Friday, October 28, 2011

Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

I was so excited when I got an email from my sister-in-law, Ashley, wanting to pass along the dinner she made the other night! I gotta tell you, it makes my day to get feedback of any kind, but someone else sharing a recipe is the beez-neez! Or bees knees... whatever. Anyway, Ashley got this from the back of a La Choy Soy Sauce label and even though I'm not a big beef eater, I am excited to try it! It only takes about 30 minutes and fits in nicely with the Chinese food kick that's been going on lately. Thanks, Ashley!

2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided

1 medium onion, chopped

1 pkg (14 oz) frozen broccoli florets

1 can (8 oz) sliced water chestnuts, drained{optional, but adds a nice variety to the textures}

1 lb boneless beef sirloin, cut across the grain into 2 x 1/2 inch strips

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/3 C soy sauce

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp corn starch

1 tbsp water

Chow Mein noodles {Optional}

Heat 1 tbsp oil in large skillet or wok over high heat. Cook and stir onion, broccoli and water chestnuts 4 minutes or until crisp tender. Remove from skillet and set aside. Pour remaining oil into skillet. Cook and stir beef and garlic about 2 minutes or until browned. Add broccoli mix back to skillet. Whisk together soy sauce and brown sugar in a small bowl. Add to skillet. Stir together cornstarch and water until smooth; add to skillet. Cook until heated through and sauce thickens. Serve with Chow Mein noodles.

Pumpkin {Chocolate Chip} Bread

This recipe doesn't originally call for chocolate chips, but chocolate makes everything better, right?!?! I actually don't think it added much to this, it is soooooo good to begin with! But, if adding chocolate chips makes your kids {or your sweet tooth} happy, then by all means, add away! My mom enriched my life with this fall favorite, though the recipe only makes one loaf. That is simply not enough. Plus, it only calls for 1 cup of pumpkin. What are you supposed to do with half a can of pumpkin? So I've added the doubled amounts to the side of the ingredients{in case math wasn't your strong suit} and you can easily choose which way you want to go and not have anxiety over wasting that leftover pumpkin. You can just plan on doubling it and bring that extra loaf over to me. Thanks. **Warning** If you ever think you'd like to make this or any other pumpkin recipe at any time besides September- December, then it is imperative that you stock up on canned pumpkin NOW while it is still in stores for the season. If you forget, I have plenty! ;) ***Bonus Warning!*** You will totally pick at this all day. You've been warned.

1 1/2 C sugar (3 C)

1/2 C shortening (1 C)

1/2 C water (1 C)

1 C canned pumpkin (2 C or 1- 16 oz can)

2 eggs (4 eggs)

1 2/3 C flour (3 1/3 C)

3/4 tsp salt (1 1/2 tsp)

1 tsp soda (2 tsp)

1/2 tsp cloves (1 tsp)

1/2 tsp nutmeg (1 tsp)

1/2 tsp cinnamon (1 tsp)

1/2 tsp baking powder (1 tsp)

Mix all ingredients together. Spread in a greased and floured large loaf pan {for best results, line bottom of pan with wax paper}. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until knife clean. Makes one large or two small loaves.

Fried Rice

It is totally common for me to make WAY too much rice at my meals, store it in the fridge until it's WAY past its prime, then throw it away. Well, not this time! Bolstered by my mom's mention of making her own fried rice, I thought I'd give it a try myself! So, I checked out a couple recipes over at, took what I liked from them and left out what I didn't and came up with this. I couldn't believe how much it tasted like the fried rice at Panda Express! Pair it with this Orange Chicken and your husband will be asking where the take-out boxes went! Now let's see if I can remember how it goes...

2-3 eggs {about 1 egg per 1-2 C rice, depending on how much you like egg!}

4-6 C cooked rice

1/4 tbsp canola, olive oil, or butter {I think I used margarine}

1 C peas and carrot frozen vegetable blend

2 tsp garlic

1/4 C soy sauce

Beat the eggs and cook in a large skillet until done; chop to desired size and set aside. Add the oil or butter and heat on medium high until hot or melted. Add the rice; saute for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the vegetables, saute another 5 minutes. Add the garlic, soy sauce and eggs for 2-3 minutes or until evenly heated. Serve immediately.

The beauty of this is you can add more or less of the things you want. You can even add different things to your taste, such as Green onions, celery, bacon, shrimp, chicken, ham, etc.

