Category Archives: beef

Not Bobby Flay’s chili (but really good)

Not Bobby Flay's ChiliSo back when it was bitter cold (about three days ago), I decided to make chili. What’s more comforting? And I looked up Bobby Flay’s recipe for Red Beef Chili. Something different. Something gourmet. And, as it turned out, something completely impossible for me to accomplish.

I have a short attention span and I realized that a recipe with 20 ingredients was never coming off my stove. Especially because my beloved Publix does not carry a lot of the ingredients he calls for in the recipe. It’s okay – let Bobby Flay be Bobby Flay. He’s a really great chef. But here’s what he wanted me to scour the greater Nashville area to find:

  • Thai bird chile: I know of one place that has them and that’s the Interasian Market. And they are growing on a tree by the check-out stand. I do not believe they are meant for the patrons to pick.
  • Cascabel chile powder: I have never heard of it.
  • Chipotle pepper puree: I can only guess at what this is. There is no recipe within the recipe for it.
  • Pasilla chile powder: No idea.
  • New Mexican chile powder: I would like to travel to New Mexico to find some but that would add another $1,239 to the cost of the ingredients what with the plane ticket and hotel room.

Plus the recipe requires an immersion blender, which I do not have. I would like one. If anyone out there wants to gift me one, I’ll go back and try this again.

However. HOWEVER. I got maybe halfway there. I used the round steak. I used the beer reducing with the beef in the pan (great idea – so many other applications). I used the chiles I could find (poblano and jalapeno). But, the good Lord forgive me, I added beans to the chili. I know, I know.

Part of creating a recipe is taking someone else’s good ideas and manipulating them into your own good idea. This chili is a good idea. King Daddy ate three bowls of it. And, always a good thing, it freezes beautifully.


Not Bobby Flay’s chili (but really good)
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Serves: 6

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 pounds of round steak, cubed
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cumin
  • 1 bottle of dark beer
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, cored, seeds and veins removed and diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, cored, seeds and veins removed and diced
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 package of mild chili seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 15.5-ounce cans kidney beans, undrained

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy Dutch oven over medium high heat.
  3. Salt and pepper the beef chunks and add them to the pot in small batches, browning all sides. Add the cumin and stir it into the beef for one minute. Add the beer and bring it to a boil. Continue boiling until the beer has been reduced to the point that it is only a thick glaze on the meat. Remove the meat and reserve.
  4. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pot and throw in the red onion, poblano pepper and jalapeno pepper. Saute until the onion is beginning to turn brown. Add the beef back to the pot along with the tomato sauce, chili seasoning, salt, chicken stock and kidney beans.
  5. Put the pot in the oven and pot’s lid slightly ajar. Cook for 3-4 hours until the beef is fork tender and easily shreds.


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Gail Kerr (and one of her recipes)

Catherine and Gail at Oyster Easter 2003

Catherine and Gail at Oyster Easter 2003

First, I would just like to say that I hope the Ryman Auditorium is available for Gail Kerr’s funeral because First Presbyterian Church Downtown is not going to hold all the people who will want to attend.  Side note: For those of you who don’t know, Gail was a prominent and beloved columnist for The Tennessean and tonight you can barely get a word in edgewise praising her on Facebook (for which, I am slightly certain, she would be mortified).

Second, I would like to note that this sucks. Gail would concur. The thought had occurred to her that the end might be sooner than later (we talked about it at lunch a few weeks ago). But it was not the game plan.

You will have to indulge me. I am having a glass of wine. Gail would be – and I hope is – doing the same right now. So let’s take a little stroll down Memory Lane.

1997. The Tennessean. I am the assistant managing editor for news and Gail is a team leader (she wrangled a group of 5-6 reporters). The city editor leaves and I promote Gail to city editor. It was the job of her dreams. And she was a dream of a city editor.

Dang it. I just started crying again. Stop it.

So, we were partners in crime. Human Resources would have been appalled. So many things we did not share with them. I won’t go into them here. She took that to the grave and I will, too. But I will share we had a little ritual when someone we didn’t like left the paper. They would resign, just the leave taker, me and her in my office. We would look very sad. They would exit and I would close the door. And then we had this mini-wave using just our fingers flapping toward our palms. And we would laugh and say, “Bye bye.”

