Balsamic & Wine Beef Shank

Oh beef shank how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Beef Shank is one of the most versatile roasting cuts of meat we have in the store.  Sold in pack of 2 it is great for just 2 people. Packs range from 1-2 lbs due to the increasing size as the butcher works their way up the leg. At $8.49 per lb it is a pretty good deal for small households. In fact I really can’t tell you the last time I made a huge chuck roast. 1-2 packs gives my family of 3 plenty to eat with leftovers for another meal.

Rich in flavor, lightly marbled, & plenty of connective shank must be cooked for a long time.  Don’t let it scare you off though. It is the perfect piece to throw in to the crock pot or dutch oven then come home to at night. In fact I’m going to recommend that you use the crockpot on low for this one for 6-7 hours. I used my dutch oven for 4 hours then complained that dinner wasn’t ready yet. Jeanette made fun of me deservedly so. It came out perfectly done 2 hours later.  Tonight my family will enjoy it for dinner, meats dishes always taste better the 2nd day anyways.

She keeps me oh so humble.


Cube Steak Alarita Style

Have we all recovered from the “This is Us” crockpot episode? I may never! Rutabaga’s need to use my oven on the daily basis to bake desserts has me using my new trusty crockpot to all of my friends & family’s glee.  After my 2 decades of disdain for crockpot they are all getting a great laugh that I’m using one.  I’ll sit here and eat my humble pie. I’m still not happy with relying on the darn thing. My tween  baker though needs to experiment and bake tasty desserts much to my waistlines demise.

The crazy weather we have been having is wrecking my weekly menu. Today and tomorrow will be in the 60’s the rest of the week will be 40’s. The nice thing though is that it is sunnier here in Raleigh than it was in Nashville during February. I remember one February back in the early 2000’s that we had 0 days of sunshine in Nashville. Good sunshine goes a long ways on cold days.

The folks at Alarita are always full of sunshine though. It is a great family business where I have yet to see one of them smiling. It is pretty contagious when you’re around them. Their happiness for life translates into their products giving you bright happy flavors. Their dry rub has a great herb mixture for my tomatoes with just enough sweetness to dampen the acidity.  The dry rub also works well on roasted veggies. The first time I met Jeanette I took her roasted eggplant with Alarita on it. She was an instant fan & is the one behind my home canned tomatoes I’ll be using today.

Cube steak is a machine tenderized coming from the round. Typically top round. It is one that needs a slow cooking process to help make it tender. Hello Crockpot.  In each package  of NCF Cube steak there are 3-4 steak(mostly 4)  priced at $9 per lb. Perfectly portioned for a hearty meal when the sun goes down and it turns cold out.  Alarita Seasoning runs $8 a bottle, buy it this will not be the only recipe you use it for.  This is one spice I use frequently in my cooking. Finally I’m going to top this meal at the end with Redneck Romano as tomatoes slow cooked beg for cheese. Redneck Romano is sold for 9.45 per lb and is sold in 8 oz wedges in our store.

Now to  throw everything into the pot set it and forget it till dinner. Try not to think of Jack too much.


Has Taco Tuesday been a regular event in your household for years? It has been in mine. Our daughter loves Taco Tuesday. We do a variety of tacos, fajitas, & enchiladas to keep up variety. Rutabaga never realized that Taco Tuesday was an actual thing until the Lego Movie came out.  Now that she knows it is a thing she is try to also get a Taco Thursday on the schedule every week. Some weeks I give in. My tween could eat tacos at every meal.


One of the things that I like to do is avoid spice packets. High Blood Pressure and Heart disease run through my family like the Mississippi.  Those nice little flavor packets at the grocery store are easily reproducible at home with an even better flavor.  And the great news is that you can control the sodium. While I love Pinterest for their recipes I hate the “packet of this, packet of that” recipes. When you look at the sodium suddenly you’re eating a weeks worth of sodium in one sitting. Eeek! In the NCF store we sell the taco shells for $5.75 per pack.

Let’s talk taco shells for just a moment. While the  filling of the taco is important so is the shell. Typically I prefer soft shell, however we recently began carrying Mamacita’s Taco Shells.  You know those yummy Tortilla Chips that we carry. They’re now making them into Taco Shells.

This recipe is simple just use quality ingredients. Ground Beef in the NCF store is $7.99 a lb. Ground Chuck (if you want a steak flavor) is $8.75 lb. Both of these grounds run fairly low fat. I do not drain off the fat. I’m a believer that fat is what makes your brain release the hormones to let you know to quit eating.

Rabbit Cassoulet

Rabbit is becoming more of a mainstay among the American diet. I have started seeing several friends posting that they are having rabbit for dinner. When my family dines out we are seeing it on the menu more often. Why? Rabbit is a great hardy animal to raise for meat. The best part is it’s the healthiest meat & most environmentally friendly meat you can buy.  We just have to overcome the idea of what is in your head.

