Oriental Beef

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I often refer to the ways when I was growing up my family made more than one meal out of a dish or created something new and tasty out of leftovers.  Not only did we use leftovers, but we were very good at stretching a meal to feed extras if needed.  I took those ideas with me when I was a young wife and mother, and enjoyed searching out new recipes that worked like that. Oriental Beef is one of those dishes I liked to make when our 3 boys suddenly multiplied to 6 or 7 at the table, and enjoyed the fact they liked to ask their friends to stay for supper. I just added some more rice and sprouts, adjusting seasoning accordingly.

The recipe was originally given to me by Marjorie Saltzgiver when we were students in nursing school.  I was in my early twenties.  She was in her 40’s and had returned to school after she had a large family.  She was the best student of us all, and a mentor for me.  She is now deceased, but remember her every time I cook…

 Oriental Beef

1 cup of uncooked rice, or more according to your preference.

Steam the rice while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

2 cups chopped celery

1 cup chopped onion

1 package frozen green peas

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

1 can bean sprouts ( I use fresh sprouts when I have them)

2 teaspoons Wyler’s beef bouillon powder

chow mein noodles, toasted

Brown meat, add celery and onions.  Cook only until shiny, add cooked rice and soy sauce.

Mix cornstarch in 2 cups of water and add along with bean sprouts.  When thickened, add peas and remove from heat.  Sprinkle with toasted chow mein noodles over each serving.

Two Ingredient Bread

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Bread is a symbol of friendship and hospitality. Many ancient cultures believed bread was a gift from God.  A loaf of homemade bread is one of my favorite things to share with a neighbor or to take to a friend.  I love making extra so that I will have some to share.  Hot bread, right out of the oven, crusty and buttery, makes the simplest salad or soup a feast.

Sayings from around the world refer to the way people feel about bread: In English, we say “Bread is the staff of life.”  A Spanish phrase declares “All sorrows are less with bread.” In Italy, one might hear “Bread is all food, the rest is merely accompaniment.”  In a  Slavic proverb I read: “Without bread even a palace is sad, but with it a pine tree is paradise.”

There is a common resistance to making our own bread, however. That lies in the error of believing it is too difficult, or takes too much time.  Some of us have breadmakers that turn out loaves just as tasty as those we knead with our hands.  But there is something very satisfying about  turning and pressing the dough the time honored way, and I love it. Following is one recipe you will find hard to believe.  I didn’t think it would work, either, but it does, and it is both delicious and versatile.  You will think of a number of ways to use it. My favorite is to simply shape a long loaf and sprinkle with herbs or seeds. It makes a great pizza crust or small tart rounds.

Two Ingredient Bread

1 cup self rising flour, plus extra for kneading and shaping

1 cup of Greek yogurt

In a bowl, combine the flour and yogurt and pull together with your fingers  to form a ball.

Turn out onto a floured cloth.
Knead for about 5 minutes. 
Roll into desired shape.

If I make a loaf shape, I like to brush it with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle coarse salt and sesame seeds over the top. Chopped herbs or Kalamata olives and sun-dried tomatoes produce a colorful and tasty topping, too.

This makes one long flat loaf or one pizza.
If the dough seems too sticky when you mix it, just add a sprinkling more
flour. The more you work the dough, the better it comes together and becomes the right texture to roll out.

Adapted from a  recipe by Jennifer Cheung for Kidspot

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Raspberry Pocket Pies

IMG_0175These little pocket pies remind me of the fruit filled fried pies my grandmother and mother used to make.  I have made them, too, cutting out pie crust rounds filled with peaches or apples and folding them over to make half circles, pressing the edges with a fork, and frying them until they were golden brown and crispy.  Today, cookware companies NordicWare and Wilton offer a variety of tools to help make hand held pies easier and attractive.  These raspberry tarts are made with NordicWare’s heart shaped press. My recipe is adapted from the recipe that is printed right on the box the presses are sold in, and is suitable for berries of any kind, although larger berries will need to be cut into smaller pieces.

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Raspberry Pocket Pies

2 15 oz. package refrigerated pie crusts (or double recipe pastry for two crust pie)

2 boxes fresh raspberries (a little over 2 cups)

2/3 cup sugar

4 teaspoons corn starch

1 egg, beaten

extra flour for dusting pastry cloth

extra sugar for sprinkling ton top of pies

You will need a cloth for rolling out the crusts, rolling pin,  baking sheet, parchment paper, and a small pastry brush

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper .

