Steak Salad with Bacon and Blue Cheese

Months and month ago now, I went out to dinner with some former co-workers at a restaurant/slash bar here in CT (Eli’s on Whitney for those who are local/interested). One of my friends got a seriously amazing looking steak salad, which totally gave me entree envy. My dinner was good, but hers looked so delicious that I just could not get it out of my head. This salad was composed of greens, candied walnuts, craisins, gorgonzola cheese, Granny Smith apples, and was dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette, and she had it topped with a perfectly cooked steak. I still have yet to have this specific salad, but I knew then and there that I would be putting steak salad on my dinner planning menu in the near future. Now, I knew Ron would not be thrilled about the craisins or apples in the salad (he’s not generally a fan of fruit, and especially not a fruit+meat person), but I knew he’d love the idea of steak in any form, so when I saw this salad in Rachel Ray’s magazine I immediately put it on our menu. She uses spinach and watercress in her version of this salad, but I decided to go with a more general baby greens mix, and I also changed out the Petit Filets for a more budget-friendly cut of beef. This salad turned out so well, that we immediately put in on the menu for the following week, and now looking at the pictures I wish I had the ingredients to make it again tonight.

Steak Salad with Bacon and Blue Cheese

Steak Salad with Bacon Bits and Blue Cheese
Serves 4

Ingredients:
6 slices bacon
2 lbs steak (Petit Filets are suggested, but use your favorite tender cut- I used sirloin tip steak and cut it very thinly against the grain)
1 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar (you could use Sherry, champagne or red wine vinegar as well)
8 cups salad greens (I like using a mix that contains baby spinach)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup blue cheese crumbles

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a grill, or heavy (preferably cast-iron) skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil (for easy clean up), place bacon on sheet, and cook for 15-18 minutes. When cooked, remove to a paper towel-lined plate to get rid of excess fat. Crumble when slightly cooled.

3. Season steak with Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Cook on grill or skillet until cooked through to your liking. The timing will depend on the type of steak used, but for a petit filet, about 4-5 minutes per side will cook it to about medium-rare. Let rest for 5-10 minutes once cooked, and then slice against the grain very thinly.

4. In a small bowl, or salad dressing mixer (pretty sure that’s not the real name of that haha), whisk together the lemon juice, garlic clove, mustard and vinegar. Slowly stream and whisk in the olive oil if doing this in a bowl, otherwise just add the olive oil and shake to combine, or use the salad dressing plunger.

5. Place about 2 cups of greens on each plate, split sliced steak, crumbled bacon, blue cheese, and sliced red onion evenly among the plates, and top with dressing.

Source: EveryDay with Rachel Ray, May 2014

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Crab Cakes

Hello everyone! Long time no see!!!! I’m so happy to be back, and I’m really hoping to be back on here regularly from now on. I have many excuses for my absense… sickness, bridal shower planning… but I really do miss this space here. I have been cooking of course- despite how busy I’ve been I would never be able to stay away from my kitchen (except during my horrible flu/cold that I had). I still haven’t finished sharing my vacation recipes. Shame on me!!! This was probably the best thing i cooked on vacation. Blue crabs are in abundance down in the Chincoteague area, and while we didn’t catch our own this year, we did buy a bunch of local crabs. The first night we just ate them as is- steamed, and then we made crab cakes and a crab frittata with the leftovers. I love that we had an abundance of crab… this is the only place I’ve ever been able to say that. At first I was going to just make veggie-filled crab cakes. My aunt Annmarie and I made the best crab and veggie cakes one year when we were vacationing on Cape Cod, and these were my attempt to make something similar. I REALLY need to get that recipe! My dad however, likes the simple crab-only crab cakes. So I decided to make both…. and then I threw some jalapenos and Old Bay into a few too. I have to say my favorite were the veggie-filled crab cakes with the inclusion of the jalapeno and Old Bay seasoning. So much flavor!!!!

Simple Crab Cakes

Makes about 8-10 small crab cakes

Ingredients:

1 lb lump crab

1/2 cup cracker crumbs (I used Trader Joe’s Mulitgrain crackers- you could use those, ritz, or a similar type of crackers)

1 egg

2-4 Tbsp Mayonnaise

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 Jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced (optional)

1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning (optional)

Salt and pepper

2 Tbsp canola oil, more if needed (or other higher heat oil)

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, mayonnaise(start with the smaller amount) and Dijon. Add the crab meat, cracker crumbs, jalapeno and Old Bay (if using) and season with salt and pepper, and gently mix together.

