Swiss Steak

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Growing up, my grandparents lived in Temple, Texas.  Every summer my sister, Laura, and I would take the 7 1/2 hour car ride from Weslaco to spend some extended amount of time in Temple. Sometimes we went together, sometimes we got alone time with the grandparents.  Regardless of the setup, every time we were there my Grandma McGee, or Mamoo as we lovingly called her, would make a point to cook a special meal for each of us.  Laura and I got to pick the menu for dinner one night, whatever we wanted, and Mamoo would come through.  She was an amazing cook.

I had a favorite (we’ll talk about that one later) but sometimes changed my menu up. Laura’s favorite dish, hands down, was Swiss Steak. She would ask for it every time… and I can’t blame her.  It’s a good one!

I’m gonna admit, I had to look up why it is called Swiss Steak.  Turns out, Swiss describes the meat being “swissed”, or a process called “swissing” in order to make it tender. Braising meat does this as well, but by tenderizing the steak you are giving it a chance to break down a little faster to make this an easy, manageable weeknight meal. When making this recipe, I use the cube steak already tenderized as it would be when making chicken fried steak.  Win!

I’ve got to hand it to Laura, this is a good choice.  I sometimes forget just how tasty and simple Swiss Steak is and making this for dinner brought back a flood of warm memories of Mamoo’s special dinners.

What would Mamoo make for you?


Swiss Steak

  • 1-2 lbs round steak or cube steak
  • Flour, salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, or 5-6 mini bell peppers, sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 can sliced stewed tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Oregano, basil and red pepper flakes

Heat a couple tablespoons EVOO in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 

Sprinkle a little flour, salt and pepper on both sides of each steak and then brown the steaks for a couple minutes on each side.  You’re not worried about cooking the steaks through, they are going to braise and get super tender a little later.  Don’t skip this step though – browned food is flavored food!

Remove the steaks from the pan and set aside.

In the same skillet, add the onions and peppers, adding a little more EVOO if needed. Saute the onions and peppers 2-3 minutes until the begin to soften.

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Add garlic and saute a few more minutes.

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Deglaze the pan with the red wine.  So remember that “deglaze” just means “pour some liquid in the hot pan and gently scrape all the delicious browned bits off the bottom”.  Very technical term.

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Remember how we always say to cook with wine you would drink in a glass?  I went all out on this one, using a bottle from one of my very favorite wineries – J Vineyards.  Check them out if you travel to California Wine Country!  They have a fabulous wine and cheese tasting option at the winery.

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Add the steaks back in, then the stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Many times when using stewed tomatoes the recipe suggested mashing or tearing up the tomatoes.  In this case, I like to leave them sliced. I am notorious for grabbing the not-quite-right version of a grocery list item, like getting a can of whole tomatoes instead of sliced, or the chunky peanut butter that’s right next to the creamy.  If you have a can of whole tomatoes on hand, use them!  Just don’t break them down too much – the chunks of tomatoes get nice and sweet as they braise. 

Add a couple tablespoons Worcestershire sauce and taste, adding more if desired.

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Stir in a couple teaspoons of basil and oregano and red pepper flakes as desired.  Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired.  If the gravy seems a little thick, or is not covering the steaks and veggies, add a little water.

Cover and let the pan simmer until the meat is tender, about 45-60 minutes.  

Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.

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What do you think, Laura?  I’m pretty sure Mamoo would be proud 😉


Full Recipe

Swiss Steak

  • 1-2 lbs round steak or cube steak
  • Flour, salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, or 5-6 mini bell peppers, sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 can sliced stewed tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Oregano, basil and red pepper flakes

Heat a couple tablespoons EVOO in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Sprinkle a little flour, salt and pepper on both sides of each steak.

Brown the steaks for a couple minutes on each side.

Remove the steaks from the pan and set aside.

In the same skillet, add the onions and peppers, adding a little more EVOO if needed.

Saute the onions and peppers 2-3 minutes until the begin to soften.

