Friday, June 25, 2010

Saweet! & Sour Stir-Fry

Tell me, do you ever have those nights when you look in the fridge and all you see is a random assortment of veggies that don't really seem to go together?  Or am I alone on that one?  Well, let me just tell you that if that occasion shall ever arise, there is only one thing to make:  STIR-FRY, baby!  Stir-fry is great because it doesn't matter what veggies you have, they're sure to have a party in your pan, and then in your mouth, if you just add the right sauce & serve them over some rice.  You can add meat if you want, but you don't have to.  Its a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of dish, which is what makes it so appealing.  Lucky for me, Food Network Magazine had a spread on stir-fry that was out of this world!  We've made a couple of the sauces, but this Sweet & Sour sauce is really the one that took my breath away.  Dick shot me a text the next day to let me know that they were the best leftovers he'd ever had in his life.  And for him to make any kind of effort or fuss to let me know (immediately) how he felt about leftovers is really saying something.  Have fun with this SAWEET stir-fry, my friends.  And be sure to make enough for leftovers!

Sweet & Sour Stir-Fry
From Food Network Magazine

4 Tbsp. peanut oil
3/4 lb of your choice of protein (chicken, pork, shrimp, steak, tofu)
3 c. assorted veggies (I used a little more & was fine!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp ginger, minced
2 scallions
pinch of salt & sugar
peanuts, scallions, sesame seeds, jalapenos, cilantro for garnishing
Sweet & Sour Sauce - recipe follows

Sweet & Sour Sauce

3/4 c. chicken broth
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 c. ketchup
2 tsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sesame oil

Mix all ingredients together well.

Stir-Fry Directions
1. heat peanut oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add the protein; slowly stir until almost opaque, 30 sec - 1 min. (for tofu, brown both sides - do not stir).  Transfer to a plate; discard the oil & wipe out the pan.
2. Heat the pan over high heat, 1-2 min.  Add 2 Tbsp oil, then 2 cloves minced garlic, 1-2 Tbsp minced ginger, 2 minced scallions & a pinch of salt & sugar; stir-fry about 30 sec.  Add the veggies, starting w/ the ones that take the longest to cook; stir-fry until crisp-tender.
3. Add the protein and sauce and stir until the sauce is thick & the veggies & protein are cooked through, about 3 min.  Thin w/ chicken broth, if needed.  Garnish w/ sliced scallions, peanuts, sesame seeds, sliced jalapenos, and/or cilantro.
Serve over brown rice or noodles of your choice.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Smokey Orange & Honey BBQ Sauce

Now that we are having actual summer-type weather, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that BBQ season in the Beehive State has officially begun.  My fingers and toes are crossed that I didn't just jinx something, but I'm feeling pretty confident.  So there.
What, you might ask, is the key to a good barbecue?  Some say you have to smoke your meat (my dad), while others are true to their grills.  I'm just gonna lay it out there:  Its the sauce.  You can do whatever you want to your meat or food of choice, but if the sauce you put on it is bad, then your food is going to be bad.  There are a lot of good choices on the shelves of your local grocery store, at least that's what I thought until I took the plunge and made my own one glorious day last summer.  Sure, in a pinch I'll use that junk, but not if we're having an actual barbecue.  Heck no.  I'd like to think that my family, friends, and taste buds deserve better than that.
Here is the recipe that changed BBQ as I know it.  I know, I know, its just a sauce.  But trust me, you're gonna love it.

Smokey Orange & Honey BBQ Sauce
From Paula Deen via

3/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. Dijon
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. honey
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire
juice & zest of one orange
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

Combine all ingredients in a medium skillet.
Simmer 15 minutes.
Store in refrigerator up to one month.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

TWD: unto the "yeast" of these...Raisin Swirl Bread

I'm not gonna lie to you, although I made the decision to bake this bread for Tuesdays With Dorie, I was NOT looking forward to it. I love cinnamon & raisins, so being picky had nothing to do with it. It was the fact that until today I'd never succeeded in making one single recipe that called for yeast. But did you catch that? Until today! This amazing bread is the one and only yeasty beast I've been able to conquer thus far in my culinary journey. So a big thanks to Dorie Greenspan, and her groupies of which I am proud to be a part.
Due to this little bout of luck, Dick and I will be having a fantastic French Toast breakfast very soon. Let's face it, it may actually end up being a French Toast dinner, but either way, your mouth is watering just thinking about it. Am I right, or am I right? If you'd like to join us, please visit my TWD buddy, Susan, at Food.Baby for the complete recipe.

Raisin Swirl Bread
Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mango CRISP!

I have a long-running love affair with Saturday Night Live, seasons new and old. I admit there were some disappointing years in there, but I'm also a Utah Jazz fan, so I've learned to deal with disappointment throughout the years, while keeping my fan status. This little nugget is from one of my favorite skits (that I couldn't find online!) where Mango takes over J Lo's music video shoot & Diva's Live concert. I wish we could watch him/her dance, but lets just remember the better days of Chris Kattan with fondness, shall we?

