lunchbox life: steak kabobs with avocado and salad greens

image1(23)Greetings, friends! On one hand, I can’t believe I’m about to begin Week 3 of this school year, but on the other hand, the rhythm of the weekly grind has already begun to set in. Since it’s still mid-August, and therefore summer, I thought I’d make this week’s lunches an homage to the summertime, and what’s more summery than shish kabobs?

These kabobs pack a protein punch and are brimming with local veggies. The zucchini, onions, and sweet peppers all came from our CSA box from Dirt Farmers, making my lunches this week even more special and healthy. While most people serve kabobs over rice, I decided on a different approach since I’m still trying to infuse my good habits from my Whole30 experience into my regular, post-Whole30 life. Instead of rice, I’ll heat up my meat and veggies in the microwave and then place them on a bed a chopped romaine lettuce and top it all off with some sliced avocado.

image2(10)This lunch is a perfect example of healthy eating with a hearty approach. I think the 1990s and early 2000s messed us up with ideas about “eating light” that made us think we had to be hungry all of the time in order to be eating in a healthy way. By loading up on veggies, protein, and good fats, your body should be satisfied and full, but not uncomfortable and bloated. This is a great approach to that goal.

Note: if you’re not a red meat eater, you could certainly substitute chicken breast or thigh.

Steak Kabobs with Avocado and Salad Greens

1.5 to 2 lbs. boneless beef ribs

3 large or 5 medium zucchini

2 small or 1 large sweet onion

1 red bell pepper (I used 5 small sweet peppers from our CSA)

8 to 10 wooden kabob sticks

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. McCormick brand Montreal steak seasoning

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

salt and pepper

5 small avocados

3 hearts of romaine lettuce

optional: salad dressing (I recommend making your own or your choice from the Tessamae’s brand)

Soak the wooden kabob sticks in water. Heat a grill pan to medium-high heat or light an outdoor grill. Cut the beef into 1-inch pieces and place in a bowl with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, garlic powder, and Montreal steak seasoning. Let the beef sit in the bowl on the counter for about 20 minutes while you chop the veggies. Remove the ends and outer layers of the onions, then chop them into chunks with two or three layers attached. Remove the tops and seeds from the pepper and slice it into 1/2 inch length pieces. Cut the ends off of the zucchini and slice into 1/2-inch rounds. Coat the veggies with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper (about 1 Tbsp. salt for all of the veggies).

Assemble the kabobs to your preference using the photo for reference. Grill the kabobs to your preference of doneness for the beef, but remember that you’ll most likely be reheating the beef in the microwave, so err on the side of medium rather than well done. I prefer my beef rare, but because of the longevity of this beef, I cooked my beef to medium.

When the kabobs are finished cooking, let them cool for about 10 minutes. While they’re cooling, chop the romaine hearts and evenly distribute between five plastic, sealable bowls. Add one small avocado to each bowl, then place the top on the bowl.

In a separate piece of sealable plasticware, slide the meat and veggies off of the kabobs and distribute evenly among the five plastic containers. When you’re ready to eat, reheat this container, then place the reheated meat and veggies atop the romaine lettuce and cut the avocado into slices or chunks to top the meat and veggies. Drizzle with salad dressing and enjoy!

tasty tuesday: braised quick-corned beef hash and cabbage tacos



Irish tacos, y’all.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! It was just a scant 3 years ago that on this day I was down in Savannah with some of my best buds for my Bachelor party. It was fun, but I don’t think it is something I need to do again. I survived St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah and no epic tales were spun.

I admit from the outset that I do not make a habit of celebrating this holiday in any big way, as Scotland is the motherland, but I do not begrudge it its culinary traditions. Corned beef (simply salt cured beef) is a wonderful concoction that has filled many a sandwich for me over the years. Its pairing with cabbage is classic. And corned beef hash may truly be the perfect breakfast fuel (if you haven’t had the H&H version you are missing out on a legend in the making).

