Grilled Sirloin Steak with Warm Barley-Spinach Salad

Grilled Sirloin Steak with Warm Barley-Spinach Salad
Serves 4-5

24 ounce sirloin steak
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine (any variety)
Black pepper

Place steak in a Ziploc baggy. Add next four ingredients. Let the steak marinate, turning occasionally, for 1 hour.

While the steak in marinating, prepare the vegetables:
4-6 scallions, sliced thinly
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced thinly
6 baby carrots, halved lengthwise, then sliced thinly
2 stalks celery, halved lengthwise, then sliced thinly
2 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped

About 30 minutes before dinner service, combine:
2 cups water, boiling in a sauce pan
1 cup quick cooking barley

Cover and let cook until the water is mostly absorbed (12-15 minutes, or until the barley is soft and chewy.)

Preheat the grill on high for 5 minutes. Clean grate.
Remove steak from marinade, blot dry.
Season with salt and pepper (if desired.)
Grill over direct medium heat, 7 minutes per side.
Remove from heat and cover loosely with foil while finishing the meal.

While the steak is on the grill, heat a large non-stick skillet over med-high heat.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, and all vegetables except spinach
Saute until warm (4-5 minutes) Set aside.

In a large (4 quart) bowl, combine:
Juice of one large lemon
1 tablespoon brown mustard (sweet German mustard works well)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Set aside.

The barley should be done about the same time as the steak. While the steak rests, place chopped spinach in bowl with dressing. Pour barley over the spinach (if there is water remaining, add it to the bowl.) Stir to combine. Add sauteed vegetables to the barley. Stir to combine.

Slice the steak across the grain, in slices 1/4 inch thick.

This can be made using other steaks or roasts. I will not provide nutritional data for the meat since that will vary based on what you grill.

Nutritional data for 1 cup salad:
Calories:      165
Fat:                   6g
Sat fat:          0.8g
Chol:               0mg
Sodium:     28.4mg
Carbs:        26.5g
Fiber:           3.9g
Protein:       4.1g

A word about the salad recipe. We, as a family, did not really like this recipe. The lemon flavor was too aggressive and masked everything else. My lemon yielded almost 1/2 cup of juice. When I make this salad next, I will use only 4 tablespoons lemon juice. Or I might substitute a vinegar for instead of the lemon juice, letting the lemon zest provide a hint of citrus flavor. (I think balsamic vinegar would work very well.)

A word about the steak. I cooked it to rare, as you can see in the picture. Not everyone like their meat rare, but my family prefers that. If you want it medium-rare, grill it 8-9 minutes on a side. Medium will be 9-10 minutes on a side. As always, the times will be dependent on the heat of the grill and the thickness of the steak. (I don’t think a good piece of steak should be cooked more than medium.)

Baked Cod, Baked French Fries, and Brussels Sprouts

Baked Cod with Baked French Fries and Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Glaze
Serves 4

24 ounces Alaskan Cod fillets
2 tablespoons butter
Your preferred herbs (I used dill weed and Penzey’s Sunny Paris.)
2 large Russet potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound raw Brussels sprouts
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1.   Preheat oven to 425
2.   Place cod fillets in a 9×13 baking dish. Dot fillets with butter, sprinkle with herbs. Set aside.
3.   Slice potatoes into 1/4 inch slices. Turn and slice again into 1/4 inch strips.
4.   Toss potato strips in 2 tablespoons olive oil.
5.   Lay potatoes strips in a baking sheet in a single layer so that none are touching.
6.   Place the cod on oven’s upper rack and potatoes on lower rack.
7.   After 15 minutes, flip fries. Switch fries and cod to different racks.
8.   While baking, mix Parmesan cheese, paprika, onion, garlic and salt. Set aside.
9.   Heat non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil.
10. Saute Brussels sprouts, toss frequently for 15 minutes.
11. Add wine and balsamic vinegar. Toss frequently, until the liquid is reduced by half. It will be like thin syrup.
12. Fries and cod will be done after 30 minutes in the oven. Sprinkle Parmesan seasoning over fries.

This meal took about 10 minutes to prepare, and thirty minutes to cook. It is fast and simple.