Easy Orange Chicken

Is it kinda sad that I obsess so much about food and do this group and have this blog, but really don't do any blog browsing of my own?? It's a good thing I follow my cousin's blog at; I let them do all the time consuming work of finding great recipes and I just get to copy them, adjust them to taste and call them my own! They got it from Team T Adventures, in case you were wondering. I absolutely LOVE orange chicken! It's pretty much a guarantee anytime we go out for Chinese that one of us will get it and the rest will pick at it! This recipe was simple and seriously tastes as good as the restaurant- at least as good as you can get without adding all the unhealthy msg and fast food preservatives you'd get at certain fast food Chinese chain restaurants... I did have a few changes that I added at the bottom of the directions...

4 boneless chicken breasts, chopped into small chunks
1/3 C flour
olive oil
1/2 tbsp salt
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp ketchup
6 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed (3/4 C)
1/4 C brown sugar

In a small bowl, mix the salt, vinegar, ketchup, orange juice concentrate and brown sugar. Set aside. Pour the flour in a separate bowl. Coat the chicken in the flour and shake off the excess. Pour a small amount of olive oil {about 1-2 tbsp} in a skillet and cook the chicken for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. {It doesn't need to be fully cooked if you put it in the crock pot. Directions are included for both crock pot and oven}

Place the chicken in a crock pot and cover with the orange concentrate mixture; stir lightly. Cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 2-3. Serve with boring old rice, or this way more exciting, tasty and simple fried rice! Panda Express, eat your heart out!

I found the chicken got a little dried out going this route, so either make sure the chicken is under cooked before putting it in the crock pot or don't leave it in as long. If you are unsure, taste test a piece after 2-3 hours. Then again, and again, but leave some for the family!

Next time I do this, I'd fry the chicken as directed, but until just cooked through then toss in a large bowl with the orange concentrate mixture. Spread in a single layer on a baking pan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until evenly heated.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Halloween Party

The first themed foods Exchange and it was great! I got such great ideas from everyone and I hope you do, too! Another great turn out, another chance for great food, another evening of good conversation with great people!

We do have a bit of a predicament, though: My husband's work schedule just changed and will have him working on the evenings we get together... I don't want to just put this to an end, it's been WONDERFUL!!! So, we'll be working out the kinks and go let you know what we decide to do. In the mean time, stay tuned for other great recipes that get kicked around at random!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Yummy Oreo Dessert Graveyard

As much as I love a cute themed food, I have a REALLY hard time spending a bunch of time on something that looks great and tastes just ok only to have it demolished immediately! So, I just kinda took one of my favorite recipes that I knew would taste good and decorated accordingly!
The dessert is like a layered ice cream sundae for a group. One of my personal favorites that I have a REALLY hard time staying out of when it's in my freezer.

1 pkg oreos
1 jar hot fudge sauce
1 carton (1 1/2- 2 qt) ice cream, slightly softened {my fav is mint chip, but vanilla is what it originally calls for}
1 carton Cool Whip

Crush the Oreo's {I use my food processor} and cover the bottom of a 9x13" pan with half the Oreo's. Cut the ice cream into 1" slices and place on top of the cookie crumbs. Warm the fudge sauce according to package directions and spread on top of the ice cream. Spread the Cool Whip over that. Sprinkle with remaining Oreo crumbs. Freeze for 3-4 hours or until frozen through.

Graveyard decorations:
Tombstones: I just used graham crackers that I'd crumbled off the corners to round them out then used a toothpick to write RIP on some with frosting. I had cinnamon graham crackers so, I alternated the cinnamon side and plain sides for variety.

Ghosts: The two ghosts in the front are blobs of cool whip with chocolate chips for eyes. M&M's would work well, too. The ghost in the back is a Dum Dum sucker with 2 pieces of toilet paper (CLEAN!!) tied with a ribbon and a face drawn in.

Gummy worms at random always add an instant element of Halloween.

The Fence: Pull-a-part licorice held together with toothpicks.

Graveyard Shots

Simple, creepy, full of sugar- Everything Halloween should be! Shaunae Pomeroy sure knows how to get to the heart of things! I always bring home leftovers, and this was the first thing my 4 year old went after!

2 boxes instant chocolate pudding mix
1 box Oreo cookies
gummy worms

Crumble Oreo's by chopping with a knife, sticking in a food processor, or placing in a Ziploc bag and mashing with a rolling pin. Set aside. Prepare pudding mix according to pkg directions, pouring into small cups. Squish a worm half way into pudding and sprinkle Oreo around the worm. Let set 5 minutes. Keep refrigerated.