Gadget Tree: Grill Like a Champ with SteakChamp


How do you like your steak… still mooing or like a piece of shoe leather?

At this time of year there are plenty of strange (and strangely wonderful) gadgets to boost your grilling mojo. Here’s one I really like: The SteakChamp.

Steak Champ at Sur la Table

The German-made SteakChamp is a high-precision steak thermometer that will help you cook your steak exactly the way you want it, either on the grill, in the oven or in a pan on the stove. The stainless steel probes come in four models to suit your temperature preference (rare, medium rare, medium and medium well), and are tuned to USDA temperatures guidelines.

But before I continue, may I digress a moment? The word “probe” has always bugged me. It reminds me of aliens, or something like that. Okay… back to the best tool for grilling the perfect steak, the SteakChamp.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Remove your meat from the fridge about half an hour before cooking. The meat should be at least 1½-inches thick.
  2. Select the SteakChamp probe (there’s that word again) for the level of doneness you want (rare, medium rare, etc.). Insert the SteakChamp into the center of the meat sideways, until it is completely inside the meat and only the end of the SteakChamp protrudes.
  3. Sear both sides of the meat on high heat for 2 minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium. When the SteakChamp begins to double flash, remove the meat from the heat. Let the meat rest until the double flashing signal stops. Remove the SteakChamp and serve your perfect steak.

This is a great video to show you exactly how the SteakChamp works on a grill:

Visit the SteakChamp website to see how this gadget works on top of the stove and in the oven. You can find it at Sur la Table.  Follow the directions and you’ll be grilling like a champ all summer!


posted under Gadget Tree | 2 Comments »

Plated + Served: Steak Salad Sandwiches


I’m not a big sandwich eater any more (trying to cut out the bread you know), but sometimes I want something big and hearty, especially as the weather gets cooler.

Steak and salad pair beautifully, so why not marry them in a delicious sandwich slathered with spicy Sriracha mayonnaise?

I used my vinaigrette dressing on the salad, but you can use your favorite. The same goes for the Sriracha mayo: if you don’t have any Sriracha or don’t like it, a simple Dijon mustard also tastes magical.

This sandwich is also a great way to use leftovers. But flank steak cooks so fast on top of the stove or on the grill, it’s a quickie dinner option.

Hmmm… I might have to re-consider my self-imposed bread-ban.

Do you eat sandwiches for dinner?



Kitchen Think: Top 5 Most Unhealthy Chain Restaurant Dishes


The Golden Globes kicked off awards season on Sunday so, not to be left out of the mix, the Center for Science in the Public Interest is ready with its “Xtreme Eating Awards.”

The nutritionists at CSPI have been out scouting America’s chain restaurants in search of the worst meals… but not from a “taste” point of view. No. I’m sure all of these meals are amazingly delicious because they are loaded with saturated fat, sodium and sugar.

Some of the components of the meals do have nutritional value (like the eggs), but it’s just the massive combination of food that makes this, well, obscene. (Ever seen the TV show “Man vs. Food”? Those are the kind of meals we’re talking about here.)

These “Awards” present the best argument yet for requiring calorie-labeling rules for all chain restaurants.

Here’s the list, in no particular order of extreme-ness. What do you think?

  • Johnny Rockets: Bacon Cheddar Double Burger, Sweet Potato Fries and Big Apple Shake (which actually contains a slice of apple pie). 3,500 calories. Nearly two days worth of total calories in one meal.
  • Uno Chicago Grill: Deep Dish Macaroni & 3-Cheese. Cheddar, Parmesan and Romano Cheese, Alfredo sauce with a Ritz Cracker Topping. 1,980 calories. That’s like eating an entire Stouffer’s Family Size Mac and Cheese with a half a stick of butter melted on top. Yum.
  • The Cheesecake Factory: Bistro Shrimp Pasta (shrimp, mushrooms, tomato, arugula). 3,120 calories. You might think you were “eating healthy” if you ordered this, but there’s enough saturated fat in there to equal three orders of Olive Garden’s Lasagna Classico AND a Tiramisu for dessert.
  • Maggiano’s Little Italy: 18 oz. Veal Porterhouse, drizzled butter sauce, half pound roasted, fried and garlic buttered Crispy Red Potatoes. 2,710 calories. Add a slice of Zuccotto Cake, and you can tack on an additional 1,820 calories. And that doesn’t include the Ciabatta Roll that comes with the meal.
  • Chili’s: A Full Rack of Baby Back Ribs with Shiner Bock BBQ Sauce and Homestyle Fries with Cinnamon Apples. 2,330 calories… and more than a 4-day supply of sodium.

If restaurant menus had calorie labeling, would that help you make wiser choices? Or would you fall back on the “Well, I’m eating out and it’s a special occasion” excuse? Remember, the choice, ultimately, is YOURS!


Herb Rubbed Steaks


When I was growing up in Texas, Papa Daddy used to buy a whole cow and have it butchered… “everything but the moo,” he’d say.

Then they’d deliver it to the house, literally hundreds of white butcher paper-wrapped packages, their contents identified in carefully written grease pencil. Papa Daddy would load the packages into the long white freezer in the garage, ready for outdoor grilling, Sunday night dinners and family barbecues.

Today, my family doesn’t eat enough meat to warrant buying a whole cow, but we still enjoy a great steak. We Texans love our beef big time… but it has to be good (like these Herb Rubbed Steaks).

The beef you buy in grocery stores and butcher shops is sold in three USDA grades: Prime, Choice and Select. Prime is the best, and most expensive, because of the “marbling” or fat content. Fat is what gives a steak its flavor. Choice cuts are next in line, and this is what is usually sold in supermarkets. But quality varies, so look for Choice cuts that have a lot of marbling. Select cuts are the least expensive because of the small amount of marbling. This is not necessarily a bad cut of meat, because it has the least amount of fat and is therefore healthier—but it’s likely to be tough, so make sure you marinate it or use moist-heat cooking methods, like braising or stewing.

Always wondered who ended up with the moo…

Herbed Rubbed Strip Steaks


I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: