I’m decorating a new kitchen, guys! I’m beyond excited that we will be moving to a new home this summer, and construction on our new place should be underway by the end of this month. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks poring over paint chips and cabinet samples and drooling over all of the swoon-worthy houses on Houzz, which has quickly become my new favorite app. One of the most exciting moments so far in homebuying was hearing the Hubs give the go-ahead on some upgrades for my new kitchen, the best of which is a gas range! I have been dying for a gas range ever since I scratched the heck out of the ceramic cooktop at one of our first apartments with a cast iron skillet – oops! I can’t wait to cook fearlessly with cast iron and stoneware again, since every home we’ve rented has come with a smooth top range. You’ll have to forgive my steaks for not having a nice crust on them in the meantime, since it seems pretty much impossible to sear meat in nonstick pans on an electric cooktop. It’s been too cold to grill outside, but if anyone has suggestions for getting a better sear indoors, please let me know! On recipes that allow it, I’ve been dry rubbing marinated steaks with a seasoning blend that includes brown sugar before putting them under the broiler. This gives me the effect of a nice crust, but I don’t love having the added sugar.
I just made flank steak a week or so ago, for my steak fajita bowls, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the leftovers disappear very quickly over the next day. Leftover steak is usually a hard sell, and I tend to judge the success of a meal by the presence or lack of leftovers and how quickly they disappear. Since it was a success, I decided to try a more traditional herb and wine marinade. Again, the leftovers quickly disappeared after finding their way onto salads and sandwiches the next day. This is another easy dinner that requires minimal prep time. You just have to remember to marinade the steaks at least 8 hours before preparing them. We enjoyed our flank steak with a leafy green salad and herbed, roasted cauliflower and carrots.
Prep time does not include 8 hours inactive prep for the steak to marinade.
by: Jessica @ FabFitMommy.com
Serves: 4 to 6
1½ lbs flank steak
½ cup dry red wine
3 tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic
3 tbs fresh thyme leaves
3 tbs fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1½ tsp salt
¾ tsp black pepper
For the rub: salt and pepper, to taste, and 2 tbs brown sugar
Trim any excess fat off of flank steak. Place in a large covered dish.
In a small food processor, combine the remaining ingredients to make the marinade. Pulse until the garlic and herbs are finely chopped. Pour the marinade over the flank steak, turning once to evenly coat both sides of the steak.
Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
When ready to prepare, preheat grill to medium-high heat, or preheat an oven broiler to 500 degrees. Remove steak from marinade and let drain. Pat steak dry gently with a paper towel to remove excess marinade. Combine rub ingredients in a small bowl and lightly rub onto both sides of the steak.
If grilling, grill steak on preheated grill for about 5 to 6 minutes per side. If broiling, place steak on a foil lined baking sheet or broiler pan and broil for about 12 minutes, flipping steak halfway through cooking time.
Remove steak from grill or oven and let rest for about 10 minutes to re-distribute the juices. Slice across the grain and serve.
I’m a big fan of crisp and colorful vegetables, so I tend to stay away from the canned, boiled, and steamed varieties. Roasting and sautéing are my favorite cooking techniques for veggies. These methods bring out the natural richness and flavor in foods with minimal effort, and they’re a great way to incorporate healthy fats into a meal when you use a good quality cooking oil. These zesty green beans are one of my family’s favorite sides since we all tend to enjoy spicy foods, but you can always omit the crushed red pepper if you don’t like the heat.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the green beans and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly, until beginning to brown.
Add the water carefully and cover immediately (the oil may splatter a bit when you add the water.) Let cook, covered for 2 to 3 minutes.
Uncover and let the water evaporate before adding the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, minced garlic, red pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Continue to cook for about 2 more minutes, stirring to coat green beans evenly in spices and oil. Serve immediately.
One of the unfortunate side effects of living with a food blogger is always having to wait patiently while about a hundred photos of your meal are being taken before dinner. I was losing daylight and patience quickly, so I got one lone shot of our perfectly roasted chicken before putting my camera away and sitting down to enjoy the meal with my family. I did, however, manage to instagram the Mini chowing down on a chicken wing for the first time:
Roasting a chicken looks like a much more impressive feat than it actually is. For myself, the hardest part is pulling out the gizzards before stuffing it – I’m pretty sure I’d be willing to pay extra for a chicken that didn’t come with all that mess. Luckily, the Hubs usually does that part for me, so I don’t lose my appetite before cooking dinner. Because it looks so impressive and is really so simple and effortless, this is a great meal to serve when having guests for dinner. Once you clean, stuff and season the chicken, it just goes straight into the oven and roasts for an hour. It’s also incredibly inexpensive and makes for a nice weekly dinner for the family that will give you plenty of leftovers for additional meal prep. Any leftover meat can be used for salads or casseroles, and you can boil any remnants (bones, the carcass??, I have no idea what to call this without sounding terribly morbid) to make all natural chicken broth. This is a fantastically easy meal to prepare, and you can fill the rest of your plates with simple sides like steamed or sauteed veggies and a baked potato or grain.
Remove the gizzards from the cavity of the chicken. Pat the chicken dry, place it breast side up in a large roasting pan or oven-safe skillet, and salt and pepper the inner cavity of the chicken liberally.
Slice the head of garlic in half, across the cloves. Slice the lemon and orange into thin slices. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the garlic, herbs, and as many lemon and orange slices that will fit.
Gently rub 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil evenly over the outside of the chicken, and salt and pepper the outside of the chicken.
