03/28/14

Steak for a crowd, without breaking the bank.

Flank Steak & Pasta

SimplySmartDinnerPlans subscriber Nicole asks:

My high school daughter has a dance next weekend and her and her friends have decided to have a home dinner instead of going out.

They want Steak & pasta. Do you have any suggestions for a menu? There will be 10 of them. Me and one other mom will be putting this together and would like something fairly easy, not too pricey and teen friendly.

Any help would be appreciated

– Nicole

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Nicole,

Thank you for your email!

Okay, steak and pasta for 10, without breaking the bank…we can do this! To get the most bang for your buck, flavor-wise, I would go with skirt or flank steak. It’s fast and easy to pan fry, moderately priced, melts in your mouth, and brings HUGE steak flavor to the table, without needing to provide a huge serving of steak.

Keep in mind that for most of history (and still in much of the world), meat was used as a flavoring agent to enhance dishes, not a giant slab of protein served as the centerpiece of a meal. Not only is this a more economical eating style, but it’s healthier, too.

This is one of my favorite steak recipes, and I think it would be a perfect fit by adding some nice hot al dente fettuccine, tossed in the pan juices. Top with the thin-sliced flank steak, alongside a big salad and some steamed veggies, and you’ll have a winner!

If you REALLY want to rock it, sprinkle everything with some grated asiago cheese, just before serving!

flank-steakThe flank steak, also known as bavette, is a beef steak cut from the abdominal muscles of the cow. It is long, thin, and full of tough connective tissue.

It is usually marinated before being broiled or grilled whole. Because it is tough, you usually slice it thinly on a diagonal across the grain to sever the tough fibers and make the flavorful steak chewable.

I’ve found that if I cook it quickly, over the hottest heat I can manage, I don’t need a marinate, and get more the true beef flavor. For my money, this is one of the best tasting cuts on the cow.

Pan-Seared Flank Steak with Fettuccine
Serves 6

1 1/2 lbs. fettuccine pasta
2 tbsp. butter
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 1½-lb. piece flank steak, about ¾” thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 bunch green onions, sliced (green and white parts)

Cook the fettuccine in salted water, until al dente. Keep warm. See our post: “5 Tips for Perfect Pasta” Reserve 1-2 cups of the pasta water.

Warm butter and garlic in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until garlic is fragrant, about 5 minutes. Discard garlic. Set butter aside in a warm place.

Pat steak dry with paper towels, then season liberally on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. When pan begins to smoke, coat with oil, then add steak (oil will spatter). For rare (or “properly cooked”), sear until almost black, about 4 minutes on each side.

Don’t move steak until ready to turn.

NoForksNote: Never, ever, ever turn a steak with a meat fork, a knife, or anything else that punctures the meat (and lets all of those amazing juices escape). Always turn your steaks (or chicken, or pork) with tongs.

Transfer the steak to a platter, and top with garlic butter. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm, and allow steak to rest for 15 minutes. Pour 1/2 of any juices that collect in the platter, back into the pan, reserve the other half.

While the steak is resting, bring the juices in the pan up to medium heat. Deglaze the pan with 1 cup of pasta water and reduce by half. Using tongs, add your pasta to the pan and toss to coat evenly. Remove pasta from from hot pan immediately, and set aside. Keep warm.

Cut across flank steak the grain into ¼” slices and portion beside (or on top of) the noodles. Spoon the reserved juices over steak, and top with green onions and grated asiago cheese (optional).

Serve with a big green salad and steamed veggies.

Enjoy!

-Chef Perry

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Mother and Daughter Making a SaladAt SimplySmartDinnerPlans, we’re all about helping busy families get back to the dinner table and share delicious, nutritious meals together, by helping you with the research, planning, and list-making that takes so much time…time that most of us just don’t have.

We create and personally test “real food” recipes for every night of the month, provide an easy-to-follow itemized grocery list for every week of the month, and offer constant support and training through our weekly newsletter, interactive blog, and social media sites…all for just $5.00 a month!

Classic, lighter-side, diabetic-friendly, and gluten-free meal plans in 2, 4, & 6 servings, are available.

Click here to learn more!

 

03/26/14

Candied-Onion Bacon Burgers with Steamed Cheddar Cheese

Candied Onion Bacon Burgers with Steamed Cheddar

Candied-Onion Bacon Burgers with Steamed Cheddar

Makes 3 burgers

1 lb 80%/20% ground beef
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 tsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
6 oz Cabot extra-sharp cheddar cheese
6 slices of bacon (thin), for serving
3 pub rolls split and toasted
1 beefsteak tomato
1/2 cup candied onions

MISE EN PLACE

Peel and smash the garlic, cube cheese, split pub rolls, slice the tomatoes.

PREPARATION

Prepare the candied onions (see below).

Cook the bacon to not-quite crisp, 3-4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

Form the meat into 4 patties, about 3/4-inch thick. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the middle of each patty. (This keeps the burger from cooking unevenly and swelling in the middle). Season the patties on both sides, using 1 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper for each one.