My love of this food is honored hear with a twist on the classic by turning the dish into tacos, an easy delivery system for the foods. I decided the shells needed to be crunchy for some reason, but in a pinch I think soft shell would be fine. Also, to keep the flavors balanced, I used chuck roast instead of brisket and used a salt and spice crust instead of a cure. You get the flavor without the overwhelming salt throughout. The chuck braises wonderfully and makes for an almost barbacoa like mouthfeel. Incorporating blanched potatoes on the griddle makes a nice hash and steaming with the braising liquid give the potatoes a wonderful flavor without losing texture. The lightly cooked cabbage with vinegar and ginger provides a good contrast and a lemon garlic aioli brings it all together.

This is a fun twist on the tradition St Paddy’s meal that anyone can get behind, even a Scot.

Quick-Corned Beef Braised Tacos

2 lb chuck roast cut into 6 pieces
1 cup salt
1/4 cup garlic
1/8 cup paprika
1 tbsp ground mustard
1/8 cup black pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp butter
1 bottle Guinness
1 bottle lager
6 whole cloves
4 garlic cloves, quartered
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tbsp whole grain mustard

1 russet potato, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
4 tbsp butter, melted

6 corn tortillas

1/2 head cabbage, cut angel hair
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ginger
salt and pepper

1 egg
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp Dijon
1 tbsp lemon juice
Olive oil to thicken
Combine the spices. Roll the meat in the spices coating all sides evenly. Set aside.

Heat oven to 350. Heat a large dutch oven to medium. Melt the butter and saute the onions until the sweet. Remove from pan. Sear the meat cuts on all sides and remove from pan. Deglaze the pan with the Guinness and scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the bits add the clove, garlic, and peppercorns. Boil 5 minutes. Add the meat and onions back to the pan and pour the lager over, leaving the tops of the meat exposed. Cover and place pan in oven for an hour and 45 minutes, flipping halfway.

In the meantime, cube the potato and soak in salt water for 30 minutes. Drain. Heat 4 cups of water in a suacepan to boiling. Add potatoes and boil 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat 1 inch of oil in a saute pan. Heat over medium high heat. Fry the tortillas for 1 minute then flip. When flipped, fold the tortilla into a v shape and continue to fry about 30 seconds, flip to fry the side that was out of the oil. Place on a cookie sheet and repeat. When the meat is ready, reduce temp in oven to warm and place tortillas in the oven.

Heat a large pan and heat the olive oil for the cabbage over medium heat. Add the cabbage, vinegar, ginger, salt a pepper and stir to coat. Cover and reduce heat to low.

In food processor, add garlic, egg, dijon and lemon juice. Blend, slowly adding the olive oil until the mixture thickens. Cool in refrigerator until ready to serve.

When the meat is ready, heat a griddle or saute pan over medium high heat. Spoon 1 tbsp melted butter on griddle and some potatoes. Add a pinch of the spice mix of for the meat.  Heat 4 minutes. Chop the meat and add the meat to the griddle and toss with the potatoes. Ladle a spoonful of the cooking liquid over the hash and cook 2 minutes. Place the mixture into the taco shells. Top with the cabbage and aioli.

Crunch into the tacos!




tasty tuesday: oxtail fettuccine

Oxtail Fettucine

Happy Tasty Tuesday, food fans. Tonight’s post is a tale in comfort food, if a little out of the box. This is a dish that is sure to warm and fill you up on a cold winter night and its a way to have a nice stew without hours of work. By using a rice cooker and some varied liquids, you can have a bold, savory stew in a fraction of the time.

If you have not had oxtails before, you are missing a treat. They are not scraps, but rather meaty pieces of beef vertebrae that have a similar cooking process and flavor to short ribs. They often have a little bit of marrow that blends with cooking liquid to add flavor to the stew that cannot come from any artificial flavor. It may be a lot of work, but it is worth it.

But it is not without some time to spare, which is why I paired my oxtail stew with homemade whole wheat fettuccine. Oxtail stew is usually served over rice or maybe mashed potatoes, not pasta. But why not? I don’t know. Probably availability of ingredients, but the pairing works well, giving the dish a stroganoff like comfort appeal. You’ll surely enjoy it.

Oxtail stew

2 lb oxtails
Salt and pepper to cover
2 medium carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
Salt and pepper
6 cloves garlic, 4 diced, 2 whole
1 small can tomato paste
1 12 oz beer
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
4 bay leaves
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp red pepper flake
Olive oil

In large pan, heat enough olive oil to cover pan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot seasoned with salt and pepper and cook until it softens. Add garlic and cook 2-3 more minutes. Remove from pan.

