shrimp tacos with roasted corn salsa

Tired of the same ol’ same ol’ of fish tacos?  This is a no-brainer substitution:  just add shrimp.  But you’ll find the real magic to this recipe is in the roasted corn salsa.  It was bursting with flavor and really pretty to the eye.  The original recipe called for avocado instead of tomato, but no one in my house is really a big fan of the avocado, and the tomato added lovely color to what would have been a fairly bland looking salsa.  Roasting the corn really enhanced its sweetness, and that was nicely complimented by the tanginess of the lime and the pungent cilantro.

There’s a fair amount of chopping for prep, but once you have all that finished the dish flies together pretty quickly.  The shrimp cook rapidly, so pay close attention otherwise they’ll be chewy and overdone.  It’s a perfect recipe for weeknight dinners when you don’t have a lot of time to slave over the stove, too.   I’ll definitely be putting this one in the rotation and the salsa has a lot of potential for use in other dishes, as well.

I hate to type and run, but I have to hurry off and pick up the kiddo from a friend’s house.  Let me know if you give it a try.  Enjoy!

2013-08-07

DSC_0383

2013-08-071

2013-08-072

Shrimp Tacos with Roasted Corn Salsa (recipe adapted from Cooking Light, August 2013)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 1 large ear)
  • 1 teaspoon Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Directions:

  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Combine corn and oil in small bowl; toss gently to coat. Arrange corn in an even layer on a jelly-roll pan; broil 6 minutes or until lightly browned. Combine corn, onions, cilantro, 1 tablespoon juice, salt, pepper, and avocado in a medium bowl; toss gently.
  3. Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Combine shrimp, 1 tablespoon juice, and honey in a medium bowl; toss to coat. Add shrimp to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done.
  4. Combine sour cream and remaining 1 tablespoon juice in a small bowl.
  5. Warm tortillas according to package directions. Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 plates. Top each tortilla with about 1/4 cup corn mixture, about 4 shrimp, and 1 1/2 teaspoons sour cream mixture.

plated_tacos©zouptonuts

Advertisements

parmesan crusted tilapia

While putting this post together I realized we eat an awful lot of tilapia.  In fact, in 2012, the U.S. imported about 500  million pounds of it.  That’s a lot of fish considering tilapia is generally considered, despite being high in protein and low in fat, to offer the least return on investment if you’re trying to eat more Omega 3s.  For example, salmon has 10 to 15 times the amount of Omega 3 fatty acids as a serving of tilapia.

Overall, though, a serving of tilapia will go a long way in replacing a cheeseburger and fries in terms of healthy choices.  The key seems to be to rotate your fish selections to make sure you’re getting enough Omega 3s, and make sure you know the source of the fish.  Generally, if you’re eating farm raised tilapia (which seems to be about all that’s out there), U.S. farm raised is superior.  An article I read came down pretty hard on farm raised tilapia from South America and China, noting the lack of aquaculture regulation and poor habitat conditions.

On that note, a tilapia recipe.  Honestly, I do serve it a lot for the reasons noted in almost every article I read:  it’s plentiful, relatively inexpensive, easy to cook, and has a neutral taste – which is especially important if you’re cooking for kids who have…sensitive noses?  But I’ve also enlightened myself a little bit about broadening the types of fish I’ll serve to make sure we’re fully benefiting from the addition of more fish in our diet.  So, find yourself U.S. sourced fish and pop an Omega 3 supplement after dinner, because this recipe was a keeper.  Or, try it with halibut, walleye, or whitefish (can you tell I’m a Great Lakes girl?).

Calling this recipe  “crusted” was a bit of a stretch.  This really is more of a sauce, but an additional sprinkling of parmesan a few minutes before the fish is finished under the broiler might give it a bit more crunch.  Nonetheless, the end product was really flavorful.  It was quick to prep, making it perfect for a mid-week meal when most families find it hectic to sit down for dinner.  I served it with some broiled asparagus and a side of pearl couscous and the grown ups gave it two thumbs up.  I’m still working on expanding the culinary horizons of the little one, though…slowly and steadily.  Enjoy!

