I love my Bi-Lo grocery store. You may have noticed, a lot of the ingredients I use are Southern Home brand, which is Bi-Lo’s store brand. Our Bi-Lo is only two miles from our house (I’ve walked it!) and is always where I stop on my way home to either grab something quick for dinner, or to stock up for the week. Our Bi-Lo also has an excellent meat department for a local grocery store in the suburbs of Charleston. I, luckily, can usually find filet mignon (beef tenderloin) for a really decent price - much less than at a steakhouse. When they don’t have filet mignon, my next choice is ribeye and Ryan’s next choice is NY strip - both of which I can always find for a very affordable price. If you don’t have a Bi-Lo near you, don’t worry, you can still find affordable steaks at your local grocery store. You may just have to look beyond that top package or ask the butcher if they have more in the back or can cut you the right size - like if you only need one steak but there are 2 or more in the package, ask the butcher and they’ll open the package and repack just your one steak for you. I’ve done this countless times. Another great way to save money at your grocery store is to join whichever loyalty points membership they may have - oftentimes the BOGOs, etc. only apply to members of the loyalty program.
It was a rainy day here yesterday and Ryan is on the night shift so I thought a hearty steak dinner would be perfect for our Saturday night in. I stopped at Bi-Lo on my way home from some errands, grabbed a two-pack of filet mignon, one crown of broccoli, a bag of Caesar salad, and one sweet potato for Ryan.
Other ingredients I’m using that aren’t pictured are: butter, canola oil, and salt and pepper. And let’s just zoom in on that receipt right quick…
$22.67!!! Even if I bought another sweet potato for myself, my total still would have been around $25. I will note that there was another 2-pack of filets that were around $14 and they looked great, but these $17 ones just spoke to me. So this meal could definitely be done cheaper.
The first step in making a great steak at home, especially a filet, is to let it come to as close to room temperature as you can before you sear it. Take your steaks out of the fridge at least one hour before you plan on cooking them. When you’re ready, preheat your oven to 425.
Dry the steaks by placing them on a plate and patting dry with paper towels. They will not sear if they have too much surface moisture. Preheat a dry oven-safe skillet on high while you heavily sprinkle all sides of the steaks with salt and pepper. It may seem like a lot but these steaks are thick and the flavor needs to permeate all the way through.
*It's important to note here - these are on a small salad plate. Not a dinner plate. We are not the Flintstones.
Then drizzle a little canola oil on each side of the steaks (about 1 tsp per side) and using a pastry brush or your fingers, spread it over the surface so that it’s all covered, but not fully dripping down the sides of the steaks.
Place the steaks in the super hot pan and let sit, untouched, until you see the bottom edge starting to cook, about 4-5 minutes. While this is happening, break down the crown of broccoli into florets and place into a microwave-safe bowl.
Take a pair of tongs and flip the steaks over to start cooking on the other side. That first seared side should be brown and have a nice crust on it.
After a minute or two, take some butter, and put 1 tbsp on each steak (or more, I won’t tell anyone!) and 1 tbsp into the hot pan. Immediately turn off the heat and place in the preheated oven for 5-6 minutes for medium-rare (cook for 1 minute longer depending on how done you like your steaks - 7 minutes, medium, 8 minutes medium-well, 9 minutes well-done).
Splash some water over the broccoli, cover the bowl in plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 4 minutes.
This is also a great time to mix together the Caesar salad kit.
When 5-6 minutes have passed, remove the pan of steaks from the oven, place the steaks on a plate, and cover loosely with foil to let rest. When the broccoli has finished in the microwave, carefully (steam burns are real) peel back a small piece of the plastic wrap and pour out the water into the sink. Season the broccoli with a pinch of salt. Add butter if you like, and stir.
Now it’s time to plate! Remember that butter we topped the steaks with and added to the pan? I like to spoon a little bit of it from the STILL VERY HOT SO BE CAREFUL pan onto my steaks. That extra butter just adds a little unctuousness and more salt to the dish, and it’s butter so like, why would you not? Also, if you didn’t add butter to your broccoli (I usually don’t), then the extra butter and juice from the steak runs over to the broccoli and it’s just...divine.
Please enjoy this on your next night in! It’s a great dish to impress somebody but as you can tell, it’s also super easy - and that’ll be our little secret!
