Taking Matters into Your Own Grinder

The Engineer and I are facing a slight crisis….our supply of ground elk and deer is dwindling dangerously low.  We have plenty of steaks and roasts, but our tubes of ground meat are quickly disappearing!

How are we supposed to make tacos without ground meat!?!

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Accurate depiction of The Engineer and I as I demand avocado on my tacos….except he is a crunchy taco and I am a soft taco!

Now I know that I could make steak tacos….pulled pork tacos…chicken tacos…fish tacos……

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ALL OF THE TACOS!

Trust me, we make tacos a ton and in a wide variety of flavors and styles.  However, some tacos require planning and forethought.  I’m not always the best at taking things out of the freezer to thaw in advance, but a pound of frozen solid ground meat is just easy to toss straight into a frying pan!  Basically, having a reliable stash of ground meat in my house is a requirement.

The Engineer bought me a grinding attachment for my Kitchen Aide for Christmas because I had grand visions of getting into sausage making.  I have yet to make a batch of sausage, and so the grinder had just been waiting patiently in a kitchen cabinet to be used for something delicious.  Last weekend we decided to test out the grinder and tackle our meat issue head on!

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First things first….thaw out a giant roast!  When The Engineer had his elk processed in Canada, it was cheaper to just get it cut into large roasts.  This makes total sense and is fine, except that the two of us don’t necessarily need to cook up a 4-5 pound roast for a nice dinner at home!  Also, don’t worry if the meat isn’t totally thawed.  The colder, even still slightly frozen, the better.  Also, if you’re going to add additional fat into your ground meat….that fat needs to be frozen!

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The little lurker quickly noticed that tasty meat scraps come out of the grinder after every round of processing….there is always a little morsel left in the auger!

 

The grinder worked great!  I had read some questionable reviews so I didn’t really know what to expect, and I had emotionally prepared to spend most of the day fighting and struggling to get the meat processed.  It was such a smooth process I wish we had thawed out more meat and we could have just done it all at once.  We ground the meat twice, once through the coarse blade, and a second time through the fine.  I’m not sure that a second grind is required if you’re just planning on tacos, chili, casseroles, and such with the meat, but it’s the typically recommended procedure.  Between the rounds of grinding I took apart the grinder and cleaned it out.  It had built up a little ring of tendon, fat, and meat right behind the grind plate, but it was easy to just clean out.  Also, once the flow of meat stops moving down the auger, a small chunk was left that couldn’t be pushed through the grind plate….no biggie and Scout really appreciated the snacks!

The only slight issue we had is that no store in town stocked the “Sausage Kit” with the filling nozzles.  Minor setback, and it worked pretty well to just hold the bags and let the ground meat sort of just fall into the bottom.  Actually, once the bags had some meat in them they sort of just sat themselves up.  Easy peasey lemon squeezey!

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4 beautiful little tubes of ground elk all ready for delicious things!

Now, if you’re looking for a tasty way to use up some ground meat….might I suggest Mexican Stuffed Peppers!

Ingredients:

  • Drizzle of olive oil (Only needed for wild game as it is super lean and sticks)
  • 1lb ground meat
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cooked rice or quinoa
  • 1 can Original Rotel
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp cumin and chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper…or to taste if your spice sensitive
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheese, plus 2/3 cup additional for topping
  • 3 large bell peppers

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add meat and onion.  Cook over medium until the meat is fully cooked and the onion is soft.  Add the garlic, Rotel, rice, beans, and all spices to the skillet and mix to combine.  Turn heat off and allow to sit to cool and the flavors to meld for a couple minutes.  Divide peppers in half through the stem and remove all seeds.  Immediately before “stuffing”, stir 2/3 of cheese into the meat mixture.

Divide the mixture evenly between all the peppers….don’t worry about being too neat.  They will be large and in charge!  Sprinkle the tops with the additional cheese, if desired, cover with foil, and bake at 370 for about 30-35 minutes.  I like a crispy, brown, cheesy crust so I uncovered them for an additional 5 minutes.  The cooking time will be reduced if you have smaller peppers, just cook until the peppers are soft and tender.

Serve immediately with any of your favorite taco toppings!  I did avocado….OF COURSE!…..and The Engineer likes his with taco sauce and sour cream.

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Quick Costco Enchiladas

A couple weeks ago, The Engineer and I bought some Good Foods jalapeño artichoke dip from Costco.  By some, I of course mean a Costco sized amount……33 oz.  It wasn’t really the best for just eating….flavor wise, but it got me thinking that it might work to make some enchiladas.  Yesterday we made a trip to Costco to gather up the rest of the necessary supplies.  It was our first actual “shopping” trip to Costco.  We had been before, but yesterday involved a cart and an actual list!  We looked like actual adults who know what they are doing in life…..it was amazeballs.

I made them today and they were good….and easy….which was ideal because I spent most of the day being a bit on the hungover side of life.  Apparently last nights concert was just a bit too much for me.  Since I’d never made them before, and we were trying to use up some dip we didn’t like I wasn’t sure they would turn out.  I didn’t take any pictures of the process, but honestly it’s easy enough you don’t need much in the way of instructions.

