If you have found yourself wondering what cliff the Cynical Chef drop off of in the past month and a half I apologize. I promise the void that has been my blog has been for a good reason. The time that I had previously been spending cooking, delicious cream filled, cheese laden, cinnamon and sugar dusted recipes is now being spent sweating profusely, begging for mercy, and realizing that no matter how long you walk on the treadmill you are still moving in one place.

That is right; the Cynical Chef has taken her lethargic butt to the gym, complete with a sadistic trainer, this is going to be a long journey but a fulfilling one. What does this matter to you? Well hopefully, you care about my well being and incase, I am being too assuming of your fondness for me, the recipes I will be posting in the future will have a healthy foundation. There will still be treats and cheater meals mixed in, which is why my trainer doesn’t have the web address, but my focus with primarily be on healthy cooking and living.

One thing you can still expect are the trials and tribulations of my kitchen and more importantly, the place I affectionately call Hell but most people call the gym. For example, the recent decision I made to attend a Step Class. Now, I am not sure what circuit shorted in my brain that made me think my clumsy, ungraceful, 6’3″ body could manage this class with ease, but nevertheless I stood in front of my plastic alter praying for mercy. I did not find it.

Twenty minutes into the class, the instructor spoke of a move called “Around the World”; I am not going to bother explaining how to perform this maneuver because no one ever should attempt it. I followed her instructs to the tee, stepped up on my step and somewhere around China, I completely lost my footing. I fell off my step backwards praying that I would be the only causality and fell into the very fit and very tiny woman next to me. She fell and took out the girl behind her and then a couple more fell. What did I do? I promptly removed myself from the carnage, realized that my ankle was bruised and had to wait for my trainer to carry me from the room.

What did I learn from this you ask? That group exercise is not something I should be participating in (the trainer actually suggested this lesson) and skinny ladies go down easier than a string of dominos.

Flank Steak Sandwichesflank-steak-sandwichs-032a1

This came from mine and Alex’s head. You can also serve this on a multi-grain roll but today was our cheat meal and a French baguette is what we wanted.

Grilled Flank Steak Ingredients

1 Pound Flank Steak



Garlic Powder

Onion Powder



Sandwich Ingredients




Garlic Aioli

Grilled Red Onions

Grilled Red Onion

1. Cut the ends from the onion and peel the outer layer from the onion.

2. Cut the onion into ¼ inch slices.

3. Brush the onions with olive oil. Use less than one teaspoon of olive oil for the whole onion.

4. Place the onion on the grill over medium heat. We use a vegetable metal tray for the grill but you can place directly on the grill or on tinfoil directly on the grill.

5. Cook about 6-8 minutes on each side until caramelized and delicious.

Garlic Aioli

1. Combine tablespoons of low fat mayo, a pressed clove of garlic, a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice, and salt and pepper into a bowl. Spread the aioli on the baguette. You can also use as a dipping sauce for the Onion Rings.

Flank Steak

1. Trim the excessive fat from the flank steak.

2. Pound the flank steak with a meat tenderizer for 15 seconds on each side. Remember to pound the meat evenly. You are doing this since we are not marinating the meat to ensure tenderness.

3. Season the meat with the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cumin. This is really to taste. If you like more of one spice than the other; feel free to use more.

4. Place the meat on the grill over Medium/High heat. Cook 7-10 minutes on each side or until you reach your desired level of doneness.

5. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes,

6. Cut the meat on a bias in thin slices.

Assemble the sandwich with the grilled red onions, 4 to 5oz of flank steak, garlic aioli, lettuce, and tomato. Enjoy!!!

Alex and I rate these sandwiches a 10. They satisfied our desire for an unhealthy meal in a healthy way and the Oven Baked Onion Rings are a great compliment to the sandwich.

Oven Baked Onion Rings From Life’s Ambrosia

Serves: 4flank-steak-sandwichs-017a

You will need:

  • 2 large onions, peeled,  sliced into 1/4 inch slices, separated into rings
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine flour, granulated garlic, pepper and kosher salt. In bowl beat together eggs and milk. In another bowl, combine panko bread crumbs and shredded Parmesan cheese.
  2. Place the onion rings into the plastic bag and shake to lightly coat. Dip into egg wash, drain off excess. Dredge in panko and Parmesan cheese mixture to lightly coat. (Note: The onion rings may not be completely coated, that is okay.)  Repeat process until all onion rings are coated.

To fry:

  1. Heat 1/2 inch canola oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, (Note: if you have a thermometer it should be 365 degrees, if you don’t have one, sprinkle a few pieces of the panko and if they sizzle its hot enough), fry the onion rings in batches, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan, or they will get soggy.  Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle a little more Parmesan over the top if desired. Serve.

To bake:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray. Lay the onion rings in a single layer not touching each other. Drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Bake 10 minutes. Turn and bake 10 more minutes. Sprinkle with a little more Parmesan, if desired. Serve.

We oven baked these rings and found that additional time was needed. Even after 20 minutes on one side, they were still not golden enough to flip. After a few minutes under the broiler on each side, we were good to go. I rate these onion rings a 7; they were good but not great but it did help satisfy that craving.

Unfortunately, my blog has been affected by a delay in  recent posts. The cause: writer’s block brought on by the silencing of my creative voice. The post attached to this recipe was about my time spent as a Supposed Mafia Princess. It only saw the light of day for 10 minutes before being stifled by maternal control. My anguish over this lost legendary anecdote (you thought I was going to go for the alliteration) had rendered me unable to post the recipe.

