Fajita night!

5 09 2013

I was SO excited to get today’s Fresh Box from Alan’s Orchard.  Every month they also do a ‘spice of the month’ in partnership with the Savory Spice Shop in Westfield. What I love about this program is that it features recipes every week, and these went very well with the spice of the month: Fajita Seasoning! It’s called the ‘family seasoning’ because it’s mild enough for kids to enjoy. 

I picked up my box after a successful first day of school and before even looking in the box, saw that the spice was a fajita spice and automatically knew what to make for dinner. The question was .. what KIND of fajitas? This week’s box came with red and green peppers, onions, eggplant, and portobello mushrooms .. so I considered a veggie fajita. But in the half mile from Alan’s Orchard to ShopRite, I decided to stop off and get some beef (pre-cut ‘for stir-fry’, for the ease) and I picked up some tortillas and some shredded cheese. I also picked up a box of Spanish Rice and a container of Annie’s Organic refried beans.

While the rice cooked with some tomatoes, I cut up four peppers and two onions:


Then I cooked up the beef with the fajita seasoning. I set that aside and kept warm. Then I cooked up my peppers and onions while I warmed my tortillas and warmed the refried beans.


After about 40 minutes of work (pretty good timing for me!) I had this nice spread to choose from:


It seems I have a lot of the rice / veggies variety.  After I finish off the steak I might cook up some shrimp for more fajitas, or anything else I find in my fridge!


Happy eating!


Spaghetti & Meatballs

1 03 2011

A fairly simple, American staple .. and easy enough to find in the freezer section or prepared foods aisle.  But I wanted to try my hand at making my own meatballs, and they were pretty easy!  I took about a pound and a half of ground beef and rolled it with some diced onions, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  I baked the meatballs in the oven for 20-25 minutes and paired it with some spaghetti and pre-made pasta sauce.  It’s a semi-homemade meal which is nice since I get the satisfaction of knowing I made my own meatballs, but the ease of only spending 15-20 hands-on time on the dish.

After making the pasta, I heated up some pasta sauce (tomato sauce with a garlic/basil flavoring), put the meatballs on top, and topped with pasta sauce.  It made 3 servings and was great for leftovers.

Happy eating!


Momma’s Beef Stew

14 02 2011

As you may know, I’ve been slowly collecting my mother’s recipes and learning how to make them all. (Such as pho and pate chaud).  I’ve also been making a lot of soups since it got colder, like baked potato soup and Italian bean soup.  I finally got my mom to send me her recipe for beef stew, which was and still is one of my favorite winter meals.  Her stew is extremely flavorful and took almost two hours to make, but it was well worth it.  It’s also much less soupy than a traditional American-style stew, so we normally serve it over rice.  Sometimes I eat it all by itself and it’s still just as good.  Here’s how I made it:

First, I took some beef chuck roast (in small cubes) and browned it while caramelizing my onions.

Then I added in my stew ingredients – bay leaves, crushed tomatoes, beef broth, red ine, garlic, herbes de provence, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, and sugar.  I let this simmer for a little over an hour.

After everything was simmered, I adjusted the amount of broth and tomatoes, and then added in my veggies – mushrooms and potatoes.  My mom’s stew normally includes carrots, lima beans, and some other vegetables, but I can’t really have those anymore so I could only include potatoes and mushrooms, which I am very happy with.  I let these all cook in the stew for 20-30 minutes and then voila, stew perfection!

Everything in the stew was perfectly cooked – the beef was tender, vegetables were cooked and had a great flavor.  I served the stew over rice and was very happy for the 4-5 servings that my stew made.  Yum!  It’s not too soupy which I really like and it tasted just like my mom’s.

Happy eating!


Mongolian Beef

23 11 2010

One of my favorite blogs, Crepes of Wrath, had this recipe, and I just HAD to try it.  Mongolian beef is one of my favorite dishes at PF Chang’s and I wanted to see if I could accomplish that same great flavor by myself.  The ingredients weren’t hard to find and I figure that I should start stocking my pantry with enough Asian ingredients and flavorings to not have to worry about them every time I want to cook an asian meal.

