Monday, February 03, 2014

So Let's Try This Again

Ok...everybody is home all week, (much to Rocket's satisfaction!!!) so lets see if I can do a better job of keeping you up on what's cookin' in our house this week!  

Yesterday being Superbowl, my grocery store trip was mostly for our party, but I still have quite a lot left over from our shopping trip last week.  And you'll notice the junk food.  :)  I tried to keep it sorta healthy and was surprised that, considering I made a pretty big pot of Velveeta queso, it went relatively untouched.  Of course that could have been due to the fact that, as Bronco fans, people may have been too depressed to eat!

But most of that stuff up there ^ cooked up to all of that stuff below.

Here are the receipts.  I spent about $70 on groceries, not all of which went to game food.  And we didn't have a ton of that left.  

Tonight's dinner is Vegetable Stir Fry with Pork.  I got a nice little piece of lean pork on sale last week for $2.88 (originally priced at about $5 for that particular cut) and tossed it in the freezer for just such a night as this. Don't forget to look in your grocery stores meat sales bin!  I tend to find a good cut of meat that, if I don't plan on using it immediately, goes into the freezer.  Take it out of the freezer the morning you want to use it for dinner, and put it in the fridge and it should be thawed out by the time you get home.  

I'm gonna tell you up front that this might be a little bit more time consuming than other recipes I've posted, mostly because of the time spent prepping the veges.  I's what I was hungry for tonight.  :D You can take a number of short cuts.  I'll first post the actual recipe of what I made, followed by short cuts if you don't want to tackle this recipe but still want something similar for dinner.  Start to finish, the recipe took me about 40 minutes.

Here's the recipe:  

Vegetable Pork Stir Fry

Whatever vegetables you want to use
Whatever meat you want to use
1 Large clove of garlic, chopped
Udon noodles (you can use whatever noodle you wish)
Olive oil
Keep a slotted spoon handy along with an clean empty bowl

2/3 c. Water
2 Tbsp. Beef Bouillon (Again, I like the "Better than Bullion", but you can use whatever you like)
1/3 c. low-sodium Soy sauce
1/3 c. orange juice (I used some left over mandarins I found in the crisper drawer)
2 Tbsp. Honey
1/4 tsp. ground ginger (I much prefer using fresh but didn't have any.  Dry will work in a pinch, but it's nowhere as good.  If you have fresh, use 1 tsp grated)
1 Tbsp. Corn starch 
A little shake of red pepper flakes

II and III
I.  Use whatever veges you happen to have on hand.  And, you can omit the meat altogether if you want it vegetarian.  I had veges left over from last nights party tray, so I used red bell pepper, carrots, celery, asparagus, broccoli, sliced yellow squash, mushrooms, and red onions.  I found a single sad little mushroom in the back of the drawer, so used it too, along with a handful of chopped cabbage left over from cole slaw last week.  Chop your vegetables and get them ready because once you start the stir fry, there's not a lot of time to get your stuff together.

II.  Slice the raw pork into bite-sized chunks and put it in a bowl.  

III.  Mix the sauce ingredients including the corn starch (that's what's gonna thicken your sauce and make it stick to the noodles).  Mix this well as the corn starch will sink to the bottom, and immediately pour it over the raw pork.  Let it sit for at least 15 minutes or so.  

IV.  While the pork is marinating, cook your noodles.  When they're done to your liking, drain them and cover them in cold water until they're cold.  Drain the noodles well and lay them on a clean dry dish towel.  Pat them dry.  They won't get dry, but they won't be quite so wet.  

V.  Get a good-sized pan and heat some olive oil.  You're gonna be cooking at a higher heat than you normally cook so that you can flash cook your veges without making them soggy.  Remember, olive oil's flash/smoke point is far lower than vegetable oil which means it is going to get super hot super fast.  Using a slotted spoon, get the pork and garlic out of the sauce and into the pan.  Set the sauce aside.  It's not time yet.  Stir it round in the oil until it's cooked through.  When it's cooked, scrape it into that clean bowl.  

VI.  Add a little bit more oil to the pan and add in your vegetables.  I love this part.  They turn brilliant colors pretty quickly.  Don't leave them alone.  Keep turning them over and stirring them in the oil until their colors are vibrant.  You just want them warm and a little bit limp.  When they reach this point, dump them out on the plate you had them on originally.  

VII.  Turn the heat down to about medium.  Pour a bit of the sauce mixture into the pan and immediately put in your noodles.  Stir them around until the sauce starts to caramelize on the noodles.  You'll see them change color.  Once they've started to turn color and dry out just a little bit (you'll see a little bit of the sauce starting to stick to the bottom of the pan), add everything back into the pan.  Stir your sauce well so that the corn starch is incorporated into the sauce (it will have sunk to the bottom), and pour it over everything.  Stir it well and slowly until the sauce is thickened and has coated the veges and noodles.  

VIII.  Remove it from the heat and serve yourself!  

Ok...I hadn't thought enough about the difficulty of this recipe before I cooked dinner tonight.  I'll admit, if you're new to cooking, this might be a little advanced.  BUT:  I can help.  If you don't want to tackle this, do the following:  

  • Replace the noodles with rice.  You can cook it ahead of time and just add it in at the end, or better yet, serve your veges over it!
  • If you don't want to chop all the fresh veges, you can A) buy a package of good quality frozen! Ore-Ida makes a fantastic blend specifically for stir fry or, B) you can also pick up packages of mixed  fresh veges already sliced in the section with the bagged salads.  
  • If you don't want to take the time to make a complex sauce, just use low-sodium soy sauce and a tablespoon of beef bullion in 1/2 c. of warm water.  I've been known to use a package of ramen noodles in a pinch, steal the packet of bullion out of it for the sauce, add soy sauce to it, and then cook the ramen in the little cup it comes in and use that as my noodle/rice!  
There's no reason you can't have dinner very similar in this for a fraction of the time.  I'm just partial to this one as I've been trying to perfect my sauce, and it's getting closer every time I make it.  Still missing that little something (not quite sure what just yet), but I'm working on it, and this was plenty good.  It also heats up nice for lunch tomorrow.  And you can eat quite a lot of this without guilt.  

Here's our food for the day:  

Breakfast:  1 c. oatmeal with 2 tsp of brown sugar
Snack:  Protein shake
Snack:  Deviled eggs leftover from the party (made with Dijon mustard and Vegenaise) and cottage cheese
Lunch:  Warm Chicken and Barley Salad (I'll post recipe this week), Fresh fruit
Snack:  Protein Shake 
Snack:  Deviled eggs (same kind as above)
Post-workout recovery drink
Dinner:  Vegetable Pork Stir Fry

Breakfast:  1/2 c. Bob's Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal, 2 cups of coffee with homemade creamer (I'm still perfecting this recipe....almost there!  Will post it this week)
Snack:  Cameo apple
Lunch:  Left over chili from our party last night
Snack:  A couple of handfuls of flat pretzels
Dinner:  Vegetable Pork Stir Fry  

It's getting ready to snow (again), but now you're warm and well-fed.  And you ate super healthy without feeling like you ate healthy.  You probably even had seconds!  If you didn't go get them now.  You've earned it.  Remember:  It's not about drastically changing your lifestyle all at once.  Do what you can.  Make little changes.  Even the abbreviated suggestions to the recipe above (bullet list) are far better for you than Chinese takeout.  You ROCK!