Monday, December 12, 2016

Quick Sesame Beef Sitr Fry

I am a recovering recipe ripper-outer.  Now Pinterest and the Internet in general help me save recipes I want to try instead of creating a big paper mess.  I still have an old stack of ripped out recipes I can't quite get myself to toss, so I'm working my way through them when I can.

I tried one from 2009 (I know) tonight with a few tweaks.  It was quick, packed in the veggies, and the kids ate it!  I would definitely do the prep ahead of time, since it was a little hectic and messy in the kitchen trying to whip it up right before dinner, but we made it happen.

Quick Sesame Beef Sitr Fry

Serves 4-6

4 oz. egg noodles, cooked and drained (or serve over rice, etc.)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
1 heaping tbsp. garlic, minced
6 scallions, sliced
2 c. cabbage, shredded (the kids barely noticed it!)
1 c. carrots, sliced diagonally or julienned
1 c. yellow or white onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, julienned
1 medium red pepper, julienned
1 tbsp. sesame oil (or vegetable oil if you don't have it)
1 lb. flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain
2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 c. reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
freshly ground black pepper to taste (I tend to be fairly generous)
salt to taste (I left it out)
toasted sesame seeds (optional - I just didn't have any this time)

Cook noodles according to directions, drain and set aside.  Toss the beef in soy sauce.  Heat the sesame oil in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat and add beef.  Sauté until beef is nearly cooked, about 3-4 minutes max.  Add beef to noodles, wipe out pan and add olive oil.  Add all of the veggies, and sauté until veggies are crisp-tender.  Add broth, beef and noodles, and season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds if desired. Cook until heated through and serve.   (A little Sriracha sauce will kick it up a notch if you're in to that sort of thing.)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Broccoli, Chicken & Rice Casserole

I needed to use up some leftover chicken, broccoli, and cheese fondue from New Year's, and this is what happened!  The kids are not giant fans of casseroles - they're more of the "keep my food separate" school of thought, but they ate it and didn't die. 

Broccoli, Chicken & Rice Casserole

2/3 cup 2% (or skim) milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 recipe cream soup mix
1/2 c. mushrooms chopped (I used some I had some chopped and frozen; add more if you like)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese (I used the fondue here)
1 cup cooked rice
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped broccoli, thawed (I used fresh I had on hand, and steamed it)
2 c. chicken, cooked & chopped (I used leftovers - rotisserie chicken works great here, too)
Cooking spray
1 (1-ounce) slice white bread (or just use some Panko bread crumbs)

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and add cheese; stir until melted. Remove from heat; stir in cooked rice, chicken and broccoli. Transfer broccoli mixture to an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1/2 cup (or just keep it simple and use breadcrumbs). Sprinkle broccoli mixture with breadcrumbs. You can cover with foil and freeze at this point (just thaw in the refrigerator before baking) or bake, covered, at 350° for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until heated through and topping is golden. Makes about 6-8 servings (serving size: about 3/4 - 1 cup).

Thursday, October 27, 2016

"Caprese" Chicken Sandwich

We rarely have leftovers with a hungry teenage boy in the house, so I occasionally for lunch I like to "treat" myself with something they might not like as much.  Here's one I whipped up recently...

"Caprese" Chicken Sandwich

Good bread - I had some Ciabatta on hand
butter or olive oil
fresh basil leaves
Roma tomatoes, sliced
thinly sliced chicken deli meat (this was Boar's Head something or other we had left over from chicken "philly" sandwiches we had for dinner earlier in the week) or slice up a chicken breast if you have it

optional: thinly sliced red onion, some garlic aioli, Dijon mustard, mozzarella cheese - or even better, basil farmer's cheese - a dangerously delicious treat a local store here sells (Brennan's)

I heated my pan to medium-ish heat, and then lightly spritzed my bread with some olive oil.  I layered the ingredients on, topped with the other slice of bread, and then put my trusty bacon press on top to ensure even browning and heating.  Oddly, I don't use it to press bacon at all - I do make grilled cheeses with it all the time, though - total game changer.  I highly recommend one. Flip the sandwich when the first side is golden brown, reapply the bacon press, and heat until the other side is golden, and the ingredients are heated through.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Weeknight Sloppy Joes

My kids don't LOVE sloppy joes, but I feel like I grew up eating one version or another fairly often.  I remember having some good ol' wavy potato chips on the side to scoop up any of the meat that escaped the bun. We break these out occasionally in the cold weather months, since it's a quick, easy meal.  The meat also freezes well, so you can make a double batch and have dinner plus a back-up in the freezer for you or someone who might need a quick meal.