Here's another treat from my Bountiful Basket treasures. One week we got about a million mangoes, but you won't hear me complaining! We had mangoes on just about everything, and I'm happy to say that I now consider myself to be a mango-cutting pro, folks. I wanted to make something I'd never cooked or eaten before, and voila: mango crisp! I found a recipe online, but didn't follow it much at all - it just wasn't working out - so this is my own creation. If you're feeling fruity, you're sure to love it!

Mango Crisp


5-6 large mangoes, peeled & diced

1-1 1/2 c. quick oats

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/2-1 c. apple juice

1/4 c. softened butter or margarine

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. flour


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. In a medium bowl, toss mangoes, cinnamon, nutmeg, apple juice & lemon juice. Let sit about 10 min to infuse flavors.

2. Mix margarine, brown sugar, flour, & oats until crumbly.

3. Divide mangoes into 6 small ramekin dishes & top with brown sugar mixture.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until topping is crispy & golden brown, and the mango filling is bubbling.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Bacon-Braised Brussels Sprouts from my Bountiful Basket

I'm still waiting for true and consistent summer weather here in O-Town, UT, but one of my favorite things to come of this season so far is my participation in a food co-op. They call it Bountiful Baskets for a reason, and thus far it has totally lived up to its name! I pay $16.50 online at the beginning of the week, show up Saturday morning, load up my laundry basket full of food and run for my car before they can change their minds. Look at all this fresh & fabulous food - seriously a steal of a deal, my friends! I've calculated my savings each time I've done it, and the average is $20 of savings!!! Every week its a surprise as to what will be in my basket, but I've not yet been disappointed. Being surprised is something to look forward to, but even better is the fact that I'm cooking and eating foods I've never even tasted before in my life - brussels sprouts, bok choy - and that is a foodie's dream! Look for one in your area - you'll be glad you did!
I turned to old reliable: for this mouthwatering recipe. Let's just say it will definitely be made again...its only Dick & me in our house, and every little bit was gone by the end of dinner!
Bacon-Braised Brussels Sprouts
From Tyler Florence of the Food Network

1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, washed & cut in half
4 oz (about 1/2 c.) bacon, cut into small squares
1 clove garlic
4 sprigs thyme, plus 2 sprigs thyme, leaves only, chopped
2 c. low sodium chicken broth
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. grated parmigiano-reggiano
1 c. panko bread crumbs
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves only, chopped
olive oil
Preheat oven to 350.
Take a large pan and set over med-high heat. add bacon & cook until fat renders, 2-3 min. add the smashed garlic clove, thyme sprigs & brussels sprouts & cook gently until slightly caramelized. add stock & reduce heat to a simmer. season with salt & a little pepper, cover and simmer for 12-15 min until tender. remove lid & add a splash of vinegar & reduce until syrupy, 2-3 min.
After brussels sprouts are done cooking, put them in oven safe dish. toss bread crumbs w/ rosemary, thyme leaves & chopped garlic. then drizzle w/ a little olive oil, salt & pepper. sprinkle bread crumb mixture & parmigiano over brussels sprouts and bake until golden & crispy.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Dip...Yummmmmm

Netflix. I love love love Netflix! Not just because they deliver movies to my house, or because I can watch movies instantly online, no no. Right now I mostly love them because they are putting video stores all over out of business. Sounds terrible, and I realize it makes me seem like an absolute villain to be happy about something like that, but I'm getting loads of dvd's on the CHEAP and there is nothing bad about that! Except maybe for the fact that if I don't learn to control myself we could be movie-poor. At least when our cable gets turned off we'll still have our movies to keep us busy...I'm sure Dick will totally agree with me...maybe not.
Needless to say, we have a boatload of movie nights in our future, and this dip will definitely be showing its face for at least one or two of them. It's hot & spicy, cheesy and gooey, just the way I like it! Plus the warmth of it will make snuggling up on the couch even that much more enjoyable! TGIF, my friends! Any movie recommendations? - I'd love to hear your faves!

Kickin' Buffalo Chicken Dip
Adapted from David Garrard's Buffalo Chicken Dip

8 oz. low fat cream cheese at room temp.
2 c. cooked chicken, shredded
1/2 c. hot sauce
1/3-1/2 c. blue cheese crumbles
1/4 c. Tbsp. Ranch dressing
1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 375.
1. Spread cream cheese in the bottom of an 8x8 oven safe pan.
2. In a medium bowl, mix chicken and hot sauce until chicken is well-coated.
3. Spread chicken over cream cheese.
4. Drizzle Ranch dressing evenly over the chicken.
5. Evenly cover the dip with blue cheese crumbles and shredded mozzarella.
6. Put in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is slightly browned & bubbling.
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