Lunar New Year Stir Fried Beef and Green Beans

We were spoiled living in Asia, where we were able to get great Asian food anytime we wanted it. Coming back to Texas left us a bit disappointed, as it is really not the same. When we first arrived in Houston, I was lucky enough to go with a friend to a special tour of the Asian markets in Bellaire. Not only were we treated to some fabulous food, we were introduced to a true Chinese chef who gave us recipes and information on how to do authentic foods. In the past, we had been to cooking classes that Cajunized or Texanized the recipes but we found that Dorothy Haung was the real thing. I have recently wanted to expand my knowledge of true Chinese food and have found that she is operating a cooking school in hill country. Looks like a visit to hill country and wine country at the same time might be in our future!

I can remember the first time celebrating Lunar New Year, when we were living in Jakarta. While working at the International School, we were introduced to new culturals and their celebrations. As as sheltered Southern girl, it was all pretty eye opening. The food and the cultures were all amazing. Another experience with Lunar New Year was when I got stranded in Los Angeles. My flight was cancelled because everyone was traveling to Hong Kong or Singapore and I could not make it back to Jakarta! Jolene Roslauf saved me that day which also coincided with Valentine’s Day that year. I always try to celebrate the Lunar New Year in one way or the other, but generally with some nice appetizers or a good meal.

This year, we did filled buns on one of the days and then decided to do a nice stir fry on another. This is hearty, spicy, and your heat loving friends will enjoy it. Serves 4 with Jasmine rice.

Note: I slice my beef very thinly on a meat slicer. You can ask your butcher to thinly slice your beef for you or slightly freeze you meat and use a mandoline to get a more shaved effect.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs of small end piece of tenderloin or a sirloin sliced wafer thinly (I use a meat slicer but you can use a mandoline or have your butcher slice it for you. If you are very careful, you can do it with a very sharp knife.)

1/2 pound French Green Beans(fresh not frozen) or fresh Asian Long Beans cut up.

3 tablespoons chopped ginger

4 to 5 large cloves garlic

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

6 Tablespoons Sesame Oil (I use Sesame Chile oil as we like the heat.) 3 tablespoons to stir fry the beaf and 3 tablespoons to stir fry the green beans

Ingredients for Marinade:

4 teaspoons corn starch

4 teaspoons beef stock

2 teaspoons dry sherry

4 tablespoons water (I use a little beef base in the water for flavor.)

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce.

For Marinade, mix all of marinade ingredients together and place cut meat into the liquid. Ensure that the meat is covered in liquid. Tightly cover the meat marinade mixture and place in refrigerator until ready to begin cooking.

Sauce Ingredients:

2 teaspooons cornstarch

4 tablespoons beef stock

4 to 5 teaspoons soy sauce

4 tablespoons oyster sauce

For Sauce, mix all ingredients and set aside until ready to use.

How to:

Prepare marinade and marinate meat for at least 1 hour, removing from the fridge at least 15 minutes before stir frying.

Prepare sauce and set aside.

Chop in a food processor or grate 3 to 3 tablespoons of ginger. Finely chop the cloves of garlic. Add the ginger and garlic together, along with the teaspoon of crushed red pepper. Set aside.

Heat wok over high heat until the wok is almost smoking. This may take up to ten minutes. I use a cast iron wok. Other types of woks may take less time. High heat is very important to achieve success with stir frys. (I often use a Cajun cooker and my wok to get a high heat. This is done outside.)

Add three tablespoons of the sesame oil to the hot wok. Place the meat and the marinade into the wok, turning the meat over quickly and allowing the meat to begin to cook. Once most of the meat has lost the raw color (about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes depending upon your heat), add the ginger, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Allow to stir fry for another 1 1/2 minutes. Remove the meat from the wok. (Please note that the higher the heat, the faster the stir fry will cook. Most home stoves do not have the type of heat that Asian restaurants have in their kitchen.)

Add three tablespoons of the sesame oil to the wok. Place the green beans in the wok, stir frying for 2 to 3 minutes until the green beans take on a bright green color and have slightly softened. At this point, return the meat mixture to the wok and stir to combine. Add the sauce mixture and allow to cook for another 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes. The green beans should be slightly crisp and the sauce should have a medium thickness.

Serve immediately over hot cooked rice!

