Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pumpkin and Corn Bisque

Yes, soup is the epitome of fall.  It's the warmth to your soul in the dead of winter.  Yeah.  It's all that and a bag of chips. BLAH, BLAH BLAH.  That's of course if you live in a place where you are blessed enough to ACTUALLY  HAVE an autumn OR a winter for that matter.  ME?   I CRAVE cold, winter days, rain, a little wind and some CLOUDS.  I don't want to wear my sun glasses in the winter!  I don't want to put my  shorts (yuk...) and I certainly don't want to SWEAT while I try to cook something "soul warming and satisfying" !!

But as I have said before, sometimes you just need soup.  It's good for anytime and any meal, be it lunch or dinner.  Soup makes me happy.  Even if we have to turn on the air conditioner just to eat it! 

I made this soup in November and since then, I have made it with Castilla squash (a type of pumpkin) and butternut squash.  All three are PERFECT for this soup and almost indistinguishable in taste.

If you can find Castilla squash, I recommend using it.  It's so delicious and such a gorgeous orange color! 

Don't know what Castilla squash is?  Its a variety of pumpkin...gorgeous and almost "orange-bronzy" in color and short and squat (not like a regular pumpkin) more like a Cinderella pumpkin, if you are familiar. The inside is far more orange than that of butternut and pumpkin and is absolutely filled with anti-oxidants and vitamins.  If you are lucky to be near any ethnic specialty store (middle eastern, Mexican, etc..) or have a fantasically stocked grocery, you will most likely find it cut up and sold in pieces.  You would be SUPER lucky to find one whole (how fun!).   If you did, you could cube it up raw and freeze it for later pumpkin recipes.  This gorgeous squash looks like this:

If you are in SoCAL, make the soup anyway.  You can turn the Air conditioner on and pretend we have cold weather.  If you are fortunate to live in a place that is actually having winter right now,  this soup will indeed warm your soul. 

The pumpkin seed topping is key to this soup.  Dont skimp on it....they give the soup such texture and flavor that I think you would be sad without them.  I know I would be!

I lost  my pictures on Picasa for this soup.... I will make it again and post those pics...I am sorry for that.  The pictures are sometimes the best part.  But I didnt want that to stop me from posting this recipe.

W/Pumpkin seed topping

** Note:  Roasting pumpkin or butternut first imparts a deeper flavor.  Cut the squash lengthwise and remove seeds and strings.  Put on a foil lined pan and roast at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until soft.  Remove, cool and peel.  Cut squash into large cubes and measure 4 cups. ** If usiong Castilla - do not over roast it...cook till Barely soft.

2 boxes (32 oz each) of Chicken stock (and maybe 1 can extra if thinning is needed)
4 cups of cubed roasted Sugar Pie Pumpkin, castilla or butternut squash
1 onion chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly (or minced if you dont want to mess with it)
1 Jalapeno,  chopped (leaving seeds in)
2 ears white corn, Roasted on the cob and kernels cut (or frozen white corn  when not available -about 2 cups)
¾ cup Israeli couscous (use orzo or Acini De Pepe pasta with the same results )
4-6 tablespoons brown sugar (to taste)
½ cup or more – sour cream, to taste - OK to use light, but I wouldnt want to use fat free
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon Ginger
Salt and pepper, to taste

For topping:
(make roasted seeds below or alternatively buy roasted and salted seeds and skip this step)
½ cup or more raw Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Olive oil

Turn on the broiler.

In large soup pot, add some olive oil and heat until shimmering.   Add chopped onion and garlic slices and sauté until golden and a bit caramelized.  Add Jalapeno’s and quickly sauté a minute more. Combine Chicken Stock (both boxes) with the onion mixture and bring to a boil.

Add the 4 cups of Roasted  pumpkin; continue to simmer about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, roast the corn ears / frozen corn, if using, on a foil lined pan just until the corn starts to darken.  REMOVE from broiler and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees for the pumpkin seed topping.

Using a food processor, blender or stick blender (I find the stick Blender is the best), begin to puree the entire batch of soup.  Return soup to pot and whisk in the Salt, Pepper, Ginger and onion powder (use the quantities as a guide line – and add more if desired)

Add Corn and the Israeli couscous (or other small pasta like orzo or Acini De Pepe) and simmer 10 minutes or so until the pasta is done. 

Meanwhile mix the Pepitas in a small oven proof dish and add olive oil (about a tablespoon), and salt and roast in a HOT oven (about 400 degrees) – removed when the seeds are puffy and getting dark.

Taste soup and stir/whisk in 6 tablespoons dark brown sugar and the sour cream…these ingredients are to taste so add until you feel it’s perfect.  (you might want more spices, brown sugar, sour cream) if too thick, add more stock until desired consistency.