Weeknight Sloppy Joes 
Adapted from Eating Well 

1 lb. 90%-lean ground beef
1 large onion, finely diced
1 c. finely chopped cremini mushrooms (I had sliced white mushrooms on hand, and used those)
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes (or in season, 5 fresh plum tomatoes, diced)
1 green bell pepper, diced (finely diced for my picky people)
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. cider vinegar
1/4 c. chili sauce, such as Heinz
1/4 c. ketchup

Have on hand: 8 each whole-wheat hamburger buns , toasted if desired

Cook beef, onion and mushrooms in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the vegetables are soft and the moisture has evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes.  Drain off any fat if needed.

Add tomatoes and flour; stir to combine. Stir in water, vinegar, chili sauce and ketchup and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and the onion is very tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve on warm buns or cool completely and freeze. Thaw in fridge, reheat on stove or in slow cooker. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

"Unbelievable" Chicken

I didn't name it, but hey, it's good stuff.  This was a recipe I found and tweaked a few years ago when I was looking for new freezer meal recipes.   

"Unbelievable" Chicken

1/4 c. cider vinegar
3 tbsp. Dijon or prepared coarse-ground mustard
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lime, juiced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 c. brown sugar (I have also used a good quirt of honey instead)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
ground black pepper to taste
1/4 c. olive oil
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

In a gallon-sized freezer bag, mix the cider vinegar, mustard, garlic, lime juice, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt, pepper and olive oil. Place chicken in the mixture. Freeze. (To split into 2 smaller meals or make one for tonight and one for the freezer, do 1/2 marinade and 3-4 chicken breasts in each bag.)

To prepare: thaw in fridge. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat. Lightly oil the grill grate. Place chicken on the prepared grill, and cook 6 to 8 minutes per side, until juices run clear. Discard marinade.   You can also bake in the oven or cook on a grill pan.  

Monday, October 17, 2016

Slow Cooker Pepper Steak

Interestingly, the kid who meticulously picks out any evidence of vegetables in most of his meals suggested this one for the meal plan recently.  While shocked, I was glad to oblige.  It's ridiculously simple, and everyone likes it!

Slow Cooker Pepper Steak 

1-1/2 – 2 lb. beef round steak, cut into smaller pieces
¼ c. soy sauce
1 c. chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. sugar or honey
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. ground ginger (you can also use fresh)
4 tomatoes, chopped or 1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes with liquid
1 green & 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
2 tbsp. corn starch or arrowroot powder (reserve)
1 pkg. egg noodles or rice to serve

Slice round steak into strips or bite-sized pieces.   If you're feeling fancy, you can sear the meat in a skillet before adding to the slow cooker (adjust time accordingly) to add a little flavor. Add the next 8 ingredients, then cover and cook on low about 5 hours,  or until meat is tender.  I think traditionally, you'd add the peppers in, too, and they would break down nicely like the tomatoes.  I've added them later - I kind of like to taste them, so I usually throw them in with an hour or so to cook before serving - in the photo, you can see I had just added them - but either way works!

To thicken the sauce a bit, whisk 2 tbsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder into 1 c. cooking liquid then stir into slow cooker, and cook until thickened.  Serve over egg noodles or rice. 

