Monday, May 27, 2013

Restaurant-Style Steak

No shit, that's actually what this post about: steak.

I must really love my gentleman. He was craving steak, I remembered a pin I'd seen frequently on Pinterest about cooking steak indoors to rival restaurant steaks, so...

I let him cook steak. In my house. In his own pan, which is forever marked with a giant B on the bottom so I don't accidentally cook non-meat things in it. AND: I participated. Omg. Sort of. I helped season it (without touching it) and I made the compound butter.

Other than grilling, this is unprecedented in my home.

AND: it apparently was better than restaurant steak. He loved it. He said the lemon in the compound butter made the steak taste kind of like lobster. Yup. I obviously can't vouch for this, but I'll trust his judgment and recommend it to you meatatarians out there. I don't know what cut of meat the gentleman used but it was not the same as the one in the original post.

This is what it looked like:
meat

Restaurant-Style Steak
From Whit's Amuse Bouche
Side note: this chick's blog is wonderful. She's hilarious and has great recipes.

Two 8-oz pieces of beef - filet mignon or whatever
4 teaspoons kosher salt
4 teaspoons freshly cracked pepper
1 stick butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Take 1/2 stick of butter, softened, and mix well with the peeled, chopped garlic, the chopped herbs, and the lemon zest. Form into a log and refrigerate.

Generously season the filets with salt and pepper, approximately 1 teaspoon of seasoning per side. Heat the remainder of the butter (1/2 stick) and the olive oil in a cast iron skillet to a screaming hot temperature. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Sear the filets in a screaming hot pan for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until a nice brown crust has formed. While the steak is searing, continue to spoon the residual butter in the pan on top of the meat while it's cooking. Once both sides are seared, place in the center of the oven for about 6-8 minutes, depending upon how thick your steak is.

In the last minute of cooking, take the log of compound butter and slice a nice thick piece to place on top. Your steak will be ready (medium rare) when it is approximately 135 degrees in the center, or when you push lightly on the top center of the steak and it gently and slowly bounces back.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hash Brown Casserole

At work, my department often has breakfasts to celebrate events. Nurse's Week, baby showers, elopements - breakfast is an inexpensive way to celebrate, at a time when we know we'll all be in the office. There's generally a routine. E will bring rice and little empanada-type things. C will bring her french toast casserole. L will bring the maple syrup for the french toast casserole. Sometimes S also brings a competing french toast casserole. LD brings a cherry/apple cobbler. Someone brings fruit and coffee. Breakfasts are wonderful but there are rarely surprises.

A few weeks ago, to celebrate Nurse's Week, we had a breakfast. All the regulars were present on the table, and then... a pan of hash brown casserole. We each took a little, then a lot, and before we knew it the ginormous aluminum pan was empty. It was the most magical surprise. It is the best breakfast food I've ever eaten (sorry, C and S). I tracked down the coworker who brought it - Miss Debbie - and got the recipe. She has given me permission to post it, so I am going to share it with you.

I made it earlier this week - the whole recipe, which makes an enormous amount - and filled up a casserole dish, plus two aluminum pans. I didn't bake the ones in the aluminum, and instead stuck those in the freezer to make in the future. Best idea ever. When my little casserole dish came out of the oven, I let it cool and then decided to try just a little bit of it til my gentleman got to my house for dinner. Just one little forkful. Delicious. Then another little forkful. By the time he got to my house, I was sitting on the kitchen counter eating potatoes right out of the dish while watching Wheel of Fortune. A moment of shame? Yet a moment of pure happiness. Thanks, Deb!

Sorry for the terrible photo; it was really hard to tear myself away long enough to take a picture.
casserole

Hash Brown Casserole
This makes a huge amount of casserole, so be prepared.

2 pound bag frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1 pint sour cream
1 can cream of anything soup (she used chicken, I used celery)
2 cups cheddar cheese
1 soup-can full of milk (or more - enough to help everything mix together)
Finely chopped onion
Salt and pepper

Mix everything together. Bake for an hour to an hour and a half at 350.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cookie Monday: Potato Chip Cookies

My beloved Denise sent me this recipe the other day and told me I needed to make it for Cookie Monday. While she lives in Oregon and does not get to reap the benefits of my cookie-baking, I love that she thought of me and am thankful she passed this recipe along.

I know it sounds weird. Potato chips in cookies? I swear though, it's really great. These taste a lot like pecan sandies. The original recipe called for "potato chip salt" which basically was just adding extra salt and potato chips on top, which I felt was overkill. It also suggested dipping the cookies in melted chocolate, which I'm sure would taste good but is also a little but of overkill. I liked the cookies plain. They aren't salty at all, which is why the recipe suggests adding more salt. I didn't know how many cookies this recipe would yield so I took a guess and made one-and-a-half batches. I got about 55 cookies. Less than I would have liked, but enough!

This is where I should point out that this contains nuts. I forgot to tell one of my coworkers and nearly killed her. Make sure you tell people when you put nuts in things. Sorry, Barb :(

chip

Potato Chip Cookies
From Smitten Kitchen

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1/4 teaspoon table salt (optional)
1/2 cup chopped and toasted pecans
1/2 cup finely crushed potato chips
2 cups all-purpose flour

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter with 1/2 cup of the sugar until lightly and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla and table salt, if using, until smooth. Add the pecans, 1/2 cup crushed potato chips and flour together and mix until just combined.

2. Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Scoop a tablespoon-sized mound of dough and form it into a small ball with the palms of your hands. Roll the ball in the remaining sugar until coated. Place on prepared baking sheet and using the bottom of a drinking glass to slightly flatten the cookies. Cookies only need to be an inch apart; they only spread a little. Repeat with remaining dough.

3. Bake cookies until lightly golden at the edges, about 12 minutes. Transfer to cool on a wire rack.

Yield: About 3 dozen

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mexican Polenta

I've had this tube of polenta in my pantry since Thanksgiving, when I went to visit my parents and had a chance to stop by Trader Joe's (thank goodness for a long shelf-life). Yesterday I had this surge of energy and decided I MUST COOK, so I went through my pantry and found the polenta. Then it became my mission to cook something with it. BUT WHAT? I immediately googled it. I can't remember the exact search term, but it was something like "What to do with a tube of polenta." Lo and behold, the very first search option was a post on a message board from 2008.

What To Do With Polenta In A Tube ~~~~ MY POST. Something I had posted on a message board years and years ago. Omg. I died. And the best part about it? I offered a recipe! In my post! I never even remembered making it!

So guess what I made last night? My own recipe! The one for Mexican Polenta! I am such a tool.

It was delicious, though!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Cookie Monday: Fudgy Oatmeal Cups

For Cookie Monday today, I decided to try making cookies in little mini-muffin tins. They're kind of similar to tassies. Oatmeal chocolate chip cookie base, chocolate ganache in the middle, and then some more cookie crumbled on top. And because they're made in the mini-muffin tins, they're perfectly portable for a Cookie Monday treat.

The recipe turned out perfectly. Nothing burned or stuck or did anything weird. That's fantastic. It also has room for error or for tweaking. If you don't have sweetened condensed milk, skip it, or substitute butter. The point is to make the chocolate a little bit melty and malleable and fudgy. A kosher friend said she might try it with some margarine or soy milk. And I didn't have mini chocolate chips so I used regular, and I didn't have semisweet so I used dark. Meh! Turned out fine.

cups

Fudgy Oatmeal Cups
Baking With Melissa via Pinterest

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup mini chocolate chips
2 tablespoons vanilla, divided
14 ounce sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (temp should be set at 325 degrees if using darker pans). Lightly grease a 2-24 count mini muffin pans (makes at least 48 cookie cups but plan on a few more than that).

In a large bowl, beat together 1 cup butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Mix in eggs and 1 tablespoon vanilla. In another bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt; stir into butter mixture. Stir in 1 cup of mini chocolate chips. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, 3 tablespoons butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon vanilla.

Using a small cookie scoop place dough into muffin tins filling the cup 1/2 way to the top. Spread 1 tsp of the chocolate mixture evenly over the top of each cup, and dot each cup with the remaining oat mixture.

Bake for 10 minutes in preheated oven. Let cool completely, then remove from pans. Removing them can be tricky, just wait for them to cool and use a knife to ease up the edges.

Yield: Supposedly 48 but I got about 75

Thursday, May 09, 2013

M&M Pudding Cookies

OK so basically what I've learned is that this Pinterest trend of "pudding cookies" is the best thing ever. Cookies made with pudding mix are soft, fluffy, delicious, and they stay that way for like a week without even freezing them. It's amazing. This is a basic recipe for cookies, and then add whatever you want to them to make it delicious. This week I made them with some M&Ms for Cookie Monday. Nothing exciting, but a delicious little treat. I'm going to keep this recipe around because it'll come in handy whenever I don't know what else to make. PLUS: this recipe makes exactly how many cookies I need to make each week. Best all-around.

cookies

Pudding Cookies
Sunday Baker via Pinterest

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 (3.4 oz) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups add-ins (chocolate/butterscotch/peanut butter/white chocolate chips, candy bars, m&m's, nuts, etc.)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together flour and baking soda in seperate bowl and set aside; in a large bowl, cream butter, brown and white sugar. Beat in pudding mix until well blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. When smooth, slowly add in the flour mixture. This can take a little while, but make sure it's well incorporated into mix.

2. Finally, add the "fillers."

3. Scoop or roll dough into 1" balls so the cookies are all uniform in size and bake evenly.

4. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper and bake for 8-12 minutes or until golden.

Yield: 8 dozen

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Grilled Foods

Today was a lovely day. The weather was lovely. It was the type of day where you just feel like you need to grill something. If you've known me for any length of time, you will know that I have a grill but no idea how to use it. My ex husband used it, but I never did. I don't know how to hook it up, how long to cook things, etc. It's all new to me.

So my gentleman and I cleaned it up (it hasn't been used in 2 years and has been through three snowstorms and a hurricane), I hit the farmer's market, and we grilled.

dinner

It's super simple stuff: grilled salmon, squash, and zucchini (all just with olive oil, salt, and pepper), and some basmati rice. I got a shish kebab at the market for my gentleman so he could have his beef, so that was good for him.

It was a lot of fun, and now I know how to use my grill. I also now know how to grill salmon. I'm really excited to have learned something new with cooking. It makes me feel like I want to make more things instead of just cookies.

(Side note: Last night I made this salad and my most favorite recipe ever for Paula Deen's Banana Pudding with girlscout trefoil cookies instead of the Chessmen!)

So what I'm hoping is that this newfound cooking method will inspire me to cook more. I really hope so. I'm still waiting for that push to start cooking like I used to do.