Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Beef and Snap Pea Stir Fry

As usual, I was combing the fridge and the cubbard for food to eat before it went bad. I had some fresh stew beef and some snap peas begging for my attention. I dusted off my wok(OK, I gave it a good washing with Palmolive) and set to work. If you look closely at the photo, you will notice not only snap peas, but good 'ole Green Giant Peas in the mix. Why, you ask? My kiddos like them a lot more. This is an easy dish to prepare, providing you have the right ingredients laying around your house.

Beef & Snap Pea Stir Fry (Serves 2 and 2 small kids)
1 LB Cubed Beef (think stew meat or shish kabobs.)
1 TBSP Olive Oil
1 Cup of water
2 Beef boullion cubes or 2 TSPS of beef boullion powder
1 TSP of Soy Sauce
1 TBSP of Teriyaki Sauce
1 Cup of cleaned Snap Peas
1 TSP of Powdered Ginger
1 TSP of Powdered Mustard
1 TBSP of  Minced Garlic
1 TSP of Pepper
1 Medium Can of Green Giant Peas(optional)
1-2 bags of Boil In Bag White or Brown Rice

Heat oil in the bottom of the wok. Add Snap Peas and saute until slightly tender. Add beef, boullion, water and spices. Add wok top, check and stir after 4-5 minutes. Add more water if needed. When beef is fully cooked and veggies are tender, add cooked rice(and optional peas) to the stir fry. Mix until rice is saturated with mixture.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Side Dishes as Main Meals:Orechiette with Toasted Bread Crumbs

I get bored with food easily. I am always in search of new sides, and the more unique a side is, the better I like it. I came across this recipe on a recipe blog the I belong to it. It's Giada D.'s recipe and it was generously provided for the blog by Elisha D. I was skeptical at first because the recipe sounded a little strange, but I pushed my fears aside and prepared it. I paired it with some grilled chicken. In short, the side dish was ravenously devoured with nothing left over, while the chicken sat untouched. From that point on, I made this dish solo. It is both yummy and filling. So, give this a shot and let me know what you think.
Orechiette with Toasted Bread Crumbs
1 pound dried orechiette or other small shaped pasta

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup Italian seasoned dried bread crumbs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup finely chopped prosciutto (I subbed cooked and chopped turkey bacon here)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water. Cook pasta until al dente, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized saute pan, heat the oil until warm. Since the bread crumbs will cook quickly, you don't want to add them into a hot pan, otherwise they can burn. Add the breadcrumbs and stir constantly. Season lightly with salt and pepper since flavored bread crumbs may already have seasoning. Saute for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Drain pasta in a colander. Working quickly, add pasta to the saute pan and stir to combine. Add Parmesan and the chopped prosciutto. Mix thoroughly. Pour into large serving bowl and garnish with chopped parsley.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Alexia Party:Burgers,Fries,Beers & Wine...Oh My!

It's been awhile, ladies and gents! Due to a huge storm, we lost power, internet, cable and phone for several days. It took me awhile to get up and running and my Alexia Dinner Party certainly seems like a good post to write to get back into the swing of things. I applied on to host a dinner party for Alexia products. In case you're not 'in the know', Alexia makes tasty, but healthy side dishes to compliment any meal. In case you're still not clued in, click here  visit the Alexia web site, view their side dishes and read their story. Shockingly, I was chosen to host a party.

     This was all well and good, however, I have never actually hosted a dinner party where I didn't serve bulk foods. For example, I can whip up a nice roast chicken, lasagna, or a pot of sauce and meatballs for a crowd, but I have never made singular individual courses for a small group. Based on the side dishes offered from Alexia, I decided to have a 'burger throwdown', using my favorite burger recipe from this blog. The two burgers which competed in the showdown were the famous Guinness Burgers and Rachael Ray's Grilled Lime Cilantro Burgers.  These were two huge hits in my house, so they were easy to choose. Which one was victorious amongst my small, but choosey dinner crowd?I will get to that shortly. I hit some bumps along the way between the shopping and the cooking. I had issues finding the Alexia side dishes. It wasn't that the stores didn't carry them, but they are such hot items, they sell quickly. I finally tracked down the Yukon Gold Fries, Sweet Potato Fries and Oven Roasted Potato Wedges. I was relieved to finally find them the day of the party. All should have been smooth sailing from that point on, right? Wrong. Big Wrong. Earlier in the week, I had done a Kate Gosselin style cleaning on my fridge - every pore, every ridge, crack or crevice in that fridge was wiped down, cleaned out out, tooth picked over and disinfected. For added measure, I added my little baking soda sachet to absorb anything malodorous. Then, a foul a mysterious odor began to arise from the fridge. I assumed it was the crumbled blue cheese I had purchased for the salad, but alas, this was not the case. The meat that I had purchased not even 24 hours before was rotting like a mouthful of teeth that had never met a toothbrush. The meat that I had specifically chosen and purchased at a high end grocery store. Needless to say, I will not be making a return visit to that store. In a panic, I sent my husband straight out to Foodtown to pick up new meat. I was late prepping the burgers, so dinner was a lot later than expected. My Guinness sauce was lacking something; thanks to Brenda and Patrizia, we experimented until we got it just right.  Brenda came to the rescue again, frying my shallots to the perfect degree of crispness. The mad rush to get the burgers,salad and sides to the table definitely caused some chaos (AKA - cold food and soggy fries), but all turned out well. A great time was had by all, capped off with a triple layer chocolate cake. Who was the winner of the burger shodown you ask? Chicken took first prize. I will sign off with a unique and tasty salad recipe I borrowed from Food and Wine magazine.

Vegetable oil, for frying

7 large shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar(I subbed Balsamic Vinegar here)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound mesclun
1/4 pound blue cheese, such as Valdeon, crumbled

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil until shimmering. Add half of the sliced shallots and fry over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until they are browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried shallots to paper towels to drain. Fry the remaining sliced shallots. In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil with the sherry vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Add the mesclun and blue cheese to the bowl and toss. Sprinkle the fried shallots over the mesclun salad and serve right away.