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Comfy Morning French Toast with Fresh Bananas

Growing up, I always remember Mom taking the old stale bread and whipping up a special treat with milk, sugar, and eggs. The piece de resistance was the abundance of powdered sugar which she allowed up to use on the French Toast or Lost Bread! We always had white powdered beards and mustaches after having French Toast. I believe this was one of her favorite things to make and eat. In our little kitchen, she had everything lined up to cut the bread, mix the liquid, and then a dish to soak the bread. It was always better when she made it with French bread but it seemed like the white bread version graced our table more than the good stuff.

This breakfast has a history and was very popular in Cajun country due to the frugality of using the old bread. Down in Acadiana, many homes had eggs and access to milk. Down near Raceland and areas up and down the river, there were sugar cane farms so all of the basic ingredients were easily acquired.

When I make this treat now, I add a few additional ingredients to the liquid mixture and generally try to use an artisian or French Bread which is a bit thicker and has more substance than white bread. I like to make this for Valentine’s Day or birthdays, changing the topping to strawberries or raspberries to make it more seasonal.

This recipe will make two pieces of French Toast.

2 slices of Artisian or French Bread (sliced 1/2 inch thick)

1 egg

1/2 cup low fat half and half

1 tablespoon sugar or equalivant Stevia

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 pinch salt

1 tablespoon butter

1 large banana sliced into rings

Maple syrup to pour on the French Toast

How to:

Mix the egg, half and half, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and pinch of salt in a wide bowl or glass dish. Whisk together until completely blended. Allow the slices of bread to soak on each side for 3 minutes until most of the liquid mixture is absorbed.

Melt the butter in a medium frying pan on medium heat. When heated, place the pieces of bead in the pan, cooking for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and slightly firm in the middle. ( You do not want the middle to be soggy.)

Place the piece of French Toast on a plate, top each with half of the bananas and lightly pour the fresh maple syrup over the bread slices and bananas.

Options: Add Pecans to the banana French Toast.

Instead of bananas, use fresh berries or a berry syrup.

Use chocolate chips and whipped cream!

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Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Tacos for Two

Nothing like a slow Sunday morning. It is always nice to stay under the covers just a bit longer but eventually it is time for a good breakfast. I love making these savory breakfast tacos which take less than 8 minutes to make. The flavors of the spicy breakfast sausage, eggs, and cheese blend together to satisfy that early morning hunger! They are even perfect for a large group of people by multiplying the recipe. If I have company, I will get an assistant to help me fill with sausage, cheese, and egg and later, wrap them. These are fun to make for Matt and Ryan when they visit on weekends and they are always gone in just a few minutes.

Oh Baby….you know you want these!

Ingredients for 2:

2 flour totillas (heated up in a non stick pan)

1/4 lb breakfast sausage, pan fried and crumbled

2 large eggs

1/4 fresh jalapeno finely chopped

1/2 medium tomato chopped

3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste

sprigs of cilantro to garnish

Optional: Salsa or fresh jalapenos

How to:

Pan fry and break the sausage apart. Chop and set aside the fresh tomato and sprigs of cilantro.

Heat each torilla in a small pan or in a toaster oven until warm and soft.

In a small bowl, add the jalapeno, salt, and pepper to the two eggs and mix thoroughly. Using a non stick pan, lightly scramble the eggs.

Assemble the tacos starting with the hot crumbled sausage, the eggs, add cheese to each and roll from one side to the other.

Garnish with chopped tomaotes and sprigs of cilantro. Serve hot!!!!!!

You can add chopped bacon, salsa, or green onions to bump up the flavor! Enjoy with a spicy bloody Mary!

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Spicy Snack Crackers for the Big Game

These little bites will not make it through the game unless you make several batches ahead of time. They go perfectly with a nice cold beer from B52 Brewery! So simple but so tasty, which makes them the perfect go to for the big game or just as a snack for a hungry bunch of teens! These yummy crackers are very versatile and flavors can be modified with different seasonings. My neighbor is hooked on them and is always ready for a baggy of the treats! You will really like these so make a bunch and keep sealed in a plastic container. They can be refreshed by using a baking stone if needed.

Ingredients:

35 to 40 Saltine Crackers

1/2 tablespoon chili powder

1/3 tablespoon Hungarian paprika

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

How to:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the crackers flat on a sheet pan.

In a small mixing bowl, combine chili powder, paprika, parsley, garlic and olive oil Mix thoroughly and brush completely across each cracker, making sure spices and garlic are also in the topping (as they will settle at the bottom of the oil).

