Vietnamese Steak Marinade

Vietnamese Steak MarinadeLighten up, Francis
It’s week two of the let’s lighten up menu. I’m not saying I have been totally good about it but I will say I have been doing better than usual. There may have been pizza for dinner one night ‘cause we had to do some laundry and straighten up the house as things had gotten way out of hand. There may also have been a hot dog at the softball game because I was hangry. (Youth sports is no place for hanger.) For the most part, we’ve been eating better.

Saturday’s fantastic weather prompted me to head outside and do some grilling. Per usual, we had a packed schedule. Thankfully, I was able to make a marinade out of stuff I had on hand. I poured it over some flat iron steaks that needed to be used, tossed them back in the fridge, and left for the afternoon. I threw the steaks on the grill when we returned for a quick dinner with some steamed rice and broccoli.

As it turned out, there were a lot of leftovers—which was a good thing if not unusual. For lunch on Monday I was able to slice up some of the meat and put it on a salad I tossed together with some spring mix, peppers, sliced red onions and whatever else I found in the crisper. What a light and tasty meal! Salad is not usually my first lunch choice but topped with the sliced meat it was the perfect meal.

Vietnamese Steak Marinade
Adapted from NY Times Cooking

This marinated and grilled Vietnamese flank steak is fantastic over a simple salad or steamed rice bowl with broccoli. It also is delicious with our recipe for Vietnamese Cucumber SaladRead more…

Marinated and Grilled Mediterranean Leg of Lamb

Marinated and Grilled Mediterranean Leg of Lamb On the Lamb
Growing up we didn’t do Easter Brunch. We ate Easter dinner at my Grandmother’s and there were strict rules that had to be followed. Along with the purple water glasses, it wouldn’t have been Easter without some asparagus, scalloped potatoes, and a leg of lamb.

My Grandmother took the traditional approach to preparing her leg of lamb which included stuffing whole cloves of garlic in small cuts all over the leg before roasting and serving it alongside some mint jelly. (Heaven forbid, we not have the mint jelly.)

As the rebel of the family, I like to buck tradition and butterfly my leg of lamb before I throw it on the grill.

Grilling a butterflied leg of lamb is super easy and you can play around with different flavors with the marinades or dry rubs. You could go Greek, Moroccan, Tejano, or whatever floats your boat. Of course, everything depends on the crowd. Not everyone wants to be transported to the markets of Marrakech for their Easter dinner—even if a grilled leg of lamb would be very tasty with couscous and grilled veggies. (Sign me up though…)

For Easter, I like to tone it down a bit and go with more Mediterranean flavors like this recipe for Marinated and Grilled Mediterranean Leg of Lamb — if you are able, try to marinate the lamb overnight. It is a simple yet flavorful marinade that will produce a tasty meal when served with grilled veggies, some roasted new potatoes, and a bit of a chocolate bunny for dessert.

Marinated and Grilled Mediterranean Leg of Lamb
Adapted from Epicurious
Yields 8 servings

Our butchers will be happy to butterfly and trim the fat from the leg of lamb for you.

The uniform thickness of a butterflied boneless leg of lamb makes it easy to grill and serve. If you don’t have access or inclination to grill outdoors, the lamb can be cooked on a hot, lightly-oiled and well-seasoned, 2-burner, ridged, grill pan. Cook it uncovered, turning over once (about 12 to 14 minutes per side).

We recommend marinating the lamb overnight and up to 24 hours. Read more…

Mom’s Lamb Chops Recipe

Mom’s Lamb Chops RecipeWhen I moved into my first apartment after college, the first real meal I made for myself was my Mom’s lamb chops. When I say “real” meal, I am talking about something that didn’t involve boiling noodles or scrambling eggs. This was a legit, little bit pricey, complete with mashed potatoes and fresh peas, adult meal. To this day, I don’t know if it was the meal itself or the fact that I did it all on my own (and was now totally self-sufficient) but it was one of the best meals I ever ate.

Mom passed away recently and there has been a whirlwind of activity with all that this entails. So, on the rare evening that I have had time to make dinner for my family, I’ve noticed that I have been gravitating towards the recipes that were Mom’s. Her meatloaf is a great example.

My mother got such a kick out of the fact that I would write this blog every week. Mainly, because she knew all of the players in the family stories I would tell. Her only complaint was that she didn’t get as much credit for my culinary development as she deserved. And, she was absolutely right.

