Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Did you know I'm in grad school? Yep, I'm taking 12 units (3 classes) towards a Masters Degree in Education, while continuing to work as a full time teacher. I'm stressed and feel like I'm buried under homework, but I'm also really glad I decided to persue another degree. What does this all mean to you, my dear readers? Well, one, it answers the question of why I've been slacking on my blog; I'm not cooking as much, and when I am, it's usually nothing special.
I'm attending classes at Cal Poly Pomona, which has an excellent teacher preparation program, but it's really known as an engineering and agriculture school. They have a whole program dedicated to the meat sciences, including breaking down sides of beef and making their own sausages! If I could cram a few more hours into my day, I'd love to take some of those classes...and maybe some classes in the Restaurant and Hospitality program. And a photography course or two. Sorry, birdwalk.
Anyway, I recently decided to check out the campus farmstore after tasting the Meat Sciences original "Broncowurst" and discovered they sell free-range, grass-fed, organic cuts of beef. Ever since the husband and I watched Food Inc. we've eaten less red meat and have been interested in buying more humanely treated meat when we can, which isn't always easy to do. Well, here was a whole freezer section of meat that fit that criteria, so I grabbed a package of sirloin tip steaks and headed home.
A quick search on Google informed me that this is a tougher cut of meat, and isn't the same thing as a sirloin steak. The websites I looked over highly recommended marinating the cut for several hours before cooking to produce a more tender entree. I also cooked up a mushroom sauce to top the dish, which tasted very similar to the mushroom sauce at Henry's Pacific Grill. Yum.
The husband and I both loved this dinner and can't wait to make it again. The marinade was definitely the right way to go; the meat was tender and incredibly flavorful.
Herb-Marinated Sirloin Tip Steaks with Mushroom Sauce
Source: marinade adapted from Grass Fed Beef 101, Mushroom Sauce adapted from My Recipes
2 sirloin tip steaks (about 2 pounds total)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic
2 cloves garlic minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon pepper
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon honey
Mushroom Sauce Ingredients
1 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 2 shallots)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 pound baby bella mushrooms, stems removed, rinsed, thinly sliced
1 cup beef broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon butter
1 cup green onions, minced
Combine all of the marinade ingredients, except for the beef, in a medium bowl and whisk together. Place the steaks in a glass bowl or pie pan and pour the marinade over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and marinated in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours, turning the mean occasionally.
Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. Sautee the shallots and garlic for 2 minutes, just until the shallots begin to soften and turn translucent. Add the mushrooms and sautee for 4 minutes. Sprinkle with salt after about two minutes.
Add the broth, wine, vinegar, and butter. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 6 minutes. Sauce will reduce. Add in the minced green onions and cook another 2 minutes. Turn heat to low and keep warm while steaks cook.
Heat a broiler to high and line the broiler pan with foil. Spray with non-stick spray and set the marinated steaks on the foil. Discard the remaining marinade.
Broiler for 4 minutes, then flip steaks and broil for another 3-4 minutes, depending on your desired level of doneness.
Plate and spoon the mushroom sauce over the top. Serve immediately.
Monday, October 18, 2010
A few weeks ago I was earnestly awaiting fall. Never mind the 100+ degree temperatures we were still experiencing; I wanted to taste fall! The best way to satisfy a fall craving is with pumpkin treats, so I set out to the grocery store to pick up a can or too of pumpkin puree. Of course, the shelves were bare. Two years in a row of poor pumpkin crops led to two years of a pumpkin shortage. Even suppliers online were estimating shipping times upwards of 2 months!
You can freeze your homemade pumpkin and save for the next time you're craving a homemade pumpkin treat. I used mine to make pumpkin cream cheese muffins....yum!
Homemade Pumpkin Puree
Source: Annie's Eats
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
Using a sharp knife on a stable surface, slice each pumpkin in half lengthwise. I found their shells to be very hard, so be careful!
Scoop out all the pumpkin "guts" and seeds. Set aside if you want to make roasted pumpkin seeds, otherwise discard.
Place the pumpkin halves face down on a cookie sheet (be sure to use one with raised sides). Pour water onto the cookie sheet until it's about an inch or so deep. This will help steam the pumpkin flesh.
Bake the pumpkins for about 60-90 minutes, or until a fork can easily pierce through the shell. Let cool.
Drain the water off of the cookie sheet and discard. Scoop the roasted flesh out of the shells and into a food processor. Process until it is a smooth puree.
Line a mesh strainer with paper towels and set over a medium bowl. Scoop the pumpkin puree into the strainer and let sit for about an hour. This allows the excess liquid to drain out of the puree. Discard the liquid and store your pumpkin puree in a freezer-safe container. Freeze if you are not going to use in the next few days.
Note: I got about about 3 cups of pumpkin puree from two pie pumpkins.