Friday, May 31, 2013

The Brokeass Gourmet: Seared Steak with Red Wine Sauce and Broccoli(ni)

I had never cooked flank steak before this recipe, and now I can't think of a single reason why.  (Except, of course, that the thought of cooking meat other than ground beef terrified me to my very soul because I'm always convinced I'm going to give someone salmonella or something.  Luckily, we got a meat thermometer, and I haven't looked back since.  If you don't have one of these, get one.)

The recipe (from this book) called for something called broccolini, but I had an influx of broccoli thanks to the weekly CSA box, and the recipe clarified that if I didn't have broccolini, I could use "regular broccoli."

So I did.

And it was amazing.

(Edit:  This recipe was featured during Tasty Tuesdays on Anyonita Nibbles.  Yay!)

Seared Steak with Red Wine Sauce and Broccoli

Serves 2


For the Steak:

1 8-oz. flank steak
Soy sauce
salt and pepper
Leaves of 1 thyme sprig

For the sauce:

I liked how this one looked without cropping it.  Look at me, being artsy!

6 sliced green onions (or chives as shown below)
1/2 bottle inexpensive red wine
1 stick unsalted butter
1 small bunch parsley, chopped

This is a 1/4 cup measuring cup, and this is how many chives I used. Not an exact measurement.

For the broccoli:

1 pound broccoli
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lemon, juiced

Place steak in a baking dish and brush with soy sauce.  Add thyme and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper to taste.  The recipe says to let stand for one hour; I did this prep during lunch and it sat for 4 hours.

Brush again with soy sauce and place on a hot pan over high heat for 3-4 minutes for medium steaks.  (Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side for well-done.)  Slice steak on the diagonal.

To make the sauce, combine green onions and wine in a medium saucepan and bring to a light boil.  Add butter and parsley and allow to cook for another 2-3 minutes.  (Note: After 2-3 minutes, my sauce was not thick enough to be considered sauce by me.  I reduced it for the entire time I was making the broccoli.  Your mileage may vary on this one.) 

Arrange your steak on a plate and spoon sauce over steak.

Full disclosure here:  This made a LOT of sauce.  A lot.  We didn't use half of it.  So unless you want your steak drowning in sauce or you want extra or whatever, you're probably not going to need to make the full amount.  I gave you the full amount, though, just in case.

To make the broccoli, place broccoli in a large pan and cover with water.  Cover the pan and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 6-7 minutes until tender and bright green.

Drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat and add the garlic.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, then return broccoli to the pan.  Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and toss well to ensure that each piece is coated. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Brokeass Gourmet: Rosemary-Shallot Pork Tenderloin with Fig Pear Compote

For whatever reason, unless you're talking about bacon, I'm not a huge fan of pork.  It's not that I don't like it, but whenever someone says, "Hey, let's have pork!" I'm less than enthusiastic.

(Noted after the fact: I was talking to my cousin, Frank, about not eating pork, and he was all, "What about ham?  Bacon?  BBQ?"  And I had to concede that when I say "pork," I mean more along the lines of chops and loins.)

Because of that, this recipe was my first experience cooking pork.  And it was wonderful.  I think that if I just made the rest of my meals for the rest of my life out of this cookbook, I'd be happy.  It's flavorful and fragrant and just really, really good.

It took me a long time to make this because I didn't have toothpicks or twine to hold the thing together while it was cooking.  Also, the original recipe includes a fig (instead of pear) compote, but I didn't think that figs are even in season at the moment, and there were none at Trader Joe's, so it became a pear compote.  And it worked!

Rosemary-Shallot Pork Tenderloin with Pear Compote

Serves 2-3


1 shallot, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for the pan
Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. pork tenderloin (I used one that was pre-seasoned with garlic and peppercorns)
5 pears, stems removed, diced
1/4 cup balsalmic vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Lightly oil a baking dish and set aside

Combine shallot, garlic, oilve oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper to taste in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Using a sharp knife, butterfly the tenderloin by making a horizontal slice lengthwise through the tenderloin almost all the way to the other side.  Open the meat like a book.  Cover with plastic wrap and use a meat mallet, rolling pin, or small cast iron skillet to pound the pork so it's about 1/2 inch thick.

