Saturday, January 30, 2010

Beef Stir Fry

This no way pretends to be any kind of  traditional oriental stir fry. The ingredients in a stir fry are  limited only by the imagination, what's in the refrigerator and cupboard, so it's a moving target, and depends largely on what you have on hand:

Tonight I used:
Olive Oil
About 1 lb. thinly sliced Beef Chuck Steak
6 small cloves minced Garlic
4 Green Onions, sliced in 1 inch pieces
1 Green Pepper, sliced thin
1 cup sliced Mushrooms
1 medium Zucchini, halved and sliced
1 cup chopped Chinese Pea Pods
1/8 cup minced Shallot
1/2 minced Jalapeno
Sesame Oil
Toasted Sesame Seeds

 Soy Sauce to taste

Steamed Rice, toasted in ghee before steaming. Toasting the rice adds another depth of flavor; I didn't used to do this, but rarely cook rice without toasting now.

Heat oil in skillet or wok, add garlic and jalapeno and saute slightly. Add beef and stir fry until nearly fully cooked. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove to bowl, add more oil then vegetables, saute until veggies are tender-crisp. Add beef, garlic, and jalapeno back in and stir fry until all are heated through. Scoop rice onto plate, then stir fried meat and vegetables.

Drizzle with Sesame Oil and  sprinkle Toasted Sesame seeds before serving.

Last night we watched The Visitor on DVD. I subscribe to Netflix and have a movie queue I won't begin to see in my lifetime and add more movies each week! The Visitor was a fairly dark film depicting a side of life some of us, at least me, are not exposed to. Director Thomas McCarthy.

Trips we have planned this year, that I may or may not write about, depending on what we cook and how interesting they turn out:

February: Mt. Hood, skiing
May: New Orleans-The Big Easy, my dream trip
June: Vegas, Narimasu Class Reunion
July: Reston, VA-Overseas Brat Reunion
Labor Day week-Oregon Coast and Sonoma Wine Country
Last week of December 2010:  Victoria, BC

Stuffed Green Peppers

My  Mom made these when I was growing up and I loved them. I have no idea what her recipe was if she even had one, I was too interested in guys and skiing, guys and motorcycles, guys and...well you get the general idea, to be interested in cooking. Mom was a fairly rudimentary cook, the basics and nothing particularly fancy. When she tried to be a bit fancy, it didn't always work, and there were stories in the family about her inedible Christmas Cranberry Salad or Fruitcake that could be used as doorstops.

She was a working Mom, long before it was as commonplace as it is now. She was a college grad-u-ate, about which my Dad, who was not, chided her. Most of my friends' Moms stayed home and made (in my opinion) better and fancier food, but she came home from work and often threw something together with no particular plan.

When I was married and raising 4-yes, 4-male teenage eating machines, I had a dry-erase calendar on the wall to plan the month's meals and make a shopping list, of which Costco played a big part, and a Daytimer to keep track of their band, sports, and scouts schedules, who was dropping off or picking up whom, and I was overjoyed when the oldest started driving, because he wanted to drive so badly he was delighted to take over the kid-delivery duties, although the first few times the kid took off with the rest of my offspring in a hurtling, wheeled instrument of death was quite scary to me.

The only wreck he ever had he was by himself in a 1970-ish Ford Maverick, a gift from my Aunt when she turned 80 and decided to stop driving. It was made of real metal, had a standard  transmission, NO power steering or power brakes. Roll-down windows. I thought it was hell to drive, the few times I had to. I did have a CD player installed in it for him. B (I'm not trying to conceal his identity, I do call my kids B, Beej, and T, or the all-encompassing, it could be any of you-Sweetie, and don't get them started on "uh oh, she used the middle name") rear-ended an Infiniti while fiddling (not the word he used at the time, but this blog has no adult content) with the radio volume. The Infiniti was totaled and the Maverick merely needed a new bumper to continue its journeys on life's highways. I think the hood was damaged, but he didn't care, it faithfully rolled him and his siblings whereever they needed to go, and after they left home I sold it to another kid and have no idea if it's still on the road today.

