Monday, July 11, 2016

Swiss Steak

Swiss Steak with Stewed Tomatoes
Another old fashioned favorite that I hadn’t fixed in quite a while. I was inspired to make it after discovering no salt added stewed tomatoes at my local Safeway market. I thought the celery and onions in the stewed tomatoes would give the final dish additional flavor (and cut down on chopping). It all came together quickly and turned out to be a great meal.

I picked up some top round steak and asked the grocery store butcher to run it through the meat tenderizer machine twice. So no worries about tough meat. I dredged the meat in flour and fried it in oil until browned on both sides. I also added some quartered mushrooms that needed to be used up. Plopped in the stewed tomatoes, some minced garlic, a couple of bay leaves, some dried savory, a packet of NSA beef bouillon granules, and a couple of teaspoons of low sodium Worcestershire sauce. I also dropped in a tea ball containing a couple of allspice berries and about a teaspoon of whole black peppercorns. Everything simmered for about an hour, until the meat was tender and the sauce had thickened slightly.

It would have been wonderful with mashed potatoes or buttered noodles. Unfortunately, I didn’t have either at the time, so I ended up serving it with some vegetables. All in all, a tasty meal and easy to prepare. The key ingredients were the already tenderized meat and the NSA stewed tomatoes (cube steak and NSA diced tomatoes would work just as well). For a change of pace, next time I’ll try Safeway’s NSA Italian Style Diced Tomatoes with basil, garlic, onion, and oregano already included.

This was one of those “throw-together” meals that didn’t follow a real recipe, but here are the basics:

Swiss Steak
4 – 6 servings
(Printable Recipe)

1½ – 2 pounds round steak (have butcher run through tenderizer twice)
14 ounce can NSA tomatoes (I used NSA stewed tomatoes)
2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 2 bay leaves, depending on size
1 teaspoon favorite dried herb or spice blend (I used savory)
Pepper to taste
1 small onion, chopped (if not using flavored tomatoes)
Sliced fresh mushrooms (or NSA canned or freeze dried)
1 – 2 teaspoons low sodium Worcestershire sauce

Dredge steak in flour. Saute meat in oil until well browned on both sides. (If using fresh onion or mushrooms, add them to the hot pan a few minutes before browning is done.) Add tomatoes and flavorings to pan. Cover and simmer until meat is tender, about 1 – 1½ hours. Add water or broth if sauce gets too thick.

Monday, June 20, 2016


Sloppy Joe Sandwich with NSA Potato Chips
For some reason I got a hankering for an old timey favorite – Sloppy Joes. It had been years since I last made them. I didn’t even remember what recipe, if any, I used to follow. But I did remember that a pal from the GardenWeb Cooking Forum frequently posted a recipe she used from the Kansas State University Extension Service. I found it and happily realized I had everything I needed to make up a batch.

Once the ground beef was thawed, it came together easily and quickly. Paired with some homemade low sodium sandwich buns, it was a tasty meal, suitable for lunch, dinner, and family get togethers. I used all loso/NSA products, yet it was satisfyingly flavorful. Nothing bland or insipid about it at all. And the leftovers tasted just as good reheated the next day.

The sloppy joe mixture could be served on low sodium/NSA bread or biscuits instead of buns. Or used as a wrap filling for loso lavash. It'd be great with lightly steamed NSA corn tortillas or crisp taco shells. Not to mention lettuce wraps. It could also be a chunky spread/dip for loso crackers or tortilla chips. Even celery stalks. And I ate it once as a salad topping, sort of like a taco salad.

It’s one of those recipes that’s also very adaptable to what you have on hand. For example, I rarely keep fresh green peppers around, but I always have a package of the 3-pepper medley in my freezer. When I don’t have fresh onions, I’ll use dried onions if the recipe includes simmering in liquid. I also keep celery seed and dried celery flakes on hand for those times when I don’t have fresh celery in the crisper. Although tomato sauce probably works best, crushed tomatoes or diced/whole tomatoes run through the blender a bit would work just as well.

