About a month ago I was really craving some Tex-Mex and wrote to my friend Jack, who lives in San Antonio and told him I needed some new recipe ideas. I wanted to know what his wife cooked or what his favorite meals are. He told me that his two favorite things are green chili pork and Carne Guisada. But he didn't have a recipe. I guess his wife just wings it! So I started searching. I came up with what I thought would be 3 reputable Tex-Mex cooks and naturally, their recipes all varied. So I further narrowed it down to the closest 2 recipes and sort of did a combination of both of their recipes. I used Homesick Texan (Lisa Fain) I've long been a fan of her website because she obsesses over Tex-Mex the way I do. The other recipe I used came from Robb Walsh, who is the author of The Tex-Mex Cookbook. My apologies go out to both of them for altering their great recipes.
Remember I live in the sticks. Therefore I can't always find the ingredients that I need but I improvised.
Here is what I used:
2 pounds of sirloin tips, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (Lisa swears by chuck or bottom round and she uses 4 pounds)
2 Tablespoons oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced (you'll notice that missing in this pic)
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 can of diced tomatoes (or 3 fresh tomatoes, diced)
1-2 jalepenos, diced
1-2 serrano chilis, minced (I couldn't find this)
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 Tablespoon of Chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 bottle of dark Mexican beer (couldn't find so I settled for Dos XX)
1 T. flour (optional)
2 cups water (I decided to substitute chicken stock for extra flavor)
1 pound of small red potatoes cut into 1/2 inch cubes. (I didn't used this. Lisa doesn't either)
The deal with the peppers is... I ended up raiding my friend's pepper plant because I was watering for her and they needed to be picked!
The Coke Zero is for me to drink so I'll stay out of the Dos XX. :)
This seams like a lot of ingredients but really it wasn't that bad! I browned my beef pieces and then removed from the pan and then sauteed my onions, peppers, and garlic. Then I put the beef back into the pan and added everything except the flour and the fresh cilantro. Those will go in towards the end.
Here is what The Homesick Texan had to say:Throw in the browned beef, add the herbs, spices, water, tomatoes and beer and mix everything really well. Turn up the heat to high, bring the stew to a boil and then turn heat down to low and simmer for five hours, stirring occasionally. At this point, some of the meat will have turned to strings thus thickening the gravy.
Note: If you want your meat to be distinct cubes rather than strings, lessen the cooking time. If you cook the stew for less time, you may also need to add some flour to thicken the gravy. Take out a 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, stir into it a 1 tablespoon of flour and then incorporate this back into the stew. Stir until gravy has thickened. Also, I like my meat in big stringy chunks, but if you prefer smaller pieces, cut the meat into 1/2 inch cubes.
So that's just what I did (I did end up using the flour at the end) and here's what mine turned out looking like! voila! or rather Ole! :)
You are welcome to serve this up with beans and rice but we didn't need that much food and we were starving by the time this got done. So I heated some tortillas and, no, they weren't low carb :( I feel like a low carb failure. But some things are just worth it.
I tossed some chopped fresh cilantro in at the end for the bright green color and fresh flavor. I even had sour cream out but neither of us wanted to use it.
I have no idea how this is supposed to taste because I've never had it. But it was delicious! And I would do it again, only next time I'd make sure I have all the right ingredients.
This will be perfect for the days or nights during football season!! (Boomer Sooner!)
This is a Johnnie's #9 Theta Burger.
I have been on a quest to make theta sauce like they have at Johnnie's Charbroiler in Oklahoma City. My family is not quite as into this as I am but they've been good sports in helping me with taste tests and trips back to the grocery store for more ingredients.
I think of this sauce as being a cult classic. Why? Because it's locally famous and there is mystery. The sauce is top secret and it's said that the owner makes the batches himself so that the secret will be safe. Whether this is true or not, I don't know but what I do know is that I can't find the recipe and I've searched HARD. You have no idea how relentless I can be when I get my mind set. I discovered while researching that story has it this sauce was first made at the Town Tavern in Norman, Oklahoma on Campus Corner in the 1930's and 1940's. I read on Johnnie's website that Johnnie did get his start at the Split-T (also known as the T Bar) in Oklahoma City in the 1950's. Then in 1971 the first Johnnie's opened in Oklahoma City. In 1981 he opened another location in Edmond and thank goodness he did because if he hadn't I might not have ever had this wonderful creation. I used to go eat there with my parents starting around 1985.
Then, not long ago on trip to Norman the kids and I stopped in at The Mont to eat. I about did a back flip when I saw a theta burger on their menu. But my excitement turned to disappointment with my first taste. It was a barbeque sauce, and not the sauce I love so much. That's when I decided I had to find this recipe and make it myself. The problem is... I met a brick wall. Johnnie's sauce is unique and other restaurants may claim to have theta burgers but it's just not the same sauce.
Here's the thing: It is NOT barbeque sauce. PERIOD. It's a hickory sauce.
What the heck is the difference you may ask.. The difference is that theta sauce is more tomato based and is saucy but definitely not "barbequey". You have probably already figured out that I care WAAAAAYY to much about this sauce. haha. I can even picture in my mind the texture of the sauce. So based on my faint memory of what I'd had years before I set out to conquer this.