Pour shallot-garlic mixture over one lengthwise side of the pork and roll up, securing with toothpicks or cooking twine.

Roast in oven for 22-28 minutes or until pork is cooked through. (145°F to 160°F, depending on your personal level of paranoia.)

While the pork cooks, combine pears, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper to taste in a small pot over medium to medium-high heat.  Cook until reduced to a thick jamlike consistence.  Turn off heat.

To serve, slice pork into several slices and top with a few spoonfuls of compote. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Brokeass Gourmet: Shrimp with Spicy Pesto and Mango

I apologize in advance to anyone offended by the title of this week's cookbook.  I try to keep it PG around here for the most part, but maybe you can bear with me for a little PG-13 this week?

I bought this cookbook on New Year's Day of this year.  Dennis and I had stayed downtown to see the fireworks and the acorn drop and stopped by a Barnes and Noble on the way home.  I found this book, didn't think it sounded like anything I already owned, and the rest is history.  Or something.

Anyway, the recipes in this book are really great.  At least as far as the ones I made go, they'll make you feel a little fancy, even if you're eating off of paper plates with plastic utensils.  I promise.

This week's recipes also mark the first time I did several things: the first time I made a pork tenderloin, the first time I cooked steak, and the first time I made pesto.  We'll start with the pesto.  Is my pesto the besto?  I don't know, but it's pretty good-o.  (50 points to whomever gets that reference!)

Shrimp with Spicy Pesto and Mango

Serves 2

1 handful cilantro leaves
1 handful parsley leaves
1 handful mint leaves
1/2 green jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
Juice of 2 limes, divided
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
Salt and Pepper
1 pound peeled, de-veined shrimp (The recipe called for 1/2 pound.  The full pound is better, I think.)
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 mango, diced
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
Pasta or rice for 2, if you want (This recipe would be fine on its own, but I put it over pasta.)
If using pasta or rice, prepare according to package directions and put on individual plates.
Combine cilantro, parsely, mint, jalapeno, garlic, juice of 1 lime, and 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a food processor (or blender).  Pulse until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.
Toss shrimp with soy sauce until well-coated.
Heal the rest of the olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat.  Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.
Toss shrimp with pesto and transfer to plates, whether with rice or pasta or without.
In another bowl, combine mango and cucumber, remaining lime juice, salt, and pepper to taste.  Combine well.
Top shrimp with mango mixture.
Serve immediately, or chill and serve cold.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pop It, Stir It, Fix It, Serve It: Penne with Spicy Tomato Cheese Sauce

I feel like you can't go wrong with something involving pasta, cheese, AND spiciness.  The last offering from this cookbook is my favorite of the three I made.  When I tasted the sauce, I wanted to just have that for dinner.  (As it turns out, spicy tomato cheese sauce probably isn't the best meal idea.  So I had the pasta and a salad along with it!)

I've run into sort of an issue with the way I've been doing these posts.  Inevitably, something will happen during the preparation of the meal, or during the meal itself, that will make me think, "Hey, that would be a great story to include with the recipe!"  And then, thanks to the fact that my short term memory is. . .nothing, I'll forget.

So while some food bloggers have great stories to go along with their meals, I just have. . .food.  But I think that's OK.  Maybe I'll start writing things down.  (Probably not, though.)

Penne with Spicy Tomato Cheese Sauce

Serves 6-ish


One 16-oz. box penne pasta
One 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
One 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. dried basil (or 3 tsp. fresh basil, chopped)
1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano (or 2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped)
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded (real) Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.

In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring periodically.  The sauce is ready when it's hot and the cheese is almost completely melted.

Either combine cooked, drained pasta with sauce and toss to coat or serve sauce over cooked, drained pasta.

That was so easy, you should make a salad to go along with it.  Go ahead.  It'll just take a couple of minutes.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pop It, Stir It, Fix It, Serve It: Mexican Chicken Bake

This recipe has what seems to be a ton of ingredients.  Don't let that put you off.  It's another super-easy recipe from this cookbook that, actually, it took me more time to assemble everything and photograph it than it did to throw this together.

