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Steak Dinner with All The Fixin’s

23 Feb

Last night Bill was in the mood to spend some time in the kitchen with me. One of my favorite things to do is cook with Bill – the two of us gravitate toward one another as we work our way around the meal preparation. We tease. We talk. We exchange pecks while passing each other to the stove or the fridge. We taste test (never trust a skinny chef). We bicker cheerfully about prep techniques and seasoning. In last night’s case, we did all of this while maneuvering around the camera-mounted tripod. The sum of our efforts always result in exponentially better meals; more so than if one of us and prepared it alone.

Last night, we surpassed even our own best efforts. Oh, lord, have mercy.

First, we went to the grocery store. I love shopping with Bill, though we inevitably end up spending twice as much as if I’d gone alone. We LOVE to eat, have I mentioned? We kept up a running discussion of just what, exactly, we needed to make our dinner perfect. For this meal, the cost was COMPLETELY worth it. Here’s the list of ingredients for copying our meal exactly. You’re going to want to do this. Trust me.

Cooking with Bill and Tiffany – Fabulous Steak Dinner With All The Fixin’s

Essential Equipment:
– cast iron skillet
– meat thermometer

Ingredients:
– 2 Fillet Mignon steaks, approximately two inches thick (these were probably, like, 10+ oz each)
– 1 bunch fresh spinach
– 1 lb baby potatoes
– 1 package sliced mushrooms (we used baby portobello)
– 1 bottle good-quality red wine (we used Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon)
– fresh cracked pepper (table pepper would work, too)
– kosher or pearl salt (table salt would work too, just be sparing)
– vegetable or canola oil
– olive oil
– butter
– crumbled Gorgonzola or blue cheese
– 3 cloves minced garlic, separated
– Worcestershire sauce
– non-stick cooking spray

This recipe absolutely requires a cast-iron skillet. If you don’t have one, go out and buy one. They’re only around $25. I have one of these pre-seasoned deals, and I love it. Pioneer Woman made me do it. She’s handy that way.

I must also mention that this steak recipe is ruthlessly stolen and slightly modified from The Barefoot Contessa’s Steakhouse Steak recipe. It’s good karma to give credit where credit is due.

Now, to get down to bidness.

About two hours before you intend to start the steaks, you’ll need to marinate them. Start by pouring yourself a big glass of wine, thusly:

barefoot

Now, in a glass dish big enough to hold both steaks, combine 1 cup of wine, 2 tbsp olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste (Calvin also tossed in a couple of blurts of Tabasco, and sprinkled each steak with a bit of tenderizer and poked ’em with a fork). Place the steaks in the marinade, turn to coat, then cover and refrigerate until ready to cook – at least two hours. Flip ’em over every now and then to marinade them evenly.

marinated

Okay. Ready to cook? Take the steaks out of the fridge and uncover them to bring them up to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. While the oven is heating, prep your baby potatoes:

potatoes

Wash ’em, pat ’em dry, cut the larger ones in half to even up the cooking, then put them in a large bowl. Toss them with a tablespoon of olive oil, two cloves of garlic, salt, and pepper. A little rosemary and/or dill is good, too. Pour them into an oven-safe baking dish and put them in the oven.

Wait ten minutes to allow the potatoes to roast. Have another glass of wine. Watch the Oscars. Dance around to 80’s music. Do your thang.

Next, place your cast iron skillet on the stove. Spray it with a light coating of non-stick cooking spray and heat it on HIGH heat for about five minutes. While the skillet is heating, remove the steaks from the marinade and pat them dry with paper towels. Brush each steak on all sides with a light coating of canola oil. Then, either by putting cracked pepper and kosher salt on a plate, or by sprinkling directly onto the steaks, coat each side (including THE sides) with a light “crust” of salt and pepper, pressing and massaging into the meat (you dirty kids). I combined the salt and pepper into a small bowl, then grabbed little handfuls of it to rub into the meat. I’d say I used one tablespoon of salt (KOSHER, mind) and one tablespoon of pepper for each steak. Really, for this step you can NOT be afraid to get your hands dirty. Just wash ’em afterwards. You’re durable that way.