It's just me and one of those boys at home now, with visits from my partner, Ron, so I never go to Costco now, I just don't need that much food. My Mom shopped there, though, nearly until she died, a willing purchaser of mass quantities that we brought to our house during the clean out process of her house . There was so much food, too much to fit into our cupboards so we stacked it on the counter and kitchen floor and categorized it cupboard food, counter food, and floor food. She was a heavy smoker until a week before she died when, on oxygen, I threw her cigs away, afraid she was going to blow her house up, so some of the food smelled so much of smoke that we had to discard it, but what we kept we ate for months. That was in July 2001, and I still miss her every day. She may not have been much of a cook, but she was an incredibly intelligent and loving person, and in retrospect, I am grateful she was spared the agony that was 9-11 that year.

But, I digress; back to the stuffed peppers, they're something of a comfort food that I love but rarely make.

Stuffed Green Peppers

4 green peppers, tops cut off, seeds and veins removed
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup cooked rice
1/2 onion, chopped
1 egg
a couple tablespoons of ketchup
garlic salt and pepper to taste

Combine beef and the rest of the ingredients and press into prepared peppers. Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour. Eat!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sausage & Parmesan Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

I have no idea where this recipe came from, I've made it forever, my kids always loved it, and it was a great meal to have after skiing today:

Meatballs (this recipe is doubled, because my family devours these like starving carnivores).

2 lbs. Sausage (your choice: Italian, Jimmy Dean, Hot, Medium, Regular, Sage)
1 cup crushed cracker crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 eggs

Shape into meatballs; these were about 1 1/2 inch diameter. Bake 30 minutes in 400 degree oven. Back when the kids were growing up, I just plunked them into the sauce and cooked them for 30 minutes, but baking them makes the dish less greasy so, presumably, healthier.

1 28 oz.can tomato sauce
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
2-3 Tablespoons Chili Powder (to taste-I'm still trying to figure out ways to use up several jars of Chili Powder-previous buzz!)
1/2 cup chopped Parsley
Lotsa minced garlic (the recipe calls for 1 clove-why bother? I used 4, because garlic is life)

1 lb. your choice of Pasta, cooked al dente.

Apparently I haven't bought pasta on sale for a while, because all I had in the cupboard was whole wheat thin spaghetti. No penne, no farfalle. But it worked, smelled, tasted, and ate the same.

Brian, the smiling omnivore piles on the parmesan:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tortilla Soup

I fell in love with Tortilla Soup in Mexico at the end of the year. I mean really good, authentic Mexican food, not Taco Bell or El something-or-other in the states. So I've been searching for recipes and it seems like there are as many recipes for Tortilla Soup as there are cooks! I chose one from that had fried tortilla strips in it, not crumbled corn chips. Then I just sort of "averaged" the ingredients, but will credit basic recipe to Bigoven.

Most recipes called for chicken breast, but I had thighs, so that's what I used:

4 chicken thighs
Olive oil
4 cloves  minced garlic
1/2 chopped yellow onion
1 minced jalapeno-seeds and veins removed for less heat, I seeded 1/2

Cover chicken with water and add seasonings: Cumin, chili powder, cayenne, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper to taste. Boil until chicken is well done, then shred chicken, reserving stock.

Saute garlic and onion in olive oil and add to stock.
Add 32 oz. chicken broth
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted diced tomatoes)

Heat while cooking the tortilla strips:

Cut tortillas in half, then into 1/4" strips. Fry in oil until crisp and drain on paper towel.

Place fried tortilla strips, cheese and avocado in the bottom of bowl, then cover with soups. Add more tortillas strips and cheese if desired. Squeeze lime on top and add cilantro.