I bought cube steak and sliced that thinly to cook.  I probably could have sliced it thinner, but I was cooking on a time schedule (I made these the same day that I made my brown sugar oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, post coming soon!) and was trying to cook as fast as possible.  I served the beef and scallions over rice with some broccoli on the side.

The sauce was a little thinner than I would have liked, and the chef at my restaurant suggested I make sure the heat is high enough for the sauce to thicken up, and maybe even add more cornstarch if necessary.  I’ll certainly do that in the future.  All in all the dish was really flavorful and the sauce was really great.  Plus, I got to use my wok, which is always something that I look forward to.

Here it is!

Happy eating!

Food Adventures: Pho

6 08 2010

So I recently moved into a house of my own (living with four other people) and will totally admit that I have been spoiled by campus life for the past four years. Cooking has never been my strong point, mainly because I’m picky, and because I’m so limited in what I can eat because of all my food allergies. When I did cook it was probably once every two weeks, because I got used to having mediocre food from dining halls for the convenience factor.

So this summer has been about getting a little creative about what I make for myself, figuring out what I can eat AND cook, and making every dollar stretch so I can eat healthy on a tight budget. Most recently, I made pho, a popular Vietnamese noodle dish. In Viet Nam, you can find pho sold on carts on the street (so I’m told), and in Vietnamese restaurants, my family and I judge their pho very seriously, because my mom makes the best pho in the world.

So with some help from my mom, she told me the recipe (I didn’t have time to watch her make anything, so I had to try and remember watching her years ago in the kitchen) and gave me some the harder-to-find ingredients (the asian spices) so that I wouldn’t have to search too hard. All I needed was a big pot and some beef and I would be all set. So here’s what came out of it:

First I had to boil the beef … for 3 hours. Mind you, this was early July and it was about 95 degrees in my kitchen (horrible ventilation) and I had to watch beef and skim the fat off for a painstakingly long time. However, this is the short version of the recipe – other recipes you’ll find call for 6-8 hours of cooking the meat, so I was happy this didn’t take as long as my mom normally does it.

Once the beef was done, it was nice and tender, and the broth was already ready flavorful. I sliced the beef to add back to the soup later.

Then came all the other stuff – star anise, ginger root, onion, black pepper, and cinnamon. Plus chicken stock too. I let that simmer for a while, and at the same time soaked my rice noodles (vermicelli) in cold water for an hour to get it ready for the soup. I added some fish sauce to taste, and voila.. four and half hours later .. PHO!

So I brought the broth back up to boiling, boiled some water in a separate pot and boiled bunches of the noodles for about 20-30 seconds each, enough to cook but not make them too slimy. The noodles went into the bowl, along with the beef, raw beef eye rounds, and onions. I ladled the broth over the noodles and meat, added some cilantro, green onions, and lime, and I had my bowl of pho!

All in all it was a great experience and I would totally do it all over again, with the exception of the horrible heat. Now that I have the recipe down I can play around a little more with the spices, meat, and overall flavor of the broth and how I can change it. I shared the soup with two of my friends, and they both seemed to like it. I even impressed myself! I didn’t think it would be so easy. My mom bought me pre-packaged spices for the next time I make soup which is a great help, since the Asian food store around my house is about 30 minutes out of the way and it’s hard to find time to get there.

I’ll continue to blog about my food adventures as much as I can – today I used the wok my mom gave me and her recipe to make homemade fried rice – with peas, carrots, egg, onion, garlic, and chinese sausage. It came out pretty good and I can’t wait to make it again – unfortunately I forgot to take pictures so I’ll just have to share those next time I make the dish.

For someone who doesn’t think they can really cook, this summer has really been about teaching myself how to do it all. Let’s hope I can keep it up once school starts!