Serve in a large bowl with lots of roasted pumpkin seed s and a dollop of sour cream.

The result?  A slightly spicy, slightly sweet, beautifully textured soup that is rich, satisfying and filling.  It's worth eating.  Even in the heat of SoCal - Make it and pretend it's winter.

From my home to yours, ENJOY!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Thai Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

OH      MY     GOSH  !!!!!!!!

If anyone would have told me (or WARNED me) this summer would have gotten so crazy and so busy that I would be away from my blog for so long, I would never have believed you!!  But as usual, I under estimated every little thing I had to do.  TYPICAL.   The traveling was significant, work, kids, wedding etc.. it was a lot. And it was a recipe for exhaustion!  I need to recover.

I need soup.  A big bowl of Healing, soul filling, gratifying autumn soup.

AHHH.  October.  Just the way the month sounds when you say it is nice.  It's the month where hot weather wanes, the cool is ushered in, blankets come out, and SOUP is made....I absolutely LOVE the fall.

Then,  WAM!!!!  I woke up.

It certainlty doesnt feel like October. It's summer hot.  Last weekend was over 90 degrees!!!    I am SO, SO, SO done with hot weather. We were at the pumpkin patch with my grandson (along with about 500 others) sweating to DEATH (no that's not an exaggeration) and waiting in lines for Ponies, wagons and trains.  Camron had a ball - really.  But Grandma, Grandpa and Mommy  were melting away into oblivion.

AND, just when I thought I would die of heat stroke for sure... (this is when you hear angel music) I saw them.

Beautiful, gorgeous and fresh butternut squash and SUGAR PIE pumpkins!! All just picked from the farm.  WOW - now that's the epitome of fall - right in front of me!  Nothing says Autumn better than butternut squash and pumpkins!! 

I am done with summer food and light fare.  I want soups of all types, pumpkin pie, stew (yes, there is pumpkin stew) and thinkgs like sweet potatoes and chili.

I figure this....I am just going to have to FORCE (will?) it to be FALL if I have to!!! 
And force it I did with this gorgeous and satistying Thai Spiced Butternut Squash Soup.  It made me feel like there is hope.  Like the weather just might be changing.  Like cool days and cold nights are really coming and we really will be able to take out those blankets and slippers.

Thai Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

Olive or vegetable oil
1 Medium butternut squash
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 tablespoons minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic (or more to taste)
1 green or red jalapeno pepper, very finely diced
1/3 lemon grass – very finely diced  (tough outer edges removed)
1 tablespoon Thai Red curry paste (or more to taste)
3 tablespoons soy sauce (or more to taste)
1 box (32 oz) Chicken stock PLUS 1 cup or so
1 can coconut milk (or use ½ and ½ if you don’t like coconut)
Sour cream (optional)
Steamed jasmine or other Asian rice

2-3 fresh limes
Salt and pepper

For garnish (these are important to the soup flavor – don’t skip)
Chopped cilantro
Chopped green onions
Chopped roasted and salted peanuts
Sour cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees
Cut butternut squash in half.  Place one half, cut side down, in a foil lined baking dish and roast squash until soft (about 45 minutes)  While baking peel off skin off the other half and cut up into small chunks (about 1x1” cubes) – set aside.

I quartered mine...as you can see in the picture, but doing it in halves works better.

In a large, heavy bottomed pot (big enough to make the soup) heat a couple teaspoons of oil until shimmering.  Add the onions and celery and cook over medium heat until caramelized and soft. 

 Add the curry paste, ginger and garlic and Jalapeno.  Sauté about a minute, stirring constantly. 

Stir in the stock, lemon grass and butternut squash chunks.  Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the squash is soft.

Meanwhile – squash in oven is likely done.  Peel off the skin, cut up into chunks and put them in blender or food processor along with 1 cup of chicken stock. Puree until very smooth.   (see picutre above for the baked squash cubes)

Spoon  about a third of the chunks from the soup into a bowl and set aside.  Using a stick blender – blend the balance of the soup smooth.  Add pureed squash and blend to combine.  Add the chunks back into soup.  Stir in ½ to one full can coconut milk (you can use 'light' if you want) or about ½ to 1 cup half and half.   At this point taste and add soy sauce, salt, pepper and fresh lime juice to taste to adjust flavor and seasoning. (I used about 3 tablespoons SOY, 2 fresh limes and salt and pepper) 

I added about 3 tablespoons sour cream - I thought it made it better – but leave it out if you wish.

Put a mound of rice into a soup bowl and spoon soup around it.  Top with green onions, cilantro, fresh lime juice and a dollop of sour cream.  Toppings are not optional...you will be very sad without the peanut and cilantro flavor in this soup.  Its imperative.

