A last minute dinner party… Oh, so good!

When you grow up on a farm, you learn at a young age steak does not always have to be saved for a special occasion.  But a last minute dinner party can come together easily with a few staples from the pantry, and a quick trip to the local meat market.   Recently I  took to a reverse sear strategy for bone-in ribeye and every time we have had company since, it’s the first request by my husband. So I decided to oblige again, while also trying my newest favorite cheese in some French inspired au gratin potatoes. Dinner turned out perfectly, especially the new potatoes so I’ve decided to share with you as well. Unfortunately, once the company arrived, the photo ops diminished, so all you’ve got this time around are prior to baking.

(unbaked) AuGratin Potatoes
Au Gratin Potatoes (unbaked)

Au Gratin Potatoes

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: French
Keyword: au gratin, baked, cheese, potatoes

Ingredients

  • 8 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 onion, sliced
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. salt and pepper, each
  • 6 oz. Gruyère cheese
  • 3 oz. mushroom & scallion jack cheese (Kindred Creamery)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Peel and rinse the potatoes before slicing thin.
  • Layer potatoes and sliced onions, and half of the cheese in a 7×11 baking pan.
  • Melt 1/4 c. butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour.
  • Add cream, chicken broth, salt and pepper; stirring to mix in. Bring to a boil.
  • When thickened, pour over the potatoes and onions.
  • Top with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake for 75 minutes until top is golden brown and potatoes are tender.
  • Let set for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

Recipe © 2020 Montana Mountain Maven / Tina R. Cusker. All rights reserved.

In case you missed the previous post with the reverse seared ribeye, I’ve included it here as well. But look at those amazing beauties! Thanks so much to Daniel’s Meats for never letting us down.

Bone In Ribeye, seasoned

Bone-In Ribeye Steak

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr 10 mins
Resting Time10 mins
Total Time1 hr 50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: reverse sear, steak
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb bone in ribeye
  • steak seasoning (I used Weber Steak 'N Chop)
  • bacon grease, or ghee butter
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 garlic clove
  • thyme sprig

Instructions

  • Season the steak thoroughly with salt and bring to room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Heat the oven to 250°. Bake the ribeye in an oven proof pan for one hour.
  • Heat a cast iron pan with the bacon grease (use the grease from the bacon in the twice baked potato recipe) or ghee butter, until very hot.
  • Carefully add the ribeye straight from the oven. Sear until crisp and brown on the underside, 5-10 minutes, depending on how hot your pan is.
  • Turn over, adding 1 Tbsp of butter to the top of the meat, the garlic and thyme to the pan. As the steak cooks ladle some of the bacon grease, thyme and garlic over the top of the meat.
  • Remove the steak from the pan to a cutting board to rest. Cover with a foil blanket for 10 minutes.
  • Slice into one inch strips and serve.

Notes

*Recipe adapted from Babish Culinary Universe

Looking to top off the menu? How about a Caesar salad, roasted vegetables (tomato, zucchini, mushroom & sweet onions, tossed in caramelized garlic olive oil) and finish with some warm apple rhubarb crisp à la mode.

Enjoy, and blessings,
Tina

Copyright © 2020 Montana Mountain Maven / Tina R. Cusker. All rights reserved.


The Best Steak I’ve ever Cooked…

A new restaurant has come to town, and while locations are available elsewhere in the state which we have been known to enjoy, this one was new to Bozeman. Being the “good” residents we are, we made a reservation to check out the renovation and offerings. A bone-in ribeye was the temptation that evening, so we split it along with a couple sides and dinner salads. After all, who needs 16 oz of beef per person!? It was so unbelievably flavorful and mouthwatering, my husband has spent the last few weeks scouring the menus of other steakhouses to see who could compare. Since we hadn’t found a similar menu item, he suggested I stop by the local meat market and see if they had a bone-in ribeye. Well, of course they did, and it was on the menu tonight!

I didn’t do a whole lot of planning other than “let’s cook that – maybe a reverse sear would be good for that – add a potato and a vegetable. That sounds good.” In other words, there was really zero effort in the planning. At about 5:15, I decided it was time to get started. Within seconds, he was worried about how I was going to cook his precious red meat. I responded, “I don’t know. I haven’t decided, maybe reverse sear.” So, to YouTube he navigated and before you know it, he had the ideal video for me to watch. A pretty snazzy video, I might add, from Babish Culinary Universe. So, we decided to give it a try.

