Thai Style Beef Jerky

My kids go nuts over beef jerky, or heck any type of jerky for that matter. It almost sits on the fence of borderline ridiculous as if they have a bag of eat, they pretty much would devour the entire bag, and let’s face it, beef jerky is not that cheap. With that being said, I wanted to introduce them to a Thai style beef jerky that you often find in Asian markets, homemade to say the least. Thai style beef jerky, in my opinion, is a bit sweeter and is lightly coated with sesame seeds. Not only that but once dried, it is lightly fried giving it a wonderful chew. My kids don’t know it yet, but this stuff is a great game day snack and pairs perfectly with a cold beer. (Note, I don’t have the final photo as my kids pretty much devoured the entire batch. Regardless, you get the idea from the photos, I hope.)

Thai Style Beef Jerky Recipe
Thai Style Beef Jerky Recipe

Let’s get started.

  • 2 lbs of beef eye of round roast, or something lean
  • 1 head of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp Maggi seasoning
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • .5 oz of sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup canola oil

Start by trimming any fat away from the beef. Once removed, thinly slice the beef into about 1/8 inch slices, not too thin, but definitely not too thick. I find it best to lightly freeze the beef before slicing, and using a sharp knife as well.

To a mixing bowl, add the ginger, sugar, garlic, salt, Maggi seasoning, soy sauce, and sesame seeds. Add in the beef, and using both hands, mix really, really well. Wash those hands, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.

The following day, preheat your oven to the lowest temperature. Mine only goes down to 170, and that is fine. You can also air dry this, laying the beef on your oven racks, and using a fan to constantly blow air on them. Or, you can use your food dehydrator if you have one. I don’t, but really, really want one.

Take your oven racks out. I used all three of mine, and lay the beef along the racks. Some of my cuts were shorter, others longer, but just make sure they are not touching one another, and that they lay on the rack. This can be a bit messy, so I laid paper towel on my counter to make cleaning up a bit easier.

Carefully place the racks back into the oven, and slowly cook these for about 3-5 hours on low and until they are the texture of beef jerky.

When you are ready to make them, after the jerky phase, heat a medium skillet on medium heat, adding the oil, and place however many pieces of jerky that can fit, into the heated oil, and lightly fry for a few minutes per side. Remove, place onto some paper towel, repeat, and then dig in.

My kids were so stoked, not only that there was almost an endless amount of jerky, but a new jerky at that. The sweetness from the sugar, and that balance of ginger and garlic really make this jerky a real winner. Hope you enjoy, and if you want to donate a dehydrator for me, that would be awesome! Kidding.

Squash Lasagna

At the season’s end of our last farmer’s market, I decided to load up on a variety of squash. I’ll admit that I am not too big of a squash lover, but I did it for my wife, as she is the one that likes them. But as I stared at the delicata and butternut squash, I decided I would roast both of them. That’s when the idea came into play, probably because I was searching for ideas for dinner and something everyone would love and agree on, and that’s when I thought of lasagna. Lasagna with a twist that is. Who doesn’t love a great dish of lasagna? What no one knew is that I had a good couple of cups of that delish, roasted squash, and ever better I did not tell them until after they devoured a couple of slices. Yep, that’s where my kids are now, two slices, and eating me out of the house.

Squash Lasagna Recipe
Squash Lasagna Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 delicata squash, sliced in half, seeds removed
  • 1 small butternut squash, sliced in half, seeds removed
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, rubbed onto sliced squashes
  • 9 sheets of lasagna, oven ready, or par boiled
  • 1 lb ground chuck, cooked and fat removed
  • 2 mild Italian sausage links, casing removed, cooked and fat removed
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/12 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 pinch of red chili flakes
  • 15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups of your favorite tomato sauce

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Add the squashes to a baking sheet, and cook flesh side up for about 45 minutes, or until fork tender. Once the squash is cooked, scrape out, and mix into a bowl. You will only need about two cups, but feel free to use more or less based on your preference.

Start by cooking both of your meats. Feel free to combine these in a large skillet. Break apart the meat as it is cooking to prevent large clumps. Strain the meat mixture, removing the fat, then return the meat back on the stove on medium heat. Add a pinch of salt, some cracked black pepper, the red chili flakes, and the garlic powder. Give a good stir, cooking for a minute or two, then add in your sauce. Stir, and let this reduce down a bit, cooking for about 10 minutes.

To another mixing bowl, add the egg, ricotta cheese, the squash, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and half of the parmesan cheese. Give that a good mix so that the squash is fully incorporated into the cheeses.

Now let’s get to this lasagna. Take a good ladle of your meat sauce, and add to the bottom of your lasagna dish. Add the lasagna sheets. Mine fit three to the pan.

Squash Lasagna Ingredients
Squash Lasagna Ingredients

Next, be generous and add enough of the ricotta and squash mixture to cover the pasta sheets. Lightly sprinkle on mozzarella cheese, then more meat mixture, pasta cheese, more ricotta mixture, more cheese, more sauce, then remaining pasta sheets. Cover with meat sauce, the cover with cheese. Shower with the remaining parmesan cheese.

