We Made: Steak with Chimichurri

It was my birthday a little while ago, so my husband went all out on the dinner front and got crazy fancy with his cooking. When he asked me what I wanted for my birthday meal, I really had no clue about what I wanted as the main part of the meal, but I opted for cream cheese mashed potatoes and brown sugar glazed carrots as sides (two of my absolute favorites). It was his job then to look up what he thought would go well with that, and he decided on steak with chimichurri.

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Chimichurri

Overall, it wasn’t too difficult to make — we made the chimichurri a day in advance, because Andrew thought it’d be best to let all those flavors soak together. Then, we marinated the steak in the chimichurri at the same time, so it’d have 24 hours to soak up some of that flavor too.

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Steak is marinated and ready to cook!

After taking the steak out, we cooked the steak in a cast iron skillet, 5 minutes on each side, and then let it rest.

Letting that cook for just a little bit.
Resting steak

It was pretty easy and our smoke alarm only went off about 4 times during the entire process, which wasn’t too bad at all!

Delicious, delicious food — Happy birthday to me!

It was an AMAZING birthday dinner and I continue to be grateful for being married to a man who knows how to cook. (I did the carrots and helped with the potatoes!)

If you’re interested in trying it yourself, we adapted our steak recipe from Mark Bittman’s grilled steak recipe — so go ahead and click on that and share with us how you liked it!

We Made: Dijon Roasted Chicken

A few months ago, Andrew and I decided to make the plunge and commit to a wine club; we joined ClubW (now Winc), the online wine club loved and frequently recommended by one of our favorite YouTubers, Hannah Hart. When we were going through our latest shipment, we were taking a look at the chardonnay Winc promised that we’d love.

Usually, Andrew and I do NOT like chardonnay, but when seeing that it was recommended to us, we were intrigued. What could possibly be different about this chardonnay? Really, it’s the oak that gets to us. We’ve often said before that if we could find a non-oak aged chardonnay, we’d probably love it. What got us on the description was that it said it had hints of “butterscotch” in it, and while it didn’t say it wasn’t oaky, it didn’t say it was either, so we took a chance.

Winc is great, because they send you flavor profile cards for each wine you order, online with matching recipes. On the back of the tasting profile for Wayward Co. Chardonnay, there was a very simple-seeming, delicious looking recipe for Dijon Roasted Chicken that was supposed to pair well with the wine. We made a plan for making the chicken on Saturday and finally drinking the wine with a paired recipe.

It really was very simple to make — like something I could have done myself and not even needed Andrew for his cooking prowess. Though, I’m glad he was there, because I’m not sure I would have held up well to unwrapping the chicken and rinsing it off. We have food preparation gloves so we don’t have to actually touch meat, but blech. Anyway, we just got the chicken ready, rubbed some mustard on it, rubbed some vegetable oil on it, popped it in the oven for an hour or so, and voila! Delicious, delicious chicken.

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The outside looks dry in this picture, but what the mustard did was create a super flavorful crust on it that was incredible. The inside was perfectly moist and delicious (and we put a little dijon mustard dipping sauce for the dryer bits). Also, the wine totally went with the recipe! It was a great Saturday lunch and I’m so glad we’re taking advantage of this wine club thing the way we’re supposed to.

I love this part of marriage, where we get to plan something together and share what’s actually very simple: enjoying a meal with a glass  of wine. But, with Andrew, it becomes something special. Planning the meal, helping to cook the meal, working together to gather the ingredients and get the recipe right, double-checking with each other to see if the recipe makes sense and will turn out correctly. Or even just talking about how delicious the food is, and how the flavor goes with the wine and why it might work. I never used to want to get married, but now that I am, all I can be is grateful that this man is in my life and we get to share our meals and join wine clubs and plan out weekends like the one we just had.

We Made: Caramel Infused Vodka!

My mom posted a really yummy-looking recipe for Caramel Apple Mimosas from Delish on Facebook, and Andrew and I had to try it out some weekend, because we are all about fall flavors. Basically, you pour some salted caramel vodka, apple cider, and champagne in a flute and it’s supposed to taste very much like a candy apple.

For some reason, finding salted caramel vodka is incredibly difficult in the city of Chicago. I don’t know if it’s because Andrew and I mostly do our liquor shopping at grocery stores or what, but we absolutely could not find a bottle of this — ridiculous. But, I’ve infused vodka before, so we decided to make our own caramel infused vodka. We got the recipe from Mix That Drink, which has really great step by step instructions for infusing it.

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Shaking the bottle so all the caramels dissolve faster!

Pro tips for people wanting to infuse their vodka:

Straining is important. We didn’t strain before making our first drinks and while I’m sure it won’t kill you, there’s tons of white gunk stuff that’s left over from the caramels dissolving and it’s not very pleasant to drink. We found that we were able to strain the vodka through a coffee filter twice before it became impossible for the liquid to get through the gunk that collects — if you want a faster experience, you can use a coffee filter each time. And we used a clean old vodka bottle to pour the filtered stuff back into so that the residue didn’t affect anything.