While the 1.6 pounds (yep, that’s right!) of ribeye sat on the counter with plenty of salt and pepper, I prepped the side dish, the Twice Baked Potato Casserole. After about 30 minutes, I put the ribeye in an oven safe dish at 250° for an hour. His instructions said to measure for a temperature of 115°, which I did not do, because honestly, I don’t follow instructions well in the kitchen. I do what makes sense, looks and feels right to me. To develop this skill just takes practice and truthfully, it doesn’t ALWAYS work. Today, a masterpiece…

What is important to note is that I needed this potato recipe to make this steak as perfectly wonderful as it was. Mind you, the pairing was not only perfect, but I have no doubt it was the bacon grease that made the difference. To reduce some of the calories and fat from the potato casserole I used less than half of the sour cream and cheese, so they aren’t quite as gooey, but still packed with flavor. I know what you’re thinking, I just cooked my steak in bacon grease, do I really care about fat content? Well, swap from one to make the other and it’s called “in moderation.”

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: baked, potatoes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 5 medium potatoes, cut in half red or yukon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 lb bacon, cooked & crumbled
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 green onions, sliced

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the potatoes halves, drizzled with olive oil and face down in a pan, covered in foil for an hour.
  • When soft, cut baked potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper and bacon. top with the sour cream and cheeses.
  • Bake uncovered 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle with onions before serving.

Notes

*Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

Bone-In Ribeye Steak

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr 10 mins
Resting Time10 mins
Total Time1 hr 50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: reverse sear, steak
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb bone in ribeye
  • steak seasoning (I used Weber Steak 'N Chop)
  • bacon grease, or ghee butter
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 garlic clove
  • thyme sprig

Instructions

  • Season the steak thoroughly with salt and bring to room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Heat the oven to 250°. Bake the ribeye in an oven proof pan for one hour.
  • Heat a cast iron pan with the bacon grease (use the grease from the bacon in the twice baked potato recipe) or ghee butter, until very hot.
  • Carefully add the ribeye straight from the oven. Sear until crisp and brown on the underside, 5-10 minutes, depending on how hot your pan is.
  • Turn over, adding 1 Tbsp of butter to the top of the meat, the garlic and thyme to the pan. As the steak cooks ladle some of the bacon grease, thyme and garlic over the top of the meat.
  • Remove the steak from the pan to a cutting board to rest. Cover with a foil blanket for 10 minutes.
  • Slice into one inch strips and serve.

Notes

*Recipe adapted from Babish Culinary Universe

I’ll be honest, this was undeniably the best steak I’ve ever cooked – and that is saying a-lot from this farm girl who has been cooking steak since I was about 9 years old! My barbecue grill might get lonely outside, because this was amazing…. I will definitely attempt a similar process with other cuts of beef. You probably could have even cut this with a fork it was so ‘melt in your mouth’ good.

I hope you enjoy as well!

Blessings,
Tina


Mexican, Tonight, Anyone?

I have been making the same ‘freezer burrito’ recipe for nearly 30 years. It comes from one of my favorite and frequently quoted “Best of Friends” cookbooks gifted to me by my mother-in-law. She used to make the recipe for my husband and his twin when they were in college so they would have something hot and homemade in their freezer, whenever the hunger pains spoke loud and clear. Since I, too, enjoy having homemade meals on hand in the freezer, it was an easy one to adopt and the hearty portions which meant we could make several meals out of one pan and a second one was added to the freezer.

When I decided this summer to make burritos for one of our trips up to the lake, I got the urge to try a new recipe. “Let’s branch out,” I said! For those who know me well, they know this is not an unusual occurrence. In fact, what is more unusual is that I’ve been making the same burritos for 30 years. I LOVE to try new recipes and tweak them to make them my own. A quick Google search resulted in Loaded Smothered Beef Burritos by http://www.averiecooks.com and following a quick trip to the market, we were packed for an adventure to the lake.

The recipe was a huge hit with all the brothers and it was decided, we needed to make a change – or at least add this one to the repertoire. Once arriving home, I gathered up replacement ingredients and at the same time, decided a box of precooked Spanish Rice as the recipe indicated, was really not necessary because I had plenty of ingredients on hand to make my own homemade Spanish rice. Thus, an adapted recipe from http://www.eatingonadime.com was born and combined to make my own version of Smothered Beef Burritos.

