Friday, February 11, 2011

That's Amore!

Every year when February rolls around, I waffle back and forth about what I think of February’s Hallmark holiday. On one hand, I think its great that there is a date set aside every year to encourage couples to show their appreciation and love for one another. On the other, I think it just gets out of control. Who takes who out? Who buys the gifts? Why are gifts necessary? It goes on and on. And with us, it gets even more exhausting as we just got through Christmas, and both of our birthdays are in January, so by February, the last thing we need is another gift-giving holiday. So, in our house, we long ago came up with a compromise. First of all, we don’t do Valentine’s gifts. Same for our anniversary. No gifts. The deal is that we get a sitter, and we go out and do something fun together. And to ward off any jealousy or bitterness over who gets the special treatment, we take turns. One year, I do the planning and take him somewhere that I have chosen specifically because HE will enjoy it. On the alternating years, he does the same for me (ok, so his turn usually comes down to me picking a place to eat and him paying, but hey, I’ll take what I can get. Casanova, he is not). That way, everyone gets special treatment at some point, and we both like this arrangement.

What are we doing this year? I have no idea. We keep bringing the subject up and neither one of us has made a suggestion. We have lost track of whose turn it is, and with the big day being on a Monday this year, we have to try and decide which day we are going to celebrate. So far, all we know is that it is not going to be this weekend. Instead, Ty is going to get a treat. He doesn’t know it yet, but his best friend is coming to our house for a sleepover tomorrow. There will undoubtedly be pizza and cookies, movies, and probably a tent in the living room.

Since, at the earliest, we will have our own date NEXT weekend (if we can decide on something to do) I went ahead and showed my appreciation for Matt last night. (get your minds out of the gutter – he isn’t THAT lucky!) So how do I show my appreciation for my husband?

I feed him.

And when you’re talking about food, in the Big Man’s mind, love equates to beef. Preferably with potatoes. But definitely nothing green. Or red. Or really any other color at all. Cheese is permitted, and bread, but no vegetables. And so I made a Matt-worthy meal, just for him, to show him how much I love him. Although I’d love him more if he’d eat a green bean or two now and then. Or a carrot. Something.

So, what was on the menu? Well, when I did my grocery shopping earlier this week, my local grocery had a nice looking flat iron steak and some adorable little bitty new potatoes, so I turned to Giada de Laurentiis and made her Steak with Balsamic BBQ Sauce, and Smashed Parmesan Potatoes.

I was intrigued by this recipe when I ran across it, but I admit that I tweaked it a little to our own tastes when I read the list of ingredients. For example, I didn’t have any Dijon mustard, so I just mixed in a little ground mustard. And ketchup? Really? I don’t think so. The tang of balsamic vinegar is something I love, but it can be a little too much for Matt unless there is something else in the mix to temper it a little bit, and I really didn’t see ketchup doing that. However, we have a new favorite BBQ sauce in our house that is made right here in Illinois, called Uncle Joe’s BBQ, and comes in a variety of flavors. I picked up a couple of bottles at the Market On The Square here in town recently and we ADORE it. SO I took the bottle of the “Sweet Smoke” and added some of that to the sauce in place of the ketchup. Sorry, Giada, I just couldn’t do the ketchup.

Now that we have the menu, I have to tell you how this all went down. See, its winter. And not only is it winter, we recently survived a Blizzaster here in the Midwest. So, while this recipe calls for grilling the steak.... there ain’t no way that was happening last night. There isn’t enough love in the world to make me stand out on my deck right now grilling a steak for my husband. And you know what? That attitude came back to bite me on the ass.

We have an electric indoor grill. We got it for our wedding. We haven’t used it in YEARS. Last night I found out why. Its because I hid it. Because Matt was always wanting to use it and it is a BITCH to clean. SO I hid it and he finally forgot we had it. I didn’t forget. I knew right where it was. And I pushed aside all thoughts of the hell I’d go through cleaning it because... I LOVE MY HUSBAND. And he’s worth it. Right?