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The finished product (before straining)

A couple of weeks after we infused our vodka, we went into a specialty store and lo and behold: pre-made salted caramel flavored vodka! We bought some and decided to test out the differences. Personally, we both prefer the infused vodka. The taste starts like vodka, but finishes caramel, while the pre-bought flavored stuff starts caramel and finishes vodka. So, I’m glad we were forced into infusing our own.

Alton Brown Adventures: Good Eats Company Punch

We’re always looking for fun drinks to make on our weekends, and Andrew *loves* punch, so when we watched an episode where Alton Brown showed us how to make legitimate punch that was used by pirates, we knew it was only a matter of time before we were going to make it.

Basically, it follows the recipe of:

1 part sour
2 part sweet
3 strong
4 weak

We ran into a few snags while making it, which almost always happens when embarking on a new cooking adventure. The first was that we couldn’t find the alcohol suggested. Alton Brown makes his with Batavia Arrack, which is a golden rum, but it just wasn’t at our local Mariano’s, so we substituted with cachaca. Since Batavia Arrack is partly made from sugar cane, I figured it would be a good enough substitute and hoped that it wouldn’t change it too much.

The second is that we couldn’t find a container big enough to do the whole recipe in, so we halved it and made do with a large plastic bowl that we use for any big adventure.

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Lots of limes!

 

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Make some black tea and put in some sugar
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Cachaca!
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We made spherical ice by freezing water balloons!
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We strained it into the punch bowl and grated some nutmeg over it

Overall, it turned out delicious, and it’s more than a little dangerous. We really weren’t able to taste the alcohol in it, and it was POTENT. Definitely more of a party punch rather than a two-people-hanging-out-on-the-weekend punch. Also, we are now converts to freshly grated nutmeg — it really made a difference and made it so much more delicious.

Want the recipe? Get it from the Good Eats page on the Food Network website!

Alton Brown Adventures: Meatloaf

I have a confession to make: I’ve never had meatloaf before. It just wasn’t a thing in my household. Hamburgers? Totally. Steak? Yup. But meatloaf? My mom just didn’t make it. She and my dad both had horrible experiences eating tasteless, dried up meatloaf, so they chose never to subject themselves and their children to it ever. So, when Andrew told me that he was craving meatloaf, I was a little taken a back. He was craving that terrible food my parents always complained about, really? But, he swore it was good, so I believed him.

As always, we turned to Alton Brown to see if he had a recipe we could use, and he sure did.

It wasn’t Andrew’s favorite, but I personally really liked Alton Brown’s meatloaf recipe. As someone who grew up hearing about the horrors of dried up, unflavored meat, I was really nervous going into this, but the sauce and spices he use are absolutely wonderful and create a flavorful crust around the loaf that just can’t be beat. I’m a huge fan. But, the reasons for me liking it are the reasons for Andrew not liking it so much — it has a little too much flavor for what he likes in meatloaf. So, I guess it depends on personal preference and taste, as always.

In terms of making it, the process itself was fairly easy and it wasn’t a huge time investment. It also held up well for leftovers, which you know if you’ve read one of these food posts before, is huge for us. We love taking our homemade food for lunch. All in all, I recommend it, but not if you’re looking for something mildly, simply flavored.

Want the recipe? Find it on Alton Brown’s Website.

Alton Brown Adventures: Shepherd’s Pie

I am a fan of the Shepherd’s Pie. Everything in it just feels so comfort food/homey to me — ground beef and mashed potatoes? Yes please! The problem is that some recipes might be bland, but when we took a look at Alton Brown’s recipe, we knew that definitely wouldn’t be a problem.

As always, we had a little difficulty in the actual cookware department. The only pan we had that would work for this dish was a little too small for what the recipe called for (we registered for a bigger one, though!), so there was some smushing and rearranging involved, but that was really the only difficulty. That, and being super hungry while the meat filling cooked because it smelled so good.

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Mmmm. Meat filling.
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We maybe should have also drained some of the grease out. So much smushing in the pan!

It turned out delicious, and it lasted a while, which is nice for two working people who like eating homemade food for lunch. We haven’t made it again, but I’m looking forward to when we do!

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FOOD!

Want the recipe? Find it on Alton Brown’s website!

Alton Brown Adventures: Red Velvet Cake

Andrew’s favorite cake is red velvet cake. Also, Andrew hates frosting, except for cream cheese frosting. So, it comes as no surprise that when his birthday came along, I had no choice but to make him a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. The only tough part: finding a decent recipe that I could reasonably make. To Alton Brown, I turned!