Smothered Beef Burritos

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: bean, beef, burritos
Servings: 8

Ingredients

Spanish Rice

  • 2 tbsp garlic or shallot olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Vidalia onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup uncooked white rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth (or water)
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, garlic & herb
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin

Burritos

  • 4 tbsp garlic or shallot olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 Vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 pkg taco seasoning, reduced sodium
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 8 large flour tortillas (burrito size)
  • 1 can (16 oz) refried beans
  • 3 cups Mexican shredded cheese blend, divided
  • 1 can (20 oz) red enchilada sauce (you choose the heat)
  • sour cream
  • salsa & chips, for garnish

Instructions

  • Saute 1/4 cup onion in 2 tbsp oil over medium heat. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Mix rice into skillet, stirring often. When rice begins to brown, add chicken broth, tomatoes, garlic salt & cumin. Bring to a low boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes, and until liquid has been absorbed.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°. In a large skillet, add 2 tbsp oil and diced onion. Saute over medium heat before adding beef to cook for about 7 minutes, until cooked through and onions are soft; stir and crumble to ensure even cooking.
  • Add the taco seasoning and water; stir to combine. Remove from heat.
  • Drizzle the remaining olive oil in a 9×13 pan (or two 8" squares). Set aside.
  • Even smear each tortilla with about 2 tbls of refried beans down the center. Evenly distribute the rice, about 2-3 tbsp for each, top with the beef mixture, and evenly distribute 1 1/2 cups of cheese.
  • Roll up each burrito, tucking the sides in before rolling the long sides. Place in the pan(s), seam side down. Cover with foil and bake for about 25 minutes.
  • Remove from oven to slowly and evenly drizzle the enchilada sauce over all the burritos, evenly sprinkling the remaining 1 1/2 cups grated cheese over the top. Return to the oven and bake another 10-15 minutes, or until cheese has melted and sauce is bubbling.
  • Serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream, and chips and salsa on the side.
  • For a smaller portion, I bake in two 8 inch square pans, and when cool, cover tightly before freezing up to 4 months. Thaw fully before heating for 30 minutes.

Thinking of an entire Mexican dinner? Try adding sliced avocado, chopped lettuce and fresh tomatoes to your platters, and finish off with some fried ice cream or Tres Leche Cake. After all, who can resist something sweet following a spicy dinner? Certainly not me…

Blessings,
Tina

Copyright © 2020 Montana Mountain Maven / Tina R. Cusker. All rights reserved.


Happy Birthday to Me

I haven’t had a favorite birthday cake since I was a pre-teen. Back in those days, it was a Betty Crocker Cherry Chip Cake with Cherry Frosting. Celebrating my 50th birthday this month has brought about a lot of crazy thoughts and feelings. They say age is just a number, it is all in how old you feel. Well, no one is too old for ice cream and I put in my order for a birthday cake “Mud Pie.”

We arranged a weekend away with a little couple time and some family time, all rolled into a 3 day getaway into the Absaroka Mountains. Renting a cabin meant we would have a kitchen and would bring food for some cooking and also a little eating out, but a homemade celebration could be arranged. After checking out some local ice cream eateries to see if a purchase was an option, but after no luck, I got some inspiration from http://www.allrecipes.com and personalized it to my own tastes. This recipe is super easy, but timing is critical. Without adequate softening of the ice cream and the follow-up freezing, the layering will not work out the way you would hope. Don’t short cut the process and chances are, this will be your new favorite birthday cake too!

Mud Pie

Prep Time8 hrs 30 mins
Freeze overnight8 hrs
Total Time16 hrs 30 mins
Course: Dessert
Keyword: cookie crust, hot fudge, ice cream
Servings: 12
Author: Tina Cusker

Ingredients

  • 30 Oreo Cookie Thins
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/2 gallon coffee ice cream
  • 1 quart caramel swirl ice cream
  • 1 pkg miniature chocolate chips
  • 12 oz hot fudge topping
  • 10 Oreo Cookie Thins, crushed
  • 8 oz frozen whipped topping, thawed