We shared many a night at a local bar drinking wine. Probably ill advised. She was bawdy and smart and compassionate. And here’s the most important thing you need to know about Gail Kerr. She was loyal. After I was essentially booted out of The Tennessean, a lot of so-called friends faded away, my perceived power gone. Not Gail. It did not even cross her mind, for which I will be eternally grateful.

Did I mention Gail was a dribbler? It actually was a joke. We’d eat lunch and no matter the food or the utensil, at some point a drop of food would land on her blouse. Each and every time. She finally found those Tide instant wipe-up things and that helped enormously.

So then she got sick. And it never occurred to me that she wouldn’t get well again. The good die young? No, no, no. When we had lunch at the Turnip Truck a few weeks ago, she filled her plate and ate every scrap. I hadn’t seen her do that in two years. I was encouraged and I told her so. She said she wasn’t afraid of dying, just the process. And I told her I felt in my heart that it wasn’t her time yet. I hate to be wrong. So did she.

Gail was also a very good cook. Here’s your Gail tip: On the weekends, she would fire up the grill and cook chicken, sausage, pork chops, whatever. And then store it in the fridge to use later in the week. Smart cookie.

I wish I had a better ending to a story that has a heart-breaking end, particularly for her husband, Les. It’s nice to go on and on talking about Gail’s legacy and her professionalism on Facebook. And it’s all true. But at the end of the day, this day, one of the few people who had a truly nice, selfless and compassionate soul has flown the coop. I am glad I am a religious person, as was she. I know there’s some splatter of pulled pork on her blouse right now. Tide clean-ups not necessary.


Pepper Steak
Prep time: 
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Serves: 2

  • 1 ½ pounds round steak
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce,
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne powder to taste
  • 1 green pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into strips
  • Rice

  1. Cut the steak into strips and brown in vegetable oil in two to three batches so the meat has room to brown and form a nice crust. Set aside.
  2. Combine the ketchup, water, bouillon cube, soy sauce, flour and seasonings. Add that to the skillet you browned the meat in and simmer for five minutes. Add the meat back and simmer on low heat for 90 minutes. Add the green pepper and onion while you cook the rice.
  3. Serve the pepper steak over rice.

This is a 1970s Southern Living recipe that never fails. It’s awesome – makes the house smell good, the cook can drink and watch Dancing With the Stars (Go, Donny!) while it’s cooking, it’s cheap and the round steak ends up totally tender.

I have made this for years, as did my mother and sister.



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Steak au Poivre

Steak au Poivre

Or as we say in the South, Steak aw Poov-ree. Or some such.

We are not very good at pronouncing some things. Like instead of Versailles, Kentucky, it’s “Ver-sales.” And Lebanon, Tennessee, is “Leb-nun.” But we slap know how to light things on fire and this recipe features a spectacular flaming pan with cognac in it. And I am giving you this piece of advice right off the bat. If you have a limited height from your stove to your vent, as I do, do not attempt to light this on the stove unless you don’t care a wit about incinerating the microwave oven above it.

You’re so ’50s if you remember this recipe, but if you’ve never heard of it you need to go retro. There are few things easier to make that produce such an elegant finish. We had this for supper Friday night to reward King Daddy for a long week of sawing up a bunch of pine branches and hauling them down the hill to the road after a killer ice storm. I did not participate in that effort. Payback was slightly expensive, but it was also delicious.


Steak au Poivre
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Serves: 2

  • 2 filet mignons, about 1 ½ inches thick
  • Salt
  • 1½ tablespoons coarse black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅓ cup cognac
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Special equipment: Long-nosed lighter

  1. Liberally sprinkle the steaks with salt on both sides, then heavily coat with the coarse black pepper.
  2. Melt the butter and olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add the steaks and sauté them until they are well browned on both sides, about four minutes or 135 degrees internal temperature for medium rare.
  3. Remove the steaks to a warm plate and tent with foil to rest for about five minutes.
  4. Drain any excess butter and oil from the pan but do not remove the crispy bits. Turn off the stove and take the pan to a counter protected with a wooden cutting board (unless you have granite counters). Add the cognac and ignite with the long-nosed lighter.
  5. After the flames have disappeared, put the pan back on the stove and add the beef broth. Cook over medium high heat until the broth has reduced by half and then add the cream. Mix thoroughly and serve the sauce over the steaks.