2. Carefully form your crab cakes. If they are having a hard time staying together you can add more mayo as needed. It helps if you wet your hands slightly. Place on a plate, and refrigerate for at least half an hour (this will help them firm up).

3. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of canola oil. When hot, add your crab cakes, making sure not to crowd the pan. You will have to fry them in 2 or 3 batches. Cook 4-5 minutes per side, until browned. Add additional oil to pan as needed between batches.

Source: Original recipe, but inspired by many recipes around the web

Vegetable Filled Crab Cakes

Makes about 10-12 small crab cakes

Ingredients:

1/4 red pepper, finely diced

1/4 green pepper, finely diced

1/4 summer squash, grated

1/4 red onion, finely diced)

1 Tbsp olive oil or butter

1 lb lump crab meat

1/2 cup cracker crumbs, crushed (I used Trader Joe’s Mulitgrain crackers- you could use those, ritz, or a similar type of crackers)

1 egg

2-4 Tbsp Mayonnaise

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 Jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced (optional)

1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning (optional)

Salt and pepper

2 Tbsp canola oil, more if needed (or other higher heat oil)

Directions:

1. Place a medium skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil or butter. When hot, add the bell peppers, summer squash and red onion. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and saute until softened, about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, mayonnaise(start with the smaller amount) and Dijon. Add the crab meat, cracker crumbs, jalapeno and Old Bay (if using), sauteed vegetables and season with salt and pepper, and gently mix together.

3. Carefully form your crab cakes. If they are having a hard time staying together you can add more mayo as needed. It helps if you wet your hands slightly. Place on a plate, and refrigerate for at least half an hour (this will help them firm up).

4. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of canola oil. When hot, add your crab cakes, making sure not to crowd the pan. You will have to fry them in 2 or 3 batches. Cook 4-5 minutes per side, until browned. Add additional oil to pan as needed between batches.

Source: Original recipe, but inspired by many recipes around the web, and my Aunt Annmarie’s Crab Cakes

Chicken Tostada Salads

When I saw these Chicken Tostada Salads posted on Shutterbean back in May, they screamed for me to make them immediately… actually, that happens with pretty much everything Tracy makes… I mean, have you seen her photography? It just makes everything look glorious, even the mundane. These salads are anything but mundane though. Super quick, fresh and flavorful, they are everything I look for in a meal, especially a summer meal. The crispy, cheesy tortillas make a perfect base for the “salad” that goes on top. The chicken topping is really yummy, and would also make a great filling for tacos.  This is a great recipe for the summer months to beat the heat. Just a short amount of cooking time (even quicker if you use a rotisserie chicken), and super-speedy assembly, and you have an awesome dinner!

Chicken Tostada Salads

Chicken Tostada Salads

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 corn tortillas

3 tsp extra virgin olive oil

2 oz Monterey Jack cheese (about 3/4 cup)

1/2 small red onion, finely diced

1 1/2 tsp chili powder

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (If you want to use a rotisserie chicken, use the breast meat)

1/2 cup water

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp fresh lime juice

1/2 head romaine lettuce (6 oz), shredded

1 tomato, seeded and chopped

1 avocado, diced

Fresh cilantro, chopped, for serving

Sour cream, for serving

Hot sauce, for serving

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Brush each side of the tortillas lightly, with 2 tsp of the olive oil. Place on baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes, until crisp and golden brown. Sprinkle the cheese evenly among the tortillas and pop back in the oven for about 3 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Set aside.

2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the remaining 1 tsp of olive oil. Add half the onion and cook  about 3 minutes, until softened. Add the chili powder and garlic, and cook about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the shredded chicken, 1/2 cup water, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook about 2 minutes, until the water is evaporated and the chicken is warm. Add 1 tsp lime juice. Remove pan from heat.

3. In a large bowl, toss the shredded lettuce with the remaining lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. To assemble tostada salads, split the lettuce among the tortillas, and top with the chicken mixture, tomato, avocado, remaining red onion and cilantro. Top with sour cream and hot sauce if desired.

Source: Shutterbean, who adapted it from Everyday Food