Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cattlemen to Cattlemen

This week has been a whole lot of recipe testing and yesterday I helped cater a meal. We made Argentinian Beef Melts (open-faced sandwiches with chimichuri, roasted red peppers, and provolone cheese), chips and guacamole (starting to love the is VERY popular here), a green salad, and dulce de leche butter cookies. The sandwich recipe is on the Beef It's What's for Dinner website ( . I encourage you all to look there :)

Also I am going to help out on the culinary team's next segment for Cattlemen to Cattlemen. This is kind of like a Mr. Food clip equivalent to home. My co-workers have short videos on this website if you would like to look any of them up and "meet" them. You will learn many tips on how to cook beef properly.

I should mention that I was introduced to the tri-tip roast this week. WOW! What a great cut of meat. It started off being prevalent in California and is working its way over--hopefully to Iowa soon! You can grill it, roast it, saute it and finish in the oven (I sound like Buba talking about shrimp-haha). Either way it tastes like a cross between a sirloin steak and a filet. I had it served in a Greek Salad.

Please look up a clip or two!

Everyone have a good Friday...and a great 4th of July weekend :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Southglen Shopping Center

 This weekend I decided it was time to stop by the Southglen shopping center to walk around. I also have another place to shop, Park Meadows Mall which is a few blocks from where I'm staying, but to me I just feel like I am being swallowed by all of those people by myself (it is comparable to Jordan Creek in Des Moines).

Usually I do not get too excited about shopping, unless it is at William-Sonoma or Crate and Barrel, but I thought I would give it a chance. What I found is that this shopping center is like a gorgeous park complete with hanging plants and places to eat.  There were fountains in a couple of locations and a courtyard. I knew right away that I was going to bring my family here when they come mid-July! Yes, Hattie there is a Macy's and Maemie there is a Mexican restaurant. Mom, I went in to the store Parmida...and it is right up your alley (candles, bowls, maybe even some fake fruit--haha). and I can enjoy the scenery!

My foodie personality took over and I checked out Whole Foods as well. It was quite the experience! The butchers counter had options ranging from bison burgers to scallops. Exotic fruit and veggies filled the produce section. What I will say is you have to pay attention to sales. On special was three pints worth of blueberries for $5.99...on the other hand there was a section with take-home, cut up mixed fruit and berries where two pints equalled a whopping $13.00! I about fainted :)

I did find some lunch there...again you have to be careful because they sell food by weight. Sorry everyone...I enjoy good salmon once in a while! Also I had some edamame succotash and wheatberry/quinoa salad on the side. I took it outside to eat as there are tables for customers...and it was perfect! Can't wait to show people this hidden gem!

Today I get to have lunch with a girl who was in my Bible study this past semester! She is staying in Breckenridge for the summer. It will be fun to have some girl talk :)

 A couple of some cute food stands are near the courtyard area...

 Mom, this is your store!
YUM! Izzie is a fruit juice and sparkling water beverage...very tasty :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Recipe Testing

 Thai Burger

Today was my first day of being an official recipe tester. To explain the whole process thus far, I will describe the steps to recipe testing:

Week 1: Brainstorm-The culinary team and the woman in charge of the website discuss what recipes are lacking and what recipes are the newest trend.  Team members each give their ideas, and recipes are decided on.

Week 2: Recipes are researched and written based off of your findings in literature, online, and common knowledge.

Week 3: Test sheets are made through the database with "cook's tips" and questions for the tester on the correct amounts in the recipes.

Week 4: The first round of testing is done.  Recipe testers are hired, who are trained in producing proper yields and assigning the correct amounts (knowing conversions, cooked weight, edible weight, etc).

Week ????: Recipes can be tested once or as many times as 13! The recipe tester who worked with me today (who is a regular and super awesome) told me she had to make a recipe for a meatloaf that took 13 times! It was for the American Heart Association, and had to contain little fat and low sodium--she said it was a challenge to make it taste good.

The next step after the recipe is to the recipe tester's liking is that the recipe goes under "double check" where it is assigned to another recipe tester to see if the same results are achieved. This way it is known for sure if an everyday consumer could make it consistently.