Mix sugar and corn starch and set aside. Break egg into small bowl, beat with a fork and set aside. Follow package instructions for bringing refrigerated pie crust to room temperature. Unroll one crust at a time and, using back of pocket pie press, press and cut 2 hearts from each pie crust round.  Work with one set of hearts at a time, laying a heart on each side of the inner halves of the pie press, pressing down slightly to indent. Fill one side with 2 Tablespoons berries and sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon sugar mixture. Lay flat in order to brush edges of hearts with beaten egg, using pastry brush. Then fold, pressing edges together and remove pie to baking sheet  Brush tops with egg, then sprinkle with sugar.

. Continue, until 4 pies have been made.  If you wish, gather the scraps of dough and roll out to make additional pies.  If you do this, you can make 2 or 3 more pies.  Bake until golden brown, 15 minutes.   If you do not make additional pies, use remaining fresh berries on the side when serving.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Winter Green

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The green things that grow in my Winter garden are stars in my kitchen as well as popping in the browns of the outside landscape. Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli grow so well through the ups an downs in our South Texas “cold” season that it is well worth planting only a few of each just to watch them thrive. These are one of the few vegetables which intensify in color as you cook them (when done properly) and some of the best nutrition we can put on our tables.  The simplest cooking techniques produce flavor and color on the plate.  Above, small broccoli bunches broken into flowerets and sautéed with garlic in olive oil taste best when cooked only until stalks are tender crisp. I finished this skillet of broccoli with the last of our Meyer lemons. A squeeze of fresh orange is delicious, too.

IMG_0045Swiss Chard is one of my favorite leafy greens, although it vies with kale for first place.  It is a garden champion for persistence  I have cut leaves from this large plant over and over, and it responds with new ones quickly.  It is immensely satisfying to just go out and get the amount I need for a quick side or ingredient.  I rinse it, pat it dry, remove the tougher part of the stem end, then either rough chop or roll up the leaves and slice them into strips.

IMG_0046Then I swirl a bit of olive oil into my big copper bottom pan, sizzle 4 or 5 garlic pods briefly, and add the chard. All this uncooked chard barely fits into the big pan, but after sautéing with the garlic, it really is dinner portions for two people.

IMG_0049Drizzle some balsamic or sherry vinegar over the top, and it is ready to serve. Mustard greens, kale, and spinach can be prepared in exactly the same way, although I like to toast a few whole mustard seeds to add to mustard greens

Leftover bits of greens are a great addition to omelets or as a bed for fish or chicken.  Last night I used sautéed chard to make some stuffed pasta shells in a recipe which called for spinach.  Hardy in the garden, hearty on the table – Winter Greens are lovely.

Not Your Mama’s Banana Pudding

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When I see the last few bananas need to be used right away, I usually make smoothies or banana bread.  Both are very tasty and well received at our house.  Tthis week I decided I would make Joe’s favorite – Banana Pudding, but didn’t want to make a trip to the grocery store just for Vanilla Wafers or graham crackers so I decided to experiment with a different cookie for crunch – Ginger Snaps.  I really don’t know why I have never done this before because Joe loves Ginger Snaps so it seems an ideal combination.  Try this and you may never go back to old fashioned style banana pudding!  The addition of some minced crystallized ginger as a topping makes it an elegant dessert, but it is optional. Adapted from a recipe by Liza Schoenfein, Cooking Light  December 2010

Banana Pudding with Gingersnaps 

4 servings, may be doubled

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2.5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 ripe bananas, divided
  • 12 gingersnaps, crumbled and divided
  •  Whipped topping.  I used ReddiWhip
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger

  1.  Combine first 3 ingredients in a saucepan. Whisk in 1 1/2 cups milk. Heat until tiny bubbles form around edge but not boiling.
  2. Combine remaining 1/2 cup milk and egg; stir with a whisk. Gradually add a few spoons of hot milk mixture to yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Add egg mixture to pan. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and cool Mash 2 bananas; cut remaining banana into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Stir mashed bananas and half of gingersnaps into pudding; chill 30 minutes.
  3. Spoon 2/3 cup pudding into each of 4 dessert glasses; divide remaining gingersnaps among servings. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons whipped cream and minced ginger.  Finish with one or two whole gingersnaps.

Liza Schoenfein, Cooking Light
DECEMBER 2010