Evenly sprinkle the cheese over the crackers.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 10 to 12 minutes until the crackers are crispy. Allow to cool slightly and separate. Serve hot or cooled.

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Tuna Salad Sandwich for The Patient

So for the last week, I have been preparing food that Mark could eat after knee replacement surgery and having a varied cocktail of drugs and painkillers. These meals have included lean protein (chicken and fish), greens, and vegetables. He has enjoyed a wonderfully spicy smoked turkey noodle soup, a hearty vegetable beef soup, a smooth and luscious potato soup, stir fried broccoli with garlic and red bell pepper and a variety of snacks all of which to help counteract the effect of pain medications. To keep things interesting for him, I decided to do a tuna salad, an old standby, but one that we haven’t had in years. With the help of a box of ready greens from the HEB and some lovely rustic bread which was toasted with olive oil, he had a lovely and relatively healty lunch. This tuna salad has a few ingredients that are not common to your run of the mill salad so be sure to check your pantry before preparation( as you should do with any recipe.)

Please note, we like a more loose tuna salad for a sandwich, if you would rather dry, reduce mayonnaise to 2 tablespoons. Reduced fat or other mayonnaise may also be used to trim the fat and calorie count.

Ingredients:

1 can 5 to 6 ounce Albacore Tuna drained and flaked

2 large boiled eggs, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons red bell pepper chopped

2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

2 tablespoons white onion finely chopped

1 stalk celery chopped

1 teaspoon lemon zest, Plus 1 teaspoon for garnish

1 teaspoon French’s or other yellow mustard

1/2 tablespoon parsley flakes or fresh chopped parsley

1/4 cup mayonnaise (less if you prefer a dry tuna salad) A low fat or low calorie mayonnaise can be used to reduce fat and calories.

Salt and Pepper to taste (We like spice so it really enhances the taste with black and red crushed pepper.)

How to:

Combine drained tuna and chopped boiled eggs. Combine completely. Mix in all of the remaining ingredients. Chill for 1 hour before serving. If preparing a sandwich, toast the bread with olive oil and use some nice mixed greens. Garnish the plate with the additional lemon zest. This will make two nice sandwiches.

An option is to serve this with crackers or over a bed of greens.

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Coffee Spice Rub for Beef

This is a wonderful rub for your beef tenderloin or prime rib. You can also find the basic spice blend on this blog.

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Easy Christmas Sprinkle Cookies for Kids

One of my good friends always makes these for holidays. They are quick, easy, and the kids love to make and eat them. You can make these with or without sprinkles but it is fun to have multiple sprinkles or mini chips to press lightly into the balls before baking.

Ingredients:

1 box yellow cake mix

1 large egg at room temperature

1 cup Cool Whip Whipped topping room temperature

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Optional:

Sprinkles, mini baking chips, colored sugars.

How to:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix cake mix with one egg and the cup of room temperature Cool Whip in a medium mixing bowl. When completely mixed, separate into about 1 inch balls and roll in powdered sugar. Drop these onto a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes.

Optional: You can roll the top of the balls into sprinkles, colored sugars, or mini baking chips before baking.

The dough can also be colored with some green or red food coloring.

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Making a Larger Version Stove Top Smoker

People love the taste of smoked meats and fish. Quite a few cooks don’t have the opportunity to own a smoker. This little homemade contraption will smoke nice chicken pieces, a small or spatchcocked turkey, and lovely fish. I use a ThermPro dual probe thermometer unit to ensure the correct temperature. The video will give you a step by step on how to put together a stovetop smoker. If you do this in the house, you must have good ventilation or otherwise you will have beeping smoke alarms. I suggest doing it with a hot plate or on a grill outside. Internal temperature of the smoker should be 225 degrees F. and the finished internal temperature of the turkey or chicken should be 165 degrees F.

You can find a video on preparing a Butterball Turkey Breast Roast on my YouTube Channel.

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Multicooker Weeknight Beef Stew

There are those times when you know the evening is going to be busy. By doing some prep the evening before or waking up a few minutes early, you can have a hearty meal for your family at dinner time. This is not hard and nor intimidating! Even Mark could attempt this!

Mark enjoys stews when the cooler weather finally makes its way to Texas. We generally don’t do a lot of what I call pot cooking during the warmer weather unless it is in the multicooker or crockpot. We just don’t want to make the house that hot!

As the weather gets cooker, we think of stews and gumbos. This is an easy way to get that meal ready for the evening. It can stay in the multicooker on warm for several hours.

