No Sugar Marinara Sauce

I have created this recipe earlier in the summer and it has been a major game changer for our pasta and pizza dishes. My Cowboss challenged me to eliminate sugar from our savory dishes. You would be surprised how sneaky sugar really is and how many recipes or marinates call for sugar that is really not necessary. When I first started to look into homemade marinara recipes, many of them included sugar to offset the acidity of the tomatoes, so I needed to find a substitute.   After a few failed recipes, I have hit the jackpot with sautéed shredded carrots that gave the sauce the much needed sweetness. The best part of this marinara recipe.. it is done in 30 minutes. You don't need to cook it for hours. The carrots give it the nice sweetness and the beef broth, which is an important ingredient, gives it the depth of flavor you need in a good pasta sauce.

I have been making delicious "red sauce" dishes like spaghetti squash with southwestern beef sausage, cheese cannelloni with marinara sauce and ground beef and this sauce is hands down awesome on homemade pizzas. This recipe makes enough red sauce for two family dishes. It last for a week in the fridge.

Over the summer, we have also teamed up with a great family owned business Wheat Ridge Poultry & Meats and they carry our 3T Ranch beef at their store. Rob and Jess are wonderful business partners and they have extended the line of 3T Ranch products that are now available to our customers. WRPM carries various cuts of 3T beef, but also make many varieties of beef sausages, jerky and beef broth.

I hope you will try the recipe and love it as much as we do.

Ingredients:

  • 28 oz fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 6 0z tomato paste
  • 2 large shredded carrots
  • 1 medium onion - small dice
  • 1/2 garlic head - crushed through garlic press
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3-4 cups of beef broth
  • 6 basil leaves finely chopped or 1 tablespoon of homemade pesto

Directions:

  • In a large pot pour olive oil, saute onion and carrots until onions are translucent, add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Pour in crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Make sure to stir to break up and incorporate the tomato paste.
  • At this point I like to include all of my seasonings.
  • Pour in 3 cups of beef broth. Cook it down for about 15 minutes.
  • You can certainly leave the sauce chunky, but my family likes it smooth, so I pure the sauce with my immersion handheld blender.
  • Add your basil or homemade pesto. (Tip - I store my homemade pesto in ice cube trays. It is the perfect portion and it stores well in the freezer).
  • I typically end up pouring another cup of broth into my sauce unless I'm using it right away as a pizza sauce. Cook the sauce for another 5 - 10 minutes.

Dobrou Chut!


Beef Tacos for Busy Summer Nights

Are your summer days packed with activities and dinner becomes a big headache? The 3T crew is busy with ranch construction projects, fixing fences, transporting cattle to summer pastures and the kids have their own summer activities. Plus, we have decided to get not one, but two puppies.. I know, who does that? Their parents are great cattle working dogs and we could always use help to work our cows. So, I don't know about you, but by dinnertime, I'm pretty tired.

Here is an easy summer recipe, so you can enjoy dinner on your deck or patio. Nobody wants to spend a couple of hours making dinner. Even better.. The InstaPot or CrockPot will do the cooking for you in this recipe, so you can enjoy a Margarita while dinner is cooking on its own!

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs 3T Ranch Beef Roast (you can also use  flank or skirt steak)
  • 1 tablespoon dry oregano
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground pepper
  • 1 diced medium sweet onion
  • 1 diced bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 can (7.76 oz) LaCostena Chipotle Sauce or Chile in Adobo Sauce (if using Chile in Adobo Sauce - use two peppers and scrape out the seeds, then use all of the sauce from the can and discard the rest of the peppers It would be too spicy to use all of the peppers).
  • 1 cup beef broth (2 cups of beef broth for CrockPot version)

Directions for InstaPot: Preferred 3T method 

  • Cut up your roast into bigger chunks. (I think the beef cooks better vs just putting in the whole roast).
  • Set your InstaPot on "sear" and pour in 1/4 cup of canola oil.
  • Dry off your beef chunks with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
  • Now, that the pot is hot, sear the beef chunks on all sides. Take out the beef.
  • Time to sauté the onion and bell peppers. Give it a couple of minutes to sauté the veggies before adding the garlic.  You don't want the garlic to burn. Cook until all veggies are tender.
  • TIP: if your onion is getting a little burned before being tender add a little bit of water to the pot.
  • Add oregano, one can of Chipotle Sauce and one cup of beef broth and stir all together.
  • Beef goes back in the pot, close the lid and set your InstaPot on "Beef Stew". Depending on your InstaPot setting, your beef will be done in about 60 minutes. If you are using steaks, you can cut down the cooking to 35 minutes.

