Tag Archives: Valentine’s day dinner

One Pan Dinner: Steak, Broccoli & Potato Wedges

Quick, can anyone guess my least favorite thing to do after a long day, a delicious dinner I spent time cooking, and before bed?

Dishes!

For many people, that is one of the biggest barriers to entry for home cooking. Knowing that whatever dishes they dirty, they will have to clean up afterwards. And if you have more than one person to feed, it seems the dishes multiply exponentially. You’d think one more plate and fork is it, but no, somehow after 2 days there is Mount Dirty Dishes and a sink you can no longer see the bottom of.

Well, to solve this problem, we have started using several tricks, one of which I will share with you today: One Pan Meals!

It is exactly what it sounds like, you need only one pan in which to cook and serve your meal. It could be a sauce pan, a soup pot, a slow cooker, a rice cooker, an Instant Pot, a muffin tin, or a cookie tray. The point is, there is only one item to clean up afterwards! Brilliant.

A super-basic starter recipe that anyone can follow to create a meal such as this would be:

1 serving Protein + 2 servings Vegetable/Fruit + 1-2 servings Carb

This could be chicken stir fry over rice, or a veggie burger on a whole wheat bun with toppings and side salad, or a shrimp noodle soup. You should include a small amount of a healthy fat as well, like nuts, avocado, or olive oil, to help your body absorb those lovely vitamins and minerals.

The recipe here is for a simple steak and sides dinner, but looks quite impressive in its presentation. It can be as unassuming as a Tuesday night dinner, or as fancy as a Valentine’s Day dinner for your loved one. You can also easily change up the sides, if you don’t like broccoli try cubed sweet potato, cauliflower, diced carrots, or squash. If potatoes aren’t your thing, sweet potato fries are also awesome, or you could use another pan for rice or couscous. The choice is yours.

This meal was exceptionally affordable too, since I found a large 8.5 ounce steak on sale for about $5, and cut it in half for 2 servings. Broccoli was also on sale for 0.99/head, and potatoes 0.99 for a 5lb bag. That made this whole meal cost a grand total of about $7, or $3.50 per serving!

Ingredients:

  • 2 steaks, 3-4 ounces
  • 1 large head broccoli or 10oz frozen
  • 2-3 potatoes, slivered or cubed
  • Spices to taste
  • Olive oil to drizzle

Step 1: Cut your potatoes and broccoli into bite sized pieces. Lay everything out on a cookie tray, and sprinkle with spices of your choice.

I used McCormick “steak seasoning” because it’s a favorite around here, and I sprinkled it on the broccoli and potatoes too.

Step 2: Cover with foil, and roast at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes. This cooks the potato and steak.

Step 3: Uncover, and bake another 10 minutes. This browns the potatoes and crisps the steak. Watch to make sure you don’t burn the broccoli though.

 

That’s all there is to it! You have a delicious, filling, and nutritious meal, and only one pan to wash afterwards. More time for cuddling and Netflix. ūüôā

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

 

During my whole January Freezer Month challenge (read how that went during weeks one, two, three, and four) I had used half of a decorative butternut squash to make butternut squash macaroni & cheese.  This is one of my favorite fall & winter time meals, because it has all the creamy comfort of mac n cheese with an added boost of vitamins and fiber.  It totally counts as a serving of vegetables!

But what I had discovered was that even a deceptively small-looking squash can create a ton of pulp!

Mashed Butternut Squash

This giant bowl of squash was half! ¬†Yes indeed. ¬†So, being the frugal epicurean chef I am, I decided this was not to go to waste. ¬†After searching the interwebs for inspiration, I had seen several options that were contenders, but in the end the winner was butternut squash gnocchi. ¬†It’s the sauce that sealed the deal, which I will tell you about in just a second.

For those who don’t know what gnocchi is or have never had them, go find your nearest authentic Italian restaurant and re-evaluate your life choices. ¬†Just kidding. ¬†Make this recipe instead!

