Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

I always try my best to give us a good variety of food. As I have said many times, we eat everything and we love all different kinds of ethnic foods too. I tend to go through cycles where we eat a lot of one type of food for awhile, and then it is time to switch and take things into a new direction. Since I grew up in Southern California, and my mother was from Southeast Texas, I never get tired of good Mexican food. I literally could eat it everyday. Larry, on the other hand, likes Mexican food but tires of it more easily than I do. Fortunately I have a ton of cookbooks from which to choose, so I never have to make the same thing or the same type of food if I don’t want to. There are many different options and varieties available, and all I have to do is check out my own culinary library.

Even though China is a huge country, there are really only four main styles of Chinese cooking, at least that have become popular globally. They are all very different and have their own unique styles.

  1. Northern and Peking Style cooking, which is famous for the sweet and sour sauces, and cooking wine based dishes using a lot of garlic, hoison sauce, sesame oil, green onions, soy sauce and yeasty doughs, such as for noodles or dumplings.
  2. Shanghai Style of cooking is a very cosmopolitan style of cooking that offers a lot of soups, seafood dishes, as well as rich and delicate meat and poultry dishes.
  3. Canton cooking is the most popular Chinese style of cooking in the United States. Canton is in the southern region of China. The weather is good and offers a long growing season for rice, vegetables and fruit. There is also 1000 miles of coastline, so seafood dishes are abundant as well. This is the style of cooking that was first introduced to America by the Chinese immigrants who were brought here in the 19th century. It is simple, basic food. It was introduced to the American palate because it was thought to be the most appealing to the local clientele.
  4. The boldest and most exotic styles of Chinese cooking are the Szechwan and Hunan styles. These styles of cooking are known to be hot and spicy and use a lot of peppers of varying degrees of heat and intensity. The food from these areas are from the Southwestern region of China, that border India, Burma, and Pakistan. Their foods have been influenced by the spices and curries of these countries. Both styles are spicy, but the Hunan is known for being the spicier of the two.

I love all kinds, but I do have a preference for the Hunan style because I love spicy foods, and I love curries, especially good Indian or Thai curries. But as always, mix and match things to your liking and choose what is best for you.

We had some thin sirloin steaks down that were too thin to just use on their own, so I turned them into a beef and broccoli stir-fry. We haven’t done Asian food in awhile, so it was time. Of course, I added a lot more to my stir-fry than just beef and broccoli. I also added some white onions, mushrooms and red bell pepper strips. I served it over white rice and made some green onion and bacon pancakes to go on the side as well. I served it with a red blend because I was cooking beef. Because I used peppers, red pepper flakes, jalapeno and a bit of sugar this dish was more of a Szechwan style dish.

Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

1 lb lean steak, cut into thin strips

1/4 white onion, sliced very thin

1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips – you can also use green bell peppers if you like

1 cup mushrooms, sliced thin

1 jalapeno, diced fine

1 1/2 -2 cups broccoli florets

1 TBSP garlic

1 TBSP ginger

2 tsp corn starch

1/2 tsp sugar

salt & pepper to taste

1 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste

2 TBSP water

1 TBSP sherry

1 TBSP soy sauce

Mix the cornstarch, water, soy sauce, salt, sugar, spices and sherry together, then add the meat and marinate for about 15-20 minutes before cooking.

Cook the meat in hot oil at a high heat for about 2-3 minutes, or until it is browned on the outside, but still a little pink on the inside. Add the vegetables to the meat and continue to cook at a high heat for about 2 minutes or until the vegetables are tender yet still have a bit of crunch left to them.

When everything is completely cooked, serve it over either rice or noodles. ”吃好喝好!” ”Chī hǎo hē hǎo! Enjoy your meal!

Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Pork and Pumpkin Pot Pies

The last time Larry had the smoker out, he smoked a whole bunch of meats, some of which was a pork loin that we shredded and put in the freezer. It was time to pull out the pork and since we had just had a bunch of Mexican and South of the Border type meals, I decided to do something different with it and made it into pork pot pies. I also added mushrooms, pumpkin and a red wine sauce. They came out very good. They were a perfect warm meal for a cool, chilly evening.

