Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Instagramming in the Kitchen: Raspberry Rolls with Homemade Whipped Cream

This weekend, I was in the mood to make a really indulgent brunch.  However, both nights, my husband and I stayed out way too late, so I needed to make something that super easy and quick.  I pinned a lot of complicated brunch/breakfast recipes in the hopes of tackling them, but after sleeping in until 10:30 on Sunday morning, I took this recipe as an inspiration to create my own easy recipe for raspberry sweet rolls.  I did luxe them up with some homemade whipped cream, though, which is tooooootally worth A) the calories and B) the four minutes it takes to make it.

Raspberry Rolls with Homemade Whipped Cream (serves 2 or 3)

  • 1 package of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • Raspberry jam to taste
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Flour for prepping your work surface

Whipped Cream
  • 3/4 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 cup of heavy cream

First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a loaf pan with some nonstick spray.  Prep your work surface (I used my cutting board) with a sprinkling of flour.  Roll the Crescent Roll dough out into a rectangle.  I used my finger to smudge the precut triangle lines together.  Spread the jam on the dough rectangle.  I wouldn't say I put a thin layer on, but you don't need to overfill it.  Afterwards, you should roll the dough up into a spiral or a tube shape.  Then, slice the dough spiral into small, 1 1/2 inch chunks.   Place these chunks side by side, spiral up, in the loaf pan.  Place the pan in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown on top.

While the rolls are baking, combine the powdered sugar and heavy cream with an electric mixer on high.  Beat until the cream is thick, fluffy, and forms peaks.

Serve the rolls hot, topped with the whipped cream.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Things I Love About My Home: My Pup (5 Reasons a Dog Is the Best Thing for Your Home)

If you've read any of my DIY posts, you'|ve probably seen my sweet puppy, Wicket.  She's not really a puppy anymore; she's a year old.  Since my husband and I got her when she was eight weeks old, though, it's hard for me to not see her as the little five pound ball of fluff that entered our life last January. She also hasn't calmed down a bit, either, so she's still my zooming ball of fluff... even though she weighs fifteen pounds now.

Taking on the responsibility of a dog at a young age was a big leap for us, but my husband and I both grew up in dog families and the reality was that even though we had each other and had an apartment that we loved in a neighborhood that we loved... it would never feel like home without a dog to us.  We found our sweet girl on Craigslist (A military family had just gotten her and then got orders to Korea a few weeks later.  They wanted to find a home for her before their children got more attached.) and have been happier and happier ever since.  Don't get me wrong; Wicket is a normal dog who begs for human food (especially expensive things like lox and sushi... she's fancy like that) and a normal dog who has accidents and a normal dog who wants attention when I have to work... but she is still the best thing we ever brought into our home.

With that in mind, here are the five reasons a dog is the best thing for your home:
  1. You will get tons more exercise.  I liked to work out before I had my dog, but I absolutely get more exercise now that we have her.  Wick isn't a dog that needs tons of long walks or runs (she's a Shih Tzu), but I still walk her many times throughout the day, usually a mile or so.  I run around the apartment with her because she loves to play chase and race her up the stairs to our walk up.  That doesn't add up to a crazy killer body, but it does add a lot more serotonin to my brain and our walk up stairs haven't caused me to be out of breath in months.
  2. You get in touch with your neighborhood and neighbors.  Having a dog forces you to be out and about.  Luckily, I live in a dog friendly neighborhood, where many businesses put out bowl of water or allow dogs inside and TONS of people have dogs.  I have met so many more people in our neighborhood than I would if I didn't have a dog.  I would never have a reason to be outside so often and I wouldn't stop to talk to so many people.  
  3. You see your partner in a new way.  There is nothing like watching your partner love and care for something.  It melts my heart to see my husband carry around our teeny dog, to see him play with her, and to see him light up when he sees her when he comes in from work.  I see him a totally new light now that we both take care of her and I appreciate him so much more.  She has strengthened our relationship so much.
  4. You prioritize fun more.  Wick has interrupted the writing of this post two times to play already.  My normal life before having a dog was working, having dinner with my husband, working out, and working on side projects (DIY, art, or continuing my work from the school day).  I come from a family that really prioritizes work and it's a daily struggle for me to stop finding things that need doing.  However, because I have my dog and she is so high energy, there are times when I just have to shut the laptop, put the grading away, or put the paintbrush down and chase my dog around or wrestle with her for toys.  It's so much more healthy than working constantly.
  5. It's healthy for it to not just be about you.  Everyday that I stay late at work, I think about the time that I'm missing with my dog.  Extra errands that I take on often become a question of, "Is this necessary?  Because I could be walking my dog..."  It amazes me how many extra little things get filtered out by that.  I don't really need to go window shop at the mall, I don't really need to stop at Starbucks for a coffee, I don't really have to drive all the way to Virginia Beach just for a trip to Whole Foods.  What I do need to do is get home to my dog, my husband, and our friends.  It's so much less about me and the things that I like and so much more about my relationships with others and this animal that I'm responsible for, and that is absolutely better for me.
I hope this post relates to things you love about having a dog or inspires you to think more about adding an animal to your family.  What do you love about your pets?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A DIY Industrial Rustic Table Part 2: The Tutorial

