Stay-at-Home Birthday Celebration

While celebrating a birthday at a restaurant with just my husband is usually MY first choice (a nice dinner that I don’t have to cook or clean up after, and with no kids fighting or complaining? Yes, please!), for Chaim’s birthday yesterday we decided to do a family dinner at home.

I cooked up some rib-eye steaks on the grill pan (I just sprinkled them with kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper), and made my favorite caramelized onions to top them with: I sliced 2 medium/large onions and caramelized them in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a generous pinch of kosher salt over medium-low heat. When they were a deep golden brown, I turned the heat up to high and added 3/4 cup dry red wine and let that cook down for a few minutes (until the liquid was almost evaporated). I just love the contrast of the sweet onions with the salt and pepper on the meat!


I also made some other favorites to round out the meal – Marinated Spanish Olives, rosemary roasted potatoes, and roasted asparagus.


And then we finished off the meal with some chocolate-dipped strawberries (we had his cake the previous Sunday).



Meatballs in Sweet-and-Sour Sauce

Every so often I just want to have a not-quite-so-healthy comfort food kind of meal. When I do, I often turn to this meatball recipe. It’s meant to be an appetizer, but if you make the meatballs larger and serve it over rice, it makes a really great dinner.

I did serve it with a veggie-filled slaw to add SOME nutrition to this meal 🙂

Meatballs in Sweet-and-Sour Sauce

1 cup jellied cranberry sauce
3/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 pound ground beef
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 onion, grated (I use 1/2 onion, minced)
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

In a large saucepan combine cranberry sauce, ketchup, brown sugar and lemon juice. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until smooth, 25 to 30 minutes.
In a large bowl combine the ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, onion and seasonings. Form into 1-inch balls. Add meatballs to the sauce and simmer, covered, for one hour. Serve hot.

Bourbon and Brown Sugar Flank Steak with Garlic-Chive Mashed Potatoes

I’ve made this recipe several times, always to rave reviews. It’s great to make when you want something that tastes special, but doesn’t take long to make.

This time I just made garlic mashed potatoes to serve alongside, but the potatoes in the recipe are really good. I served the meat on top of baby greens.

Bourbon and Brown Sugar Flank Steak with Garlic-Chive Mashed Potatoes
Cooking Light
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup minced green onions
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 (2-pound) flank steak, trimmed
Cooking spray
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
3 pounds small red potatoes
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/3 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
8 fresh chives, cut into 1-inch pieces

To prepare steak, combine first 7 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; add steak. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 8 hours or overnight, turning bag occasionally. Remove steak from bag, reserving marinade.

Prepare grill.
Place steak on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 5 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 10 minutes. Cut diagonally across grain into thin slices.
Combine reserved marinade and cornstarch in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
To prepare potatoes, place potatoes and garlic in a large Dutch oven; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes or until tender. Drain.
Return potatoes and garlic to pan, and place over medium heat. Add sour cream, milk, butter, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Mash potato mixture to desired consistency with a potato masher. Stir in chopped chives. Mound 3/4 cup potatoes on each of 8 plates; arrange 3 ounces steak around each serving of potatoes. Drizzle 1 tablespoon sauce on each plate; sprinkle with chive pieces, if desired.

8 servings

Quick Meat Loaf

This is going to be my new go-to recipe for meat loaf. It is so good – incredibly moist, and it cooks in half the time of a regular meat loaf. And I love how the sweet ketchup plays off the slightly spicy meat.

Quick Meat Loaf
Cooking Light

1/3 cup chopped green onions
3 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 pound ground sirloin
1 large egg, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons ketchup, divided
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine first 9 ingredients in a large bowl; add 1/4 cup ketchup. Mix beef mixture with hands just until combined. Shape beef mixture into a 9 x 4–inch loaf on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Brush top of meat loaf with remaining 2 tablespoons ketchup. Bake 7 additional minutes or until done. Slice loaf into 8 equal pieces.

4 servings

Beef Carnitas

This meat is so good! It has so much flavor, and it’s so tender from the long cooking time. It also made the house smell fabulous while it was cooking! I doubled the recipe, and used a chuck roast that I cut up myself.

I served it in some warm corn tortillas, and made a black bean salad to have on the side.

Beef Carnitas
Cooking Light

Cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 pounds beef stew meat, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup less-sodium beef broth
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 large unpeeled orange wedge

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add beef; sauté 5 minutes or until beef is browned on all sides. Stir in broth, sugar, salt, and pepper; nestle orange section into beef mixture. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Remove and discard orange. Continue simmering, uncovered, 8 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring frequently.

Leftovers can be wrapped tightly in heavy-duty plastic wrap or foil, and placed in a zip-top plastic freezer bag; they will keep in the freezer for up to three months.

4 servings