Shredded Cheese
Chopped Cilantro
Sliced Dried Peppers
Lime Slices

Other things that can be added, limited only to your imagination:

Corn Kernels
Black Beans

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My New Teapot and Favorite Tea Spot

I rarely drink coffee, only if I get really groggy in the afternoon at work, which isn't all that rare, because I'm a night owl who has to get up about 4:50 to get to work by 6:00 am. So out of necessity I will drink coffee, but I am a tea lover. Not that stuff you get from the grocery store in bags that is probably scraped off the floor after the manufacturing process and tastes like, well, tea bag. I have bought half a dozen boxes of this stuff  when we travel, use one or two bags, then the remainder sits in the cupboard, rejected. I like loose teas and my fave spot to buy them is Treasures and Teas-102 5th Ave S. in Edmonds, WA.
For Christmas, Ron bought me this Primula tea pot and some Primula Green Tea with Jasmine "flowers". I've always used a metal mesh tea ball or tea infuser; this one is made of glass. The difference is immediately noticeable, using glass instead of metal, and far better.
Check Primula website for products. Another benefit of the glass infuser is that the tea can be made in the microwave, although I choose water boiled on the stove. Did you know you should boil the water (but do not overboil, as this depletes oxygen from the water), remove it from the heat for 30-60 seconds before adding to the teapot.Boiling water can burn the tea leaves and give tea a bitter taste.
According to the package, this tea is grown in the Fujian province in southeast China and hand-sewn into flowers by artisans there. When steaming hot water is poured over them, they open up into lovely flowers and produce a fragrant, tasty amber colored tea. Heavenly! Each tea flower can be used 2-3 times.

Back to the tea shop: I love their selection, rows of jars that you can open and take a sniff, and Carla, the owner, is friendly and knowledgeable and often gives me a couple samples with my purchase. She was delighted to know I was writing about the shop in my blog! My favorite teas are Market Spice (made popular as Pike Place Market Spice), Misty Thursday, Midnight in Missoula, and just so they don't all begin with M, Sassafrass, a very sassy citrus-licorice flavored tea.

They have a marvelous selection of traditional and quirky teapots. I have this kitty-cat one in lime green. I nearly bought a less whimsical one, but my best friend advised me to buy one that would put a smile on my face in the mornings! This hand-carved dragon teapot is made of stone, and quite heavy. Carla said its price would be around $500.00. I don't believe I'll be the one who owns it...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wow! A French Fry Cutter

Look at this thing; we had one of these when I was a kid. I found it at Ron's house, probably a remnant from his former marriage, because he sure hasn't used it since I've known him. He told me he actually bought this (where did he find it?) because they had one when he was a kid...! It slices in two different sizes, thick and thin. Probably you could cut other veggies with it-Jicama? Carrots? Cheese? Ok, I know, cheese is not a vegetable, but it might work.

The one I grew up with didn't have interchangeable size parts, one size-slice only, and I don't remember my family ever using the one we had. If you're going to own a kitchen gadget, for heaven's sake, use it!

Ron bought a set of tongs after I met him because I bitched about not having any over here when I am cooking and having to "fork" things, he's a complete sweetie :)

So instead of potato wedges, I used the fry cutter to make oven fries tonight.It cuts long thin potatoes far better than round short ones, they just get stuck and you have to work to force them through.

Again, no real recipe, cut up the potatoes, toss in olive oil, season however you like, and bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until browned and tender.

Don't Sweat the Petty Stuff

I was off work the last two days with a sore throat, it's raining in the mountains so the suck factor for skiing is off the charts, Ron wasn't sure he could come over (he lives in Seattle-the wet side-and I live in Central Washington-we met three years ago online) due to his work schedule, so rather than pout about not skiing (yes, I could ski in the rain but it takes a lot of the fun out of it) and the possibility of not seeing Ron for the weekend, I decided to drive over to his place for the holiday weekend. Normally in winter, I ski and he drives over to the dry side.

