Philly Cheesesteaks

Here's another quick and easy idea for your dinner repertoire: Philly Cheesesteaks

Our veggie CSA had a few Italian frying peppers in it a few weeks ago, and Farmer Erica (of Good Food Easy) suggested they'd make a great topping for Philly Cheesesteaks. She was right! I used top sirloin steak, but the original recipe calls for skirt steak. 

I loosely followed America's Test Kitchen recipe, here's what I did:

  • 1 lb top sirloin steak, sliced thinly against the grain and then chopped into small pieces (it's easier if the meat is slightly frozen) 
  • 1 T oil (use one that has a high smoke point - I used sunflower)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • About 1/3 cup grated cheese (we used pepper jack cause that's what we had)
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 Italian frying peppers or 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • A handful of cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • Approx. 1/2 cup pickled peppers, sliced
  • Hoagie rolls 
  1. Slice your steak against the grain into thin strips and then chop coarsely until in bite sized pieces. It's easier to do this if your steak is slightly frozen.
  2. Heat 1 T. oil in a cast-iron skillet over high heat until smoking. Add the beef in a single layer and cook without stirring for 4-5 minutes. Stir and continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Transfer the meat to a bowl and mix the cheese in to melt. 
  4. Meanwhile, saute your fresh peppers, onions and mushrooms in butter or oil. Add in the pickled peppers toward the end to warm them up. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the cheesesteak mixture onto a warmed hoagie roll, top with the veggies and enjoy!

Easy Lamb Gyros


My sister-in-law gave me this idea for making easy lamb gyros at home, so when I looked into my veggie CSA share the other night and saw a cucumber, some tomatoes and a red onion I knew what to do!

Basically, you make a free-form meatloaf using ground lamb and Greek-inspired flavors. You could tweak this to whatever herbs and seasonings you have on hand, but here's what I used:

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 egg
  • about 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • one clove garlic, minced 
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Mix all the ingredients above and form into a loaf on a greased pan.
  2. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees.
  3. Finish under the broiler for a few minutes to get a nice browned exterior.

I served this with warmed pitas, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and onions, feta cheese and a homemade tzatziki, which was adapted from America's Test Kitchen's recipe:

  • 1/2 c. greek yogurt 
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced finely
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 T. dill, minced (or could use parsley, mint, etc).
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

It was so good and all came together in less than an hour. A great way to use your ground lamb for a quick and satisfying weeknight meal.

Oh Lardy!

Last night we made an outta-this-world taco feast of carnitas (using a pork shoulder roast) and homemade tortillas using our homemade pork lard.

I thought I'd share this very old blog post on an easy way to render lard in case you want to try your hand at it. Pack it into wide-mouthed mason jars and store it in the fridge - it lasts a looong time. 

{I used Americas Test Kitchen pork carnitas recipe and Pioneer Woman's tortilla recipe - both highly recommended!}


One of the things on my list to make ever since we got our pork back from the butcher is LARD. I know that that word has many negative connotations and associations with unhealthfulness but hear me out on this one.

Did you know that homemade lard has no trans fat, and has less saturated fat and more monounsaturated fat (the "good" type of fat) than butter? I specify homemade since commercial lard is typically hydrogenated to increase its shelf-life and thus has trans fat in it.

To make lard, all you have to do is render pork fat. I used Sheri Salatin's (of Polyface Farm) crock-pot method to render my lard, which made it super easy. All I did was fill my crock-pot with cut up pieces of pork fat (about 4-5 lbs), turn on low and let it melt (I did mine overnight).


After a few hours the fat has melted into a yellowish liquid, leaving behind some solids, aka cracklings. I removed the cracklings and carefully strained the hot liquid into sanitized & hot quart-sized jars (ETA - I have since learned to use widemouthed pint jars - it's easier to scoop out the lard later).

I tried the cracklings, but I must admit that was not my thing. Chloe, however, did seem to be quite interested in them. She may or may not have gotten a small piece. :)

Let the jars cool some before putting on the lids and transferring to the fridge. After a few hours, the lard will solidify into a milky, white color.


All in all, the whole process was much easier and less messy than I expected it to be.

I plan on using the lard to make biscuits, tortillas and other baked goods which typically call for butter or shortening. It's an affordable, healthier fat option that honors the pig by using as much of the animal as possible.

Ready to try yourself? Come by the farmstore Saturdays 2-4pm to purchase pork fat for rendering.

Want to read more? Here are some good articles about lard:

Lard: The New Health Food?

Put Lard Back in Your Larder