This was another one of those, “Why haven’t I made this more often?” moments. Needless to say, I’ll be including this recipe in our meal rotation, especially during the hot days of summer when slaving over a hot stove is definitely not appealing.

Sloppy Joe with NSA Potato Chips & NSA Dill Pickle
Here’s the recipe:

Sloppy Joes
Grainlady from Cooking Forum
(Printable Recipe)

½ C chopped onion
¼ C chopped green bell pepper (I use frozen pepper strips snipped into small pieces with a kitchen scissors)
¼ C chopped celery
1 LB ground beef
1 8-oz can tomato sauce (I used NSA)
¼ C catsup (I used NSA Heinz)
1 T vinegar (I used apple cider)
1 T sugar
(I also added 1 clove of crushed garlic; a dash of garlic powder would work fine too)

In a skillet, brown ground beef, onion, green pepper, and celery. Break the meat into small pieces. Brown until meat is cooked through and vegetables are slightly tender. Drain any fat or liquid from the meat mixture. Add the tomato sauce, catsup, vinegar, and sugar. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes over LOW heat. (Do not use high heat or the natural sugars in the tomato products may burn.) Add a little water if the meat mixture seems too thick. To serve, spoon the meat mixture into warm hamburger buns.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Tamale Pie - Classic American Style

American Style Tamale Pie

I love tamales. I love the meaty chili filling surrounded by masa. It’s one of my favorite things to order at a Mexican restaurant. I even like this casserole that uses a masa crust and tastes really close to the real thing. Yet, in spite of all this, I also like the old-fashioned American style Tamale Pie casserole. No attempt at trying to make it taste authentic. It’s a cornbread-like crust that tops a ground beef filling with tomatoes, bell peppers, corn, and just a hint of chili seasoning.

It had been a long time since I made Americanized tamale pie and the craving hit me recently. I started to look up recipes online but then remembered that I’d always used one from my very old Betty Crocker Cookbook. I found the recipe for “Fiesta Tamale Pie” and happily realized I had most of the ingredients on hand. It was easy to put together, easy to alter to low sodium, and the end result was quite tasty. I topped each serving with a combination of store-bought NSA pico de gallo along with some chopped avocado and extra cilantro. It was so enjoyable that I wondered why I hadn’t made it in a while. Now that I’ve rediscovered this classic and homey casserole, I know I’ll be making it more often. It’s a perfect one dish meal!

It also lends itself to lots of variations depending on what you’ve got available and what appeals to you. You could use ground turkey, chicken, or even pork instead of beef. You could substitute NSA/low sodium whole beans, especially pinto or black beans, for half or all the meat. Or you could do the same with the corn, using well rinsed hominy. Instead of regular NSA diced tomatoes, you good use unsalted Rotel for added spice. Or perhaps use some chopped jalapenos, Anaheims, or poblanos instead of all bell peppers. You could even substitute masa for half of the cornmeal in the crust.

Hot from the Oven!

Here’s my adaptation of the original Betty Crocker recipe:

Fiesta Tamale Pie
Adapted from Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook – 1961
(Printable Recipe)

I small onion, finely chopped
⅓ cup chopped green bell pepper (optional)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. ground beef
1 14 oz. can NSA diced tomatoes
2 cups NSA frozen corn (I used 1 cup corn and 1 cup rinsed hominy)
1½ tsp. NSA chili powder
½ tsp. ground cumin
10 pitted ripe olives (I used Lindsay low sodium olives – 40 mg sodium/5 olives)
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup milk
2 eggs, well beaten
½ cup grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Heat oven to 350. Saute onion, bell pepper (if using), garlic, and ground beef together until meat is cooked through and vegetables have softened. Drain excess fat. Add tomatoes (with juice), corn, and seasonings. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Pour mixture into square 9 x 9 inch casserole dish. Press olives into mixture. Combine cornmeal, milk, and eggs. Spoon over filling. If desired, sprinkle top with cheese. Bake approximately one hour until cornbread topping is fully cooked. Let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.