simple recipes: sweet & sour stir fry

Once again I’ve found myself with limited time for making meals. It can be exasperating to find yourself T-minus 30 minutes and counting until dinner with little energy and few options for meals. Those are the times it is easy to blow the budget and go out to dinner or order in. Those are the moments when a little planning ahead and a 10 minute energy burst can save the day!

This sweet and sour stir fry recipe takes less than 10 minutes to make. That’s right, I said 10 minutes!!! How awesome is that?! What else can you accomplish in the kitchen in 10 minutes? (Other than making a mess…)

RECIPE:

1/2 package udon noodles (found in the ASIAN aisle of your grocery store)
1 package frozen stir fry vegetables
2 T olive oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (or substitute sherry cooking wine)
1/4 cup olive oil (or sesame oil)
1 T ground ginger
salt and pepper to taste
1 T chili flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried onion flakes
OPT: 1-2 T Thai chili sauce (found in the ASIAN aisle of your grocery store)
OPT: garnish with sesame seeds

Boil water in large  pot and cook udon noodles according to package. Saute frozen vegetables in olive oil over medium high heat until cooked. Mix all other ingredients in medium mixing bowl. Taste to determine if more of any ingredient is needed. Spoon 2-3 T of sauce over vegetables until reduced. Pour remaining sauce over drained noodles in warm pot. Serve vegetables over noodles and garnish with sesame seeds. Enjoy!

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food in a hurry: bbq beef

The last few weeks have been pretty crazy! Between graphic design projects, job interviews, Ph.D. interviews, and everyday life, I haven’t had a moment to spare. The busyness of the last few weeks has influenced my cooking. I’ve been choosing to do fewer time consuming, complicated recipes in favor of quicker, simple meals.

On the menu: barbecue beef sandwiches with potato salad and steamed green beans…

I found an awesome deal on a one pound cut of flank steak at the grocery store. Immediately, I thought “BBQ!” So, I threw the meat in the crock pot all day with some beef bouillon, red wine, and peppercorns. Meanwhile, I made homemade potato salad and barbecue sauce. You might be thinking that if I’m trying to save time by not making complicated things I’m doing a poor job at it. But, you’d be wrong! Potato salad and barbecue sauce happen to be two of the easiest things to make!

What are your simple recipes?

RECIPES:

Simple Potato Salad:

4 large red potatoes, cubed
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 dill pickle, minced
2 T mayonaise
2 T sour cream
1 T spicy brown mustard
1 T yellow mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp paprika (or to taste!)

I like mustard potato salad in favor of sweeter types. I also prefer to use dill pickle over dill leaves due to texture preferences. Lastly, to keep it simple, I omit common potato salad staples: eggs, red peppers, olives, etc. For those of you who dislike mayo, substitute sour cream or plain yogurt.

Boil potatoes in medium saucepan until tender. Place raw onion in colander. Pour hot potatoes over the onions to drain. Allow to cool. Mix all remaining ingredients together in a large bowl. Enjoy!

Barbeque Sauce

2 cups ketchup
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp A1
2 tsp Worcestershire
2 tsp liquid smoke
½ cup dark caro (or try honey or molasses)
2 tsp dried onion
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tsp cayenne
2 tsp instant coffee

I like barbecue sauce that has sweet and sour complexities. It’s tangy, with a little heat, but finishes on the sweeter side of the palate. For more heat, add more cayenne. For more sour, add more red wine vinegar. For sweeter sauce, add more honey.

Mix ingredients together with a whisk in a medium mixing bowl. Enjoy!

11th grade lit and butterscotch cookies

It seems a world away, sitting in AP lit class with Mrs. Slocum, learning the nuances of grammar and the beauty of literature, enjoying her stare down those who dared to act up in class, anticipating the opportunity to read out loud, hoping it would be the day I desired most: butterscotch cookie day…

Among Mrs. Slocum’s many talents, she makes the absolute best butterscotch cookies I have ever had the pleasure to taste. And on rare occasions, she would graciously bake them for her many classes. We could each have two, unless by some rare form we bargained a classmate out of his. What a treasure! I would eat my first one rapidly merely because I lacked restraint. My second, I hoarded – waiting until the moment when I could no longer bear it. Then I would take my time to enjoy my golden treasure down to the last crumb.

These days were few and far between, understandably so. I can’t imagine baking hundreds of cookies for rowdy, unruly high school students. However, what made these days of flowing butterscotch better was knowing what a rare treat these cookies were – a secret and heavily guarded recipe known only to Mrs. Slocum herself! Alright, other people probably knew, but I didn’t, which made them all that more desirable.

Upon graduating, Mrs. Slocum offered a few of her students her cherished recipe, if they asked for it. I was one of those students. Unfortunately, I lost it. Go figure. Cherished golden cookie gone. Ah, but my luck had not quite run out! The modern marvels of the internet saved me from a life without butterscotch cookies in the form of a facebook status update by a girl I had attended high school with. She was making the recipe! She HAD the recipe! And so… I begged.

And there it was… the recipe to the amazing cookies I cherished in my adolescence!

Obviously, this is not a recipe I can share freely, out of respect for Mrs. Slocum and my classmates. But I can share my enjoyment with you!

tuna melt

Mouthwatering isn’t it? Whether you’re a tuna fan or not, surely you can recognize the gloriousness that is a tuna melt! Warm sourdough bread, melted cheese, and fresh tomatoes! Done in less than 10 minutes! What’s not to love? Right?

Okay, I’m a sucker for tuna. I have been my whole life. In fact, I’m pretty sure I ate tuna everyday for lunch for nearly a year when I was younger without once getting sick of it. Disgusting isn’t it? What can I say? I’m a creature of habit during the lunch time hours. I ate the same sandwich every day for lunch for almost 3 years during college. I loved that sandwich! I miss that sandwich…

Back to tuna… I find it to be such a versatile lunch. Tuna can be prepared a number of different ways to bring out different flavors – add grapes and apples for something sweeter, use dill relish for something tangy, add a little citrus vinegar for something fresh and tart, or crunch up some bacon and throw in goat cheese for a savory snack.

Today’s way of accessorizing tuna: traditional tangy with melted cheese and fresh tomatoes on sourdough bread.

This sandwich has it all! Sweet, savory, sour, bitter, and umami!  Can you say that about your lunch today?

RECIPE

1 can tuna fish, drained
1 T mayo
1 T dill relish
salt and pepper to taste
1-3 slices of tomato
1-2 slices sharp cheddar cheese
1-2 slices bread of your choice

Turn oven on broil (high). Mix tuna, mayo, and dill until combined. Spoon half tuna mixture onto piece of bread. Place cheese on top. On other piece of bread, place tomato slices, then place a piece of cheese on top. Place onto baking pan in oven for 3 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Remove and combine to form one amazing sandwich.

Other great options for this sandwich include: fresh avocado slices, 1/4 t cayenne, bacon, and fresh lemon juice.

How do you accessorize tuna?