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

Candied Onion Bacon Burgers with Steamed Cheddar
Heat 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high heat until just smoking. Place the patties in the pan and reduce the heat to medium-high, and cook for 4 minutes (never, never press on a burger – you’re just squeezing out the juices).

2

Flip the patties, add the butter, garlic cloves and thyme to the pan.

Once the butter has melted, tip the pan and baste each burger a few times, spooning the hot butter over it. Continue to cook, basting often, until the burgers are well-browned on the bottom and the meat is medium-rare, 5-6 minutes. Remove the burgers from the hot pan and let rest for 5 minutes.

While burgers are resting, steam the cheese and toast both halves of the pub rolls.

To build the burgers: spread onions on each bottom roll, top with 2 slices of tomato, then beef, bacon, and finally spoon the hot cheese over all, and top with the top of the roll.

Serve immediately.

Candied Onions

Candied Onions

Makes 1 cup

1 Tbsp. butter
1 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp cup white wine vinegar

PREPARATION

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions, garlic and thyme leaves, and stir. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are deep golden brown, 30-45 minutes.

Add the sugar, salt and pepper. Stir, replace the lid and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the vinegar and deglaze the pan. Cook away the excess liquid (about 10 minutes) then set aside. Use warm.

Steamed Cheese

Steamed Cheddar CheesePut about one inch of water in a pasta pot (with a strainer) and place it on the stove over medium heat.

Insert the strainer.

Divide 6 oz of Cabot extra-sharp cheddar cheese between 3 ramekins or small oven safe bowls. When the water begins to boil, set the ramekins in the strainer. Then cover the pasta pot, trapping the steam inside.

In about two minutes, check to see if the cheese has melted completely. Then use a spoon to scoop it out onto each hamburger. (Careful, it’s HOT!)

Steamed Cheddar Cheese

Enjoy!

-Chef Perry

03/24/14

Super Simple Cheesy Chipotle Egg Biscuits

This might be my new favorite “quickie breakfast”…and I don’t have to sit in a drive-thru for it!

Cabot’s Chipotle Cheddar is creamy, peppery and adds just the right pop and zing to wake up your taste-buds in this delicious, crazy-easy, warm and filling breakfast.

A chipotle (literally: “smoked chili”), is a smoke-dried jalapeño. The smoking process mellows the heat a bit and brings a rich depth of flavor. Cabot’s combines farm-fresh Vermont Cheddar and smoked Morita jalapeno chilies in adobo.

Lovely stuff in a breakfast sandwich, in homemade mac & cheese, or simply sliced up and served with your favorite crackers!

Want to take the hassle out of meal planning? For super-simple, healthy and delicious dinner recipes, check out our FREE weekly meal plans and shopping lists!

Here’s out “Pinterest-friendly” recipe! :)

-Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans

Super Simple Cheese Chipotle Egg Biscuit

 

03/19/14

Thank you for helping the kids!

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So, our double pig roast at The Beer Station was a HUGE success! Everyone had a great time for this “Ides of March” party, the food was great (if we do say so ourselves…) the amazing beers flowed freely, and the generosity in donations to MY KITCHEN (our Independent Cooking Classes) was overwhelming.

We want to take the opportunity to express our gratitude to some amazing folks who made this event, and the MY KITCHEN program, possible.

Sparks of Hope logo

First kudos go to our long-time friends over at Sparks of Hope. A wonderful outreach in their own right, they have almost single-highhandedly made it possible to launch our cooking classes next month, by taking us on a mind-bogglingly generous shopping spree for the majority of our kitchen hardware.

We love you guys!

946551_534079563313557_1332576708_nThanks to Rusty Truck Brewing for the amazing beers, and their generous donation of a full keg (the proceeds from those sales were donated to our program).

You guys rock!

And, of course…

THE BEER STATION

 

 

 

03/18/14

Thai Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

Thai Chicken Thigh Satay

This is one of my favorite “go to grill recipes” and is always a crowd-pleaser.

Indonesian satay sellers. c. 1880

Indonesian satay sellers. c. 1880

Satay, which originated in Indonesia where it can be obtained from a traveling satay vendors, from a street-side tent-restaurant, in an upper-class restaurant, or during traditional celebration feasts. Satay (or sate) is a dish of seasoned, skewered and grilled meat, served with a sauce.

Even India cannot claim its origin, as it’s a legacy of Middle Eastern influence.

Satay is often served with a spicy peanut sauce dip, slivers of onions, cucumbers, and rice. Pork satay can be served in a pineapple-based satay sauce or cucumber relish.

Note: Many recipes call for using chicken breast, but I prefer using marinated chicken thighs, as they tend to stay more moist and tender after grilling, than chicken breasts do.

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

Also, some folks brush the meat with peanut sauce during grilling, but I find that this overwhelms the flavor of the chicken and the marinade, so I serve the two separately.