Meat pies of all sorts have been a part of our diets since the beginning of time, and some variety is found in just about every culture and every country around the world. Sometimes, in some places, meat pies are referred to as as coffins of coffyns because they were baked with the crusts or pastry being tall, straight-sided with sealed-on floors and lids, like the lid of a coffin. It’s a bit of stretch to me as well, but sometimes you learn the darnedest things when looking back in history. Originally meat was served in a pie crust as a way of preserving it. Ironically though, at first the “pie” part or the crust was not intended to be eaten. But as pie making and pastry techniques kept improving, the quality of the crusts themselves were also improving, and giving more flavor and character to the “pies” themselves, and are now enjoyed and eaten as a part of the meal. Meats were also cooked in pie form because most of the people did not have access to proper cooking utensils or baking pans, so they were cooked in a stand alone crust as the “pan”.

I started off by making my basic go-to dough for the crust that I use for just about everything. If you have a dough that you like using and are comfortable with, by all means, use that if you prefer. But this dough is so easy to make. Like I said, I use it for just about everything. I have learned that we prefer the crust just on the bottom and on the top of the ramekins, because it just gets too heavy other wise, but if you like a full crust, just make more dough.

Basic Dough

1 1/2 2 cups flour

6 TBSP cold butter, cubed

1 tsp salt

1 egg

5-6 TBSP heavy whipping cream

Mix the flour, salt and butter together in the food processor until it resembles a fine sand.

Add the egg and the cream and continue to mix together until it forms into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to using. Then roll it out and shape it however you like.

The Filling

I started off with a basic idea of what I wanted to do, but ended up making it up as I went along, something very typical of me, as most of you already know. 🙂

1-2 lbs cooked and shredded pork

1/4 small pumpkin, diced fine

1 potato, diced fine

1-1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 cup dry red wine

1 TBSP garlic

1/2 onion, diced fine

salt & pepper to taste

1 cup milk

2 tsp paprika

1-2 tsp parsley

2-3 TBSP butter

flour, optional

egg wash for the topping.

Saute the pumpkin, potato, mushrooms, garlic and onion together in olive oil and butter for about 5-7 minutes, or until the pumpkin and potato are soft and the onions are translucent.

Add the pork and the seasonings and combine together well, then add the red wine. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

When most of the liquid from the red wine has evaporated, add the milk and additional butter and flour if you like your filling a little thicker. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.

Preheat the oven to about 375* F or about 190* C.

Spray individual ramekins with cooking spray.

Roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness. Like I mentioned, I usually do not have the dough go up the sides of the pan, but that is just a personal preference for us. Line the ramekins how you like them with the dough, then start spooning in the pork mixture until the ramekins are filled.

Top the filling with the tops of the crust and make a tight seal. Score the top with a sharp serrated knife and brush with an egg wash. Bake until the crust is golden brown and light and flaky, about 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool for a bit, then dig in and enjoy. Just like any pot pie, these are delicious and best when eaten hot out of the oven.

Stay safe and stay well everyone. ‘Til next time.

Video #24 – Litte Juni Bug in Action

I promise I will not bore you too many pictures or videos of our newest family member, Baby Juneau, but right now she is growing by leaps and bounds and is changing everyday. When she’s not throwing temper tantrums or peeing and pooping all over the house, she really is quite a joy. She has found her voice, believe me, she is LOUD and she is VOCAL. When we first got her, we were told she was shy. SHY??????? HUH????? NO WAY! She is a pill, but just like all our other fur babies, she is a loveable pill. At least she is sleeping through the night now. We appreciate this so much, because now, we are also sleeping through the night as well.

Here is a little quick video of Juni Bug in action. Larry and I already have noticed she has grown just in the week that we have had her. We have a big house with lots of stairs. Yesterday was the first day Juneau went up the stairs all by herself. She is not quite the stair master yet, though, since she hasn’t quite figured out how to go down the stairs, but going up was a big step for her, or should I say quite a few big steps for her. 🙂

I hope you all enjoy seeing Juneau’s progress.