Place the steaks into the HOT skillet and sear on all sides (including THE sides) for 1-2 minutes each side. This will sear the steaks to a lovely dark color and adhere the seasonings like a “crust”. Here’s a shot of the steaks searing on their sides – kind of tricky if they can’t balance without being held:

browning

Once the steaks are seared, lay them flat in the skillet if they aren’t already. Top each steak with one tablespoon of butter (we used salted – don’t be afraid of the butter, it is your friend). Place the skillet into the oven with the potatoes and TURN THE OVEN DOWN TO 400 DEGREES (this is important so you don’t overcook the steaks). I had the steaks on the top rack and the potatoes on the bottom rack.

Cook the steaks according to how rare you like them. You’re really going to need a meat thermometer to do this right, as you can’t really time them for the appropriate done-ness. I have one of these – cheap and accurate. We like our steaks medium-rare, which is 125 degrees on the meat thermometer (I think 115 is rare). Stick the probe lengthwise into the side of the meat to get an accurate reading in the center. I’d say the steaks were in the oven for ten total minutes, though we took them out two or three times to check them. Keep in mind, my darlings, these were ENORMOUS steaks – so big that Bill and I only each ate half of one, and the remainder will be some truly fabulous leftovers. So, what I’m saying here is, YMMV.

TRUST YOUR MEAT THERMOMETER. We took the steaks out of the oven at 125 degrees exactly. You’ll see how lovely the result was in a moment.

Now, the steaks need to rest for 10 minutes after removing them from the oven. Place the steaks on a serving platter, and sprinkle the desired amount of blue cheese or Gorgonzola (we used Gorgonzola) on each steak. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and set aside. Be patient. The steak needs to rest before it’s chewed up.

Now, TURN OFF YOUR OVEN but leave the potatoes in until the rest of the meal is prepared.

While the steaks are resting, it’s time to prepare the veggies. They’re both very quick preps and were done at exactly the 10-minute mark when we cooked ’em last night.

First, you take your spinach:

spinach

Wash it well and pat it dry. Place a large skillet on the stove, and over medium heat saute one clove of minced garlic in one tablespoon of olive oil. Once the garlic begins to brown and is fragrant, add the spinach in batches, stirring constantly to coat. Once the spinach is SLIGHTLY wilted and it will all fit into the skillet, cover the skillet, remove it from the heat, and allow it to steam and wilt.

Next you take your mushrooms:

shrooms

Wash them and pat them dry. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt one tablespoon of butter. Once the butter is melted, add the mushrooms and stir to coat. Add one tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and stir to coat. Keep stirring until the mushrooms have softened and the sauce has slightly thickened, about five minutes. Cover and remove from heat.

Now remove the potatoes from the oven. Uncover the steaks. Cry a little at their loveliness. Dish up the steak, potatoes, spinach, and mushrooms. Arrange prettily on a plate and take a picture, like so:

platefulperfection

DO YOU SEE THAT PERFECTION? Feel free to click on the picture and view a larger size to bask in all of its glory.

Serve with your steak sauce of choice (though it doesn’t need it), maybe some sour cream and butter for the potatoes, maybe some salt and pepper for the spinach and mushrooms. Oh, and more wine. Celebrate the gastronomical glory that is steak.

You’re welcome.

(Cross-posted at Snerkology.)

Five Flavor Pork Roast for the Crock Pot

22 Dec

You can mix up the herbs and spices used for this pork roast, it’s a very flexible recipe. I use:

– One 4-5 lb pork roast (bone-in or boneless), any cut, whatever is preferred
– Five cloves fresh garlic, sliced or quartered
– 1 tbsp butter
– 1 tbsp vegetable oil
– One sprig fresh or two tsp dried rosemary, crushed
– One tsp. dried oregano
– One tsp. paprika
– One tsp. onion powder
– Salt and pepper, to taste
– One cup chicken or pork broth or stock

– Optional: 1-2 tbsp. any brand of fruit or citrus jam or marmalade (stirred until smooth), or a fruit jam made with hot peppers (like Crooked Acres Strawberry-Habanero Jam!).

With the tip of a sharp knife, cut several deep slits into all sides of the roast. Insert garlic slices into the slits, pushing them in at least several inches. Combine all spices in a small bowl, then rub all sides of the roast FIRMLY with the spice mixture, pressing into the pork to ensure the spices adhere.

Heat butter and oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Brown each side of the roast, turning every two to three minutes. Remove roast from skillet and place in a large crock pot. Brush with jam or marmalade, if using. Pour broth or stock over roast, cover, and cook on LOW for 10-11 hours.

