Filet Mignon with Balsamic Pan Sauce and Truffle Oil

Okay… so this is a late one, but I’ll make it short.  I totally forgot about Christmas dinner I made last year for my dad and I.  I had purchased a small duo of black and white truffle oils back when Alex, Lingie, and I visited Andrew in Seattle last December.  I had been meaning to try them out on something other than potatoes, pasta, and every other carb truffle is usually paired with.  My diabetic dad doesn’t eat carbs at night, so I bought some grass fed filet mignon steaks from Whole Foods for us. For desert, I made the Apple Mosaic tart with Salted Caramel which I enjoyed so much I ended up making again for a Sho-Yu Christmas potluck.  Sadly, my dad and I ate about 3/4 of the tart that night (it was supposed to make enough for 12 servings).

Here’s the recipe, as I found it on Food.com.  The sauce was really good, and not too overpowering with the truffle as long as you aren’t heavy-handed with it.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 filet mignon steaks, 1 1/2 inches thick
  • sea salt, to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • white truffle oil, for drizzling

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Sprinkle steaks generously with salt and pepper.

    Steaks!
    Steaks!
  2. Coat the bottom of a large, heavy frying pan with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the steaks and cook to the desired doneness, 3-5 minutes on each side.  I had thinner than 1.5″ steaks, so I only did a total of 2 minutes on each side.

    After a Minute on Each Side
    After a Minute on Each Side
  3. Transfer to a platter and let rest, tented loosely with aluminum foil, while you make the sauce.
  4. In the same pan over medium-high heat, add the vinegar and deglaze by scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Cook until slightly reduced and thickened, about 3 minutes.

    Balsamic Pan Sauce
    Balsamic Pan Sauce
  5. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the butter to form a smooth sauce.

    Whisk in Butter
    Whisk in Butter
  6. To serve, transfer the steaks to individual plates, top with the sauce, and drizzle with a small amount of truffle oil.

I paired this with a made-from-scratch butternut squash soup (post to come soon), and an avocado and corn salad which I wasn’t really a fan of (won’t be posting about that one).  A great special occasion meal!

Christmas Dinner is Served
Christmas Dinner is Served

 

Eggnog Cupcakes

We’re officially 6 months away from Christmas, folks.  During one of my recent attempts to catch up on blogging, I realized I still had sweets from Christmas I still hadn’t posted about so I decided to wait til now to post since maybe now we’re a bit closer to the holiday recipe bookmarking season.

I made a batch of Apple Pie cookies for the 2011 Annual Kawasaki Family Christmas party, but wanted to do something a little more holiday-esque for 2012’s.  I never drink eggnog, but I do like eggnog-flavored baked goods.  I combined two recipes to make this version – the cupcake recipe is from A Good Appetite, and the frosting recipe is from Dollhouse Bake Shoppe.  Here’s my combination!

Ingredients
Eggnog Cupcake
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups + 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2/3 teaspoon salt
  • 5 egg whites, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup eggnog
  • 2 teaspoons of rum (optional)
Eggnog Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8oz cream cheese, room temperature (don’t use light or low fat)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar), sifted
  • Pinch of Ground Nutmeg
  • 1-2 tablespoons eggnog, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Rum, to taste (optional)
 Directions
For eggnog cupcakes:
1.  Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 24 mini cupcake tins or 15 regular tins with size appropriate liners.
2. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter & 1 1/3 cups of sugar together until light & fluffy. Beat in the rum & vanilla. Add the baking powder, salt & 2/3 cup flour, and beat until combined. Beat in 1/3 cup eggnog. Then beat in another 2/3 cup flour, followed by the rest of the eggnog & then the rest of the flour.
3. In another bowl beat the egg whites until foamy. Add in the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold (not stir!) 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter until completely combined then fold in the remaining egg whites.
Fold (not stir!) the Egg Whites Into the Batter
Fold (not stir!) the Egg Whites Into the Batter

4. Divide the batter between the cupcake tins, filling each one 2/3 full. Bake 15 minutes for mini cupcakes or 22 minutes for regular. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.