I have often talked about the recipes that my grandmother made, and they are all great. But, my mother was just as talented and prolific. And, the reality is, it’s the recipes my mother made for my sister and me that I serve to my own family on a weekly basis. I am still on the hunt for her New Orleans Barbequed Shrimp recipe….

Tonight I will be making Mom’s Lamb Chops again. There’s not a whole lot to the recipe. In fact, there are really no measurements—all the quantities in the recipe are approximate.

Mom’s Lamb Chops Recipe
The amount of marinade Mom made depended on how many chops she had. You can use whatever lamb chops you can find: sirloin chops, loin chops—whatever works.

Mom always used loin chops and we always got exactly two on our plate. And, always with mashed potatoes and peas.
Yields 4 servings Read more…

Grilled Baby Bok Choy Stalks with Miso Butter

Grilled Baby Bok Choy Stalks with Miso ButterThe Veggie Challenge
Vegetables can be polarizing…most people have at least one vegetable that they like or at the very least can tolerate. And, in my family, there are more vegetables that people dislike than like. The hard part is that we don’t all like the same vegetables and finding common ground when preparing meals for more than one person can be challenging.

For example, I have one son who loves potatoes of all kinds, won’t eat peas or corn, will only eat carrots raw, but is okay with broccoli. The other son likes potatoes, loves butternut squash, corn, and broccoli, but won’t touch much else. My daughter would live on artichokes if she could, hates potatoes of all kinds (unless it is a potato salad), tolerates broccoli, but will eat just about everything else.

Needless to say, we eat a lot of broccoli.

Now if you are cooking for more than one person on a regular basis, you will eventually learn people’s hard limits. (In my house that would be okra.) The danger is finding yourself in a veggie rut—making the same things over and over. And, no matter how good they taste, you get bored. See broccoli.

It is this boredom that prompted me to go in search of “The Different”. I have been challenging myself, and by default my family, to try new vegetables that I would not typically choose outside of a specific recipe. And also taking the go-to veggies I would normally use and prepare them in a different way.

Case in point, I love bok choy but I don’t usually eat it outside of a stir fry or Asian style dish. So, I went in search of a new way to prepare bok choy and I found this recipe for Grilled Baby Bok Choy Stalks with Miso Butter. It blew me away not just because it was tasty but because of the reaction from the rest of my family.

I grill a lot of vegetables but it never occurred to me to put bok choy on the grill. So, I had to give it a shot if only because it was just so outside of what I ever imagined of doing bok choy. It’s by no means revolutionary. People have been putting food over fire since the dawn of time but it still blew my mind. Maybe it was the miso?

I admit to being concerned about using butter on the grill as it can burn quickly or start a grease fire if the grill is too hot. But, the results were amazing! And, when the people gathered around your table give you that “Wow! This is really good” look, you know you have a keeper.

Grilled Baby Bok Choy Stalks with Miso Butter
Yields 4 servings

The original recipe on Food 52 uses both the bok choy stalks and greens. I decided to reserve the greens for another dish and go with the grilled stalks. Read more…

Weeknight Favorite Grilled Mixed Vegetables

Weeknight Favorite Grilled Mixed Vegetables Lighten Up
As a general rule, my husband and I try to enjoy our vacations to the fullest. This means that we don’t really worry too much about the calories when we are on our adventures. Eating the good stuff is all part of the fun, right?

Once we get back it’s a different story…time to pay the piper. In the last couple of months, we have had the chance to travel and have some great adventures and plenty of good food. Now that we are home, I have been preparing more and more veggies to go with our meals (and less of the starchy carb-type things) to get us all back on track. The easiest way I have found to do that is to throw a whole mess of veggies on the grill.

When it is as hot as it has been lately, I grill almost everything we eat. So, grilling some Grilled Mixed Vegetable along with it is no biggie. And, it helps use up whatever you have in your garden. Grilled peaches also make for a great dessert.

What I do with the veggies once they are grilled is entirely decided by my mood and energy level. Sometimes I just toss ‘em in olive oil with salt and pepper, grill them then eat them. Other times I toss them in a vinaigrette after grilling for a bit more flavor.

One of my favorite vinaigrettes for the Weeknight Favorite Grilled Mixed Vegetables is below. It’s basic and goes with anything you serve. And, feel free to change up the veggies. There is no right or wrong mix.

You can also substitute some soy sauce for the balsamic. If you choose to do that, substitute 1/2 a tsp of fresh rosemary or 1 tsp fresh thyme for the parsley.

Weeknight Favorite Grilled Mixed Vegetables 
Read more…