Archives for category: It's what's for dinner

Alright kids, this is the final Florida post from my recent Marco Island adventure. 

I know, I know. Sad day.

But look on the bright side! Now we get to move on to happy spring things like farmer’s markets and asparagus and sunshine! Okay, we might have to take a “rain check” on the sunshine ~ it is April in Washington after all. (Get it? Rain check? Ha! I kill me). I digress. Back to the beach we go…

P.S. props go to my padre for the stellar post title!

So, my last day of sun-soaked goodness happened to also be Easter Sunday. And what better way to celebrate than a crazy huge, food coma inducing meal! Okay, yeah I guess you could go to church (and don’t worry I did ~ on the beach even). But for now, let’s just stick to food. 

And so I present to you an Easter feast, courtesy of my loud and proud extended Italian family.  Read the rest of this entry »


Well dear readers, I’m officially back from the beach. Actually, I’ve been back since Monday but have been suffering from acute vacation withdrawals, hence my brief absence. I was all set to hunker down and get this post out ASAP…but then my plane landed in Seattle.

And I drove home. In the rain. Which hasn’t stopped. Until today. When it decided to snow.

Can I go back to Florida now? Please?

Yeah yeah, I know. It’s time for me to buck up, be “an adult” (cringe) and get back to work. But that doesn’t been we can’t take a brief respite from the daily grind to pretend we’re still basking in those 80 degree rays!

I did promise you a trip to Naples and an Irish pub after all.

So let’s take a drive… Read the rest of this entry »

Oh Canada! You stupendous Winter Olympic hoster you. Last Friday I watched your opening ceremony after a splendid meal of barbecued chili steak and was so smitten I wanted to run around and begin every sentence with “Ay.” Seriously, go find that guy who produced your spectacle infused extravaganza and make him a big batch of cookies; he deserves it.

So yes, barbecued chili steak chicken. It should be noted that when preparing mom’s old recipes it is wise to consult the “mom” in question first. Case in point: the recipe’s recommendation to use beef chuck steak. I should have realized something was amiss when my friendly neighborhood butcher gave me “that look.” It’s the look that says “Have you ever actually cooked steak? Do you even know what part of the cow you’re asking for?”

I received a second dose of “that look” when mom found my moo meat in the fridge the next day. She has since informed me that this recipe must have been added to ye old recipe box back when she and my father were “living on the cheap” as she puts it. Long story short, I decided to toss the steak in the freezer and buy a few chicken breasts instead. Looks like it’s the bronze medal for you this time chuck steak.

In the event your mom isn’t around to make you buy the right kind of meat, you can always wash dinner down with another chuck of the $3-buck variety. It goes surprisingly well with an Olympic opening ceremony and makes that three-hour parade of countries fly right by!


Barbecued chili steak or chicken
Be aware, this isn’t your ordinary barbecued chicken/steak recipe. Thanks to the inclusion of chili powder and vinegar this marinade escalates to a level of pure “zing.” It’s the kind of dish that makes your eyes pop open out of surprise. There is a lot of sugar in the sauce due to the ketchup factor, so make sure to get as much of the marinade off as possible before grilling. Otherwise, you will have a very dirty little grill.

You will need:
½ cup vinegar
½ cup ketchup
2 tbsp. cooking oil
2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
3 pounds steak or chicken breast


Heat your grill to medium-low

Combine first seven ingredients to make your zesty marinade. Reserve ½ cup.

Place your meat in a shallow dish and coat with said marinade. Let stand 3 hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge. Turn meat several times.

Remove steak/chicken and pat dry. Don’t throw out the marinade! You’ll want to use it while grillin’.

Grill 10 minutes or so on each side for chicken and 12 minutes or so for steak, brushing occasionally with the reserved marinade. (Honestly, the grilling depends on how thick your meat is. My chicken breasts were monster size and took a good 15 minutes on each side.)

Transfer meat to a pretty platter and cover with ½ cup reserved marinade.

Yield ~ 6 servings

Three-bean salad
This would make a great hot summer day salad, especially if you are attending a swanky barbecue. You make it the night before, which also adds to the simple party factor. No day-of cooking for you missy! Just pop it into a colorful piece of tupperware and go!

You will need:
1 can green beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red onions, shaved thin and chopped
1 small jar of diced pimento peppers
1 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. salt


Add the first six ingredients to a large bowl and give it a stir.

Heat the sugar, vinegar, oil and salt until they boil. Pour over bowl of bean and veggie goodies.

Toss about and cover. Let stand over night in the fridge.

Yield ~ About 8 cups of summer

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to leave the dinner table. Not that eating with my family was a grueling experience. On the contrary, dinner was always fantastic and involved scintillating conversation accompanied by luscious things such as Russian chicken and stuffed peppers. Perhaps it had to do with being confined to a single square foot of space. I was a rambunctious little thing; always on the move and eager to show off my scraped knees. My mom likes to bring up how she had to call me in from various outdoor adventures by way of a whistle; the kind hikers use when they suddenly fall into a bottomless ravine. But in I would come and down to dinner I would sit, anxiously waiting for permission to dart from the table. I recall spreading out my mashed potatoes, hoping it would appear I had eaten my fair share.

Now as a grown-up kid (Adult? Me? Funny joke) I cannot wait to eat dinner. One of the first thing I recommend when hanging out with friends is dinner. Whenever my boyfriend comes over I cook him dinner. If there is any meal I plan for, it is dinner. Evening meal, oh how I love thee!

In contrast to 7-year-old Brittni, 22-year-old Brittni considers dinner a highlight of her day. She also acknowledges that it is the ultimate opportunity to regroup. When my friends and I sit down at that table, we don’t simply share a meal, we share our lives. It’s as if a magical transformation occurs and what was once a group of people circling a table is suddenly a family.

I was reminded of my love affair with dinner last night as I enjoyed (i.e. devoured) a steaming platter of Steak Diane with my parents and boyfriend, Tony. The beef was beautiful, though a little on the rare side. My father, however, was ecstatic; he swears he could hear his meat mooing. And so we ate, laughing and joking, occasionally throwing a few Air Force vs. Army quips into the mix. (My boyfriend [army] and my dad [air force] have been at it ever since Tony commissioned…)

As I sat there I wondered, how many families still make it a priority to sit down to an evening meal. How much more connected would the average family be if they ate together on a regular basis?

Personally, I think America would benefit from a crash course in family dining. Extra credit would be offered of course and consist of venturing to the corner for ice cream. Gold star goes to the fam who sticks around after dessert to play Wii.


Steak Diane
Oh. My. Goodness. This meal is divine! It calls for 1-inch steaks, but don’t be afraid to use a thicker cut; just increase the ingredient proportions and cook for a few extra minutes on each side. And don’t let your mom throw in the left-over lemon zest! They’re sneaky women those moms.

You will need:
4 tenderloin or eye round steaks, cut 1 inch thick
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Dijon mustard


Lightly brush both sides of steaks with 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (i.e. nectar of the gods) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat butter and lemon rind in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until hot and happy. Add the steaks and pan fry 8 to 10 minutes (or in my case, 16 to 20 minutes since dad bought an entire cow). Turn the steaks once while cooking.

Remove steaks to a platter and let them bask in all their juicy glory. Meanwhile, reduce the heat on your stove to medium and add the lemon juice, additional tbsp. of Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard to the skillet. Whisk up a storm, scraping in any meaty bits, until the sauce is blended.

Carve steaks into ¼ inch slices, or just serve them whole like we did. Finish off the dish by pouring the succulent mix of lemony-dijon heaven over said meat and garnish with some pretty parsley and/or paprika.

Yield ~ 4 servings