Directions for CrockPot: This recipe 

  • You can certainly use CrockPot for this recipe as well.
  • Dry off your beef chunks with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat your skillet and add 1/4 cup of oil.
  • Sear the beef in a skillet on all sides. Take out.
  • Time to sauté the onion and bell peppers. Give it a couple of minutes to sauté the veggies before adding the garlic.  You don't want the garlic to burn. Cook until all veggies are tender.
  • TIP: if your onion is getting a little burned before being tender add a little bit of water to the pot.
  • Put in the CrockPot - oregano, one can of Chipotle Sauce and two cups of beef broth and stir all together.
  • Beef goes in the CrockPot.
  • Set you CrockPot for high for 4 hours. (I don't like to cook my beef on low in the CrockPot. I think the beef gets too dry on the low setting).
  • Make sure to check your liquid levels during cooking.

Beef is done, time to serve it to your crowd. You can certainly shred the beef, but we do like the beef in chunks. You can cut the beef into bitesize chunks. The beef is juicy and tender, you can discard the sauce the beef was cooking in. (Or you can certainly skim off the fat and reduce the liquid in a sauce pan. It will have a kick. The beef on its own is not spicy). I typically serve the beef with rice, guacamole, salsa, pepper jack cheese and Costco uncooked flour tortillas. I know it adds another step to your cooking, but it is so worth it! And if you really want to step it up.. Here is a recipe for Homemade Corn Tortillas!

Homemade Corn Tortillas:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups masa harina, more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fat such as melted lard, butter or canola oil
  • 1 cup hot water, plus more as needed

Directions:

  • Place masa and salt in a bowl and throughly combine with the fat, mixing with fingers or a whisk. (KitchenAid works great for this). Slowly stream in the water while mixing until the dough comes together into a ball.
  • Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Divide the dough into 12 portions and form each into a smooth ball.
  • Place masa balls on a baking sheet, cover with plastic, rest for 30 minutes.
  • After the dough has rested, preheat a cast iron skillet over medium-high for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium.
  • If the dough has dried slightly during resting, wet hands and roll each ball again to moisten. Place the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap and place directly in the center of the tortilla press. Press down firmly, then durn the tortilla 90 degrees and press again.
  • Transfer it into the hot skillet. Cook the tortilla until brown spots appear on the bottom, about 1 minute. Flip with a thin metal spatula, and do the same on the other side.

TIP: Sur La Table has many great gadgets how to keep you tortillas warm while you are cooking the rest. The homemade tortillas might sound intimidating, but they are really easy. I have taken a class at Sur La Table with my friend and the tortillas were piece a cake to make and the flavor was amazing!!

 

Dobrou Chut!

 

 

 


3T Sloppy Joes - Kids Favorite!

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This recipe is so good that I have made it twice in two days. It is a hit with adults and children. I have made the first batch for a fun nail party my friend invited us to. Doing your nails is a lot of work and the ladies enjoyed a small slider Sloppy Joes treat afterwards. My second batch was for my friend who just had her third baby girl. I love my MOPS mamas, what a great way to connect with other moms in the area and make life long friends. Our family has sure appreciated when our friends showed up with a warm meal when our children were babies. The Cowboss didn't have to cook for weeks even though he was on the cooking duties, so I could tend to our little rascals. I'm always happy to bring a meal to a friend and check out their new bundle of joy.

Sloppy Joes on a toasted bun is always a winner of a dinner. Our two little guys are not that coordinated yet to eat the Sloppy Joes on a bun, so I mix up the cooked beef mixture in their homemade mac and cheese. They can "skillfully" work the fork. ;)

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs 3T ground beef
  • 2 cups chopped up celery or green peppers are great as well
  • 1 cup chopped up onion
  • 1 cup chopped up carrots
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon Lowry's Garlic Pepper Seasoning (optional, this is our 3T staple seasoning)
  • 2 tablespoons of yellow mustard
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar (Taste it first after the first tablespoon. We have liked the savory version with just one tablespoon, but some people like the sweeter version)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons Canola oil

Directions.

