Steak Tacos with Pickled Red Onions or Eating at home with Friends!

***UPDATE on motto:  So we had a little dust-up with our new (and I thought original) motto:  “Love people.  Cook them tasty food.”  That motto actually belongs to Penzy spices.  I’m so sorry that we used it.  When I told Yes!Chef! about it and asked him for a new motto, the first words out of his mouth were, “because life is too short to eat crappy food.”  Well, that is true.  I cleaned it up a little and rewrote it on the chalkboard until I can think of something else that may be a little less…ummm…blunt.  If you can think of anything, leave me a comment.  Again, I apologize to Penzy Spices.

It was Yes!Chef!’s and my anniversary on Tuesday.  Y!C! invited me out to dinner to celebrate.   We don’t go out to dinner much (usually on our anniversary and my birthday), so this was a real treat.  We headed to Placerville to a little restaurant called The Luna Cafe. It’s a small cafe tucked away in downtown Placerville.  We walked in and were warmly greeted by the owner.  There were several other couples there but because it was a Tuesday night, the place was not full.  We had a great time and met several other couples in the restaurant who were also celebrating their anniversaries.  The hospitality of the owner was wonderful and the food was more than plentiful.

 (I am sorry that these photos do not do the food justice. But, it gives the feeling of the evening.)

The food was good, especially a fig with Camembert cheese appetizer.  It had a wonderful reduced Balsamic Vinegar and Raspberry Sauce drizzled on top. I had a lemon butter fish dish with almonds.  Y!C! had an Indian Beef Vindaloo that was quite spicy.  Both meals included a generous fresh green salad with blue cheese sprinkled on top. As I mentioned above, the food was good but the portions were way too large.  We ended up taking most of it home. However, it was a lovely evening.

At any rate…it’s fun to go out once in a while.  Yes!Chef! and I are huge proponents of supporting local small businesses, Farmers Markets, wineries and restaurants because small businesses are the backbone of our great country. We prefer to go out for lunch because it is more economical and the portions are much smaller.

However, during these hard economic times (and Yes!Chef! was without a job for several months until about 2 weeks ago) it is more economical, can be healthier,  and frequently tastier to cook at home, especially with our friends and family. And it’s fun.

Yes!Chef! is a very caring and wonderful man, but he is a man of few words.  He shows his care by his actions and the food he cooks is one of his best actions.

So, it was no surprise when my daughter called me up last week and asked if she could bring a couple of her friends up to the house for dinner.  Yes!Chef! was game and he made the above menu.

Flank steak is not the most economical meat, nor is it the most tender and juicy steak.  But when you marinate the meat, cook it properly (without over cooking it) and then pop it into a corn tortilla with beans, some Mexican cheese and marinated red onions with a squeeze of lime on top, it becomes a flavorful experience.  Yes!Chef! also added some Spanish Rice to round out the meal.

Here’s the recipe for the Steak Tacos from America’s Test Kitchen 2012 Light & Healthy Magazine

  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 scallions, chopped coarse
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeds reserved, and chopped coarse
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
  • 1 (1 1/2 pound) flank steak, trimmed of all visible fat and cut with grain into 4 equal pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
  • 1 small onion, minced
  1. Pulse 1/2 cup cilantro, scallions, garlic, jalapeno, cumin, and 4 teaspoons oil in food processor until paste-like, 10-12 pulses.  Transfer 2 tablespoons of herb paste to bowl, whisk in lime juice, and reserve for serving.
  2. Using dinner fork, poke each piece of steak 10-12 times on each side.  Pat steak dry with paper towels, season with 1/8 teaspoon salt, and place in large baking dish.  Coat steak thoroughly with remaining herb paste, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
  3. Scrape herb paste off steak.  Sprinkle all sides of each piece evenly with sugar and season with 1/8 teaspoon pepper.  Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat until just smoking.  Brown steak well on all side and cook until meat registers 120 to 15 degrees (for medium-rare), 7 to 14 minutes.  Transfer steak to carving board and let rest for 5 minutes
  4. Slice each piece of steak thin across grain and transfer to bowl.  Toss steak with reserved her-lime juice mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with remaining 1/4 cup cilantro, warm tortillas, onion and lime wedges.

Per serving:  cal 530; Fat 19g; Carb 47g; Protein 40g; fiber 4g; sodium 280mg

Now, the must have topper to these tacos:  Sweet and Spicy Pickled Onions from the same magazine, page 31.

Makes about 2 cups

To make this dish less spicy, remove the chile seeds.

  • 1 red onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed and cut into thin rings
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Place onion in heat-resistant bowl.  Bring vinegar, sugar, jalapenos, and salt to simmer in small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves.  Pour vinegar mixture over onions, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.  Once cool, drain onions and discard liquid.  (Pickled onions can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.)

Note:  Make sure you drain the onions and discard the liquid after the onions are cool, otherwise they become very sharp tasting.  (Blech!)

And there you have it!  A Happy Meal…

for a Happy Family and Friends…

Bon appetit!

FAQ:  what’s with the chalk boards?  When I was growing up we always had a huge chalkboard in the kitchen where we would leave messages or write down grocery lists or other reminders.  I was always the last one to finish my dinner, so my dad would write “EAT” across the board in large letters so he wouldn’t have to keep reminding me.  When I got married and had my own house and kids, I continued with the chalkboard (now a white board) tradition with grocery lists, cleaning lists, homework, appointments, etc.  The kids wrote funny messages. Yes!Chef! still uses it to write his menus and grocery lists (he hasn’t fully entered into the 21st Century phone/ipad aps yet.)  🙂

Published by

Karen Schmautz


16 thoughts on “Steak Tacos with Pickled Red Onions or Eating at home with Friends!

  1. That’s funny Penzey’s Spices has the same tagline, “Love People. Cook them tasty food.” They even give away free bumper stickers at there stores and I’ve had one for the last year. It’s a great sentiment!!

  2. Haha, maybe! I wondered if you or her had been there. It’s a great store. I didn’t think it was intentional 😉 but a very interesting coincidence!

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