Improvising when you visit your happy place (Coffee Chipotle rubbedsteak with cheesy polenta and friends)

I was in Austin a few weeks ago visiting my best friend, Aimee, and revisiting my old home town.  I lived there for two years, which felt like nothing, but it was two of the biggest years of my life.  I overcame depression, my fear of dating, my fear of change, and my fear of litigation. I made new friends, saw and learned new things, quit smoking and was there for my friend through some hard times.  It was weird to go back now as the confident, happy, improved person that I am.  It was like ripping a band aid off, which has become so common in my life since I moved there.  I have been through so many band aids (figuratively and literally) since my time there, I don't really notice them anymore!

But anyway, this is a food blog, so let's get to the food.  We made a trip to my favorite grocery store and happy place Central Market.  It is like Whole Foods on steroids and a budget.  Aimee and I used to have a Sunday tradition, yoga at Black Swan and then a trip to CM, as we call it, for lunch, a glass of wine and meal planning before grocery shopping.  I miss those Sundays a lot, but would not trade it for being in New Orleans!

I went to CM with no plan for dinner but one formed in my mind.  I decided to make coffee and chipotle rubbed steak with cebollitas since we had some leftover ground coffee from the morning. But that sounded too much like fajita makings for me, and we needed more to the plate, so I decided to serve that over spicy cheesy polenta and roasted tomatoes. It was a good decision! Everyone loved it and there was a ton leftover for Aimee to reuse.  Winner Winner steak dinner! Full recipe (it'll be wonky, sorry, I made it up!) after the montage. Also please excuse the iPhone photos, I was on vacation!

I am getting pretty good at getting steak cooked to the perfect temperature!
The cast.  Pretty good for an iPhone post!
These were like fun size real tomatoes, the perfect size!
Cebollitas take green onions and a lot of lime juice.
I let them soak up the good stuff while I got to prepping.
Let me rub you down!  I used the leftover fresh ground coffee from the morning and some chipotle powder.  I wished the coffee was a little less coarse.
Add it to a hot oiled skillet for 6 minutes.
And then flip it over.  Look at that coffee crust!
Roasting tomatoes is like a science experiment.  The flavor and texture changes so much!
Mmm cebollitas are one of my faves!
Gotta love cheesy polenta!
I thought you needed to see it again. It was that good.
Coffee rubbed Flank steak:

1/4 cup ground coffee
1 tbsp chipotle chile powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 lb. flank steak

Combine the coffee, garlic powder and chipotle powder.  Season your steak with salt and pepper and then rub with coffee chipotle mixture.  Heat oil in a cast iron skillet until hot.  Place steak in pan and sear for 4-5 minutes.  Flip steak over and cook 5 more minutes.  Place on a lipped cutting board to rest for 5 minutes.

Spicy Cheesy Polenta:

1 cup polenta
4 oz shredded pepper jack cheese
1/4 cup half and half.

Combine water and polenta and cook by instructions on packet.  When cooked, stir in cheese and half and half.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.


1 bunch green onions
3 tbsp. olive oil
juice of three limes
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a plastic zip top bag and marinate for 10 or more minutes.  Place green onions in a hot skillet and cook for 10 minutes, stirring sporadically.

Roasted tomatoes:

1 pack grape tomatoes or bigger
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400.  Place tomatoes on a foil lined baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until tomatoes start to burst, about 15 minutes.

Happy Cooking!


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