beef and cabbage stir fry

 

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There are many factors that go into my decision making process when it comes to my family’s dinner. One of the biggest factors in terms of choosing what to make for dinner is Time. I often have 30-45 minutes to get a complete meal on the table; sometimes more but often it’s less. Another deciding factor is Budget. I love to find recipes that are both wallet friendly and taste amazing. Yes, it has to taste great but that’s a no-brainer. When I come across a meal recipe that satisfies both those criteria, it is definitely a keeper. This is one of those recipes. It came together easily and so quick that I hardly needed anything that wasn’t already in my fridge/pantry. It had that comforting feel of take-out Chinese food but without all the grease and heaviness (and sometimes, MSG) that take-out Chinese food can come with. At first my kids saw an overwhelming mound of cabbage and they were hesitant to dive in but in no time they were at the bottom of their bowl, jockeying to see who would get the leftovers the following day. My friend and I were discussing the advantages of a “bowl” type dinner. One bowl – a layer of rice, protein and veggies and DONE! If done right, it can be fast, balanced and tasty. I already love using that model for burritos and I foresee that it will continue to be a staple in my 2017 dinner planning in the form of a bowls!

Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry

recipe from Budget Bytes

Ingredients
STIR FRY SAUCE
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha
  • ½ Tbsp brown sugar
STIR FRY
  • ½ head green cabbage
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 green onions
  • ½ Tbsp neutral cooking oil
  • ½ lb. lean ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
GARNISHES (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha
Instructions
  1. Prepare the stir fry sauce first. In a small bowl stir together the soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, sriracha, and brown sugar. Set the sauce aside.
  2. Shred the vegetables so they are ready to go when you need them. Cut one small cabbage in half, remove the core, and then finely shred the leaves of one half the cabbage (4-6 cups once shredded, save the other half for another recipe). Peel two carrots, then use a cheese grater to shred them (1 cup shredded). Slice three green onions. Mince two cloves of garlic. Peel a knob of ginger using either a vegetable peeler or by scraping with the side of a spoon, then grate it using a small-holed cheese grater.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot add the cooking oil, ground beef, garlic, ginger, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook the beef until browned (about five minutes).
  4. Add the cabbage and carrots to the skillet and continue to stir and cook until the cabbage is slightly wilted (or fully wilted, if you prefer). Stir in the prepared sauce and the green onions. Top with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and a drizzle of sriracha, then serve.
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smoky beef chili con carne

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There are a few dishes that have a million iterations and even when I find an iteration that I love, I still have to keep trying new versions of the dish.  Burgers and sloppy joes come to mind but so does…..chili!  Right?  How many types of chili have you made? I’ve made many and most of them are great.  They’ve all been slightly different but  really delicious.  So the latest chili I made was this smoky beef chili.  It was flavorful and when coupled with cornbread, it was a huge hit with the family.  My son is the only one who doesn’t like avocado so he opted out of having it with his chili, but I thought the cool, creamy avocado was a perfect topper for this smoky dish.  I’ve been making things in my Instant Pot lately so I’m sure I’ll be trying chili in the Instant Pot soon enough. But there’s something about simmering a chili in my dutch oven on the stove that really appeals to me.
I’ve been a bit MIA lately but it’s just life! I hope now that soccer has dropped off, I’ll find more pockets of time to cook and blog.  This was one of my fears when starting this blog – what if I stop blogging just like I often stop writing in my journal?  But because I only do this for fun and to document what I’m cooking, I’m allowing myself a pass.  I do this when I can. It’s supposed to be for fun and it allows me to share what works (and what doesnt work) in my kitchen with you all.  My very own mini test kitchen, if you will.  Once I kind of reminded myself that there was no expectations or pressure to update this, I felt much more at peace about it.  Maybe my kids will look at this blog one day and remember all the dishes we shared around the table.  I hope they will.  I do want to get them back in the kitchen with me but right now is just not the season for that.  They are swamped with sports and homework which means I am too.  But I will keep plugging along and will keep eating, cooking and sharing with you all!

