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posted: 9/4/2013 6:00 AM

Cook of the Week Challenge: Lime gelatin, flank steak and cucumbers

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  • Nancy Smearman of Palatine

    Nancy Smearman of Palatine

  • Jeff Zilch of Fox River Grove

    Jeff Zilch of Fox River Grove


Jeff Zilch

I was surprised -- and not altogether excited -- to see lime Jell-O as an ingredient but this is a 'challenge' after all, right? I was delighted to see flank steak and cucumbers and knew that I had to do something fun and Mexican. I knew I could substitute lime juice with lime gelatin in my marinade but underestimated the power of gelatin on my first try. I used one full box of lime gelatin in a marinade, and it was overkill to say the least. We ate green flank steak that night and I wasn't feeling too good about myself.

... that is when I thought I would go with a twist on our traditional 'Taco Tuesday' and make something that people could easily make and use fresh ingredients.

The cucumber salad was born from my grandma's potato salad, minus the taters this time. I didn't have a recipe, so I had to guess amounts based on what my mom could remember.

Nine pounds of flank steak later and after multiple different marinade mixtures, we have something that is fun, light and can be made the night before or before heading out the door and still be grilled and on the table quickly. The lime gelatin adds a touch of sweetness and the lime is refreshing. Believe it or not, we'll be using it again. I hope people like it!

Nancy Smearman

At first I thought Mexican ... it had Mexican written all over it ... but the cucumber begged for tzatziki sauce, so then I thought Greek.

I would lie in bed and start thinking Chinese? Italian? I went with the marinade, a combo of an old recipe and the bottled "Greek" to make it easier. I am into few ingredients; that is my thing. If I see a laundry list of ingredients, I am not too enthused.

My husband and the boys tasted the meat hot off the grill and were impressed.

I spent a lot of brain power on this ... more than I thought I would. And then I went shopping for props, like the martini glass (I found that at a resale shop; great place for props). I thought it's good to keep it simple, white plate. Oh, and I had to get flowers for the table. All the little things start to float into your head ...

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