Nutritional data baked cod:
Calories:      230
Fat:                7.2g
Sat fat:           3.9g
Chol:         108.8mg
Sodium:    133.5mg
Carbs:               0g
Fiber:                0g
Protein:      38.9g

Nutritional data for baked fries:
Calories:      218
Fat:                 8.2g
Sat fat:           1.7g
Chol:              3.1mg
Sodium:     208.8mg
Carbs:          32.1g
Fiber:             3.4g
Protein:         4.8g

Nutritional data for Brussels sprouts:
Calories:      107
Fat:                 3.5g
Sat fat:           0.5g
Chol:                 0mg
Sodium:       21.1mg
Carbs:          12.1g
Fiber:             3.4g
Protein:         3.5g

My Garden Is Beginning to Produce

Some of my garden.
A bowl of Sweet 100 and Lemon Drop tomatoes.
Large red sweet Hungarian peppers, medium-sized red jalapenos, and Thai (“Bird’s Eye”) chili.
In case you are wondering about the heat of each pepper, the Hungarian peppers have a
Scoville rating of 100-200. The jalapenos have a Scoville rating of 4,000-8,000 (but in my opinion, it is closer to the 4,000 because they are pretty mild.)
The Thai Chili peppers are rated 50-100,000.
At 50,000 units, I am not sure how I will use them, but they will be spicy.

Asian Steak with Asparagus and Mushrooms

Asian Steak with Asparagus and Mushrooms
Serves 4

1 pound lean beef steak, 1/2 inch thick
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
2 discs of fresh ginger, 1/8 inch thick, sliced into matchsticks
2 cloves of garlic, mashed and chopped
1 pound asparagus, chopped into 2 inch lengths
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoon Hoisin sauce (optional, but important)
Salt and pepper
Chinese Five Spice powder (optional, but important)

1.   Season the beef with salt and pepper to taste. Also use a touch of five spice powder. Set aside.
2.   Heat a large non-stick skillet. Add 1 teaspoon sesame oil.
3.   When hot, add onions. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
4.   Add mushrooms and asparagus. Toss to mix.
5.   Add water, vinegar and Hoisin sauce. Stir, turn heat to high and cover.
6.   Heat a second non-stick skillet (11 inch). When hot, add the remaining sesame oil.
7.   Pan fry steaks, about 2 minutes per side.
8.   Turn the heat off the vegetables. They should be hot, but a bit crunchy.
9.   Remove the steaks, and cut into strips, about 2 inches long and a 1/2 inch wide.

Nutritional data:
Calories:       311
Fat:                  14g
Sat fat:            4.6g
Chol:               98mg
Sodium:    114.5mg
Carbs:         10.2g
Fiber:            2.3g
Protein:         37g

An Awesome Motto for Life

Some of the new decorations.

My wife is redecorating our home and one placque now hanging on the dining room wall says:

A good motto.

And I have to agree with that sentiment. Oh, I don’t actually suggest that you eat that blueberry tort before everything else at dinner. But really, why not? Why must we always clean our plate before we can have our sweet treat? Your body doesn’t care if the salad arrives in your stomach before the mushroom-topped chicken breast, or if the nice mocha mousse is the first food eaten.

And maybe, if you time it correctly, eating your dessert first may allow you to not eat as much in total. Maybe you could have a piece of angel food cake, topped with a few fresh strawberries and whipped topping. But the key here is that you eat the dessert 20-30 minutes before the rest of the meal. Then, after finishing the dessert, you finish cooking the main course. That will force you to slow down, fully enjoy the food, and give your stomach a chance to send the “I’m full” signal to your brain.

But the motto on the placque really is just telling you to make sure you do the things that you really enjoy. Take time for yourself. Go on vacation–even if you do nothing more than stay home, turn off your phone and ignore your pile of school work. Drive the slow route to work and enjoy the different scenery. Read a book for pleasure.

And make room in your budget for dessert. The easiest way–and what I do every day–is to decide what you want for dessert, and log it as soon as you make that decision. That way, you have already deducted those calories from your budget, which gives you your remaining daily budget. In essence, you are eating your dessert first. And when you do this, you will be able to have that dessert and stay within your budget.

I like desserts. I generally eat them after dinner, as my evening snack. We generally eat dinner at 5:30ish. My dessert is usually about four hours later. That spreads out the food, preventing me from feeling over-full, and gives me a nice snack a few hours before going to bed for the night. My preferred evening dessert/snack is either an ounce of almonds and an ounce of dark chocolate, or a carton of yogurt mixed with some whipped cream and topped with some nuts, chopped dark chocolate, and coconuts. Both are about 300-350 calories and have more fat and protein than carbs which takes me through the night very well.

So, eat your desserts! Enjoy the sweet side of life. (Just make sure you log it.)

Ribs! A Perfect Summer Meal

This post is more of a story, but it is also a recipe for happiness.

I like ribs. Baby back ribs, short ribs, beef ribs, spare ribs, country-style. I am completely rib-centric and open-minded in my love for ribs. I like them wet or dry. With a sweet tomato sauce, or a sharp mustard sauce. With a vinegar sauce or no sauce at all. Dry rubbed. Par-boiled. Smoked or grilled over direct heat. In an oven, a crock pot, or a grill.

If you are not a pork-itarian, maybe you should skip this post.

Over the weekend, I made two huge racks of spareribs. Each weighed about 7 pounds. I dry rubbed them with a spice blend on Friday and let them sit in the fridge until Saturday afternoon. At noon, I fired up my smoker-grill and cooked them over low (225-ish) indirect heat with chunks of hickory for heat and apple wood for smoke.

Just after I put them on the grill.
If you are curious, the rub was 4 tablespoons paprika, 2 tablespoons table sugar, and 1 tablespoon each of coarse salt, black pepper, dry mustard, celery seed, garlic powder, onion powder, and 1 teaspoon cayenne. I tend to go overboard when I make spice blends, but this works on ribs.
I added one or two hickory chunks every 30 minutes, as well as a handful of apple wood chips that I had soaking in beer. At the same time, I also sprayed the ribs with a spray bottle filled with 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup Jack Daniels. I never turned the ribs or repositioned them at all. There are four air vents on this grill, and all were open half-way. It made a lot of smoke but not a lot of heat.
After five hours on the grill, they are ready to come off.
Towards the end of grilling, I prepared the other aspects of the meal. I make zucchini pancakes and grilled corn on the cob.
Those are three inch cakes. It takes 1/4 cup batter to make one.
I had fresh corn on the cob that I partially husked (I pulled the husk to expose the corn, but I did not remove it from the cob.) I fired up my gas grill and preheated it on high for ten minutes. (Yeah, I have a charcoal grill AND a natural gas grill, directly connected to my home natural gas supply. I am a bit grill obsessed.) I laid the cobs directly on the grate. Corn grills at 2-3 minutes per side, and I basted it with olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. (I was too busy finishing the ribs and frying the pancakes so I did not have time to take a picture of the corn on the grill.)
Ribs are resting and the corn is grilled.
Notice the pink edge to the ribs. That is not rare meat, but rather a “smoke ring” cause by the smoke beginning to preserve the meat, when the smoke is absorbed by the meat and them chemically interacts. A smoke ring is a sign of low heat and long smoking.
I am not going to give nutritional data, because everyone will buy different ribs and therefore will have different numbers. And you may choose to use a commercial spice blend or a liquid sauce. I just tell you about this to give you the idea that you can smoke meats, too. You do not need a smoker. You just need a grill that is large enough to allow for indirect heat, and then add your preferred wood chips for the flavor. (I actually do not prefer hickory, but it is what I had on my grill shelf. The smoke is a little “medicinal” but it still tastes better than ribs without smoke.)
We had five people eating dinner (my wife and myself, our two sons and one of their friends.) After we finished dinner we still had an entire rack of ribs leftover. That’s okay because they taste even better the next day. Except when I got up the next day, the ribs were gone. Apparently, the guys stayed up late playing Xbox and sometime in the early morning hours, they enjoyed a snack of pork ribs.
At least they left me a few of the pancakes.

Life is meant to be enjoyed and shared, which is what I do with my interviews on my Make Your Someday Today podcast. I interview people from around the world, ask them to share their stories and in the process, we all learn how to be more successful and happier.