Archive for ‘in the kitchen’

April 18, 2011

the steak method

A few weeks ago on Amazon, I bought these two items:

An instant-read digital thermometer and a 10-inch cast iron pan.

Of course, there are a multitude of uses for these 2 tools, but the main reason we bought them was for these:

Jeff and I love a good steak, and we really love the idea of making it at home to save some money. We’ve wanted to try the method of searing it in a pan and then finishing it off in the oven, which is hard to do without a cast iron. Friday night’s dinner became the day we made it happen!

So after my Fresh & Easy market trip the other day, we took a bottle of this,

and used it to marinate the steaks.

Some sources say to marinate it for about 6 hours, but we ended up just marinating it for 24 hours.



This is what we did with the steaks (which we got off of a Good Eats episode):

-Preheat the oven to 500F and stick the cast iron pan into the oven for about 5 minutes.

-Season the steak with kosher salt & pepper, then rub a little oil with a high smokepoint (we used Grapeseed oil) onto the steaks.

-Take the cast iron pan out of the oven and place the steaks onto the pan.

-Sear one side of the steak for 30 seconds, flip and sear the other side for 30 seconds.

-Flip the steaks over again before sticking the cast iron pan with the steaks into the oven for 2 minutes.

-Flip the steaks over for the last time and leave in the oven for 2 more minutes. (We took the temperature of the steaks at this time and it was around 130F, which is about medium-rare, which is what we wanted.)

-Take out of the oven and let the steaks rest.



Yum. It was a littttttle more medium than we would’ve liked but that might’ve been because we let it rest for quite a while. Next time, we might leave the steaks in the oven for 1 1/2 minutes on each side instead of 2 minutes. Of course, it also depends on the thickness of the steaks.

But I will say that these were the best steaks we have made at home yet!

We had the steaks with brown rice, roasted carrots, roasted garlic, and sauteed spinach.

Jeff’s favorite vegetable is carrots. And he told me about 5 minutes before we were going to cook the steaks that he wanted carrots with dinner. I was slightly annoyed because carrots take a little longer to roast in the oven and wished he had told me earlier. But I found out from Friday night’s dinner that carrots will cook in almost no time when an oven is set to 500F and the carrots are cut into tiny, tiny pieces. The carrots were perfect, drizzled in a little grapeseed oil with salt & pepper.

I also halved a bunch of garlic cloves and stuck them into the oven with the carrots. I find that I like “roasted” garlic this way better than this way:

Of course this way is absolutely delicious, but all the garlic cloves turn out soft and mushy. Whereas we find that the garlic gets crispy on the outside and soft on the inside when we just halve a whole clove and stick it in the oven (with a little oil, salt & pepper). Plus, it is 100% easier and 100% cleaner, especially if you have those huge bags of already-peeled garlic from Costco.



Dessert was just as amazing and it included this:

Shouldn’t be toooo hard to figure out. ;D

Did you have any good eats this weekend?

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April 14, 2011

you say salmon, i say salmon

I’ll be honest, I say salmon incorrectly. I pronounce the “l” and for that, Jeff is ashamed of me. Ah well, now I say it just to annoy him!

Yesterday, I went to Trader Joe’s.

-organic baby spinach

-organic baby carrots

-frozen brown rice (ugh why does this have to be so convenient?!)

-chicken sausage

-2 buck chuck

-and salmon, the reason for the Trader Joe’s trip!



Everything for $22.67 –



This particular grocery trip happened after I asked Jeff if he felt like having salmon for dinner. And after he said oh yes please!

We LOVE fresh salmon. I like to prepare fresh salmon in the simplest way possible – just seared for a few minutes on each side on a fry pan. The absolute worst thing to me is 100% fully cooked salmon – it just tastes so dry and blah. I like it to be slightly undercooked in the middle. And no salt or pepper is needed because the salmon is just so delicious on it’s own!

I have a question though. Is farm-raised salmon really not good for you? I think I’ve heard from places here and there that Wild Alaskan salmon is a much healthier choice. I’ve never tried Wild Alaskan salmon, but I kind of sort of have a huge feeling that it is not as delicious as farm-raised salmon. I’d love your input if you have any idea!

Anyway, our dinner last night (and tonight!) was 1/2 of one salmon fillet each, brown rice, and sauteed spinach with garlic.

That pile of spinach is 1/2 the bag of the spinach. It’s my most favorite way to eat spinach! After the salmon is seared in the pan, there is the perfect amount of the fish’s oil left in the pan. Then to the pan, I add a bunch (6 cloves, but that might be a little excessive) of minced garlic, and then the whole bag of spinach. then I season with a little salt and pepper. So simple and so good!

For a while, I really wanted to love having spinach in my smoothies so that I could get more spinach in my diet. And to be honest, it’s not that bad, BUT I really prefer my smoothies to be purely fruit based, like this. And THEN when I made this sauteed spinach, any desire to have spinach smoothies flew out the window. It’s so easy and delicious to get spinach into my diet this way and I don’t have to sacrifice my smoothies for it! In fact, I need to save my spinach so I could eat it like this more often!

Plus, supposedly you get more of spinach’s nutrients when the spinach is cooked!

This is one of Jeff and my favorite meals. Usually, we douse all our meals with crazy loads of spicy sriracha sauce, but this is one meal we don’t put on any. The flavors are so simple and delicious, we just want to taste that!



