Saturday, March 28, 2015

Braised Beef Brisket

Braised Beef Brisket

Brisket is one of our favorite meats. I only buy it when it's on clearance because it is so costly. So needless to say when I do find it on sale, I splurge.
And I can't rave enough about this brisket recipe. It's the only one I use anymore when making brisket.
Here's what you'll need:

2 cans beef broth
2 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 cups soy sauce
2 Tablespoons liquid smoke
1/2 cup lemon juice
10 pounds beef brisket


Combine the first five ingredient in a large roasting pan. I prefer a disposable because 1) It makes clean up a lot easier. 2) The acidity in the lemon juice ate away at my metal roasting pan).
(I have made this recipe many times using just one ginormous pan, and it gets pretty hard to manhandle in and out of the fridge. Then in and out of the oven. Especially with all the liquid. So I prefer to divide it into two pans).
Stir liquid well. Place the meat (fat side up) in the roasting pan/s. You want to cook the brisket with the fat left on as to enhance the flavor. You will remove it after cooking. Cover tightly with foil.

Now place brisket in the refrigerator and let the meat marinate for 24 to 48 hours.
Preheat oven to 300*F. Place pans covered with foil on lower rack and cook approximately 40 minutes per pound.

When the brisket is fork-tender, pull out of the oven and let rest for 15 minutes. It will be too hot to slice.
This is what it will look like.

Once cool enough to handle, place the brisket on a cutting board fat side up. Remove fat, then slice.

You may store the meat in the pan with the juices. When any fat congeals after cooling, simply remove it. After slicing I store it without the juice. This recipe makes quite a bit of brisket so I like to take some and make chopped beef sandwiches out of it. Add some b-b-q sauce, and a plate of  sliced pickles and onions on the side. Yum!

Also, this brisket freezes beautifully.


Recipe adapted from thepioneerwoman.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pinto Beans - Basic Recipe + Kitchen Tip

Last week at church, one of the women shared this recipe and the idea to prepare one simple meal a week with beans and rice in order to remind us of those that are less fortunate. So, I've made it my mission in the month of March to prepare one simple meal a week to remember those who have to go without food. Statistics show 805 million people worldwide (or about 10% of the world's population) suffer from chronic undernourishment. That number is staggering. As a country, we are blessed to have so much!

Bean Benefits

Beans are filling, healthy, and chalked full of fiber.There are five significant benefits to eating legumes:
1) People who eat beans regularly lower their risk of developing heart disease.
2) Beans can reduce your risk of developing cancer. They containing cancer fighting chemicals, specifically, isoflavones and phytosterols.
3) They provide fiber which in turn lowers your cholesterol.
4) They help you feel full more quickly, and in turn make you feel fuller longer. Thus enabling weight loss and providing energy.
5) Beans actually help manage diabetes.

Beans really are a super food! :)

Bean Tips

Here are a couple of tips regarding beans.

First, it is very important to make sure your beans are fresh! Many people think beans will keep forever, but if they're not fresh they will not soften as they should when cooked.

Second, you need to soak your beans overnight in water before cooking them. This is so that they will absorb the water and begin softening. However, you don't have to soak them overnight if you follow the steps I've added below. This can be very helpful if you don't have time to soak them beforehand (like deciding to make beans that day or if you forget to soak them overnight).

Third, you can save time later by sorting your beans when you first buy them. After sorting and removing any rocks, store the dry beans in an air-tight container. This way your beans will be ready to rinse and prepare the next time you are wanting to make beans. I like to use quart sized Mason jars to store my beans so they can double as a counter top decoration. Besides that, you can use the time spent sorting beans for quiet reflection and meditation. I have even found that it can be a very calming and therapeutic activity.

Over the years I've tried several different recipes for cooking beans. I've added onion, bacon, ham, cilantro, etc. This recipe is a wonderful basic recipe for pinto beans. And plus, the cumin gives them a very pleasing flavor. Here's how:

Recipe Ingredients:

3 cups uncooked pinto beans *(See my kitchen tip)
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
3 bay leaves
1/2 Tablespoon salt


Recipe Directions:

The night before you plan to cook your beans:

1. Sort the beans and remove any rocks that may be present. (I've found it easiest by sorting 1/2 cup of beans at a time).

