Weeknight Steak Tacos with Citrus Slaw

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By now if you have been reading any entries in this blog since March 2020, you know that like most Americans, I am quarantined at home and I am cooking a lot more than before. I made a vow not to order any takeout or delivery until the worst of this is behind us. I might make an exception for a holiday like Greek Orthodox Easter, but I’m not there yet. Also, I have been a terrible Greek Orthodox Christian, I have barely fasted at all this lent. In any case, I digress…

After nearly two weeks of not going to a grocery store, I am extremely limited on fresh produce. As explained in my post about smarter grocery shopping, I did have coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage with a touch of shredded carrots) on hand.

Corn tortillas are another one of those products that I keep on hand as they have a long shelf life, especially in the fridge. Overall, I prefer street-style soft corn tortillas over crunchy or flour tortillas, particularly for tacos (flour tortillas I feel are best for quesadillas). With a few more ingredients, I was able to put together some tasty and fresh-tasting Steak Tacos.

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Steak Tacos with Citrus Slaw – makes 6 tacos

For Steak:

  • 6-8 ounces Steak (ribeye, sirloin, etc all do), seasoned with salt and pepper and wrapped in dish cloth or paper towels to dry
  • Tajin Seasoning

For Slaw

  • 1 cup Coleslaw Mix
  • 2 tablespoons Chopped Scallions
  • 1/4 cup Orange Juice
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Tajin Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Queso Fresco

For Tacos

  • 6 Corn Tortillas, heated (This can be done lightly brushing the tortillas with a very small amount of olive oil, wrapping in aluminum foil, and place in 350 degree oven for 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can heat the tortillas in a skillet in a bit of oil and wrap in foil until ready to serve)
  • Salsa Verde, optional (I like the Herdez brand)
  • Lime Garnish, optional

Heat a skillet on medium to high heat for about five minutes. Unwrap the steak and sprinkle both sides generously with the Tajin. Cook in the skillet for 6-10 minutes, flipping once, to desired temperature. Remove from skillet and set on a cutting board to rest.

In a medium bowl, add coleslaw mix and scallions. You can create a dressing on the side with the remaining ingredients (minus the queso fresco), or you can add them directly into the bowl. Mix the slaw and taste, adjusting seasonings as desired. Mixed in crumbled queso fresco.

At this point you may assemble your tacos. On two plates, lay 3 tortillas flat on each plate, not overlapping. Top each tortilla with about 1/4 cup of the slaw mixture.  Slice steak against the grain into thin (approx. 1/4 inch) slices. Add 2-4 slices of steak, top with lime and salsa garnish, as desired. Serve and enjoy immediately.

Gluten-Free Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I’ve said it before – I live a gluten-FULL or omnivorous lifestyle. However, the last couple of weeks as I deplete what is in my fridge and freezer, as well as not restock the pantry, I’m getting creative with my baking.

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The main stars of these cookies – not pictures, the Lindt Chocolate

I had a bag of King Arthur Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour. I like this, it’s a cup-for-cup or measure-for-measure product, meaning any regular recipe, you swap whatever quantity of flour that is advised with the gluten-free product. I was eager to make another batch of cookies, and I found a great recipe for Gluten-Free Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies from this other blog, Delicious Little Bites.

I followed the recipe for the most part, but made some small substitutes as again, I was cleaning out my pantry. Instead of chocolate chips, I chopped up 1 and a half bars of Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate. I like the pools of chocolate you get from chopping chocolate by hand versus using chips. Also, I used more salt than the recipe called for, particularly on top. I didn’t take the time to get the same lovely aesthetic as the recipe author, but I was pleased with the results nonetheless.

What was great about this cookie is it had a nice crinkly outside and a great chew inside, particularly enhanced by the Kraft caramels. The other thing that was nice, is it gave new life to caramels that had hardened too much to snack on or melt. Every time I play around with gluten-free flours, I am impressed. Again, check out the cookie recipe here.

