Weekly Winner:  My New Go-To Dinner Salad

Summer means salads.  And while I am a big fan of salads for lunch or as a side for dinner, I generally do not consider them “Dinner-Worthy”all by themselves. That is, until now.

Dinners to me need to be a bit more substantial, and regardless of how hot and humid the weather, I feel something in the dinner actually needs to be cooked – and therefore hot (or at least warm).

Enter the Charred Steak Salad with Spicy Dressing that we thoroughly enjoyed (read “devoured”) last night.  This salad has a ton going for it.  First off: roasted veggies.  In my book, there is not a vegetable in the world that can’t be improved upon by roasting.  The recipe calls for broiling them but I’m a roaster. You do what you feel comfortable with.  Secondly, a creamy dressing.  I am a fan of mayonnaise or yogurt based dressings and this one is sweet and spicy all at the same time.  Thirdly, steak!!  If I’m not going to be adding bacon (my protein of choice) to a salad, then it better be steak.  The recipe calls for flank steak which would have been fine, but I happened to have some fabulous skirt steak in the freezer so we went with that.  Last but not least, French fried onions.  Yep, you heard me.  In my mind those are the only redeeming ingredient in green bean casserole and definitely made up for the lack of bacon.  The recipe comes from Southern Living, and if I had to find fault with anything about this recipe it would be that it didn’t have any cheese.  Honestly though, it didn’t need it.  I usually feel the need to add cheese to dang-near anything, but the fact that I didn’t even notice the lack of cheese until this morning while writing this tells me it definitely was not needed.  Although a few blue cheese crumbles??  Just sayin’.  Maybe next time.

Charred Steak Salad with Spicy Dressing

Serves 4-6


1 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons Asian chili-garlic sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

1 (2-lb.) flank steak (or skirt steak, in my case)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 fresh rosemary sprigs

1 pound broccoli florets

1 pound cauliflower florets

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 cups loosely packed gourmet lettuce (such as arugula, baby kale, or baby spinach)

French fried onions


1. Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat. Whisk together first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper over steak. Grill steak, covered with grill lid, 8 to 10 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness. Brush steak with olive oil, using rosemary sprigs as a basting brush. Let stand 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, preheat broiler with oven rack 7 inches from heat. Toss together broccoli, next 2 ingredients, and remaining 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a large bowl. Spread broccoli mixture in a single layer in a jelly-roll pan, and broil 3 to 5 minutes or until charred and tender. Transfer to large bowl.

4. Toss together broccoli mixture and lettuce. Cut steak diagonally across the grain into thin strips. Arrange steak on a serving platter; top with broccoli mixture. Sprinkle with fried onions, and serve with dressing.

Weekly Winner: One Sensational Skirt Steak

skirt steakI dearly love skirt steak.  It is one of my all-time favorite cuts of steak.  I make a lot of skirt steak, not only for me and my husband, but also for my clients.  All around it’s a fan favorite.  I’ve made skirt steak numerous different ways — grilled, sautéed, broiled, and stir-fried.  It’s always good and the meat is always flavorful.  That’s what I like most about the cut.  It tastes like meat.  No matter how you season it, whether it has a marinade or a finishing sauce, the end product is juicy, steaky, meaty goodness.

Having said all that and sang all those praises to the glorious skirt steak, let it be said that I have never made a better skirt steak than I did this past Sunday.  This recipe surpassed all others. Truth be told, it was the relish that initially caught my eye.  I thought it sounded interesting and would make a nice addition to skirt steak which I knew would be fabulous.  The relish was delicious. It was really good.  But honestly, it was all about the steak – with or without the relish.

The recipe is Coffee and Ancho Chile Skirt Steak with Green Chile-Apple Relish and comes from Sunset Magazine.  I will definitely be making this again and I am anxious to try the rub on other cuts of steak as well.  There is something about the coffee, ancho and brown sugar mixture that totally amps up the beefiness without overpowering it.  It still tastes like steak … only better!

Coffee and Ancho Chile Skirt Steak with Green Chile-Apple Relish

Serves 4


1 tablespoon finely ground coffee

1 tablespoon ancho chile powder

2 tsp. kosher salt

1½ teaspoons packed light or dark brown sugar

1 skirt steak (1½ to 2 lbs.)

¼ pound mild green chiles, such as Anaheim or poblano, cut in half and seeded

½ tart apple, such as Granny Smith, quartered and cored

½ small onion, cut into thick slices

1 tablespoon vegetable oil


½ teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves

½ teaspoon lime juice


1. Heat a grill to medium-high (350° to 450°). In a small bowl, combine coffee, chile powder, 2 tsp. salt, and the brown sugar. Rub all over steak and let sit. Rub green chiles, apple, and onion with oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Grill steak, turning once (dry rub on meat will be very dark), 8 to 10 minutes total for medium-rare. Meanwhile, grill chiles, apple, and onion until lightly charred all over, 6 to 8 minutes.