Add garlic and saute a few more minutes.

Deglaze the pan with the red wine.

Add the steaks back in, then the stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce.

Add a couple tablespoons Worcestershire sauce and taste, adding more if desired.

Stir in a couple teaspoons of basil and oregano and red pepper flakes as desired.

Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired.

If the gravy seems a little thick, or is not covering the steaks and veggies, add a little water.  

Cover and let simmer until the meat is tender, about 45-60 minutes.  

Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.

Sausage Potato Skillet

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Happy New Year!  (We can still say that even if January is already two-thirds done, yes?)

If your house is anything like my house you are ready for an easy, throw-down dinner.  This is it! A one pan wonder!

I truly don’t know where this recipe came from.  I can say, however, that it was a staple in our house growing up in Weslaco.  It’s such a quick, easy go-to that I never much thought about how good it was… other than to give my mom a good (full of love) teasing about it’s frequent appearance at the dinner table.  (We’ll talk about “gourmet sandwiches” some other time, Mom 😉 )

Then I graduated from Baylor and made my move to Lake Jackson.  I’d make this for dinner and take leftovers for lunch the next day.  Without fail, every time, someone would comment on the dish and ask for the recipe.  It threw me a bit because I don’t think my mom or I ever even wrote the recipe down, it was just one of those things we could toss together.  The first time I made it for Will he loved it and began requesting this dish for dinner.  Again, it blew my mind a little.  This dish?  The sausage-potato meal we’ve always had?!

So here it is, all typed up in its one-pan glory from my childhood home to your present day: Sausage Potato Skillet.  May it make one of your upcoming dinners simply wonderful 🙂


Sausage Potato Skillet

  • 1 link smoked sausage, sliced into rounds
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 can corn or hominy, drained

Pay attention, this one goes quick 🙂

Saute the onion, pepper and garlic in a skillet with a little olive oil until the veggies begin to soften. Use a large skillet with plenty of room to toss everything up together.  Season the veggies with salt and pepper but start a little lighter than normal on the salt as the smoked sausage will bring some of that in for you.

Add the sliced sausage and saute until the sausage begins to brown a bit.

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Add the corn or hominy and toss it all together.

So, I love hominy.  Hominy is made from either white or yellow corn – the kernels are soaked in a solution of either lime or lye which removes the hull, and often the germ, from the kernel and causes the grain itself to puff up much larger than its original size.  The texture is definitely chewier than regular corn and, I think, has a more pronounced corn flavor.  I dig the taste and texture of hominy and often will just saute it with butter, salt and pepper as a side dish. Somewhere along the line, I decided that hominy needed to replace the corn in this dish and I’ve never looked back.   Will, however, does not share my love of hominy.  Bummer.  We often either go back to the regular can of corn here or omit it completely when making this dish at home. In an effort to give you this dish in all its original glory though, I felt it best to demonstrate with the hominy.  (Sorry, Will!)  Don’t worry, y’all.  He still ate it 😉

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Add the cubed potatoes, tossing them around a bit to mix them in. Season again with salt and pepper. (If you like a little kick, this is a great spot for some cajun seasoning as well!)

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Add enough water to just cover the bottom of the skillet, about 2 or 3 tablespoons. Cover the pan with a lid, lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 15-20 minutes.  If you don’t have a lid that fits your skillet, just set a cookie sheet over the skillet or place a piece of foil loosely over the top.  You want the potatoes to steam in that water and a lid helps that process.

Once the potatoes are soft, remove the lid and continue to cook until all the excess moisture has cooked off, about another 5-10 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

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What recipes do you have that have survived your childhood home and worked their way into your adult life?  Leave a comment and let me know!


Full Recipe

Sausage Potato Skillet

  • 1 link smoked sausage, sliced into rounds
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 can corn or hominy, drained

Saute the onion, pepper and garlic in a skillet with EVOO until beginning to soften.

Season with salt and pepper.

Add the sliced sausage and brown.

Add the corn/hominy.

