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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fake-Out Take-Out Stir Fry

Every so often, I have an incredible urge for chinese food. Being 30 miles from the nearest chinese eatery is prohibitive to satisfying my urges. In a recent cooking magazine was this recipe for stir fry. Most of these recipes have exotic ingredients that the country pantry just doesn't normally stock. This recipe is the exception!

1 lb of meat (you can use any leftover meat like roast or chicken or even tofu for a veggie version)
2 pkgs of frozen stir fry veggies (or by all means fresh if they're in season)
1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice
1/2 cup of soy sauce
1/2 cup of peanut butter
4 tbsp of brown sugar
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Hot cooked rice

Heat a dutch oven on medium high heat and add a tbsp of your favorite fat (olive oil, canola oil, shortening....whatever you have is fine.

Add your meat. This was leftover pork roast from the other night. If you are using raw meat you would cook the meat before adding the vegetables. In this case, I just got a little sear on the pieces of cooked pork.

Get your veggies ready. I like to combine varieties of stirfry veggies. This summer I hope to freeze my own mixtures! Add them to the meat in the dutch oven and cover with a lid.

Meanwhile, your rice should be started. I used quick cooking brown rice, it takes about 15 minutes and works great with this recipe.

In a separate bowl, add the 1/2 cup apple juice. This is homegrown, home juiced and home canned apple juice from my friend, Kristi.

Add a 1/2 cup of soy sauce to the apple juice.

Then a 1/2 cup (or there abouts) of peanut butter. The recipe specified creamy, but I used chunky and the little peanut pieces added a delightful crunch. Whichever type you have is fine.

Then add the brown sugar.

Then add the garlic powder and ginger.

I didn't have cayenne pepper on the pantry so I used some tabasco sauce.

And a pinch of crushed red pepper.

Grab your whisk. You will want to whisk gently as the peanut butter is stiff and really giving it a brisk whisk will result in splashed soy sauce/apple juice everywhere. (I speak from drippy experience!)

After a minute or two of gently whisking, this is what you should have. Trust me, it will taste better than it looks!

Give your meat and veggies a stir.

When the veggies are cooked to your desired tenderness, add the sauce mixture.

Gently stir the veggies to coat them with the sauce.

I like to cook the sauce down a bit, it takes just another minute to thicken it.

Here it is! It is wonderful, the hubby was a little nervous about the use of peanut butter but he really likes this dish. It takes about 20 minutes start to finish, a great meal for a busy night.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Not-Quite-Sure Pasta

I subscribe to a couple of cooking magazines and this is a recipe that I tried from the most recent issue.

Here are your ingredients:
1 cup uncooked pasta
1 pkg (16oz) frozen veggies
1 T cornstarch
3/4 cup chicken broth
pinch of crushed red pepper
olive oil
3 T butter
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 can (4oz) mushrooms
1 small tomato, chopped
Green onions, chopped
Parmesan cheese, sprinkled

Get out your favorite pot and start boiling some water. Add a couple pinches of salt to flavor your pasta. I use only whole wheat or whole grain pasta now, Barilla is a good one!

Measure out your pasta and if a few happen to jump into the water of their own volition, so be it! Oh, I should mention, I doubled this recipe from the above list...

While your noodles are boiling, get your chicken broth ready. If you have the ready made kind, GREAT! I did not, so I was forced to use chicken blocks. Measure out the water and then pop the whole thing in the microwave to heat up. The heat softens the blocks and !presto! you have broth.

Bust out a good skillet and drizzle some olive oil in the pan.

Add a pinch of crushed red pepper to flavor the oil...this is amazing and was not in the original recipe!

Lest you think that I have a spotless kitchen and everything works out great. Check carefully under the handle of my pot. That would be smoke, copious amounts of smoke! The hubby was playing with the kids in the other end of the house and yelled "What's burning?" Ahhhh, keeping it real in the runway kitchen!

Here is our finished broth.

Add the corn starch to the broth. (I should confess that as soon as I snapped this picture the spoon tipped out of the container and the whole mess fell into the broth.)

Grab your flat whisk. What? You don't have a flat whisk? Oh my, run, don't walk, and get yourself a flat whisk. It is my FAVORITE kitchen tool, hands down. I'm not sure I made edible gravy without it.

Before whisking...

After a brisk whisk...

Now that your olive oil is hot and the pepper has flavored the oil, add your frozen (by all means fresh, if you have them) veggies.

The ingredients of our sauce. By now the pasta should be done. Drain it into a colander in the sink and use the pot for your sauce.

Melt the butter. Then add the mustard (I used one with horseradish in it, yum!), basil, parsley, and garlic.

Using your beloved wire whisk, give them a good brisk whisk.

Add your cornstarch/broth mixture slowly while continuing to whisk.

Check on your veggies, they should be cooking away at a pretty good clip.

The sauce will be thickening. Bring to a boil and stir for 2 minutes until it is thick enough to leave a little space when you scrape the bottom of the pan with your whisk.

At this point, add your drained noodles back into the sauce (former boiling) pan. Stir gently to coat the noodles with this beautiful sauce!

Now add your vegetables, they should have a little "char" on them which is just olive oily and red peppery goodness! Stir gently again.

Here is my daughter waiting patiently for this supper to be ready.

Grab your tomatoes and give them a chop. Again, gently stir to incorporate the tomatoes.

Add a few green onions and Parmesan cheese to the top.

This was supper: Not-Quite-Sure Pasta, slow cooked roast and pickled beets.

I call this recipe "Not-Quite-Sure" Pasta because the fresh from the stove taste was excellent. We all loved it. But the hubby reheated some leftovers and he wasn't impressed with it the second time around. So I'm not quite sure, I'll have to try it again. Give it a try and let me know how you like it!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tortilla Cheese Soup (on steroids)

It must be winter, I seem to be making a lot of soup!! But, oh well, I love soup. I could eat soup every day for the rest of my life and maybe have the same soup twice a year. Back in my working days I used to frequent a chain restaurant just for their tortilla cheese soup which just had cheese soup and chicken in it. Really! That's it! So I had to soup it up (pun definitely intended) This is SOOOO much better! This soup-of-the-week is so ridiculously easy, you'll make it tonight! (and no actual 'roids were administered in the making of this soup)

First, gather up your ingredients:

-leftover cooked chicken, cubed or shredded (or a chicken breast you quickly cooked up), about 2 cups
-2 cups of corn, frozen will be fine
-salsa, at least a cup but more if you want
-2 cans cheddar cheese soup
-1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
-green pepper and onion, chopped

Drizzle some olive oil in the bottom of your pan and get the peppers, onions and chicken going on a medium heat. Don't scorch them, but let them know you mean business!

When the pepper and onions have softened a bit and the chicken has just a little sear on it, add your corn, beans and both cans of soup.

Add enough milk to cover everything. It will look disgusting, but keep stirring and it will get better...I promise. Keep your heat on medium, you don't want to scorch the milk and cheese soup. I've done it and it was gross.

When everything has heated through, and there are little bubbles bubbling up on your soup, pour in your salsa, use as much as you like. Remember, if a little is good, more is better! (And that you can't take it out once you put it in.) Well, somewhere in the middle is where you want it, I guess.

Give it a good stir to incorporate the salsa and this is what you've got! Chunky deliciousness!

Usually, I serve this with some tortilla chips on top with the shredded cheddar cheese, but we're fresh out of chips. Here was lunch on a cold wintery day: tortilla cheese soup, honey whole wheat bread and apples. (I seem to be eating a lot of apples as well as soup this winter....hmmm.)

Ahhhh, the money shot! Now that is some soup! And there were no leftovers in the house that day...