Monday, June 30, 2014

It's a skirt! It's a steak! It's a skirt steak!

It's summertime and summertime means steak.  Now because I'm an apartment-dweller, I don't have the luxury of a fire-kissed charcoal grilled steak.  That doesn't mean I can't create something pretty fantastic in my little kitchen inside. 

What you'll need for your steak and marinade:

  • skirt steak (about 2 lbs.) in a gallon zip bag
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 T. rice vinegar
  • 4 T. soy sauce (Tamari or Coconut Aminos if you're gluten-free)
  • 1 T. chili oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 t. chili powder

Put all of the ingredients into the zip bag and let them marinate for at least an hour and up to overnight.

While I waiting for my steak to marinate, I browned some baby bella mushrooms in butter in my cast iron skillet over medium heat.

Once the mushrooms were done, I set them aside and raised the heat to high.

I placed my steak in the pan and left it there for about 4 minutes. After 4 minutes, I flipped the steak over and did about 4 minutes on the other side.  I removed the steak from the heat and let it rest for about 10-15 minutes and then I sliced it, topped it with my mushrooms and served it with a salad!

And then I ate it and lived happily ever after!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fettucine-Schmettucine! Make yourself some Carbonara!


Now, before you start some kind of vendetta or fatwah against me, I know that a true carbonara doesn't contain any vegetables, but when a girl falls off the no-carb wagon, she needs a veggie or two to break the fall.

What you'll need:

  • 1/2 pound of spaghetti (whole wheat in my case)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 pieces of bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put a pot of water on to boil and salt it generously.

Brown the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat.

Add your onion and saute until they just start to brown.

Chop your artichoke hearts and add them to the skillet, and then add your garlic.  At the last, add your peas, so that they are heated all the way through.

When the water comes to a boil, add your pasta.  Cook for about 9 minutes, until al dente.

Drain the pasta, but reserve some of the pasta water for the sauce.

Whisk the eggs, and then whisk in about 1/2 cup of the pasta water to temper the eggs (this cooks them slightly so that they don't become scrambled when you add them to the hot pasta).

Add a little pasta water to the pasta pan, then the tempered eggs and then the meat and veggies from the skillet.

Add your cheese and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Then fill a bowl and enjoy!  It's truly delicious!!!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Shrimpstock. Groovy, man.

After my Tony Award feast, I decided to use the leftover shells to make shrimp stock!

What you'll need:

  • 1-2 pounds worth of shrimp peels/heads (meaning 1-2 pounds of shrimp, then use the shells.  It's possible to use raw or cooked shells, though if you already boiled the shells once, they'll be less flavorful the second time around.)
  • 3 celery stalks (or a celery butt, like I used)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • about 12 peppercorns and salt to taste

Put everything into the stock pot and cover with water.   I leave the skin on the onion and everything, since I'll just be straining it out at the end.  Bring to a low simmer and cook for about 3 hours.

Let the stock cool and then strain it through a fine mesh strainer.

Put the stock into small containers and then put in the freezer to be used whenever it's handy!  It's really light and the lemon brings a real brightness to stock.

Friday, June 13, 2014

One simply must have shrimp cocktail when watching the Tonys!

I love shrimp.  It's true.  And my very favorite way to enjoy them is prepared simply with some cocktail sauce. So in preparation for the Tony awards this past Sunday, that's exactly what I did (with a little twist, of course)!

This was my favorite part of the night. She's a national treasure, truly. And her Billie Holiday performance is spot on.

Don't buy cocktail sauce, for real.  It's SUPER easy to make.  You can add more flavors (like hot sauce or garlic) if you'd like, but this tastes very clean.

What you'll need:
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 T horseradish (or more if you like the spice)
  • 1 t Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T lemon juice
Mix all the ingredients together in a dish and let it sit for awhile for the flavors to marry.  That's it!
On Sunday night, I actually decided to broil my shrimp in the oven, rather than boiling them.  I mostly didn't want to wash my big stock pot, so I lightly covered the (defrosted) shrimp with olive oil and a little Old Bay seasoning (obviously).  These shrimp still had their shells on, but I seasoned them up, shells and all and threw them in a preheated oven with the broiler on high. 