Must Love Dogs

We are still ridding the refrigerator of the many leftovers that have been accumulating these last few days, so I thought it would be fun to do something a little different today. By now, I think you have all figured out that I LOVE my fur babies. I have had animals my whole life. There have been many dogs, cats, rabbits and even a blue parakeet and a toad. I have never not had pets, or fur babies, and I don’t imagine I will ever be pet less either. I do not have children, so my fur babies are my children. My 4-legged babies are just as loved and just as spoiled as any 2-legged babies would be. If I had my way, I would have a large farm with all kinds and many, many animals. This is one reason why Larry says I am NEVER allowed to work in an animal shelter. He knows I would bring them all home.

Here are some of the best, most wonderful dogs (and cats) in the world. Sadly, most of them have crossed the rainbow bridge and are now up in Heaven, but I know one day, we will all be reunited once again.

I was about 10 here, with my first dog Daisy and my first rabbit Nosy. We had Daisy for about 15 years. She died when she was about 18 or so.

This is Chopstyx, my first Chow. I bought Chopstyx from friends of mine who owned both the mom and the dad.

Taipei was my second Chow. This picture is a favorite. My dad and Holly, our lab, had a real special bond with each other.

After Holly passed, at 14 or so, we got Kodiak, our first malamute.

When Taipei passed at 15 1/2, Lucie came into the house and into our lives.

Kodiak crossed the rainbow bridge at 10 1/2, which was very old for a big boy. For the next 6 years, it was the twins, Lucie and Vinnie.

We have lots and lots of pictures of the twins. They were always together. When Lucie passed away, Vinnie seemed lost and lonely, even though at times, he really seemed to enjoy being the only dog.

Lucie was almost 9 when she crossed the rainbow bridge, which again for a giant breed dog, is considered to be geriatric.

And of course, we can’t forget the kitties, my puma and my panther, Otis and Nicodemus.

And now, a new chapter begins with Baby Juneau, our beautiful little Juni Bug.

As you can see, our house is always covered in fur, but there is always a ton of love. If you don’t like animals, or fur, and LOTS of it, then coming to my house just might not be an option for you. In order to really fit in at my house, you must love dogs, and cats, and whatever else just may in thrown into the mix at the time as well. 🙂

Words of Wisdom from Julia Child – Part 2

Today, I am going to once again let the wise Julia Child do the talking for me. She always has so much to say, and is always so full of both wisdom and wit.

Food, like the people who eat it, can be stimulated by wine or spirits. And, as with people, it can also be spoiled.

No matter what happens in the kitchen, NEVER apologize.

Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

More Fun Pictures of our Little Juni Bug

I think the worlds needs some fun pictures of our little Juni Bug right now. Cute pictures of puppies are always the best cure for whatever ails you.

She likes to follow her big brother Vinnie all around and tries to imitate everything he does as best as she can. Juni loves Vinnie.

Lasagna, San Antonio Style

Lasagna is a very popular Italian dish made with layers of pasta, ricotta cheese and sauce (or in traditional Italian or Greek style, with a white bechamel sauce). Sometimes the sauce has sausage and/or other meats and sometimes not. But believe it or not, lasagna actually originated in Ancient Greece, not Italy. The word lasagna is derived from the word “laganon”, which was the first form of pasta. Laganon was a reference to flat sheets of pasta dough cut into thin strips.

When transforming this lasagna-style dish into a South of the border dish, instead of keeping it with it’s Greek or Italian roots, tortillas are used instead of pasta. Substitute some kind of a salsa for the tomato bolognese type sauce or the bechamel sauce used in traditional Italian or Greek lasagna, and substitute a different kind of cheese, or cheeses, for the ricotta, and … voila, you now have a South of the Border or Southwestern type of “lasagna”. Bothstyless are very good, but are totally different, with totally different and unique personalities. Me personally, I much prefer the Southwestern version. I have never really been a big fan of traditional lasagna though. I made a Southwestern, San Antonio style lasagna for dinner, that I served with simple salad and a Spanish rioja. It is a good thing we liked it, a lot, because we have a lot leftover too.

