Leftovers: steak salad

This is my dog, patiently waiting for her chance at a trimmed piece of steak while working on her down-stay command for five minutes. “Down-stay” is the toughest for this double-chin Miniature Pinscher. My dogs often help me eat the more healthful leftovers and vegetable scraps as a supplement to their high-quality, high-end dog food. I sometimes wonder why humans can’t get their children to eat certain vegetables; I just told my dogs that every vegetable they encountered was delicious, and in an attempt to please me, the little garbage disposals ate anything I put in front of them as puppies, especially teething carrots. As adult dogs, they stare me down for raw broccoli stems and wolf down the tougher parts of apples.

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Salads are…kind of boring to talk about, huh? Still, I had a leftover strip steak from the night before, and tossed it in a pan for a few minutes on each side to warm. Chopped it, tossed in some greens, added raw mushrooms and pickled onions, and dressed it in blue cheese from a local shop. Bam. Done. Three minutes. Lazy, leftovers cooking, ahoy!

I mostly just wanted to write about my dogs.

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Steak, macaroni and cheese, and avocado pudding

Macaroni and cheese is, without a doubt, by a long shot, my favorite food. If I wasn’t a responsible adult, I’d eat macaroni and cheese for every meal. I might even marry it, yes.

I like macaroni and cheese more than I like most people.

So when I invited a friend over at the last minute, just an hour before she was set to arrive for dinner, I had to think fast. I pulled a recipe for the mac and cheese I’d really been craving the past few weeks from the Better Homes and Gardens gluten-free magazine special edition, and ran with it. The only thing I changed was the Beau Monde seasoning. I had no idea what the hell that was, so I googled it and threw in the tiniest little pinches of cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, celery seed, white pepper, black pepper, and ground up a little corner of a bay leaf to add. It turned out just fine with what I had. Over the top, I grated some smoked gruyere, and would incorporate that straight into the sauce next time. I added all of the cheese to the sauce slowly, to give it a chance to melt rather than clump up.

(Recipes in photo form below.)

The avocado pudding only happened because I stumbled on the recipe as I searched for the macaroni and cheese recipe in the same magazine, and noticed that I happened to have all of the ingredients. Chocolate pudding made from avocados? No way! I had to try it. I love avocados, but this was one use I hadn’t imagined. Of course, I used avocado milk in both recipes instead of cattle milk.

I briefly tried mashing the pudding with a fork to save myself the trouble of washing the blender later, but couldn’t get the avocado to blend and smooth out like “real” pudding that way. Trust me: just use the stupid blender. It wasn’t hard to wash a few days later.

Results? The pudding was so mousse-like, and so decadent and rich that I couldn’t eat more than a few spoonfuls without feeling the sugar rush over me and the urge to stop eating such a lovely, fatty desert. The substance that the avocado provided was so wonderful, I can’t even imagine what non-veggie item might take its place in an alternate recipe. It even kept for two days in the fridge without getting that stupid “skin” over the top of it, as some boxed recipes may do.

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What I learned from this meal was that sometimes, just following the damn recipe is enough. Sometimes other peoples’ ideas were great to start out with, and messing with them is totally unnecessary. I’d make both of these things again just as they were, but I think tweaking the macaroni and cheese recipe over the coming year will be fun and challenging for me.