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An American Classic – Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

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An American classic cannot be easier!

PANTRY TOMATO SOUP

  • 3 tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Flour
  • 1 24 ounce can Tomatoes (can be crushed, whole, sauce, etc.)
  • 24 ounces water (use can to measure out while cooking)
  • 2 Bouillon Cubes (veggie, beef, and chicken all work)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Over medium heat, melt butter and add chopped onion. Sautee until onions are translucent and start to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Add flour and stir to coat onions, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and water, stir in boullion and season to taste. Simmer about half an hour. Transfer mixture to blender and blend until totally smooth. You can add cream or cheese to thicken, if desired.

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Poor Woman’s Wonton Soup

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Since becoming quarantined nearly a month ago I have not ordered takeout or had prepared food delivered once. One night in a moment of weakness I bought fried chicken from my local grocery store, and I broke out in hives. I think I have an underlying allergy to certain fry oils, but in our current corona-culture, it was enough to spook my very non-germophic heart.

My next few posts are going to get interesting, as I have not grocery shopped a single item since March 29. I’m craving certain foods, but I am determined to make them on my own, including Chinese takeout.

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This is by far a “semi-homemade” Wonton Soup with pantry and freezer ingredients. Store bought wontons, frozen scallions (chopped and frozen by me), frozen ginger (didn’t photograph well, so subbed powdered ginger in the pic), chicken bouillon packet, and rice vinegar.

POOR WOMAN’S WONTON SOUP

  • 1 packet Chicken Bouillon (or cube, or chicken stock or other broth)
  • 2 cups water (if not using prepared stock/broth)
  • However many wontons you want to eat
  • 1 teaspoon Rice Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Scallions

Simmer all ingredients together until wontons are cooked through. I wish it was more complicated than that. For extra zing, you can saute and lightly the wontons in a bit of sesame oil before adding broth.

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Looks like takeout to me

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Served with a scallion pancake, another one of the few convenience items in my freezer

The Jiffy Chronicles – Spicy Cheddar Cornbread

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A couple of weeks ago I took stock of my pantry and pointed out several boxes of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix and their amazing versatility. Today I did my first quick recipe for Saturday morning brunch. The package directions for cornbread are fine, but it’s kind of boring. It’s so easy to doctor this mix up to something more interesting and even more delicious.

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The main ingredients in the cornbread – mix, cheese, chilis in adobo, and corn

SPICY CHEDDAR CORNBREAD

  • 1 package Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 cup frozen or canned Corn
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 Chipotle Pepper in Adobo Sauce*
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 inch cast iron skillet or 8×8 baking pan, set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, add muffin mix, cheese, corn, egg, and milk and mix thoroughly. Chop chipotle pepper and create a paste with a little bit of salt and pepper. Stir paste into batter. Pour batter into pan, bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick placed into center comes out clean. Allow to cool about an hour before serving.

*If you have never worked with Chipotle in Adobo- these are VERY spicy and a little goes a long way. Even if you’re into spice, I would not recommended more than one for this whole recipe – when you overdo it, the heat takes over and you lose flavor in the dish.

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Finished Cornbread

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Serving suggestion – great brunch accompaniment

 

 

Chicken Meatballs Piccata

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I often have frozen chicken breasts in my freezer, as well as chopped parsley. Pretty much everything in this recipe are common staples in my kitchen, and many folks have in their kitchen. I often get bored of grilling chicken breasts or making them tenders, so I will grind the meat in my food processor and use it for ground meat recipes. You can freeze meatballs to use at a later time, and this is a super fast weeknight dinner.

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Chicken Meatballs Piccata

Makes 4-6 servings
MEATBALLS
1 pound ground chicken breast
1/4 – 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs, as needed
1 egg, beaten
Handful chopped parsley
I small onion, finely diced or grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Mix ingredients until fully incorporated, starting with 1/4 cup breadcrumbs. If mixture feels too wet, add a bit more. Shape into 1.5 – 2 inch balls. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Broil on high about 10 minutes, turning halfway through cooking for even browning. Set aside. Note – these can be done ahead of time and frozen or chilled.