San Antonio Lasagna

1-1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef

1 onion, diced fine

1 TBSP garlic

1-2 jalapenos, diced fine

2-3 tomatoes, diced fine

2 1/2 cups of either enchilada sauce, salsa, or sauce of your choice – I used some leftover Southwestern cream sauce

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup corn

3-4 roasted green chilies, diced fine or 1 4.5 oz can

2 TBSP chili powder

1 tsp garlic chili powder, optional

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

salt & pepper to taste

about 15 or small flour tortillas

2 cups shredded cheese – I used a combination of jalapeno jack and cheddar

1/4 cup green onions

1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped fine

Olive oil for cooking

Cook the ground beef, corn, onions, garlic and jalapenos together in olive oil until the onions are translucent and the meat is completely cooked.

Add the beans, tomatoes and salsa of your choice. Mix everything together thoroughly and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Preheat the oven to 350* F or about 180* C.

Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray.

Layer the bottom of the pan with the tortillas, then add a layer of cheese on top. I used the small, 6″ street taco tortillas, but you can use any kind you like.

Add the meat sauce on top and continue layering the tortillas, cheese and sauce until the pan is full, ending with a layer of tortillas and cheese on top.

Spread the chopped cilantro and green onions on top of the cheese and bake uncovered for about 30-40 minutes, or until all the cheese is melted and a slight crust forms on top.

Let the dish rest for about 5 minutes or so before cutting it, then spoon it up and enjoy. !Esta mui delicioso! !Desfruitas!

Stay healthy and stay safe Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Nature Walks – Baby Juneau Ventures into the Back Yard

Baby Juneau is not venturing very far at the moment, since after all, she is still just a little baby. But she is having fun running around, trying to catch up with her big brother, Vinnie. It won’t be too long before they will be running and playing together. Vinnie is a GREAT big brother to Juni Bug. He is very gentle with her. But, he is also 140 ish lbs and can be a big goofball sometimes too, so we still don’t trust him alone with Juni Bug just yet. But they are so cute together, and they are almost always together. Juni Bug has already established SHE is the boss! Poor Vinnie, he just can’t win.

After running all around the big, scary back yard, it was nap time. Juni Bug takes a lot of naps, but then she is still just a tiny baby, and that’s what babies do. Now if we could only get her to sleep through the night. 🙂

Scallops in a Spicy Orange Cream Sauce

The other night, before the birthday celebrations took place, Another Birthday Celebration, Another Blue Cake we enjoyed a delicious dinner that was once again a combination of everyone bringing something to the table. Gabe had made some vegan mac and cheese for the girls, Priscilla made a delicious brushetta and I made some guacamole for starters and the main meal was the scallops in a spicy orange cream sauce. Everything, as usual, was a big hit. Once again, another successful get together in the books.

I served the scallops over white rice.

Priscilla’s Bruschetta

Scallops in a Spicy Orange Cream Sauce

2 lbs sea scallops, rinsed

2-3 TBSP flour

4 TBSP butter

olive oil

1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

2 shallots, sliced very thin

2-3 TBSP lemon juice

1 1/2 TBSP garlic

1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth

2/3 cup orange juice

1 1/2 tsp spicy chocolate

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 TBSP fresh basil, chiffonade into thin strips

2 TBSP fresh cilantro, chopped

Marinate the scallops in the spicy chocolate, lemon juice, flour and orange juice for about 30 minutes.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet and add the bell peppers, shallots and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the peppers and onions are soft.

Add the scallops and the marinate, mix everything together thoroughly and continue to cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until the scallops are cooked.

Add the wine and orange juice and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated by about 1/2. Then add the cream, the basil and cilantro and continue to cook at a low heat for about 7 minutes.

When everything is done, serve the scallops over white rice and enjoy.

Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Another Birthday Celebration, Another Blue Cake

We celebrated the birthday of yet another niece. She too wanted a blue rainbow cake, like I made for her sisters, Nahila and Tehvia,so, another blue rainbow cake it was . They’re Growing Up So Fast I made it differently though, so Cora had a her own memories of her birthday and birthday cake.

I started off with a box cake mix and made it vegan, since Cora is vegan too. Then I added strawberries and some fancy, funky candles.

I made this a layered cake and filled it with diced strawberries.

The rest was just decorating and making it fun and festive.

It’s time to light up those candles and celebrate.

Happy Birthday Cora. We love you lots.