We Made: Steak with Chimichurri

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It was my birthday last week, so my husband went all out on the dinner front and got crazy fancy with his cooking. When he asked me what I wanted for my birthday meal, I really had no clue about what I wanted as the main part of the meal, but I opted in for cream cheese mashed potatoes and brown sugar glazed carrots as sides (two of my absolute favorites). It was his job then to look up what he thought would go well with that, and he decided on steak with chimichurri.


Overall, it wasn’t too difficult to make — we made the chimichurri a day in advance, because Andrew thought it’d be best to let all those flavors soak together. Then, we marinated the steak in the chimichurri at the same time, so it’d have 24 hours to soak up some of that flavor too.

Steak is marinated and ready to cook!

After taking the steak out, we cooked the steak in a cast iron skillet, 5 minutes on each side, and then let it rest.

Letting that cook for just a little bit.
Resting steak

It was pretty easy and our smoke alarm only went off about 4 times during the entire process, which wasn’t too bad at all!

Delicious, delicious food — Happy birthday to me!

It was an AMAZING birthday dinner and I continue to be grateful for being married to a man who knows how to cook. (I did the carrots and helped with the potatoes!)

If you’re interested in trying it yourself, we adapted our steak recipe from Mark Bittman’s grilled steak recipe — so go ahead and click on that and share with us how you liked it!

We Made: Caramel Infused Vodka!

My mom posted a really yummy-looking recipe for Caramel Apple Mimosas from Delish on Facebook, and Andrew and I had to try it out some weekend, because we are all about fall flavors. Basically, you pour some salted caramel vodka, apple cider, and champagne in a flute and it’s supposed to taste very much like a candy apple.

For some reason, finding salted caramel vodka is incredibly difficult in the city of Chicago. I don’t know if it’s because Andrew and I mostly do our liquor shopping at grocery stores or what, but we absolutely could not find a bottle of this — ridiculous. But, I’ve infused vodka before, so we decided to make our own caramel infused vodka. We got the recipe from Mix That Drink, which has really great step by step instructions for infusing it.

Shaking the bottle so all the caramels dissolve faster!

Pro tips for people wanting to infuse their vodka:

Straining is important. We didn’t strain before making our first drinks and while I’m sure it won’t kill you, there’s tons of white gunk stuff that’s left over from the caramels dissolving and it’s not very pleasant to drink. We found that we were able to strain the vodka through a coffee filter twice before it became impossible for the liquid to get through the gunk that collects — if you want a faster experience, you can use a coffee filter each time. And we used a clean old vodka bottle to pour the filtered stuff back into so that the residue didn’t affect anything.

The finished product (before straining)

A couple of weeks after we infused our vodka, we went into a specialty store and lo and behold: pre-made salted caramel flavored vodka! We bought some and decided to test out the differences. Personally, we both prefer the infused vodka. The taste starts like vodka, but finishes caramel, while the pre-bought flavored stuff starts caramel and finishes vodka. So, I’m glad we were forced into infusing our own.

Alton Brown Adventures: Good Eats Company Punch

We’re always looking for fun drinks to make on our weekends, and Andrew *loves* punch, so when we watched an episode where Alton Brown showed us how to make legitimate punch that was used by pirates, we knew it was only a matter of time before we were going to make it.

Basically, it follows the recipe of:

1 part sour
2 part sweet
3 strong
4 weak

We ran into a few snags while making it, which almost always happens when embarking on a new cooking adventure. The first was that we couldn’t find the alcohol suggested. Alton Brown makes his with Batavia Arrack, which is a golden rum, but it just wasn’t at our local Mariano’s, so we substituted with cachaca. Since Batavia Arrack is partly made from sugar cane, I figured it would be a good enough substitute and hoped that it wouldn’t change it too much.

The second is that we couldn’t find a container big enough to do the whole recipe in, so we halved it and made do with a large plastic bowl that we use for any big adventure.

Lots of limes!


Make some black tea and put in some sugar
We made spherical ice by freezing water balloons!
We strained it into the punch bowl and grated some nutmeg over it

Overall, it turned out delicious, and it’s more than a little dangerous. We really weren’t able to taste the alcohol in it, and it was POTENT. Definitely more of a party punch rather than a two-people-hanging-out-on-the-weekend punch. Also, we are now converts to freshly grated nutmeg — it really made a difference and made it so much more delicious.