PICCATA SAUCE
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 lemons, juiced, plus zest from one
1.5 cups chicken broth, warmed
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons capers, or more, as desired

SPAGHETTI
1 pound – cook to package directions.

GREENS
Greens – spinach, arugula, kale, etc – as little or as much as you want. You may also substitute additional vegetables for a more complete meal.

Mix lemon juice, zest, and broth. Heat until warm or hot, set aside. On medium heat, butter in saucepan and whisk in flour about one tablespoon at a time, until fully incorporated. Cook about 3-4 minutes, do not brown. Slowly whisk in broth mixture, a little at a time, sauce will thicken immediately. Cook 2-3 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Add capers and meatballs. Remove from heat.

For greens, heat a small amount of sauce and sauté until soft. To serve, arrange a serving of spaghetti in a bowl, top with sauce, some greens and then a few meatballs. Enjoy!

Hunkering Down – Smarter Food Shopping

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This morning over a “diner style” breakfast of eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns, my boyfriend asked me, “How are you able to have so much fresh stuff on hand to cook with? Aren’t you scared it’s going to go bad?” I told him I’m not.

Friends – it’s strategy. While in an ideal, healthy world it’s great to hit up the grocery store several days a week and get the freshest ingredients possible for you and your family, these are unusual times. All the warnings we have gotten the last couple of days is it will get worse before it gets better – this pandemic and the crisis in our area has not peaked, we could be weeks, probably longer, from leveling that curve. In Bergen County, New Jersey, where I live, we have the highest number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey, and we are only a few miles from New York City, which is currently the unfortunate epicenter of the pandemic. Our county parks have closed, and all the warnings heed staying home as much as possible, only go out if you absolutely have to.

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“Diner-Style” Breakfast – all long shelf life ingredients – eggs, cheddar cheese, bacon, and frozen hash browns

Part of staying healthy is following a healthy diet. You have the most control when you’re preparing your own food, and avoid processed ingredients as much as you can. This can be difficult when you’re stockpiling for days and ideally, weeks, but the good news it’s not impossible.

In addition to the hefty amount of items I currently house in my pantry, today I stockpiled fresh foods. I do not intend to go to a grocery store again for a couple of weeks minimum. The key to doing this is to choose items that have a long shelf life, or things that can freeze beautifully.

Don’t know where to start? Here are some of my go-to’s and how long they could last, if properly stored. This isn’t a comprehensive list of all the foods out there, but it can get you through several weeks and possibly even months without a grocery trip.