2013-05-06

2013-05-062
DSC_6263-001

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened (I used less)
  • 3 Tbsp mayonnaise (I used Reduced Fat Mayo with Olive Oil)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder (I used 1 tsp fresh onion, finely minced)
  • 1/8 tsp celery salt
  • 2 pounds tilapia fillets
.
Directions:
  1. Preheat broiler.  Line baking pan with aluminum foil.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with dried basil, pepper, onion powder and celery salt. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes.
  4. Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to over cook the fish.

DSC_6266-001

Cook’s Note:  Reduce the butter.  You don’t need that much.  I think I used a little less than 3 Tbsp.  Also, I’d suggest heavy duty foil to line the baking pan to resist tearing with the spatula when you flip the fish.

beef and lentil sloppy joes

First off, I’m going to apologize for posting two sandwich recipes in a row.  Generally, I like a little more variety in my rotation than that.  But these just…happened.  And they were too good not to share.

Second, this recipe sort of just happened after a conversation with the husband about buns, and how bad buns can spoil the whole….sandwich experience.  (You see now why my mom always liked to call them rolls).  Anyway, in a rush through Target a couple of weeks ago, I picked up a package of their Market Pantry brand hamburg buns.  Wow!  What a huge mistake.  If ever there were Worst Buns Ever competition, that’d be the winning bun!  They were flimsy, flavorless, flaccid, and forgettable.  Not that the bun (roll – sorry, Mom) needs to knock your socks off.  But to hold up to sandwich fixin’s with any sort of juicy, gravy, or sauce, well…flimsy, flavorless and flaccid won’t cut it.

Not that this post is about buns.  Ahem…rolls.  Just saying, if you make these, select a better quality bun.  Oh, and a skim coat of butter and a little time under the broiler doesn’t hurt, either.

So, on to the real reason for this recipe:  it just sounded good.  My husband had his cholesterol checked a while back and, despite my predominantly healthy cooking choices, it was still elevated.  With exercise and supplements, he’s been able to get it in to a healthier range, but it made me ever more mindful of how food choices (especially if you’re pre-disposed to high cholesterol) are so very important.

What attracted me to this recipe in the first place was the lentils.  They’re a super source of protein, inexpensive to purchase, easy to cook, and provide a whole host of health benefits.  You can read more about lentils here at Whole Living and Alive, but if you’re not including more lentils in your diet, you really should give them a try.  Adding them to Sloppy Joes is just an act of pure genius!  The original recipe actually used lentils as a replacement for the beef, but I followed the adapted recipe, then made a minor change of my own to adjust the seasoning for my sometimes picky eater.   After having tried them (they were delicious), I think completely replacing the beef with lentils would be a perfectly acceptable way to go for a truly meatless dish.

As you can see, my little Sous Chef was helping me cook dinner that evening.  We only had one minor disaster!!  Yikes!  Thankfully, the tomato sauce was right out of the can and wasn’t hot when it sloshed over the edge of the pan.  We decided that one might have gotten us downgraded on Worst Cooks in America!!  The end product, though, was really good.  Lots of flavor, even without the chili powder, and great texture.  Next time I might actually try them without the beef.  Enjoy!

2013-05-03

DSC_6104

Beef and Lentil Sloppy Joes (recipe adapted from One Ordinary Day)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked green lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder (I left this out completely, but 3 Tbsp is just way too much chili powder: adjust according to taste)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 c tomato paste
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar or maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • burger buns or sandwich rolls

Directions:

  • Place lentils in a sauce pot with the 4 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and and simmer for 20 minutes or until lentils are soft.  Drain and set aside.
  • When the lentils are about halfway cooked, heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Saute ground beef until crumbled but not fully cooked through.  Add the onion and saute until beef is no longer pink. Add garlic and saute about one minute.  Add the cooked lentils, oregano, and salt and mix.
  • Add tomato sauce and tomato paste and combine…gently.  Cook for about 10 minutes and then add brown sugar and mustard.  Stir until well blended.
  • Reduce heat to lowest setting and let the favors come together for about 10 minutes.
  • Serve on broiled or grilled buttered rolls.