Want the recipe? Get it from the Good Eats page on the Food Network website!

Alton Brown Adventures: Meatloaf

I have a confession to make: I’ve never had meatloaf before. It just wasn’t a thing in my household. Hamburgers? Totally. Steak? Yup. But meatloaf? My mom just didn’t make it. She and my dad both had horrible experiences eating tasteless, dried up meatloaf, so they chose never to subject themselves and their children to it ever. So, when Andrew told me that he was craving meatloaf, I was a little taken a back. He was craving that terrible food my parents always complained about, really? But, he swore it was good, so I believed him.

As always, we turned to Alton Brown to see if he had a recipe we could use, and he sure did.

It wasn’t Andrew’s favorite, but I personally really liked Alton Brown’s meatloaf recipe. As someone who grew up hearing about the horrors of dried up, unflavored meat, I was really nervous going into this, but the sauce and spices he use are absolutely wonderful and create a flavorful crust around the loaf that just can’t be beat. I’m a huge fan. But, the reasons for me liking it are the reasons for Andrew not liking it so much — it has a little too much flavor for what he likes in meatloaf. So, I guess it depends on personal preference and taste, as always.

In terms of making it, the process itself was fairly easy and it wasn’t a huge time investment. It also held up well for leftovers, which you know if you’ve read one of these food posts before, is huge for us. We love taking our homemade food for lunch. All in all, I recommend it, but not if you’re looking for something mildly, simply flavored.

Want the recipe? Find it on Alton Brown’s Website.

Alton Brown Adventures: Shepherd’s Pie

I am a fan of the Shepherd’s Pie. Everything in it just feels so comfort food/homey to me — ground beef and mashed potatoes? Yes please! The problem is that some recipes might be bland, but when we took a look at Alton Brown’s recipe, we knew that definitely wouldn’t be a problem.

As always, we had a little difficulty in the actual cookware department. The only pan we had that would work for this dish was a little too small for what the recipe called for (we registered for a bigger one, though!), so there was some smushing and rearranging involved, but that was really the only difficulty. That, and being super hungry while the meat filling cooked because it smelled so good.

Mmmm. Meat filling.
We maybe should have also drained some of the grease out. So much smushing in the pan!

It turned out delicious, and it lasted a while, which is nice for two working people who like eating homemade food for lunch. We haven’t made it again, but I’m looking forward to when we do!


Want the recipe? Find it on Alton Brown’s website!

Alton Brown Adventures: Sirloin Steak

Now that Andrew is no longer a vegetarian, he’s always looking for new ways to cook meat and new kinds of meat to enjoy. So, when he saw this for sale at the grocery store, he bought it and researched to see if Alton Brown had a recipe for it. Luckily, he did.

This is kind of a funny story, actually, because cooking this calls for a broiler, which neither of us has ever really used. We could see that our oven definitely had the broiler option, but it took a little bit to figure out how to use it. It turns out, the broiler is that bottom thing on the oven that looks like it might be some sort of storage area. Who knew?!

A little boring color-scheme wise, but this was DELICIOUS.

For such a delicious dinner, this steak (especially with this recipe) is ridiculously easy to make. Combined with a nice side (we chose mashed potatoes and a spinach salad), this turns into a pretty classy dinner fairly easily. Pair it with a nice wine and you have a fancy dinner for not too much effort.

Want the recipe? Check out Alton Brown’s Food Network page!

Alton Brown Adventures: Mayonnaise

Andrew and I both hate the mayonnaise you can buy in a grocery store. It seems way too goopy to be good for you and, on top of that, it doesn’t even taste good. It has to be one or the other, right? Jarred mayonnaise just doesn’t cut it.

Sadly, a lot of yummy things require mayonnaise, like tuna salad, or deviled eggs, or really well-made sandwiches. It’s not fair! I’ve tried substitutes like a mix of mustard with just a dollop of mayonnaise, but it really isn’t the same. So, when Andrew said that he’d never had tuna melts before (I mean, seriously. What?), and we had some nice sourdough bread for them, we decided to go one step further and try our hand at making our own mayonnaise. Worst case scenario: we confirm that we don’t like any form of mayonnaise.