The Result?  A very tasty twist on an old fall favorite.  This is NOT your mothers butternut squash soup people!  It's fresh, bright, tangy, spicy and above all, it's homey, comforting and satisfying.  It makes us remember why fall and winter food tastes so good !!  This is what autumn is all about. 
From my home to yours, enjoy!

But I still bought a butternut squash...I couldnt resist.  Its the epitome of Autuumn......

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tilapia Tacos

Who doesn't know that a good cookbook is SUPER hard for me to resist?  Especially if it's a cookbook from a chef who's career I follow or a person/restaurant who is of Special interest.  And, even though my hubby complains like the dickens about my cookbook collection, it PALES (by miles) to those who are really serious about food, it's preparation and it's presentation.

I really do read them from cover to cover.....LIKE NOVELS!  There I am, in my bath with a glass of wine (and harp music),  reading the cookbook, sizing it up, laughing at the anecdotes, getting to know the chef and determining  whether it will be a book I will indeed cook with, one I just get ideas from or one I will display just for the art that it is.

I follow the happenings of certain chefs peripherally...you know - pick up their newest cookbooks, eat at their restaurants,watch their latest show, notice news about them or notice commercial products in the stores they put their names on.  Those chefs are the likes of Tom Colicchio, Rick Moonen, Gordon Ramsey, Rick Bayless, Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, Michael Chiarello, Biba Caggiano, Julia Child (yes, deceased but STILL AMAZING), Rocco DiSpirito, Curtis Stone and a  myriad of others. 

So you can imagine my excitement when I get a new cookbook from one of these guys - and HOLY COW - if I am able to swindle an AUTOGRAPHED book??? OMG!  So, needless to say when a box arrived from my mother this morning  WITH an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Biba Caggiano's new cookbook, 'Spaghetti Sauces', it just made my day (well, my whole entire month really).  Check this out!

And the best part:

YEAH.  That's cool.  We will be reviewing some of the recipes in this book....TRUST ME.

I was JUST as excited about a product I found from Rick Bayless called Frontera Skillet Sauces.  (Frontera is Rick's restaurant in Chicago).  These little packets of delicious cooking sauces are not only fantastic, they are reasonably priced and make a gourmet dinner in about 10 minutes!!  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them!!

If you happen to grab any cookbook by Rick Bayless they are wonderful and worth it.  He has a show on PBS called,  Mexico: One plate at a time.  And his cookbook, Authentic Mexican, is superb. I believe he was named as this country's foremost authority on Mexican food....and I believe it!  He's definitely one of my faves for great recipes and believe me they are gorgeously replicated.

Tonight I made Tilapia Tacos with his Key Lime Cilantro skillet sauce:

Literally here is what I did....sauteed a bell pepper, onion till slightly tender added 3 small tilapia fillets (salt and pepper the fish) and cooked until flaky. Broke up the fish pieces and poured the sauce over.....warmed it all up and served it in my favorite corn tortillas with Sour cream, jack cheese and lettuce.

LESS than 10 minutes and I was enjoying a meal as good as it gets if you make the sauce yourself.

If you cannot find this sauce, use any good quality green tomatillo salsa verde, pour over fish and veggies and heat through....Voila!

The result?  A fast, easy and healthy weeknight dinner that is as beautiful as it is delicious!  It's definitely worthy to serve to the most precious people in your life.

From my home to yours, ENJOY!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Asian Inspired Krab Salad

OK.  I admit it.  I thought imitation Crab was garbage.  Oh, you know....I would have "that look" and turn my nose up at it when I walked by it in the store.  I would think...who uses that? 

Well, I am in a new Bunko group....and let me tell you this.  These Ladies can cook!  All the food at Bunko was fantastic, but my favorite thing was the imitation Krab salad.  I know....laugh now.  But it had dill, celery, carrots and big pieces of the Krab.  I know this is gonna sound weird, but I haven't eaten many Krab salads. But that salad changed my mind about this ingredient.  The texture was great...not chewy or salty and it seems like it lends itself to many different flavors.  So, while at the market, I snatched up a  package of the flake style. 

It just sounded cool, easy and lite. Nice and cold crab salad on a hot day.  Now I just had to choose what kind to make.....I settled on Asian flavors because those flavors are refreshing, cool, and somewhat comforting in the middle of this "humidity wave" we are having.

Now being a dork, I made the salad and took pictures, only to delete them by accident.  So I made another batch....YUMMY mistake!

