Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Swiss Steak

I decided tonight to make a classic: Swiss steak. I did a little research, looked at several recipes, and came up with my own version. I'd like to share the recipe with you.

Swiss Steak
  • 1 pound round steak
  • vegetable oil
  • whole wheat flour
  • granulated garlic
  • onion powder
  • ground thyme
  • ground marjoram
  • paprika
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • kosher salt
  • 1 large or 2 small bell peppers, any color, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 T minced garlic
  •  1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 can beef broth
  • dry leaf thyme
  • dry leaf marjoram
     Required Equipment
  • oven safe sauce pan or Dutch oven
  • meat tenderizer mallet
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Trim the fat from the round steak and cut into 4-ounce portions.
  3. Pound the steak on both sides to tenderize.
  4. Heat just enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan over medium heat.
  5. Sprinkle the steaks on both sides with a mixture of equal amounts of the granulated garlic, onion powder, paprika, ground thyme, ground, marjoram, fresh ground black pepper and kosher salt, and rub the spices into the meat. Repeat the process with a couple of pinches of whole wheat flour.
  6. One at a time, brown the steaks on both sides in the oil. Add more oil between steaks if needed. Remove the steaks to a platter to rest.
  7. If needed, add a little more oil to the pan, then add the bell pepper and onion. Season with the same spices as the steaks and saute until they just start to get tender, scraping up the brown bits from the steaks.
  8. Add the minced garlic and saute for a minute.
  9. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth and the leaf herbs (to taste). Bring to a simmer.
  10. Return all of the steaks to the pan, including any drippings on the platter.
  11. Cover the pan and place in the oven for 15 minutes.
  12. Taste the sauce and add salt or other seasonings if needed.
  13. Return to the oven and cook for 30 minutes, then let it sit, covered, for ten minutes
  14. Serve with whole grain pasta and steamed green vegetable (green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.), as in the picture.
There will be quite a lot of the sauce left over. I am going to have some of it tomorrow as a soup with some whole grain toast and a little bit of shredded cheese. It also makes a great pasta sauce.

Happy cooking!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Using Christmas loot!

So, my mother-in-law gave us a Ninja Master Prep for Christmas this year - BEST. GIFT. EVER.

I have used it soooo many times since Christmas - milkshakes, smoothies, guacamole, refried beans and marinades galore! It's an amazing appliance, and we plan to upgrade to the full-on professional grade Ninja.

Anyway, enough with the shameless plug. On to the cooking!

Tonight, I decided to make chicken fajita bowls. Started out by making a marinade of about 3/4 of a cup of lime juice, 1/4 of a cup of tequila, a splash of mesquite liquid smoke, a smidgen of vegetable oil, a handful of cilantro, a quarter of an onion, a quarter of a jalapeno, and spices (garlic powder, green chile pepper flakes, fresh ground black pepper, Hungarian paprika, chili powder, ground cumin, oregano leaf, onion powder and Kosher salt). All of that went into the Ninja, and after a few pulses, into a bowl with the chicken breast strips.

While the chicken was marinating, we got a pot of salted water with a sprinkling of the green chile flakes on to boil for brown rice. Once the rice was cooking, I turned my attention to the beans. I picked up a can of no-salt-added black beans at the store today, a blank slate to work my magic on. I sauteed some minced jalapeno, onion, garlic and cilantro in a small sauce pan, then added the beans, which I seasoned with ground cumin, garlic powder, fresh ground black pepper and Kosher salt. Turned the heat way down low and let everything simmer together and get yummy.