However, that didn’t happen, because, as it turns out, homemade mayonnaise (Alton Brown’s version, at the very least) is delicious. Andrew was a little wary of it, because the recipe does call for a raw egg — seriously, what is that jarred stuff actually made out of, because it certainly isn’t a raw egg — we also didn’t have a neutral-flavored oil, but we were making it specifically for some tuna salad, so we thought that using olive oil would be perfectly acceptable.

Lesson learned: get a low speed hand mixer, or at least a full-sized whisk. Have we mentioned that we’re living our first year together? Yeah. We have a whisk attachment to an immersion blender. That’s what we have for a whisk. (We can’t wait to upgrade our kitchen supplies, seriously.) Needless to say, whisking it took some effort. Andrew is a hero.

We tried it — and it was delicious.

When we first saw how much we made, were both on the same page: it’s good for a one-time try, if we don’t like it, dump it out. But that absolutely did not happen. It was so good, we ended up using all of it even though it’s only good for a week. So, what I’m trying to say is that we lived off tuna salad (made with homemade mayonnaise!) for a week. And it was amazing.

Andrew’s first tuna melt — he was not disappointed.

Want the recipe? Find it here!

Alton Brown Adventures: Southern Biscuits

So, Costco has an amazing deal on Red Lobster biscuit mix, and we get it basically every time we go there. They’re pretty easy to make and there’s just something about mixing together some biscuits as a late night snack or for breakfast in the morning that is super satisfying.

Neither of us has any Southern roots to speak of, so when it comes to biscuits, our standards may not be the high standards of people who might live in Georgia, or something. (Obviously, I mean, we love that Red Lobster mix.) But, we will say that found these biscuits to be absolutely delicious. Even better than the Red Lobster mix, if you can believe it. (Okay, you can. I know.)

Almost every weekend breakfast has something to do with eggs, and as delicious as eggs are, that sometimes gets old. So, when we looked through some Alton Brown recipes to try for the weekend, we decided that it was time to take a break and try some genuine Southern biscuits.


How did we get such perfectly circular biscuits? Andrew used a rocks glass, which worked surprisingly well.

The finished product — with butter, of course

Andrew thinks we might have rolled our dough a little too thin, and I’d personally like to see if using a cutter instead of a whiskey tumbler would improve them somehow, but this is definitely a recipe we’re going to come back to when we have time to make these from scratch instead of just a mix.

Want the recipe? Find it on Alton Brown’s website!

Alton Brown Adventures: Instant Hot Cocoa

This was very much a spontaneous undertaking late one night when we both wanted hot chocolate. I was browsing Twitter when I saw Alton’s tweet about his homemade hot cocoa mix recipe. I looked at Andrew, told him about it, and then we both paused for a second, just looking at each other. “What does it call for?” he asked. I listed the ingredients and, luckily, we had everything and went for it.

We were scared to see how much the recipe made at first — how in the world were we going to finish that much hot cocoa mix? We don’t even drink hot cocoa all that much. “Well, at least it’ll keep for a year,” Andrew said as we put away the canister.

The recipe makes delicious hot chocolate. As long as you get your proportion of mix and water right, it’s truly the best instant hot cocoa I’ve ever had. We usually add a little bit more mix than is called for in the recipe, and we added more than a pinch of cayenne pepper. It’s really up to you to play around with it and see what’s right for your tastebuds. All we can say is that it’s only been a couple of months since we made it, and our stash of mix is almost completely empty.

We added mini marshmallows to our treat the second time we drank it! 🙂

Want to try it yourself? Here’s Alton Brown’s recipe for it!

We Made: Simple Syrup

Simple syrup always used to sound so fancy to me. My mindset used to be: Making a real Tom Collins? How in the world are we supposed to make that simple syrup stuff — it’s so complicated! And I don’t want to spend money in the store on buying sugar. Whatever, Gin and Lemonade is the same, right?

So, imagine my embarrassment when Andrew and I actually bothered to look it up and saw that you basically just boiled 1 part water to 1 part sugar and let it cool for 20 minutes. Yeah. Simple syrup is actually super, super simple. Who knew? And the difference is incredible. Everything we’ve made with the stuff tastes like restaurant/bar-made cocktail that you’d normally pay $8 for. So good! Here are my favorites so far:

Tom Collins – Gin, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, club soda

Fake Sprite (non-alcoholic) – Club soda, lemon juice, lime juice, simple syrup

Lemon Drop – Vodka, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup

I can’t wait to branch out and try more fancy cocktails. We’ll keep you updated on new favorites when we discover them!