The Cuisinart Mulitcooker is a great appliance that does a multitude of jobs in the kitchen from steaming to browning and then slow cooking. I am using mine more than my true slow cooker lately just because of the versitility.

Ingredients

5 tablespoons olive oil

2.25 pound top roast cut into small cubes

1/2 cup flour

1 medium onion chopped

3/4 cup celery chopped

1 cup carrot circles

2 tablespoons garlic

1 1/2 cups red wine

1 3/4 beef stock (plus additional for desired thickness)

2 1/2 tablespoons extra strength tomato paste

1 1/2 tablespoon grainy dijon mustard

1 1/2 tablespoon thyme

1 teaspoon sea salt and 2 teaspoons black pepper and more to taste

1/4 cup chopped parsley

How to:

Heat the Multicooker to 275 degrees F. Add the olive oil and bring to temperature. Completely dredge the cubed beef in the flour Place in the hot oil and begin to lightly brown for 4 to 5 minutes, turning over about 1/2 way. After the meat begins to get a bit of color at about 5 minutes, add the onions and any remaining flour and cook until the onions are slightly softened.

Quick video on the beef recipe.

Add the celery and garlic. Stir in and cook for 2 additional minutes. Slowly add red wine and stock, stir in completely to smooth out the flour, reducing any lumps. Add the tomato past, dijon mustard, thyme and t o the multicooker and mix completely. Add salt and pepper, stirring in. Place carrot circle on top of mixed liquid and change the setting on the multicooker to low, slow cook. Cook for 4 to 5 hours on low, stirring occasionally. 30 minutes before serving mix in parsley. Salt and pepper additionally if needed.

Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, or polenta.

Options:

Mushrooms (added with the carrots)

Potatoes (cut into 1/2 in cubes and place in with the carrots, submerged)

Parsnips (added with the carrots)

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Southwestern Salad with Sauteed Corn, Black Beans and Jalapeno Dressing

My husband is a salad lover. With that being said, I try to make salads that can be a complete meal with protein and vegetables while making it interesting. We have had taco salads before and love them but this salad elevates the taco salad to something really a notch above! There are lots of ingredients but each and every one adds flavor and texture. The shrimp, tortilla strips, and corn can be cooked ahead of time and jalapeno dressing can also be preprepared.

Ingredients:

For Shrimp

1 1/2 lbs of large shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1/2 tablespoon black pepper

3/4 tablespoon sea salt

1 1/2 tablespoon Tone’s Southwest Seasoning

1 tablespoon olive oil

For Salad

2 1/2 cups frozen corn thawed

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 bags of garden salad

1/2 can black beans (6 ounces)

4 ounces of chopped pimento

1 cup chopped tomato

1/3 cup sliced black olives

1/3 cup roasted pumpkin seeds

3 to 4 tablespoons green onion

1 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese grated

3 corn tortillas (cut into strips) Spray with olive oil, dust with salt and toast until crisp and lightly browned. Turn over about half way through the toasting.

Dressing Ingredients:

Add the following to a blender and completely blend, ensuring the jalapeno is completely processed into the liquid.

1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil (use the better stuff)

1/3 cup white whine venegar

1/4 to 1/3 cup honey

1 teaspoon Grainy Mustard

1 jalapeno seeded and cored and cut into quarters

2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

How to put it all together!

How to:

Make the salad dressing and set aside.

In a medium bowl, add the two tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and Southwest seasoning. Mix in the shrimp and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Heat a flat grill on high. Pour 1 tablepoon of alive oil onto the grill. Place the shrimp on the hot grill, cooking for about 2 1/2 minutes on the first side (the shrimp will start to turn pink). Turn the shrimp over and cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes until totally pink and firm. Remove from the grill and allow to cool.

In a saute pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the thawed frozen corn and saute until there is some slight carmelization and color on the corn. This will take about 4 to 5 minutes.

Place the sliced tortilla strips on a sheet pan and spray with a light spray of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and toast in a 350 degree oven for about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn over, spraying the strips again and toast until the strips become slightly brown and crunchy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.

To Assemble Salad:

Place bag salads into a large bowl. Add the cooled corn, black beans, the pimentos, the roasted pumpkin seeds, the chopped tomato, the chopped black olives, the green onion, and grated cheese.

Toss with the prepared Jalapeno dressing. Garnish with toasted tortilla strips and top with grilled shrimp. Serve immediately!

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