The first batch was based on a recipe that someone else had posted on the internet. So you can guess what was wrong with it... It had barbeque sauce in it. 4 bottles no less!
I had to send my kids back to the store for ingredients. My second batch about set everyone on fire. I remembered the Johnnie's sauce being slightly hot.
Meanwhile we start moving furniture to my kid's apartment and that's when I discover the Johnnie's Charbroiler in Norman! (thank you God!) I got my burger fix and my Johnnie's ice tea fix. It's the best.
But then I realized that the sauce really wasn't hot like I remembered.
Another trip to the store... and this time I figured this could be a long process so I bought the jumbo can of tomato sauce. I
made my third batch and by golly I got so close that I couldn't wait for my husband to come home so he could do a taste test and tell me if I was right. He gave me two thumbs up! It's not Johnnie's recipe but it's close enough for me! (and I'm a theta snob).
Now. Here's the next part. The cheese. They have these cheese shreds that are BIG. And what kind of cheese? I have made this two ways. I've used colby and I've used American. I really think I like colby cheese the best. But that's just me. Either way it's good. I'll never be able to have a burger just like theirs because I don't have a char-broiler. (dang it)
A #9 theta burger comes with cheese, pickles, and mayo, and sauce. You gotta at least try it once. My son wasn't wild about the pickles.
Someday I'm going to have to have help in doing a blind taste test. But I probably need to wait at LEAST a month because I'm getting sort of burned out. So here's the recipe!! Hope you like it!!
2 12 oz. cans of tomato sauce
1 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke
1 1/2 tsp. hot sauce (such as Tabasco, etc.)
1/2 cup of ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp of garlic powder
1 tsp of salt
Serve sauce while warm
In a large saucepan (I used my Le Crueset stock pot) heat all of the ingredients. I stirred frequently with a whisk to ensure the ingredients mixed well. I also let it simmer as long as I could so it would thicken up some. My arm couldn't take it for more than an hour. I recommend not walking away because this stuff bubbles up like the La Brea tar pits. (Did they bubble? hmm) anyway it's thick and will splatter and make a mess if you walk away for long.
This does make a lot of sauce but you can freeze the left-overs so you'll have some for the next time.
One more suggestion: If you decided to add a little bit more of this or that just do it in small increments so you don't waste an entire batch. Also give it time for the flavors to completely blend before you decide if it's enough of a certain ingredient.
I first had orzo pasta salad many years ago at The Twisted Fork in Tulsa at Utica Square. I don't even know if they serve it anymore. That had to have been in the early 90's when I first had this. I was only able to find orzo at Whole Foods in Austin and so I set about trying to copy their recipe. Since then I've made this several times and the ingredients change according to what is fresh and in season.
Mom's of picky eaters take note: One time I had this in my refrigerator and a friend who was a very picky eater came over and fell in love with this dish. That particular time I had been short on time so instead of chopping my veggies by hand I gave them a few pulses in my food processor. This person never knew there was carrot, squash, zucchini, spinach, and onion in there! It was flavorful without big obvious pieces of veggies.. so, try this out on your kids!
For this dish I used about 101-15 spinach leaves, diced bell pepper, 1/2 small red onion, 1 minced garlic clove, halved tomatoes, diced cucumber, feta cheese, toasted pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and Italian dressing, and of course cooked Orzo.
You can add a couple of different types of chopped olives for a more Greek version of pasta salad.
To toast the pine nuts, put them on a pan under the broiler but
DO NOT WALK AWAY!
It takes such a short period of time for them to begin browning. This took less than 2 minutes.
As you can tell, I finely diced the veggies. That was half of a small red onion but I really would use 1/4 next time. And my garlic clove was gigantic! I loved these little grape tomatoes!
Just cook your orzo according to the directions on the package. I used a cup and a half. After the orzo is cooked rinse thoroughly in cold water until the pasta is no longer hot. Then drain well.
Put the orzo in a bowl and toss with just enough salad dressing to coat the orzo. This used maybe 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Then add the remaining ingredients and stir. Add the parmesan cheese last. This salad is best when refrigerated for a while before serving but you'll have a hard time not nibbling on it! If it seems like maybe it's not sticking and seems to "wet" just toss in some dried bread crumbs. :)
I've experimented with making my own dressing for this but really, why? It's just as good if you use a bottled dressing.
This is the perfect dish for a summer gathering! Enjoy!!
It seems like I can't go into Petty's in Tulsa without picking up some of their stuffed pork chops from their meat department. Every time I cook them I always think to myself.. I can do this! Why don't I do this?
When I was in our local butcher shop a couple of days ago I saw some beautiful butterfly thick cut pork chops and I was immediately inspired to try my own stuffed pork chops. But I wanted mine to be better! I like theirs and all ,but you know I'm a spice girl. So I started thinking of what I wanted to stuff them with. Just like the last recipe, their are about a 50 different flavor combinations you could do. I had originally planned to just stuff them with veggies and herbs. I'm trying to eat low carb you see! But in the end the cornbread stuffing won out. It HAD to be done.