It may also be tested in the Chicago offices to make sure the altitude does not change the recipe too much.

After double check status as been passed, the recipe is under draft format and is up to the person in charge of the website to edit it.

These recipes are under test 2's and the burger is on test 3. I created all the recipes for this round of new recipes for the website. It has been exciting to see the process progress. My favorite part so far has been testing the recipes in the kitchen! 

Usually this dish is made with veal shanks, but is very tasty so far using beef shanks. The regular tester was in charge of this looks very nice! She knows what she's doing...she went to culinary school :)

Every ingredient has to be example would be chopping an onion and measuring out 2 cups. The next step would be seeing how many ounces that equals. I browned the meat in batches for the Beef Tikka Masala and had to write how many chunks of stew meat were in each batch and how long each batch was seared before flipping over. Details, details, details!

The dish below in its completion is Beef Tikka Masala. Traditionally, in Indian cuisine this is made with chicken and yogurt. Someone on the team wanted to see how a beef tikka masala would taste. I decided beef stew meat would go good with the flavors...and it was turned into an Indian stew-type of recipe. Also, instead of yogurt I thought we should finish the dish with fat free half and half.  Peas are stirred into this flavorful combination made of a ginger tomato sauce and infused with garam masala. This is a spice blend of coriander, cinnamon, and other warm spices...the result is not fiery spice but a warm sensation in the back of your throat. Pretty tasty served with rice!

Monday, June 20, 2011

High Line Canal Trail

 Yesterday I took a walk on the High Line Canal Trail. A co-worker of mine had brought me there previously, but it was my first time going on the trail solo. A lot of people, young and old, use this trail and are very friendly.

I was glad to have something to get me out of my room as it was a tough day to be away from home. I did celebrate Father's Day though by getting a couple of Krispy Creme donuts and chocolate milk for breakfast (there is an actual Krispy Creme shop dangerously close to me!). Dad was proud :) At the end of the day, we had our first family skype session! Boy was that fun! I got to say Happy Father's Day to my Dad's handsome face :)

So, back to the trail...beautiful sights! I took a picture of a cottonwood tree for everyone to see. These trees fascinate me...the wind blows their "cotton" everywhere. You have to wear sunglasses just so they don't get into your eyes. They are very pretty trees even though they can be a nuisance. Also, there are some organic honey producers that live along the trail.

The trail system in Colorado is so smart and easy to follow. There are maps all along the trail telling you where you're at and where you can meet up with another trail. Many people use it for biking because you can go for many miles on it. The trail is also very well-shaded.

I hope everyone had great days with their fathers...or thinking of their fathers!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Red Rocks Park

 I was invited to go to Red Rocks Park today and was amazed at what a place it truly is! This naturally-occuring rock formation was turned into an amphitheater in 1910. It houses rock concerts to orchestra concerts...currently Willie Nelson is in concert (I decided to skip that one-haha!). On Monday nights they show movies; July 5th is Top Gun, then the Goonies is after that. The rocks are 6,450 ft. above sea level.  These formations are described as being "Great Plains meet Rocky Mountains." That is a very accurate description, as you see beautiful red rocks in one direction and foothills in the other direction.

The park is near the town of Morrison, CO which is west of Denver (you were right Dad, I do not know my directions...especially here!). We saw people hiking, biking, and also running up the amphitheater seats! It was intense, let me tell you!

 Avid athletes! I even saw someone doing push-ups at an incline DOWN the steps...and of course people with their dogs :)

You can see the Denver skyline from your seat at night I was told.

I had a super day with great people...praise God for his beautiful creation!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's all about the chuck roll, baby!

 I am really enjoying getting to know what NCBA is all about and who makes up each promotional "branch" of beef.  I work for members of the Innovations group.  They are apart of what is known as REI: Research, Education, Innovation.

My supervisor thought it would be good for me to get to know members of the REI team and have them give me some resources while I am here in Colorado.  This has been very successful!

