Monday, February 23, 2015

Parmesan Steak Fries

I've tried making French fries before.  While tasty, they didn't have the right crispy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside texture for my liking.  And, I'll be honest, when it comes to fries, I tend to prefer the smaller shoestring variety than large steakhouse styles.  Until I made these.  Not only are they super easy, but they're incredibly versatile.  There are endless ways to change the flavors and seasonings to fit just about any meal.  And let's face it, when you're serving a steak dinner, big wedges of potato are a whole lot more sophisticated than a side of fries!  Serve these with your favorite dipping sauce or a dollop of flavored butter....or eat them plain.  The world is your oyster; enjoy!

3 large egg whites
3 baking potatoes
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk the egg whites into a shallow dish.  Wash the potatoes and cut each into 6 long spears.  Add to the egg whites and turn to coat.  Place the parmesan in a separate shallow dish.

One at a time, remove the potato spears from the egg whites, allowing the excess to drip off.  Roll the spear in the parmesan, coating each spear evenly on all sides.  Place on the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake, without turning, until the potatoes are fork-tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Season with salt to taste.

Serves 4.

Recipe adapted from Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart Living.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Long Life Noodles

Long life noodles are served at Chinese New Year celebrations as well as birthday meals; tradition says that if you break (or cut) one of these noodles, you'll have bad luck.  Regardless, the peanuty sauce and crispy veggies are the perfect accompaniment to most main courses.  I served these with a teriyaki-marinated salmon filets, but they'd be just as yummy as a bed for shrimp or scallops...or the protein of your choice really.

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 cup snow peas, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded carrots
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 pound soba noodles or spaghetti
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/4 cup minced cilantro

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger.  Stir constantly until the peanut butter melts.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the snow peas, carrots, red bell pepper, and scallions.

Cook the noodles until al dente in a large pot of boiling water.  Stir the noodles into the vegetable mixture and add the peanut sauce.  Garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro.

Serves 6-8.

Recipe adapted from The Comfort Table, by Katie Lee.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Garlic Broccoli

I love broccoli!  So when I made a Chinese New Year themed meal and was searching for recipes for something green (come on, I'm a mom, and every meal needs a veggie!) I was so excited to find this.  The green color brightens any dish, and the crispy texture is the perfect compliment to fluffy fried rice.  Leave out the crushed red pepper flakes if you're serving this to the kiddos, it's a bit spicy, even for adult palates!

1 tablespoon canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound broccoli florets
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Heat the canola oil over medium-low heat in a wok or large skillet.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, allowing them to infuse the oil for 3-4 minutes.  Increase the heat to medium and add the broccoli.  Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes.  Add stock, soy sauce, and pepper.  Cook uncovered for 5 minutes, until broccoli is tender and almost all the liquid has evaporated.

Serves 4

Recipe adapted from The Comfort Table, by Katie Lee.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Crispy Orange Beef

I like Chinese take-out (who doesn't!?) but I'm not a fan of that gross uber-full feeling I have every time I eat it.  However, given that Chinese New Year is this week, and I was having a slight craving for some sweet and sour chicken, I decided to make this dish at home.  My husband likes the beef options better, and I wanted something on the spicy side.  Enter this fabulous dish.  It was just the perfect combination of sweet and spicy, making it the perfect marriage for take-out that was cooked-in!  Enjoy over a pile of white rice (mine looks a little brown because I cooked it in beef stock).  Don't forget the fortune cookies!

1 1/2 pounds flank steak, cut into thin strips, or use "stew" beef like I did
1/3 cup cornstarch
6 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons honey
4 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup water
1 cup canola oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
zest and juice of 1 orange
8 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1 orange, thinly sliced for garnish
white rice, for serving

Toss beef with cornstarch to evenly coat.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  While the meat is chilling, combine soy sauce, vinegar, hoisin sauce, honey, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and water.  Set aside.