Yesterday, I shared the story behind the creation of my industrial rustic table here, including all of the ups and downs along the way.  Today, I am sharing a tutorial for how to make it, without all those ups and downs.

  • Vintage sewing table legs, detached from the treadle (I found mine on eBay for around $45 plus shipping.  Find similar ones here.)
  • 4 pine boards, 6 feet long, 12 inches wide, 1 inch in thickness.
  • 1 package of wood screws, 1 1/2 inches long
  • 4 carriage bolts, 5/16 inches in diameter, 2 1/2 inches long (the size specifications here are to my tabletop thickness and the openings in the table legs for bolts.  Modify this as needed for your table)
  • 3 steel threaded rods, 5/16 inches in diameter, 70 inches long (I wrote about my difficulties with threaded rod in the previous post.  In my search, I only found the steel threaded rod in very short and very long sizes.  I cut the rods down to size myself and that was much easier than I anticipated.  Another important note: while I am partial to Home Depot because of the great customer service at the store in my area, they do not carry steel threaded rod.  They carry steel plated zinc threaded rod and zinc threaded rod.  DO NOT use this.  It bends over time and creates an unstable piece of furniture.  However, Lowes carries steel threaded rod in a variety of lengths and diameters.)
  • 16 hex nuts, 5/16 inches in diameter
  • Minwax Wood Stain (I used Jacobean, as I love the dark tones in it)
  • Minwax Polyurethane Satin or Semigloss, oil based
  • Wood glue (I prefer Liquid Nails brands of glue)
  • Sandpaper
  • A solvent for cleaning your paintbrush (I prefer Murphy's Oil Soap, but you can use turpentine, linseed oil, or even dishwashing soap)
  • Black or oil rubbed bronze spray paint

  • Cordless drill (make sure you pick up larger drill bits if you need them.  I had to pick up a 5/16 drill bit to create holes large enough to accommodate the larger bolts.)
  • Hammer
  • High quality paint brush (for the wood stain)
  • Paint roller (I used foam rollers; I find they give a smoother finish with paint and with sealant)
  • Paint tray
  • Hack saw with steel blades
  • Metal file
  • A rag (old is fine, it just needs to be clean)
  • Tarp or plastic drop cloth
  • Pliers
  • Adjustable wrench

The Process:
Step 1: Do some research.  As I said in Part 1, some of my difficulty stemmed from not having an exact tutorial for what I wanted to do.  However, I did pull from some fabulous tutorials for DIY dining/kitchen tables.  Here are the ones I found most useful as I was planning and building my table: Apartment Therapy: How to make a sewing machine dining table, A Beautiful Mess: Elsie's DIY Dining Room Table, Stylizimo: New trendy dining table in 1-2-3!, and Apartment Therapy: Gregory's project, the stereo cabinet, house of stain #5.

Step 2: Make a sketch and plan.  I find that drawing my idea out helps me to visualize what will work best for me.

