Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cocoa Rubbed Steak with Whiskey-Bacon Gravy

This was one of the most interesting combinations I have cooked to-date. The cocoa rub on the steak added that crunch from the grill with a sweet aftertaste, then the whiskey-bacon gravy added that savory kick you expect from a steak. It is a relatively easy recipe, and I had mostly everything already laying around the house, so this shouldn't be an expensive meal to make for your family. Next time around I will probably try adding some cayenne pepper or chili powder to the rub to cut down some of the sweetness, and I also plan on adding some more flour to the gravy to thicken it up. This recipe is great because it works well for all kinds of steak (I used a london broil because that's what I had) and you can pair it with your favorite whiskey -- I used Maker's Mark because that's what the boyfriend drinks.

So if you are looking for a recipe that will make your kitchen smell like a man's heaven for the next few days, this one is definitely for you!

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Cocoa Rubbed Steak with Whiskey-Bacon Gravy
Serves 4-6


For the steak:

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt
1.5 lb London Broil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter


For the gravy:

4 strips bacon, diced
1 leek (white and light green parts only), finely chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whiskey
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Make the steak: Mix the cocoa powder, both paprikas, brown sugar, cayenne and 2 teaspoons salt; rub on the steak and bring to room temperature, 30 minutes.

Make the gravy: Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon; set aside. Add the leek to the drippings and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the whiskey, then return to medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the mixture is reduced by one-quarter, about 8 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the gravy coats a spoon, about 7 minutes. Stir in the butter, reserved bacon and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Grill the steak for about 8 minutes on each side for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Season with salt. Slice and serve with the gravy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chicken & Asparagus with Melted Gruyere

Picture taken from ICanCookThat because I put mine into tupperware
 containers for lunches rather than serving it.
There aren't many words needed to describe how great this dish is. It is comfort food minus the carbs, and I can't think of anything better than that. I found this recipe on a food blog I recently started following by a neighboring foodie in Philadelphia, I Can Cook That, and I am pretty impressed with how in tune we are in our cooking styles. I highly recommend checking out her blog for some great recipes!

What I liked so much about this recipe was how customizable it was. I bought mushrooms that I planned on adding (but forgot), and added more lemon juice because I wanted that extra citrusy kick since it is a cream sauce. The recipe below is from the original on I Can Cook That, but I would love to hear what changes you add to make it your own.

Chicken & Asparagus with Melted Gruyere
Serves 2

4 ounces asparagus
1/3 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon flour, divided
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt, to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2/3 cup shredded Gruyère cheese (you will have to shred it yourself)

Cook the asparagus in boiling water for 3 minutes (or use a steamer if you have one). Remove asparagus and set aside.
Whisk broth and 1 teaspoon flour in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside.
Place the remaining flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and dredge both sides in the flour, shaking off excess flour.

  1. Heat oil in a sautee pan over medium heat.
  2. Add chicken and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side. The chicken should have a nice brown sear on it, but the heat may need to be adjusted to prevent burning.
  3. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
  4. Add shallot, wine and the reserved broth mixture to the pan.
  5. Cook over medium heat, until thickened (about 2 minutes) stirring constantly.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low.
  7. Stir in sour cream, tarragon, lemon juice and the reserved asparagus until combined.
  8. Return the chicken to the pan and coat with the sauce.
  9. Add cheese on top of each piece of chicken, cover and continue cooking until the cheese is melted (about 2 minutes).

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Stuffed Flank Steak

Picture via Google Images. We were too excited to eat and forgot
to take a picture!
I decided to step up my cooking game for Valentine's Day this year and try doing something different. I have been making steak (or watching someone prepare it) since I could stand eye level to the countertops, but I have never "stuffed" anything besides a Thanksgiving turkey. So I knew this was going to be one for the books.

The recipe that I based my version off of seemed bland, so I took the liberty of adding some of my own extra ingredients. Needless to say, this meal was outstanding. It was relatively easy to prepare and with the hour long roasting time, it left just the right amount of time to clean up a little bit and enjoy a glass of champagne with my Valentine.

I highly recommend this for anyone who is trying to make a meal to impress. As easy as it was, it's presentation makes it look like you spent days preparing it.

Stuffed Flank Steak
Serves 4

1.5-2 pound flank steak
1 (5 oz) can of sliced mushrooms
1 (10 oz) package of chopped spinach, cooked and drained
1/3 medium onion, thinly chopped
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
minced garlic (to taste)
red pepper flakes (to taste)
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup of water

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Pound flank steak to be 1 inch thick
  3. Cook spinach per package instructions and drain canned mushrooms (save the liquid)
  4. Combine mushrooms, spinach, onions, salt, garlic, red pepper flakes and breadcrumbs
  5. Spread mixture on flank steak and roll as a jelly roll
  6. Tie steaks with string and brown in oil
  7. Combine mushroom soup, mushroom liquid and water
  8. Pour over steaks
  9. Cover with foil and cook slowly for 1 hour or until tender
  10. Remove string, slice and serve
I also made beef flavored rice, grilled asparagus, and biscuits to accompany the steak.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cheesy Chicken Florentine Casserole

There really isn't much to say about this recipe except that it is ridiculously good and the perfect make-ahead meal for a week's worth of lunches. I made this about a week ago as I started dedicating a few hours every Sunday to making lunches for my boyfriend to bring to work for the week. I made it a little healthy by choosing some of the reduced fat options for the packaged ingredients and sticking to fresh vegetables and organic chicken for the remainder.

This recipe makes enough for 5 meals and can be separated into tupperware containers for each day of the week.

Cheesy Chicken Florentine Casserole
makes 5 servings

5 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup butter
3 teaspoons minced garlic
juice from 1 lemon
1 (10.75 ounce) can reduced fat cream of mushroom soup
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 container of baby spinach
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
2/3 cup real bacon bits
2 cups reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese (or enough to cover chicken)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the chicken breast halves on a baking sheet; bake 20 to 30 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear. Remove from heat, and set aside.
  3. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees .
  4. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, mix in the garlic, lemon juice, cream of mushroom soup, Italian seasoning, half-and-half and Parmesan cheese.
  5. Arrange the spinach over the bottom of a 9x9 inch baking dish. Cover the spinach with the mushrooms. Pour half the mixture from the saucepan over the mushrooms.
  6. Arrange chicken breasts in the dish, and cover with the remaining sauce mixture. Sprinkle with bacon bits and top with mozzarella cheese.
  7. Bake 20 to 25 minutes in the 400 degrees oven, until bubbly and lightly browned.