Friday Night Steak Night

We do a lot of chillin’ out on Friday nights at The Schell Cafe.  After a week of coming and going in a thousand different directions it’s so nice to reconnect as a family and just hang out.  For the Littles this means staying up late and skippin’ baths.  Friday nights for the grown-ups usually involves a bottle of red wine and tossing something on the grill.  Tonight we are having our favorite Cowboy Coffee Steak.

I’ve shared this steak rub with you before, but it’s so good I thought it would be selfish not to urge you to make it your Friday night ritual too.  And if you happen to be near an HEB rib-eyes are on sale!

Cowboy Coffee Steak Rub

1/2 cup ground coffee (I use a dark roast from Costa Rica)

1/2 cup coarse black pepper (I use slightly less)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup salt

Mix all ingredients in a plastic bag and store in fridge.  When you are ready to rub the steak, pour out desired amount of coffee mixture and generously rub steak until the meat is completely coated.

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Grill and enjoy.

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TGIF!


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Corn on the Cob

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Littlest enjoyed her first corn on the cob tonight. While this is hardly news worthy, it provided a full evening of entertainment at The Schell Cafe.  Husband has about 20 minutes of video documenting every kernel.  The highlight of which is hearing Littlest say ‘kern’, because that’s the way Husband taught her to say corn.

Did you know you can microwave corn in the husks to perfection?  A year or so ago my friend Lulu told me this trick and I’ve never looked back.  You simply lop off the husky ends with the stems and put the cobs directly on your microwave plate.  Cook for 3 minutes and the husks and silky threads will come right off the kernels.  Add a little butter and salt and fait accompli!

Shrove Tuesday: A Pancake Feast!

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Ahhh…Mardi Gras.  Here you are again.  I knew it was coming when beads started popping up on the store aisles last week and king cakes were positioned front and center at the bakeries.  Needless to say there will be lots of revelry taking place tonight as the world seems to embrace this now secular mini-holiday.

We’ll be preparing our hearts for the Lenten season tonight with Mardi Gras’ lesser known cousin, Shrove Tuesday.  I’m going to share with you a letter that our amazing kindergarten teacher sent home explaining how the children will be celebrating Shrove Tuesday today.  Her words are far better than mine and I’m certainly not a believer in recreating the wheel:

We will be spending a bit more time than normal on “Chapel” topics this week since this is the beginning of Lent. The day before Ash Wednesday is known as Shrove Tuesday. The word “Shrove” comes from an ancient word “shriving” which, means “confession.” On Shrove Tuesday, we confess our sins and prepare our hearts for the beginning of Lent. On Shrove Tuesday, we prepare our homes for Lent as well. In some traditions and families, Lent is a time of strict fasting – a time when no meat, eggs or sweets are eaten. During ancient times, families would cook cakes on Shrove Tuesday to use up those things that were “forbidden” during Lent and that would not last until the Easter celebrations begin. Eggs, butter, and sugar syrup were on the list of things that needed to be used up. Thus, the tradition of serving pancakes on Shrove Tuesday to use up (not waste) certain foods began. We will cook pancakes during lunch time on Tuesday. Please send in “sides” for your child to have WITH his/her pancakes…or pack a regular lunch if your child would prefer not to have pancakes for lunch.

Another fun part of our Shrove Tuesday celebration is having pancake races. The pancake races come from a legend that long ago, in England, a woman was cooking pancakes for her family when she heard the church bell ring telling her that worship was beginning. Afraid of being late, she took off running down the street wearing her apron and carrying her frying pan with the pancake still in it! In many places today, pancake races are a SERIOUS tradition. We’ll have our own, NOT SO SERIOUS, races Tuesday. It will be lots of fun.

Sweet  Littlest Middlest went to school today, but she is smack dab in the middle of a 24 hour food allergy test and won’t be able to share in the pancake feast with her friends.  Her allergy test ends at 4pm today so I asked her to help me plan our own Pancake Feast for this evening.  We’ll start with Grandma’s Hot Cake recipe and then add special toppings.  Each of the Littles picked their special topping and guess what they came up with — marshmallows, frosting and sprinkles, strawberries and jelly beans.  Hmmm…I’m not sure how this will help prepare our hearts, but our bellies will clearly be up for a fast!

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Look how they are passing right over those strawberries!

Here is Grandma Schell’s Hot Cake recipe in case you want to join in on the Shrove Tuesday tradition.

Hot Cakes (Her recipe also titles them Griddlecakes)

1 1/4 c sifted all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp sugar

3/4 tsp salt

1 egg

3/4 cup milk (She uses buttermilk)

3 Tbs melted butter.

Mix dry ingredients; mix egg, milk and butter. Combine wet and dry mixes together.  Pour onto hot griddle.  Makes about 12 cakes.

Blue Cheese Dressing

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I’m always grateful to have this versatile blue cheese dressing on hand.  It’s a cinch to make, lasts in the fridge for a week and will make the man in your life crumble and swoon.  Especially if you serve it with steak.

I’ve heard this dressing is really good drizzled over an open-faced turkey, spinach and roasted sweet pepper sandwich too.  But, I can neither confirm nor deny that this is what I had for lunch today….