Add the potatoes, toss around and saute a few minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Add enough water to just cover the bottom of the skillet.

Cover the pan with a lid, lower the heat and lightly simmer until the potatoes are soft, 15-20 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue to cook until all the excess water has cooked off, another 5-10 minutes.

Enjoy!

Mexican Butter-Stuffed Chicken

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I’ll start this post with a warning:  this recipe is not a quick one to prep.  It’s not difficult to put together but it does involve a lot of “chill time” before cooking.  You can, however, prep and freeze the chicken ahead of time for a quick mid-week cook!  I’ve noted in the recipe below the best place to pack up and freeze for future cooking.

Another warning: slightly mushy story about this recipe coming up.

Will and I love to have friends over for dinner.  We love to plan a full dinner from appetizers to dessert, usually having guests contribute parts of the meal, and enjoy some wine and bourbon along the way.

One Friday night mid-June, we had some friends over for dinner.  We had made the butter-stuffed chicken before and thought it was a good dish to prep ahead of time and easily cook for a dinner party. Dinner was delicious and we went outside to enjoy the night and continue conversations.  Everyone was settled and Will brought out a wine bottle to refill glasses as needed.  He looked around, said “Now that everyone has a full glass…”, dropped down to one knee on the deck of our back porch and pulled out what instantly became my most favorite ring ever.

There was nervous laughter on my part, excited exclamations from our friends, that super-cute smile of Will’s and then a very firm “YES!” from me. Champagne was popped and thus began our year of wedding prep and life of marital bliss.

acceptance

I’ve said since this day that when we move out of this house, I’m taking with me the board that Will’s knee was touching on June 15, 2012.  We’ll serve Mexican Butter-Stuffed Chicken for dinner the night the board finds its new home 😉


Mexican Butter-Stuffed Chicken

  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 poblano, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • ½ red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons cream cheese, cubed and softened
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ teaspoon minced fresh lime zest
  • four boneless skinless chicken breast, 6 to 7 ounces each
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cups panko

Place the onion, poblano, jalapeno, red bell pepper, garlic, cumin, oregano and coriander in a food processor. Pulse everything together until all the veggies are a fine dice.

I love my food processor as it cuts down chopping and mixing time and effort in many situations.  We have both a 3.5- and a 7-cup size and they both get a workout frequently!  Don’t have a food processor handy?  Chop all the veggies into a fine dice from the start – since this is part of the filling inside the chicken roll-up you just want small, fairly equal sizes so that it stuffs and stays inside the chicken well.

Take one tablespoon of the butter and melt it in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Saute the veggie mixture in the butter, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook the mixture until all the moisture from the veggies evaporates – about 15 minutes or so.  Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool a bit as you move on to the next step.

Mash the cream cheese and remaining 4 tablespoons of butter together. Mix in the cilantro and lime zest.  Stir in the veggie mix then taste to check for seasoning.  Add a little salt and pepper, if needed.  Place the butter in the fridge to chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

While the butter is firming back up, prepare the chicken breasts.  Place one chicken breast inside a resealable plastic bag with just about 1 teaspoon of water inside of it – the water helps the chicken to not stick to the bag as much.  Pound the chicken breast to 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick with the smooth side of a mallet.  You can also use the bottom of a heavy skillet or pan to pound the chicken down.  Repeat this with all four chicken breasts.

Once the butter if firm, divide it into quarters. Place one quarter of the butter in the center of each pounded chicken breast. Fold one end over the filling, tuck the sides of the chicken in, then continue rolling until the filling is covered.  Tightly wrap the stuffed chicken in plastic wrap and repeat the process with the remaining breasts and butter.

Chill the wrapped chicken at least one hour or as long as overnight.  If you are in a little more of a hurry, pop the wrapped chicken into the freezer until just firm.  You want the chicken breasts firm around the filling so that when they cook the chicken stays together without having to secure the meat with toothpicks.  I can never find all those toothpicks after cooking…  😉

Season the flour with salt and pepper.  Unwrap the chicken then dredge the roll-up in the flour.  Dip the roll-up into the egg, then roll in panko, pressing the panko into the chicken to coat it well.  Wrap the breaded chicken in plastic wrap again and chill to set the coating at least one hour, up to three hours.