Gnocchi are typically¬†thick, soft dumplings that may be made from semolina, wheat flour, egg, cheese, potato, breadcrumbs, or similar ingredients. ¬†You basically make a thick pasta dough, and create chewy pillows from it. ¬†The most classic gnocchi shape is the oval with ridges, created in our grandmother’s day using fork tines. ¬†(Did you know the things that make a fork a fork are called tines? ¬†Now you know.)

Pressing Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Growing up in Youngstown Ohio, a city with some serious mafia ties (seriously, go read about it), we have some crazy good Italian restaurants. ¬†Thus I am well-versed in gnocchi. ¬†I’ve even taken a foray into gnocchi making previously, with acorn squash and potatoes. ¬†So I was fairly confident that this project would turn out well. ¬†And boy did it ever!

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Balsamic Brown Butter and Collard Greens Sauce

The process does take a little bit of time, I think it was just over an hour start-to-finish, and I had already-cooked squash to work with. ¬†So be sure you have about 2 hours prior to tackling this. ¬†But trust me, it is well worth it! ¬†My fiancee, who is allergic to vegetables, told me this was delicious and amazing and asked for seconds. ¬†He didn’t even believe me when I said there was squash in it.

The sauce is much easier, I just whipped it all up in my amazing Ninja blender (a Christmas gift from said fiancee) and simmered it on the stove to brown the butter. ¬†But I am convinced that the two flavors and textures are the magic that elevates this from “weeknight pasta” to “so good this could be Valentine’s Day dinner at a 5-star restaurant”. ¬†But at home.

But hey, I’m not gonna tell you what to top your gnocchi with. ¬†If you like marinara, go for it. ¬†If Alfredo is your thing, rock on. ¬†Shoot, if you want to eat your gnocchi naked, that’s fine with me. ¬†Just make sure the blinds are closed. ūüėČ

Butternut Squash Gnocchi Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked, mashed butternut squash
  • 4 1/2 cups flour plus extra
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasonings
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • Sprinkle of ground pepper and salt

Step 1: If you haven’t cooked your squash, do that first. ¬†Go ahead I’ll wait. ¬†Bake it, microwave it, steam it, whatever. ¬†Then mash it up.

Cutting Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Step 2: Mix your cooked, mashed squash in a large bowl with the other ingredients.  Add seasoning to taste, so if you want it heavy on the spices, do it, or go nuts and add cinnamon.  Get your hands all up in that squishy dough mess and mix it up nice.  Add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time as needed, until the dough just barely still sticks to your hand.

Boiling Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Step 3: Separate out about 3 cups of dough, and turn out onto a floured surface. ¬†Pinch off a good handful, and roll it into a log. ¬†Cut the log into 1/2 – 1 inch squares. ¬†Each individual piece will be one noodle/dumpling/gnocchi. ¬†If you’re feeling fancy, go ahead and roll each gnocchi over the tines of a fork to create ridges. ¬†(I recommend this step mostly because the ridges create a nice place for the sauce to stick to!)

IMG_3106

Step 4: Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. ¬†(Here’s a secret tip: I actually used chicken broth to boil the noodles, for extra flavor and because I like bone broth). ¬†Boil the gnocchi for about 10 minutes, until they float to the top. ¬†Remove with a slotted spoon.

Cooked Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Step 5: Top your gnocchi with sauce or topping of choice, and then watch whoever is eating this oooh and ahhh. ¬†Including yourself. ¬†Go ahead and pat yourself on the back too, that’s step 6.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sauce

And if you are just dying for the sauce recipe I used, don’t worry I won’t tease you and leave you waiting. ¬†Oh wait. ¬†Yup, you have to wait until Thursday’s post. ¬†It will be worth it I promise.

Freezing Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Oh, and did I mention this makes a crap ton? ¬†This recipe made me about 7 dozen gnocchi total, so I ended up freezing about half. ¬†Just lay them out in one layer in the fridge for 1 hour to overnight, then pop in a freezer bag or container and they will keep for about 6 months. ¬†So one day’s hard work equals one amazing meal now, and another amazing meal sometime later. ¬†Jackpot.