Simply Steak

I am not a big beef eater.  I only have 8 posts tagged as beef on my blog and this just might be the best of them all.  The recipe from the last post inspired me.  I tried to think what would go the best with it.  First, I was thinking seafood.  Then, it hit me….STEAK!  After scouring the web for what type of steak to buy, asking on forums, I set out to buy one.  With my knowledge flying around my head, I stood in front of the meat case…..and picked one that looked good, forgetting to look at what it was.  Eh, the stomach wants what it wants.  Plus, it was the perfect size.  Less than a pound – perfect for just me.

All wrapped up looking pretty
CIS_Packaged

In it’s raw glory
CIS_Raw

In the pan, seasoned with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
CIS_InThePan

One side seared.  I honestly don’t know how long I cooked it for, but it wasn’t really long.  I was aiming for medium to medium rare and just went with my gut, I guess.  I think it took maybe 10 minutes total to cook?  Maybe 15 minutes?
CIS_Seared

All done!
CIS_Done

After resting for 7 minutes, I sliced.  OMG – can you see that perfect color?
CIS_Sliced

OMG – this was a wonderful meal.  The beef was perfectly cooked and it was SO tender.  It almost melted in my mouth!  I don’t know if it was the temperature it was cooked to or where I bought it from.  It was such a wonderful dinner (pic coming in the next post along with some sides).  It was definitely a pricy steak compared to what I normally buy, but if I eat it so rarely, why not do it right??

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Garlicky shells of deliciousness

I found this side recipe and wanted to try it so bad, I built a meal around it instead of using a main dish.  I found it on Iowa Girl Eats (again).  If you haven’t checked out her site, you really need to go peek.  This is the first of two recipes of hers I will be posting in the next week.  This recipe is for Creamy Garlic Shells.  As a person who has eaten those noodles and sauce packets for dinner on multiple occasion, I was excited to read that she developed something to replace it with real food.  It takes about the same amount of time, too.  Nothing weird – made of stuff I pretty much always have in my arsenal of ingredients……just forgot to include them in the pictures

Ingredients.  Missing: Garlic
CGS_Ingredients

Measured out ingredients.  Missing: Garlic and flour
CGS_MeasuredOut

Sauce.  Missing: The white bowl in the previous picture
CGS_Sauce

Finished.  Missing: my fork
CGS_Finished

Dinner.  Missing: my second helping 🙂
Dinner_04252013

Pair this with the steak from the previous post and you got yourself a great dinner!  On the side, corn on the cob.  I actually baked this in the oven in the husk.  325 for 25 minutes for 2 cobs.  I was skeptical, but it actually worked.  The husk and silk just slide right off.  I think when the corn gets bigger, I will have to leave it in for 30 minutes.

I don’t know how else to end this post – lol.  It was good, it was great and easy.  Go make it!

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This is my favorite recipe for sweet and sour chicken.  I absolutely love it.  It is a simple, but time consuming recipe when you include the chicken.  I wanted to try to make some healthier chicken to go with it.  There are two separate parts for the recipe.  Mixing the sauce, then including the rest of the ingredients and cooking more.  This will not be the bright orange sauce you get in all the restaurants.  And it will be a little thinner, too.

Note about the ingredients: There is ketchup in it and no, it’s not a mistake.  I can’t find the original ingredient that the recipe calls for and the glossary says that ketchup is an acceptable substitute.  There is a difference between tin and dark soy sauce.  As explained in the cookbook, you can tell the difference between by looking at the ingredients – dark soy sauce has sugar and caramel.  Without it, the soy sauce is thin.

Ingredients 1 – A couple notes: the cup is pineapple juice, the bag is chicken broth.  I ran out of white vinegar so I was going to supplement with apple cider vinegar.
SSC_Ingredients

Instead, I substituted this:
SSC_Vinegar

Yea – don’t do the substitution.  If you don’t have the white vinegar, go to the store…..trust me!

All ingredients mixed to sit in the fridge for at least an hour.  You could put this in a bowl, but this was the easiest way to mix it up in my view.
SSC_Mixed

When you are ready to eat, get these together (I forgot the sesame oil in the picture).  It’s supposed to be 3/4 cup of pepper, but I just use one whole one.
SSC_Ingredients2

Saute the garlic and ginger in the unpictured oil, then add the sauce, pepper and pineapple to get this:
SSC_Sauce1

After it is bubbling, add cornstarch and water to thicken and simmer some more.  You can see that the oil is no longer as prevalent as in the previous picture.  I didn’t measure the pineapple and may have added too much.  I don’t mind though, I love the cooked pineapple.  I also realized at this point that I probably should have used the red pepper instead of the yellow.
SSC_Sauce2