DSC_6219.1

DSC_6226-002

Cook’s Notes:  Easily adaptable to a completely vegetarian meal.  I think these would be just as delicious with only lentils and no beef.

pork and brussels sprouts stir fry

I’m a huge fan of the Brussels Sprout.  It’s probably my favorite vegetable of all time, or a close second to….hmmm (long pause while I think about what might be a close second).  Nah, it’s the Brussels Sprout, hands down!  Sadly, though, for lovers of these delicious orbs of savory goodness, the season is quickly coming to an end.  Yes, spring vegetables are on the way.  There will soon be bunches upon bunches of young, firm spears of vibrant green asparagus, which I also adore.  But I’ll miss the Brussels Sprouts clear through to next winter.

I found this recipe on Pinterest, yet again.  It seems to be where I’m finding a lot of really good recipes these days.  The only adaptation I made was to reduce the amount of chili pepper paste from 2 tablespoons to just a smidgen over 1 tablespoon given a seven-year old was eating and I’d rather have not quite enough heat than too much.  Reduced heat means increased odds of the kiddo actually trying what I’ve cooked for dinner.  It turned out to be just the right amount for us and it’s clearly an ingredient, like the garlic, you can add/subtract according to your palate.  I never reduce garlic, though.  That would be a travesty!

This dish got thumbs up around the table.  It’s super easy to put together and calls for just a handful of ingredients.  I served it with Jasmine rice – which is very aromatic and flavorful on its own, but didn’t overpower the great flavors of this dish.  I’d say it’s probably even better for lunch the next day but I didn’t get the chance to find out.  No leftovers.  That’s a winner at our house.

So gather ye sprouts while ye may, right?  Indulge in the best of winter veggies before it’s too late.  Enjoy!

DSC_5390

Pork and Brussels Sprouts Stir-Fry (recipe courtesy BetsyLife – A Sunny Perspective)

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound boneless pork loin chops, cut into 1/4-inch thick strips
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved and loose leaves removed
  • 2 scallions, whites and greens sliced separately
  • 2 Tbsp Gourmet Garden garlic paste
  • 2 Tbsp Gourmet Garden chili pepper paste
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 c bean sprouts, fresh

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add pork and cook until golden; transfer to plate.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and sprouts to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Add scallion whites, garlic and chili pepper; cook 1 minute. Add soy sauce, brown sugar and 1/4 cup water; cook until sauce is slightly thickened.

Return pork to pan and toss to coat. Top with scallion greens and bean sprouts and serve immediately.

DSC_5363

DSC_5361

Cook’s Notes:  The first time I made this recipe I used the designated amount of pork (1/2 lb), but I have to admit I felt cheated on the meat.  This time I doubled the pork to a full pound and found that to be a better proportion, especially with a full pound of Brussels Sprouts.  Also, I used Earthbound Farm Organic brand for the garlic and chili pepper paste.  The brand of your choice will do.

slow-cooker pulled beef and beer sliders

The Super Bowl!  Ahhhh, yes.  There’s only one reason I agree to attend gatherings centered around professional sports and that’s the food.  I can only stomach the antics and machismo of a bunch of overpaid prima donnas if my own stomach is full of good grub.  Oh, and if there’s beer!  Because what you’ll need to pair with this recipe is not wine (sorry, my dear Carolyn), it’s beer.  We paired it with Bell’s Amber (a craft brew from my native Michigan) and the combo was delicious.

