It’s been a very successful afternoon.
After a delightful & filling brunch with my friend Jessica, I shivered all the way home to plot out my Sunday afternoon cooking. There are usually two goals of my Sunday cooking: make a knockout dinner for me & the bf (his name is Paul. Have I mentioned that?), and make a variety of healthy hot lunches for the week ahead. Today, I added a third goal: make a special treat for my coworker & friend John, who is celebrating his birthday tomorrow.
First up: breakfast. It’s much easier to face a cold & cloudy day when I start it off with a belly-warmer of a breakfast. I like oatmeal, and I REALLY like steel-cut oats. They have a chewy texture similar to barley and farro, but more tender, and you can cook one big pot on Sunday and make enough for 5 breakfasts. It keeps really well in the fridge, and I’ve read that you can freeze it, too (though I have never tried).
Today, I made my oatmeal a little differently. I call this MRS Oatmeal, as the recipe comes courtesy of the great Martha Rose Shulman. She cooks the oats in a mixture of water and 1% milk, and then adds sweetener (I used brown sugar), dried fruit and butter during cooking. I tweaked the recipe slightly and added cinnamon. The results: hearty, creamy, loads of flavor, and each portion can be reheated in the microwave in 1-2 minutes. Easy mornings await.
Next: Lunch, and an experimental one at that— I wanted to make something hot, filling, and light, so I could actually get up out of my chair and walk around comfortably post lunch. I looked in my pantry and fridge and began to strategize. White beans—healthy, protein-rich, good with tomatoes. Well, lookie here! A can of fire-roasted tomatoes. Here’s a zucchini. I can chop that up. Onion and garlic will be necessary. Olive oil, of course. I did a lot of eyeballing and not a lot of measuring, so once i make this again I will take careful notes and repeat the recipe.
Before I got cracking on dinner, I set about the business of making John’s birthday treat. My inspiration was Paul’s father, Bob—an excellent baker—who made these crazy addictive peanut butter & chocolate chip bars a few weeks ago. I don’t think Paul thought they were addictive, probably because I didn’t leave him any. They were that good. Sadly, Bob couldn’t remember where he found the recipe, but a few minutes of skimming The Google’s search results led me here.
The ingredients are all or mostly pantry staples—peanut butter, butter, white and brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and flour. I subbed 1/2 cup whole wheat wheat flour for a half cup of the AP flour that was called for. I didn’t have chocolate chunks, but I did have mini-morsels, though less than the amount listed. There were still plenty. The bars themselves are chewy-crumbly, and very intensely peanut-buttery. Like, if you turned Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups into cookie bars. That’s what you get.
Finally, I moved onto dinner. I’ve been trying to clear our freezer, and I did a good job of it tonight. I defrosted about 4 cups of cauliflower and a whole lot of skirt steak. I marinated the steak in a mixture of soy sauce (1/2 cup), sriracha (1 tsp), brown sugar (1 tbsp), pinches of garlic & onion powders and a little hit of sesame oil (1 tsp). Five steaks with marinade in a Ziploc for 2 hours, then grilled in a pan, 3-4 minutes each side for medium rare. Ta-daa.
As for the cauliflower, I really wasn’t sure what to do until I looked over at my credenza and saw two small Yukon Gold potatoes sitting in a basket. I decided to make a mash, though I never had combined cauliflower and potatoes. I figured it couldn’t be that hard, and both vegetables go so well with cheese. CHEESE. There was leftover muenster in the fridge (2 thin slices), and some grated parmesan (1/4 cup). Some milk (1/3 cup), some butter (2 tbsp), some pureeing… bam! A mash. But I went a step further and put it all in a casserole dish, then baked for 20 minutes at 425 degrees until it developed a light crust.
I will totally make this again. It paired really well with the steak, and the glass of Malbec didn’t hurt, either.
It has been a great day for cooking, and for eating. Depending on the outcome of the Saints game, it may not be a great day for football. Carolina is kicking my team’s collective butt. Sad face.