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans

Chicken Thigh Satay with Thai Peanut Sauce
1 pound boneless/skinless chicken thighs

Marinade:
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger root
2 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce

Peanut Sauce:
1 Tbsp. peanut oil
4 shallots, minced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
2 tsp. Siracha sauce
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 3/4 cups coconut milk
3 teaspoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons brown sugar
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice
12 wooden skewers, soaked in warm water for 1 hour

Mise en Place

Cut each thigh in half, and then each half into thirds (6 cubes per thigh). Peel and mince garlic, ginger, and shallots.

Directions

Marinade: Toss chicken, garlic, ginger, and fish sauce in a bowl until the chicken is coated in the marinade. Cover, and marinate up to 8 hours.

While the chicken is marinating, heat the peanut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in shallots, garlic, and ginger. Cook and stir until the shallot begins to turn golden brown, about 7 minutes.

Chx Satay5Reduce heat to low, and stir in peanut butter, coconut milk, soy sauce, Siracha sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice until blended.

Simmer very gently for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and keep warm.

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat and lightly oil grate. Thread chicken onto skewers.

Chicken Thigh Satay

Grill chicken skewers on preheated grill until no longer pink in the center, about 3 minutes per side. Serve with warm peanut sauce over steamed Jasmine Rice (recipe below).

Jasmine Rice with Garlic Ginger and CilantroJasmine Rice with Garlic, Ginger, and Cilantro
6 cups jasmine rice
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2/3 cup peeled fresh ginger, minced
6 large garlic cloves, minced
9 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 large bunch fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

Place rice in large sieve; rinse under cold running water until water runs clear. Drain.

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic; stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add rice and stir 3 minutes. Stir in broth and salt. Sprinkle cilantro over. Bring to boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook until rice is tender, about 18 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand covered 10 minutes. Fluff rice with fork, and serve.

03/11/14

“Name the Outreach Program” Contest!

MyKitchenLogo

Took a break from working on curriculum today to play with the logo and name of the new outreach program. I like the logo (picture it on a t-shirt or apron), and the name “MY KITCHEN” but not feelin’ it with the tag line so much.

Again, we’re teaching basic cooking skills to teens coming out of the foster care system to live on their own. You can see, around the outside of the logo, some words that represent what we want kids to get from these classes. We’ve kicked around “Program” “Outreach” “Outreach Program” “Community (something)” “Independent Cooking Project”… you get the idea…

At the same time, we want to clearly communicate the educational aspect.

If you’re interested, take a look at the words above and/or add some of your own, and post a name idea or two, below.

I’ll send a copy of our BBQ cookbook, “MEAT FIRE GOOD” to anyone who can come up with something that all three of us like!

(BTW…this is just my rough draft of a logo, whatever we end up with will be sent to a professional graphic artist, lol)

-Chef Perry

03/7/14

What’s New at Hautemealz

1551712_719287194762404_1321413378_nHey everyone,

We’ve seen some big changes to hautemealz.com since we launched our 2.0 initiative on January first, and the feedback has been awesome. We’re so glad to hear how you’re enjoying the expanded menu options each week.

But, as the old saying goes…you ain’t see nuthin’ yet!

One of the challenges that we’ve had in the past is that the name “hautemealz”, because of its pronunciation and spelling, is difficult for folks to remember, doesn’t play well in audio marketing, and does not convey a clear meaning of what we offer – many folks still assume that we deliver “hot meals” to their door!

ILP1Also, as we do more and more community outreach, and other food-related adventures, we want to make sure that we’re not muddling the message by having “all of our eggs in one basket” (and under one name).

So, after much consideration, and input from several top marketing professionals, we’ve decided it’s time to re-brand ourselves.

As part of this re-branding phase of 2.0, we started working on some new business name ideas.  We came up with 20-plus snappy titles, narrowed those down to our top half-dozen, and then submitted those to some of our amazing friends in the marketing and promotions fields.

The new name had to clearly define the purpose of our meal plans – quickness, nutritional value, and ease of use –  be easy to spell, and easy to remember.

What we came up with (and are VERY excited about) is…

SSDP NEW LOGO tweaked

Is that what we do, in a nutshell, or what?

As you can see, we’re keeping the hautemealz.com name and style…but it will become the “umbrella” over our various culinary projects.

Under that umbrella are SimplySmartDinnerPlans (the weekly recipes, shopping list, blog, and helpline), as well as our local private chef services, personal tutoring and workshops, and our community outreach programs (to be named soon) as well as whatever else the future brings.

cleaning retroSo, all of that to say…please pardon our dust, over the next few weeks, as we start shifting our branding of the meal plans to the new format, but never fear…Terry, Chris, and I will still be here for you, and we will remain “the chefs at hautemealz.com!”

Also, please feel free to share the news with anyone and everyone you know who’s life might be made a little easier with dinner plans that are, well…”Simply Smart!”

What do you think?

-Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans

PS – Just to say thank you, for reading to the end...here’s a yummy (and super-simple) dessert, just for you! Our “Chocolate Peanut-Butter Pot de Creme!”

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