THE THINGS YOU’LL NEED

  • 1 Rotisserie Chicken
  • Jalapeño Artichoke Dip
  • Half an Onion
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Tortillas (about 10)
  • 2 4oz cans of diced green chilies
  • 2 cans of red enchilada sauce
  • Garlic Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Chile Powder
  • Salt and Pepper

First things first, you’ll need to shred the chicken.  I removed the skin and then just ripped the meat into bite sized pieces, but there’s no need to be too specific about anything.  Place all the chicken into a large bowl so that the other ingredients can be added to it and mixed well.  After you have the chicken shredded up, add approximately half of the jalapeño artichoke dip.  I didn’t measure as I added, but it was 4 large dollops……enough to sort of moisten everything and get it to combine.  It ended up being about half of the container of dip.  Dice half of an onion and throw that in the mix as well as the two drained cans of diced chilies.  At this point, you can season to taste…..I ended up adding maybe 1.5 teaspoons of garlic, cayenne, and paprika, maybe 1.5 tablespoons of chili powder, and a good amount of salt and pepper.  The Engineer thought they were a bit hot, I thought they were good….so just season to your own taste.  He also decided that he wanted to add some shredded cheese into the mix as well….so we stirred in maybe half a cup.

This can be prepped ahead of time.  I just threw the bowl in the fridge and let everything sit and combine together for most of the day while we napped, watched Netflix, and attempted to recover.

To assemble, spray a 9×13 glass baking dish with non-stick spray.  Scoop a generous amount of the chicken and cheese mixture into the center of a tortilla.  Roll and place into the baking dish.  We fit 9 tortillas into the baking dish, but it was a bit of a squishy fit.  This left one tortilla and one tortilla worth of chicken mixture.  We rolled it up with a small splash of enchilada sauce and tossed it into the freezer.  It will make a good, quick lunch for one of us eventually.  Honestly, you could probably just roll and freeze them all into chicken queso burritos if you wanted something that could just be thrown in the microwave fast for on the go lunches.

Cover with the two cans of enchilada sauce and a generous sprinkling of shredded cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 mins until everything is hot, melted together, and delicious.  Let cool a few minutes before serving to let them firm up a bit.  The Engineer had his with sour cream and a little extra cheese, I just had mine plain out of the pan.

Chicken…..It’s What’s for Dinner

It’s been a few weekends since I saw my Main Squeeze, but he came to visit this weekend…..so, naturally I had to feed him!!  Our running joke is that he only eats chicken, because that’s all he wanted to eat the first weekend he came to see me.  Before I fed him, he decided he needed to take me out on an actual date, so Friday night that’s what we did.  We headed downtown for pizza and drinks……nothing like a night on the town with my Squeeze!!

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Saturday night was chicken dinner at home before some quality time with my Squeeze, my Bitch Faced Bestie, the Hubby in Law, and Cards Against Humanity.  A easy and favorite recipe is Chicken Parmesan, so I decided that I’d make that and some fancy Pinterest inspired garlic pull apart bread.  It’s one of those recipes that comes out of the oven looking fancy, but it’s really quite simple to put together.  Best yet, it’s fast.  It takes about half an hour for me to get it all prepped and in the oven baking away.

We waited a bit late in the day to start making dinner, so we were hungry by the time it came out of the oven.  I didn’t stop to take pictures of the finished products…..sorry about that!

Things you will need:

  • 1/2 Italian Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Package Chicken Breasts or Tenderloins
  • 1 Jar of Spaghetti Sauce
  • 1 Pound Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Italian Spices : Basil, Thyme, Garlic Powder, Cayenne
  • Small Loaf of Bread
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Tbs Olive Oil Plus More for Frying the Chicken
  • 3 Tbs Butter 

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I bought one of the “Bake at Home” loaves of bread, so I threw that in the oven for 15 minutes while I got the chicken prep ready.  Honestly, I’m not sure it did much of anything for the bread, and considering that you’re stuffing the bread with yumminess and putting it in the oven, I’d probably skip that step when I do this again.

Get your chicken started by setting up your breading station.  I like to add salt and pepper to the flour and jazz up the bread crumbs by adding a good dash of all the Italian spices.  Even if I buy the “Italian” breadcrumbs, I still add extra spice!  Crack the egg into a dish, add a splash of water, and beat to mix.  Then just process your chicken through the three stations.  Flour, egg, crumbs!  Place the chicken in a large pan with a generous amount of olive oil over medium to medium high heat.  Cook just to brown up the breading and create a nice crust.  Don’t worry about cooking the chicken through, the oven will take care of that.

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Open the sauce and add a thin layer to your favorite baking pan.  I find a normal 9×13 to be a bit large for a single package of chicken, but it would certainly work.  I have a smaller Pyrex baker I use.  I have to squish the chicken in a bit, but it works just fine!  Once the chicken has been browned on both sides, place it into the baking pan on top of the sauce.  Continue the breading, cooking, placing process until all of you chicken is in the baking dish.  Use the remaining sauce to cover the chicken, and top with about 3/4 of the bag of shredded cheese.  You could get fancy and top the chicken with a mix of Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, but I didn’t have any Parm in the house.  Bake at 375 for about 30-35 minutes until the cheese is melted and browned, and the chicken is cooked through.

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Using a bread knife…….which I don’t actually own…..slice the bread in 1 inch diagonal sections twice, you’ll end up with small diamonds that you can pull out and eat.  Just don’t cut all the way through the loaf, just go down to the bottom crust.  I’ve decided that I think it’s impossible to keep the bread looking nice and poofy and cute once this is all done.  Just accept the slight visual fail because it tastes the same, even if it’s a bit smooshed.

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Place the minced garlic, butter, and 2 Tbs of olive oil in a small sauté pan.  Melt everything together and cook the garlic slightly, stirring often to ensure the garlic doesn’t burn.  While that’s going, stuff the remaining 1/4 pound of shredded cheese, or cheese blend, into the slices.  Place the loaf on a piece of foil, and drizzle the garlic oil over the whole thing.  Tent with a piece of foil, and toss the whole thing into the oven.  Cook 10 minutes covered and an additional 5-10 uncovered to brown up the cheese.

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It was an easy and cute at home date night.

Yes, you’ll end up with garlic breathe, but at least you’ll have garlic breathe together!