Friday, February 28, 2014

Rendering Tallow {Quick Method}

Oh, how to find eloquent enough words to describe the slightly repugnant process of rendering tallow? First off, maybe we could begin with what tallow is. Tallow is the rendered fat that surrounds the kidneys in an animal such as a cow. Once rendered, the fat is very similar to lard in appearance and functionality in the kitchen and it has a high smoke point. Which makes tallow an ideal candidate for deep-frying foods, like french fries. In fact, according to Wikipedia, McDonald's used tallow to fry it's world famous french fries until the early 90's when the no-fat fad became the newest obsession. Some people use the unrendered tallow as suet or food for birds. But, I'm not like most people. I use it for cooking because it is a rich source of CLA fat, an anti-cancer fighting agent. Terriffic! Bring on the tallow! According to Tallow is an excellent source of niacin, vitamins B6, B12, K2, selenium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and riboflavin. Grassfed beef tallow contains high ratio of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is a cancer-resistant agent. Contrary to the popular conception, tallow is good for health as tallow fat is similar to the fat/muscles in the heart. Recent studies have shown that human beings need at least 50% of saturated fats like tallow and lard to keep the heart pumping hale and healthy. Tallow from pasture-raised cows also contains a small amount of Vitamin D, similar to lard. 

But seriously, people - this isn't for the faint of heart. I'm leaving all photos small because no one wants to see rendering tallow in photos up close.  After a quick web search on rendering tallow I was barely patient enough to find two different methods. One method ground the tallow in a food processor, my processor has a 4-cup capacity. Guess how long grinding 8 pounds of tallow would take? Three days. No thanks. The second method suggested boiling the chopped fat in water first. I see how that adds no benefit. Let's review. Too small of a food processor and boiling in water takes too much time. Let's plow on with the Becki Let's Just Try It My Way and See How it Goes Method!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sausage & Orzo Stuffed Delicata Squash

Minnesota has me in a funk today. The trees have lost all their leaves becoming brown, withered, boring and sad - leaving no hope for life. The lawn is frozen solid so when you prance across there is no give whatsoever - leaving no anticipation of a mid-afternoon lawn wrestle with these cuties. The temps are bitter and the wind whips through the windows like Old Man Winter is right around the corner, He was here, but melted in 3 days. I prefer dazzling white to brown, withered and sad. The negativity abounds this evening. There is no hope of sun. Ever. Again.

I'm sitting here, staring out the window, asking myself the age old question: Is this all there is? It's horrible. So I googled becoming a Food Scientist. That lasted all of 3.6 seconds after I discovered a background in physics and calculus is recommended. Let's just stop while we're ahead, mmmK?

Now that I've completely depressed you and myself even further let's commence to stare at the first photo I captured of this beautiful delicata squash! Isn't it pretty? I know!!!!!! Makes me hungry!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Chocolate Chip Kale Cookies

I've just put kale into a cookie. I'm fairly certain I literally never thought I would say those words in a complete sentence together, but I just did. The recipe is from a super cute cookbook 50 Shades of Kale by Drew Ramsey & Jennifer Iserloh that I received for Christmas this year. The cookbook does a little spoof on the book it's obviously based on and ties up kale in S&M chains and whips. Very kitchy. But, the most exciting part is all the kale! When I saw that kale was in a cookie I was seriously hooked. I counted the days, minutes, seconds before I could eat this cookie. It seemed like years before I actually got my food processor out and chopped those kale leaves I so lovingly blanched this summer into teeny little flecks of green that my sweet little men surely wouldn't recognize as something healthy and would straightaway devour. Fortunately I was saved from eating 2 dozen Chocolate Chip Kale Cookies because everyone approved of this cookie! Even the hubs. He jokingly wondered what I would next put into a cookie as I was chopping up kidney offal for a separate project I'll be sure to tell you about soon! But, for now...back to cookies!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tomato Basil Soup