2. Rinse the beans well with cold water.

3. Place beans in a large pan and fill the pan with cold water until the water level is about 2 inches above the beans and allow the beans to soak overnight.

*See the Kitchen Tip below for a faster way to prepare beans that doesn't require overnight soaking.

The next morning after allowing the beans to soak overnight:

4. Rinse and drain the beans and place them in a 3-quart crock pot.

5. Add water to the crock pot so that there is enough water to cover the beans.

6. In a separate bowl, combine the cumin, garlic powder, salt, and bay leaves.

7. Add this mixture to the crock pot and stir well.

8. Cook the beans for 6-8 hours on low or for 3-5 hours on high.

9. Enjoy the beans as a side dish, or as a main dish with rice. (Remove bay leaves before serving).

* Kitchen Tip
There is a faster way to cook pinto beans that doesn't involve soaking them overnight. This does the same thing as soaking the beans overnight. See how below.

Kitchen Tip Way -

1. Sort. Remove any rocks that may be present.

2. Rinse under cold water..

3.  Add all beans to saucepan. Add cold water. (Make sure the beans are covered completely with water. They will absorb it during the cooking process).
Bring to a rolling boil. Put the lid on and remove from burner.

4. After boiling, let the beans sit covered for one hour.

5. After sitting for one hour, drain the water from the beans.

6. Add the beans to the crock pot and cover completely with cool water.

7. In a separate bowl, combine cumin, garlic powder, salt, and bay leaves.

8. Add the mixture to the crock pot and stir well.

9. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-5 hours.

10. Enjoy the beans as a side dish, or as a main dish with rice. (Remove bay leaves before serving)

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Season of Lent - Rend Your Hearts.

What is Lent?

Ash Wednesday begins the most important season of the church year, the “40 days of Lent" (not including Sundays). The word lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten, or spring, meaning the time of year when the days begin to lengthen.

Lent means a great deal to me. Not just because of its significance as the preparation of Holy Week and Easter Sunday, but also because it is a chance to examine myself including my heart, motives, and life. 

What exactly is fasting?

Fasting isn’t just about denying the physical body of nourishment. It is so much more. Fasting is a sacrifice. And however we choose to prepare our hearts, whether it is through fasting, praying, or charity, Lent is an opportunity for spiritual transformation. That is what I love most about Lent.

Sister Joan Chittister said of Lent:

"Lent is a call to weep for what we could have been, and are not. Lent is the grace to grieve for what we should have done, and did not. Lent is not about penance. Lent is the opportunity to change what we ought to change but have not. Lent is about becoming, doing and changing whatever it is that is blocking the fullness of life in us right now. Lent is a summons to live anew."  
I’ll be the first one to admit Lent is challenging. But anything worth doing shouldn’t be easy. This is a time to examine your conscience.  To make sacrifices. Lent is a time to free yourself from other vices such as sloth, being judgmental and critical of others, and even apathy. It is a time to reconnect with those relationships you’ve let become stagnant and even possibly bridge those relationships that have ended. Lent is also a time to reach out to others in charity. 

Joel 2:12-13 says –
“'Yet even now', declared the Lord, 'return to me with fasting, weeping, and mourning. And rend your heart, and not your garments,' and turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and repent of the evil. Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the Lord your God."

I particularly love the way this is stated in the amplified bible.
“'Therefore also now,' says the Lord, 'turn and keep on coming to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning [until every hindrance is removed and the broken fellowship is restored].' And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in loving-kindness; and He revokes His sentence of evil [when His conditions are met].”

What does it mean to "rend?"

To “rend” means to show an outward act. Such as the act of ripping or tearing your clothing. It means to tear, cut, split, rupture or sever. It can also mean to lacerate mentally and/or emotionally. However the outward act of rending your clothing doesn’t speak to what is in the heart. That is why I love the latter definition. People often “announce” what they’re fasting from or “giving up” for Lent. I personally think it should be kept secret in the heart. Do this for the right reasons. Not for public recognition. 

Friends, during this season of Lent, I pray that you are spiritually renewed. That you turn back to Him whose mercy is great, whose grace abounds, and whose love is immeasurable.

God bless you,