**If you don’t like steamed broccoli, fear not! You could also roast it in that same 425 oven for about 20 minutes. Other great sides would be: sauteed spinach, sauteed green beans, grilled onions, corn on the cob, a regular baked potato with all the loaded goodness.
***You may have also noticed I didn’t mention cooking the sweet potato. I just bought one for Ryan since he usually needs a starch with his steak, and I picked one of the ones that is already wrapped in plastic for the microwave. Since these take 7-8 minutes to cook, I put it in the microwave when I was seasoning the steaks, and it stayed hot in that plastic wrap until it was time to eat. He likes his with butter and cinnamon.
Here’s the recipe!
A few months ago, I posted the picture below to Instagram and so many people were asking for the recipe, I knew I had to blog about it. I'm not the biggest fan of soup, honestly, especially in the summer. But the day I made this soup, I had a cold and it was rainy and gross out and I had some cherry tomatoes I needed to use ASAP. And I ended up making a delicious soup that was pretty easy and very tasty!
Since I had the time and the tomatoes I needed to use, I roasted my tomatoes before making the soup. If you don't have the time or the tomatoes, you can definitely used a can of crushed tomatoes. If you're doing it the long way like I did, take a carton of cherry tomatoes and dump it into a baking dish with 1-2 tbsp olive oil (just enough to coat the tomatoes), salt, and a clove or two of peeled garlic. The garlic is going to flavor the oil and the tomatoes. Roast these at 400° for 20 minutes. You want to hear the oil sizzling and the tomatoes should be bursting. Leave your oven on!
Meanwhile, cook a slice or two of bacon either in a pan on the stove or on a sheet tray right alongside the tomatoes in the oven. The bacon should only take about 8 minutes to cook in the oven - keep an eye on it! Drain on a plate with paper towels after they are out of the oven.
When the tomatoes have finished in the oven, put them and the garlic into a pot, along with 1/2 cup of low-sodium chicken broth and 1 tbsp of salt and bring to a boil. Cook on high for 5 minutes, then reduce to a simmer. Add 1/2 cup heavy cream and cook on low heat until the liquid begins to thicken, another 5 minutes, then shut off the stove. At this point, TASTE the soup. There's a good chance it will need salt. Add basil if you like, too!
While the soup cools a little and thickens some more, make the grilled cheese!
Take two slices of bread, spread the "inside" with mayonnaise on both slices. Lay a slice of provolone cheese on one slice of bread, and a slice of cheddar cheese on the other slice of bread. Tear your bacon in half and lay on one of the slices, then close the sandwich. Smear softened butter on the outside of the sandwich and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (both sides). Heat up a small oven-safe skillet so it's warm but not smoking hot. Place the sandwich in the warm pan, then put the pan into the oven for 6-7 minutes.
While the sandwich is cooking, carefully pour the soup into a blender. If the soup fills more than half of the blender, do this in batches. The soup is still hot and I don't want you to burn yourself! Puree the soup until everything is smooth and combined.
Pour the soup into a bowl, take the grilled cheese out of the oven, and have an awesome lunch! The soup is creamy but not too thick, which is the texture I prefer. If you want your soup creamier, add more cream! And this grilled cheese, oh man. The Parmesan on the outside gives it a crunchy bite and the cheese is gooey and the bacon gives you that salty meaty kick.
Make this the next time you need a little comfort in your life. Here's the recipe!
My husband's work schedule is always rotating between different shifts, which means there are often days or nights where he's not home for lunch or dinner - or both! While these times are often boring or quiet, this also means that I can eat whatever I want for dinner. This is usually when I get to experiment more with food and ingredients he's not a huge fan of. When he's on this schedule, I try to eat as much seafood as I can, among other things.
The recipe I'm sharing with you today is for easy salmon cakes. The recipe makes between 6 and 10 medium-sized salmon cakes and I'll tell ya right now, they are amazing for leftovers. I like to eat 2 or 3 on an arugula salad, which makes the leftover cakes perfect to pack up for lunches for a few days during the week. And their make-ahead nature is great for serving them as an appetizer for your next dinner party.
Full disclosure: I did not invent this recipe. It is my version of one created by Giada DeLaurentiis - I use different proportions and measurements and serve them differently. I have linked her version at the bottom of my recipe. I encourage you to try these both her way and mine.