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Corned beef, cabbage and the sushi nazi

Yes, I am well aware that St. Patrick’s Day was Monday. But I have to tell you what I was doing on Monday so you will understand my tardiness.

We move a lot of surplus inventory from the corporate world to the nonprofit world at the Community Resource Center every year. And Monday we were clearing out a three-story law office. What a zoo. The way it works is that we coordinate nonprofits coming to pick up stuff, in this case massive law office furniture. This particular office was in downtown Nashville with no loading zone. So I staggered the five nonprofits at different times.

First one came and went without a hitch. Second one screwed me up entirely by arriving four hours late, at the same time the third agency was arriving. Block entire alley. Much yelling, by me, at late agency. I make them back their truck out. They’re pissed but they want stuff so they wait.

Security guard repeats to me, oh, about 20 times that we can only turn the key in the freight elevator to load and unload. If we turn it at any other time he will take it away from us. This is in a completely vacated building with no other living souls on any of the floors. Then he comes up the passenger elevator and starts yelling at us not to use it to move out furniture because passengers need it. There are no tenants at all – not even one – in this building.

Fortunately the Sushi Nazi is located next to the building. I am warned not to go there for lunch because he is mean. I go anyway.

sam's sushiI know Sam is mean because King Daddy used to eat there and he told me tales. Sam is a one-man-sushi- band and when he’s busy there’s no time for niceties. You’d better know what you want and you’d better bring exact change because Sam can’t make change while he’s making sushi. “You want customer service or food?” he asks.

sam's sushi 2While Sam will tell you where to sit or, in some cases, that you’re not allowed to sit, he does require that only good people come to his establishment. There’s a sign to that effect on the door and another one that warns you that he takes his time making your order. There’s an average wait time of 15 to 30 minutes (I know that because there’s a hand-printed sign for that, too).

So the entire day I was yelled at by a crazy security guard, ran interference between competing nonprofits fighting over conference room chairs and being verbally abused by the Sushi Nazi (he did let me sit down). I did not have time to make the corned beef and cabbage. But here it is in all it’s glory and I have a few tips for you.

Corned Beef and CabbageFirst of all, I don’t cook the corned beef, cabbage and potatoes in one pot. I like to season each part of the dish (that sounds too fancy, but it’s true). And you have to be patient with the corned beef. It’s done when it’s fall-apart tender. Sometimes that takes three hours and sometimes longer. And, last, most people serve corned beef and cabbage with boiled potatoes. I like mashed. More opportunity to incorporate insane amounts of butter and sour cream into the potatoes.

Corned beef
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Serves: 4

  • 1 corned beef with seasoning packet
  • 1 bottle beer (any kind)
  • Beef broth

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Put the corned beef and seasoning packet into a large Dutch oven.
  3. Add the bottle of beer and enough beef broth to almost cover the corned beef.
  4. Put the Dutch oven in the oven with the lid slightly ajar. Cook until the corned beef is fork tender, about 3-4 hours.

Fried cabbage
Prep time: 
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Serves: 4

  • 1 small head cabbage
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

  1. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage, cut the cabbage in half and remove the core.
  2. Slice the cabbage into thin strips.
  3. Melt the butter in a large saute pan. Add the cabbage, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat, continually turning the cabbage as it wilts and browns on the bottom, about 15 minutes.
  4. When the cabbage is partially browned and tender, add the lemon juice and combine.



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Corned beef and cabbage grilled stuffed potatoes

Corned Beef and Cabbage Stuffed PotatoesSaint Patrick’s Day is not a holiday. It’s an irritation.

First, nobody gets off work. That is one of the definitions of a holiday to me. Then there are those creepy leprechauns. And the promise of a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Hogwash. And the whole idea of pinching people who don’t wear green. Beyond annoying. Green beer. Just so wrong.

However, I am quite fond of corned beef and cabbage. My mother-in-law, Bunny, makes the best corned beef and cabbage in the world.  But I can confidently say that my version, made entirely on the grill, is pretty spectacular and ridiculously easy. I wrote the recipe for Char-Broil so you will need to hop on over to the Char-Broil LIVE site to get it. Just one click. It’s worth it. Go on. Get over there.

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Hamburgers and meatless Mondays

LentI apologize. I realize I left at least one of you hanging on the edge of your seat about what I was going to give up for Lent. And here it is, three days in, and I am just now getting back to you. In my defense, we had this little back flow preventer problem at work (you don’t want to even know what a back flow preventer is, I promise you, but it involves sewage) and then I had to make 847 bacon-wrapped water chestnuts for the Women of St. Paul’s bi-monthly cocktail party (okay, maybe 47, but it was still a lot).