Were your ears ringing last night? If they were, its not because we were talking about you. Its because you could hear the smoke alarms going off at my house. That sucker can smoke up a house like nobody’s business. So while I was planning this meal, and opting to avoid standing outside on a February night to grill the steak. I ended up in the frigid winter air anyway. Standing in my kitchen with the windows wide open waving my arms like one of those guys on an airport runway. Except that I was waving newspapers around instead of little light wands....and, you know, the fact that I probably looked like I was on crack.

SO, for dinner last night, the hubs got dinner AND a show! Oh, and we’re now officially short one small kitchen appliance. Because I chucked that grill out into the skating rink that is our driveway and left it for next week’s trash pickup. I hope they aren’t dumb enough to take it home, thinking it’s a perfectly good grill that shouldn’t have been thrown away. The bonus for me is that now I don’t have to clean it. But if your ears are ringing next week.... well, its probably the smoke alarms going off at the house of our trash pickup guy.

Honey, if that ain’t love, I’ll kiss your ass.

This is my submisison for this week's "That's Amore!" theme over at I Heart Cooking Clubs
Notice there is absolutely nothing green on this plate....


For the Balsamic BBQ sauce:
• 1 cup balsamic vinegar
• 3/4 cup ketchup
• 1/3 cup brown sugar
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the steak:
 • 4 pieces of New York strip or Club strip steak (I used one nice sized flat iron steak)
• Salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until all the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by 1/3, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Place a grill pan over medium heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Lightly coat with some of the BBQ sauce using a pastry brush. Place the meat on the grill. Place the remaining BBQ sauce, still in the small saucepan, over low heat or on the edge of a gas or charcoal grill and allow to gently simmer while the meat cooks.

Cook the steaks starting at about 4 minutes per side until a meat thermometer reads the desired temperature, 120 degrees F for medium rare, 135 degrees F for medium (about 6 minutes per side), 155 degrees F for well done (about 9 minutes per side). Continually brush the meat with BBQ sauce every few minutes. Remove the meat from the grill and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Serve with the heated BBQ sauce alongside.

3 pounds baby red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, halved  (I used about half that amount)
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the potatoes in a large pot of water. Cover and bring the water to a boil. Continue boiling until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Return the potatoes to the pot. Coarsely mash the potatoes, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Using a large fork, stir in the Parmesan and the oil. Season the potatoes, to taste, with salt and pepper and serve.

**NOTES** This steak was AWESOME. We ended up finishing it off in the oven when the smoke got out of control, but it was wonderful and tender (cut flat iron steaks across the grain) and the sauce was a wonderful explosion of flavor. The switch I made for the ketchup was definitely a winner. The potatoes were also nice, and very easy to put together. I would probably add more cheese next time.


Bev said...

We, along with several other couples in our neighborhood, will be dining at White Castle on Monday evening. For that one evening a year, they take reservations for a candlelight, white table cloth, wait staff served dinner. It should be a blast to dine on little White Castle square burgers, known as "sliders", and crinkle cut fries for Valentine's Day Dinner...too bad you're not close to one.

Ty'sMommy said...

Oh Bev! As fun as that sounds, you would never catch me there. I am not a fan of the sliders. Back in college I dated a guy from Chicago and he tried to convert me, but it didn't work. I hope you enjoy them for both of us!

Kim said...

Oh Beth. I laughed my way through your whole post because I've been there. Not only is my husband the same picky eater as yours is, but my indoor grill did the same thing to me a little while back. I chucked mine too!

I bet your bbq sauce subbed perfectly in place of the ketchup. Looks like a great meal.

MM said...

Thanks for the laugh--great story!
I don't think I'd add the ketchup either.

Deb in Hawaii said...

Very funny post! I am glad the meal tasted great after all of your efforts. ;-)

Krista said...

Your posts always make me smile...and that steak looks yummy!

Oh, and one more thing....YOU WON my giveaway! Send your info to and I'll have MLF send you the product. I'm psyched. I know that you're gonna love it! Can't wait to see how you cook up that duck breast! Wish it were's like steak on the grill....

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

An eventful evening! Glad it all worked out in the end. ☺
I have a few indoor grills and related gadgets. I leave a couple of layers of wet paper towel in it overnight (closed if it is one that closes) and in the morning it pretty much just wipes clean.