As for the chicken, I cut it up, tossed it with some flour and pepper.  I am not sure why, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.  I put some oil in the wok and went along my way.
SSC_Chicken

At this point, I realized that the rice I was gonna use was bad.  *SIGH*  So I put everything on low and cooked some rice.  For dinner, I served it with a flat egg roll.
SSC_Dinner

I was eating and it just wasn’t as good as I had made in the past.  I changed two things in the recipe, the vinegar that I mentioned above and that I used fresh pineapple and pineapple juice instead of canned.  I don’t think it was the pineapple change that did it.  It just didn’t taste right with the Rice Vinegar.  It saddened me.  I waited SOO long to make this…..cause I was lazy!  The chicken turned out really well, too.  I don’t think the flour made much of a difference, but I definitely need to season with more pepper.  I could barely taste it.  In the original recipe, the chicken sits in a mixture that includes pepper and it just adds another layer of flavor to the dish.  It was definitely missing from this.  Next time, just saute the chicken and DO NOT substitute the vinegar.

Vegetable Egg…..Envelopes

I found this recipe in the America’s Test Kitchen Comfort Food Makeover cookbook.  I was really excited because I love egg rolls.  I figured “Healthy?  GIMME!!!”  lol.  The only problem?  I have a rolling deficiency.  This time, I blame the wrappers.  While I was writing that, I found that wasn’t my only problem *SIGH*

Ingredients
VER_Ingredients

This is me trying to roll them into nice little “rolls”.  As you can see, the spring roll wrappers aren’t square.  I ended up just making package type envelope things.
VER_RollFail

I ended up with 9 total instead of the 8 from the cookbook.  When cooking, I split them in two different skillets.  Apparently, I don’t have a mondo skillet needed for cooking these all at once.
VER_Batch1 VER_Batch2

The cooking method on the cookbook is to brown the “rolls” then steam them cooked, then brown again.  I decided that they weren’t browning right in the cast iron and moved a chunk to the stainless, muttering some derogatory statement about the cast iron’s ability to be non stick and evenly heated.  This is after they were steamed.  Can you guess what happens next?
VER_AfterSteaming VER_AfterSteaming2

Yep – horrifying sticking – the after math:
VER_Disaster VER_Ok

The ones in the cast iron faired better than the ones in the stainless skillet.  You could almost hear the cast iron skillet laughing at me.  I was just struck with an idea of why, though.  The cast iron had less “rolls” in it, but the same amount of water as the stainless steel.  The water was still in the skillet when I took the lid off, so I dumped it out.  I wonder if I would add double the water, but boil the same amount of time, if the stainless would end up good, too.  Although, I would rather try baking them like the numerous recipes online for the healthy egg rolls.

My Dinner
VER_Dinner

The taste of them wasn’t bad, but surprisingly bland.  Even with all the seasonings pictured above.  Since I couldn’t get it to brown the second time, the taste was more like a giant pot sticker.  I think it would benefit from more garlic, maybe some hot sauce….not sure.  I am also not sure if I will be making it again.  I was supposed to be having it with sweet and sour chicken, but that didn’t pan through – not enough time.  I didn’t eat until 8:30 as it was!  Instead, I substituted a frozen meal from Trader Joe’s.  One of my go-tos and one of my “Why do I keep getting this?” items.  It’s not bad, but a bit too salt and most of the vegetables are soggy when cooked.  I may be giving up on Trader Joe’s frozen meals…..

 

 

Waffles, the Final Episode

I ran into this on Pinterest and it gave me hope for my waffle inadequacies.  I was so excited!  I don’t know if you have Martha White mixes where you are, but it might work with another brand – I would assume it would have to be one of the ones that only require milk.

Ingredients
MW_Ingredients

First one cooked
MW_FirstOne

My breakfast
MW_Breakfast

I didn’t have a good feeling making these with all my past history with waffles.  I still couldn’t get a single one as a full waffle.  They were harder to get out of the waffle iron than a regular waffle.  More soft and smushy rather than crisp and crunchy like you would expect a waffle.  Still, if the muffin batter tastes good, then you know the waffles will taste good.  I think the next time I make them, I will get two packages and see if I can’t get a full waffle – lol.  I only got about 3 waffles from one package.  Maybe my waffle iron is enormous or something.  Ah well, at least I got a tasty breakfast.  Chicken and waffles…..I think I might be acclimating to the south.