I texted him that me and the bird-Bruno, who is female, but I didn't know that when I got her until she laid eggs last summer-were on the way over. I feel like kind of an eccentric old maid traveling with the bird, but if I leave her, she's totally neurotic when I get home. He texted back to ignore the mess in the kitchen and the rest of the house, for that matter. Hmmm, so he lives like a slob when I'm not around...I entered the house cautiously, expecting to find Armageddon. Gee, the bed wasn't made and there were like six dishes and a bunch of silverware in the sink. It took me all of five minutes to clean it up, then I popped some beef short ribs in to boil and will bake them with barbecue sauce and do some oven baked fries before he gets home.

So what about the petty stuff? I've been reading "Food for Thought" written by Brittany in Texas, whose beloved passed away less than two years after they were married and in one post she said she would have paid less attention to the petty stuff. I'm paraphrasing, but it got me thinking about the stuff I nag this guy about. I've been married and divorced three times, both of us have been single about 10 years (and not unhappily), and before I met Ron, I can't say I believed in love, or love at first sight, or soul mates. I believe in them all now, from the moment I met him.

So what do I nag him about? He's a total packrat and I'm not, and I've told him I don't want to buy a house big enough to house all his crap. Alot of it is even his kids' crap. He understands that and is willing to part with some of it, but some of the things he wants to keep-I think are just dumb. His first computer. Probably he's had six since then, like the rest of us, but apparently this one really means something to him; I think he had to fight his ex-at that time first-wife to buy it. Double-dumb. But after reading Brittany's account, I decided this was indeed a petty thing. Let him keep the damn computer, shove it in a closet somewhere, and get on with living our life. Thanks, Brittany, for the insight. I'm nearly twice your age and don't mind learning a lesson from a younger babe!

The dinner is pretty simple; I seldom cook anything difficult, unlike EatLiveTravelWrite, who has spent the last few weeks doing battle with macaroons, her accounts of which I have thoroughly enjoyed. Boil spare ribs until they're tender, about 2 hours. Slather them in Tony Roma's bbq sauce, which is mercifully available at Safeway, since there is no TR in Yakima. Probably to qualify as a food blog, I should invent a bbq sauce, but I'm not doing it tonight! Bake until they're sticky and gooey.

Slice potatoes into wedges, coat with olive oil and seasonings-at Ron's house, that will likely be garlic salt and pepper, maybe some paprika, because he doesn't have near the spice collection that I do (he sometimes cooks with cream of something soups-GASP!!), and bake until tender, about 20 minutes. I'll post photos after he gets home, because I can't find his camera. He doesn't take it to work, does he?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Edamame Salad

I have this cookbook; my kids gave to me for Christmas many years ago, probably 12 or more. It has sheet protectors in it that I've inserted recipes for years, and recently I started using 4 x 6 photo protectors and printing recipes on 4 x 6 cards because I can put in 6 recipes per two-sided page .The process of typing and printing will probably take me several years!

I love the computer age, though, because I can print the recipe with a photo on it that shows what the recipe looks like - or should look like anyway.

I have an Edamame Salad recipe in it that I printed out, but I don't remember where it came from, so I can't credit the original creator. I've made several changes to it judging from my hand-written notes on it.

Edamame Salad

1 lb. frozen shelled edamame, cooked according to package directions
3 cups frozen corn
1 cup chopped bell pepper
2-3 cloves minced garlic
3/4 cup sliced green onion
1/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese

Whisk together
1/3 cup lemon juice (try to use fresh, although the stuff in the lemon shaped container works ok)
2 T Dijon mustard
2 T olive oil
Minced fresh parsley
Minced fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

 The finished result, with lamb chops cooked on a grill pan with olive oil, garlic and rosemary, my favorite--Yummmm.

As a sad side-note, I believe this is among maybe the top three dumbest things I have ever read on the info super-highway: Soy is making kids gay  This guy is apparently a minister of some sort.

Parmesan Lace Crackers

I've made these forever and fried them in a skillet. Recently I discovered this recipe for Parmesan Tuiles on FoodBuzz, that said to bake them on parchment paper. WOW! I'm never frying these guys again! Not only is it preposterously easier, they turn out uniformly cooked, and I think, a little crispier. This one is fried:

My recipe is a bit different than the one above, as I add chopped sage to mine.