** This is a great point to freeze any roll-ups that you don’t want to cook the same day **

Heat your oven to 450.

Heat about 1/2-inch of canola or vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  You want the oil to be about 375 degrees.  I don’t like to drag a deep-fry thermometer out so here are a couple ways to check oil temp without one:

  • Stick the handle of a wooden spoon, or use a chopstick, into the oil.  If the oil starts steadily bubbling, the oil is ready for frying.  No bubbles – keep heating.  LOTS of vigorous bubbles – let the oil cool a bit.
  • Drop a 1-inch square of bread in the oil.  If it takes about 60 seconds to brown the oil is at 365.
  • Drop a single kernel of popcorn into the oil. The kernel will pop as the oil reaches 350-360 degrees.

Fry the stuffed chicken, a couple at a time to not overcrowd the pan, until browned on all sides, about 5-6 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a rack set over a baking sheet and continue to fry/brown the rest of the chicken.  Place the rack with all the chicken breasts into the oven.  Roast the chicken until cooked through, about 18-20 minutes.  This is where you do want to grab a meat thermometer – when done, the chicken should register at 150-155.

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Let the chicken rest a couple minutes before slicing and serving so that the stuffing has a chance to settle a bit – if it is too hot when you slice the lovely juices will run out and you’ll end up with a messy, drier chicken breast.

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The stuffing can be changed up several different ways to swap out the flavors.  Simply leave the butter/cream cheese base the same and mix up the veggies – maybe a little drained spinach and feta?  Green bell pepper and mushrooms?  Sweet cherry peppers and olives?  How would you change it up?


Full Recipe

Mexican Butter-Stuffed Chicken

  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 poblano, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • ½ red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons cream cheese, cubed and softened
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ teaspoon minced fresh lime zest
  • four boneless skinless chicken breast, 6 to 7 ounces each
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cups panko

Place onion, poblano, jalapeno, red bell pepper, garlic, cumin, oregano, and coriander in a food processor.

Process until everything is a fine dice.

Sauté vegetable mixture in 1 T butter over medium-high heat, season with salt and pepper.

Cook until moisture evaporates, about 15 minutes.

Set aside to cool a little.

Mash cream cheese, 4 tablespoons butter, cilantro and lime zest together.

Stir in veggie mix.

Season with salt and pepper.

Chill until firm, about 30 minutes, then quarter.

Pound chicken breast to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick one at a time inside a resealable plastic bag with 1 teaspoon water using the smooth side of a mallet.

Stuff chicken breast by placing a quarter of the filling in the center of each pounded breast.

Fold the end over the filling tucking the sides then continue rolling until the filling is covered.

Tightly wrap the stuffed breasts in plastic wrap and repeat stuffing and wrapping with remaining breasts.

Chill breasts at least one hour or as long as overnight, or freeze just until firm.

Season the flour with salt and pepper.

Dredge the chicken in seasoned flour, then dip into egg, then roll in panko, pressing to coat.

Wrap the breaded breasts in plastic wrap and chill to set the coating at least one hour or up to three hours

**Freeze any wrapped chicken breasts you do not wish to cook today**

Heat oven to 450.

Fry the stuffed breasts in ½ inch of canola oil heated to 375°, until browned on all sides, about 5-7 minutes.

After browning, transfer breasts to a rack set over a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Roast stuffed breasts until an instant read thermometer inserted into the chicken registers 155°, 18-20 minutes.

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

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I love stuffed peppers.  I love the Philly Cheesesteaks, though I can’t say that I have ever had an authentic one.  (Sounds like a travel plan, yes?)  So the two put together makes for a great, easy weeknight dinner.  I like the peppers to be soft but still have some bite, and the stuffing to be extremely flavorful.  You can change up the protein to your tastes, using mushrooms in addition to or instead of the beef.  This recipe is quick, flavorful and fits easily  into your dinner rotations.