Random Reviews

I forgot that I had made General Tso’s Chicken from America’s Test Kitchen Comfort Food Makeovers cookbook while coming out of my non-cooking slump.  It was ok, but absolutely nothing that I would make again.  Maybe the problem was that I used Simply fruit jam instead of the sugar filled one?  I am not sure, but I wasn’t going to spend a lot of money on something that I definitely wasn’t going to eat more than a couple tablespoons.  It also wasn’t clear if the chicken in the recipe was weighed before or after it was cleaned.  I think I weighed it before, but I still thought 1.5 pounds = 4 servings was a large amount per serving.  Since I wasn’t actually tracking my food then, I have no idea how many servings I had, so I just stuck to 4.  The only part of the recipe that I was ok with eating again was the chicken pieces themselves.  They were coated in corn flakes and baked.  I agree with the post I linked to above, I definitely needed smaller crushing of the cereal.  I did have an issue with how sweet the coating was.  I couldn’t really eat them without some kind of sauce to dip in.  I also think I baked them too long.  They were a little dry – again, needing the sauce of some sort to eat with.  Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t gross enough not t eat (I had them for breakfast just this morning:) ), but I think they can be tweaked.

 

I bought some Frozen Indian meals from Trader Joe’s: Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala (My fav at restaurants).  I should have known better since the opinion I went with was of a former co-worker.  This is the same woman that said how horrible the eatery in the office building was, but ate there regularly because she “didn’t have time to go anywhere else”.  REALLY?  We were within a 2 minute drive of a mall with an expansive food court.  Don’t tell me that you can’t go anywhere else.  It takes 15-20 minutes just to get the crappy food and it is in the building!!

 

Needless to say, the meals sucked.  Not flavorful enough, not enough salt in the sauces.  Rice was dry after reheating.  The actual reheating times – especially on the Butter Chicken – was ridiculous.  4 minute on defrost and 5 on regular.  WHAT??  The Chicken Tikka Masala had some unappetizing bits that I still don’t know what they were, but they were attached to the chicken, so maybe some gross fat?  The amount of chicken in both was laughable.  Maybe 5 pieces in each?  I had gotten some Garlic Naan to go along with it.  I absolutely love Naan.  This was only edible when it was heated in the microwave – ok, I can deal with that.  The worst?  It had absolutely no garlic taste that I could discern.  Even when it was heated, it wasn’t that good.  Just tasted like raw flour.  I will definitely not be buying any more Indian type stuff from TJ’s in the near future.

One group of things that I did buy turned out to be almost perfect.  I was really jonesing for an Italian hoagie, but I couldn’t decide where to go.  I remembered that I had a gift card to TJ’s, so I went there.  I got a pack of Genoa Salami and Provolone in one package (I am sorry I forget the name), Pepperonis, Ham and baguette.  I ran home and threw it all together.  To my dismay, the bread was slightly stale.  It was still ok just for a sandwich.  I decided not to bake it because of the salami and pepperoni – I just got visions of oil streaming out of my sandwich.  Even with the stale bread, the meats and cheese were fantastic.  High quality and just really hit the spot.  None of it, but the bread, was TJ’s brand.  The Salami and Provolone were Italian as was the Pepperoni.  The Ham was no nitrates, no preservatives, etc.  I think maybe from Applegate farms?  Sad that the only thing that was bad was actually FROM the store.

Baked Potato for Dinner? Yes, Please!

This is how smart I am – I made a baked potato on the HOTTEST day of the week.  We’re talking 85-88 degrees.  Yea, I’m smart, right?  But, it was in the schedule, so it happened.  I know you guys probably don’t need pictures, but I got them any way.

Ingredients
BP_Ingredients

Then, take your ingredients and prep them – I will explain the wood later (That’s what HE said – HA! )
BP_Prep

After the potato is done, or in my case almost done, Mix in the butter, then top with sour cream, cheese and bacon.  Then, throw it in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Realize your microwave is a piece of crap and nuke for 15 more seconds.  Sigh when the cheese is still not all melted.  Then, take a picture and eat
BP_Plated2

(I couldn’t decide which one was best)
BP_Plated

Ok, so the wood?  It’s a wooden skewer.  I read somewhere that this one guy put a skewer in the raw potatoes so he could tell when it was done by how easy it was to remove from the potato.  Maybe he wasn’t using a gargantuan potato like me, but my potato wasn’t quite done.  It was enough that I figured I could smoosh it up enough to make it edible.  It was actually only noticeable in two bites.  The royal we were very happy.  I love having a baked potato for dinner.  It’s so filling and almost decadent because of the toppings.  In case you’re wondering, it was only 521 calories.  If I had gotten the butter right and only used a half a tablespoon, it’s under 500 calories.  For an entire meal with bacon and cheese?  Yes please!!