Coat the oxtails in salt and pepper and sear on all sides in pan you cooked the vegetables in. Remove from pan and place in rice cooker.

Pour beer into hot pan with the meat drippings. Add the vegetables back to the pan and stir into the beer. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and seasonings and heat to a simmer. Pour the mixture over the oxtails in the rice cooker, cover and set to cook. This will need to cook for at least 45 minutes, until the tails a able to be pulled from the bone. Remove the meat from the pot and pull the meat and add it back to the pot with the bones and cook five more minutes.


When the pasta is ready, ladle spoon fulls of the stew into the bowls and toss. Top with Parmesan cheese and a whole oxtail if you choose. Oxtails are great for gnawing.

While the stew is cooking, you can make the pasta. Basic flour and egg mixture with salt, olive oil and basil for flavor. If you have a pasta roller, roll until it is almost as thin as it can go and then cut into fettuccine. I think making pasta is a lot of fun and has a great cathartic effect after a days work.

This is a great southern comfort dish with lots of great Italian flavors.Enjoy!

recipe remix: guiltless beef stroganoff


Welcome to the third of five recipe remixes for early summer!  This is three nights in a row of recipe remixes, and I’ll pick back up with numbers four and five next week.  Alex and I are headed to the beach for a long weekend, so the challenge will conclude next week.

Many thanks to Lyn Harris, Laura Peacock, and Claire Steinbeck for the push to find a guiltless version of beef stroganoff!  I will be the first to admit that I’m actually not a huge fan of the original recipe.  Stroganoff is one of those dishes that is, by nature, a leftovers recipe.  Have leftover pot roast?  You make stroganoff, right?  Well, if you have a hankering for stroganoff but don’t have leftovers to transform, I have a tasty, healthy, and economical meal for you!

Here are a few of my lightened up highlights: I used thinly sliced sirloin for the meat.  I’m only cooking for two people, so I got 1/2 lb. thinly sliced sirloin for $4 at Kroger–pretty affordable!  I cut out a good bit of butter, but retained some for flavor.  I also used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or heavy cream and cut out some of the flour.  I used extra mushrooms for volume and also added some thinly sliced carrots for color, fiber, and bulk.  Since I cut out a good bit of fat, I made sure to use flavor enhancers like cracked black pepper and chives on top to brighten up the dish.  I also carefully portioned out the buttered egg noodles to make sure that the dish was filling, but also didn’t get carried away with carbs.

Nutritional breakdown: 15 Weight Watchers Points Plus, or about 700 calories.  This includes everything–sauce and noodles.

I paired this dish with a light green salad with some blueberries from our CSA and a lemon vinaigrette.

Guiltless Beef Stroganoff

Serves 2, but recipe can be multiplied for a larger crowd

1/2 lb. thinly sliced lean sirloin

2 Tbsp. butter, separated

1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced

2 carrots, thinly sliced

8 oz. sliced white or baby bella mushrooms

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup good white wine

2/3 cup chicken broth

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp. flour

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup 0% Greek yogurt

4 oz. egg noodles

salt and pepper

1 Tbsp. chopped chives (or parsley, rosemary, or any fresh herb of your choice)

Prepare noodles according to package directions.  After draining, add 1 Tbsp. butter to the noodles and stir to melt.  Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt 1 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat.  While butter is melting, salt and pepper both sides of the sirloin slices, then place pieces in a pan in a single layer.  Let each side brown for about 3 minutes, then remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onions to the remaining butter in the pan, stir, and let cook for about 8 minutes.  Next, add the garlic, mushrooms, and carrots and let cook for about 8 more minutes.  Next, add the wine and, using a spoon, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the wine cook for about 3 minutes.  While this is happening, whisk together the chicken broth, Worcestershire, and flour.  Add this mixture to the pan and let cook and thicken for about 3 minutes.  Next, turn off the heat and add in the Greek yogurt, stirring to fully combine.  In two bowls, evenly distribute the buttered noodles, then evenly ladle the stroganoff sauce over the noodles.  Top with chopped chives or other herbs and serve hot.



tasty tuesday: bourbon infused meatloaf sandwiches



Man, it has been awhile since I’ve had time to make a proper meal in the Bungalow Kitchen. I’m sorry y’all, but February was full and the first week of March was manic. Here’s to hoping that we can fill the pages here in the next few weeks!