I don't have any interesting stories or anecdotes about this recipe, except that it's really good, and the leftovers are surprisingly good as well.

Also, I completely forgot to take a picture of the plate itself, and my pictures seem more off than usual, but I think you'll get the general idea.

Mexican Chicken Bake

Serves 8 (or 2 with lots of leftovers!)

Too many to fit on my cutting board! Also, weird alien sheen happening on the bowls.

2 cups broken tortilla chips
1 tsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. plus 1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Two 10-oz. cans white chunk chicken, rinced and drained
One 15-oz. can black beans, rinced and drained
One 15-oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
One 15-oz. can corn, drained
One can Rotel
One 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup salsa
1 Tbsp. cilantro
1/2 tsp. salt
4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (or 2 cheddar, 2 Monterey Jack.  Your choice.)
Sour cream for garnish (optional)
Additional salsa for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Coat a 9x13" casserole dish with olive oil (or cooking spray).  Cover the bottom of the dish with the broken chips.

In a small bowl, mix together the chili powder, 1/2 tsp. onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, and pepper.  In a seperate mixing bowl, combine the chicken with the spice mixture.  Add the beans, corn, Rotel, tomato sauce, and salsa. 

Mix well, then add the cilantro, 1 Tbsp. onion powder, and salt.  Mix well again.

Spread half the chicken mixture over the chips in the dish.  Cover with 2 cups cheese.  Spread the remaining chicken over the cheese, and cover with remaining cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is thoroughly melted.  Garnish with sour cream and salsa if you want.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pop It, Stir It, Fix It, Serve It: Can Do Cooking: Creamed Chicken

The purpose of this cookbook (Pop It, Stir It, Fix It, Serve It: Can Do Cooking by Laura Karr) is kind of like a "raid your cabinets and you'll find all the stuff to make these recipes" cookbook.  The recipes aren't difficult, and all the ones I tried were good (especially Friday's!)  They're good for those days when you get home from work and are just OVER IT. . .but you still have to eat.

Put this stuff over toast, noodles, or rice.  (I chose rice, and it was awesome.)

Creamed Chicken
Serves 4

Rice or noodles for 4
One 10-oz. can white chunk chicken, rinsed and drained
One 15-oz. can potatoes, sliced, rinsed, and drained (You can use pre-sliced if you want.)
One can condensed cream of chicken soup
One 12-oz. can evaporated milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in a little cold water
Salt and pepper

Prepare the rice or noodles according to the directions on the package.

Place the chicken in a saucepan.  Dice the potatoes, then add to the chicken.

Add the soup, milk, and dissolved cornstarch, then stir over medium heat until boiling and thickened.  Add salt and pepper as desired.

Serve over rice or noodles.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mediterranean Cookery: Spanakopitta

Who knew this dish had two T's in it?  I've always spelled it with just one.

This one intimidated me a little, thanks to my first use of puff pastry, but it turned out really well and was pretty delicious.  One thing I'll note is that you may want, after it's baked, to sprinkle salt and cayenne pepper on top.  It wasn't quite salty enough for me, and I thought it needed some spice.  But that's your call.


Serves 8


2 lb. frozen spinach, thawed and thoroughly drained
1 onion, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more to brush on top of pastry
4 Tbsp. dill or parsley, finely chopped
4 eggs
8 oz. feta cheese
3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
Large pinch nutmeg
Salt (optional)
Cayenne pepper (optional)
1 lb. filo pastry

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

First, make the filling.  In a large saucepan, fry the onion and shallot in 2 Tbsp. olive oil.  Add the spinach and dill or parsley and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes.  Allow to cool.

Beat the eggs lightly in a separate bowl.  Add the feta cheese, mashed with a fork and the Parmesan cheese. Add the spinach mixture, drained of liquid, and pepper to taste.  Stir well.