Step 3: Pick up any materials and tools that you need.  For my table, I used three pine boards for the tabletop.  The fourth pine board I had cut in half (Home Depot and Lowes will both give you a few cuts for free.  For a renter with limited tools, like me, this is extremely helpful.) and I used those two halves to connect the three tabletop boards together.  The supporting boards need to be long enough to reach all the tabletop boards, so if you are planning a wider or skinnier table, you should adjust the size of the supporting boards accordingly.  Another materials note: you can use any type of wood for this table.  I chose pine because I love how "knott-y" it is; I thought that that texture would be especially pretty with the dark stain (and it's a very affordable wood).

Step 4: Prepare the tabletop and glue the support boards down.  Choose which side of the board you want to the be on the top and which directions those boards should go.  Then, lay all the boards down on the floor exactly as you want them to be in the finished table (nice, neat, all together), with the top side down.  Next, take the two half boards and spread wood glue all over them (I made a zig zag pattern) and place those boards across all three tabletop boards.  I placed mine diagonally to give the tabletop boards more support.  Place some heavy objects on top of those "support boards" to press the boards together while the wood glue dries.  I don't know that the weight of a puppy, as shown, really helps... but it didn't hurt the process.

Step 5) Attach the support boards to the tabletop using a drill and wood screws.  After the wood glue has dried fully (I let it dry overnight), use a cordless drill and wood screws to fully connect the support boards to the tabletop.  I went a little crazy with the  drilling and placed a screw about every inch or inch and a half.  I did this on the underside of the table, because I did not want those screws to show on the tabletop.  I chose 1 1/2 inch long screws specifically so that they could attach both boards (each board is 1 inch in thickness), but wouldn't break through the top.

Step 6) Sand, stain, and seal the underside of the table.  Lay down a tarp or plastic drop cloth and position the newly stable tabletop on it.  This will prevent any staining of your floor.  I sanded down the boards thoroughly, especially the support boards and edges, which are more likely to come into contact with hands and knees.  You should follow the instructions of your specific stain.  The one must I have to pass on is the recommendation to use a high quality brush.  With painting, you don't need to worry about this as much, but with stain, it definitely matters.  I spread the stain on quickly, allowed it to penetrate the wood for about twenty minutes (I wanted a dark stain, so if you're working with something lighter, like a honey color, you may not want to leave it on as long.), then rubbed off the excess with a clean rag.  Make sure you do this thoroughly, as any drips that are left get really sticky.  Also, make sure to check that nothing dripped between the boards and if anything has, wipe off that excess as well.  Clean your brush thoroughly after you finish to maintain it's softness and suppleness. 

Step 7) Determine the position of the legs, mark the holes for the bolts, and drill the holes.  The table legs I used had two spots for bolts on the top.  Some other legs may have more spots for these, and I would recommend attaching bolts in every spot you can.  The more stable the better.  I positioned the legs as if I were attaching them and used a Sharpie to mark where I should drill a hole for each bolt.  These bolts should go through the support boards and the tabletop boards for maximum stability. Make sure that the two legs are going to be attached parallel to each other; they must be parallel because you have to put the steel threaded rods through the legs..  Then, ask someone to help you by holding the tabletop up, to prevent you from drilling into the floor.  Use your cordless drill and a large drill bit (I used a 5/16 drill bit) to drill the holes for the bolts.

Step 8) Attach the legs to the tabletop using carriage bolts.  Have that helpful individual keep holding the tabletop while you push a carriage bolt into each hole.  You may need a hammer to really pound the bolts in; I did.  Next, slide the table legs onto those bolts and add a hex nut to the end of the bolt (on the underside of the tabletop.  Twist the bolts as tightly as you can with your hands, then use an adjustable wrench to twist them on further (you may need to hold the edge of the bolt with pliers to make sure that the nut is turning rather than the bolt).  Pay attention to the top side of the tabletop while you're doing this; it is possible to begin to sink the bolts into the wood if you're using a soft wood like pine.  You want to make sure these don't go too far into the wood.

Step 9) Insert the threaded rods for additional support.  If your table legs are like mine, you can probably wobble them considerably.  My table legs had three holes for the original iron rods to go through.  Before you put the steel rods through the holes, twist two hex nuts onto the threaded rod until they are approximately in the middle.  Slide the rod in one hole, then in the other (you may need to twist the nuts a bit to get this to happen).  Add another hex nut to the end of each rod (so essentially, you have one nut to border each side of the each table leg on each rod.  These lock the legs into place.).  If you, like me, will need to cut the rods down, make the process easier on yourself by pushing the rods far more to one side of the table than the other, so you only have to cut one end off, not both).  Twist the nuts as much as you can on either side of the table leg and then use the wrench to twist these as much as you can (the rods may bend a bit in the middle, stop when this begins to happen and the legs are straight up and down, perpendicular to the tabletop).  Repeat this for each rod.