Now let's cook savvy!
Our ingredients are salmon*, mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice, capers, salt, pepper, an egg, corn, dijon mustard, and a sleeve of Saltines.
*I used smoked salmon in this recipe, because my parents brought some with them from Atlanta. You can definitely use canned salmon, or fresh or frozen, just make sure you cook it first - I like to season with salt & pepper and sear on both sides in a hot pan for about 4 minutes per side.
I also used a special tool when I made this recipe, a corn stripper! My husband absolutely LOVES corn and while it’s not hard to lob the kernels off with a knife, this thing just makes that task so much faster. I used the OXO Good Grips Corn Stripper. I also used some kitchen basics everyone should have: a knife, cutting board, mixing bowl, zester, and rolling pin.
First, flake the salmon, which just means shred it into smallish pieces. You’re going to stir everything together at the end, so the chunks don’t have to be super tiny right now. Then crack an egg…
And add it to the salmon.
Quick note: the egg will work better to bind the mixture if it’s at room temperature. I’ve tried this before with a cold egg and the cakes kinda fell apart.
That corn stripper is pretty cool, right? Just slide the blade down the cob, and the little cup collects all of the kernels. So much less mess! And my favorite part? It’s dishwasher-safe! I probably should have lead with that.
*OXO is not sponsoring this post in any way, I should add. They have no idea who I am. I just think this tool is super cool!
Add the corn to the salmon and egg.
Next, add mayo - whichever flavor or type you like. This is about ½ of a cup. Since I used smoked salmon, which has a drier consistency than fresh or canned salmon, I used that much mayo. I’d say start with a ⅓ cup and add more once you mix everything together at the end, if the mixture isn’t quite sticking together.
Add a tablespoon of dijon mustard.
Then a tablespoon of capers. These are in a brine in their jar so use a fork to get them out so the liquid drips off.
Next add the zest of an entire lemon and the juice of half of that same lemon.
This is what it the mixture looks like before you get to crushin’ crackers and mixin’ it up.
And, I have to break midway through to brag on my father. He came to town and took all of these beautiful photographs for a few of my blog posts and we started with this one. He worked so hard to set up the perfect shots and getting these pictures back to me in great condition. Thanks, Daddy! Check out more of his work here.
Take the sleeve of Saltines and your rolling pin and just whack the heck out of it. You want this to turn into crumbs, and a few larger pieces are okay.
Pour the crumbs out onto a plate and add half of them to the salmon mixture. You are going to use the other half of the crumbs to coat the outside of the cakes.
Now mix it all together…
Until it looks like this! If it doesn’t look as smooth and combined as this, add a little more mayo - about a tablespoon at a time.
Take a ¼ cup sized spoonful and scoop it into your palm - see how it all sticks together? That's the consistency you're looking for.
And form it into a little patty! If you make them any bigger than this, they will have a higher tendency to fall apart when you sear them.
Place them in the cracker crumbs and make sure they are well-coated.
Place your finished cake on a separate plate.
Continue this for the rest of the patties.
Then take a piece of plastic wrap and cover these. You’ll want to chill them for at least an hour to really let them firm up.
Meanwhile, you can make a dressing for them! I made a somewhat thin dressing for this batch because I wanted it work as a salad dressing, but if you were serving these on their own as an appetizer or snack, just make it using Greek yogurt only and omit the olive oil. Maybe add a few more capers too.
Stir together the juice from half a lemon, ½ a tablespoon of capers, 1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Then drizzle in the olive oil to make a vinaigrette. I used a spoon but you can use a whisk. Stir or whisk until everything is combined.
After the salmon cakes have chilled for at least an hour, heat up a large skillet with about ¼ cup of oil. You basically want enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan - no dry spots - but you don’t want so much that the salmon cakes will be soaking in it. We are just pan-frying, not deep frying. Cook them on medium heat (we don’t want the cracker crust to burn) for 3 minutes per side.
Grab a platter if you're serving multiple people (I was) or just a salad plate and top with arugula.
When I make these for myself, I just make a small plate and let the rest of the salmon cakes cool before packing them up and putting them in the fridge.
Place the salmon cakes on top of the arugula.
And drizzle with the dressing.