Smoky Beef Chili Con Carne

recipe from Creole Contessa

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs ground chuck
  • 2 cups beef broth, low sodium
  • 1 cup red salsa
  • 1 cup green salsa
  • 1 cup hot tomato sauce
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 chipotle pepper, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon creole seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon oregano, dried, crushed
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, red onion, avocado to serve
  • For the Roux:
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil

Instructions

  • Mix seasoning blend together and set aside.
  • In a skillet add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, add onion and chipotle pepper, cook 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
  • Season with 1 tablespoon of seasoning blend, mix well.
  • Add meat to pan, break up meat and season with remaining seasoning blend.
  • Cook meat for about 8 minutes, drain oil from meat, add back to pan.
  • Add broth, tomato sauce, and salsas.
  • Cook for about 15 minutes more, stirring occasional.
  • Prepare the roux and add to pan, cook 5 more minutes and serve.
  • To Prepare the Roux:
  • Heat oil in a pan over medium heat, add flour and stir for about 4-5 minutes, until flour is slightly browned.

ziti (or rotini) and meatballs

 

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You’re all starting to learn that I cook what I want to cook, not even necessarily what I want to eat.  Just what I want to cook. But there are times  I take special requests.  And usually, I try to fulfill those requests during that week or the following week.  Last week, hubs told me one night that he was craving meatballs.  Not meat sauce for his pasta but actual meatballs.  It just so happened that I had some ground beef so I graciously said that I would cook him meatballs!  There was no need for him to also know that I was looking for a way to use up the ground beef anyway! 🙂  I looked through my recipes and came across this one. These were devoured with much gusto and hubs proclaimed that it’s even better than most restaurants! That is one of his ultimate compliments to me with his other favorite one being, “YOU should open a restaurant and sell just ___________.”  I’m really glad when I can fulfill a craving and get it done on a weeknight! Making meatballs used to have me pausing with apprehension but now, it’s become so easy for me to make!  Mix, separate, kinda roll, kinda shape then baking sheet!

I’ll write an update soon about my trip to Chicago – my little brother got married!

Ziti and Meatballs

recipe from Real Simple

Ingredients

  • 2 carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1/4cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/3cup bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4cup grated pecorino (about 1 ounce), plus more for serving
  • 1 pound ziti (or other pasta. obviously I used rotini)

Directions

  1. In a food processor fitted with the coarse grating disk, grate the carrots, onion, and zucchini. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the grated vegetables, 2 cloves of the garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
  2. Add the crushed and whole tomatoes (with their juices) and oregano to the pot and simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon, until the sauce has thickened, 35 to 40 minutes.

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  1. Meanwhile, heat broiler. In a large bowl, gently combine the beef, bread crumbs, eggs, pecorino, the remaining garlic, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Form into 32 meatballs (about 2 tablespoons each) and place on a foil-lined large broilerproof baking sheet. Broil, turning once, until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Add to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Top with the meatballs, sauce, and additional pecorino and serve with the salad.
  3. The meatballs and sauce can be frozen together in freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months. To reheat, run the containers under warm water until the mixture slides out. Transfer to a saucepan and cook, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Cook the pasta and serve with the meatballs and sauce.

 

korean beef patties (동그랑땡)

IMG_2091[1]Korean food is my comfort food. It’s also my family’s comfort food but I rarely cook it at home.  When I first started cooking, I learned by watching Rachael Ray and Food Network 24-7.  At the time, there were not many resources in English for Korean food.  The ingredients were unfamiliar to me and I couldn’t even translate some of the ingredients!  Since then, a wealth of Korean cooking resources have emerged and I’ve utilized many of the recipes.  But it’s still not what comes easiest to me.  Since I rarely cook it, I also find it challenging because I feel like i have to prepare so many components when it come time to actually make it.  It’s mentally exhausting.  But on some days, I know my family would really love to sit down to some Korean food so I put aside my own issues and cook it.

When I lived in LA and my oldest was just a baby, I met a group of Korean-American moms.  We came together, shared meals, ideas, recipes and had lots of playdates.  Making friends as an adult can be challenging but I felt really blessed and lucky to find community and support with these women.  One woman, in particular, became a very good friend to me.  Our sons were close in age and got along well.  We lived fairly close to each other and we shared a love of cooking.  She was funny, beautiful, supportive and so dedicated to her family, especially her son.  There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for him.  And… she was an amazing cook.  Though her time on this earth was cut brutally and unfairly short, I had the honor of knowing her and she made such an impact on me in the short time we had together.  She had this way of encouraging me to try new recipes by saying “It’s so easy – you can TOTALLY do it.  You want me to show you? Want to come over and I’ll walk you through it??” I have a few recipes (which I know I’ll share here) that are staples in my kitchen because they are so delicious and because I got them from her.