Spray the back of some aluminum foil with some cooking spray. I’ve found this to prevent all of that wonderful cheese from sticking onto the foil when removing from the oven.

Cover the baking dish, and place into a 375 degree oven, cooking for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil, and continue to cook for about 20 more minutes or until the cheese is nice and golden.

Let cool for about 10 minutes before slicing into squares.

The end result was everything that is wonderful about a great lasagna, but there was that bit of hidden sweetness from the blended squash that made this one even better. After the kids were finished eating (as well as my wife), I said “So how did everyone like the squash?”. They had confused looks on their face, but all replied that they had no clue it was in there, and loved every bite. What’s not to love about that? Gotta get the good stuff in there somehow, I was successful on that front. Hope you enjoy!

Peanut M&M Bars

We recently joined Costco, and to say the least we love it. I priced things out all of the time as I do the grocery shopping, so you have to watch what you are buying. It’s easy to load things up in their massive carts, but there are items I know my kids are going to go through as they pack their lunches on a daily basis.  On a recent visit I bought a large bag of peanut M&Ms. I figured my wife and kids would go through those pretty quickly as someone is always in the hunt for chocolate, so what a better way to get some nuts into the mix as well.  So one afternoon I was staring at that large bag of M&Ms and decided I would come up with a recipe to surprise my wife and kids when they returned home for the day. That’s when I came up with the Peanut M&M bars, and whoa were these things delicious.

Peanut M&M Bars Recipe
Peanut M&M Bars Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 whole egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups of Peanut M&Ms
  • 1 tbsp additional unsalted butter

Pretty simple ingredients for something so perfect.

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.

During this time, add the butter, egg, peanut butter, and brown sugar into a mixing bowl. Mix until you have a creamy consistency, then add in your vanilla and flour. Continue to mix so the flour is nicely incorporated. Next add in the 1 1/2 cups of the peanut M&Ms. Gently stir.

Lightly coat a baking dish, large enough to hold the mixture, and lightly butter the dish.

Peanut M&M Bars
Peanut M&M Bars

Scoop the batter into the dish, then top with the remaining M&Ms.

Place the dish into the oven, and bake for about 30 minutes. The batter should come out clean when inserting your knife.

Let the bars cool before slicing into squares.

These bars are everything you love about a peanut M&M, but they have this added creaminess from that smooth peanut butter. Get a nice cold glass of milk for these puppies. Hope you enjoy!

Pizza Montanara

I’ve probably said it before, but I will say it again. If there were a couple of things I could eat on a regular basis, it would be pizza and tacos. There are so many different ways to make either of those, and the toppings could be endless, hence why I could rotate those on a daily basis. Maybe it is the hand food, who knows. But there is one pizza known as pizza montanara that I’ve been wanting to make for the kids as they love a thicker style crust. This pizza is not only a thing of beauty, but it may have been one of the better pizzas I’ve made, and I’ve made a lot of pizza, trust me.

 

Pizza Montanara Recipe
Pizza Montanara Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of your favorite pizza dough, tossed into a size that will fit into your large skillet
  • Canola oil, enough to fill about 1 inch of your skillet
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • your favorite pizza sauce
  • fresh basil, optional
  • sliced pepperoni, to your liking
  • mozzarella cheese, to your liking
  • grated parmesan cheese, optional

Now these pizza toppings are to my family’s liking, but use your favorite toppings.

Once you have your dough shaped, and about 1/4 inch thick, take a fork and poke the dough all over. This will assist when cooking in the hot oil from having it balloon out.

Pizza Montanara Ingredients
Pizza Montanara Ingredients

Heat your large skillet on medium heat. Add enough oil to be about one inch in depth and bring that up to about 350 degrees. During this time, heat your oven to 450 degrees, along with a sheet pan.

Once the oil is heated, carefully add it to the skillet, and fry the dough for about 2 minutes, then using some tongs, carefully raise it out and flip it to the other side, cooking an additional 2 minutes. It should be a bit stiff and a light golden brown.

Raise the cooked dough from the oil, and let any excess oil drip back into the skillet. Now I know what you might be thinking, that this is going to be an oily mess, but trust me it does not. As a matter of fact you would probably think this was a pan style pizza, or deep dish style if you did not tell anyone how you made it.

Next, add the pizza to your pizza peel, and add the sauce, onions, pepperoni, and cover with the mozzarella cheese.

Pizza Montanara Recipe
Pizza Montanara Recipe

Slide onto the preheated baking sheet and cook for about 5 minutes or so or until the cheese is nice and melted and the sauce is heated through.

Remove and shower with parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

The end result was nothing short of fantastic. As much as I love thin crust pizza, along with pan and deep dish pizza, this was something in between all of that, and it was way too easy to make. My family loved this one, and I will be making many more in the near future. Hope you enjoy!