There can be nothing more comforting than pulling from the freezer bright orange, yellow and red once juicy tomatoes and fragrant, lively basil putting them together and eating them in the middle of a February snow storm that just. will. not. go. away. We've officially earned the title MinnSNOWta this winter. Serisouly ridiculous. I look outside and all I see is a real life snow globe. I'm sure this isn't fair to the loves of my life, but sometimes I dream of where my husband and I will retire to the minute we are empty nesters. Sedona? Palm Springs? Fort Meyers? And those are the things that get a woman through. Besides eating bright, fresh and lively flavors mid-winter snow storm. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bacon & Spinach Quiche

I wish I could tell you that I formed that beautiful ridge on this Bacon & Spinach Quiche, but I didn't. A computer-operated machine in a factory did. But I just need to say - For The Record - I usually roll out my own crust with lard, but during the holiday's the mark-down at the grocery store for these babies is like stealing, so I steal a couple and put my homemade aspirations aside for the sake of thriftiness and convenience. 

After the awkwardness of having this weirdly shaped and seriously breakable item in my freezer for 3 months got to me bad, I decided it was time to give this crust some meaning. A quiche! What better way to provide fast breakfast to my family? Easy lunch. Light supper. It's a 3-4-1. And the fillings are endless. It's just an easily learned method. And I'm here to tell you about it. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Smitten Kitchen Brownies

How about a recipe that's fitting for Valentine's Day? Would that be anything with chocolate? Growing up my dad would give us a small chocolate Whitman's heart every Valentine's Day. Unfortunately for me, I found out after reminiscing about those lovely memories it wasn't my father, but my mother who was providing the Whitman's. So depressing. So, no, I'm not going to wax on about how much I love to hate Valentine's Day. How much ridiculous pressure it puts on our men. The outrageous price of red roses and women's expectations to receive them. The day of love when all you really want is someone to pick up the toys so you don't trip and kill yourself and maybe unload the dishwasher so you don't have to do it for what feels like the gazillionth time, but you're suppose to want a dozen roses that are going to die in a week, but cost the price of a pair of Lululemon leggings and that's what you really want. No, I wouldn't share all that here in this space because that would be really weird and a total over share. So I'll just share chocolate with you. And theeese iiiis some guuuud chocolate (that's me impersonating a Mexican chihuahua). You're not still here, are you? If you are, get out. Now. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Kale & Cheese Pinwheels

Ever since I vowed to put kale on my radar I've been doing a pretty good job and sadly, the frozen kale that I blanched this summer is dwindling, so in my next posts you may not see as much kale, but I assure you other green things will always be present in my kitchen making their way into the blogosphere, because this laugh out loud Slate article said I should be on an All Kale Diet if I want to have true meaning to my life.

As far as recipes that incorporate kale go, I'd say this one has got to be the least healthy - not really earning any real superfood points because kale enveloped in puff pastry can't really be categorized as a superfood for the fact that puff pastry negates the kale with pure butter, fat, and empty calories which I'm fairly certain Dr. Oz suggests you should eat all superfoods in that way if you're having a difficult time eating enough superfoods. And if you're wondering if kale really is the superfood its been cracked up to be for the last 5 years this article proves and explains all the beautiful aspects of kale you never knew you needed to know. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Cashew Stir-Fry with Mushrooms & Bok Choy

Craving a quick, mid-week meal that is full of flavor, filling and healthy (but not too healthy - as in - no flavor, totally boring and makes you just want to dive into a box of Milk Duds)? Well, look no further because I'm here to give you just that meal.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Kale, Sweet Potato, & Bacon Bow Tie Pasta

I am having major writer's block while trying to brainstorm enough words to make a post on this absolutely delicious pasta. But words are leaving me. Blank brain. Fingers just keep moving and after about 8 minutes you'll have unwittingly typed up enough describing details to make people want to eat kale. And sweet potatoes. And bacon. And pasta. Because after I get to thinking about eating this pasta my fingers are seemingly moving very fast because this pasta was delicious! And healthy! And easy to make! So get excited people.