Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Basic Stir Fry

Tonight we had pork stir fry for dinner.  This one of my mother's favourite meals and a good one dish dinner.

I always start by chopping vegetables.  Tonight I used mushrooms, red pepper, carrots, onions, garlic, broccoli and baby bok choy.  You can really use what ever vegetables you like.   I usually use fresh ginger as well but didn't have any tonight.  I've used water chestnuts, bean sprouts, green beans, Savoy cabbage, canned baby cobs of corn, bamboo shoots, green onions, etc in the past.  The only rule is to stir fry the veg in order of longest cooking times - in this case, the carrots first.  I then slice up the meat I'm using.  Tonight I used one thick pork chop but I often use chicken, beef, or shrimp.  I'm not a tofu kinda gal but I have often just used veg.

I serve stir fries with rice or noodles.  If you are using rice, I would start it when you start chopping veg.  If you are using noodles, I would start to boil water at the same time you start cooking. When the water comes to a boil, cook noodles for a few minutes and drain. I pour 1 Tbsp of oil into a hot pan.  I then add a small handful of blanched almonds and start toasting them.  After tossing them for a few minutes, I add the meat and brown it.  Then I added the carrots, chunks of onion and broccoli.  If the pan starts to dry out, add a little water.

Stir over high heat for a few minutes and then add red peppers, mushrooms and garlic.  I would also add minced ginger at this point and a teaspoon of sesame oil.  Stir for a few minutes and add a 1/4 cup of soya sauce.

At this point, I would add my other seasonings - 1 Tbsp oyster sauce, 1 Tbsp of sweet chili sauce (which is actually a little hot!) and 1 Tbsp of honey.

Stir together and add the bok choy.  Cook a couple of minutes til it starts to wilt.

Then add your cooked noodles and toss to combine.  Start to finish, this recipe takes about 30 minutes and is a great standby to use up that last piece of meat from an "economy" package and the bits of veg left in the fridge.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My Cookbook arrived this morning...

I had my food blog for 2011 made into a cookbook (actually my sister is paying for it - birthday present).  The picture I chose for the cover wasn't the best choice - a little blurry - but live and learn.  The rest of the book is beautiful and I'm so excited about it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lemon Berry Trifle

I had my girlfriends over for a spaghetti dinner tonight and some delicious, boozy trifle for dessert...

Start by making a lemon loaf and skip the glaze (the recipe is on my blog) and then slice it and arrange it around the bottom and sides of the trifle bowl, trimming as required. Then pour 1/2 cup of brandy and 1/2 cup of sherry over the cake. Cover with plastic wrap and let it soak up to 24 hours.

Wash a package of berries (I used blackberries) and place them over the cake.

I then made up 3 cups of instant lemon pudding mix (you can make homemade if you want) and spread it over the berries.

Top the pudding with washed raspberries...

Whip some cream (a couple of cups) with a tsp of vanilla and spread over the top...

Refrigerate for a couple of hours to firm up. You can do most of the work the day before and hours before your guests arrive. It is a really nice dessert and was enjoyed by all...

It's a little boozy so maybe not a good choice for kids but the girls sure enjoyed it...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Beef Stroganoff

Dinner tonight is Beef Stroganoff and sorry about the picture but honestly I was so hungry, I started to eat before I remembered to take a picture.  It may not be pretty but it was tasty.


2 lbs steak
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp butter
thinly sliced sweet onion
pkg of mushrooms sliced (about a cup and a half)
2 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup red wine
1 tsp paprika
pinch chili flakes
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp grainy mustard
2 cups beef broth
1 c crushed tomatoes
2 c sour cream
fresh parsley

(Ignore the beer in the picture - that was just a libation for the chef - not part of the recipe)  In a Dutch oven, heat a couple of tsp oil and brown slices or chunks of steak.  Salt and pepper.  Add more oil as needed, brown in batches and remove to a plate.  Then melt a Tbsp of butter and add onions and mushrooms and saute for a few minutes til softened.  Add the garlic and saute.

Push the veg to the edge and sprinkle the flour in the middle of the pot and stir to brown.  Then pour in wine.  Add the seasonings, including Worcestershire sauce and mustard.  I like to use a fresh sprig of thyme but today I used dry, about a 1/4 tsp thyme.

Then add beef broth and tomatoes.  Add the steak back to the pot.  Bring to a boil and simmer for an hour or more until the beef is tender and the sauce thickens.

Right before serving, add the sour cream and stir to combine and heat through.  Serve over egg noodles with freshly chopped parsley on top.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fish Cakes

Tonight's menu was fish cakes and spinach salad.  For these, I used salmon but any firm fish would work - cod, haddock and crab is especially nice.  I don't really have a recipe but I'll walk you through it.  Start by boiling a couple of potatoes.  I sliced up 2 green onions and about 4 Tbsp of fresh chopped parsley (if I have fresh dill, I'd use a couple of Tbsp of that as well).  These were mixed with the juice of half a lemon and a Tbsp of Old Bay seasoning plus salt and pepper.

When the potatoes are almost cooked, add the fish filet on top to poach.  This only takes 5 to 10 minutes.

Once cooked I like to remove any of the grey flesh (a treat for the cats).

Mash the potatoes, flake the fish and add to the bowl.  Form into patties and dip in beaten egg.  Then roll in bread crumbs and fry in a little oil.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Veggie Cream Cheese

This morning I made my veggie cream cheese for bagels for our weekend breakfast.  They were yummy and easy to make.  They are also cheaper and healthier than the store bought version.  I buy larger quantities of cream cheese (like I did at Costco) or get it on sale at the grocery store.  This is one of those recipes I call "kitchen sink" recipes.  Basically you add everything but...

Look in the fridge - see what you have, what you like and what is fresh.  Those are your ingredients.

I scooped the cream cheese into a bowl after I have let it soften a bit (while I had my first coffee ;)  Then I prepared the veggies - I always add shredded carrot and some diced pepper.  This time, I had red pepper in the fridge.  I also grated a small clove of garlic and finely diced half a slice of onion.  Usually I like to slice green onions into the cheese instead of garlic and onion.  Sometimes I add finely diced cucumber or chopped spinach.  I like to add fresh herbs - usually dill and parsley.  This time I didn't have anything fresh so I used dried dill.  Nice but not as nice as fresh. 

Stir together, toast your bagel and voila breakfast is ready...


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sour Cream Blueberry Muffins

I made muffins and tea biscuits today to take into the office tomorrow.  I have been off work sick and have received so much support (and presents :) from my friends at work that I wanted to say thank -you in a tangible way.  So tomorrow they will have some treats for their coffee break.


3/4 cup of butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups of sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tsp  baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 pint of blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  This recipe makes about 15 or 16 muffins.  Use paper liners.

I used my Kitchenaid and creamed the butter and sugar.  I then added eggs, vanilla, sour cream and milk and mixed on low speed so it didn't splash.

I then added dry ingredients - flour, baking powder/soda and salt and mixed slowly so it was completely incorporated.  Using a spatula, I gently folded the blueberries into the batter by hand.  You can use fresh berries but I prefer to use frozen ones as they don't break down and turn the batter blue.  When the blueberries are on sale in the summer, I buy pints and freeze them in small bags for recipes like this.  This recipe is nice with other berries as well.  I have a bag of raspberries waiting in the freezer for the next time I make this.

I use my mother's old ice cream scoop the fill the liners and bake for about 25 minutes.  The tops should  be lightly browned and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.