Step 10) Cut the steel rods and file them down.  Use your hacksaw to cut the long end of the steel rod down.  This sounds like it will take forever and I put this step off forever.... but for realsies, it takes about ten minutes and is so easy.  I recommend putting a towel or something down under the rods to catch as much of the metal shavings as you can.  These ends are going to be sharp, so immediately file the ends with a metal file.  Be a little obsessive and file all around.  Check it for sharpness with your own hands.  It's so likely that someone's knee or ankle (or  your pets) could brush against these and you don't want anyone getting cut.  Immediately after filing, shake the towel out into a trash can, and then vacuum the floor around it to get all the metal shavings up so you don't cut your foot later on.

Step 11) Turn the table over, sand the top and edges, stain the top and edges, and seal them.  Have that friendly individual help you yet again to turn the table right side up.  If your table is big, like mine is, you need help.  Don't be a hero.  Then, thoroughly sand the tabletop and edges.  Run your hand over the top and edges to make sure it is smooth and won't give you or anyone else splinters.  As you can tell, I'd rather be the victim of metal or wood splinters than someone else.  I'm a good hostess and good with the tweezers.  Stain the top and edges of your table, again working quickly to ensure even application.  Let it penetrate the wood for about twenty minutes, rub off the excess, and then seal with some polyurethane.  I did a second coat of poly on the tabletop.  The reason I chose to seal the wood was to protect the tabletop as much as possible; it gets a ton of wear and tear.  Let the poly dry overnight.

Step 12) Spray paint the steel rods.  This isn't necessary, but I was bothered by the mismatch of the steel against the ironwork.  I carefully spray painted the steel rods, using a piece of paper to catch the extra spray.  If you have a garage or an outdoor space for this, I would recommend it.  If you, like me, don't have access to this, make sure you keep the area ventilated.

Step 13) Doublecheck your stability.  My table will wobble about an inch in either direction if it is pushed.  However, it should be no more unstable than that.  It should not wobble when you lean on it with your elbows while sitting and you should feel confident that it can withstand normal wear and tear.  If needed, tighten the nuts up more. 

Step 14) Enjoy your table!  We use our for meals, as a workspace, and as a central place for friends to gather.  While this table was a lot of work and was not exactly cheap to make, it was significantly less expensive than a new table made of similar materials, and it is a unique, industrial, rustic piece that gives new life to something old.

If you attempt this table or this tutorial inspires to you create a beautiful piece of furniture, I would love to hear about it!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A DIY Industrial Rustic Table Part 1: The Story


I m so, so, so excited to finally share this DIY with you.  It is without a doubt the most complicated one I have ever made and has had more stumbling blocks than any other project I have eve undertaken.  I wanted to make sure that I had a foolproof tutorial before posting, but I have spent some time thinking about how to best present it.  When you spend such a long amount of time on something, you want to share the whole process: the ups and downs, the inspiration, the splinters, the stained hands... I can't just write a clean cut tutorial on something that has meant a LOT to me.  Today, I'm sharing Part I: the story of the table.  Tomorrow, I will be posting Part II: the tutorial on how to make it.

My idea for this table first began with this image: 

I pinned it ages ago.  I have this love for anything industrial, and I've always found the construction of old sewing tables beautiful.  There's just something about a curving, feminine shape in the form of very masculine iron that strikes that perfect combination of soft and tough.  These old sewing tables have turned up at auctions I have gone to and at thrift stores I frequent time and time again, but often, they're still in that table form. I have no idea how to begin disassembling all that ironwork and would never want to get in over my head so deep.