  • Cut up your veggies.
  • Heat up your good size pot and put in 2 tablespoon of oil.
  • Saute veggies for about 5-10 minutes.
  • Include the another tablespoon of oil and stir in the ground beef. Stir for 5 minutes.
  • Time to put in the seasoning - salt, pepper, ground mustard, garlic powder, Lowry's, yellow mustard, ketchup, sugar and Worcestershire Sauce.
  • Stir to combine all of the ingredients and let it cook for another 10 minutes. Keep stirring.
  • Time to serve it up on a toasted bun with homemade mac and cheese.

How easy wast that?! Dobrou chut!

 

 


Even the Smallest Ranch Hands Check the Cows - Swedish Meatballs

Every afternoon after their nap time, the kids and I venture outside to look for our yearlings. Our family likes schedule and know what comes next. You would be surprised, but the cows are predictable as well. Every afternoon around 3:00 PM, the yearlings come to water and then head to the north side of the property. Perfect timing to check out the young steers and heifers. I think Junior's first word was "moo", not mama or dada. That little guy sure loves his cows.

The afternoon outings keep us busy, the kids get some fresh air and explore the surrounding, including being curious about dry cow pies. Don't get me even started on that one! By the time we get home, we are ready to start our dinner routine.

A couple of nights ago I made Swedish Meatballs. It was easy and fast, so the little guys didn't lose their "cool" before dinner was served. The unique spices in the meatballs made it a nice change to the typical marinara meatballs.

Ingredients:

Meatballs

  • 1 lb 3T ground beef
  • 1/4 breadcrumbs (plain), panko also works great
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (Don't overdo it with this spice, it is crucial to the recipe, but it can also overpower it. Measure for sure, don't eyeball it).
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1 tablespoon grain mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • Lingonberry jam (Not a big deal, if you don't have it. It is a garnish).

Directions: 

  • Mix your meatball ingredients and heat up a large deep pan.
  • Use a heaping tablespoon of the beef mixture to roll your meatballs.
  • Put in oil in the pan and fry your meatballs on each side. They don't have to be cooked all the way through as you will finish the cooking process in the sauce. The meatballs need to have a nice crust on them.
  • Take the meatballs out of the pan and start working on the sauce.
  • Add a little bit of oil and stir in flour. Stir and let it cook for about 30 seconds. Slowly pour in the beef broth. Continue stirring, so you don't get lumps in the sauce.
  • Add milk, mustard, salt and pepper.
  • Let the sauce thicken while stirring for about 5 minutes.
  • Put in meatballs and coat them in the sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes on low to medium heat.
  • Right before serving stir in chopped up parsley.
  • I have served the meatballs with mashed potatoes and green beens.

Tip: You don't have to use a lot of butter and cream to make tasty mashed potatoes. I have used only one tablespoon of grassfed butter and warm beef stock to make the potatoes creamy. The key point is the warm beef stock, it has to be warm. Salt, pepper and garlic/pepper seasoning is always a staple in the mashies.

Dobrou Chut!


Mexican Beef Barbacoa - 3T Test Kitchen

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I enjoy watching the FB cooking videos, it gives me ideas on what to cook for my family. Last weekend, I have seen a tasty looking Mexican Beef Barbacoa. Our family likes beef and we like Mexican food, so I had to try it out. It came out delish and it is definitely on our dinner rotation list! I have made a few tweaks to suit our family's taste buds, but the core of the recipe was awesome. My Cowboss is on a roll to decrease the amount of sugar we eat, so I have omitted the sugar in this recipe all together.

Here is the link to the original recipe and below you can find our tweaks and tips!