This Korean beef patty recipe is one of them.  She had a blog of Korean cooking and was working on a cookbook as well.  I miss her presence in my life but think of her often, especially when I make dishes from her kitchen.  Bo, I know you are smiling down as I write these words… I think of how you must have typed your posts just as I’m doing now and it makes me smile, thinking we share something years after your passing…

Try these, they’re the closest rendition to my own grandmother’s version that I’ve ever had.

Dong Geun-ran Ddengs – Beef Cakes – (동그랑땡)

Recipe and photos c/o Korean Cuisine

Ingredients Needed:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • ½ cup chopped carrots
  • ½ cup chopped squash
  • ½ cup chopped chives
  • 3 eggs
  • Korean pancake mix (or just plain old flour)
  • 1 TB minced garlic, 1 TB sesame oil, 1 TB gook ganjang, ¾ TB salt, ¼ TB pepper, ¼ TB ginger powder

First get your beef and vegetables ready. Don’t feel limited to using these EXACT vegetables…use what you have! I’ve used mushrooms, green onions, and a lot of other stuff too before and it tastes fine.

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I used a mandolin to shred my vegetables, then I just took a knife to roughly cut it up into small bits. It makes the job a lot easier if you have a mandolin on hand.
After the vegetables are chopped and ready season it with 1 TB minced garlic, 1 TB sesame oil, 1 TB gook ganjang, ¾ TB salt, ¼ TB pepper, ¼ TB ginger powder and mix it up well using your hands.

Add about 1 pound of beef and mix it well again using your hands.

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Get some flour or Korean pancake mix ready in a large bowl and scoop up 1 TB of the meat mixture at a time and using your hands try to form them into small, flat little patties.

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Coat them thoroughly in the pancake mix and set aside. I actually had to do this in two separate batches because I ended up with a lot of beef cakes. And YES, this gets very messy…which is why I only make these a few times a year.

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In another bowl, crack 3 whole eggs and mix it up really well. Dip each piece of coated beef cake into the egg mixture and then fry it on a frying pan. I found that using a spoon makes transferring the beef cakes a lot easier without breaking them apart.

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Make sure you use enough oil to cover the whole pan and then some. Let the beef cake fry on each side for at least 2 minutes. Each time you do another batch, clean off the frying pan with a wet paper towel and start off with fresh oil.

zucchini and beef sloppy joes

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I remember having sloppy joes as a kid – like many American foods, I tried it first in a lunchroom and not in my mom/grandma’s Korean kitchen.  My mom cooked almost exclusively Korean food but once in a while she’d surprise me by cooking something like lasagna and to this day, I have no idea when or how she learned to make it but she figured it out and it was pretty good!  My mom’s attempt at sloppy joes involved a Manwich can.  I honestly don’t even know where she learned about Manwich but one day I was telling her I liked sloppy joes and soon after that, I found it on the table.  I think she made it like twice in my whole life but I remembered it!  Now that my kids eat lunch at school, we go through the school menu every month and each kid tells me which days they want to buy lunch at school and which days they want me to pack.  Recently, they both got really excited when I told them sloppy joes were on the March menu.  They seemed so excited that I wanted to make them a version at home!  I saw a recipe that had zucchini in it and then I kinda added bits and pieces from other recipes I’ve liked and tried a new version of it tonight. It went over REALLY well!  Husband wanted it on the record that he didn’t like the clove flavor at ALL but the kids loved my version and said it was way better than the school one (whew!)

 

zucchini and beef sloppy joes

Ingredients:

3 garlic cloves, minced
1 anaheim chile, diced (I would use jalapeno but its too spicy for daughter)
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium zucchini, shredded
1 lb. ground beef
6 oz can tomato paste
3/4 cup water
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
salt and pepper
Directions:
In a large saucepan, saute the garlic, pepper, onion and zucchini in oil until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add beef and saute until browned.  Add all the remaining ingredients and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes, until thickened.