Friday, March 18, 2011

Slow Cooker Green Beans

I've been asked, begged, and even TOLD to make a post with my recipe for real, authentic, Southern green beans. While I have no written exact measurments I'm going to put up a general how to on making them so you can all sort of make it your own. :)

roughly 1lbs Fresh green beans with the ends trimmed off (I snap em off by hand and it may be a down right pain in your rear end as it's time consuming but it's worth the effort TRUST ME!!!)

1 large smoked ham hock (not a regular neck bone, not a hunk of smoked ham, just a large smoked ham me on this one)

about 1/2 a package of salt pork (now this is tricky...some say use fat back some say to use just bacon but I personally feel neither are perfect. Fat back is too...well fatty! Bacon doesn't have enough fat. Salt pork is just right. There's meat on it AND fat so it's perfect)

about 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar. Don't use white, red wine, just use Apple Cider.

Salt and pepper to taste

1tbsp minced garlic

How to do it:
You'll want to clean the green beans and as stated above snip the ends off of them. Place your ham hock and salt pork in the crock pot first. Lay your green beans over the top. I then like to take the vinegar, salt, garlic, and pepper and mix it in a measuring cup with about 2 cups of water. Then pour it over the green beans. You'll then want to fill the crock pot with enough water to cover the green beans. I do the mixing before adding because it gets difficult to stir the green beans when they are raw and everything's in the pot together. I then cover it and cook it on high for 3 hours. I then turn the crock pot to low and allow it to simmer for roughly 6-8 hours until the green beans are nice and tender. Once the beans are done remove the ham hock with a slotted spoon and any bones from it.

Now I personally prefer to leave the salt pork in there because it gives you like this little tasty surprise of meat mixed in with the beans. If you prefer you can remove them when you take out the ham hock. It's personal preference. :)

Pan Seared Rainbow Trout with Lime Cilantro Cream sauce

I made this dish the other night and my husband went ga-ga for it. I got the inspiration for it from a new cookbook I picked up at the local Borders that's going out of business. I tweaked it a bit by adding a bit more lime juice to it and some half and half to thin the cream sauce a bit and just a pinch of garlic powder. I think without the extra lime juice and garlic powder the dish wouldn't have been half as tasty. The original recipe also called for serving over a bed of fresh Corriander sprouts but that just didn't do the trick for me. My husband would have scoffed at me for putting fresh greenery on his plate so I instead opted for a mushroom rice which was actually quite tasty. You can serve it over plain rice though as I think the cream sauce would hold it's own with the rice.

8oz Sour Cream
2-3tbsp half and half
zest of 2 small limes
Juice from those limes
1/2 cup chopped fresh Cilantro
1/4 tsp of garlic powder

3-4 Large Rainbow Trout (or just trout in general)
2tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


In a blender or food processor combine the zest, lime juice, sour cream, half and half, and cilantro. Be sure to use metal blades and process it for roughly 40seconds (no may take less time with a good processor or blender). Set the cream in the fridge.

Now you're going to want to cook your Trout. This is fairly easy and doesn't take a super long time. Be sure to buy Trout that still has the skin on it as it helps to keep the fillets in tact. I like to buy about 3-4 larger fillets (about .3-.5lbs a piece) and then cut them in half. This is easy to do. I use a knife to cut the meat and then a pair of kitchen shears to cut the skin. Heat your olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place your fillets skin side down and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper to season. Sear them for only about 3 or 4 minutes. You'll know the side is done when the edges all around are white. Flip the fillets over and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the meat turns a light golden color. I like to then sandwich the fish in between some paper towels to help soak up the excess oil. This is crutial as you don't want a big greasy mess on your plate after you drizzle the cream sauce over the top.

To plate this dish I like to gently peel the skin off of the fish and lay it on a bed of either white or wild rice (wild tastes better for this sort of dish to me). Then gently drizzle your sauce over the top of the fillet and garnish with a sprig of fresh cilantro and a lime wedge.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Irish Stew

I recently made what I refer to as my "Irish Stew" to help us get in the mood for St.Patricks Day which is just around the corner. This stew is super easy and AMAZINGLY delicious. The only thing Irish about it is the use of Lamb instead of beef (which you can use beef if you so prefer it) and Guiness in the base. Let's get started.

1.5lbs Lamb Stew meat (or if you're like me and don't have the option...have your local butcher or meat counter cut a lamb roast into cubes. Be careful though. An exceptionally tender cut of Lamb will fall apart and become shredded in the stew)
2 larges potatoes diced with peel on
roughly half a bag of baby carrots chopped in half
1/2 a large onion
2 cups of Guiness
2 cups Beef stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1tsp thyme
1tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tbsp corn starch

To start off with I like to add the corn starch to the beef stock and whisk it until it's dissolved. You want to do this when the stock is at room temp or cold. Never hot as it'll clump. Add your meat and veggies into a crock pot. Mix your spices in with the stock and the guiness. Then add this to your crock pot. Cover and cook on high roughly 3-4 hours or until the veggies are tender (it's porbably going to be closer to 3). Remove the lid and turn heat to low. Cook for an additional hour with the LID OFF. This is crutcial as it allows the sauce to thicken.

This dish is amazing and can be served with any number of sides. We like it best with a rice dish and some herbed rolls. Herb Yeast Rolls are my fav but soda bread is also a good addition to sop up the sauce with.