Savory Stuffed Pork Chops
And don't ask me why, but when I jumped off that low carb train I must have bumped my head because I decided to also throw in baby potatoes.
My favorite way of making pork chops has always been to braise them on the stove top then cook in the oven. That method has always produced fork-tender meat.
I happen to have this braising pan (which I'm in love with) but I've also used a casserole pan and covered with foil or use a pyrex dish with a lid. It all works the same.
1. saute your veggies for your stuffing. I used 2 scallions and 2 celery stalks, chopped. Saute them for 2-5 minutes in 1 tsp. of butter.
2. Add spices and garlic, mix well.
3. Add chopped bacon. I just cooked mine super quick in the micowave.
4. Add your cornbread and mix well. If It's a little dry you can add a little bit of chicken broth.
Since I was having to handle the pork chops a lot I used gloves.
Using a sharp knife cut a pocked in your pork chop.
Then stuff! I was able to use all of the stuffing.
For some reason I forgot to take pictures of the pan searing process. But here's what you do: Heat oil in skillet. I used regular canola oil and not olive oil because I was working at a med-high heat and didn't want it to smoke.
Season the outside of the pork chops with salt and pepper and then sear each side of the pork chop. I had 3 in the pan at a time just so I had room to work when turning them. I did end up losing some of the stuffing but that was no biggie. There was plenty in there! You really don't want to cook them for very long- it's just to seal in the juices. A quick sear is all you need.
Put all of the pork chops back into the pan you are going to use in the oven.
I added about a cup of chicken broth to the bottom of the pan for moisture. I also added the baby potatoes but you don't have to do that if you don't want to. I also used from fresh cut herbs from the back yard. Place in a preheated oven at 350 and place your covered dish in the oven and cook for about an hour.
This picture didn't turn out all that well. But I just served this with some fresh steamed broccoli. That took maybe 5 minutes to make tops!
The pork chops were very tender as were the potatoes. It got thumbs up all around the table.
Before you serve, pluck out the herbs you stuck in there. Although they were fragrant during the cooking process they are not very pretty at the end of the cooking process. I replaced them with fresh herbs before serving.
btw.. did I mention it's Shark Week??
6 thick cut pork chops
2 scallions (or 1 medium size onion), diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 Tablespoon of poultry seasoning
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. of chopped dried rosemary
1 cup chicken stock
4 strips crisp bacon, crumbled
1 box Jiffy Cornbread Mix (prepared according to package directions)
1/2 cup Canola oil
Oven Roasted Herb Potatoes:
One bag of baby yukon gold potatoes (can also use fingerling potatoes, or baby red potatoes)
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 package of ranch dressing mix
mix oil, ranch mix, and potatoes in a bag and toss to mix.
Bake covered at 350 for one hour - uncover for the last few minutes to get a crispier texture.
Need a change in your dinner routine? Tired of grilling steaks, burger, brats, and chicken? Try these! You can do many flavor combinations to change it up to your liking.
I usually make mine with olive oil, herbs, baby spinach leaves, and parmesan cheese but yesterday I had to branch out and try something different.
I usually buy my flank steak from Sam's Club. It's bigger than what I find in my local grocery stores. Flank Steak is rectangle shaped- so I take the meat and put the skinny end towards me and then cut halfway through the meat but stopping just short of cutting all the way through. This way you can open it like a book. I cover it with plastic wrap and pound it out with my meat tenderizer. This is a great stress reliever! Then you place your filling on the meat and roll it up. But I had major issues yesterday. I should have known my meat didn't look like a large enough cut of meat but then the butcher told me he'd already cut it. I got it home, unfroze it , and discovered that it wasn't cut at all. And it was small. Too small to cut. So I just had to pound out what I had on hand and make do.
See what I mean? eek. Little.
I drizzled olive oil and some italian herbs on the meat and that's about the time I went to the fridge and discovered I had no baby spinach. All that was left was in a bowl of left over salad. I decided to go ahead and try to use the few pieces I could salvage out of it but it was slim pickens~ so I decided I needed another ingredient to liven these up. That's when I came up with this.
It had a strong scent so I decided that just a little bit would go a long way!
So I added my pieces of spinach and then in a flash of brilliance (lol) I decided to add prosciutto. Hey, why not? I had it on hand. Then I grated some fresh parmesan cheese on top.
The you roll it up as tightly as you can. Mine.. not so tight.
I then wrapped it in plastic wrap and refrigerated it for a little while.
Then cut it in about inch wide pieces. Use toothpicks to secure.
The end pieces aren't so pretty. You could discard the ends if you like but since I had such a small cut of flank steak I decided to use them.
Grill just as you would a steak, 2-3 minutes on each side is plenty of time.
Serve it up! We had a wedge of iceberg lettuce with blue cheese and bacon crumbles. A nice break from our usual dinner salad.
Life on the lake is laid back. When we cook it's far from being fancy affair. It's all about relaxing with friends and family and enjoying comfort food. More often than not it's not all that healthy but boy it sure is good!!!
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