  • PRODUCE
    • Citrus fruits – 3-4 weeks
    • Butternut Squash – left whole, this will keep about a month
    • Onions and Garlic – about two months
    • Cabbage – several weeks up to 2 montns
    • Carrots – lasts 3-5 weeks
    • Cruciferous vegetables (Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, etc) – up to 2 weeks
    • Bananas – last about a week if “green” when purchased. Freeze well
    • Hearty Greens (Kale, Arugula, etc) – these raw veggies will usually last about a week to 10 days
    • When in doubt, buy frozen – especially berries as they are highly perishable. Plus frozen produce is almost always as nutritious as fresh
  • DAIRY
    • Organic milk – ultra pasteurized milk will last about two months
    • Hard Cheeses – parmesan, etc. can last for a couple of months
    • Yogurt – if unopened, can be eaten a couple of weeks after sell-by date
    • Sour Cream – similar to yogurt
    • Cream Cheese – months
    • Semi-hard Cheeses (cheddar, mozzarella, swiss, etc) – months. These also freeze well
    • Eggs – usually will last a few weeks after sell-by date. Try this water test to be certain of the freshness
  • MEAT
    • Vacuum-sealed meats typically have a much longer shelf life than what the butcher will cut and package for you. For example, I purchased a couple of ribeye steaks today that are vacuum-sealed has have a USE BY or FREEZE date of April 22. That’s nearly a month!
    • Poultry is typically more perishable than beef, pork, lamb, etc. If you’re not planning on using within 3-5 days, I suggest freezing until you’re ready to cook with it
    • Cured meats – bacon, ham, sausages, etc. naturally have a longer shelf life. Some will even last months and all typically freeze well
  • SEAFOOD
    • I avoid buying fresh fish and seafood if I’m not going to cook it within a day of purchase. If I find a sale, I may purchase and cut/portion out myself and wrap to freeze. I especially like to do this with salmon. I will take the fish out of the freezer when I’m ready to actually use it
    • Shrimp is something I almost always have in my freezer. In some water they take next to no time to thaw and also cook up super fast. Plus, in this country almost all the “fresh” shrimp you buy has been previously frozen, so just skip that and buy already frozen
  • BREADS/BAKED GOODS
    • I will typically bake my own stuff, but I don’t make sandwich bread. English muffins will keep for weeks in the fridge. I also really like rye bread in the fridge. Tortillas and wraps typically have a long shelf life (possibly months). Softer breads (white, whole wheat, etc), if you’re not going through them quickly, freeze well. Double check the shelf life. While organic can be better for you and have fewer preservatives, organic sandwich bread gets moldy FAST.

Bottom line – in these unprecedented times, don’t impulse shop. A little planning will keep you home safe for a very long time 🙂

 

Homemade Kale Chips

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I am not vegan. I am not gluten-free. However, being omnivorous, I enjoy all these things. Back in the years I worked for Whole Foods Market, one of my favorite indulgences (as a price point, not calorie/junk indulgence) was Brad’s Kale Chips, not known as Brad’s Crunchy Kale. The product is amazing, healthy, all-natural, and most importantly, tasty. No offense to Brad, they are pretty darn easy to replicate.

I cannot take credit for the recipe I am going to share, but I will show you step by step in this video how easy they are to make and how little equipment is really needed (no need to invest in a dehydrator!)

Recipe can be found at Kitchn 

PS- the “ranch” version I made is not vegan. Please double check ingredients if you’re using a ranch dip/dressing packet. Buttermilk is one of the key ingredients in ranch dressing, and packets usually have some form of dehydrated milk solids.

Ask Anna – I’m Here to Help

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I cannot believe my last post on this blog was back in 2016. And yet, I can believe it. 2016 was the year I was licensed in real estate and also the year I decided to leave retail management for good. As I was building my real estate business, the time for blogging about food subsided. I traded lengthy articles with recipes for quick instagram posts, focusing mainly on the visual, occasionally sharing how things were done.

One of my New Years resolutions in 2019 was to get back in the habit of blogging.  I showed some new friends my old stuff and they were anxious for more. On a happy note for my career, 2019 was my best year in real estate to date, and I just wasn’t home cooking as much, let alone writing about it. I literally traded writing contracts and client emails for recipes.

Life is short, and it’s important to attribute time to your hobbies and passions. With all the fear and uncertainty in the world, especially here in the United States and we are navigating this COVID-19 Pandemic and all the self-quarantine going on around us, I realized I am in a position to help people. This isn’t any sort of grand nobel-peace prize actions. I just have a quirky and unique skill set when it comes to food.

Yesterday at least 3 friends reached out looking for cooking help or advice. As supermarket supplies dwindle and more restaurants shut their doors, cooking well and at home for your family with what you have on hand can be challenging or difficult. I lived through the great recession and I also suddenly lost a very lucrative position in 2015 – both incidents that taught me to be very thrifty and frugal with my food budget, but also creative. You may look at a jar of tahini and think, I don’t even have chickpeas, I only use this stuff for hummus. I will look at that same jar and make sesame noodles, tahini chocolate chip cookies, salad dressing, and more.

Reach out if you’re stuck, I’ll help you find inspiration on a shoestring budget.