I’ve been dreaming about making things from Edward Lee’s Smoke and Pickles since we got it back around Christmas. I’ve attempted a couple of items previously, but this one sandwich stuck out to me as something that I just had to have. After all, it had Bourbon and Bacon and it was meatloaf and an egg and OMG ALL THE THINGS THAT ARE GOOD AND HOLY. It did not disappoint.

Eddy Lee

As is my practice, I encourage you to check out Lee’s book and since he has not shared the recipe online, I will not post it here. I amended his actual recipe to not include coca-cola, but I substituted soy sauce and molasses instead. I can’t imagine too much of a difference if the soda had been used, though. Just know that this recipe produced a very moist meatloaf that pulled apart easily. Add more breadcrumbs if you want a more substantial loaf. I would recommend adding a little more bourbon and garlic and adding some herbs to the loaf and the gravy.

The glaze that Lee recommends is perfect for any meatloaf (a simple mix of ketchup, soy sauce, and brown sugar) and provides a nice sweet layer to the dish. It crusts on the outside. The egg, as it often does, ties the dish together. Without the ripeness of summer, the tomato is optional, I hope to fire up this dish again with some in season tomatoes. I can only imagine right now.

I added arugula to the top to add a little peppery kick and because you should always have some green on your plate, even when making a meatloaf sandwich that is savory and sweet and amazing.

You should serve this with a glass of bourbon, because the dish has bourbon, and food tastes great with bourbon, and life is better with Bourbon. Bourbon.

Also, for those keeping count, this dish has beef, bourbon, and bacon. 3 Bs that are no problem at all.


pappardelle with ground sirloin ragu, aka grown-up spaghetti


So, yesterday was full of social commitments–a lovely opening at Robinson Home, Macon’s own fine kitchen and interior goods store owned by some of our best friends, Will and Carrie Robinson (you HAVE to check out their store–you’ll want to buy everything, and you should), then a lovely holiday cocktail hour at Ned and Priscilla Esser’s house.  After a supper of cocktails and appetizers, we called it and early night, and I promised to make supper on Thursday night.  My voice started waning last night, but this morning, I woke up to discover that I hardly had a voice at all!

After a day full of telling my students “Yes, I’m ok…yes, my voice sounds bad…no, you’re not getting out of taking your test…,” I was exhausted.  I would have loved to have attended Historic Macon‘s membership mixer or the Macon Music Ambassadors concert, but unfortunately, I began to feel just about as bad as I sounded.  I left school, went to the grocery store, and came home to change into my pajamas…all before 5 PM.

While at the grocery, I knew I had a package of pappardelle pasta from a previous jaunt to Trader Joe’s, and a warm bowl of pasta sounded like exactly what the nonexistent-doctor ordered.  If you can’t tell from the photo, pappardelle is a wide egg noodle that’s perfect for hearty sauces.  I picked up some lean ground sirloin, diced tomatoes, and mushrooms, then decided to figure it out when I got home.

I combined inspiration from several recipes I found online, and I’m pretty happy with how tonight’s dish turned out.  This doesn’t take very long to cook, but the sauce will taste like it’s been simmering on the stove for a few hours.  While the first name, pappardelle with ground sirloin ragu, sounds fancy-schmancy, I qualified it with a more simplistic name: grown-up spaghetti.  Pasta, meat, and tomatoes–that’s spaghetti, right?  This version has a more complex flavor than spaghetti, but it still hits the spot if you’re craving comfort food.  Try and let me know what you think!

Pappardelle with Ground Sirloin Ragu, aka Grown-Up Spaghetti

1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. dried mint

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

8 oz. ground sirloin

1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 Tbsp. tomato jam or tomato paste

4 oz. sliced mushrooms (1 carton)

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

salt and pepper, to taste

8 oz. pappardelle pasta

1/2 cup fresh parsley

1/4 cup grated parmesan

Put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta, and warm the garlic and oil in a small, heavy-based pan that comes with a lid, stirring for a minute or so.

