Monday, February 18, 2013

(homemade) dinner for two

Good morning!  How was your weekend?  We ended up having a nice relaxing weekend after Will's youth trip was cancelled (because of snow!) on Saturday.  It was so nice to spend the whole day doing things together.  Will decided to add 30 minutes of exercise Monday-Saturday for Lent, so on Saturday afternoon we packed up the kids and hit the gym!  Even when he hasn't run in about 5 months and I've been training 5-6 days a week, he still gets around the track faster than me.  I'm not afraid to admit that that fact gets under my skin just a little bit.  I'm definitely slow and steady.  Very slow and steady.  Ah, well.

On Saturday night, we decided to try something a little different.  Instead of eating dinner as a family (which we do at least five nights a week), I made the kids some pancakes and fruit at 5:30 and we all sat together, but Will and I didn't eat.  It was his night to put the kids to bed so while he started that at 7, I cleaned up the kitchen and got to work on a special dinner for two.  

About a year ago, Will ordered "Outside" magazine for us so we could check out the backpacking gear and good spots to hike and camp.  But in the newest issue we received, there was article after article about food.  One title caught my attention immediately:  "Real Men Love Kale."   Written by Mark Bittman, a food columnist and author, it detailed an entire day's worth of eating (vegan before 6pm) complete with recipes.  Here's the menu:  

Breakfast:  Breakfast Pilaf (long- or short-grain brown rice with maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, mango, and mint)
Snack:  Frozen Banana Bonbons (banana slices smothered in dark chocolate and frozen)
Lunch:  Black Bean Tacos with Tangy Cabbage
Snack:  Kale Chips 
Dinner:  Skillet Sweet Potatoes with Sliced Steak

I don't know about you, but that sounds like a pretty perfect day of eating to me.  So I bought the ingredients for every single recipe when I went to the store last week and Saturday night was the perfect time to try the sweet potatoes and steak.  

When Will came down after putting the kids to bed, I put him right to work grating sweet potatoes with a box grater.  I did offer him the use of the food processor, but he said, and I quote:  "I got this." 

Well ok.
After crisping the potatoes up in a hot skillet with a little salt, some garlic and oregano, we cooked up a flank steak, sliced it thin and put it on top of the potatoes.  With a couple candles, it was a lovely dinner for two.

But I bet you're wondering if it was good?  

YES.  And really easy, too.  We will definitely be adding this to our regular rotation. You should, too.  Here's the recipe:

Skillet Sweet Potatoes with Sliced Steak
Recipe by Mark Bittman in Outside Magazine

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes (peeled and grated)
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
2 Tbsp minced garlic
Black pepper to taste
1 lb beef sirloin, flank, strip, or other steak (about one inch thick)
3/4 cup red wine
1 Tbsp fresh chopped sage, marjoram, or oregano (optional)

1.  Heat oven to 200 degrees.  Put one TBSP of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add half the sweet potatoes, sprinkle with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned in places and almost tender (3-5 min).  Add one TBSP of garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, just a minute or two more.  Add half of the herbs, if using, and stir.  Put the potatoes in an ovenproof dish and transfer to the oven.  Add another TBSP of oil to the pan and repeat with remaining potatoes.  Add them to the first batch in the oven.

2.  Put remaining TBSP of oil in the skillet.  Season steak with salt and pepper and cook, undisturbed, until the meat browns and releases easily from the pan.  Flip the steak and cook until desired done-ness.  

3.  Transfer the steak to a cutting board and add the wine to the skillet.  Cook, stirring to loosen any browned bits, and let the liquid reduce to a little less than half a cup.  Cut the steak across the grain into half-inch slices and arrange them on top of the potatoes.  Pour the pan juices over all and serve.

Notes:  This recipe feeds four, but if you're making it for two, just use two potatoes and about half the garlic (unless you like lots of garlic!).  Neither of us are red wine drinkers so I didn't add that since the rest of the bottle would likely go to waste.  The steak came out with plenty of juice so we didn't miss the sauce.  We had dried oregano on hand so used about a teaspoon of that instead of fresh.  

I hope you'll give this one a try!  Have a great week, and I'll see you back here on Thursday with another recipe (or two!).

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