Monday, May 16, 2011

Blackberry Glazed Steak and Rosemary Fromage Blanc

So I'm both embarrassed and proud of this post. Embarrassed, because the pictures were very impromptu and are just...bad. Proud, because this is one of the best meals I've ever made and I didn't use any recipes!

The meal started off with a trip to Costco where we picked up some great steaks, berries and fromage blanc from Bellweather Farms.

Fromage blanc (a.k.a. fromage frais) is a fresh cheese that tastes a bit like cream cheese, but is much creamier and lower calorie even than low-fat cream cheese. Our cafe at Pixar has been using this cheese on some of their healthy chicken wraps and I've been obsessed with it ever since I tasted it! I was so excited when I found it at Costco so I immediately snatched up a tub. In the above picture I've mixed it with some finely minced fresh rosemary and a dash of kosher salt. You can spread this stuff on anything: crackers, veggies, sandwiches, etc. More on that in a bit!

Next was getting the berry glaze ready. I'll admit, I've never done a berry glaze on any protein before (unless you count smearing my Thanksgiving turkey with cranberry sauce) so I was flying by the seat of my pants for this one!

Approximate measurements:
1 T oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1/4 c red wine
1/4 c beef broth
1/4 c blackberries (frozen or fresh)
1 T brown sugar
salt to taste
pepper to taste.

I started out by sauteing minced garlic and fresh rosemary in some oil. Then I deglazed the pan with about 1/4 cup red wine, added in the broth, blackberries and sugar, and let simmer until thickened.

While the sauce was reducing, I decided to make a light and fresh cocktail based on a gin and tonic (heavily, heavily based). 

I put about 1/2 cup gin (Blue Sapphire for this one), 1 small bottle of tonic and filled the rest of the pitcher with water and ice. Then I squeezed the juice of a lime into the mix and added sliced cucumbers. The result was the perfect summer drink! Very refreshing and not too alcoholic to make it a chore to drink. Gotta say, cucumbers are climbing my list of top low-calorie foods. Is dipping them in hummus still an option?

Alright, back to the steaks. After letting the seasoned steaks rest for 15 minutes, we threw them on the grill (hooray for our Weber Grill!). I brushed my blackberry sauce on them each time we flipped, which gave the meat a beautiful deep red-brown glaze.

Once those were cooked to desired done-ness, we plated them alongside some baked potatoes. Remember that fromage blanc? A generous dollop of that on the mashed potato and you have one of the best-tasting baked potatoes ever! 

I finished things off by sprinkling a little chive and parsley from my herb garden. I even did a little "berry brush" art on the plate, how suave is that? Aaaand another photo:

Much to our delight, the blackberry sauce was the perfect combo of sweet and salty that complimented the steak wonderfully. We had leftover sauce, which we both generously poured onto our steaks in addition to the glaze. The potatoes were melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The drinks cleansed the pallet and left us feeling refreshed. All in all, a really epic meal.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Orange Flowered Weekend

This weekend I decided to try out a sweet-looking paper poppy DIY I found on this amazingly crafty lady's blog. She has it all written up with photos, so I won't do a step-by-step here, but I will show you the final product!

I am in LOVE! Of course mine don't look nearly as good as hers, but I couldn't be happier with the results. Juxtaposed with the teal vase (IKEA) and eucalyptus, they really pop. Every morning when I sit up in bed, these are the first things I see, and they instantly brighten my day!

I liked them so much, I had to incorporate them into my new blog banner, as you can see. I only changed a couple things from her tutorial: first, I used five petals instead of four. My petals turned out quite a bit smaller than hers and I realize now that it's because I used the party streamer version of crepe paper rather than a flat sheet *facepalm*. Second, I sandwiched orange crepe paper in between two gold rather than straight up orange (the two on the left are gold-orange-gold while the one on the right is just gold). These were pretty simple to make, though they do require a certain level of skill and dexterity. They were also super cheap: $13 for all the supplies, which will make quite a few more flowers. I think I will get some proper crepe paper and try these again...maybe in time for a mother's day bouquet?

Keeping with the theme of the post, I discovered these on my balcony on Saturday.

My Nasturtium finally decided to flower! I've been passing by hundreds (literally) of these flowers on my daily felt kinda like this:

NOT my garden

I was wondering why mine hadn't shown any colors yet. I blamed it on my recent re-potting and propagating, which had probably caused some stress to the plants, but I underestimated these robust little guys! Boyfriend probably thought I was a little nuts, because as soon as I discovered them, I got really excited, dragged him out to show him, then got my camera and started taking pictures from every angle. I guess I'm just stoked about the fact that a plant is actually thriving under my care rather than...well, not. Since this weekend, another flower has bloomed and I see a few more buds getting ready to as well. Take that, black thumb!