3. Transfer everything to a cutting board, tent steak with foil, and let rest 5 minutes. Meanwhile, chop chiles, apple, and onion and transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in oregano and lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Thinly slice steak against the grain and top with chile-apple relish.

Weekly Winner: The Best (and most unlikely) Steak Dinner

skirt steakI love steak.  Any steak.  But I have come to particularly love the skirt steak.  It’s quick, works well in lots of different preparations, and is full of wonderful, meaty, steaky flavor.

Fruit, on the other hand, I’m not a huge fan of.  It’s not that I dislike the flavor of fruit and I will occasionally add some to a salad, but in general I find it more trouble than it is worth.

I also have a leeriness of hot peppers.  While I do love Southwestern, Thai and Indian food, I always tend to steer clear of the really fiery chiles.  Anything hotter than a serrano and I leave it out or substitute a milder one.  I am a firm believer than food shouldn’t hurt.

So, now that you know all my culinary hangups and paranoia, what would possess me to clip a recipe for Grapefruit and Habanero Skirt Steak with Grilled Tomato Salsa?  Yes, the photo was fabulous, but come on…grapefruit and habaneros??  Really??  And what the title of the recipe doesn’t even tell you is that there is also papaya in there!  I’ve never bought a papaya in my life!  I’m not sure I could pick one out in te produce section.  I will be forever grateful to whatever unseen forces made me clip that recipe.  It was amazing and quite possibly the best steak that has been prepared in this household to date.

The recipe comes from Saveur magazine which might explain everything … that magazine always gets me to try things I’d never think of trying.

Grapefruit and Habanero Skirt Steak with Grilled Tomato Salsa



1 cup roughly chopped papaya
½ cup olive oil
1 Scotch bonnet pepper, stemmed
Juice of 1 large Ruby Red grapefruit
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1½ lb. beef skirt steak, trimmed
8 garlic cloves, peeled
3 jalapeño peppers, stemmed
4 plum tomatoes, cored
1 small white onion, cut in half crosswise
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves and stems
Juice of 1 lime


1. Purée papaya and half the oil, plus Scotch bonnet, grapefruit juice, salt, and pepper in a blender into a smooth marinade. Pour ⅔ marinade into a gallon-size resealable plastic bag. Add steak and seal bag; set aside to marinate for 30-45 minutes but no longer. Reserve remaining marinade.

2. Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high; bank coals or turn burner off on one side. Grill garlic, jalapeños, tomatoes, and onions on hottest part of grill, turning as needed, until charred in spots and tender, 1-2 minutes for garlic, 4-6 minutes for jalapeños, tomatoes, and onions. Allow vegetables to cool slightly. Peel jalapeños and transfer to a blender along with garlic, tomatoes, and onions. Add remaining oil, plus cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Pulse into a chunky salsa and transfer to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

3. Remove steak from marinade and grill on hottest part of grill, turning as needed, and, using a brush, baste occasionally with reserved marinade until charred in spots and cooked to desired doneness, 10-12 minutes for medium rare. Let steak rest 10 minutes. Slice steak thinly on the bias; serve with salsa.

Weekly Winner: Sometimes you just need a taco

I realize it has been awhile since my last post.  Busy times and crazy schedules have not given me time for much cooking and experimentation.  When I have had time to cook, I’ve been relying on my old standards — many of which have already been featured here.

tacoSo when I finally had a minute this weekend to enjoy a home-cooked meal, it was not my typical labor-intensive cook-all-day, lose-myself-in-the-kitchen kind of Sunday Supper.  Nope.  I wanted tacos.  Steak tacos to be exact.  Turned out to be the perfect combination — tasty, fast, a bit different, and well…. tacos.  The recipe is Grilled Steak Tacos with Spicy Slaw and it comes from Fine Cooking Magazine.

Grilled Steak Tacos with Spicy Slaw

Serves 4


  • 1-1/2 tsp. pure ancho chile powder
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/4 lb. flank steak
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 to 2 medium jalapeños, stemmed
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lime juice; more as needed
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Lime wedges for serving


Prepare a medium (375°F) gas or charcoal grill fire.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the ancho powder with 1 tsp. of the sugar, 2 tsp. salt, and 3/4 tsp. pepper. Pat the steak dry, sprinkle the ancho mixture on both sides, and let sit at room temperature while the grill heats.

Set the onion rounds and jalapeños on a large plate and sprinkle with 1 Tbs. of the oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with the lime juice, the remaining 1 tsp. sugar, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and toss again.

