I made the most exciting purchase this weekend!
Back story – last year at the 2010 Des Moines Art Festival I stumbled upon an incredible, couch-sized painting depicting a sweet little white house plopped right in the middle of a flat green field, framed by a bright blue sky and accented with the cutest kite-flying girl you ever did see. It was so Midwest. I was dying to have it.
Titled “Summer Daydream”, the massive painting cost more than one month’s paycheck, and where the heck would I put a 7 foot wide painting anyways, so purchasing it was out of the question. What I could afford (and fit in my house!) though, was the festival’s commemorative poster featuring the exact same painting. What luck!
Foolishly I waited until the very last day of the festival to go and purchase the poster, and by the time I got there they were completely. out. “Noooooooo!” I remember wailing (mature) when I heard the news.
There was something about that lonely house, open field and whimsical kite that struck a chord in me. Alas, it seemed there was nothing I could do to make it mine.
Fast forward one year later to the 2011 Art Festival that took place this weekend, and what do I find as I’m browsing through the new commemorative items for sale? MY 2010 POSTER! FRAMED! $100! WHEE!
I scribbled a check so fast my hand blurred, marched out of the festival with the poster tucked under my arm and promptly hung it on my wall. I don’t even want/need to know why a poster they were supposedly out of last year was randomly out and found by me this year. It was fate. I love it so much!
Then I found $50. Just kidding! I just had no way of transitioning out of that story…
So…in other news, I took some inspiration from a recipe included in Hy-Vee’s weekly flyer and made Warm Steak, Feta & Artichoke Salad for dinner tonight! Greek-meets-grill in this quick & easy dinner. Greek = crumbly feta cheese, vine ripened tomatoes and tangy artichoke hearts. Grill = rare & buttery rib eye steak!
Ben and I tag teamed this recipe, which came together in about 20 minutes.
He started us off by seasoning a couple rib eye steaks with his signature steak spice rub: garlic salt, black pepper and olive oil.
Sprinkle lots of everything on, rub it in, then grill those puppies over high heat for 3 minutes on one side, then 2 minutes on the other.
While Ben manned the grill, I cooked up some pasta and threw in fresh green beans to soften up when the pasta was nearly done cooking.
Then I got to work crumbling up a pile of flavor-packed feta cheese.
LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THIS PACKAGE! (twss) Bigger than my head!
With just 3 ingredients, this feta is much less salty and shocking to the taste buds than, well, pretty much every other feta cheese I’ve ever had. It was delightfully mild, and really creamy too!
When the steaks were cooked and had rested for 10 minutes, I cubed them up and tossed them in with the cooked pasta, green beans, feta cheese, artichoke hearts and homemade basil balsamic vinaigrette.
Topped with fresh tomatoes and extra feta cheese for a burst of flavor!
Warm Steak, Feta & Artichoke Salad
2-8oz rib eye steaks
garlic salt, pepper, olive oil
8oz dry pasta
1 cup fresh green beans, ends trimmed off then cut in half
1 can artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
3/4 cup feta cheese, divided
1 large tomato, chopped
Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 large garlic clove, minced
- Pre-heat grill to high. Generously season steaks with garlic salt, pepper and olive oil on both sides and rub the seasoning in. Let them sit on the counter for 10 minutes before grilling for 3 minutes on one side, then 2 minutes on the other. Remove the steaks to a plate and allow to rest for 7-10 minutes, before cutting them up into bite-sized pieces.
- Cook pasta in salted, boiling water according to package directions. When the pasta has 3 minutes left to cook, add green beans into the boiling water to soften. Drain and return to the pot.
- Add artichoke hearts, 1/2 cup feta cheese, and steak into the pot with the pasta and green beans. Whisk together basil balsamic vinaigrette, pour on top and toss everything to coat. Plate salad and top with fresh tomatoes and remaining feta cheese.
All the flavors in this dish totally clicked with each other – and that rib eye was sooooo tender and flavorful. Why in the heck do I not buy rib eye more often?!
The great thing about this salad is you can totally change it up and add or sub in whatever you’ve got on hand. Swap the green beans for asparagus. Ditch the pasta for a bed of baby spinach. Cube up chicken instead of steak. Whatever you do though – don’t forget the feta and balsamic vinaigrette. It really brings it all together!
This book is full of Gwen’s favorite recipes that she typed up, then hand wrote where she got it, why it was special, and other fun tidbits.
I must have missed the recipe every time I’ve flipped through it, because lo & behold, there it was – smack in the middle of the cake tab – COOKIE CAKE!
As soon as I told Ben, he raced out to get the two ingredients I was missing to make his beloved cake – buttermilk and sugar (I know, who allows themselves to run out of sugar?) An hour later, we had Cookie Cake! Well, the remnants of cookie cake, anyways.
Light and fluffy, yet rich and dripping with buttery, chocolaty icing. OMG!!!!
Ben wouldn’t say for sure if it tasted like Grandma’s (I don’t think it ever will) but I got a good whoop, expletive and a “Best cake you’ve ever made baby!!”
I’ll take it!
Sadly Ben is not in a sharing mood, and wishes to keep his Grandmother’s Cookie Cake recipe a family secret for now, but I’ll let you know if/when he changes his mind. I will say that The Pioneer Woman’s Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever. is very, very close in flavor. Cookie Cake is just a little more light & fluffy though!
Mmmkay – I am off to enjoy the rest of my evening before it’s back to the grind tomorrow. Can you believe July 4th is NEXT WEEK?! Ahhh! Freaking out that summer is nearly 1/3 over, but getting excited for fireworks, baked beans and everything else that comes along with the 4th.
What kind of art work do you like best? Paintings, sculptures, pottery, jewelry, photographs?
I love, love, love photography – especially travel photography. Lisa Kristine is my very favorite!