Saturday, February 26, 2011

Beef and Broccoli

I have a serious thing for broccoli. This serious thing makes it tough for me to eat any type of Chinese or Asian or Japanese or Thai food that doesn't contain broccoli.

For a long time, we made a beef and broccoli recipe from the back of a soup can. The flavor was great, but the meat always turned out really tough - almost inedible.

Enter a beef and broccoli recipe from Steamy Kitchen.

Beef and Broccoli
Taken from Steamy Kitchen

Makes 3 generous servings (or 4 normal-sized servings)
Takes less than 30 minutes to make
3/4 lb flank steak, sliced thinly across the grain
3/4 lb broccoli florets, blanced
2 Tbsp high-heat cooking oil
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
1 tsp cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
For the beef marinade
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 C chicken broth

Marinate the beef: Stir together the beef marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the beef slices and stir until coated. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Prepare the sauce: Stir together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

Heat a large frying pan or wok over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and instantly evaporates upon contact. Add the cooking oil and swirl to coat. Add the beef and immediately spread the beef out all over the surface of the wok or pan in a single layer (preferably not touching). Let the beef fry undisturbed for 1 minute. Flip the beef slices over, add the garlic to the pan and fry for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute until no longer pink, Pour in the sauce, add the blanched broccoli, and bring to a boil. Pour in the dissolved cornstarch and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens, 30 seconds.

My Notes:
This is totally delicious - totally delicious. Resist the temptation to double to sauce. It is necessary.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Florentine Shells

This dish is a long-time favorite; I have been making it since I was in college. It's delicious, so easy, and makes great left-overs.

Spinach Stuffed Shells
Taken from Pampered Chef

Makes 6 servings
Prep time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

24 jumbo pasta shells
1 container (15 oz) part skim Ricotta
1 package frozen, chopped spinach (thawed, drained, and squeezed dry)
2 C shredded Italian cheese blend
3/4 C half and half (divided)
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 C Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp salt
28 oz jar spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 350, cook pasta according to directions, drain, then drizzle with olive oil to keep shells from sticking together.

Mix ricotta, spinach, 1-1/2 cups of Italian cheese, 1/4 cup of Parmesan, and 1/4 cup of half and half. Stir in garlic and seasonings. Mix well.

In another bowl whisk the rest of spaghetti sauce with remaining half and half. Pour some of sauce mix on bottom of cooking pan. Fill each shell with ricotta mixture (one scoop) I usually use my cookie dropper. Arrange filled shells in baking pan. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce.

Cover with foil, bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil, top dish with remaining 1/2 cup of Italian cheese. Bake uncovered an additional 5 min. Let cool for 10 min. before serving.

My Notes:
I have been making this since I was in college. I love it, and it's one of my favorite things to make when I have a vegetarian (or two) over for dinner.

      Wednesday, February 23, 2011

      Spicy Maple Popcorn

      Brad and I made this spicy caramel popcorn awhile ago. I still think about it. This recipe reminded me of its strangely delicious mix of sweet and spicy and salty.
      Taken from Cooking Light, December 2010 Available Online
      Prep time: 20 minutes
      Makes 6 servings (1 C each)

      1  Tbsp  canola oil
      1/4  C  unpopped popcorn kernels (about 6 cups popped)
      1/4  C  dry-roasted cashews
      1/3  C  sugar
      1/3  C  maple syrup
      1  Tbsp  butter
      1/2  tsp  salt
      1/4  tsp  ground red pepper

      Heat canola oil in a medium heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. While saucepan heats, line a jelly-roll pan with parchment paper; set prepared pan aside.

      Add popcorn to oil in saucepan; cover and cook 2 minutes or until kernels begin to pop, shaking pan frequently. Continue cooking 2 minutes, shaking pan constantly. When popping slows down, remove pan from heat. Let stand 1 minute or until all popping stops. Stir in cashews.

      Combine sugar and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; cool 1 minute.

      Pour hot syrup mixture over popcorn mixture; toss well to coat. Immediately spread popcorn mixture out onto prepared jelly-roll pan. Cool 3 minutes.

      My Notes:
      This was totally delicious. I at some right away and snacked on what was left the rest of the week. It actually kept really well in a plastic bag.