Ingredients:

  • 4 Chile De Ristra (mild) - dry chile peppers - The original recipe calls for a couple of different chile peppers, but I was only able to find Chile De Ristra at our grocery store. It was a great substitution. (soaked, stemmed and seeded)
  • 1 (3 lb) beef chuck roast - I have used Eye of the Round Roast - this type of roast is very lean and great for this recipe as it has to cook for some time.
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 chipotle in adobo
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon - I have increased the amount of the spices. You need flavor, don't be afraid of it!
  • 1/2 cup water - I have used the water that was left over from my Chile De Ristra soaking

 

Directions:

  1. Place dried peppers into a bowl or jar and fill with water until covered. Soak for 20 minutes until softened.
  2. Bring the roast to room temperature - about 30 minutes. Season roast with salt and pepper. Heat a large cast iron pot over high heat. Add in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sear roast on all sides. Once seared, remove pot from heat and set aside.
  3. In a blender, add in Chile De Ristra peppers, chipotle, garlic, cider vinegar, salt, oregano, cinnamon, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and water. Blend until smooth, adding more water if necessary to thin it out enough to blend.
  4. Pour sauce over chuck roast in the crock pot or insta pot. See specific directions for the crock pot or insta pot below.
  5. Shred and serve. If you are using Eye of the Round Roast - thinly slice the meat after you are done cooking the beef and put back into the sauce. The beef will absorb a good amount of the sauce and it will be nice and tender.
Notes
CROCK POT: Place seasoned roast in a crock pot. Make sauce according to directions and pour over meat. Cook on high 6 hours, or low 8 to 10 hours. Thinly slice the beef and put back into the sauce for another 20 minutes.

INSTANT POT: 3T's preferred method. Use the sear setting to sear seasoned roast. Make sauce and pour over meat. Cook on the beef/stew setting for about 70 minutes. Take out, thinly slice the meat, put it back into the insta pot and let it cook for another 5-10 minutes on the sear setting. Make sure to stir around and don't walk away!

 


Tips for a Successful Stir Fry 

Prep ahead!

  • Make your marinade/sauce.
  • Marinate your meat - sirloin is a great cut for a stir fry.
  • Thinly slice your veggies.
  • Slice your meat thinly and against the grain.

Heat up your wok! 

  • Yes, the wok makes a big difference. Invest in it, it will pay you back by producing wonderful dinners.
  • Heat up your wok. Use 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and 1/2 tablespoon of canola oil. Add this oil combo for each batch as well as the veggies. 

Don't overcrowd your wok with beef!

  • Sear your beef slices in batches. Each piece of beef needs its own space. If you overcrowd your pan, you will end up steaming your meat and that will make the beef tough. 
  • It usually takes me 3-4 batches of beef to sear it properly. 
  • Put your seared meat in a bowl while you are working on your other batches.
  • Between each batch of beef let your wok heat up again. Add extra oil.  

Don't cook your beef all the way through!

  • Cook your beef slices for about 30 seconds on each side. Get a nice brown crust. 
  • Don't stir your beef. One side 30 seconds, flip, second side 30 seconds.
  • It is ok to still see some pink/red. Your beef will finish cooking in the sauce. 

Veggies next!

  • Add more oil to your wok, let it heat up again and add veggies. 
  • Our favorite combo is bok choy, carrots, broccoli, onion, green onions.
  • Stir away the veggies!

Final touch!

  • Add beef and sauce to the veggies and heat through - couple of minutes is plenty! 

Tips from the Cowboss!

  • Omit the brown sugar in any of your sauce/marinate recipes. Trust him, you won't miss the sweetness. Let the taste of the beef shine.
  • Add extra garlic or ginger to your Asian recipes and you won't miss the brown sugar. 

Everything in Moderation

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Some of us come up with new year's resolutions as we strive to make the best of the new year. This year, our family is coming up with achievable goals for 2018. It is great to dream big, but this year, we want our resolutions to come through for us.

Christmas cookies were a big temptation for me over the holidays. I probably had too many.. So, my new year resolution is to eat with moderation. I know myself.. I start with a big workout goal, set calories per day and later in the spring I feel like I just couldn't do it. So, this year, I do it all with moderation!

My friends and I joined the FIT MOMS workout. Twice a week, kiddos tackle along and we hold each other accountable. We are going, we catch up, our kids play and everyone is happy and tired after the workout.

Instead of a strict diet, we eat in moderation. Here is what we did last night. Burgers are a big hit at our household. French fries, BBQ sauce, ketchup, bacon.. you name it. Instead, we have opted for baked potato wedges, I had my burger with a lettuce "bun"and the boys went with wheat buns and plenty of vegetables on their plates. We also like a "fry sauce", but I have made it with greek yogurt instead of mayo as well as used 50% less sugar ketchup. Small moderations, yet big drop in calories. At the end of the night, everyone was happy with their burger dinner and we didn't feel like we just ate too much.

