Thursday, 30 December 2010

Christmas, Vegetable Soup, and Grillades

First, let me apologize if this post is disjointed, unclear, or otherwise strange. I'm a little off kilter today. That being said...

So, Christmas has come and gone. Who else is relieved?

Somehow, I managed to complete my insane list of tasks and did not lose my mind in the process. I did, however, send myself into a fibromyalgia flare. This, my friends, is why I’ve been silent. No blogging and no facebook status updates. I just couldn’t manage it. By the time Sunday night rolled around I was barely able to walk and ready to curl up somewhere and have myself a good little cry. Instead, I spent the next two days alternating naps, yoga stretches, heating pads and muscle relaxers.

I say that Christmas has come and gone; however, in my house it really hasn’t. Tomorrow, my brother and his family are coming for the weekend and we will celebrate another Christmas at my mother’s. This means that tomorrow I will be grocery shopping, helping mom with food for Saturday and baking another pecan pie with another batch of whiskey cream sauce.

J’s Christmas was great. Between Don and I, Mom, and bio-dad I believe he got everything he asked for. It’s great that he’s such a cool kid and so easy to please. His list of things he actually wanted (not talking of those random “I wants”) didn’t include anything extravagant.  It was comprised of simple things like a Nerf Blaster, Star Wars action figures and a Paper Jams guitar. The family gift was DJ Hero for the Wii.

I’m currently exploring work from home options to supplement my income. As of now, there are no plans to make this my sole source of income. We just need a little boost.  I’ve found several good options. I’ve even found some where I can get paid to blog. I just don’t think I’m interested in posting website and product reviews to my blog. Freelance writing is another option.  

This evening I plan to finish a dictation test for a company to see if I’m good enough for that. The audio clip they sent is difficult though. Some guy with a British accent that says “uh” and “umm” a lot. He also is fond of mumbling larger words. I had to listen to a portion of the clip 6 times last night before I realized he was saying “paradigm”….ooh…or was he saying “per diem”? Thinking on it, I believe per diem better fits the context. Guess I’ll be listening to that again tonight.

I haven’t been posting recipes because I can’t take photos. It seems my camera has died. L Anyone want to start a “feel sorry for Erica and buy her a good digital camera fund”?  No? Ok…I’ll grab my mason jar and start saving.

In the meantime here’s a couple for you without pictures to back up the yumminess. Sorry.

I made an awesome pot of vegetable beef soup the other night; kind of a cross between my mom’s recipe and pasta fajiole. You will need:

1 lb ground beef
½ small onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 large or two small cans beef broth
½ large can tomato juice
1 can rotel
10 oz frozen mixed vegetables
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz uncooked macaroni or other pasta. Shells would be nice here too.

In a large pot, brown the ground beef. Drain the fat and set the beef aside. Add onions to the pot and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and saute 2 minutes more. Add the beef back to the pot with the broth, and all the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the macaroni. You get that? Just forget that darn pasta for a minute. :) Bring the mixture to a boil and THEN add the macaroni. When pasta is tender remove from heat, salt and pepper to taste and serve. We had hot ham and cheese sandwiches with ours.  I was happy. Don was happy. Ashes was happy. J ate peanut butter and jelly with the neighbors. Would also be nice with cornbread, garlic bread, or even crackers.

I also made something called grillades (gree-yads). It’s a Cajun beef dish that is traditionally served over grits. It’s good, it’s cheap and it’s a great use for tougher cuts of steak. I pulled this together from a couple of traditional recipes to create my own version. We served over rice simply because I didn’t have any grits. It was really good too. Next time I will be making it with the grits.

You will need:
3 medium sized round steaks cut into 2 inch pieces and pounded flat
½ green bell pepper diced
1 stalk celery diced
½ onion diced
Cajun Seasoning (i.e. Tony Chacherez)
½ c flour
2 T vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
½ t. thyme
1 or two bay leaves
Tony Chacherez brown gravy mix (comes in a big yellow can)
1 large or two small cans beef broth
1 (14 oz) can of tomatoes

Cut round steaks into 2 inch pieces and flatten. (If you don’t have a meat tenderizer then just whack the crud out of it with a rolling pin or the bottom of a pot…Caution: make sure all family members you care for maintain a safe distance. The ones you don’t care for…have at it. I won’t tell)

Add oil to large pot on medium heat and allow it to preheat. Meanwhile, toss the steak pieces into a bowl. In a separate small bowl mix together the flour and Cajun seasoning. I can’t tell you here how much Cajun seasoning. Remember, it’s salty and spicy!  It’s a matter of preference and everyone has a different preference. After flour and seasoning are well mixed, pour it over the steak pieces and toss to coat.

Brown the meat in batches in the hot oil; setting each batch aside as you go. You only need a couple minutes per side. Remember, you’re just browning here. No need to get it done. It will have plenty of time for that later.

Once all the meat has been browned add the diced vegetables and canned tomatoes to the pot and cook just until tender. Add the meat back to the pot along with the seasonings and the beef broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to simmer. Allow to simmer for approximately 2 hours.

Just before serving remove the bay leaves and bring the heat back up.  Add brown gravy mix, sprinkling a little at a time and stirring constantly, until you reach the desired thickness. *clears voice for Emeril impersonation* Remember, a mixture never achieves its full thickening power until it comes to a boil.

Serve over rice or grits.

I guess I’ve carried on long enough. Hope you enjoy the recipes.

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