Side dish

Beef Stir Fry: Mongolian Style

I am not sure there really is such thing as an authentic Mongolian beef; from what I understand this is an Americanized concoction. Regardless, I enjoy the flavor very much and decided to look out into the internet universe for some ideas. Here is what I found (with some of my own twists).


I served this with white rice, and used fresh veggies from the garden. Green beans and spinach would be my top choice, but you could certainly use bok choy or broccoli for variation. I got the beef (thin sliced top round) from my favorite butcher. It’s perfect for stir fry and cost effective.

You can adjust the heat by adding more chili or ramp up the sweet by adding more brown sugar.

You need:

  • 8 ounces top round thinly sliced or flank steak cut into thin strips
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4  cup vegetable oil, for frying the beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 5 dried red chili peppers or 1 Tbs chili paste
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • one shallot, sliced* (optional)
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce for cooking
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 scallions cut on the diagonal
  • Vegetables of your choosing – green beans, bok choy, broccoli

Step one:

Combine soy sauce with brown sugar and set aside.

Marinate the beef in one teaspoon of oil, 1 teaspoon of soy cause, and 1 tbs of cornstarch. Make sure it is room temperature before going to the next step. 15 min- 1 hour

Step two:

Dredge the marinated beef in the remaining cornstarch. Heat the oil on medium so that the meat will be seared and crisp up quickly. Brown the beef on either side, ideally getting a bit of a crust on the side. Set aside the beef out of the pan. 4-5 minutes

Step three

Reduce the heat to medium. Saute garlic for 2- 3 minutes. Add in chili peppers and continue cooking for several more minutes. Make sure to scrape the pan for any cracklings from the beef and mix it in. Add ginger, chicken broth, and then desired vegetables. Cook for 5 more minutes.Finally, add back in the beef and drizzle the soy sauce mixture over the pan. Stir and continue cooking until the liquid is mostly absorbed. 15-18 minutes

 

Adapted from: http://thewoksoflife.com/2015/07/mongolian-beef-recipe/

Great Wine Deals · Podcast

Episode 13 is live! Carpazo Sangiovese & holiday parties

Happy New Year! Let’s make a commitment to only drink good wine and enjoy good company!

Listen to our latest podcast here:

Virginia, Israel & Michelle discuss throwing Festivus (the annual neighborhood holiday party) and provide tips for making sure the party is a hit. This episode they are drinking Carpazo Sangiovese $11.99 and discuss how to make rompope and great chicken wings in the air fryer. Also, they weigh the merits of a staycation – catching up on your Netlix, sleeping & eating.  Finally, they discuss Good Omens, the Spy and Fleabag and whether Adam Driver is creepy.

 

Holiday

Rompope (Costa Rican Style)

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After experimenting with several styles of Rompope over the years, we have settled on this version, which calls for generous amounts of orange and cinnamon.

Time: 40 minutes

Yield: Around 2 pints

You will need:

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3-5 orange peels
  • 8 yolks
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 cup condensed milk
  • 4-5 cinnamon sticks

Step one:

Blend milk, sugar, vanilla, orange peels and cinnamon in a medium sized-sauce pan and bring to a low boil for 25 minutes.

Step two:

Add the egg yolks and condensed milk. Stir. Add the cream, do not allow it to boil.

Step three:

Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably 24. It will be thick when it is chilled, but will become more liquid as it warms from room temperature. However, if you would prefer a thinner consistency, add a bit more milk until it is the desired thickness.

 

Garnish with grated cinnamon, if desired.

Mexican · Recipes

Chicken & Black Bean Quesadillas

You will need:

  1. Large tortillas
  2. 2-3 cups Mexican blend cheese
  3. 2 large chicken breasts
  4. 1/2 white onion, sliced thin
  5. 1 red bell pepper
  6. 1 can Black beans, rinsed
  7. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  8. 2 tsp cumin
  9. 1-2 tbs olive oil
  10. Salt and pepper to taste
  11. 1-2 tbs butter

1.Prepare your veggies. Slice your onions and peppers, and mince your garlic.

2. Sauté onion, peppers, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 tsp cumin, salt and pepper in 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat for 6-8 minutes until browned.

3. Season chicken with 1 clove of garlic, 1 tsp cumin, salt and pepper. Sauté chicken breast in 1 tbs olive oil over medium heat until cooked. Stir in 1/4 cup black beans and heat. Set aside.

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4. In a non stick skillet or griddle, melt 1 tbs butter. Add one tortilla and sprinkle one half of it with cheese.

5. Add chicken, peppers and onions.

6. Fold over and cook on both sides, until browned and the cheese is melted.

7. Cut up, serve and enjoy:)

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Recipes

Apple Cider Donuts

These were inspired by a recent trip to Carter Mountain Apple Orchard with the family where we fell in love with their apple cider donuts. I found an excellent recipe here: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/11/07/apple-cider-donuts/ and tried it out. Soooo Delicious. We chose to make donut holes instead of donuts.