I keep a saved search on my eBay app for "vintage industrial".  I love almost anything with that tagline, be it signage, furniture, or containers, but I noticed after a while that these sewing tables showed up ALL.  THE.  TIME.  Often, the listings were even just for the legs of the table, already disassembled from the gears and treadle.  It just made the project too tempting; my first roadblock disappeared.  I began watching the listings and eventually managed to snag a pair of Singer legs for a low price and reasonable shipping. 

Those table legs shipped fast and they spent a long time (over a month, actually) just sitting in my dining room looking pretty.  At the time, my dining table was a cheap Craigslist purchase that was meant to fill a need rather than be an investment.  I finally made the choice to sell that table (again on the CL) to force myself to tackle the project of building a new dining room table using the sewing machine legs.  Sometimes I need an extreme amount of motivation.  It's a flaw.  I'm living with it.

I consulted tons of online tutorials.  There was no exact tutorial for what I wanted to do, so I improvised and combined as much of the knowledge from the table building tutorials I found online as I could.  I sketched out a detailed plan and went to the hardware store with my friend, Erin, to buy all of the lumber, bolts, and stain that I needed.  I bought four long beams and bought additional small beams for underlying support.  I drilled all the boards together with the help of my sweet puppy, Wicket, and then excitedly began staining the underside of the boards.

However, as soon as I came to the part of attaching the legs of the table, I began to hit roadblocks.  First, when drilling holes through the boards in order to create an opening for a bolt, I drilled a hole in my wood floor (hopefully it can be refilled so I can get our security deposit back!).  Then, I attached the legs to the tabletop, but as soon as I flipped the table over (with the help of Erin and Kat!), the legs immediately slid outwards and rested diagonally rather than vertically.  HUGE PROBLEM.  They didn't break off, thank goodness, but the table appeared ready to collapse at any minute.  I looked closely at the legs and noticed that they had three holes where some kind of pipes or rods had originally been used to help distribute pressure evenly, locking the legs in place and preventing this problem. 

Immediately, I went to Home Depot to find a solution.  The helpful salesman directed me towards threaded rod.  I bought zinc rod in the right length, as well as some hex nuts to hold the legs in place.  These worked... kind of... they held the legs more upright.... but zinc is pretty bendy.  While initially the table felt sturdy, after I had finished sanding and staining the top and using it a few times, it began to become more rickety.  My husband, Jon, was very apprehensive, but I insisted that as long as I continued to adjust the tightness of the hex nuts, it should stay pretty stable.  And he loves me, so he let it go.  That being said, we had this conversation in June, so since I didn't post about the table once during the summer, I clearly had my own misgivings despite my protests to the contrary.

I spent time researching other options, but was unable to find steel threaded rod precut to the length that I needed.... turns out that stuff either comes in a really short length or a really long length, and I didn't need any more than six feet (the length of my table).  They do make shorter round steel rods, but after I discussed this with a sweet salesman at Home Depot (who, I kid you not, spent 45 minutes walking through the hardware aisle in an attempt to help me problem solve), realized that nothing could attach well enough onto that to hold the legs in place.  At this point, I started thinking about unbolting the legs and taking them to a welder to see I could just have iron rods welded in place, but that potential cost of that dissuaded me.

Finally, some friends came to visit us in September for Labor Day weekend, and while my Jon and his best friend, Brent, were hanging out in the dining room, the table shifted dramatically (allegedly, it nearly collapsed on their feet and would have if they had not caught it). Jon was pretty frustrated and chose the moment to put his foot down dramatically and told me that we had to figure out a solution or we had to find a new table.  Not unlike the earlier scenario I inflicted on myself of selling my dining table to force myself to build, I now had the motivation to find a solution.  Also, knowing that my husband had reached this point of frustration with the table gave me the courage to express my doubts and frustrations about the table to him.  I didn't want to give up; I loved those table legs and was now really passionate about the idea of upcycling those legs and using something so old in a new piece of furniture, but I couldn't find a way to make it work.  After I poured my heart out to Jon about the project gone wrong, he brought up the possibility of buying the absurdly long steel threaded rod and just cutting it.

It was so simple; I should have asked that question earlier, but I didn't think it was possible.  In my mind, that was something that happens in a factory with large machinery.  If I had had the courage to share my doubts about the project with my husband, an avionics tech who is familiar with all kinds of materials and machinery that I am not, this problem would have been solved so much sooner.  Excited, I asked him to take a serious look at the table and see what else I was missing.  He noticed that I could also increase the size of the bolts I was using to attach the table top to the legs to decrease any of the wobbling.