Cassoulet comes to use from France named for its cooking vessel.  You can use any meat to make this versatile dish. Duck, Rabbit, Chicken , Beef, & Pork can all be used. (If using red meat switch to Pinot Noir and add 2 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste).  If you need to make it fast use 2 cans of beans and lower the amount of of liquids to 1 cup wine & 1 cup broth. If using chicken then use chicken broth instead of beef.  If I was only only allowed 1 meal it would be Rabbit Cassoulet. The scent of this dish stayed in my house overnight, making me wish I had more of it to eat for breakfast.

Rabbit runs in the NCF Store for $10.50 per lb. Each rabbit weighs between 2.5 lbs and 3.5 lbs.  If we hadn’t had friends over for dinner this easily would have fed our family for several  meals. In this dish we also use NCF Italian Mild Sausage which sells for $10 per lb.  The rabbit and sausage pair perfectly together giving a great flavor profile.

Eye of Round with Mustard Herb Crust

Christmas time is here! Holiday cooking makes my soul sing, rich heavy flavors followed by bright sides are my thing.

This year we are a bit low on Prime Rib as we have 1 very ambitious client. Therefore let’s look at the Eye of Round for our Holiday Meal. Thinly sliced, it will set a beautiful table with it’s own natural juices.  With the mustard herbed  crust it will bring flavor.

I’m going to use Lusty Monk in this dish. When fresh from the jar it can be quite spicy.  As the mustard cooks though, the heat of the spice mellows. Preparing the roast the night before enhances the flavor and allows the marinade to mature, you’ll get the deep rich flavor, perfect for Christmas dinner.

Having a Holiday Party? This dish can also be slices thinly and served on yeast rolls or rolled by itself a fancy toothpick. No toothpicks lay a fancy fork on a plate with the meat displayed in a pretty Carpaccio pattern.

Looking for another Holiday meal try my Brisket Tostada Recipe. Serve it roast style, last year our client Donna served it with rolls at a holiday party, the brisket was a big hit with her family. Want another fun dish for the Lusty Monk? Try our Deli Ham Roll-Ups. And you can always pair the Lusty Monk with our Bratwurst and Two Chicks Farm Sauerkraut. <— SWMBO’s Favorite store combo

5 Spice Sticky Ribs

Traditionally Ninja Cow sells English style thick cut short ribs. These are great for the crock pot or dutch oven. For smaller families I recommend them or shanks instead of roasts. They have great flavor  & texture while still being quite a bit cheaper. This is what I usually feed my family  since we are now a party of 3 these days. The bonus is you can be pretty versatile with these and use any leftovers for sandwiches or fajitas.

This past spring we began getting requests for a thinner Asian style rib. I talked to Chaudhry’s. Unfortunately they couldn’t get us down to the 1/4″ that I had desired. The were able to cut them much thinner and horizontal to give me a more versatile product for grilling and stir frying.  Wait did I just say the word fry? Hmm what could be more delicious than an Asian style sticky rib. Ooo I have that 5 spice from the Drunk Duck.  

Boys & girls this is where being a Chef becomes 1 part art and another part mad scientist.  Last year I had a 5 spice rib on a food truck. I talked watched and learned now it is time to recreate with this awesome rib here at home. This will be a project where irresponsible children should not be in the kitchen. And one where distractions should be kept to a minimum.  And where I kinda wish I had one of those new fancy air fryers. After I remove the rib from the frying oil I will immediately be dredging in brown sugar. The heat will caramelize the sugar and spice to the rib. To add a bit of crisp to that we will hit it with the broiler.  MMMMM, let’s go.

The cost on ribs in the  Ninja Cow Store is $7.99 a lb.  That is roughly $1.75-$3 a lb cheaper than our roasts. And since we now carry the 2 different cuts they are quite versatile.  Let me also give an honorable mention to the Beef Osso Bucco cut at $8.49 lb. That is the perfect amount for 1-2 people, it is a perfect crock pot cut as well.

Turkey Brine & Spice Butter

My husband and I have joked around for a while now that we are the Green Acres Family. We lived for several years next to Disney in Celebration, FL For a few of those years I had the privilege of living next to one of my closests friends. We often said that we were going to dig a tunnel between our houses for rainy days. I really miss those days especially during Thanksgiving & Christmas. We’d run back & forth all day & night sharing ingredients.

I stole this from one of Dan’s previous blogs.

Jess & I have a love of Martha Stewart Recipes and that is where I go for my Turkey Brine & Spice Butter Recipe.  She shared this recipe with me years ago & I use it often both on Turkey & Chicken.  I’ll add pictures to this once Thanksgiving is past, gotta make sure that you guys have a great recipe to use for the actual holiday.