Try it out and let me know what you think!


Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

  • Olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 4-8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3-4 bell peppers for stuffing
  • 3 T Pickapeppa or steak sauce
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup Panko or breadcrumbs
  • Provolone slices or shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, season with salt.

Deseed the stuffing peppers, saving the tops or sides for chopping.  You can use any color of bell pepper for stuffing, we have even used poblano peppers, just keep in mind that they aren’t a thick and meaty as bell peppers and won’t require as much boiling time. When you pick your stuffing peppers, grab some that will either sit easily on their bottoms and hold stuffing well, or have a semi-flat side to lay on in a baking dish.  Using a paring knife, cut a hole around the stem of the pepper, or down one side of the pepper as I have done in the picture below.  Remove all seeds and save the piece of the pepper you remove to chop and add in your recipe later.

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Boil the deseeded peppers until beginning to soften, about 5-6 minutes.  If you  like your peppers firm you can skip the boiling step.  The peppers will continue to soften in the oven as well.

Remove the peppers from the peppers from the water and drain any water from the inside.  Lay/stand the peppers in a baking dish.  If the peppers don’t stand easily on their own you can use some of the stuffing around the peppers later to stabilize them some.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil.

Add the onion, chopped bell pepper (one whole and the reserved trimmings) and garlic to the pan and saute 3-4 minutes until crisp tender.

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Add the mushrooms, if using, and saute another 2-3 minutes.

Add the ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook 5-6 minutes until no longer pink and drain off any fat.  You can mix up the protein by using ground turkey, a variety of mushrooms or whatever feels right for your weeknight.

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Stir in the Pickapeppa, beef broth and Worcestershire.  Pickapeppa hails from Jamaica. It is a thick, pourable sauce that has a distinct tangy flavor.  You can find it in most grocery stores around the condiments/hot sauces.  If you don’t have Pickapeppa, try a steak sauce such as A1.  Try out the Pickapeppa at some point, it’s also great just poured over cream cheese as an easy  appetizer!

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Cook the mixture over medium heat until most of the liquid is gone, checking your seasonings as it cooks.  Keep in mind that the Worcestershire and Pickapeppa will add a salty element, you may want to balance that will a little more black pepper.  I also like to use the reduced sodium broths to control some that that flavor.

Add the Panko to the pan and stir.  If your filling seems a  little loose or you have extra moisture, add more Panko.

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Time for stuffing!  Fill your boiled peppers with the stuffing. I like to pack them fairly tight but as I mentioned earlier, if your peppers don’t stand well, use some of the stuffing to brace the peppers in the baking dish. Those bits in the dish get nice and toasty as a little tasty bonus.

Top the peppers with the cheese.  Provolone slices are nice, but shredded cheese works just as well.

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Bake the peppers for 5-10 minutes.  I like to then broil the cheese for a couple minutes for that extra toasty cheese texture.

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Remove from the oven, plate and serve with your choice of sides.

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So what’s your favorite stuffed pepper?  I want to hear what you think!


Full Recipe

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

  • Olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 4-8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3-4 bell peppers for stuffing
  • 3 T Pickapeppa or steak sauce
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup Panko or breadcrumbs
  • Provolone slices or shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Deseed peppers for stuffing, saving tops/sides to chop.

Boil peppers until desired softness, 6-7 minutes.

Add EVOO to a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the onion, chopped bell pepper and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes or until crisp tender.

Add the ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook 5-6 minutes or until no longer pink.  

Drain off any fat.

Stir in the Pickapeppa, beef broth and Worcestershire.

Cook over medium heat until most of  liquid is gone and check the seasonings.

Add Panko/breadcrumbs to desired consistency.

Stuff the pepper halves with filling.

Top with provolone slices or shredded cheese.

Bake 5-10 minutes, broil tops as desired.