How to: Fancy Dinner
Updated: Feb 22
What do ya'll fix for a fancy dinner? I was determined to fix something "nice" for Handsome for Valentine's Day. I was flummoxed as to what....
I found some nice ribeyes in the freezer; but how was I going to fix them? I hate running the broiler, especially just for 2 steaks. I haven't fired up the grill in ages and it was pouring rain outside. Then I remembered the scene from Twister where they are frying up steak and eggs in the skillet! Ta Da! Wouldn't be any different than a restaurant cooking them on the flat top, would it? It worked beautifully and those steaks turned out more perfect than I've ever made them. Beautiful crust on the meat.... Perfectly medium to medium rare in the middle and that was with holding them for 15 min til Handsome could get off work! I was so proud of myself.
Even though I had thawed the steaks overnight, they came back out of the fridge still frozen. I ended up thawing them slightly in the microwave just to get the wrappers off. You have to marinade steaks for several hours to instill flavor into them. If you don't mind a steak just tasting like a piece of meat, just throw it in the skillet with some salt and pepper. I like some additional seasoning on mine.
HOW TO MARINATE STEAK: Place atleast partially thawed steaks into ziploc bag. (If doing several steaks, pull out the sheet pan and use that.) Pour a glug of olive oil onto the steaks, a couple glugs of soy sauce (or Dale's** if you can find it) and then liberally sprinkle both sides of the steaks with your choice of steak seasoning. I use Montana Steak Seasoning from the Mennonite Store, it's about the same as the McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning**. Then place the whole shebang back into the fridge. Remember to flip the steaks around atleast a couple times so they are coated in the marinade. I've used this marinade for decades now and it's always a hit.
After getting the steaks marinading, I ran over to the local grocery store for some side dishes. I have plenty of food on hand but no potatoes big enough for baking and what's a steak without a potato anyway? They were so big, we ended up splitting one and now I've got one to make fried taters with later, yum.
HOW TO PAN FRY A STEAK: Heat your skillet to med-high and add in 2 tablespoons butter. After the butter melts, lay the steaks in and allow to sear before turning. While they fry, turn a couple more times and they will develop a beautiful brown crust. Cook until the center of the steak doesn't budge easily when poked with a fork. Try this: squeeze your index finger and thumb together with both fingers extended out straight. Feel the squishy part between the 2 fingers, feel how firm that is? That's how firm the steak should feel with the fork and it will be medium to medium rare. Place steaks into a casserole dish and cover. Let rest 10 min before serving. Steaks can be held in a warm oven in said casserole but they might cook a bit more.
HOW TO BAKE A POTATO: Scrub the tater. Then poke it all over with a fork; not very deep, just touch the fork to the skin and make little dents. Pull off a square of aluminum foil about twice as long as your potato is round. Set the potato caddy-wampus on the foil and pour a glug of olive oil over top. Pull up the corners of foil and wrap the potato tightly. Gather the excess foil on the top and make sure all edges are folded under so the oil doesn't leak out. Place into a 350 degree oven and start checking the potatoes after an hour. These took 2 hours because they were so large. To tell if a potato is done, put on your oven mitt and reach into the oven, squeeze the tater gently and see if there is any give. If the potato is still hard or doesn't moosh easily, it's not done. If it mooshes easily, it's ready to go!
We needed to have something green with our dinner! Broccoli is a favorite around here and since I haven't grown any lately, I had to buy some. One thing to keep in mind, Broccoli is one of the most pesticide-coated vegetables grown. The growers have to use the chemicals because all the little bugs love to eat it too. I don't wash the broccoli before I cook it, I just drop it into the boiling water and pray the crap boils off of the vegetable.
HOW TO COOK AND SEASON BROCCOLI: Trim a couple heads of broccoli to your liking. We only use the florets and I leave them large, like 2 bite size. Set a stock pot half full with water and heat to a boil. Drop in the florets and boil just until a fork starts to poke into the stem. Drain broccoli and leave it in the colander. Place 3/4 a stick of butter into the stock pot and generously sprinkle Seasoned Salt** into it. Add the broccoli back in and using a squishy, rotate the broccoli in the butter/salt mixture. To keep warm, place into a casserole and since you didn't overcook the broccoli to start with, it won't be mush by the time he gets off work.
Now that you've cooked your taters to mooshy, the steaks to partially firm and the broccoli to tender crisp, you can eat! By the time we were done eating all this; neither one of us had room for dessert. But I had, of course, made dessert....
HOW TO MAKE A JELLO CAKE: Jello Cake is a real favorite around here. Even though it isn't difficult to make, it takes some planning to have it ready by dinner time. Bake a white or yellow cake mix to the package specifications; in your chosen pan size. I like to use a butter recipe cake mix and a 9x13 pan. Let cool 10 min or so. Using a fork, poke holes all over the cake and keep them evenly spaced, about half an inch apart. Mix up a 3 oz package of jello to the package specifications; reduce the cold water a little. I like to use strawberry jello. Set out a container of whipped topping to thaw. Place cake in the fridge until the cake is cool and the jello is set. I don't cover the cake, I don't want the condensation staying on the top. When the cake is ready, frost cake with 8 oz or more of whipped topping. Serve in big slices. This would be fantastic made with a homemade cake and stabilized whipped cream.
That's all you need to make a fancy dinner that doesn't totally break the bank but is far less stressful than going out to eat on the day of Valentine's Day!
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