“I don’t think I can use onion soup mix anymore,” I said, and his world came crashing down around him. “You’re going to mess with Pepper Steak!?!?” he cried.
This is the recipe I emailed my mother-in-law for during our first months of marriage. I definitely wooed my man through his stomach and loved every second of surprising him with his favorite meal in the world. I had already hurt his feelings gustatorially by switching the white rice to brown a few years ago. Now I was going to experiment with the recipe that worked so well. He was justifiably skeptical.
I nearly used the box, just to preserve the peace in the home. Reading the ingredients, though, I just couldn’t:
onions, salt, cornstarch, sugar, caramel (color), corn syrup solids, yeast extract, natural flavor.
For two reasons, I decided to strike out on my own: half the ingredients were not even close to real food, and the other half were so stinking simple I couldn’t believe that I couldn’t replicate it!
If you’ve read my story, you know part of the craziness that happened within my own head and in my home as I learned more and began to make changes in our diets. Luckily, this one has a happy ending.
Successful Real Food Rendition of Mom Kimball’s Pepper Steak
My mother-in-law’s recipe is simple and anecdotal. She made it up using a few different recipes: cut round steak into strips, brown in pressure cooker, cover with water and cook 35 minutes. Add dry onion soup mix , simmer, thicken with corn starch and cold water, then add strips of green pepper. Serve over rice. I documented my adjustments and fleshed out the ingredients so I get consistent results.
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Real Food Rendition of Mom Kimball’s Pepper Steak
- Cut meat into strips and brown in a large pot with oil or butter.
- Cut 2 onions into thin slices and add to meat, sauteing until translucent.
- Pour molasses in and add salt and pepper.
- Cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer on low 1.5-2 hours.
- When the meat is practically falling apart, add strips of pepper, the last onion cut into chunks, and optional tomato.
- Bring to a low boil.
- Mix cornstarch with cold water and add to hot liquid, stirring constantly until thick.
- Serve over cooked brown rice.
* Note: Grassfed beef should be cooked over low heat when pan frying or grilling, but with this method, it doesn’t matter. Anything will be tender!
* Timesaver: I keep a glass jar just for mixing cornstarch and water. I know it will close watertight, and I just rinse it out instead of washing it after use.
* UPDATE: You can make this recipe in the Instant Pot too, super easy! Just use the “saute” function to brown the meat and saute the onions. Add everything else (at least 2 cups water) and cook on 30 minutes at high pressure (the Stew/Meat function). Use a natural pressure release, then add the peppers and onion and cook with the “Saute” function a few minutes. Add the cornstarch slurry last (never pressure cook with a thickener already in the liquid). (More easy Instant Pot meals here) and be sure to download our Guidebook below (which includes this recipe in IP form). Enjoy!
2 Tools for Real Food Success:
It’s never easy to keep up with real food goals! If my meal isn’t planned ahead and/or I don’t have the right food on hand, it’s SO tempting to give up and grab convenience food!
I have to almost trick myself into getting it right sometimes…like this:
I love my raw milk farm, and they usually have beef for me too – but not all the cuts. And chicken is hard to come by. And pork is hit or miss.
I’m sure you’ve experienced the same sourcing frustrations!
That’s why I’m always grateful that there’s an online source of incredibly high quality meat that I can always count on. A box from Butcher Box is guaranteed to be grassfed/organic/pastured/free range = all the labels important to your family’s health!
If you live in an area (like my mom) where organic local farms are nowhere to be found or have trouble sourcing certain meats or cuts, Butcher Box has you covered.
(free shipping too!)
But if I forget to plan ahead, all that amazing meat just sits in the freezer! Enter Real Plans, an online meal planning software that is probably smarter than I am.
I can enter that cut of meat along with my food restrictions and find the perfect meal, then generate a shopping list, multiply it by 4 if we have company, and enter my own fav recipes too.
Real Plans takes the stress out of meal planning and puts the nourishing food BACK on your table. There’s a plan for every diet type:
Make your Instant Pot work for you!
The Instant Pot has gotten a lot of hype over the last couple years – for good reason. It really can do just about anything.
Although it can seem a bit daunting to use at first, it really becomes quite simple once you give it a try.
Use the techniques, tips and simple recipes from the Instant Pot Guidebook to get started, and before you know it, your Instant Pot will become indispensable!
The Husband Review Board Says:
It’s a keeper. (Phew!)
This remains a very simple meal, and using real onion increases the nutrition a whole bunch. It’s a classic reverse engineering (see guide here).
Other husband-friendly recipes:
Where to find a Pressure Cooker
This is the 6-quart Instant Pot I started out with. After a few years, we added an 8-quart partly because I knew I would use two at the same time often enough, partly because it was the Prime Day sale, and also because I wanted more space for certain recipes. Both are a pretty basic model and you don’t need more bells and whistles than that!
If you’re deciding on size, most people say it’s better to get a deal on the 6-quart and just have 2 rather than go big, BUT if your family has 5 or more people or you really like to batch cook or do more than a pound of beans, the 8-quart may be the best choice. You can even get a carrying case to travel with it!
If you really want an old school pressure cooker for the stovetop, you can browse them at Amazon – this is the set that I got for our wedding so very long ago. Mine is actually a 7L size (which is over 7 qts) and the one included here is only a 6-quart.
The best thing about these is that they have a glass lid for normal cooking, and they are the two pots we use MOST of all in the last 14 years! So if you have no extra space, just replace a big pot with a pressure cooker and you only need to store the lid additionally. I admit I’m not sure I ever used the pressure function with the smaller pot, but I love both sizes for normal cooking.
If I had to do it over, I’d get this set because it has an 8-quart pot and a larger steamer basket that could also do pasta or potatoes. The members of our Kids Cook Real Food eCourse often ask about how to help kids heft a heavy pot of water to the sink to drain, and this is the best solution – pulling out a basket insert rather than lifting boiling liquids around.