Serve with sweet potatoes or white potatoes, rice, or egg noodles. To make gravy, remove juices from crock pot into a medium saucepan, heat until boiling, and thicken with 2 tbsp corn starch mixed with 2 tbsp water.

Stuffed Shells with Vodka Cream Sauce

4 Jun

– One 1 lb. box of jumbo pasta shells
– 2 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
– One 16 oz. container of ricotta (whole or skim or fat free, whatever your choice)
– 6 oz shredded mozzerella cheese (separated)
– 2 tbsp dried or fresh parsley flakes
– 4 tbsp minced garlic (separated)
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– One 28 oz can of CRUSHED tomatoes (or puree a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes in a blender until smooth)
– 1/2 cup vodka (either the cheap stuff or expensive, it doesn’t effect the taste)
– 1 cup heavy cream
– 1 tsp red pepper flakes
– salt and pepper to taste
– 2 tbsp dried italian seasonings (blend, or oregano and basil)

For Pasta: FOLLOW PRECISELY so that shells do not stick to the pot or each other! In a large pot, pour 1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil. Tilt the pot so that the oil coats the bottom of the pot. Fill pot with water. Add another tbsp of oil to the water, along with a liberal amount of salt. Bring water to a boil, add the shells. Cook, boiling consistently, for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Drain, rinse, and drain again. Separate each shell (you should have about 30) and place on a foil lined baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray and allow to cool slightly.

For Filling: While pasta is cooking, in a large bowl mix together ricotta, half of the mozzerella, 2 tbsp garlic, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Fill each pasta shell with about one tbsp of mixture, and place seam-side down into the dish. Cover filled pasta shells with damp paper towels while making the sauce.

For Sauce: In a large skillet or heavy saucepan, sautee 2 tbsp. garlic in olive oil. Add crushed tomatoes, vodka, red pepper flakes, and heavy cream. Stir together, and add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes until flavors have blended and sauce has thickened. Pour sauce over pasta shells (remove the paper towels first!) and ensure each shell is covered completely.

To Bake: At this point you can refrigerate the dish for up to one day (covered in plastic wrap), if you are making it ahead of time. Simply allow it to sit at room temperature for one hour before putting it in the oven. To cook, cover with foil and bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, remove foil, cover with remaining mozzerella and the italian spices, and return to oven for 5 or 10 more minutes, until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.

Sonoran Chicken (Crock Pot)

20 Apr

– 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved
– 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
– 1 can sweet corn, drained
– 1.5 – 2 cups salsa of choice
– 1 jalapeno, sliced (optional – can also use nacho style jalapenos in a jar)
– 2 tbsp minced garlic
– 1 tbsp worcestershire
– your favorite spicy seasonings, to taste (red tabasco, green tabasco, Cholula, mexican spiced salt, etc.)
– salt and pepper to taste
– 1 8-oz pkg cream cheese -or- 2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, cheddar/jack, mexican blend, etc.)
– garnish – tortilla chips, sour cream, etc.

Place chicken breast halves in the crock pot. In a large bowl, mix together beans, corn, salsa, jalapeno, garlic, worcestershire, spices, salt and pepper. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on LOW for six hours. In the last 20 minutes of cooking, add cubed cream cheese or shredded cheese to the crock pot, continue to cook until melted.

Serve with warm flour tortillas, or accompanied with spanish rice or skillet fried potatoes.

Salsa Burgers

11 Mar

– 1 lb ground beef (I’ve found that the 85% lean works best)
– 1 1/2 cups salsa of choice
– 1 slice white bread, crumbled
– 1/8 to 1/4 cup milk
– 2 cloves garlic, crushed (the crushed roasted garlic in a jar works well too, 1 tsp)
– 1 tbsp. Worcestershire
– salt and pepper to taste

– Burger buns
– Sliced cheese – american, cheddar, pepper-jack, swiss, etc.
– Condiments – ketchup, mustard, relish, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, jalapenos, etc.

Place the ground beef in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of salsa. In a separate bowl, mix together the white bread and milk (add gradually so it doesn’t get too “soupy”) until it forms a thick paste. Add to the burger meat. Add garlic, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Mix all together very thoroughly (by hand works best!) and form into four equal patties (slightly concave, or a bit thinner in the middle than on the edges, they cook better this way).

