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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Flank Steak and Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Sometimes meals are all about rolling with the punches. Unexpected or unforeseen things happen and instead of getting bent out of shape, just move on! Case in point, my dinner Saturday night. If any of you are from Chicago you are well aware of the crazy unexpected rain and thunderstorms we've been having. What is the deal?! Anywho, after a long day of running errands with my man I wanted to have a summery night outside and treat ourselves to a nice dinner at home! We got great wine, high quality flank steak, veggies, and shrimp. (Shrimp cocktail is one of the ways to his heart so I buy it often!) After unloading the final bag from the car and starting the process of emptying grocery bags it suddenly dawned on me that our once beautifully sunny sky had turned dark and full of lightning. Within seconds came the terrential downpour. So much for grilling... We called Rosati's. After being sort of letdown I quickly found the silver lining... There's always tomorrow night! So that's what led me to tonight's dinner which turned out fabulous and just as good as it would have last night.
First off, I found really pretty purple sweet potatoes and thought that'd be fun to mix with the standard version. Bummer that the color was only in the skin but both deliciously sweet.
 Anyways, give them a good scrub if you aren't peeling. Dry them off well and cut into thin planks. I cut them in half vertically, and again horizontally. 

Always put the cut-side down for better stability! Cut into whatever shape you like and throw them in a large plastic bag. (For ease of cleaning.) 
Drizzle in olive oil and season with salt, pepper, garlic salt, and a few dashes of chili powder for smokiness. 
Massage bag until evenly coated and set aside.
 Take the meat out and let it come to room temp for about a half hour until your ready to cook it to ensure even cooking. Now, this is when I went outside to enjoy my wine, shrimp, and love of my life. 
Not too shabby!
Okay back to dinner! I seasoned the steak simply with Montreal Steak seasoning and a bit extra pepper. I finished with a light drizzle of oil before grilling to prevent from sticking. I grilled it along with the sweet potato planks for about 6 minutes on each side and brought it in to cover and let rest before cutting!
I also made grilled asparagus that took no time at all! Trim the bottom inch or 2 off and season with olive oil, salt and pepper and turn them to coat. I threw them on the grill after the steak for just a couple minutes to take the edge off... I still like a slight snap to my asparagus. 
Let the steak rest for about 8-10 minutes. I like to thinly slice flank steak on an angle like pictured above. 
And there you have it!  A pretty balanced meal. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Bison Burgers

I have been on a grilling roll lately! While grocery shopping over the weekend I saw corn that looked amazing and decided that grilled corn and hamburgers would be the perfect summer dinner for this week. Quick, easy, done. At the meat counter there are countless options for burgers. I sometimes find that burgers are tough, dry, and flavorless without all of trusty "fixin's". This could be caused by a few factors. Overworking the meat, adding binders, or cooking the living day lights out of it. I have a simple solution for this that I'll share with you. I desperately needed to start the week on a healthy note thanks to a weekend of BBQ's and booze! I decided on a lean bison burger. I bought a pound to make 2 very large burgers (I'm dating a meat lover...it was necessary). Here's my secret... You ready? Don't mess with it! Break the meat into halves (or thirds or fourths depending on how many your making) and gently shape it into a circle pressing the middle thinner than the outside. This should take about 30 seconds and then leave it alone! Season it with whatever you like, I used Montreal Steak seasoning by McCormick, drizzle a tiny bit of oil over the top and that's it!

Get your grill screaming hot and carefully set the burgers on the grill. I lowered the temperature a hair and closed the lid. After about 3 minutes I turned the burger about 90 degrees and closed the lid again. 3 minutes later I flipped the burger (boy was it juicy!) and repeated the same steps only adding cheese for those last 3 minutes to melt. I also grilled an ear of corn to make a tasty summer side salad. In a small bowl I added 1 diced avocado, a handful of halved/quartered cherry tomatoes, 2 Tbl lime juice, salt and pepper, cumin, and red pepper flakes. When the corn had charred I let it cool, cut the kernels off, and added it to the rest of the salad. Toss it together and taste it for seasonings. Adjust it as you see fit!
Now as you can see I chose to go bun less. A pretzel bun would be amazing and trust me I would be all over that but I have to pick and choose here! I added goat Gouda to my burger and topped it with arugula, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. So yummy!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Napa

This past weekend I finally took the trip I've been dreaming about for years. I went to Napa!! 


It was such a great weekend full of great food and lots of wine! If you haven't had the chance to go I highly recommend you go. 2 days is plenty although I wish I had a few more to see Sonoma and even a day to explore San Francisco...this will have to be another trip. Let me tell you about my top spots and why they made the list.

1.Chandon, this was our first stop and very memorable. Starting the day at 10am seemed a little early for wine (I know, even for me), so having bubbles to start off was a great call! We tasted 4 of their champagnes with the addition of 2 bonuses. They filled our glasses to the brim and were able to walk around their beautiful property and take in the stunning views Napa has to offer. Everyone was very welcoming and all in all, a great place to start my Napa weekend!

2. Cakebread, great experience here! We got the grand tour of the vineyard and facility, tasted about 6 fabulous wines and got some great information about wine making and aging. (Don't quiz me on particulars...I didn't take notes but I know I learned something!)


3. Duckhorn, such a tremendous place! I've been looking forward to this one since I had my first glass of Duckhorn a few years ago. We sat outside on the deck and tasted about 8 wines, one better than the next! It was magical!

4. Round Pond, was a winery I heard about through a friend and I have to admit was maybe my favorite spot the whole trip. First of all, the views from this winery were stunning and the wine was phenomenal. The cool thing they did here was pair a bite of food with your flight of wine. The food was amazing! Pairing food with wine made the wine that much better and made the experience far more memorable. This was a longer stop than the others, but after refilling our glasses a couple times I would say it was worth it!

5. Peju, had the most entertaining "vintertainer" take us through our tasting. He rapped, he cracked jokes, he sang, and all the while talked knowledgeably and passionately about the wine. It made the whole experience fun! 

I made it to 12 wineries in 2 days and would love to give you more details or suggestions, just send me a message!

It's recommended to call ahead and make reservations but we also learned many vineyards are happy to have you and will accommodate if you just drop in. It's tough to have reservations throughout the day and be on a tight schedule, so if your open to getting a few rejections, I'd suggest going with the flow and finding some fun places along the way.

I am so glad I made this trip and look forward to the next time out there!






Okay, Okay. I'm done! For now.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

In With the New


This is a pretty nice sight!! After many months of longing for a beautifully simple white dish set, I finally pulled the trigger! I found happiness in the Crate & Barrel "Essential" set. Such a nice upgrade from my inherited blue and green dish set!

Ah, such an improvement! Many girls find shopping for shoes, clothes, or accessories fulfilling and for me? Sure, I would love all those things! But when deciding what will make me happiest I always choose kitchenware...and pearls from J.Crew.

Couldn't be more thrilled to showcase more recipes on my new dishes! The little things in life...