So, I gave up hamburgers and one day a week, I’m going vegetarian. I know it’s not a monumental sacrifice. Although one day into Lent, King Daddy insisted we go to Krystal where those little square grease bombs taunted me mercilessly.

But my pain is relatively small. Let’s see. King Daddy gave up Scotch for Lent. I hate Scotch but it would be like me giving up wine. That would be a really tough one. One of my other friends gave up alcohol of any kind. I would shoot myself. Our youth minister is going not only vegan, but raw vegan for lunch every day. What is there left to eat when you’re a raw vegan? Betsy, my colleague at CRC, has given up fizzy drinks.

Some people want to “add on” rather than “give up” for Lent. That’s okay. Personal choice. But to me, this season is all about self-deprivation and contemplation. Like I’m contemplating a bacon cheeseburger from Five Guys right now. And it’s only three days in. What’s that saying about the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak?

Yea, that’s me.

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What to give up for Lent?

I am cogitating over this far too laboriously. What to give up for Lent?

Every year, the Catholics, the Episcopalians and the Lutherans give up something for Lent, which starts Wednesday. It is part of the season of reflection and self-denial. I am reflecting at the moment about how seriously I want to deny myself. It’s a fairly solemn 40-day promise and God does know if you cheat. I am convinced of that.

So let’s review the hit parade of food I will have a problem living without.

Filet Mignon with Bernaise SauceMeat. I did this last year. Well, sort of. I became a vegetarian for three days a week. It almost killed me. I was constantly reflecting on self-denial. King Daddy would be consuming a chili cheese dog at the Sonic while I “enjoyed” a BLT, hold the bacon.

Bacon BarBacon. That would be a hard one. What would I do for Bacon Wednesdays at CRC World Headquarters? Betsy might quit. We can’t have that so I believe I will cross bacon off the list.

Catherine loving her hamburgerHamburgers. Oh, boy. This is me a couple years ago the day after Easter devouring my first hamburger in 40 days. When you can’t have a hamburger for almost a month and a half that’s all you think about. And in my deprived state, I actually debated with myself if Krystals counted as hamburgers. Sadly, I realized they did.

I am sensing a theme here. Meat. Meat of any kind. How about this?

cropped-farmers-market.jpgYes, that’s the ticket! I could give up vegetables! King Daddy wouldn’t even care. But that would not be a very good decision. By the end of Lent, I would have to give up eating because I’d gain 20 pounds. No. We can’t go that way.

Like Scarlett O’Hara, tomorrow is another day. The last day before Lent. I’ll let you know what I decide. But if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.




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Fried apples and what goes together

Fried ApplesI was making supper the other night – pork chops, dressing and fried apples. And it occurred to me there are certain things that just “go together” – food combinations that I return to again and again.

Some of them could be considered odd or quaint. I have always served King Daddy’s favorite mustard chicken with buttered egg noodles. To do otherwise would be unthinkable. It just wouldn’t be right. On Sloppy Joe night, the Joe must be Manwich and it must lean along side Tater Tots. With ketchup. Ditto the ketchup with fried chicken livers.

Braised short ribs require mashed potatoes. Last night I was provisioning the refrigerator for KD because I am heading to Bunny’s tomorrow to help her unpack at her new home. I made the short ribs and mashed potatoes, but stuck some garlic bread in the oven for another meal. KD actually asked for garlic bread with short ribs. I was horrified. They don’t go together. Turkey sandwiches. Just turkey, mayonnaise, iceberg lettuce, salt and pepper. No cheese. Cheese and turkey don’t go together.

Fish and rice go together. Fish does not go with potatoes or pasta. Flat chicken and green noodles. Only a classic in our home, I’m sure. It’s just breaded chicken breasts and thin spaghetti with pesto. But the chicken breasts must be thin and the noodles must be thin, also. The calorie count is not thin. Corned beef hash with English muffins and blackberry jam. The hash must be from a can. And you must fry it with onions until it is crispy. The jam can be seedless or not. That’s where King Daddy and I part ways. He likes the seeds.

