Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Menu

All three of us have been sick with some kind of flu-cold-plague for the past 10 days, so we haven't done much more than grocery shop, read, and fuss with our computers and hobbies and such for the past few days. I actually couldn't taste anything at all for two days, which was a pretty surreal experience. Oh, and Stella learned to crawl, but that's a subject for a different blog ;). Anyway, our menu for Memorial Day is nothing extravagant -- David cleaned the grill and is heating it up, and we're having Smooth Lemon cocktails, chips & salsa, Blue & Green Potato Salad, grilled corn a la Cook's Illustrated (basically brined and grilled, no husk), grilled steak brushed with bbq sauce, and Copycat Cobbler for dessert.

Smooth Lemon Cocktail
1 glass lemonade
1/2 shot vanilla vodka (we used Grey Goose that had soaked a vanilla bean a while)

Stir & drink, yum.

Review: Wholly Salsa: 2 of 5 stars
The salsa of choice this time is Wholly Salsa. I tried it because a combination of coupons and sales made it (and my favorite type of chips) practically free. It reminds me a lot of the salsa you get in Tex-Mex places. Mild, a little garlicky, a mix of chunky and smooth bits although this was a little too watery; a little addictive at first.

I think it needs more cilantro/lime and maybe a little better quality tomatoes to give it more zip. It wasn't as bad as the cheapo jarred stuff, but I expected better. The flavor didn't stand up to the hearty style of tortilla chips we favor -- I'll probably use the rest to cook with. The packaging is party-friendly, wide and shallow, but the lid doesn't fit very tightly.

Blue & Green Potato Salad
This is my version of the blue cheese potato salad they sell at the Whole Foods Market deli.

1 lb red potatoes (I like the little ones, but they're harder to find)
1/2 C crumbled blue cheese
2 stalks of celery
2 scallions
4 T vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
1 t brown seedy mustard
1 t thyme
1 t basil
1 t rosemary

All measurements are approximate....cuz that's how I roll.

1. Wash potatoes (I don't peel them, but then again, I almost never peel potatoes), then microwave in a bowl of water for 14-18 minutes.
2. Dice up celery and scallion while potatoes are cooking and collect other ingredients.
3. Drain potatoes when done, rinse a few times in cold water to cool them down for handling.
4. Chop potatoes into bite-sized pieces.
5. Mix all ingredients, allow to rest for at least an hour before serving; overnight is always better.

Grilled steak -- I had been curious about 'No Name' brand steaks, and had a coupon, so we gave them a try. The quality was really good, but I am not enough of a gourmet to know if there's much difference between them and the nice cuts I usually buy at Whole Foods. And gosh did I make a mistake by deciding to use bbq sauce! Maybe if had been cheaper/less delicious steak this would have been a reasonable course of action; as it was, the sauce just wasn't necessary and maybe was a little distracting. Some pepper and herbs would have been a better choice.

Copycat Cobbler

This was my attempt #2 at the cobbler described here. It turned out quite a bit better this time, since I used actual self-rising flour instead of substituting baking powder mixed with regular flour. I used brown sugar instead of white, added about 1/4 cup of oats plus a bit more milk, and used a small bag of peaches, a half-pint container of blackberries, and two apples. I think if I did this again, I would try pre-cooking the apples -- even after 40 minutes at 350, the apples look a little firm. Delicious and worthy of second helpings. With just a bit more oats, I think this would be a reasonable copy of the mixed fruit cobblers they sell at Starbucks.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Orange Beef

Orange Noodley Beef

.8 lb steak (I used beef tenderloin but I'm sure anything would work)
4 T orange marmalade
1 onion
1 bunch green onions
1 red pepper
1 package asian noodles (I used the simply asia brand, kung pao variety)
1 T dry ginger
2 T sesame oil
1 t sea salt
1 T rice wine vinegar

1) Add sesame oil and steaks to a medium-hot frying pan. Cook for 5 minutes on one side without moving the steak.
2) While the steak is cooking, cut the onion into 1/8th wedges and add it to the pan.
3) Chop the green onions into 1/2 inch chunks.
4) When the first five minutes is up, flip the steak, add the ginger, and cook the steak for 5 more minutes without moving. While side two is cooking, add the green onions and deglaze with the vinegar. Add the sea salt. Dice the pepper and add when ready.
5) Prep the noodles according the the directions on the package.
6) When side two of the steak is done, remove from the pan and slice cross-wise.
7) Add the marmelade.
8) When the steak is sliced, re-add it to pan and cook for five more minutes or until done to your preferred level.

Quick weeknight dinner for 2!

Nacho Rice

Since my daughter was born, my cooking habits have turned upside-down. I've tried to come up with recipes that are still fancy schmancy, but which I could make quickly. At the same time, we've been trying to save money and eat healthy. Some of the dishes I've come up with are a little less fancy than others...some a little less quick....some a little less cheap....some a little less healthy (see below!)...but so far I think we are striking a good balance.

A nice addition to your nacho/taco/dinner:

1 box of rice a roni 'four cheese'
1 little can of roasted chilis (mild kind)
1/2 C tomato juice (drained from a can of diced tomatoes)

Easy as can be, just make the rice a roni the way it tells you to on the box, but add the chilis and tomato juice with the water. The chilis give it a bit of zip, the tomato adds a little depth. Yummy!