Too Much Mixing = Flat Cupcakes
Too Much Mixing = Flat Cupcakes

5. Cool completely on a rack.

For eggnog cream cheese frosting:
1. With an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth (make sure they are both at room temperature so you do not get lumps in your frosting). Gradually beat in powdered sugar until incorporated. Add vanilla, a pinch of ground nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons eggnog, add more to taste. Add 1-2 tablespoons of rum if desired. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until smooth and creamy.
Fluffy!
Fluffy!
2. Garnish cupcakes with a sprinkle of ground nutmeg (a cinnamon stick will work too!).
Piping the Mini Cupcakes
Piping the Mini Cupcakes
 My brother was over that day and started hovering over my work station, nearly knocking over my bowl of freshly made frosting.  I of course yelled at him to leave me in peace, and then proceeded to frost the cupcakes one by one, and then sprinkle the nutmeg on top.
A Little Sprinkle of Nutmeg!
A Little Sprinkle of Nutmeg!

Getting nervous that he would tornado into the kitchen and knock over the box of perfect little cupcakes, I put the box in my room until it was time to leave for the party.

Ready for the Party!
Ready for the Party!

And of course, I really didn’t have to worry about my brother because I managed to knock the box over onto its side right before I left for the party.

Failing at Life
Failing at Life

The good news is they didn’t last longer than 10 minutes once they got to the party, regardless of the way they looked.

Glazed Lemon Cookies

Society has taught men to chase women. Everywhere.

Men chase women at coffee shops, at the grocery store, in the restroom line (which I actually find to be pretty clever because the girls can’t escape), at church (“Oh hay girl, I like the way you prayyyy”), on the freeway, just everywhere. However, the one place I find really annoying where men chase women is at the gym.

Veiny-armed man in tight dri-fit shirt:  “Hey, do you need some help lifting the 45’s off that bar?
Girl in sports bra and black yoga pants:  “Ohhhh hehehehehehe, only if you don’t mind.

WHAT was that? And ladies, you are enabling this behavior. What I really don’t understand is why girls that wear booty shorts to the gym get mad that guys stare at their ass.

The gym is my sanctuary from the series of stressful or embarrassing (usually both) events that make up my everyday life – work, neurotic family members, rush hour traffic, everything. Exercise is also the yin to the sweet tooth’s yang.

Skinny probably 20-year old Asian guy waving 5 times:  “Hi there. Hey. Hello. Ahem, hi. Um,  I couldn’t help but notice you might be doing your deadlifts wrong.
Me:  “Actually, no I’m doing them right. I was waiting for you to finish with the 70lb barbell so I could use it, but you looked like you were struggling so I went with the 75. You’re going to throw out your back out if you keep letting the weight pull your shoulders forward. Maybe you should go lighter til you’re strong enough to do them properly.

Yes, I’m a bitch. Would you interrupt a meditating monk to ask if the towel service is free for all members? No.

So leave me alone when I’m in the zone and trying to get a good workout in. And I’m not even going to delve into detail about the weird old guys with Asian girl fetishes. Ok lurky 60-year old Spanish man, I really don’t care if you can speak Japanese.  I can’t.  And stop watching me in the mirror.

I’ve always been about comfort and efficiency at the gym, and never dressed girly to exercise – just the normal t-shirt and running shorts. But after being interrupted (and creeped out) enough times, I did what any girl who wanted their solitude back would do.

I started to dress like a man.

I have an endless supply of basketball shirts from the tournaments and leagues I play in, and made cut-offs out of a number of them. And I don’t mean the Carl’s Jr. commercial cutesy crop-top cut-off t-shirt, or even the cut-offs of a Never Nude. I mean a DUDE’s cut-off. And I even made them out of gray shirts so you could see my sweat. I would pair them with the baggiest of my basketball shorts and crew socks pulled up.  Oh yeahhhhh, no one’s going to bother me now.

It definitely worked for a while, but it really didn’t last long. One of the employees at my gym started to make pretty normal small talk with me regularly. “Is that a Keppel basketball sweatshirt? Shawty, you play ball for MARK KEPPEL HIGH SCHOOL? You look like you still play in high school. HAAAAA.”

It was a girl. And she was big. And aggressive. She knew my name even though I never gave it to her.

After workouts, I normally hop over to the basketball court to shoot around if it’s empty.  It was too crowded to shoot one day, so I turned around resolving to go home. Aforementioned she-brute was RIGHT behind me but played it off like she was intending to go into the employee break room. As she opened the door, she looked me up and down and said “You not gon’ BALL today gurrrrl?”  I said no, and that it was too crowded and I didn’t want to play pick-up with those boys.  She said, “Oh come on, you can BAWLL girl. I seen you on the cameras and in the hallway bawwwwllin dem foos up.”

She’s watched me. On the security cameras. And from the window in the hallway peeking into the gym. A lot.