I love how easy to follow Alton’s recipe was — I don’t know why, but we were both a bit daunted by the prospect of making a red velvet cake from scratch. Maybe because it’s thought of as a fancy, decadent treat, but we were a bit scared, though we didn’t need to be. To be fair, Andrew did most of the work, even though it was *his* birthday cake, but he loves cooking, so what better gift to give him than the challenge of making a new dish?

Sidenote, we finally bought a hand mixer, because I didn’t have confidence in our abilities to make a cream cheese frosting by hand. Yay for one step closer to true adulthood!

It was surprisingly easy to make, however. A bit messy and quite a lot of steps, but overall, fairly easy. And, if we do say so ourselves, it turned out to be delicious. It was a little silly making the full recipe for only the two of us, but we did okay with finishing it, considering

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Beautiful cake, all baked!
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It’s supposed to say, “Happy Birthday, Andrew!” but I didn’t have any colored icing on hand, and we were hungry and wanted to eat it at this point.
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Mmmm! Happy birthday, Andrew!

Want the recipe? You can find it on Alton Brown’s Food Network Page, Here!

 

Alton Brown Adventures: Grenadine

When I first introduced this thing we’re doing with Alton Brown’s recipes, I mentioned that what got us started was his alcohol episode. That was for two reasons: Andrew and I love a good drink; making great cocktails is actually rather simple if you put in some time. So, we finally took the plunge and made ourselves homemade grenadine.

I actually don’t like store-bought grenadine very much. As long as it’s just a splash or two, it’s fine, but the stuff is way too sugary and sticky for my taste. Turns out, grenadine isn’t supposed to taste like just sugary syrup — it was originally made from pomegranates! In his “Good Eats” episode, Alton Brown goes through the origin of the name “grenadine,” and it actually comes from the French word “granade” which means pomegranate. Having taken a lot of French, I was embarrassed to have never thought of that, but in my defense, store-bought stuff tastes very little like pomegranates.

Basically, to make a homemade grenadine, you take some pomegranate juice, add some sugar, and then reduce it into a syrup. So simple! Alton Brown recommends that you get juice not made from concentrate, but we found that too difficult to accomplish and couldn’t find any anywhere, so we just bought some Pom and went with it.

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Mmmm Reduction.

Overall, it was a success. I don’t think it reduced as much as it should have, and that could have been a cooking error or due to the fact that we used stuff made from concentrate. I hope to repeat the experiment once we’ve used up all the grenadine (which might take a while, honestly). But, overall, a success! We made ourselves some mimosa sunrises (I know it’s not a thing, but we didn’t have tequila), which were surprisingly good. Highly recommend trying it out for yourself.

Alton Brown Adventures: Sirloin Steak

Now that Andrew is no longer a vegetarian, he’s always looking for new ways to cook meat and new kinds of meat to enjoy. So, when he saw this for sale at the grocery store, he bought it and researched to see if Alton Brown had a recipe for it. Luckily, he did.

This is kind of a funny story, actually, because cooking this calls for a broiler, which neither of us has ever really used. We could see that our oven definitely had the broiler option, but it took a little bit to figure out how to use it. It turns out, the broiler is that bottom thing on the oven that looks like it might be some sort of storage area. Who knew?!

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A little boring color-scheme wise, but this was DELICIOUS.

For such a delicious dinner, this steak (especially with this recipe) is ridiculously easy to make. Combined with a nice side (we chose mashed potatoes and a spinach salad), this turns into a pretty classy dinner fairly easily. Pair it with a nice wine and you have a fancy dinner for not too much effort.

Want the recipe? Check out Alton Brown’s Food Network page!

Alton Brown Adventures: Leek Potato Soup

ALYSSA

I found an “ultimate” potato soup recipe online, and while it was good, it called for a pound of bacon. When I first made it, Andrew was still a vegetarian, and even with some substitutes, it didn’t quite work out. So, we were in the market for a more flavorful potato soup that had no need for a pound of fatty meat. Of course, we turned to Alton Brown to solve our problem, and we found it: Leek Potato Soup.

Honestly, I feel like the hardest part of this soup for us was doing the shopping for it — none of us had actually ever seen a leek before. Ha. We’re babies. Sorry. We had to Google a picture of it to actually find it in the store. Oops. But, we found it! And now, we’ve cooked with it, and it was delicious.

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Letting that soup simmer!

ANDREW

Leek potato soup is one of my favorite winter meals. It’s warm, filling, and just tastes so earthy and delicious. Best of all, it’s really easy to make. (We like soups exactly because we’re able to throw a bunch of stuff in a pot, let it simmer for a while, and then have a fully cooked meal out of it.) Every day I ate this in the cold, Chicago winter, it warmed my soul.

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Oh, yeah. Delicious.

Like we said, soup is usually pretty simple to make, and this is no different. (Although, we highly recommend getting an immersion blender for it if you don’t already have one. It makes everything so much easier.) This was delicious and such a treat to look forward to every day. Highly recommend.

Sound good? Find the recipe on Alton Brown’s Food Network page!