Today, that ended when the epiphany came; this recipe is one that needs to be shared and by doing so I can hack away at the beaver dam that is my writer’s block. There are ten or so recipes caught upstream. So please forgive me for not sharing the story of my faux Italian heritage and prepare for the flood that is about to come.

Pasta Bolognese


This recipe comes from the spiky haired brain of Anne Burrell. Some may not love her new show but the recipes are awesome. This is great for a lazy weekend day (because we all have so many of those). The effort you put in is definitely worth the result. I left the directions in her voice because I think it is very important to getting the correct results. Make sure you take the time to brown and develop the flavors in the veggies, meat, and tomato paste.

Alex rates this dish a 9 and I rate it a 9.5. The sauce is everything it should be. Creamy and favorful; it clings to the pasta like an pyscho ex-girlfriend.


  • 1 large onion or 2 small, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 pounds ground chuck, brisket or round or combination
  • 2 cups tomato paste
  • 3 cups hearty red wine
  • Water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch thyme, tied in a bundle
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • High quality extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing


In a food processor, puree onion, carrots, celery, and garlic into a coarse paste. In a large pan over medium heat, coat pan with oil. Add the pureed veggies and season generously with salt. Bring the pan to a medium-high heat and cook until all the water has evaporated and they become nice and brown, stirring frequently, about 15 to 20 minutes. Be patient, this is where the big flavors develop.

Add the ground beef and season again generously with salt. BROWN THE BEEF! Brown food tastes good. Don’t rush this step. Cook another 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and cook until brown about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the red wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, another 4 to 5 minutes.

Add water to the pan until the water is about 1 inch above the meat. Toss in the bay leaves and the bundle of thyme and stir to combine everything. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. As the water evaporates you will gradually need to add more, about 2 to 3 cups at a time. Don’t be shy about adding water during the cooking process, you can always cook it out. This is a game of reduce and add more water. This is where big rich flavors develop. If you try to add all the water in the beginning you will have boiled meat sauce rather than a rich, thick meaty sauce. Stir and TASTE frequently. Season with salt, if needed (you probably will). Simmer for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

During the last 30 minutes of cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat to cook the spaghetti. Pasta water should ALWAYS be well salted. Salty as the ocean! TASTE IT! If your pasta water is under seasoned it doesn’t matter how good your sauce is, your complete dish will always taste under seasoned. When the water is at a rolling boil add the spaghetti and cook for 1 minute less than it calls for on the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking remove 1/2 of the ragu from the pot and reserve.

Drain the pasta and add to the pot with the remaining ragu. Stir or toss the pasta to coat with the sauce. Add some of the reserved sauce, if needed, to make it about an even ratio between pasta and sauce. Add the reserved pasta cooking water and cook the pasta and sauce together over a medium heat until the water has reduced. Turn off the heat and give a big sprinkle of Parmigiano and a generous drizzle of the high quality finishing olive oil. Toss or stir vigorously. Divide the pasta and sauce into serving bowls or 1 big pasta bowl. Top with remaining grated Parmigiano. Serve immediately.

My FluffNutter “Victory”

November 13, 2008

One of Alex’s greatest loves is peanut butter. He could eat it for almost every meal and in almost everything. In complete opposites attract fashion; I really can’t stand the stuff. It is like green eggs and ham.

I do not like it on bread

I do not like it spoon fed.

I do not like it in dessert.

I do not like it there either pervert.

No matter how hard I tried, I could not bring myself to put it in a dish. This inability always made me very sad for my husband (then fiancé) and this sadness played out at last year’s Christmas party. The house was filled with friends for our 3rd annual Christmas Family Dinner. Food was plentiful, Pit (a fantastic card game) was in full swing and the drinks they were a flowing. After a few too many Blueberry beers, my rosy cheeked self decided it was time to run to the grocery store. Enlisting the help of my evil twin, we set out.

I knew exactly what I wanted. I found the bread aisle and went to town. A loaf of the best white bread the store had to offer, the biggest jar of peanut butter I could find, and a vat of Marshmallow fluff. My husband deserved the greatest peanut butter sandwich and he was going to get it. When I got home, I proclaimed my victory and got to work. I thought I had created the best Fluffnutter sandwich in the entire world. I found out later I missed the bread with the marshmallow fluff and peanut buttered all sides of the bread. But, Alex ate that sandwich like it was the greatest peanut butter delicacy he has ever had. And that is why I broke down and today, peanut butter makes it into the menu. Because I really love that man and that man really loves peanut butter.

This is the best recipe I have found dinnerwise when incorporating peanut butter and it is a cooking light recipe. That is what we call a win-win situation.

peanut-flank-steak-019Flank Steak with Hot Peanut Sauce

By keeping the meat serving to a sensible three-ounce cooked portion and using the low-fat but flavorful flank cut, this entrée limits saturated fat while offering plenty of iron and protein. Prepare steamed rice and sautéed baby bok choy while the meat marinates.


4 servings (serving size: 3 ounces steak and about 1/4 cup sauce)


  • 1/3  cup  chopped green onions
  • 1/3  cup  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1  tablespoon  brown sugar
  • 1  tablespoon  minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lime juice
  • 2  teaspoons  sesame oil
  • 1  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed and cut diagonally into thin slices
  • 1/2  cup  water
  • 1  tablespoon  crunchy peanut butter
  • 1  teaspoon  cornstarch


1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Place steak and 1/4 cup onion mixture in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator at least 2 hours or overnight, turning bag occasionally.

2. Combine remaining 1/4 cup marinade, 1/2 cup water, peanut butter, and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; keep warm.

3. Remove steak from bag, discarding marinade. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with sauce.