Sprinkle in the herbs and pepper flakes, stirring again before adding the meat. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring, until it cooks through.

Add the tomatoes, tomato jam or paste, Worcestershire sauce, mushrooms, salt and pepper, then give a good stir and bring to a bubble. Cover with the lid and simmer for 20 minutes.

At the appropriate time, salt the boiling water and cook the pasta according to packet instructions (mine took 11 minutes).  Once cooked and drained, add the pasta to the meat sauce and, using tongs, dress the pasta with the sauce.  Turn the heat off of the eye on the stove.  Add the fresh parsley and parmesan, tossing with the tongs, then divide the pasta into 2 bowls for hungry people or 4 bowls for a pasta course.  Top with another dusting of parmesan and serve immediately.

tasty tuesday: beer-braised short ribs, parsnip puree, and green beans with lemon and garlic


I have to start this blog with a confession: I sorta-kinda-but-really-I-did break a cardinal Tasty Tuesday rule…I’ve made one of these recipes before.  The short ribs were my first attempt from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, and boy, were they delicious.  I’ve been thinking about making them lately, and with spring blossoming, I knew that I had to do it soon or else the rising temperatures outside would spoil all of my braising dreams. (Can you tell that I think about food too much?  Yes, I just admitted to dreaming about braised meat…welcome to my brain.)  My other excuse is that I really wanted to try this parsnip puree as an accompaniment, which I solemnly swear I have never made before.

Phew, I feel better with that admission off my chest.  If you’re like me, you might get nervous about over- or under-cooking meat.  If you fall into this category, then welcome, my friend, to the wonderful world of low-and-slow braising.  This recipe is so easy, and you’ll impress all of your friends when these delicious short ribs tenderly fall off the bone with velvety, dripping gravy and goodness.

There’s a catch with the short ribs: they take a while to create.  They braise for three hours, but the prep work only takes about 30 minutes.  I had a hair appointment today (shorter and blonder, thanks for asking), so I seared the short ribs, prepared the sauce, stuck the pot in the oven, and headed over to Signature Salon for my cut and color.  By the time I got back and worked on the two sides, the full-bodied aroma of onion, tomato, and beef deliciousness was all over our house!

A word on parsnips: if you’ve read other entries, you know that Alex and I are kind of into them.  They’re an underrated root vegetable, for sure.  Don’t let its boring white exterior fool you–they are packed with flavor!  The parsnip puree is a one-off of mashed potatoes, but the subtle twist turned out beautifully.

Once you taste fresh green beans, you’ll get super snobby about canned or frozen green beans.  Seriously.  In this recipe, I used my go-to flavors (garlic, lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper) with my go-to temperature: roasting.  Enjoy!

Beer-Braised Short Ribs

(adapted from smitten kitchen)

6 beef short ribs, preferably the same size

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 red onion, halved and sliced

6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

1 cup sliced mushrooms (white or baby bella)

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 bottles of dark beer

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Salt and pepper all six sides of the short ribs.  Heat olive oil in an oven-safe Dutch oven over medium-high heat and, when hot, brown each side of the short ribs (you may want to do this in batches).  Remove the ribs when seared on all sides and set aside.  Add the sliced onions to the olive oil and cook for about 8 minutes.  Next, add the smashed garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.  Then, add the tomato paste and stir until combined.  Lastly, add the vinegar, beer, and Worcestershire.  Turn the heat off, place aluminum foil over the Dutch oven, then place the lid on the pot.  Place in the oven for three hours.

Parsnip Puree

2 lbs. parsnips, cut into two-inch chunks

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1/3 cup Greek yogurt (you may also use heavy cream, but Greek yogurt is a great substitute here)

2 Tbsp. horseradish

salt and pepper, to taste

Place parsnips in a pot, fill with enough water to cover the vegetables, and boil for about 20 minutes.  Place boiled parsnips and other ingredients in a food processor until smooth.  That’s it!

Green Beans with Lemon and Garlic

1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed

1 lemon

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a small bowl, zest the lemon and dd the olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Lay out green beans on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Dress the green beans with the olive oil evenly and roast for about 15 minutes (you’ll hear them pop and sizzle).  Before serving, squeeze the juice of the lemon onto the green beans.