killing time between meals

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


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Frittata: The Cure for Leftovers

baked

Have you ever made a frittata? I have ordered frittata off many a brunch menu, but I’d never personally prepared the fluffy baked egg dish. This was my first attempt, but it won’t be my last. The best part is turning leftovers into something that feels fancy. Saturday night we had a fajita feast with all the fixings. When the guac was gone, I had the opportunity to turn leftover peppers, onions, and steak into breakfast fare. Confession: I am terrible with leftovers. Just terrible. I rarely enjoy eating the same thing twice much less three times. I’m over it, says my persnickety palate. But it feels good to use the leftovers. It feels a lot better than throwing them in the trash. And turns out the leftovers taste much better with eggs and cheese.

Sunday Morning Frittata
Serves 4

Leftover bell peppers & onions
Leftover thinly sliced fajita steak
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt & pepper
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
6 eggs (I used 6 because that’s how many I had. In the future I would use 8 or 10 for a taller, fluffier frittata. You could go up to 12 depending on how many people you need to feed. The more eggs you use, the longer your frittata will need to bake.)
¼ cup milk
1 green onion, chopped

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Saute the peppers, onions, steak, and garlic in a cast iron skillet on medium heat until warmed through. Add a little salt & pepper.

vegin

  • Sprinkle with half the cheese.

cheesein

  • Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Pour into skillet, covering ingredients completely. Toss in green onion.

eggsin

  • Cook on stove top a couple minutes until the eggs begin to set around the edge of the pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake 10 minutes.
  • Remove pan, crank up the oven to broil, and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Broil 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is golden, top is crispy, and eggs are puffed.

closeup

  • Let rest 5 minutes before slicing into wedges. Serve as is or with a simple green salad.

slice


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Let Them Eat Steak

To a lot of people, steak is a fancy meal, reserved for special occasions and ordered off of heavy, leather-bound menus. I come from a beef-centric family. For example, when I went home for Christmas, my mom had a roast in the crock-pot, a brisket in the oven, and hamburger meat laid out to thaw “just in case.” This was all happening even though I had told my parents that I wanted to cook steaks for them. My dad raises cattle, so, yeah … we  tend to eat more than our fair share of red meat.

working farmpups

Here I am in action helping my dad work cattle. (Aka opening and closing gates.) And those are two of our newest farm hands, Buster Brown and Bootsie. Below is a newborn Beefmaster, Rio.

calf2

All that to say, steak is no rarity at our house. But steak on the grill could never compete with restaurant-style steak. That is, until my old friend Ina shared this recipe. Steak at home has never been the same. Or more delicious.

Cast Iron Skillet Steak
Adapted from Ina Garten
Serves 1

1 2-inch thick filet mignon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ tablespoon kosher salt
½ tablespoon coarsely cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix together salt and pepper on a small plate. Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat until hot, about 5 minutes.
• While the skillet heats, pat the steak dry with a paper towel. Rub a thin layer of vegetable oil evenly over steak. Roll in the salt & pepper mixture on all sides, pressing to coat.
seasoned
• When the skillet is hot, sear the steak on all sides for 2 minutes per side, including edges, for 10 minutes. (Your smoke detector might go off intermittently. Do not panic. Just walk over to it and fan it with a dish towel like I do until the shrieking beeps stop.)
sear
• Top with butter and place the skillet in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 125 degrees. (That may look like more than a tablespoon, but I’m pretty sure that’s just the camera playing tricks on you. I mean, the camera adds 10 pounds, right? Don’t make that poor pat of butter feel bad.)
butter
• Remove the steak from the pan and cover with foil. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

While this steak is as easy to pull off as it seems, I have to admit there is one hazard. This bad boy is going to smoke when you sear it. Like, a lot. I regret to inform you all that I do not have a hood or any sort of ventilation system outside of opening all my doors and turning on my ceiling fans. But even if you do have a vent, like my parents do, your kitchen may fill with smoke to the point you are coughing and need to stick your head outside. Especially if your skillet is not properly seasoned. My mom and dad were sure that I had ruined everything and that our steaks were going to be burned to a crisp. But you know what? They weren’t. And it was so worth it. See:

serve2

My dad actually said these words to me: “This is just like eating at Ruth’s Chris!” If you know my father, or any southern man, you know that is pretty much the Holy Grail of compliments. It’s like saying you walked on water. Of course, I was beyond flattered. And if you make this steak for someone, you will likely receive a compliment of equal or greater value.


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Southern Cooking Ain’t for Sissies

A couple of weekends ago I visited my home state of Arkansas to celebrate my dad for Father’s Day and his birthday. In my family the most important part of celebrating is the food. We generally plan our days around what we will be eating where and when. (Clearly the apple didn’t fall far.) We manage to stay full the entire time we are together.

One item I requested was fried green tomatoes. My mom, though originally a Yankee from Minnesota, has managed to acclimate to the South during the past 30 years and can fry up chicken, squash, and green tomatoes with the best of ’em. I asked her to show me the fried green tomatoes step-by-step, so we grabbed a couple from my dad’s huge garden and whipped them up. After the tomatoes were eaten and the counters were wiped clean, my mom said, “There ain’t room for sissies in southern cookin’!” Amen, Moma. Spoken like a born and bred Southerner.

Sandy’s Fried Green Tomatoes
Serves 4

2 large or 4 small green tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk or cream
1½ cups cornmeal mix
Salt & pepper

  • Optional: In a cast iron skillet, fry some bacon and set aside. My mom likes to fry her green tomatoes in bacon grease. You could also just use vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
  • Set up a dredging station. In one bowl mix eggs and cream, and in another mix cornmeal and salt & pepper.
  • Thinly slice the tomatoes. My family likes ours thinner rather than thicker, but it’s really up to you. Coat each slice in the egg mix and then the cornmeal mix.
  • Fry the tomatoes a few at a time in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and season with a little salt while they are still hot.


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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!