or SPAM of any kind via email, nor will your contact information EVER be shared with any other company. Any advertisements that you choose to click on, or visit, will be totally up to you, and require your action to do so (for you web-savvies – this means there will never be an auto-redirect to an advertiser’s website…ever.)

Thanks for reading, and please let me know if you have ANY questions. As always, we will be available at any time via Facebook, email or text, to answer any meal plan or cooking questions you might have.

Thank you everyone, we’re very excited about this new phase of SimplySmartDinnerPlans, and we’d love to have YOU be a part of it!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

SAMPLE LETTER TO FRIENDS, FAMILY, & CO-WORKERS

Dear Friend’s Name,

Hey…I just wanted to let you know about this fantastic meal-planning deal. I’ve been a subscriber to SimplySmartDinnerPlans for a while now, and I love their healthy, easy-to-prepare dinner recipes and shopping lists.  It makes planning the week’s meals SO much easier!

Well, they just announced that, starting today, their weekly meal-plans will be free!

To join SimplySmartDinnerPlans at no cost, just go to THIS LINK  , and choose which menu you would like. You can check out the meal plan options at the Meal Plans tab at the top of the website, as well.

They include Classic, Heart-Healthy (& diabetic friendly), and Gluten Free plan options!

Have fun!

Your Name

04/18/13

Cheese Béchamel (Mornay) Sauce

Cheese



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Man, oh man…is there anything better than a good cheese sauce? Gooey, warm, decadent, cheese…mmm…cheeeeeeese…

Hmm? Sorry…I seem to have slipped away for a moment there…

Yes, cheese sauce, and for those of you who attended our last Hautemealz Supper Club event, you learned how to prepare Chef Terry’s amazing Cheese Béchamel (Mornay) Sauce.



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CheeseBechamel-Mornay-SauceThis lovin’ spoonful of cheesy awesomeness is perfect for topping fresh steamed veggies (Broccoli, cauliflower & carrots with bechamel are a holiday dinner staple at our house!), nachos, spooning over a grilled chicken breast or pasta, as the topping for your favorite cheese-steak sandwich, in a Big Gulp cup with a straw…okay, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea.

So here’s the recipe, just like it went down at the Supper Club party.

Let us know, below, what you plan to use it on!

-Chef Perry

SC2 Terry1 - Copy

Chef Terry getting all steamed up about cheese!

Cheese Béchamel (Mornay) Sauce

Béchamel, Espangole, Hollandaise, Tomato and Veloute, are the five “Mother” sauces of French Cuisine. Béchamel is a white sauce made with a roux (equal parts butter and flour) and milk.

A Mornay sauce is Bechamel with cheese.

There are a couple tricks with roux-based sauces:

1) to avoid lumps, add warm liquid to warm roux, or cold liquid to cold roux;

2) cook the roux-based sauce for at least 25 minutes to achieve a smooth and silky texture.

Active Time: 15 min.                                                     Total Time: 40 min.


  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 parsley sprigs
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 3 1/2 tbsp. Tillamook sweet cream butter
  • 3 1/2 tbsp. flour
  • salt & white pepper
  • 1 cup grated Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 oz. grated wasabi Gouda cheese (optional)
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

Heat the milk, onion and aromatics in a heavy sauce pan over medium heat. Turn off the heat just before it boils (little bubbles will begin to appear around the edge) and set it aside for 15 minutes.

In another sauce pan, make the roux by melting the butter, adding the flour and then stirring constantly over medium heat for 2 minutes. Quickly pour the warm milk through a strainer into the roux and whisk until thickened.

Stir until the sauce comes to a boil. Set the pan over very low heat or transfer to a double boiler. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Season the sauce with salt & white pepper. Stir in the grated cheeses, Dijon mustard and cayenne pepper until smooth. If you are not ready to use the sauce, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin forming.

This recipe will produce 2 cups of sauce.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids.

 

 


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04/5/13

Pearl Couscous Florentine with roasted Brussels Sprouts

Okay, so this was the veggie for last night’s test dinner for an upcoming SimplySmartDinnerPlans free meal plan.

So good!

Pearl Couscous, also know as Israeli Couscous or “Ptitim” were invented during the austerity period in Israel, when rice was scarce, in order to provide for the needs of the Mizrahi immigrants, for whom rice was a dietary staple.

Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, asked the Osem food company, to quickly devise a wheat-based substitute to rice.

5The product was instantly a success, after which ptitim made in the shape of small, dense balls (which the company termed “couscous”) was added to the original rice-shaped ptitim.

While considered a children’s food in Israel, elsewhere in the world Israeli couscous is treated as an ingredient for “trendy delicacies”. Here in the US, it can be found on the menus of modern American chefs.

-Chef Perry

1

Pearl Couscous Florentine with roasted Brussels Sprouts
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pearl couscous (Recommend Bob’s Red Mill)
3 cups chicken stock
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp each salt and black pepper
juice from a large lemons
2 cups spinach, steamed
2 cups Brussels sprouts, halved
Olive oil cooking spray
salt and pepper to taste (for Brussels sprouts)

Preheat your oven broiler. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, spread the halved Brussels sprouts on the sheet, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil 8-10 minutes until well browned. Remove from oven, and set aside.

roasted brussles

Bring the water/stock to boil and add the couscous, reduce heat to medium.  Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes until al dente, reduce heat to low and continue to cook 10-15 minutes.

Like what you’re seeing? Sign up for our delicious, healthy, and easy to prepare weekly meal plans! Available in Classic, Lighter Side, Gluten-Free, and Diabetic Friendly…and they’re FREE!

Meanwhile heat the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes over medium low heat for 3-4 minutes until the garlic starts to turn brown and fragrant. Add in the steamed spinach and brussels sprouts, and stir.