I stopped going to that gym for a month after that and went back to delightfully find that she no longer worked there. Now, I dress for the gym with hopeless androgyny aiming to confuse people, ultimately getting bothered by neither sex. I want to be left alone.

So alone that here I am, writing about going to the gym instead of actually going.  Here’s another update from my Holiday Bake-A-Thon 2012 – the lemony yang to my cross training yin.

I found this recipe on Martha Stewart. I chose these because lemon is a great compliment for tea, though there is no actual tea in these cookies themselves.  The cookies themselves were good and really easy to make, but what I really liked was the tart glaze. I’ll totally use it for something else in the future – maybe atop some scones or muffins?

Here are the directions for the glaze as taken from Martha’s website.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest, and 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice until smooth.
Clever Lemon Juice Contraption for the Glaze
Clever Lemon Juice Contraption for the Glaze

After zesting the lemons for the glaze, I squeezed out the lemon juice on top of the zester to catch the seeds instead of picking them out after the fact. Those slippery things are too hard to grab sometimes. And no, not like that.

Glazed Lemon Cookies
Glazed Lemon Cookies

Overall, the cookies were really refreshing!

Martha Stewart Cookie Boxes

Sadly, I’m already caught-up on my backlog of holiday baked goods.  I thought I’d wrap-up with a short ditty on how I packaged the treats. I typically opt for a cellophane bag, some festive Glad Tupperware, or a little Christmas bag or box. However, I am quite the sucker for all things Martha Stewart, as well as cute paper goods.  Naturally when you combine the two, I’ll wreak all kinds of domesticated havoc.

Such a Sucker for Cute Paper Goods

But seriously, is this Martha Stewart Cookie Box not the cutest?  It seemed like a great way to showcase my Grinchmas Cookies, S’mores Cookies, Walnut Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies, and Martha Stewart’s Snickerdoodles.  And it even has a freaking window on it for Pete’s sake.

Close-Up of the Nomness

I didn’t create a separate post for the Snickerdoodles because I made them at night-time and the photos were just awful. Plus, no one would be impressed by the process of making a Snickerdoodle… not that anyone is impressed by anything on this blog anyway.

Getting excited to bake this weekend!  My hiatus is drawing to a close!

As an aside, I usually take a lot of pride in carefully selecting things to hyperlink to throughout my posts to shed a little light on certain situations. Well, I’m shamelessly swallowing that pride and am admitting to having absolutely no tie-in to the one I’m about to share.  It just plum made my week.  Hell, it’s made my year so far and I couldn’t find a clever way to include it.  So here it is.  #nerd

S’mores Cookies

Happy New Year!

Writing is so unbelievably cathartic.  I know none but a very select few actually read through these posts, but I’m going to pull out my “Collect $200 and Pass GO” card and maximize the medium I have going here.  It’s not you, it’s me.

2011 as a whole was on the rockier side, but I’m indelibly grateful for what I do have in my life.  So now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I can complain scot-free!

Kidding.

But really, I am happy that 2011 finally came to a close and am looking forward to all that the new year will bring.  Yes, 2012 just got real.

Campfire Nostagia with Just 3 Ingredients!

I took a brief sabbatical from writing, as I was spending a lot of time not only making new content for this blog, but just plum having some FUN.  I need to do more of that this year.

My annual holiday bake-a-thon was full steam ahead a few weekends ago.  However,  instead of creating a single post inclusive of all of the things I made during this year’s bake-a-thon, I’ll create separate posts for each item.  It’s an organizational thing (or perhaps OCD) – you can pick which.  I hereby commence my backlog of holiday treat posts with the  S’mores Cookies I made for my coworkers, Christmas dinner for my mom’s side of the family, some friends.  I got the recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything (my kind of girl!).

Dough – Almost Ready!

I  made these twice over Christmas weekend.  The first batch came out too thin as I used too little dough to cover the graham crackers.  For the second batch, I made fewer but thicker cookies by putting nearly twice the recommended amount of dough on each graham cracker and was much happier with the outcome.

Graham Cracker Crust

These were a bit to sweet for my taste as I’m not a huge fan of milk chocolate, but I loved the texture of the cookie dough hot out of the oven.  They were still chewy a couple days later, but it’s just not the same as when it’s fresh.

Ooey Gooey Goodness

I thought of a great tagline, and whipped out the graphic design skill (yes – singular “skill”) to make tags for the cookies.  I really love puns, so don’t judge me based the below…

I’m a Sucker for Taglines

Whomp whomp.

I’ll definitely make these again some time!  Any takers??