Roast the chicken at 425 for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375 and roast for an additional hour, or until the skin is golden brown, the juices run clear, and the internal temperature of the meat reads 165.
Remove the chicken from the oven, cover it loosely in foil and let it rest for about 20 minutes before carving.
This month I plan to help answer one of life’s universal questions: “Mom, what’s for dinner?”
If your life is anything like mine, you don’t always have time to prepare an elaborate, well-planned and flawlessly executed meal. Nor do you want to spend all that time in the kitchen, when it would be much better spent snuggling with your babies, building blanket forts and lego castles, or dozing off during naptime. For the next few weeks, I will share the time-tested, Hubs and Mini approved dishes that are found on my dinner table even on busy, hectic weekdays. They aren’t terribly glamorous or exotic – they’re simple, easy and you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry and fridge. Best of all, simple recipes like these made with “real” food are both healthy and delicious. If you’re doubting me, just check out these delicious, crispy baked potatoes.
A drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and fresh herbs are all that these potatoes need to be transformed into an exceptionally tasty side dish. You can use any small potato for this recipe, but I especially love these itty bitty baby Dutch yellow potatoes. They have a naturally creamy texture, so they stay moist and don’t need butter.
I like the combination of rosemary and freshly grated parmesan, but you can use any herbs and cheeses you have on hand. My Mini prefers these with cheddar, and I like to serve them with a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt in lieu of the traditional sour cream.
1½ lbs baby Dutch yellow potatoes (or any other small variety)
½ tbs salt
2 tbs olive oil
3 tbs chopped fresh rosemary leaves
⅓ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Nonfat Greek yogurt, for serving
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Gently wash and scrub the potatoes with cold water.
Place the potatoes in a large pot and fill with water up to about 2 inches above the potatoes. Add the salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.
Drain the potatoes carefully and place on a foil lined and lightly oiled baking sheet approximately 2 to 3 inches apart.
Using a potato masher, gently but firmly smash each potato until it has flattened evenly. Drizzle the smashed potatoes with the olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary, parmesan, and freshly ground black pepper.
Bake the potatoes in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until the tops and edges are brown and crispy. Serve warm with a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt, if desired.
I love fajitas, but I usually shy away from preparing them at home because I think they are too time intensive for a weeknight meal. This recipe looks very involved, but I promise that it’s pretty easy and quick to make. A lot of the steps can be done well in advance, like marinading the meat and chopping up the veggies the night before you want to prepare this for dinner. I love recipes like this because they allow me to cook when I have a few free minutes in my schedule, which can be at any odd hour of the day or night with two little ones running around. When it’s time to serve, you can have everything on the table in just a few minutes. You can even make the avocado dressing in advance, but I like to make it right before serving so that the avocado stays a pretty green.
The Hubs and I were also pleasantly surprised at how delicious the leftovers were the next day. Leftover steak isn’t usually edible by my own personal standards, but I found that the marinade made the flank steak extra tender. I found myself guilty of sitting in my kitchen the next day, eating slices of steak dipped in the avocado dressing like it was chips and dip – it was that yummy! If you don’t plan on using the whole steak right away, I recommend only slicing off what you need each time you serve it – this helps to keep the leftovers moist in the fridge. This is another recipe that you can tailor to you and your family’s preferences. You can spice it up with some extra diced jalapenos or monterey jack cheese, or add any fresh veggies or mixed greens that you love!
Steak Fajita Bowls with Creamy Southwest Avocado Dressing
1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces
2 roma tomatoes, diced
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup cooked corn kernels
1 cup cooked black beans
For the dressing:
1 large ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 clove garlic
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced and seeded (optional)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2-4 tbs milk
Trim flank steak of excess fat. Slice bell pepper and onion into long thin strips.
In a food processor, combine garlic, cilantro, lime juice, ⅓ cup olive oil, one teaspoon of the cumin, chili powder, salt and black pepper for the marinade. Pulse until garlic and cilantro are finely chopped.
Place steak in a large covered dish. Place sliced bell peppers, onion, and mushrooms in a separate large covered dish. Divide the marinade equally between the steak and the veggies. Refrigerate for 4 hours to overnight, turning the steak halfway through marinade time if possible.
About 30 minutes before cooking the steak, remove it from the marinade. In a small bowl, mix the remaining teaspoon of cumin and the two tablespoons of brown sugar. Rub the steak with the cumin and sugar mixture. Let it rest on the counter on a plate or cutting board.
Prepare the dressing by combining the avocado, yogurt, cumin, chili powder, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno pepper (if using), salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until smooth and creamy. Add milk a tablespoon at a time, pulsing with each addition, until the dressing reaches your desired consistency. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Preheat grill to medium-high heat, or preheat an oven broiler to 500 degrees. If grilling, grill steak on preheated grill for about 5 to 6 minutes per side. If broiling, place steak on a foil lined baking sheet or broiler pan and broil for about 12 minutes, flipping steak halfway through cooking time.
Remove steak from grill or oven and let rest for about 10 minutes to re-distribute the juices.
While the steak is resting, prepare the vegetables. In a large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Remove the peppers, onions, and mushrooms from the marinade, and add them to the saute pan. Saute for 8 to 10
minutes, or until the onions are beginning to caramelize.
To prepare the steak fajita bowls, layer the lettuce, sauteed vegetables, diced tomatoes, steak, corn, and black beans in large individual serving bowls. Drizzle each bowl with the avocado dressing. Garnish with additional lime wedges and cilantro leaves if desired.