Instructions

  • Add the 30 Oreos to a food processor or blender and grind into fine crumbs. Add the Oreo crumbs to a bowl and combined with the melted butter. Press the mixture into your pie pan or springform pan (grease pan to ensure no sticking) and press into an even layer on the bottom and up the sides. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes. Cool completely, then freeze for 30 minutes.
  • Spoon half of the coffee ice cream into a bowl. Let soften for about 10 minutes. Mix in the chocolate chips. Spread the mixture in an even layer over the frozen crust. Cover and freeze for 2 hours.
  • Heat the fudge topping in the microwave on low for 30 seconds until warm and easy to pour. Spoon the topping over the ice cream and chocolate chips. Cover and return to freezer for 2 hours.
  • Spoon the caramel ice cream in a bowl and allow to soften for 10 minutes. Layer the ice cream over the fudge topping. Cover and return to freezer for 2 hours.
  • Spoon the remainder of the coffee ice cream in a bowl and allow to soften for 10 minutes. Spoon the coffee ice cream over the caramel ice cream. Cover and return to the freezer for 2 more hours.
  • Frost the top of the pie with the whipped topping. Top with the 10 cookie crumbs. Cover and freeze overnight before serving.

Notes

Mud Pie

Happy Birthday to me! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Please take time to let us know how it turned out and don’t wait for a birthday to enjoy this special treat. Any day is a good day for ice cream.

Blessings,
Tina

Copyright © 2020 Montana Mountain Maven / Tina R. Cusker. All rights reserved.


Sourdough Bread

I am sure many of you have noticed that the grocery stores have been sold out of yeast for weeks, maybe longer, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. I had only one small package of yeast left in my fridge and decided this was a great time to produce my own sourdough starter that ‘made’ its own yeast. Well, that didn’t work so well for a first try, but that’s ok because our local Rosauser’s grocery began packaging their commercial yeast into 4 oz. packages. I was quick enough to snag one and decided to try this yeast laden starter instead and it worked beautifully! It doesn’t mean I’ve given up on the other starter options, but I’ll have to save that recommended recipe for another day.

Sourdough Starter

Keyword: bread, sourdough, starter
Author: *unknown source

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water (110-115°)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar or honey

Instructions

  • Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water until frothy. Stir in remaining 2 cups water, the flour, and sugar or honey. Beat until smooth. Cover with cheesecloth. Let stand at room temperature for 5-10 days or until bubbly; stir 2-3 times each day.
  • To store, transfer starter to a jar and cover with cheesecloth; refrigerate. DO NOT cover jar tightly with a metal lid.
  • To use starter, bring desierd amount to room temperature.
  • To replenish starter after using, stir 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup water, and 1 tsp sugar or honey into remaining amount. Cover; let stand at room temperature at least 1 day or until bubbly. Refrigerate for later use.
  • If starter isn't used within 10 days, stir in 1 teaspoon sugar or honey. Repeat every 10 days until used.

Honey Wheat Sourdough Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Sourdough starter
  • 2 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110-120°)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups ground whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda mixed with 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2-3 cups bread flour

Instructions

  • Dissolve yeast in warm water; add 1 tsp sugar until frothy.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hooks, combine starter, yeast mixture, oil, honey, eggs and 2 cups wheat flour. Mix well.
  • Add baking soda mixed with flour and salt. Mix well.
  • Add bread flour, one cup at a time.
  • Using the stand mixer, knead with dough hooks for 10 minutes.
  • Grease a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with a cloth and place in a warm place to rise until double in size, about an hour.
  • Shape dough into two loaves and place them in two greased bread pans. Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place for another 20-30 minutes.
  • Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes.
  • For a soft crust, brush the top of the loaves with butter while they are still warm. Allow the bread to cool and slice to serve.
  • Store any remaining bread in an airtight container.

Copyright © 2020 Montana Mountain Maven / Tina R. Cusker. All rights reserved.


Honey Barbecued Ribs

I’ve been making these ribs for nearly 20 years and the sauce never fails. In fact, it’s my go-to BBQ sauce over store bought any day. I make a jar and we use it for burgers, ribs, chicken or anything else worth of a good barbecue sauce. Add a little hot sauce if you like a kick!

Honey Barbecued Ribs

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: barbecue, BBQ, pork, ribs
Servings: 4
Author: Tina Cusker

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs country style pork ribs
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
  • 2 tbls Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke, optional

Instructions

  • Place ribs in large kettle or Dutch oven. Add enough water to cover; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour or until juices run clear and ribs are tender. Drain.
  • Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients to create the BBQ sauce.
  • Place cooked ribs in a single layer on a large baking tray; sprinkle with garlic salt & pepper. Baste with first layer of sauce.
  • Grill ribs, uncovered, over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, continue basting with sauce and turning occasionally. Recipe cooks as well in the oven (400°) too!

Copyright © 2020 Montana Mountain Maven / Tina R. Cusker. All rights reserved.