I learned about the chuck roll and even saw it fabricated right in front of my eyes! There is a woman on staff who has a masters from Texas Tech and is very qualified to cut beef. Later I got to be the person who ground up the trimmings and cryo-vacced the meat for her :)

The chuck is split into two different portions, the chuck roll and the chuck shoulder clod.  Many of you may have already heard about new value cuts from the clod as that was researched first. This is where the flat iron steak, ranch steak, and shoulder petite tender are located.  Work done with the chuck shoulder clod rose the value of the entire beef carcass by $70/head; therefore work was to be done with the chuck roll (REI 2009 Annual Report). December 2006 is where they mark the start of technical work on the chuck roll.

To find the tender cuts within the connective tissue, requires skill and precision which cannot be done on the line somewhere. The value added to these cuts are because it is manual labor for someone to cut these. What beautiful cuts of meat they are!

The chuck roll contains the: Sierra cut, Denver cut, America's Beef Roast, Boneless Country-Style Ribs, and Delmonico Steak. All of these photographs are property of the Beef Innovations Group at

Sierra Cut

Denver Cut

America's Beef Roast

Boneless Country-Style Ribs

Delmonico Steak

Hopefully you will all see these in the near future as they make their way into retail markets!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Inside My Digs...

 So...Maemie has informed me that several people would like to see the inside of Marriott's Towne Place Suites. Bear with me, there are quite a few pictures to this blog...but I wanted to be thorough!

I never thought I would see the day when someone would be cleaning up after me because if you know me, you are aware that I love to clean :) Every time I come back from work and my room is cleaned I chuckle to myself! The towels are folded and refreshed, the trash taken out, my bed made, the floor is vacuumed, and blankets are folded. I don't have the heart to tell them I can do it myself--haha!

My closet is spacious with shelving....

The living room area is cute...and the T.V. swivels so that I can see it from the computer AND from my bed.

The kitchen area has granite counter tops, a microwave, oven, and a refrigerator! It is perfect for whipping up meals for myself. The unit also came with a large and small saucepan, a stock pot, saute pan, a cutting board, colander, a spatula, silverware, cereal bowls, plates, and glasses. I am well-equipped!

 This bed is soooooooo comfortable! Enough said ;)

I am a happy camper!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Maid rites + Velveeta Cheese sauce= a great marriage!

The other day I was introduced to the department members at their monthly board meeting. The culinary team made the meal to go along with it as well as catered an event for another meeting in the office.

As we were making a Cabernet Sauvignon BBQ sauce for brisket sandwiches, a co-worker decided that we would only have enough to feed one of our groups for the day. So my supervisor said...why don't I make loose meat sandwiches for the board meeting? I instantly thought...what a great reminder of home!

An added touch, was a decided "maid rite sandwich bar" where there was sauteed mushrooms, jalepenos, shredded cheese, ketchup, mustard, and...VELVEETA CHEESE SAUCE! Why had I never thought of that?! Basically a sauce was made by thinning out velvetta cheese, only slightly because the idea was for the spoon to get stuck in the bowl and glupped up for the next person in line :)

Of course I tried this delicious sauce and added sauteed mushrooms to my maid rite! It was FANTASTIC! We also had potato salad (that was my job--I didn't make Ann's version though...NCBA does not need to know her secrets-ha!), baked beans, chips, and angelfood cupcakes. These cupcakes were a great idea from our pastry chef who made individual, light-as-air, cupcakes and set out the fixins for a strawberry shortcake!

The photo above is not MY maid rite sandwich...I did not have time to take a picture of it before it was devoured :)

Have great weekends everyone!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

FAJITAS!!!! Very Hot, Plate...VERY HOT!

Friends Episode--Where Ross is fine

The culinary team put together two breakfasts and two lunches today.  We made fajitas for lunch...and practically the whole day I was thinking about the Friends episode where Ross made fajIII-taSSS :) It was a good day though, I learned how to work with flank steak...AND it was YUMMY! Everyone should get inspired to have fajita night. Yes, even YOU Dad! You'll like them :)