In a wok or heavy skillet, heat the canola oil.  Fry the beef in batches until browned, about 3 minutes per batch.  Remove to paper towels to drain.

Drain all but 2 tablespoons oil from the wok.  Heat the oil over medium heat and add the garlic, ginger, orange zest and juice, and scallions.  Stir fry for 5 minutes.  Add the beef and stir in the reserved sauce.  Raise the heat to medium-high and stir until sauce thickens.  Serve over steamed rice with the orange slices on top.

Serves 4.

Recipe adapted from The Comfort Table, by Katie Lee.
 Ms. enPlace

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sirloin with Garlic Butter

Every now and then my husband and I enjoy a date night at home.  We either put the kids to bed early or we arrange to eat late, after they're asleep.  I'll set the table with linen napkins and our nice everyday dinnerware.  My husband will open a bottle of wine and turn on some soft music.  Breaking up the monotony of the week allows us to relax after the stress of real life, enjoy a quiet meal with actual adult conversation, and feel like we're on a date, even though we're still at home!  Bonus if Netflix delivered that day so we get dinner and a movie, all from the comfort of our own family room.  Try this steak dinner next time you want to impress your honey; you'll feel like you're in a French Bistro, and your special someone will feel extra pampered!

For the steaks:
4 steaks (I used sirloin, but any cut will do)
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
thyme (fresh or dried, doesn't matter!)
2 tablespoons dried parsley

For the garlic butter:
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, roughly chopped
2-4 dashes Worcestershire
2-4 dashes hot sauce

Make the garlic butter.  Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until smooth.  Place in a small dish or mold and chill until time to grill the steaks.

Just before prepping the meat and grill, take the garlic butter out of the fridge to re-soften.  Rub olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme on both sides of meat, rubbing the seasonings in to ensure it adheres.  Prepare a grill or place a grill pan over medium to medium-high heat.  Once grill is ready, place the steaks on the grill and cook 5-7 minutes per side, or until desired doneness.

Once cooked, remove the steaks from grill, place on a platter, and allow to rest for about 5 minutes.  While meat is resting, place a dollop of garlic butter on each steak, along with a sprinkling of parsley.

Serves 4.

Recipe adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Bride & Groom Cookbook, by Gayle Pirie & John Clark.
 Ms. enPlace

Sunday, February 1, 2015

This Month: Chinese New Year

I don't know a whole lot about Chinese astrology, or even the Chinese New Year. But I do know that I occasionally love Chinese take-out, that crab rangoon is the eighth wonder of the world, and that even though I'm not of Chinese decent, I love any excuse for a themed meal! So this year, I plan to celebrate the Year of the Goat like no body's business! Who knows? Maybe we'll start a new tradition at my house! Chinese New Year falls on February 19th this year, right after Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday, so it'll be a week of celebrations and special meals in my kitchen! Enjoy!

On the Menu:

Monday, January 12, 2015

Banana Bread Pancakes

I love banana bread.  My husband loves pancakes.  He also loves breakfast food for dinner.  When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it.  Especially for a Pancake Tuesday - Mardi Gras sort of dinner.  These pancakes are sweet, especially with the recommended syrup, so pair them with some bacon or sausage to cut that sugar.  I served them up with some hot chocolate spiked with a little Kahlua!

3/4 cup mashed bananas (about 2)
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
sliced bananas
chopped pecans

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the bananas, buttermilk, sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla on low speed.  Mix until smooth (the bananas will leave some lumps).  Slowly add in flour, baking soda, and salt.  Stir until just combined.

Heat a nonstick skillet to medium-low and coat with nonstick spray.  Drop batter by about 1/4 cup (I use an ice cream scoop) onto griddle and cook until bubbles appear and bottoms are brown, about 4 minutes.  Flip pancakes and cook until brown, about 2 minutes more.

Serve with Bananas Foster Syrup and garnish with sliced bananas and pecans.

Serves 2.

Recipe adapted from Cuisine at Home, February 2014.
Miz Helen’s Country Cottage