Put the steak, onions, and jalapeños on the grill. Grill the steak, flipping once, until cooked to your liking, 5 to 6 minutes for medium rare (130°F to 135°F). Grill the vegetables, flipping once, until grill marks appear and they’re just tender, 4 to 6 minutes for the jalapeños and about 8 minutes for the onion. (Move the onions to a cooler part of the grill or lower the heat if they start to burn.) Transfer the steak and vegetables to a cutting board; let the steak rest for 5 minutes.

Chop the onions and finely chop the jalapeños, add to the cabbage mixture, and toss well. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and lime juice.

Spread 4 tortillas on the grill and heat, flipping once, until warm and softened, about 1 minute. Stack the warmed tortillas in a kitchen towel; repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Thinly slice the steak and put a few slices on each of the warm tortillas. Top with the slaw and a dollop of sour cream. Serve with the lime wedges.

Weekly Winner – A Simple Stir-Fried Supper

Beef Brussels Stir FrySometimes I forget that simple can be delicious.  A Weekly Winner recipe doesn’t have to take all day to make.  A few ingredients, simply treated and prepared correctly can turn into an amazing meal.  Case in point: Brussels Sprouts and Steak Stir Fry.

I have had mixed emotions and results with my past forays into the world of stir frys.  Most of the time the results don’t seem as good as if I had just prepared the ingredients separately.  The flavors were muddled and some part always seems either under or over cooked.  But this recipe went perfectly.  The combination of flavors and textures epitomized what stir fry can, and should be.  The recipe comes from Bon Appetit magazine.   It’s not just a winner, it’s a Weekly Winner.

Brussels Sprouts and Steak Stir Fry


3 tablespoons oyster sauce

3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

1 pound brussels sprouts, halved

8 ounces flank or skirt steak, thinly sliced against the grain

Kosher salt

4 scallions, whites chopped, greens sliced

3 garlic cloves, sliced

2 tablespoons chopped peeled ginger

2 medium carrots, peeled, thinly sliced on a diagonal

1 Fresno chile or jalapeño, sliced into rings

Steamed rice (for serving)


Whisk oyster sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and 1/4 cup water in a small bowl; set sauce aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add brussels sprouts and cook, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Cover and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate; wipe out skillet.

Season steak with salt. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add steak in a single layer; cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook until nearly cooked through, about 30 seconds. Add to brussels sprouts.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet. Add scallion whites, garlic, and ginger and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute, adjusting heat as needed. Add carrots and chile and cook, tossing occasionally, until carrots are slightly softened, about 2 minutes.

Return brussels sprouts and steak to skillet and add reserved sauce. Cook, tossing occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes. Serve with steamed rice and garnish with scallion greens.


Weekly Winner: My Ten Mile Reward

As I noted in a previous post, a friend of mine has talked me into walking a half marathon in a little over a week.  Because of this, my Sundays have been dedicated to training.  This past Sunday was my 10-miler.  That’s right … my husband and I went out and walked 10 miles in two and a half hours.

As soon as I got home, I immediately started thinking about dinner.  What was going to be my reward for keeping up my pace for 10 miles in what turned out to be a cold, extremely windy morning?  Steak!  Steak and potatoes to be exact.  To be precise, it was Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom-Dill Sauce and oven-roasted fingerling potatoes.  I got the steak recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine and it was the perfect reward for a job well done (luckily the steak was not well done!).

Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom-Dill Sauce

Serves 4


3 Tbs. unsalted butter
12 oz. assorted fresh mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
Kosher salt
1/2 cup minced shallot (about 1 large)
2 Tbs. Cognac
3/4 cup lower-salt beef broth
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
4 6-oz. beef tenderloin steaks (about 1 inch thick), preferably at room temperature
Freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbs. sour cream
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 Tbs. minced fresh dill


Melt the butter in a 12-inch heavy-duty skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, season generously with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallot, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes more. Remove the skillet from the heat and carefully add the Cognac, stirring to deglaze the pan. Add the broth, bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 3 minutes. Cover the skillet, and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the steaks dry and season generously on both sides with salt and pepper. When the pan is very hot, add the steaks. Sear until a dark crust forms, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the steaks, and cook to desired doneness, about 5 minutes more for medium rare. Remove the skillet from the heat, transfer the steaks to a platter, tent with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes.

With a rubber spatula, scrape the mushroom mixture into the cast-iron skillet. Add the sour cream and mustard, stirring until heated through and well mixed. If necessary, return the skillet to the stovetop to heat the sauce. Stir in the dill.

Transfer the steaks to plates, spoon the sauce over, and serve.