A wedge salad demands blue cheese dressing and bacon. Diet Coke must be present with hamburgers and French fries. Iced tea does not go with hamburgers or French fries. Iced tea does, however, go with chicken salad. I don’t know why.

So what foods “go together” for you? What are your odd and quaint combinations? I hope you disagree with me. It’s always more fun when you do.


Fried apples
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4

  • 4 tart apples, such as Honey Crisp or Granny Smith
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Core and cut the apple into wedges. As you cut the apples, put them in a bowl with the lemon juice to keep them from discoloring.
  2. Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the apples, sugar and cinnamon. Cook until the apples soften, about 10 minutes.



Filed under beef, breads, breakfast, casseroles, cheese, chicken, pasta, salads, seafood

Grilled Butter Burgers

Butter Burger PhotoI have a beef about burgers. I’m a purist. I like a burger to be as simple as possible. No need for sliced avocado, crispy onion rings or, God forbid, a fried egg. What a mess. And no salmon burgers, chicken burgers, turkey burgers or black-bean burgers. Those may be sandwiches, but they’re not burgers.

A chain called Culver’s opened in my neck of the woods last year and they get the burger exactly right. They’re based in Wisconsin and their signature dish is the “Butter Burger.” I like them so much I made up my own version, with a compound butter just to add a little something something. And then I add more butter on the toasted buns. Trust me on this one. King Daddy ate two of them at once sitting.

The recipe is over on Char-Broil LIVE. Hop on over there and take a look.


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What happens on the mountain, stays on the mountain

Cheers from the Women of St. Paul's

Cheers from the Women of St. Paul’s

Yes, the Women of St. Paul’s are dressed in pajamas. Why wouldn’t you combine a pajama party and a wine tasting? What’s wrong with you?

IMG_3611Every year, the Women of St. Paul’s adjourn to Monteagle (otherwise known as “the mountain”) for a weekend of renewal, fellowship, eating and drinking. The first year there were about 50 of us, but the word got around and this year’s retreat numbered almost 100. We learned to arrange flowers, we made felt flowers, we practiced yoga, we belly danced, we learned a newfangled form of doodling, and we made appetizers. We ate every three hours whether we needed to or not. And we had a wee bit of wine, a few appletinis and maybe one or two shots of vodka. Maybe. I know, I know. Those of you ladies who don’t attend St. Paul’s are wondering, “Where do I sign up?”

The appetizers class made all the finger food for the wine tasting. While we swapped tales, told lies and gossiped. In the nicest possible, most Christian-like way.

Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato CanapesWe made Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Canapes.

Marinated CheeseAnd marinated cheese trays.

IMG_3624And adorable little mini shrimp cocktails in plastic shooter cups.

Leslie and garnishesOh, and Leslie taught our class how to make garnishes for the platters. Yes, we are Episcopalian. There must be garnishes.

Well, I will modestly say that everyone had a great time and our efforts were very well received.

Buffet 1Salami-rolled mozzarella sticks, shrimp shooters and marinated cheese…

Buffet 2Bacon, lettuce and tomato canapes…

IMG_3651Meatballs in a sweet and sour sauce…

Buffet 4Saltine toffee…

Nacho BarAnd the very popular nacho bar…

The Women of St. Paul’s had dinner not 20 minutes after the wine tasting ended. We are nothing if not troopers.

Becky and BeckyAlrighty. By now I assume you think all we do is carry on and tipple and eat. And belly dance. But you’d be wrong. I did a bad thing today. I took a picture in church during a service. That is so not correct. But I couldn’t help myself. Even with all our frivolous fun, the Sunday morning Eucharist is maybe the best thing that happens all weekend. Instead of a sermon, women tell their personal stories. Kleenex is abundant. The music this year was from an all-woman band. Amazing Grace. Who doesn’t cry while singing Amazing Grace? Not us. Instead of receiving communion from a priest, we give it to each other. Even if you didn’t know to say, “Body of Christ…Bread of Heaven” and “Blood of Christ…Cup of Salvation,” it was just fine to offer the wafers and wine with a “Here you go.”

Sunday Church“I’m gonna let my feet go dancing to my very favorite songs,

‘Cause I know my time for leaving is bound to come before too long.

And there ain’t no way of me knowing how tomorrow’s gonna be,

So I’ll just dance the shores of Jordan ’till the angels carry me.”

Shores of Jordan as sung by the Women of St. Paul’s on February 9, 2014.



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