After picking up steel threaded rod, reattaching the table with the thicker bolts, and then cutting the steel bolts down to size, I'm happy to report that the table no longer wobbles or looks like it's on the verge of collapse, and it's held up for over a month like this.  This DIY taught me so much about perseverance and about humility- I've always been the type to insist that I can do things on my own, but asking for my husband's input was the best choice I made.  I still got to do all of the work and take credit for everything (cutting through steel is surprisingly easy!), but I don't know all the answers to everything. 

Tomorrow, I'll be posting a step by step tutorial for building the table, complete with a shopping list and loads of pictures.  I hope you'll stop back by and check that out now that you have made it through this long story of a DIY that very nearly became a "Nailed It!" style failure.  I'm so proud that it didn't. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Instagramming in the Kitchen: Balsamic Skirt Steak with Polenta and Roasted Tomatoes

One of the apps I am most frequently using on my iPhone is Instagram.  I love it.  I love how flattering the filters can be on people's skin tones, I love the vintage look it gives pictures, and I love the idea of using an art form (photography) as a key part of social media.  I think it brings people together in a way that is happier and warmer than simple Facebook statuses.

I find myself using it a lot to photograph my projects around the house and this extends to my cooking in addition to DIY projects.  I love food and trying new recipes and have decided to share that love through this blog in a new series called "Instagramming in the Kitchen". 

The first recipe I want to share is from Martha Stewart, originally posted on her website here: Balsamic Skirt Steak with Polenta and Roasted Tomatoes. The recipe was originally published in 2008 in the Everyday Food blog, hosted by her main site.  It's so incredibly easy, but it looks so impressive.  It's a great working night dish.

Balsamic Skirt Steak with Polenta and Roasted Tomatoes

  • 2 pints grape tomatoes (I have used grape tomatoes and roma tomatoes at different ties when making this.  Any type of tomato will work, but the grape tomatoes do add extra sweetness.) 
  • 6 scallions, white and green parts separated and cut into 1-inch pieces (I have used scallions, shallots, and yellow onions.  Shallots were my absolute favorite with this dish)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 1 1/2 pounds skirt steak (cut into 2 or more pieces, if necessary, to fit in skillet) (I tend to buy steak as it is on sale, so I have used skirt, strip, and flank steak, all with a good result.)
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar

Roasted Tomatoes
First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees for roasting the tomatoes.   *Note: At this point, I also begin boiling water for the polenta (see below).  In a large baking pan, toss the tomatoes with scallion whites   and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Put the pan of tomatoes in the oven and roast for 12-15 minutes or until the tomatoes have split skins.  Upon removing these from the oven, add scallion greens.

Bring four cups of water to a boil in a large pot.  Once it is boiling, add 1 teaspoon of salt to the water and slowly pour the cornmeal in while whisking.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking frequently for 10 minutes or until the polenta is thick.  A grainy texture will still be present, but the polenta should be soft.

Drop 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over a high heat.  I usually give it about two minutes to fully warm up and swirl the pan several times to coat it.  Season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper (I prefer to use salt and pepper from my grinders for this portion rather than table salt or pre-ground black pepper).  Add the steak to the skillet and cook, turning only once, until the steak is medium rare.  It is crucial that you only turn the steak once.  The more you touch and squeeze meat with tongs or a fork, the more juiciness you push out of the meat.  After both sides have been cooked (the whole process usually takes about six minutes for me, but our stove top runs hot and I prefer a rarer steak) transfer the steak to a plate and cover it loosely with foil.  Let the steak rest for at least five minutes.  Add vinegar to the skillet and boil on high heat until it has reduced to a 1/2 cup.  This takes about 7 minutes and during this time, I usually shut the kitchen door, as the smell created by the boiling vinegar lingers for a long time.  Turn off the heat and add in any juices from the resting steak to the vinegar. 

Fill a bowl with 3/4 cup of polenta and top with slices of the steak and the roasted tomatoes.  Drizzle several tablespoons over the polenta.  Sprinkle Parmesan over the mixture to taste and serve.