To prepare as a freezer meal:  Cut beef into strips (approx. 3” x 1”).  [Heat 1 T. cooking oil in pan.  Brown strips of meat in pan - taking care not to overcook.  Remove and let cool.] Otherwise, just throw the beef strips into the bag, and no one will judge you. :)  Add the next 8 ingredients, pour over beef.  Include a bag of sliced peppers separately (quart-sized bag). Include 1 pkg. egg noodles or rice with each bag. Have on hand:  2 T. cornstarch

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Simple Steak Sandwiches

This is barely a recipe - more of a meal inspiration... Tonight we needed a meal that would come together quickly since we had carpooling duties right at dinner prep time.  I always have chicken and beef in the freezer, and had pulled some sirloin steaks out last night to thaw.

We purchase beef from a local farmer in bulk twice per year, so we get a great price on a high quality product.  We don't eat more beef than we did before, but we don't feel like certain cuts are only for "special occasions" anymore, either!

I had decided on steak sandwiches, and grabbed a bagged salad mix, a bunch of carrots, our favorite cheese and some bread on the way home from school.  I had some potato wedges in the freezer to have as a side, too.  As soon as we got home, I would be able to throw it all together within 30 minutes.

Simple Steak Sandwiches

4 rolls or a loaf of bread of your choice
1 lb. Sirloin steak or cut of your choice
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1-2 tsp. butter
Cambozola cheese (the kids LOVE it - we all do)
salt and pepper for seasoning

Preheat the oven and bake your potato wedges if you're doing them (we like the Alexia Oven Fries with Rosemary & Garlic).  In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter, and add sliced onion.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until onion is browned and starting to caramelize.  Lower heat and stir occasionally so they don't burn.   Heat your grill, season steaks with salt and pepper and grill to your liking.  We're a medium kind of family.  Let the steaks rest a few minutes.  I threw the bread in the oven for a few minutes to warm it up, but don't let it get too crispy.  Split the rolls, and build the sandwiches with slices of steak, a thick spread of Cambozola cheese, pile on some onions, and then serve.  SO. GOOD.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Broccoli Cheese Soup

I learned this recipe in a cooking class I attended years ago.  Since then, the original paper copy has been buried in my stacks of recipes, but I can still make it from memory.  It's a quick, easy soup - perfect for a "Meatless Monday" or any night of the week.  You can make it in about 30 minutes if needed and serve with some good bread (the Rosemary Parmesan bread from Costco is ridiculously good), a side salad or whatever you like.  I've tried to approximate the measurements here.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

5 tbsp. unsalted butter
5 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, diced (yellow or sweet)
1 red bell pepper, seeded & diced (finely diced if you have kids who pick stuff out)
1/8 - 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
2 14.5 oz. cans chicken broth (I prefer low-sodium)
2-3 c. broccoli florets, chopped
2 oz. (ish) American cheese, roughly chopped (do NOT use the plastic-wrapped stuff!  I use Boar's Head White)
1 c. milk (2% or whole for a creamier soup, I use skim since it's what we usually have on hand)
salt & pepper to taste

In a saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil.  Drop in broccoli, and then cook about 1-2 minutes until broccoli is bright green.  Turn off heat, spoon broccoli out and set aside, reserving all liquid.  Melt butter over medium heat, then add onion.  Cook about 2 minutes, then add in bell pepper.  Add in red pepper flakes if you like - my husband loves it, my little doesn't, so we just leave them out for now.  Cook about 2 more minutes, then stir in flour.  Cook about 2 minutes ( know, everything is 2 minutes - I'm estimating!) to remove the raw flour taste.

Whisk in broth, and then bring to a simmer, until the soup begins to thicken.  Stir in 1/2 of the broccoli and reserved liquid.  Continue to simmer for 20-30 minutes (or 10 if you're in a hurry like me most times).  Stir in American cheese, until completely melted.  In a small bowl, add about 1/4 c. of the hot soup mixture, and then whisk in 1 c. of milk to temper the milk (don't add cold milk to the hot soup - it won't go well).  Whisk into the milk mixture, and continue to gently simmer.  I took my immersion blender and just ran it through there a few times, to chop up the broccoli a bit (makes it harder for the picky one to avoid it), and then added in the rest of the broccoli that had been set aside.  Add salt & pepper to taste, and then serve.