After about 2 minutes, I flipped the shrimp, and then about a minute or two later I took them out of the oven and put them in a bowl of ice to stop the cooking process.  It's really easy to overcook shrimp, and that's when they get rubbery and gross.

After they had cooled, I threw them in a bowl surrounding the cocktail sauce and brought an extra bowl for the shells (I used those later, so stay tuned).

I pulled out a bottle of prosecco and my fancy champagne flutes and I was ready for an awards show!

If you're feeling fancy, add about 1 oz. of Chambord to your champagne to make a beautiful (and delicious) Kir Royale.  It makes a girl feel downright glamorous!

Monday, June 9, 2014

TGIF Pizza!


I fell off the low-carb wagon on Friday, headfirst into a goat cheese/ Brussels sprout/ pancetta pizza from The Heist Pizzeria in Tucson. 

 I figure, if you're going to do something, let's not mess about. 

It tasted divine!

I chased it down with a PBR (it's a blue ribbon winner, you know).

Hope your weekend was equally naughty ;-)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

That's-a turkey meat-a-ball!

My cravings for all complex carbohydrates continue unabated, but I'm trying so hard to be strong.  So when all I could think of were spaghetti with enormous, fat, juicy meatballs...I made these instead.  And they were delicious, even if they didn't come with a plate full of starch.

Does anyone else know this old commercial?  

What you'll need for your meatballs:
  • 1 lb. ground turkey (mine was fancy from Whole Foods, but you can use any kind you want!)
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs (use gluten-free breadcrumbs to keep this recipe, you know, free of gluten)
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese (I have an Italian cheese blend, it was on sale). 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley (extra for garnish, if you'd like)
  • 2 T olive oil, divided
What you'll need for your Primavera sauce:
  • 1 16oz. can of diced tomatoes 
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped (can you see a theme here?)
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 T. butter (because you can)
To start, put your turkey in a big bowl, then add your cheese, red pepper, and bread crumbs, then mix to incorporate. 

Next add your garlic and parsley.

Then mix in your egg.  It's helpful to scramble the egg a little on its own before this step, but obviously that's not what I did.
Form the mixture into balls that are about 1.5 inches in diameter and chill them until you're ready to brown them on the stove.
Put your meatballs in the preheated pan with 1 T olive oil (then add the other tablespoon if needed). I brown meatballs over med-high heat, so you get that nice brown, crispy crust.  It's good to not crowd the meatballs, so feel free to add them in shifts so that they don't bring down the temperature in the pad too much. I also try to brown all sides of the meatballs, though they inevitably fight me at the end when they've cooked into weird oblong shapes.  Remove the meatballs from the pan and drain on paper towels.

Prep all of your veggies for the Primavera, it's the right thing to do.

First saute them over medium heat, onions first until they're transparent, then mushrooms until they've released their moisture, then zucchini and artichoke hearts until they've gotten a little brown.

Add your tomatoes, spices and salt and pepper. Then simmer.

Once the sauce is simmering, return the meatballs to the pan, so that they can cook in the juice. I simmered mine for about 25 minutes.

Add a pat of butter at the end, it will bring a whole new level to your sauce and make it almost creamy.  Trust me on this.  Do it.

Pile your meatballs on a plate, garnish with additional cheese and parsley if you wish and then dig in!

A note on using cast iron with acidic dishes:  I cooked these meatballs in my old cast iron frying pan.  The fancy folks say that the acidity in the tomatoes can ruin the seasoning on the cast iron, and I will tell you that it made mine dull, but I've cooked enough bacon in that frying pan over the years, I would have to do something pretty drastic to ruin the seasoning.  That being said, if you prefer stainless steel or non-stick cookware, that's what you should use!