These are so creamy and delicious and still feel light. The peppery arugula adds a nice bite and the dressing adds extra tang and moisture. Make these on the weekend to have on hand for snacks or lunches throughout the week, or for an easy dinner at home. These are also great for introducing salmon to kids!
Here's the recipe!
Giada DeLaurentiis' recipe can be found here.
Full disclosure: Cooking Savvy blog is an Amazon Associate and may earn a small portion of revenue if you click the link in this article and buy the cookbook. The link is independently placed and does not influence content.
Today I am featuring a recipe I came up with on the fly a few weeks ago. To me, this is a much more flavorful alternative to a regular ol' Taco Tuesday. Here's how I switched it up:
First, I made tostadas instead of tacos. You can usually find tostada shells on the bottom shelf of the tortilla aisle of your grocery store. They had them at my BiLo in the Charleston suburbs, so they are probably easier to find in more metropolitan areas. I like tostada shells because not only are they fun to eat - just pick the whole thing up and take a bite! - they also offer a lovely presentation on the plate.
Second, I used skirt steak instead of ground beef. In my opinion, ground beef can be too greasy and also tends to roll all over the plate. Again, my BiLo came through for me and had a great price on skirt steak. Flank steak would also work well. Flank and skirt steak both have this deep beefy flavor and great marbling that keep the meat juicy while not being too fatty. All they need is a good marinade and you can throw them on the grill!
Allow me to talk to you about my obsession: pineapple white balsamic vinegar.
In the last few years, specialty stores focusing on infused olive oils and vinegars have been popping up all over the nation, including in Beaufort, SC where my grandparents live. While my husband and I were visiting them last month, we walked along the main street and I stopped by this shop, Olive the Above. I think I spent the better part of an hour in there sampling butter flavored olive oil (it's vegan!), garlic infused olive oil, raspberry balsamic vinegar, lavender balsamic vinegar, and so on. But my absolute favorite was this pineapple white balsamic vinegar. It has this sweet pineapple flavor that really comes across and the tang from the vinegar itself is just strong enough to balance out the sweetness. In short, I was looking for a way to put it on EVERYTHING.
So the first thing that came to my mind was - marinade! The acid from the vinegar is perfect to break down some of the fatty tissue in both skirt and flank steak.
For the marinade: mix together 1/2 cup pineapple white balsamic vinegar**, 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce, 1 tbsp dijon mustard, 2 tbsp ancho chili powder (it's a smoky, mellow heat), 1 tbsp ground cumin, a sprinkle each of salt and pepper, and 1/2 - 1 whole cup of vegetable oil.
Pour all marinade ingredients into a large Ziploc bag, seal it, and smush everything together with your hands. Taste it to see if the flavors are balanced - you should get a little of the fruitiness from the vinegar, a little heat in the back of your throat, and you should be able to taste the oil. You want to put enough oil in the marinade to evenly distribute the flavors all over the meat, but also so the steak won't stick to your grill.
Now that you've tasted it and made any needed adjustments, add your steak to the bag! This can marinate for 1-3 hours.
**If you don't have or can't find pineapple balsamic vinegar, worry not! Add in 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup pineapple juice instead.
After you've marinated the meat, preheat your grill or grill pan on medium-high heat. Grill for 15 minutes, 6-7 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove the steak from the grill, place on a cutting board, and let rest under aluminum foil while you get the rest of your tostada ingredients together.
These are the tostada shells. Warm them through in a 300 degree oven for about 5 minutes. Or put them in your toaster oven on Warm for 3-5 minutes. Just don't let them burn!
The toppings I chose were: salsa, sour cream, shredded iceberg lettuce, and shredded Cheddar cheese. Not pictured here: refried beans, avocado slices, and a lime wedge.
While the steak is resting and the shells are warming up, open a can of refried beans, pour them into a pot with a splash of your favorite hot sauce for some moisture and a little kick, and stir until they are warmed-through and bubbly, about 5 minutes.
Slice the steak against the grain into thin pieces.
To assemble: Place a warm tostada shell on the plate, spread on some refried beans, then top with 2-3 slices of steak, and any other toppings you like!
You guys, these were so delicious. I may have to make them again tonight. The creamy beans hold together the crunchy shell when you bite into it, so it doesn't fall apart like most tacos. The meat is perfectly juicy and tender, the salsa adds a kick that the sour cream and avocado mellow out, and the squeeze of lime brings a freshness to it all.