Serving the beef as a “slider” sandwich is perfect for a party where there’s going to be a lot of other food, too.  Our friends had laid out a nacho/taco bar and pork carnitas, so we added the sliders with toppings of cole slaw, pickles, peperoncinis, and some sharp Vermont cheddar cheese.  The meat was incredibly tender and flavorful, and the mini sandwiches were a hit with the kids, too.  This recipe is definitely a keeper – lots of flavor with pretty minimal work, and would be yummy any time of year when you’re feeding a crowd.  Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Pulled Beef and Beer Sliders
(recipe courtesy Jersey Girl Cooks)
.
 Ingredients:
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 lb beef roast (chuck, bottom round or shoulder roast works)
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 12 ounces beer
  • ½ cup BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays Sweet & Tangy)
  • 12 to 16 mini slider rolls or potato rolls
  • optional: serve with extra BBQ sauce, cheese, pickles, peperoncinis or crispy onions
Directions:
  1. Place the chopped onion in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Season roast with salt, pepper and garlic powder, then place roast in the slow cooker.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the beer and BBQ sauce. Pour over the roast.
  4. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
  5. When meat is cooked, shred and serve on slider rolls with any of the suggested extras…or, anything else you prefer.

DSC_5146

***Cook’s Notes:  I used a round roast which cooked up beautifully in about 10 hours.  I strained the juice and saved it for re-heating leftovers.  Next time I might tinker with the quantities of beer and BBQ sauce called for during cooking.  I would have liked a little more BBQ flavor, but the meat was still delicious when prepared per the recipe.

DSC_5143

chicken with pepperoni-marinara

This is the perfect quick ‘n dirty dinner meal.  It’s in my regular rotation, particularly on the nights I’m running late, or behind, or I’ve simply procrastinated myself into a dinner emergency.  My favorite thing about this recipe is the pizza overtone:  cheese, pepperoni, tomato sauce, but without all that thick crust guilt.  The chicken is just a protein bonus!!
.
The original recipe calls for regular pepperoni, but this night I happened to have turkey pepperoni on hand.  In my opinion, the turkey pepperoni is every bit as yummy as regular pepperoni (which I admit, I love), and with a lot less fat.  The sodium content is still off the charts in my book, but the recipe calls for a fairly minimal amount of pepperoni and I don’t add any additional salt during preparation.
.
So, that’s that:  a quick ‘n dirty blog post for an easy-to-prepare, delicious, healthy dinner even the kids will should love.  Enjoy!
ZoupToNuts_edits1
Chicken with Pepperoni-Marinara Sauce

Recipe Courtesy: Cooking Light, January 2012

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 16 slices pepperoni, coarsely chopped (I opted for turkey pepperoni this time)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 cups lower-sodium marinara sauce (such as McCutcheon’s)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken cutlets
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (I use whole mozz, sliced)

Directions:

1.  Preheat broiler to high.

2.  Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic and pepperoni; cook 2 minutes or until garlic begins to brown, stirring frequently. Add oregano; cook 30 seconds. Add marinara sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in basil.

3. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Sprinkle chicken with pepper. Add chicken to skillet; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned, turning after 3 minutes. Spoon sauce over chicken; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.

DSC_5055

herb-roasted pork shoulder

I love how the perfect weekend recipe always seems to appear in my in-box around Friday afternoon.  Generally, my other half cooks on Saturday night, giving me a much-needed break from six previous nights of cooking.  But by Sunday I’m geared up and ready to go at it again.  And Sunday cooking is more a labor of love.  Weeknight dinners are usually selected for ease of prep and timeliness.   On Sunday, there isn’t that same chaotic, mad rush.  Sunday meals are slower.  Sunday meals are more laid back.  It’s probably my favorite night of the week to cook.  There’s a certain satisfaction in chopping garlic and fresh herbs when you know it’s not a race to the finish.

