Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Love and Heartache with Steak

My brother at rkadetokens usually does the restaurant reviews. He gets out much, I do not. However, I was able to go out on a hot date with my husband celebrating 5 years of marriage and I learned a few things I really wanted to share.

Since I don't get out much I really wanted to pick THE RESTAURANT. THE RESTAURANT had to be affordable for us poor folks, yet special. I spent a good part of the day going through all of the restaurant options on restaurant.com. It is a handy little site where, for example, you can purchase a 25 dollar gift certificate for the price of 3 dollars to their selection of local restaurants. It is a great way to save money on a nice restaurant. None of them grabbed me though. I wanted a really good steak.

Lo and behold it turns out it was restaurant week in Arizona. That means (check your city for the same thing) that once a year all of the high class restaurants offer a 3 course meal for 29 to 39 dollars a person. I was so excited to learn that our anniversary fell on such an event. There are about 140 restaurants offered. I researched their 3 course menus and locations. I found a steakhouse called Monti's. It is not a franchise. Their menu looked amazing: appetizer, steak, and then dessert. Then I came across The Keg restaurant. It seemed that they offered more sides and such with your main course than any other option. The frugal and hungry side of me thought that was the best option.

A quick glance at Yelp.com told me they had great reviews and were known for their prime rib. I ordered the Iceberg wedge for an appetizer. This is common for a steakhouse to offer, but funny since it probably costs about 50 cents to make. I always love me an iceberg lettuce wedge covered in bacon slices, tomatoes, and bleu cheese dressing (the good stuff). My husband ordered the garlic cheesy shrimp. I was grateful after 5 years of marriage we had learned to share.

The main course was much anticipated. I ordered the 12 oz new york strip steak. My husband who apparently grew up in a barn (the kind without cows) ordered the Prime Rib thinking it was just a fancy name for a steak. After laughing at his confusion when our plates arrived I dived into my steak. "Sigh"....it was just average. After all of my research I had landed us in an expensive Sizzlers. There was absolutely nothing special about my steak. In fact, my husband said I had made better at home which means it was REALLY not good to him. His prime rib was tender, pink, and offered with Au jus sauce just as it should. However, the poor thing was just average was well. They both came with twice baked potatoes which were good. Good was the word of the night. After 5 years of marriage I wanted to be blown away with this amazing expensive steak house. Sadly, I was not. We finished with our creme brulee dessert and contemplated where we went wrong.

Here is what I have decided you should get from my experience:

1. When given the choice between a local, native, "mom and pop" type restaurant vs a franchise, always always go with the local non-franchise choice. Therefore I should of picked Monti's.

2. I really need to stay away from medium- well, that will toughen up any steak, but the pink scares me a little.

3. I had my choice of a chipotle seasoned steak. If I thought my plain steak was boring I should stay away from plain steak! Duh right?

4. Expensive doesn't always mean tasty.

What tips do you have for avoiding the expensive "average" meal?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas

In the words of my mother, "these are the best enchiladas I have ever had!" I wish I had thought of the lime and honey combination myself. You have probably seen this recipe floating around. I adapted mine from Double Batch. Everyone adds their own special touch. My change was to cook the chicken in chicken broth for extra flavor, add black beans to the filling, and omit cumin powder (no thanks on cumin ever!) The sweetness of the honey with the twist of lime was the perfect marriage of flavors. I can never get enough of any chicken enchiladas, but this might have to be the only recipe I use from now on. Thanks for stopping by. Have a bite when you can!

1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 large limes)
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
About 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts cooked and shredded
1 cup chicken broth (for cooking chicken)
1 can black beans
12 corn tortillas
2-3 cups cheese, grated (the Mexican blend is best)
28 oz. can of green enchilada sauce (mild or medium, to your taste)
1/2 to 3/4 cup of heavy cream

Simmer chicken with 1 cup chicken broth until cooked and easy to shred. Place the cooked and shredded chicken in a medium sized bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl whisk together the honey, lime juice, chili powder, and minced garlic.

Place chicken in bowl with mixture and stir together. Allow to marinate while you prepare the tortillas, about thirty minutes in the refrigerator.

Heat the oven to 350. Heat tortillas in oil for about 20 seconds on each side. Be careful not to burn them. For a healthier version simply place tortillas in microwave for 20 seconds covered in paper towel.

In a medium bowl combine the enchilada sauce and the heavy cream. Spread about 3/4 cup of the mixture in the bottom of the oiled baking dish.

Drain can of black beans. Add a large spoonful (about 2 tablespoons) of the chicken mixture to the center of each tortilla in a line. Add one spoonful of black beans on top of the line of chicken in each tortilla. Cover the chicken with a large tablespoon (or big pinch) of cheese, then roll the tortilla up from one side to make a rolled enchilada. Place the enchilada seam side down in the baking dish starting at one end with the long edge parallel to the longest side of the pan so that you end up with two columns of six enchiladas each.

Pour enchilada sauce mixture over the top of all the enchiladas. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake the enchiladas for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly and starting to brown on top. Serve and enjoy!

Raw Spice Bar

Raise your hand if you love to cook, but find yourself just finishing up your 8,987th meal and you are fresh out of ideas. Just me?  I h...