The beauty of this recipe is that you don't have to make tostadas for 4 people, you can make enough for just you! All you have to do is heat up as many tostada shells as you want (I usually have two). Save the leftover skirt steak for a quesadilla tomorrow, or put together a green salad with steak on top. Mix together the leftover refried beans and shredded cheese, heat it up and bam! Bean and cheese dip perfect for an afternoon snack. I beg y'all to make these tonight!
Here's the recipe!
Chicken Divan is one of my all-time favorite meals. When I was growing up, everyone got to pick their favorite meal to have for their birthday dinner. Mine was always chicken divan. My mom would play around with the recipe, too, and no matter what she added, it was still my favorite dish. Now, as an adult living in the South, I have had so many iterations of chicken divan at potlucks with interesting additions like curry powder or even raisins, but I always come back around to my version - I think it's the best ;)
First, make 2 servings of rice using your usual method. I don't own a rice cooker so I make it on the stove: bring 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth to a boil, add in a pinch of salt, a dash of Italian seasoning, and then 1 cup of rice. Immediately turn the stove to low, put on the lid, and turn the stove off after 18 minutes. That is my fool-proof method for making rice.
While the rice is cooking, bake a chicken breast rubbed with a 1/4 tsp of garlic powder, 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning, and 1 tbsp dijon mustard in the oven on 350 for 15 minutes*. Chop up one small head of broccoli and steam in the microwave for 4 minutes.
When I make this, I bake the chicken in the oval-shaped dish above before removing it to the cutting board. I re-spray the pan with cooking spray and add the rice to this dish. This saves me time and is less to clean up later while also preserving all of those flavors from when I cooked the chicken and transferring them to the rice!
*If you don't want/have the time to bake a chicken breast, you can definitely use leftover chicken or pick up a rotisserie chicken on your way home and just use the meat of one breast.
Then make the basic sauce to mix into the chicken and broccoli. Like I mentioned earlier, there are so many variations of this recipe out in the world, so feel free to play around with this part! This is where you can really add your unique touch - like I do with horseradish, here. Roasted garlic would be a great addition, or even a splash of fish sauce! Either would add a funky umami flavor.
For this mixture, combine 1/4 cup mayonnaise (Duke's is THE. BEST. Don't let anyone tell you different), 1 tbsp dijon mustard, 1 tsp prepared horseradish, and 1-2 tsps to taste of lemon juice*, and a sprinkle of salt.
*I used the bottled lemon juice because I didn't have any fresh lemons. That's another great thing about this recipe - you most likely have all of these ingredients at home all the time. The chicken breast I used was one I had previously frozen in an individual Ziploc bag after buying a big pack of them at the store. You can always use frozen broccoli if you don't have any fresh, and everyone has rice, right?
Dice or shred the chicken breast, add to the broccoli (make sure you drain out any water leftover from steaming), and pour on the sauce!
This is going to be so creamy and tangy. It's making my mouth water all over again just looking at these photos!
If you're mixing all of this together and it still seems a little dry, alternate adding each of the sauce ingredients 1 tsp (horseradish, lemon, or dijon) or 1 tbsp (mayo) at a time until you get a creamy consistency and the same flavor is maintained.
Next, pour the creamy chicken and broccoli mixture on top of the rice. See how this is glossy and creamy without being too gloopy? This is what you're aiming for. However, if you like yours a little thicker, be my guest! Like I've said, this is totally a dish you can customize to your liking. Have fun with it!
These are your last three ingredients: shredded cheddar (I had mild on hand, but I usually prefer sharp), Italian breadcrumbs, and cooking spray - use whichever flavor you like. We are just going to layer these on top!
Then top with breadcrumbs and spray lightly with cooking spray so the breadcrumbs brown nicely.
Bake at 350 (keep your oven on from cooking the chicken) for 25 minutes until the top is brown and bubbly and the cheese is melted.
This is the perfect size for two people or if you're just feeding yourself, have half for dinner and save the other half for your lunch the next day! You could double this recipe as well to feed a family of four. A simple salad on the side is the perfect accompaniment but if you just want to eat this by itself...I won't tell anyone.
Here's the recipe!
Food that maximizes flavor and minimizes effort and time.