Heat skillet over medium-high heat – do NOT add patties until skillet is very hot. Quickly sear both sides of the burger patties, about 60 seconds each side, to brown and seal in the juices. Turn heat down to medium. Add remaining one cup of salsa to the pan (or more if you like them “sloppy”!), turn burger patties to coat. Cook, covered, for 3-5 minutes each side (for medium to medium-well burgers).

Place each patty on burger bun, and top with cheese and condiments as desired. I, of course, add jalapeno slices to mine. Mmmm…

Baked Enchiladas

25 Feb

– 3 cups cooked beef roast (use leftovers!) (-or- cooked chicken -or- cooked pork -or- a combination of any/all three -or- sauteed peppers, onions, spinach, or other vegetables for vegetarian enchiladas)
– 3/4 cup salsa of choice (we use a mild red)
– 1 sm. can (one to three oz) diced mild green chilis
– 1 32-oz can mild green enchilada sauce
– 1 16-oz can refried beans
– 1/4 cup water
– 3 cups cooked rice (we use instant rice)
– 6 large (burrito size, or 12 inch or larger) flour tortillas**
– Additional salsa
– Shredded cheese of choice (we use a cheddar/jack combo)
– Garnish recommendations: Sliced jalapenos, Sour cream, sliced black olives, chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×15 casserole dish with non-stick spray.

Shred the beef roast into a skillet. Add 3/4 cup salsa, green chilis, and 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce. Stir to combine and heat over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, combine refried beans and water in a bowl and stir to combine until smooth. Prepare rice.

Line six flour tortillas on the counter, assembly-line fashion. Place 1/4 cup (or two heaping spoonfuls) of refried bean mixture onto each tortilla and spread down the center, stopping about 2-inches from the edges. Place 1/4 cup of beef mixture on top of refried beans. Place 1/4 cup rice on top of beef. Sprinkle each with two tbsp of salsa and 1/4 cup shredded cheese (or to taste). Keep in mind to stay away from the edges of the tortilla throughout!

To roll the enchiladas, fold one side over the ingredients. Fold top and bottom over the inside, then roll lengthwise to create a closed-ended wrap. Place side-by-side in casserole dish.

enchilada1 enchilada2

enchilada3 enchilada4

enchilada5

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and pour remainder of enchilada sauce over all. Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle generously with shredded cheese. Return to oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove and serve with sour cream, jalapenos, additional salsa, additional cheese, black olives, shredded lettuce, or whatever garnish you desire.

enchilada6 enchilada7

You will likely have leftover refried beans, rice, and roast mixture. Combine all in a large bowl and heat for an excellent dip served with tortilla chips, or for fast lunchtime burritos. Very versitile leftovers!

**For gluten free recipe, substitute flour tortillas with corn and roll taquito-style.

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Potatoes

25 Jan

AKA “Boiled Dinner”

Cooking time 3 – 3.5 hours, plan accordingly!

1 corned beef brisket, 3.5 – 4 lbs.
spice packet (contained with beef, or use 2 tsp. peppercorns and 2 bay leaves)
8-10 gold potatoes
1 large onion
1 head of cabbage
1 12-oz bottle of dark beer (Guinness, 1554, or similar)
1 large bunch of fresh parsley
1 stick of butter
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced

In a large dutch oven or stock pot, place the beef brisket fat-side down. Add spice packet (if no packet is contained with the brisket, use 2 tsp peppercorns and 2 bay leaves). Pour in bottle of beer, then add water to generously cover the brisket. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover.

Simmer brisket for two hours. Stir occasionally to turn beef for even cooking.

Meanwhile, wash and quarter potatoes, place in a large bowl and cover in cold water. Set aside. Remove outer leaves of cabbage head and quarter, retaining the stem/core to hold the leaves together. Set aside. Peel onion and cut into eighths. Set aside. Chop parsley leaves (not stems). Set aside.

After the brisket has simmered for two hours, add potatoes and enough water to cover. Return to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.

At this point, add cabbage and onions. Add water to cover if necessary, return to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook 20 minutes.

Ensure potatoes and cabbage are tender – if not, add cooking time in five minute increments. Remove brisket and cut in slices against the grain. Remove cabbage and place in a covered dish to keep warm – dot with butter if desired. Place potatoes in a large bowl, add parsley, butter, and garlic, and toss to combine and melt the butter.