Parmesan Lace Crackers

2 cups grated parmesan cheese. By the way, buy a block and grate your own, do not use that dessicated stuff in the green can or I'll have to come and find you!

1/4 cup chopped sage. Use fresh is you have it, although I used dried sage from my garden because my plant is currently covered with snow.

Drop about 4 tablespoons in a mound onto a parchment covered baking sheet, scrape the stragglers into the main pile and flatten slightly. I did six per baking sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees for 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly to set.

Parchment paper an item I've only recently discovered that is a wonder-invention from heaven, and I don't know how I ever lived without it, or why it took me so long to break down and buy a box of it. It's not even expensive, nothing sticks to it, and it makes cleanup practically a non-issue.

And just for giggles, you can read about the history of Parmesan on Wikipedia.

Monday, January 4, 2010

More Than Grandma's Potato Soup

My Grandmother made great potato soup, which was especially good when we were sick. Thick, rich goodness. When I had my tonsils out, you know they promised you all the ice cream you could eat, and you really didn't want to eat anything. She made some potato soup, ran it through a blender, and saved my life! Ok, that's probably a little melodramatic, but it is a good memory. I've blogged about her cooking before. I took her recipe consisting of crisp bacon, potatoes, chopped onion, milk, salt and pepper, added some corn from the freezer, a shredded carrot, and cilantro. I make soups on Sunday night for my lunches, and I'm looking forward to this all week!


5 strips of bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
About 5 medium peeled diced potatoes
1/2 onion, diced
1 large grated carrot
Water to cover

Boil until the potatoes are nearly soft (I like it chunky, cook longer if you like a smoother consistency).
Add 1 cup of frozen corn
Stir in 1 cup of milk (or cream)
1/2 cup of chopped cilantro

My grandmother added about 1/2 stick of butter and stirred til it melted, but things like fat content and cholesterol let me add about a tablespoon!

I apologize for my photos, Ron isn't here this week and I have a crummy camera. I have hinted but Santa didn't bring one. He did bring me this, though:

This gadget aerates red wine. We discovered these in use when visiting Napa Valley last February and doing way too much tasting. This is for red wine. I drink mostly whites, and Ron felt rather bad. He said he looked all over the package and didn't see where it said that anywhere.That's actually what that circle at the bottom right  says, but we have friends who do drink red, so we'll get the use of it.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year!

I've been told I'm Irish/Welsh all my life and, being Irish, we have Corned Beef and Cabbage on New Years Day for a prosperous and healthy year. I've been working on my family tree on since fall and haven't found any Irish or Welsh ancestors, some Scottish and German, but so far, no Irish, but I still love corned beef and cabbage, although we had it on January 2nd because we were in Mexico for the holidays and flew back on New Years Day. 

It's a simple enough recipe; corned beef comes sealed in plastic with a seasoning packet. Just place the corned beef brisket in a large, deep pan, add the seasonings, cover with water and cook for about 2 hours. Remove from the pan, trim off the fat if you prefer, quarter the cabbage and steam in the liquid in the pan until tender-crisp and remove. I make corned beef sandwiches with Jewish Rye bread and horseradish, the hotter the better.

Happy New Year!

As for Mexico, we read an article about how English movie titles don't always translate across well: (, so the movie title "Grease" is "Vaseline", and "Dumb and Dumber" as "Dos Idiots". 

Speaking of Dos Idiots:

Too many Margaritas, I admit, and later told my honey I don't want to do any more tours where we end the evening dancing to "YMCA" and disco we disliked 30 years ago, as this one did. It was the fiesta at Las Palmas, Puerto Vallarta, the music, food, and entertainment wonderful, until the disco started. They could leave that out. And we recommend Pipi's in town-bucket sized Margaritas and totally great food and service.
Related Posts with Thumbnails