      Monday, February 21, 2011

      Greek-Style Shrimp

      Shrimp - yum. Feta - yum. Tomatoes - yum.

      from Cook's Illustrated, September / October 2010
      Makes 4 to 6 servings
      Prep and Cook Time: Less than 30 minutes

      1-1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
      4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
      3 Tbsp vodka
      3/8 tsp anise seed
      5 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 5 tsp)
      1 tsp grated lemon zest
      Salt and pepper, to taste
      3/4 C diced onion
      1/2 C chopped red bell pepper
      1/2 C chopped green bell pepper
      1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
      1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, drained, 1/3 C juice reserved
      1/4 C dry white wine
      2 Tbsp fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
      6 oz feta, crumbled (about 1-1/2 C)
      2 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped

      Toss shrimp, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon ouzo, 1 teaspoon garlic, lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper in small bowl until well combined. Set aside while preparing sauce.

      Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, red and green bell pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir to combine. Cover skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables release their moisture, 3 to 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until moisture cooks off and vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes longer. Add remaining 4 teaspoons garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and reserved juice, wine, and remaining 2 tablespoons ouzo; increase heat to medium-high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors have melded and sauce is slightly thickened (sauce should not be completely dry), 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.

      Reduce heat to medium-low and add shrimp along with any accumulated liquid to pan; stir to coat and distribute evenly. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are opaque throughout, 6 to 9 minutes for extra-large or 7 to 11 minutes for jumbo, adjusting heat as needed to maintain bare simmer. Remove pan from heat and sprinkle evenly with feta. Drizzle remaining tablespoon oil evenly over top and sprinkle with dill.

      Serve immediately.

      My Notes:
      This wasn't as delicious as I expected it to be. It wasn't bad; it just wasn't great. Maybe I will try it again, though.

      Sunday, January 23, 2011

      Salad Dressing: Greek

      Okay. Seven days of salad dressing is way too much salad - especially considering I'm a girl who doesn't even really like salad.

      I'm finishing this marathon of salad with a long-time favorite around our house: Greek Salad.

      taken from Healthy Cooking (formerly Light and Tasty), March 2001 (p. 21)
      Available online
      Makes 12 servings
      Prep time: about 20 minutes

      8 C torn romaine
      3 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
      1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved and sliced
      1/2 C medium green pepper, thinly sliced
      1/2 medium red onion, cut into rings
      1/2 C sliced ripe olives
      1/2 C crumbled feta cheese

      1/4 C olive oil
      2 Tbsp lemon juice
      2 tsp Dijon mustard
      2 garlic cloves, minced
      1/2 tsp sugar
      1/2 tsp dried oregano
      1/4 tsp salt
      1/4 tsp dried thyme
      1/8 tsp pepper

      In a salad bowl, combine the first seven ingredients.

      Whisk the dressing ingredients.

      Pour over salad and toss to coat.

      Serve immediately. 

      My Notes:
      Like I said earlier, this has been a favorite around our house for a long time - almost 10 years judging from when the recipe was first published.

      Saturday, January 22, 2011

      Salad Dressing: Garden Cafe

      Another salad dressing recipe.

      Don't worry, though. I still don't love salad.

      Taken from emiller on Tasty Kitchen
      Prep time: Less than 10 minutes
      Chilling time: 1 or more hours
      Makes 12 servings

      2/3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
      1 C red wine vinegar
      1 1/4 tsp salt
      1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
      1 tsp Dijon mustard
      1 tsp ground black pepper
      1 tsp sugar
      1 clove garlic, minced
      3 C corn oil

      Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in the refrigerator.

      My Notes:
      This wasn't one of my favorite salad dressing experiments. It didn't have enough flavor for me, and it didn't stick to the lettuce very well. Maybe I will try it again with a different kind of oil and more wine vinegar.

      Friday, January 21, 2011

      Salad Dressing: Sun Dried Tomato

      Sun dried tomatoes are something I have only learned to love recently, and I had some left-over from making a risotto. That's why I picked this dressing - can't let good sun dried tomatoes go to waste.

      Taken from Kaitlin on Tasty Kitchen
      Makes 10 servings
      Prep time: 10 minutes
      Chilling time: 1 hour (or more)

      7 pieces sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil
      2 cloves garlic, chopped
      1/2 tsp dried oregano
      1/2 tsp salt
      1/4 tsp black pepper
      1 tsp sugar
      1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
      1/4 C red wine vinegar
      2/3 C sour cream
      1/4 C Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
        Process sun dried tomatoes, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and sugar in a food processor until combined. While running, add olive oil and red wine vinegar. Stop processor and add sour cream. Process until smooth and add Parmesan cheese. Process for 30 more seconds. Best if chilled overnight.

        Serve on a salad of romaine, artichoke hearts, black olives, roasted red pepper, red onion slices and grated Parmesan cheese.

        My Notes:
        This was really, really good! We will make it again.