killing time between meals

where talking about what's for dinner while you're at lunch is totally acceptable

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A Few of My Favorite (Kitchen) Things

1. A new recipe. Confession #1: I easily get into cooking ruts. But last Saturday I unearthed an Everyday Food cookbook I hadn’t used in a while and decided to branch out. So I made this. (Scroll down for Lime-Marinated Flank Steak recipe.) sliced

2. This juicer. For only $20 you can have fresh squeezed citrus juice in seconds. Generally I am against buying appliances that are only good for one thing, but I am never sorry that I have this citrus juicer when I am making drinks or marinades. (Watch for sales. I swear I saw this thing at Kroger for $12.)

3. Microplanes. I have two. One for smaller zesting (lemon zest, garlic, ginger) and one for larger grating (hard cheeses, chocolate shavings). If you put one of these on your wedding registry, I WILL buy it for you. Heck, I might buy it for you anyway out of that tiny piece of goodness left in my heart.

4. Culinary treats from abroad. I purchased a cute jar of red pepper flakes while in Sorrento (which I didn’t know is known for their chili peppers) at Aromi di Sorrento, a spice shop off the beaten path. This is a fun thing to look for while traveling. I’ve picked up vanilla in Mexico, maple syrup in Canada, bacon in Knoxville … you get the picture. And speaking of picture, look at the difference!

red pepper

Kroger brand (left), the real Sorrento deal (right)

5. Le Creuset. This little roaster has become my favorite size around the kitchen. Clocking in at 8×11 3/4 inches and holding 2 1/2 quarts, it’s the perfect vessel for half a casserole recipe, a Thanksgiving side dish, or holding my marinating meat in case of any drips.
6. New skills. Confession #2: I don’t know how to grill. The fire scares me. Plus it’s already hot outside when you grill, so I know I’m gonna sweat, what with the blazing sun and the flames that you are reaching your hands into. Nevertheless, I feel this is a skill that it is beyond time I learn. So my brave neighbor Nate has agreed to teach me. And the first lesson didn’t go too badly, even if I did squeal like a small child when putting the meat on the hot, hot flames.

What are your kitchen essentials? I’m sure this post is just the first installment of many.

Lime-Marinated Flank Steak
Adapted from Everyday Foods
Serves 4

Juice of 4 limes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 scallions (about 1/3 cup), thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced, peeled fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds flank steak
Vegetable oil, for grates
Coarse salt and ground black pepper

  • In a resealable plastic bag, combine lime juice, soy sauce, scallions, ginger, garlic, and red-pepper flakes. Add steak, and seal bag; marinate in the refrigerator, turning occasionally, for at least 1 hour.
  • Heat grill to high; lightly oil grates. Remove steak from marinade, letting excess drip off (discard marinade). Season with salt and black pepper. Place on grill and  cover.
  • Cook, turning once, for 6 to 8 minutes (for medium-rare). Let rest 10 minutes before slicing thinly.
  • Serve with sides or on top of a salad.

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Rainbow Salad

Summer is here. And that means cookouts! The next time you find yourself needing to bring a side dish to an outdoor soirée, make this black bean and veggie salad that doubles as a dip. It is the simplest thing ever. Plus it’s healthy and delicious.

Rainbow Salad
Adapted from Ina Garten
Serves 6

¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon lime zest
2 limes, juiced (about a ¼ cup)
1 clove garlic, minced (I grate it on the same mircoplane I use for the lime)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small can whole kernel corn, rinsed and drained
1 orange bell pepper, diced
½ a purple onion, diced
1 or 2 jalapeños, diced
2 avocados

  • In a medium to large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.
  • Add the remaining ingredients except the avocado. Toss well.
  • Just before serving, diced the avocados and add them to the salad.
  • Serve alongside grilled burgers or fish. Or serve as a dip with blue corn chips to complete the rainbow.

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First Visit to the Restaurant Supply Store

Charlotte Avenue is peppered with many lovely Nashville dining establishments. French treasure Miel sits just behind the beloved Bobbie’s Dairy Dip. And a few streets away there’s Coco’s Italian Market which I know has fabulous pizza and I hear has a delicious dining-in experience. These restaurants, along with several other ethnic eateries, might be the best motivation to venture west, but I have just discovered another reason—the L&L Restaurant Equipment store.

A plethora of commercial pots & pans, dinnerware, and heavy machinery sit inside. If you were opening a diner, it’s the place you’d go to buy things like plastic baskets, Parmesan cheese shakers, and napkin dispensers. The good news: This business is open to the public, and you can get restaurant-quality cookware at dirt cheap prices. The bad news: There is no AC up in this place! Just one fan pointing directly at the checkout girl. Even while you’re paying you get no breezy relief. So, I managed to escape before having heat stroke with four items which cost me $20 total.

I purchased a glass liter carafe for chilling iced coffee ($5), a ladle for dishing up soup ($3), a stainless steel turner to use with my cast iron ($3), and a heavy-duty baking sheet to replace the ones I currently have that scare the crap out of me every time they get hot and buckle in the oven ($8). Not too shabby, eh? I probably could’ve made out with more goods, but I could not take the heat so I had to get out of the kitchen supply store. I have a feeling I’ll be back. Probably just not until October or so.


Is My Cast Iron a Castaway?

Any good Southern woman owns at least one seasoned cast iron skillet. My mom, who has been cooking up biscuits, cornbread, fried green tomatoes, and many other Southern delicacies for 30 years, had a few too many and decided to past one down to me. Yay!

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve put my skillet to good use. And the other day as I was shifting things around in my oven (because I tend to store things in there that I’m not using), I discovered that my dear skillet had developed a tarry, gummy, icky mess in the bottom. Eww.

I mean, this rubbery stuff is thick. And the noticeable sheen? That’s not water. I’m guessing that I put too much oil in the bottom after I last used it. Then, as it sat in my oven while I cooked on the stove top, the pan heated up and cooled off many times, thus creating the grossness. At first I was devastated, thinking that I had somehow managed to completely ruin an indestructible pan. But thankfully I found a helpful video about cleaning a super dirty skillet and had hope that it could be saved. Basically you boil water and scrape. I followed the instructions, and it worked! See:

Today while out running some errands, I saw a lovely cast iron grill pan that just had to be mine. (Honestly, I’ve been wanting this one in FENNEL from Le Creuset, but $125 seems a little steep. I think my $30 Lodge will do the same trick.)

I can’t wait to test out the artichoke recipe in this on the stovetop!