Blue Cheese Dressing

6 TBS extra virgin olive oil

6 TBS sour cream or plain yogurt (I use FAGE)

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

3 TBS sherry vinegar

dash of Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled and divided

1 TBS fresh chives, chopped

salt & pepper

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Mix first five ingredients in a bowl until oil begins to emulsify.  Slowly add in 1/2 of the blue cheese and continue to whisk until the dressing is well combined.  Gently stir in remaining half of blue cheese and chives.  Season to taste with salt & pepper.

I love, love, love FAGE yogurt.  It is tart, but smooth and I eat some every day.  It has a ridiculous amount of protein and is low in calorie and has no fat.  I usually drizzle mine with a little agave nectar for a sweet treat.  FAGE is my choice for this blue cheese dressing, but if you cannot find FAGE or do not care for the tart taste, I would use sour cream.

Wine Braised Short Ribs

We had a crummy Valentine’s weekend.  Littlest Middlest has been sick and she spent her sixth birthday/Valentine’s Day curled up in bed watching Brady Bunch reruns.  So we are celebrating a few days late.  Because when you are six and its your birthday you MUST have cake.  And when you are Husband and its Valentine’s Day you MUST have ribs.  It’s a rule.

I have several variations for short ribs, but these simple wine braised treats will knock your socks off.  And the pulled beef sandwiches the next day are even better!

These ribs can be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge right in the pot you cooked them in.  Skim the fat and reheat when you are ready to serve.  Once ribs are cooking in our house, they don’t stand a chance of chillin’ for 24 hours.

I use a mix of bone-in and boneless beef ribs for this recipe.  I like having some bones left over to make stock and think they add a rich flavor, but I find that the boneless cuts are larger and yield more meat.  Also I have issues making decisions. On important things like which cut of meat to buy.

Wine Braised Short Ribs

5 lbs short ribs (mix of bone-in and boneless)

salt & pepper

6-8 garlic cloves, minced

3 celery ribs, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 (14.5 oz) can Italian-style diced tomatoes

2 cups red wine (use GOOD wine, something you would  drink while cooking serve to guests)

1 cup chicken broth

1 sprig of rosemary

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp thyme

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sprinkle the ribs with salt and pepper. Allow them to sit at room temp in the salt and pepper while you cut up the veggies.  The ribs will brown better if they are already  room temperature.  See the bone-in and boneless mix?

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Brown the ribs in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  This will have to be done in two batches — it’s a lot of beef.  Brown on each side about 4-5 minutes until the ribs get nice and golden.

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Once all the ribs are browned, remove them to a platter and drain off all but about 1 tablespoon of fat.  Send a photo of the browned ribs to someone you love and tell them dinner will be ready in a few short hours.  Torture I tell you!

Add all the veggies to the pot and saute until golden brown and very tender.  Depending on your heat this will take about 6-7 minutes.

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Once the veggies are all soft and golden, add the rest of the ingredients to the pot.  Start with the wine.  Be careful it will sizzle something fierce, but it will deglaze all the yummy brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Nestle the ribs back into the pot and squeal in anticipation…

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Bring all this goodness back to a boil.  Then cover your pot and bake at 350 degrees for about 3 1/2 hours.  You’ll know the ribs are done when they are so tender they literally fall off the bone or pull apart with a fork.

Once the ribs are done, remove them to a platter and keep warm in oven or warming drawer.  Strain the veggie mixture into a bowl.  Go ahead and taste a veggie or two while you are straining all the liquid out.  Pour the liquid into a small sauce pan and let sit for about 30 minutes or so.  The fat will rise to the top.  Skim off as much fat from the liquid as you can and discard.  Add the veggies back to the liquid and bring to a slow boil to make the gravy.  It usually takes about 15 – 20 minutes for the gravy to reduce to a nice thick sauce.

Plate up and enjoy!

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Did Somebody Say Braised Short Ribs?!!?

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Sometimes just for fun and for no good reason, I’ll send Husband an email with a photo like this attached.  I’ll tell him I’ve got pounds and pounds of beef short ribs browned and by dinner he’ll be feasting on these tender, juicy morsels.

Sometimes I continue on in the email about how I wish he could smell the ribs simmering away in the oven, slow cooking to perfection.

Then I continue on about my day — shuffling kids to gymnastics and soccer. Hollering about homework and being nice.  And  all the while the short ribs are working their magic in my oven.  The thing about short ribs is you can fix ’em and forget ’em.  At least I can…

Husband? No way.  On days I send photos like this just for fun and no good reason Husband is never far from the homestead.  In fact he’s working from home today.  Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Recipe for Braised Short Ribs tomorrow.  I’m off to shuttle kids and such…

Almost Six…

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I have a Valentine baby.  And in two short days she will be six. I can’t talk about it…

In the mother of all moves, I somehow lost misplaced my heart shaped baking pan.  And because a heart shaped cake for a Valentine’s Day Birthday is non-negotiable, I had to purchase a replacement lickity split.  I know, I know, I could bake a square cake and a round cake and ‘cut and paste’ together to form a heart, but the notion of having to deal with that much pressure sends shivers up my spine.

I found replacement pans, but they are 12″ and my lost forever pan was 10″.  So, this morning Littlest Middlest and I made a test batch of batter, upping the quantity so that her heart shaped cake would be nice and fluffy and not a sorry, flat flop!

We (and by we I mean she) are still deciding on the flavor of cake.  I hate to rush the creative process of a soon-to-be-six-year-old, but chop-chop…momma’s gotta cake to bake!

What was your favorite birthday cake growing up?