And this is just the epitome of a Sunday Supper: roasted, aromatic, savory, slower, laid back, and delicious!  The herb rub is heady and flavorful.   The crispy pork skin??  Well, I don’t eat such things but I’m pretty sure my husband buckled at the knees.  The pork shoulder is a fattier cut of meat than I normally choose, but a little fat sure goes a long way; the roast was tender and juicy.  We used the digital meat thermometer and cooked to an internal temp of about 160°.

Enjoy!

ZoupToNuts_Edits (1)

Herb-Roasted Pork Shoulder

Ingredients

  • 1 5-to-6 pound boneless, skin-on pork shoulder (mine was about 3 lbs)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1  Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1  Tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400° F with a rack in the middle position. Score the skin of the pork in a criss-cross diamond pattern every 1½ inches. Turn the pork skin-side down and rub with the garlic, rosemary, sage, 2 teaspoons salt, and ¾ teaspoon pepper. Roll up the pork with the skin on the outside and tie every 2 inches with kitchen twine. Place on a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Roast the pork for 1 hour. Reduce heat to 350° F and continue to roast until the skin is very crispy and pulls away from the meat easily, 2 to 2½ hours more. Transfer to a cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

DSC_5062

DSC_5065

meat-of-choice teriyaki

This recipe came from one of my many, many Pinterest pins (can you say, “Get a life?”).  Actually, it’s so easy to pin from anywhere now that killing time at gymnastics or swim lessons or waiting for school to let out is a lot more productive.  (You can follow my pins here, if you’d like).  And Pinterest is absolutely overflowing with amazing recipes I can save for later, or a rainy day, or the day my husband comes home from the doc and tells me his cholesterol is too high.  Huh??  Ok, that’s just genetic, but to the extent I can make my already healthy cooking healthier?  Yeah, I’m in.  I kinda want to keep him around for a while.

The original recipe was for Teriyaki Turkey Tenderloins (say that three times fast), but my butcher was out of turkey tenderloins.  And, hey, it’s teriyaki.  Doesn’t that pretty much go with everything?  So, while I ended up using chicken breasts, any meat will do: chicken, turkey, pork, your choice.  It was also a little different from my standard teriyaki with the addition of sesame oil and chili-garlic paste.  The chili-garlic gave this version a nice kick and a little heat, but not overpowering.  I’ll definitely use it again – maybe on the last of the shrimp in the freezer now that my healthy cooking just got healthier.  Enjoy!

2013-01-15 (1)

Teriyaki Chicken

Ingredients:

  • turkey breast tenderloins, chicken breasts, or pork tenderloin (meat-of-choice), approx 1 – 1 1/2 lbs
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbps fresh ginger, grated
  • ½ c  low-sodium soy sauce
  • ½ c orange juice
  • ½ Tbps sesame oil
  • 2 Tbps rice vinegar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • ½ Tbps chili garlic paste (optional, or cut back quantity to taste)
 Instructions:
  1. Place meat-of-choice in a resealable plastic bag and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients and pour in to resealable bag containing your meat-of-choice.
  3. Marinate at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  4. Pre-heat grill to medium high heat.
  5. Place your meat-of-choice on the grill and cook to recommended temp (have a meat thermometer handy).
  6. Let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing.

DSC_4968

lentil soup with beef

We went up to the mountains last weekend to celebrate my (ahem) 29th birthday…again!  When I told non-Arizonan friends we went “up north,” I was questioned about what it means, exactly, to go “up north” in Arizona.  Personally, it’s pretty much anywhere it isn’t 90 degrees on my birthday.  For us, that meant stealing off to Pine, AZ, located about 110 miles northeast of the valley and tucked into the mountains just below the Mogollon Rim.  At 5,500 feet of elevation, it meant I got to wear jeans and socks and real shoes.  With closed toes!!  Ahhhhh…

It also meant I didn’t have to cook because, you see, it was my birthday weekend, and those duties were off-limits to me.  I got to sit on the porch and drink red wine and read.  I got to relax and hike and see some pretty spectacular scenery.  Perfect for a birthday weekend, if you ask me.