For dessert, we had this:

An equally perfect ending.

April 6, 2011

to the market

On Monday, Jeff and I took a little trip to get some groceries. One of my favorite things to do!

In all aspects of my grocery shopping, I like to use an app on my iPhone called Springpad. It’s a free “notes” app that syncs your phone to the computer. In other words, you can access your notes from your phone or your computer. This app and the Evernote app are the only apps I’ve found to do that! I just like Springpad’s “look” more. =)

I don’t only use the  app for my groceries, but also to keep a list of my recipes (never know when you’re going to need to cook something!), my “to-do” list, and other random useful information I’d like to have on hand whenever I want!

Here’s a snapshot of the app:

After I take a grocery trip, I update my notebook titled “Groceries” (the blue one!).

 

So on Monday, here are the things we bought:

Organic zucchini, organic baby carrots, portabella mushrooms, and broccoli florets



Fresh mozzarella, unsalted butter, Smoked Andouille chicken sausage

 


Gummy Tummies and organic popcorn kernels (cheaper than Walmart!)

 


The total came out to $26.01 –

 

So when I get back from grocery shopping, I open up the app and put in a checklist of all the things I bought, like this:

 

And when we’ve used up and eaten all of something, I check it off. Here’s an example of a grocery trip from back in early March:

So when we finished the pita chips, I checked it off. And so on with the garlic, camembert, and kale.

And when it’s checked off because it’s all gone, that’s when I add it to my “shopping list” notebook (the orange one) if I want to buy it again at my next grocery trip. So I’m always just adding to the list little by little throughout the week in anticipation for my next grocery trip.

Here’s a snapshot of my shopping list before Monday’s trip:

I checked off the items that I bought at that trip. I don’t always follow the list to a T. For example, I didn’t buy spinach because it just seemed we had enough veggies for the time being. I don’t mind being flexible when I get to the store! (Obviously because the Gummy Tummies for sure weren’t on the shopping list…)

 

And here’s a snapshot of all the grocery trips I’ve made (I started in February):

 

I like to do this for a few reasons.

1. I absolutely hate hate hate throwing away food because they’ve rotted and become unedible because I neglected them! So having a list of all the things I have in the kitchen helps me know what I’ve used up and what I should be using up. So typically I’ll look in the oldest list (in my case February 7) and see if anything in there is unchecked and try to use that up!

2. It helps me to plan meals. Yes, I could just go and walk over to the fridge and see what I could make with what I have, but sometimes when I have down time at work I think about what I should make for dinner and having the list on hand helps a lot!

3. Sometimes when I ask Jeff what he wants to eat and he responds with, “I don’t know, what do we have?” I whip out the list and bark out each item to him. Usually, he still doesn’t know what he wants, but I like to think it helps with the process.

4. I don’t know…I find it fun?

 

Most times, my grocery trips are based around when I need more butter.

I know it may all seem meticulous but this method really helps me to buy only what I need (OK…I guess we didn’t really need the Gummy Tummies!) and not waste it! It’s super fun to check things off too. =)

Or maybe I’m just weird. Do you have any method to your madness? Or I mean madness to your method?

March 23, 2011

a few of my favorite tools

I made these again today, just because. I can’t get enough of them!

But today, I’m not talking about cookies — I’m talking about tools! Kitchen tools that is.

My favorite tools are the ones I use the most often. As I got things ready to make the cookies, I immediately got out these favorite, go-to kitchen tools.

 

1. Rubber Spatula

I absolutely hate leaving behind batter residue when I’m pouring batter, for instance when I’m transferring wet ingredients to dry ingredients. This spatula ensures that I get every last drop! Plus, since it’s heat resistant it’s perfect to use for almost any cooking endeavor.

 

2. Cookie Scoopers

I’m a sucker for uniform cookies. If you are too, I absolutely recommend these scoopers! The dough slides out so easily and beautifully!

I like using the smaller scooper for these cookies because they spread out a lot. It’s the perfect size!

 

3. Cookie Spatula

I am in love and it’s with this spatula. I was looking for a good spatula for cookies and other delicate pastries, and I hit the jackpot with this one.

It’s flexible so you can get it as flat as flat can be. No more huge plastic spatulas that can easily break your delicate baked goods! AND, the other day I was flipping through one of my favorite cookbooks and stopped at this page:

Do you see a familiar item?? Specifically…the spatula?? It must be a good spatula if it made it onto Martha’s Cookbook right? =) If you are looking for an awesome spatula, you can find it here.

 

4. Sifter

I try to make a point to sift every time I bake and there are dry ingredients involved, which is pretty much every time! Sure, its an extra step, but I have a blast doing it and I think it makes the pastry turn out better in the end.

 

5. Parchment Paper

I use parchment paper for a lot of things. I bake things on it, use it as a back drop for photos, roll out dough onto it, use it to transfer dry ingredients, etc etc etc! I <3 parchment paper.

But even though I have my parchment paper to bake on, I have to say I have been swept away by this…

Bonus tool: Silpat

I’ll be honest, I was skeptical when I bought this baking mat. I thought, “how great can it be?” Well, I’ll tell you that this tool is not overrated. Nothing sticks onto it, and I swear it seems to make my baked goods bake more evenly! I’m in love.

 

What is your favorite kitchen tool (or tools if you can’t choose one)?