Crown City Cooking | Tomato Beef Surprise

The Budget Meal that Started it All!

If you’ve been reading my blog faithfully, you know I am not shy when it comes to talking about my low-income upbringing. My parents lived paycheck to paycheck and made every last dollar count. This was always most prevalent in the meals my father would prepare throughout the week. Sure, certain weeks were better than others, Dad might get a couple steaks on sale and we would eat like royalty if only for a single dinner. But the dinners I remember most fondly didn’t involve decadent cuts of meat or multiple side dishes. No, they involved the lower tier meats that only worked when combining them with something else. They involved laboring over a stove relentlessly until your multiple ingredients were ready to meld. For me, the pinnacle of these budget meals will always be Tomato Beef Surprise, a dish my mother originally introduced to me at the ripe old age of five.

On it’s own, Tomato Beef Surprise is three simple ingredients (four if you decide to slice onions into the mix) that, when combine, scream “poor people food” to those lucky enough to be born in a gated community. I may never understand why this dish tastes so wonderful, it just does.

 

Ingredients

Elbow Macaroni

Ground Beef

Ketchup

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil and add the elbow macaroni. Stir occasionally so that the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Cook until the noodles are al dente or completely cooked through, whichever your preference is this should take between 10 and 15 minutes.

  2. While the noodles cook, add the ground beef to a pan and cook on high heat until fully cooked through, this will be another 10 to 15 minutes depending on how high you cook the beef. Make sure to take a spatula and chop up the meat like you would if you were making Sloppy Joes. The only thing you need to add to the beef is a little salt and pepper, do not cook in butter or oil since you’ll be draining the beef of all excess liquid.

  3. Drain the noodles and beef respectively. Add both to a big bowl.

  4. Add a liberal amount of ketchup and stir. Repeat this process until your meal is completely tinted a light reddish color. Whenever I cook TBS I use between a quarter to half a bottle of ketchup. Give the whole concoction an extra few minutes to meld before serving. You can store in the fridge for over a week, TBS is THAT dependable!

As always, here is a photo of my final product. Here’s hoping you enjoy this crown jewel of a memory and remember to share your photos with us in the comments!

Enjoy!

-CCC

 

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Crown City Cooking 2 | Smoked Deception

The latest episode of podcast, Crown City Cook is finally here for your listening pleasure!

It’s two of the greatest foodcast ever! Prepare for discussions about Joey Chestnut, Anthony Bourdain, rare blue lobsters, inferno drinks and sausage preferences. You won’t believe what’s being done in a restaurant in Manhattan, something so vial it would make you flip the dining room table. Spoiler alert: white people are to blame again in an all new round of That’s Not A Substitute. All this and Vincent Price.

Shout outs to local flavors Diablo Doughnuts, Clark Burger and Lib’s Grill!

 

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Crown City Cooking | Chicken in Mushroom Gravy

Another budget meal staple!

My father had an arsenal of chicken recipes that would impress any top tier chef. But that never mattered to my mother. Her all time favorite was chicken in mushroom gravy, which my dad happily made whenever she would request it. Generally, this recipe is for a large family or one guy who has way too much chicken on his hands. I have modified the recipe to make a small batch of this wonderful stuff.

 

Ingredients

  1. Four pieces of chicken with skin (dealer’s choice, i prefer thighs and drumsticks)
  2. Three small cans of creme of mushroom soup
  3. Chicken stock (optional)
  4. 1 package of button mushrooms
  5. 1 package of minute rice (optional, white rice was always my mom’s favorite side to eat with CMG. Something we still do to this day)

Instructions

  1. Add the three cans of creme of mushroom and half a cup of chicken stock to a pot. You can use a half cup of water if you prefer or if chicken stock isn’t readily available, the stock itself helps by adding extra flavor but you wont lose any of that overall if you decide to use water. Stir occasionally over high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. While the gravy heats up, take your raw chicken and give it a wash under cold water, pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.
  3. Take your packet of mushrooms, wash and pat dry before slicing. I prefer slicing my mushrooms to create the illusion of more mushrooms but you can treat them however you like. Quarter them, half them, rip the stem out and only use the bulb… the choice is yours! Set aside.
  4. Once the gravy is boiling, add the chicken and mushrooms and give a slow stir, making sure the chicken is completely covered by the hot gravy.
  5. Set the stove to low heat and stick a cover on the pot. Check occasionally to make sure the gravy isn’t simmering over the lid. You also want to make sure to stir slowly when checking the pot, this will help keep the skin intact.
  6. Let simmer on the stove for 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours. The longer the better, this will ensure your chicken is fully cooked and super tender to the point it falls off the bone.
  7. Serve over white rice or whatever side you feel goes best with chicken in mushroom gravy. Enjoy!

Here’s a quick photo of my last batch. Though the chicken isn’t the prettiest bird on the block it was still incredibly savory and tender the whole way through. Make sure to share your photos with us if you should try this recipe at home!

Chicken in Mushroom Gravy w/ white rice

-CCC

 

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Crown City Cooking | Bootleg Lettuce Wraps

Screw P.F. Chang’s! Here’s a simple recipe for making these delicious appetizers at home!

 

Ingredients

3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 pound ground beef

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

8 ounces of chopped white button mushrooms

3 minced cloves of garlic

1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions

2 heads of Bibb lettuce

 

Instructions

  1. Make some wrap sauce. Whisk three tablespoons of Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside for later.

  2. Heat one teaspoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook until it is fully cooked through, about 10 minutes. Once finished, the beef can be set aside in a large bowl for later.

  3. Add another teaspoon of oil to the pan you just cooked the beef in. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally. This should take about five minutes or until the garlic begins to brown.

  4. Combine the vegetables and beef and put back in the pan. Add the scallions and the sauce and cook for another two to three minutes.

  5. Break off your wraps from the head of lettuce and serve. You can add a myriad of extra toppings such as cracked black pepper, hot sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese or even packets of duck sauce if you have any laying around from your last carry-out order. The possible add-ons are limitless!

 

Unfortunately, mine didn’t turn out as pretty as P.F. Chang’s so I wont be sharing any photos this time around. Try it out yourself and don’t forget to post your photos in the comments section!

-CCC

 

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Crown City Cooking | Fish in a Pouch

This recipe is virtually idiot proof… just make sure you don’t touch the stove!

 

Ingredients:

  1. A chunk of fish (dealer’s choice. I prefer skinless Alaskan salmon)
  2. Vegetables (dealer’s choice)
  3. Olive oil
  4. Salt and Pepper
  5. Aluminum Foil

 

Directions:

  1. Take a large enough piece of aluminum foil and curl it together to make a pouch.
  2. Drizzle the olive oil in the foil to help keep the fish from sticking.
  3. Place the chunk of fish inside the foil. If there is skin on one side of your fish, place the chunk skin side down. Optionally, you could marinate your fish in a variety of sauces for an hour prior to cooking.
  4. Scatter the vegetables in the pouch followed by a pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Close the pouch making sure there are no openings.
  6. Put the pouch in a frying pan and cook on medium heat for ten minutes.
  7. Carefully open and remove the food from the pouch, avoiding any plumes of steam.

 

Teriyaki Salmon w/ mushrooms

 

With the various combinations you could create using this recipe, I thought it would be fun to share with you what I ended up making. This is skinless Alaskan salmon that I marinated for several minutes in teriyaki sauce with sliced mushrooms. It held a little of the marinade’s flavor but not much since I only let it sit for a few minutes, fortunately the mushrooms soaked up what ran off the cooking fish. Flaky and delicious in 10 minutes! Get creative when trying this dish at home and post your results in the comments!

Enjoy!

-CCC

 

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