Ingredients:

Donuts

  • 1 and 1/4 cups  apple cider
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature1
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup  packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature2
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • orange slices* optional
  • cinnamon sticks* optional

Topping

  • 3/4 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 60g) unsalted butter, melted

Directions

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  1. Simmer apple cider over low-medium heat in a small saucepan on the stove for 15-20 minutes. Add cinnamon sticks, spices, and/or orange slices for flavor if desired. In this step you are reducing the apple cider for a stronger flavor. You will need 1/2 cup from this reduced cider. Allow it to cool in the refrigerator as you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a mini muffin pan or donut pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  3. Toss the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until smooth. Whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, and 1/2 cup of concentrated apple cider.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and very gently mix together with a whisk. Be very gentle as overmixing will develop the gluten and result in a tough textured donut. Whisk until all ingredients are *just combined.* Some small lumps may remain, but not many.                                                   IMG_0892  IMG_0893
  5. Pour the batter into the mini muffin pan, filling 3/4 of the way full. You’ll only need a couple teaspoons of batter for each. Or, if making donuts, follow my instructions in the post above about filling the donut pan. Bake the donut holes for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The donuts will take the same amount of time.                                    IMG_0894
  6. Make the topping by mixing the granulated sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Dip the top of the donut holes or donuts lightly into the melted butter. Then dunk them all the way into the cinnamon sugar, using your hands to mix it around so the entire donut hole (or donut) is coated generously. Repeat with all the donuts. You may need more cinnamon-sugar. Donuts taste best on the same day, though they may be covered tightly and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. IMG_0897   IMG_0895
  7. Make ahead tip: Prepared donuts freeze well up to 2-3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and heat up in the microwave if desired.
Side dish

Roasted potatoes, brussel sprouts and asparagus

I stole this idea from my friend who is a wonderful cook.  This pairs well with chicken, turkey or any kind of beef dish. It is quick, delicious, and easy.

All you need:

  • small red potatoes or fingerlings.
  • Brussell sprouts, five or six
  • asparagus
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Trim the ends off of your Brussell sprouts and asparagus. image(10) image(8)
  2. Half the Brussell sprouts.
  3. Wash and cut potatoes into quarters or slices.

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4. Lightly toss the potatoes with olive oil and minced garlic

5. Arrange on a cookie sheet with asparagus and Brussel sprouts. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Salt and pepper to your taste

6. Roast the vegetables for 25 minutes. Flip the potatoes once, about halfway through.

Note: you can use sweet potatoes, instead or add fresh herbs for endless variations on the same theme.

Appetizer · Holiday · Recipes

Holiday Treat: White chocolate peppermint popcorn

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This is another great holiday treat that is very simple to make. This does not seem like much, but it is irresistible. Whenever I set this out, people cannot stop eating it:)

All you need:

  • Air popped popcorn (ten cups)
  • 12 oz white chocolate, melted
  • crushed peppermints, a few handfuls

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Step one: Pop the popcorn in a very large bowl. Crush peppermints in a ziploc bag.

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Step two: melt the white chocolate. Melting white chocolate can be very problematic, especially in the microwave. If that is your only option, Sally’s Baking Addiction has good advice on how to do it.I recommend a double boiler, or you can rig one with a sauce pan and a pyrex bowl, like this:

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Step three: Drizzle the melted white chocolate and blend with the popcorn. It will be a gooey mess. Toss in the crushed mint.  Store in an airtight container.

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Delicious and addicting

Dessert · Holiday

Buckeyes

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Recipe source: my sister in law

When I lived in Ohio, I discovered the magic of buckeyes. They are a bit labor intensive, but sooooo worth it.

You will need:       

  • 16 oz confectioner’s sugar (4 cups)
  • 1 18 oz jar of creamy peanut butter (2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  •  1 12oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • toothpicks & wax paper

Step one: In a bowl, combine sugar, and peanut butter.

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Once blended, add the butter.

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Step two: Roll the mixture into little chestnut sized balls and place on wax paper. Refrigerate.

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Step three: With a double boiler or microwave, melt the chocolate chips. Remove the peanut butter balls and put them in freezer for five minutes- they stay on the toothpick better and the chocolate hardens quicker.

Step four: Dip the peanut butter ball into the chocolate with a toothpick and slowly coat on all sides with the chocolate. Leave a circle around the toothpick chocolate free. Freeze them until you are ready to serve.

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A delicious tradition:)

Recipes

Cream Cheese Frosting

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Recipe source: Betty Crocker cookbook circa 1950’s

This is a classic frosting I use for a variety of things – sugar cookies, cupcakes or cake. It is very easy to add some variety to the frosting recipe, so it easy to use as a base for your creativity.

You need:

  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened at room temp.
  • 1 tbs of whole milk, or more as needed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar

Step one: blend cream cheese, milk, vanilla and salt.

Step two: gradually add in confectioner’s sugar and beat until smooth. Add more milk to get the desired consistency.

Ideas –

  • Peppermint – add crushed peppermint to the frosting and use them on candy cane sugar cookies.FullSizeRender(57)
  • Mocha – Blend in 1 tbs of instant powdered coffee to the frosting or add a little actual coffee in place of the extra milk.
Italian · Recipes

Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

https://simplesimplehome.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/img_0655.jpgrecipe source: damndelicious.net (adapted with some modifications)

*For this recipe, I used my cast iron skillet so I could easily transfer from the stove to the oven.

Ingredients

  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more, to taste
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup julienned sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, chiffonade

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken, skin-side down, and sear both sides until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes per side; set aside.

4. Melt remaining tablespoon butter in the skillet. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, heavy cream, sun dried tomatoes, Parmesan, thyme, oregano and basil.

5. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Return chicken to the skillet.

6. Place into oven and roast until completely cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 175 degrees F, about 25-30 minutes.

7. Serve immediately, garnished with basil, if desired. I chose to serve this dish with pasta, and it worked out very well. Enjoy:)