Brush a rectangular baking dish with oil.  Place half the sheets of filo in the dish.  Spread the filling evenly on top of this and cover with the rest of the filo, tucking down the edges to seal everything in.

Bake about 1 hour or until the pie is crisp and puffed up.  Cut into squares or diamonds and serve.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mediterranean Cookery: Poires au Vin (Pears in Wine)

This week, I'm delving into Mediterranean food with Mediterranean Cookery by Claudia Roden.  I didn't get too crazy, especially with this first recipe.

This makes for a really nice, super easy dessert.  It would probably be good with some vanilla ice cream, or maybe some honey Greek yogurt.  As it stood, we just ate them out of a bowl.

Literally, the hardest part about this recipe was trying to get a good picture of the finished product.  It's easy enough to just throw everything into a pot and forget about it for about an hour.  When these come out, they're so pretty.  (Also, if anyone knows an easy way to eat a whole, cooked pear, avoiding the core, let me know!)

(Also again, happy birthday to my mom!  It's her birthday today, and most likely, sometime later, I'll post the dessert I made for the occasion.)

Poires au Vin (Pears in Wine)
Serves 6


6 firm pears, peeled and left whole
One bottle inexpensive red wine (I used Trader Joe's Charles Shaw [aka Three Buck Chuck] Cabernet     Sauvignon)
1/2 cup sugar
4 cloves
1 vanilla pod

Put the pears in a pan with all remaining ingredients.  Add water, if necessary, to cover the pears completely.

Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for about an hour until the pears are very tender but still hold their shape.  Carefully lift them out and arrange in a bowl.

Reduce the syrup further if necessary and pour over pears.  Serve cold.

I had the hardest time getting a good shot of the finished pears.  I think the third one is my favorite.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Book Sale

Every year, Wake County Public Libraries has this book sale that's. . .massive.  Millions of books, both old library books and books people have donated, go to this sale, and hundreds of thousands of people attend.

It always runs from Thursday to Sunday, but I only go on Saturday and Sunday of the sale.  Saturday, hardback books are $2 and paperback books are $1.  On Sunday, though, you can get a grocery bag full of books for $2 and a box of books for $5.

Needless to say, Sunday is when it gets a little crazy.  The perspective isn't great, but here's the line to get in the door.  This was after they'd let about 200 people in.

For point of reference, once we got to the end of the fence, we turned right until we got to that shelter held up by the pillars, and then, if you can see beyond the tall guy's head and the tree behind him, that was the building the sale was in.

Cheap books for the entirety of the county and beyond?  Yeah.  It was insane.

Between the two of us, Dennis and I filled 3 boxes of books.  His were mostly business-related, and mine were mostly cookbooks.

What I've discovered about this sale is that it's flush with those little cookbooks that churches put together, which is a sub-collection in my cookbook collection.

I haven't separated my books into my "cookbook" and "non-cookbook" piles yet, but this was my total stash:

Some people might call that an addiction.  I call it 'blog security.'  At some point soon, so I can get into all my church cookbooks, I'm going to dedicate a week to them, using a few different ones.

Up tomorrow is the beginning of Mediterranean week.  I hope you all find something that looks good!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Hello Fresh: Acorn Squash Stuffed with Pecan & Cranberry Pilaf

If every vegetarian dish in the world was like this one, I might be able to be convinced to give up meat.  This recipe was so incredibly good, I didn't really know what to do with myself.  It makes a ton of the rice stuffing, but it's not even overkill to have a side of rice with your rice-stuffed squash.

If you make one recipe off of this blog ever in your life, make it this one.  This, or the mac and cheese.  Or both.  Definitely both.

I loved this so much, I hunted down an acorn squash at the farmer's market so I could make it again.  I'm already excited.

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Pecan & Cranberry Pilaf

Serves 2


Go make this.  Go make this immediately.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hello Fresh: Classic Burger with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

I know I said I wasn't going to do this one, but I lied.

The only thing I don't have is pictures. . .this is because the original idea for the burger post was that it was going to be completely a video blog -- Dennis added YouTube videos to the services he offers through his business, and I was playing guinea pig while I made this meal.