Finally time to cook the chicken! I dumped the bowl of chicken into a colander to drain off the excess marinade, then turned on the electric griddle. I sprayed it with a light coating of Pam Grilling Spray (awesome invention, that), then added the chicken pieces. I let them get nice and browned on one side, then flipped them and moved them to one end of the griddle so I could cook the veggies. I had sliced some bell pepper, jalapeno pepper and onion. That mixture was added to the open end of the griddle, spritzed with the Grilling Spray, then seasoned with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, the rice was done, so my wife mixed in some lime juice and chopped cilantro and fluffed it with a fork, then popped a bag of steamable sweet corn in the microwave. After the corn was done, I dusted it with a little chili powder and sea salt, and set to assembling the bowls. Rice on the bottom, then some beans, the grilled veggies, a few pieces of chicken, a couple of spoonfuls of corn, a sprinkling of cheese, a few dollops of guacamole (also made in the Ninja) and a generous helping of  Herdez tomatillo salsa. After I took this picture, I added a little bit of hot sauce to mine.

Yes, that's a marble rolling pin in the background. My wife, the designated pastry chef, swears by them. She does make some damn fine biscuits and cinnamon rolls with it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Here's to a healthy 2013!

Sheesh, it's been a long time since I last posted here. Sorry about that.

 Anyway, my wife and I have decided to live and eat healthier this year than we have in the past. One of the ways we are doing this is by modifying the food we eat. Mostly, this has been accomplished by reducing portion sizes to more reasonable levels - I've been known to eat 16 to 24 ounce steaks, and we had 4 ounce sirloins Sunday night. We've also started eating a large mixed green salad before every meal - start to fill up with healthy stuff before chowing down on the stuff we should eat in moderation.

Most of the meals of the last three days have been like the Sunday night steak dinner - slight modifications to food we normally eat. I made my ranch dip for taco night with low fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, bought frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, had lentils as the "starch" for a Spanish-seasoned meal, had 12 grain light bread with breakfast, things like that.

Tonight was the first night I've tried something completely new and different. One of the local grocery stores has a health market section, and they have a bulk foods aisle - bins of nuts, dried fruit, grains, and things for sale by weight. They're having a 10% off sale right now, so we picked up some milled flax seed, whole flax seed, and organic quinoa. A quick stop in the frozen seafood section netted us a bag of swai fillets. (Swai is the culinary name for the mild-flavored flesh of a Southeast Asian catfish known as the "iridescent shark".)

After doing some online research into how to cook quinoa, I settled on a Mediterranean-inspired meal of broiled swai with quinoa pilaf and a side salad.

I started out by rinsing the quinoa, then putting it in a pot with some water (2 cups of water for every cup of quinoa). I brought it to a boil, then covered it, reduced the heat, and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

Quinoa trying desperately to come to a boil

Meanwhile, I diced some veggies - red and yellow bell pepper, onion, celery and carrot - to saute for the pilaf.
The chosen victims awaiting their fate.

I heated a little bit of extra virgin olive oil in a pan, then added the veggies. I also added a good dose of minced garlic. I sauted them until they were soft but still had a little crunch, then added Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, dried oregano and dried parsley.
Such beautiful veggie cookery, don't you agree?

While that was going on, I toasted some slivered almonds in a dry cast iron skillet, rough cut some black olives, and got the broiler preheated. Once everything was ready, I turned the pilaf over to my wife and turned my attention to the fish. She mixed the veggies, olives, some of the olive brine, toasted almonds, and some additional seasoning into the quinoa.

Here's a shot of the finished pilaf - don't mind the Hercules plate, they're the only ones that weren't way too big.
Just had to make this one bigger - the detail is pretty awesome.

I had already cut the fish into four portions, so I drizzled them with a little extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice, then seasoned them with Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano and dried parsley. I cooked them under the broiler until they were nice and flaky, then served them on the plates with the pilaf, and a salad to start.

The salad - mixed lettuces, kale, dry roasted sunflower seeds, a pinch of mozzarella, milled flax seed, light raspberry vinaigrette, all in one of the kids' plastic bowls. Yum.

My daughter's plate.

 I have probably consumed fewer calories in the last three days than I would have in a single day two weeks ago, and I feel great. According to our home scale, I'm five pounds lighter than I was when I was weighed at the doctor's office December 28th. The meals are still satisfying, and still taste great. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep up with the healthier lifestyle, and keep up with this blog. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful (and healthy!) 2013.