What is the best way to season our beef burgers?

  • 1 lb 3T ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard (this really makes the burgers delicious!!!)

Well, we are sticking to our "eat in moderation" resolution!


Mexican Lasagna - "Saved by the Dinner" Recipe

The kids didn't nap yesterday and I needed a "Saved by the Dinner" recipe. Why? The Cowboss worked the cows all day, our Top Ranch Hand had football practice all afternoon and our two little guys were a mess all day. Some days are just harder than others. However, a good family dinner can turn everything around. No TV, phones or any sorts of gatgets. Over a good dinner, our teenager talks to our toddler, the Cowboss and I get to catch up about our day and the baby babbles to all of us. The rule is just good things are discussed over dinner. I can't tell you how many hard days were "Saved by the Dinner" and ended on a good note. 

Anyways, here is a 30 minute recipe that you can pull off on any hard day you may encounter! 

http://www.theslowroasteditalian.com/2012/09/simple-mexican-lasagna.html?utm_source=FBRC&m=1


Texas Style Brisket

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This recipe was so good. Our family ate the whole brisket last night for dinner. I have made this dish for my cowboys the day came home from hunting. They are not exactly roughing it when they go hunting as the cabin is quite comfortable, but I wanted to have a nice dish ready for them. We did miss them and were happy to have them home.

They came home, shared their hunting stories, took showers, wanted a quick grilled cheese sandwiches and hit the bed. Well, change of plans! Brisket will be served the next night, when they can keep their eyes open.

This recipe came from the Pioneer Woman. I was catching up on her cooking show while the guys were away. It is delicious. We typically smoke all of our roasts, especially brisket, but I had to try this recipe. We have all licked our fingers and ate it all!

Ingredients:

  • 3T brisket
  • 2 sliced onions
  • 1 head of garlic - just peel it
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • Two 15-ounce cans red enchilada sauce (We like Hatch brand). 
  • 1/2 cup water (Check half way through, if your sauce needs more liquid).

Directions:

  • Put the garlic and onions into a 6-quart slow cooker.
  • Place the brisket on top.
  • Sprinkle over the ancho powder and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  • Pour in the enchilada sauce.
  • Cover and cook on low until the meat falls apart, about 8 hours.
  • Check your liquid and add water, if necessary.
  • I have sliced the meat vs shredding it. We like the texture of the beef better.
  • I have served the beef with Mexican style rice, flour taco tortillas, guacamole, salsa and cheese.

Dobrou chut!


3T Zucchini Chocolate Coconut Cake

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Well, we got our first snow this week and my garden is officially done for the season. The past weekend, I have tried to harvest as much as I could before the snow storm. I will have to remind the Cowboss to "remind me" next spring that I shouldn't plant that many zucchini plants. It was a little too much, but our chickens sure liked the leftover squash.

The cowboys were hunting pronghorn this past weekend and the little guys and I "manned" the ranch. So, we have picked our zucchinis, carrots, beets, tomatoes, peppers and somehow we still had strawberries?! That was a first one for sure.

As I had plenty of time on my hands at night, I decided to shred, freeze and can everything I could. Zucchini processing was one of them. I have packed two cups of shredded squash into freezer safe ziplock bags for baking. Pre-measured and ready to go.

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My sister was "manning" her own household and yet again we ended up talking about food and cooking. She baked this zucchini cake while her kiddos finally went down for the night. It is an old family recipe that our grandma used to make. Easy and tasty and versatile. You can use shredded apples instead of the zucchini. Grandma aka babi was so good with using up all of the produce from her garden. I sure do miss her. Actually, I so miss both of them. Best grandparents and great-grandparents.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups of shredded zucchini or apples
  • jam, Nuttela or melted chocolate for the top of the cake

Directions:

  • Spray 13x9 pan with canola, so you can get the cake out of the pan.
  • Mix all ingredients really well. You don't even need a mixer!
  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and bake for 40 minutes.
  • Let it cool for 20 minutes and your cake should come out as "piece of cake"!
  • You can spread your favorite jam or Nuttela or melted chocolate over the top. Grandma even did powdered sugar and milk glaze. All are wonderful!
  • The kids like it and it is even better with a friend that just showed up for an afternoon coffee or tea.

P.S Here is the cake my sister baked. She is today 32! Funny girl she is!

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