Peal Couscous recipe

Stir in the couscous and lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper.

Peal Couscous recipe

Peal Couscous recipe

Serve immediately.

03/12/13

How to make a classic Sauce Bearnaise

Susan, a subscriber to SimplySmartDinnerPlans’ free meal plans, messaged us, asking…

Hi! So here’s a challenge for you…if I could have only ONE recipe ever, it would be for the Bearnaise sauce that accompanied my first filet mignon!
I was 16 years old and on my first prom date at the Compass Room in Phx. I have never forgotten how absolutely delish that sauce was! The only other Bearnaise I had that was even close was at Buddy’s Grill down here in Tucson, and they don’t even offer it any more. I’ve tried making a couple recipes, but they aren’t the same! Care to enlighten me?

Thank you for the question, Susan…I love a challenge!

Béarnaise sauce (or Sauce béarnaise) is considered to be a ‘child’ of the mother Hollandaise sauce, one of the five sauces in the French haute cuisine mother sauce repertoire. The difference is only in their flavoring: Béarnaise uses shallot, peppercorn, and tarragon, while Hollandaise uses lemon juice or white wine. Its name is related to the province of Béarn, France.

The sauce was likely first served at the 1836 opening of Le Pavillon Henri IV, a restaurant at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, not far from Paris. Evidence for this is reinforced by the fact that the restaurant was named for Henry IV of France, a gourmet himself, who was born in the province of Béarn.

In appearance it is light yellow and opaque, smooth and creamy, and is a traditional sauce for steak. (Thank you Wikipedia!)

How to make Bearnaise Sauce

Okay, so I couldn’t find their recipe anywhere, though I did find some reviews that mentioned it being a “classic French Bearnaise”

This is Julia’s recipe for Sauce Bearnaise, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Some tips I’ve learned from watching her shows might lend a hint as to why the version you had was so much better than what you’re used to. This is a sauce that will change completely, based on the quality and handling of ingredients.

Use the freshest possible local eggs (farm fresh), and let them be room temp before using them. Fresh herbs, not dried. Fresh ground pepper. Use a good white wine…doesn’t have to be expensive, but if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it.

¼ cup tarragon vinegar
¼ cup dry white wine
2 Tbs. minced shallot
2 Tbs. minced fresh tarragon
1/8 tsp pepper
Pinch of salt
3 egg yolks, room temp
4 Tbs. cold butter
½ to 2/3 cup melted butter
2 Tbs. fresh minced parsley

Directions

UPDATE: If you’re having trouble finding tarragon vinegar, here’s a great blog post on how to make your own (super easy). If you’d rather buy it, I’ve added my favorite brand to the hautemealz.com store on Amazon, as well.  – Chef Perry

Saute the shallots, herbs, and seasonings with 1 Tbs of butter over moderate heat. Add vinegar and wine, and bring to a boil until the liquid has reduced to 2 tablespoons. Let it cool.

Add the egg yolks to the vinegar mixture with 2-3 Tbs of warm water, and beat until thick (it should start sticking to the whisk), moving the pan on and off a medium high burner. Beat in the another tablespoon of cold butter, until completely incorporated into the sauce, then repeat with remaining butter. Correct seasoning, and add parsley.

And…here’s how the great lady herself does it…

Bon Appetit!

-Chef Perry

12/19/12

Amuse Bouche Suggestions & Recipes

A friend and co-worker of my wife sent her a message today, asking for recommendations for a amuse-bouche that would compliment her Christmas dinner menu.

She started her email with this sentence:

“I know you are the lady that is married to the man that knows stuff about food”

Well…apparently I’m famous…or at least infamous, and either way, THAT deserves a blog post! So, Jessica…this one’s for you!

An amuse-bouche (sometimes called an amuse-gueule) is a one or two-bite hors d’œuvre. Amuse-bouches are different from appetizers in that they are not ordered from a menu by patrons, but served according to the chef’s selection alone, and with no more than one of each selection, per guest. The amuse-bouche is served both to prepare the guest for the meal and to offer a glimpse into the chef’s approach to cooking.

Often it will be a contrasting flavor or technique than the rest of the meal, in order to awaken the taste-buds, without dulling the flavor receptors that the chef is targeting with the main courses.

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

Jessica…for your Christmas menu, which appears to be very traditional (and looks delicious, btw), I would recommend a “little something different” with one or two of these recipes…

Crevette dans les Filets (Shrimp in Nets)
These salty, crunchy seafood bites, would be my first amuse-bouche choice. They’re simple to make, addictivly delicious, and they look cool… sure to please.

pasta wrapped shrimp appetizer

Creamy Chicken-Bacon-Tomato Bites
For a savory amuse-bouche, try piping this dip into hollowed cherry tomatoes, or fresh slices of lightly salted English cucumbers.

Sausage Pepper Bacon Wraps (aka Dragon Claws)
A savory, smokey amuse-bouche for you chile-heads, you can served them sliced from whole peppers, as in the recipe, or make them with the smallest baby bell pepper you can find, or (if you’re insane) grill them in hollowed-out habeneros.

Oak grilled NY Strip Steak
Halve the thicknesses (1 inch for steak, 1/4 inch for toast points) for an amuse bouche of beefy goodness. One of my favorite recipes.

Caprese Tomato Bites
A new spin on a classic Italian dish, and no one knows how to showcase the tomato like the Italians. In Italy, unlike most salads, it is usually served as an antipasto (starter), not a contorno (side dish). This recipe is always a cool, crisp favorite, and we’ve made it dozens of times!

So, I hope that helps, Jessica. If you need more ideas, you know who to call!

Have an “amuse-ing” Christmas!

(C’mon…you knew that was comin’, right?)

-Chef Perry