We did eat a couple of meals out, including lunch one day at a cute little mom-and-pop restaurant called The Randall House.  The air was cool, the fall leaves were crunchy underfoot, and the sun was shining brightly in a gorgeous blue sky.  The day called for lunch in the shade on the patio and a cup of their homemade Beef and Lentil Soup.

Needless to say, I was disappointed at the end.  Disappointed it was gone.  Disappointed I hadn’t ordered a bowl instead of a cup.  Disappointed they wouldn’t give me the super-secret recipe!!  So, of course, when we got home I set out to replicate the amazing soup I’d had at The Randall House.  It had to be done!  It was of such urgency, I didn’t even photograph the prep work.

This recipe was super easy and came courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis at The Food Network.  If I set out to recreate a really good bowl of homemade soup, this recipe was spot on.  The soup is incredibly flavorful and hearty.  My only adaptation to the recipe was to reduce the amount of beef stock.  I have a pretty large Dutch Oven, but the original recipe called for 84 ounces (more than 10 cups) of beef stock.  I think I used about 6 cups of beef stock.  This made the soup a bit thicker, but I prefer heartier to too-thin broth.  Eyeball it.  If it looks too thick, add more stock.

Enjoy!

Lentil Soup with Beef

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 6 (14-ounce) cans low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 cups (about 11 ounces) lentils, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves (optional)

Preparation:

Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.  Add half of the beef and cook until brown, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining beef.

Add the celery, carrots, onion, garlic, rosemary, and oregano to the pot. Saute until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Return the beef and any accumulated juices from the bowl to the pot.

Add the broth and tomatoes with their juice. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the meat is just tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.

Add the lentils. Cover and continue simmering until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Season the soup, to taste, with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

flank steak with pepita relish

I’ve made this recipe so many times but the timing and preparations have never really coincided with an opportunity to shoot some pics, as well.  See, I don’t cook to photograph.  I cook to eat.  If I manage to squeeze in a few shots of the process….well, then, a blog post is born.  But for the most part, I plan dinner and photograph depending on the octave of the “I’m hungry” chorus.  If tummies seem content, I take pics.  If tummies seem on the verge of mutiny, I don’t.

For whatever reason, this meal is not one I’ve ever been able to photograph.  Until now.

I love these for a lot of reasons; they’re easy to throw together (the relish is a quick prep), the cilantro and lime give them a decidedly southwestern flavor (add hot sauce, sour cream, etc., if you’re so inclined), and if I have any leftover flank steak, it makes for the perfect cold steak salad the next night.  Also, I have a well documented obsession with wrapping food in other food.  This recipe satisfies the desire.  Weird.  I know!

The recipe originated at Real Simple and calls for skirt steak; the flank steak is just a little leaner.  The leftovers, if you have any, are nice if you can’t get out of the office for lunch and are just as yummy cold.  Enjoy!

Flank Steak with Pepita Relish (recipe adapted from Real Simple)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb flank steak
  • kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 8 6-in flour tortillas
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 c fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 c pepitas
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

Directions:

Bring steak to room temperature for even grilling.  Season the steak with salt and pepper and place on pre-heated grill, grilling until desired doneness (about 5 minutes per side for a nice, medium-rare steak).  Remove from heat and let rest for about 5 minutes before slicing.

Warm the tortillas according to the package directions.

In a medium bowl combine the onion, cilantro, pepitas, oil, lime juice, and salt and pepper, to taste.  Mix well and serve over warm tortillas.  Add sour cream, optional.

Cook’s Note: Flank steak is a fickle cut of meat.  It can be quickly overcooked and become tough and unappetizing.  Pay close attention to the grill.  Also, you should always slice flank steak against the grain or the steak will be too chewy.  If you pick up the steak with some tongs, the grain will be obvious.