Wednesday, February 18, 2009

From Steak to Eggs

Dinner used to be a huge source of stress in my life. Everyday I would get home from work and have to dig though the fridge looking for something to make and most of the time we would end up with something unhealthy, or we would go out. Finally, I decided to plan an actual menu for a week and get everything I needed ahead of time. That doesn't sound very novel I know, but for me it was a totally new process that really gave me a new outlook on cooking. Making dinner is now one of my favorite times of the day (most of the time). When I am cooking I am forced to focus on what I am doing in that moment and everything else fades away. And the satisfaction I feel at taking a pile of raw ingredients and putting them together into a meal is immeasurable.

This week's menu:

1. Seared Sirloin w/ Balsamic Red Onions and Oranges
Modified from Real Simple
makes 4 servings ( I cut it in half)

1 1/2 lbs sirloin steak, about 1 1/2" thick, cut into 2" cubes
kosher salt
black pepper
3 T olive oil
1 med red onion, halved and cut into 1/2" slices
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
baby spinach
2 oranges, peeled and cut into rounds

Sprinkle the steak on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 T of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the steak pieces and cook 4-5 minutes on each side for medium rare. Remove from the pan and cover to keep warm. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the onion, tossing occasionally until crisp tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook 2 minutes more. In a large bowl, mix the spinach with the orange sections and the remaining olive oil. Divide the steak between four plates or shallow bowls and top with the onions. Serve with the spinach and oranges.

2. Smoky Chicken Corn Cakes
From Real Simple
makes 4 servings ( I made the full recipe of the corn cakes and half of the chicken)

For the Chicken:
2-3 cups shredded chicken
1 T canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, chopped
3 T fresh lime juice
1/4 t kosher salt
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 plum tomatoes
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup sour cream

In a medium bowl combine the meat, chipotle, lime juice, salt, onion, tomatoes and cilantro. Set aside. (In the future I might try blending all the above ingredients in the food processor and pouring it over the shredded chicken because it was a little dry.)

For the Corn Cakes:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t black pepper
3/4 t kosher salt
4 large eggs
1 cup part-skim ricotta
10 oz frozen corn, thawed
2 t canola or veg. oil

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, pepper and salt. Stir int eggs and ricotta until no lumps remain. Fold in the corn. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Spoon about 1/4 cup of batter for each corn cake onto the skillet and cook until golden brown and set on one side, 2-3 minutes. Flip the cakes and cook one minute more. Divide he cakes among plates and top with the corn mixture. Serve with the sour cream.

3. Tuna w/ Artichokes and Lemon (over brown rice)
From Real Simple
makes 4 servings (I cut it in half)

2 T olive oil
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cans artichoke hearts in water, drained and halved
1 lemon, cut into 8 slices (I used the lemon I had already zested for the next item on the list)
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 sprigs fresh thyme (I didn't have any, it was fine without)
1 1/2 lbs fresh tuna, cut into 1" cubes
kosher salt
black pepper
2 cups cooked rice (I used brown)

Heat 1 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the artichokes, lemon, garlic and thyme. Cook until heated through, 3 more minutes. Transfer to a plate. Season the tuna with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining oil in the skillet. Cook the tuna, turning to brown all sides, to the desired doneness, about 2 minutes for medium. Return the artichoke mixture to the skillet and toss to combine. Serve over rice.

4. California Italian Wedding Soup
From All Recipes via Twila M.
makes 3-4 servings

1/2 lb extra-lean ground beef
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 T italian seasoned bread crumbs ( I used plain)
1 T grated parmesan cheese (plus more for topping)
2 T fresh basil, shredded
1 T flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
5 3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth (1 large can)
2 cups escarole, finely sliced (you can substitute spinach but the escarole is really delicious in this)
zest of one lemon (save the lemon for the tuna recipe above)
1/2 cup orzo, uncooked

Mix together the meat, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, basil, parsley, and green onions. Shape into 3/4" balls (I have a nifty scoop for baking that makes perfect meatballs). Bring the broth to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Drop in the meatballs. Stir in the escarole, lemon zest and orzo. After the broth returns to a boil reduce the heat to medium. Cook. stirring frequently for 10 minutes, or until orzo is tender. Serve sprinkled with cheese.

5. Swedish Meatballs

Sorry folks, no recipe here. These meatballs were frozen and the sauce came from a mix. Check your market. (I still need a no brainer meal once in a while.) I served the meatballs over egg noodles with corn on the side.

Bonus!!! (I normally only do five dishes on the menu)
6. Huevos Ahogados (drowned eggs) in Salsa Verde
makes 2 servings

3 cups tomatillo salsa (or green chili)
4 eggs
4 corn or flour tortillas

Purée the salsa in a blender or food processor. Add a little water if desired. It should be about the consistency of tomato soup. In a small saucepan with a lid, bring the salsa to a simmer. Carefully crack each egg right above the pan and nestle it in. Cover the pot and cook for 3 minutes. Remove the lid and check to see if the whites are cooked. If not, return the lid and check every minute until there is no more transparent white. Divide the eggs and sauce between two bowls and top with a dash of salt (and cilantro, if that's what your into). Serve with warmed tortillas to mop up all of the goodness.

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Anonymous said...

In regard to meal 5:
This meal epitomizes the hubby's culinary preferences! Meat, noodle, corn. Perfect.

-the sisters in law

Twila M. said...

Think I'm going to have to make your Huevos Ahogados when Chris is out of town -- looks easy and tasty. I have a hard time managing to cook real meals when there's only me eating!

Anonymous said...

At first I was a little skeptical of the oranges in the balsamic steak recipe, but they totally made the meal – complimented the flavors perfectly! This was my favorite for the week – so easy, yet so tasty! But then again, I think the swedish meatballs will be a regular dish in our house! - EEB

Anonymous said...

WOW- I just purchased a weeks worth of meals - all your recipes and it was the cheapest grocery bill I have had in years! Not only are these delicious, they are cheap!