He filmed the whole thing and he was set to do a video. . .but then the burger wasn't very good and (sorry for being so incredibly vain!), I hated the way I looked in the video.  The outfit wasn't flattering, and it was. . .just not good.  Since I was expecting to have the whole thing documented on video, I didn't bother taking pictures of the process.  I also don't really want to comb through the entirety of the video (it was SO LONG!) looking for screenshots.  I'm not even sure there would be screenshots of what I needed.

So all of the pictures in this one are just pictures I've taken on the card that came with this recipe.  It's fine.  It's a burger.  Truly, the best part of it is the caramelized onions on top.  I'd never caramelized anything before, and it was really good.

Do not, I repeat DO NOT add all of the lemon the recipe calls for.  It will make it gross.  Like when this happened.

Classic Burger with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

Serves 2


1.  Preheat oven to 370 degrees F.  Slice the onion thinly, chop the bacon, and slice the tomato.  Cut the potatoes into 1-inch thick wedges.  Mix the mayonnaise and the hot sauce together.

2.  Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium-high heat and, when hot, add the bacon and cook until crispy.  Set aside on a paper towel.  Turn the heat to low and, in the the same pan, cook the onion slowly until just brown and caramelized, stirring constantly, about 6 minutes.  Remove and reserve.

3.  In a bowl, mix the potatoes with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of oil.  Spread evenly (even though the recipe card they printed said to spread "ovenly") on the baking sheet, cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.  Take out and toss the potatoes.  Bake 10 more minutes, uncovered.

4.  Place the ground beef, steak sauce, small squeeze of lemon, half of the caramelized onion, salt, and pepper to taste into a bowl.  Mix well and divide in half, gently shaping them into 2 equal-sized patties.

5.  Heat the pan over medium-high heat and add the burgers, cooking on both sides until just brown.  Put them on the baking sheet and in the oven for 7 more minutes.

6.  Toast the buns in a pan over medium heat.  Remove and spread the spicy mayo on the bottom.

7.  Put the patties on the buns, adding the tomato slices, onions, and bacon on top.  Serve with the potatoes on the side.

Hello Fresh only gave me two small potatoes with this recipe.  It made for a very sad side dish.  However, with more potatoes, I think the side could be nice.  On the whole, I give this recipe 4/10.

Monday, May 6, 2013

More from Hello Fresh

I spent last weekend at the Diabetes Sisters conference in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, so I didn't get the chance to get the second Hello Fresh recipe up.

What I've decided to do is to go ahead and post both of the other two recipes, including the lemony burger.  I'll just make sure to indicate that adding the lemon isn't a great idea.

Stay tuned for more from Hello Fresh this week.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hello Fresh: Parmesan pop-Chicken

You guys, I'm going to be so lazy with this post and the next one, you're not even going to believe it.  I'm going to take pictures of the card that came in my Hello Fresh Box.  I did actually take pictures of the food I made, so it's not completely lazy.

This chicken was amazing.  Both this and the next recipe were some of the best meals I think I've ever made.  The burger, which I think I mentioned before, wasn't great.  It was kind of sub-par.  These recipes fully make up for it.

I had never had parsnips before, and they were good.  The carrots Hello Fresh sent me were sweet, and really good.

Also, I've been telling people forever I don't like hazelnuts.  Apparently, that's not entirely true.  I guess I just don't like hazelnut flavored things.  Also, full disclosure, I don't like Nutella.  I'm sorry.  You can leave now if you want.

My point is that actual hazelnuts are pretty tasty.  There was no part of this recipe I didn't like, and I'll probably make it again some time.

Parmesan pop-Chicken with Roasted Parsnips and Carrots
Serves 2


Their picture:

My picture:

Sorry for the weirdness of this picture. I got Photoshop happy with a bad shot!


Take everything out and test the chicken to make sure it's cooked through.  Let everything rest for 5 minutes, then slice the chicken with the veggies on the side.

Their finished meal:

My finished meal: 

Not to gush or anything, but this meal was so ridiculously good, I'll probably be making it again on my own.  It was pretty easy, too.