Serve corned beef with spicy mustard. Leftovers make great corned beef hash for breakfast the next morning!

American Chop Suey (Goulash)

25 Jan

A lot of families have their own Goulash recipe. Mine is of the tradition of Cole Farms Restaurant in Maine – a dish going by the name of “American Chop Suey” in those climes.

1 16 oz box macaroni noodles
1.5 lbs lean hamburger meat
2 tbsp Worcestershire
1 can diced tomatoes
1 jar tomato sauce of choice
2 tbsp italian spices (oregano, basil, rosemary, etc.)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil noodles according to instructions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute bell pepper, onion, and garlic in the olive oil. Once vegetables are crisp-tender, transfer to a bowl and set aside. Using the same skillet, brown the hamburger meat, seasoned with salt, pepper, and Worcestershire. Drain and return to skillet, add sauteed vegetables. Add diced tomatoes (do not drain), tomato sauce, and italian spices – stir to combine. Set heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

When the noodles are cooked, pour tomato sauce/meat/vegetable combination over noodles and stir well to combine. Serve with fresh grated cheese, crusty bread, and a salad.

To make this a “One-Pot Wonder”, simply cook the noodles first and drain.  Use the pot to follow the remainder of the recipe, then add the noodles back into the pot and stir to combine.

Garlic Lime Salmon

25 Jan

– 2 lbs. salmon, cut into serving sized pieces (4)
– 4 cloves garlic, minced
– 4 tbsp. butter or margarine, softened
– 2 limes, cut in half
– salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  1. This is a recipe that Dawn gave me.
  2. Make a tinfoil “boat” for each piece of salmon, raised on the edges so the juices don’t run over.
  3. Place each piece of salmon, skin side down, into a boat. Place boats on a cookie sheet.
  4. Sprinkle the juice of half a lime onto each piece of salmon.
  5. Mix together minced garlic and softened (not melted!) butter, spread evenly over salmon pieces.
  6. Sprinkle each piece with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Cook in oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.
  8. When the salmon is done, the skin should adhere to the tin foil, making it easy to peel the salmon away and place it on a serving plate. I usually put the edge of a metal spatula in between the salmon and skin and ease them apart that way.
  9. Top each piece of salmon with Black Bean and Corn Relish (optional – again, Calvin just covers his in ranch dressing).

Black Bean and Corn Relish

– 1 sm. can corn niblets
– 1 sm. can black beans, rinsed and drained
– 2-3 tbsp. fresh cilantro
– 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
– 2 limes, cut in half
– 1/2 onion, chopped
– Fat free Italian dressing

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, squeezing the juice of the two limes into the mixture, and using enough dressing to give it a “relish” texture. Chill. Leftover relish is excellent on top of pasta or when mixed with a can of tuna fish for a good and healthy lunch.

Chicken, Black Bean, and Potato Skillet

25 Jan

– 3 chicken breasts, cut into one-inch pieces
– 4 tbsp olive or canola oil, separated
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 1 tbsp Worcestershire
– 1 tbsp chicken seasoning (they usually sell a chicken seasoning mix in the spice area of the store)
– 4 large red potatoes, cut into one-inch pieces (don’t remove skin)
– 1 cup onion, chopped
– 1 can sweet yellow corn, drained
– 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
– 1.5 cups salsa of choice (we use mild)
– 2 tsp. green tabasco sauce
– 2 tsp mexican seasoning (found in the same place the chicken seasoning is)
– salt and pepper to taste

Optional toppings:
Shredded cheese
Sour cream

  1. Boil potatoes with the skin on, in a large pot filled with well-salted water. Cook until done but still slightly firm. Drain.
  2. While potatoes are boiling, heat oil in a large skillet. Add chicken, garlic powder, worcestershire, and chicken seasoning. Sautee until chicken is cooked through and lightly browned. Remove from skillet.
  3. Place cooked potatoes in skillet with 2 tbsp. oil and chopped onion, and cook until both are lightly browned. Then add to skillet the chicken, corn, beans, and salsa. Sprinkle with green tabasco and mexican seasoning. Stir to combine ingredients, and cook on low heat until everything is heated.
  4. Top with sour cream or shredded cheese, if you so choose. Calvin just coats everything with ranch dressing.