Any nice crunchy veggies will do.  I happened to pick a cucumber from my garden and had snow peas, celery, etc....  If you don't have something on the list, substitute with something else!  I also think a bit of mango or mandarin oranges would work well too.  My mango wasn't ripe enough and I didn't have any oranges, but add them if you have them!

Asian Krab Salad

For the salad:
8 oz package imitation crab, flake style
1/4 cup celery, finely diced
1/2 cup cucumber, small dice
1/4 cup snow peas, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons roasted slivered almonds
A few tablespoons of shredded carrot for color
Zest from 1/2 lime
Sesame seeds, toasted

For the dressing:
1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Ponzu sauce (sold where soy sauce is sold)
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil (or more to taste)
juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Chili or Chili garlic sauce (otherwise known as Sambal Oelek) available at any market in the Asian section.

Mix all ingredients for dressing and set aside to let flavors meld (taste it, you make want salt, pepper, more of this or that...)

In a mixing bowl, add all veggies, cilantro and almonds. 

Pull the Krab apart with you fingers (cut the biggest pieces) and add to the vegetables and add the lime zest

Pour in the dressing,

Stir to combine.  I refrigerated the salad for a couple of hours (because I wanted it super cold), but it would have been delicious served immediately.

Serve on cracker's, over cold brown rice, or eat as is - Top with sesame seeds.

The first night I served cooled short grain brown rice with a bit of soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar.  The second time, with Asian Pearl couscous.....add the same ingredients as the rice but add green onions.

The result?  A simple, but not traditional Krab salad that is both delicious and refreshing.  It might just change your mind about using this innovative product, while putting a little more fish into your diet.

From my home to yours, ENJOY!!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mango and Avacado Salsa

"I feel like I have been hit by a Mac Truck".  Ever wonder where that saying comes from?   I mean really.  Did someone get hit by a Mac Truck and say "hmmmm that feels like how my toughest days feel"?  I tried to look up how this cliche came to be, but couldn't really find anything.

For me, Summer aids the "mac truck feeling".  The heat sucks the life out of me.  I have to yell and scream at myself just to push through my workouts.  It all just  leaves me heat exhausted, cranky, and tired.  I am envious of you who LOVE the heat and can't get enough of the summer! Living here in So Cal makes be wish I were you!

For me? I dream about fall and Winter.  About cool days, cold nights and glorious rain.  Just knowing the seasons will change gives me comfort and soothes my soul. 

Metaphorically speaking, I really do feel like I have been hit by a Mac Truck this week. Thank goodness for the weekend.  I am hoping to recharge my batteries and inspire myself (and hopefully you) with some great cooking.

I feel food in the summer should revolve around something refreshing, cool and bright. I want what I call "happy flavors" and Mango Salsa fits the bill.  Cool, refreshing, slightly sweet with some creaminess from the Avocado.  This is a great accompaniment to any simple chicken or fish. I also like it with baked chips as a healthy alternative to dips.

This little salsa has to power to momentarily make me feel like Summer isn't so bad...

Mango Avocado Salsa
For WW's - the only points come for a tiny bit of OJ and the avocado

1 Mango - pitted and diced  (you can used peaches or nectarines also!)
2 tablespoons onion, finely diced (I used a sweet Texas onion)
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, or more to taste
2 tablespoons finely sliced green onion
1/4 of a red bell pepper diced (can be any color)
1/2 to 3/4 cup halved or quartered  cherry tomatoes
1 small-med avocado diced - don't like avocado?  leave it out!
1/4 cup orange juice
zest of one lime
Juice of one lime

My garden is going crazy and I am gathering about 2 pints of cherry tomatoes per day, I gather my gorgeous tomatoes first:

To a bowl,  add diced mango's, onions, cilantro, green onion, bell pepper, halved or quartered cherry tomatoes, avocado, and the zest of one lime.

Mix it with the OJ and squeeze a fresh lime over the top, Stir to combine.  Set in the fridge until the rest of your meal is done.

** Note about OJ - I keep an opened container of frozen concentrate in the freezer.  I pop the top and scoop out what I need for that dish and mix with a bit of water.  This way I can get a bit of OJ when I need it and  I cant make it as strong or weak flavored as I want it.

I haven't put jalapeno in this.  Mainly because I just love these flavors and don't want the heat disturbing the balance.  That's a personal taste thing, so if you love them, a finely diced jalapeno would be a great addition!

This is a great salsa to add or remove ingredients, So I encourage you to mix it up!

I served it with store bought, teriyaki marinaded Chicken kabob

The result?  A cool, bright and almost creamy salsa for Chicken or fish that will revive you in this heat!  This is so easy to make and so beautiful.  Easily making you a summer, meal making rock star!

From my home to yours, ENJOY!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Baked Eggs in Mex Chicken Soup

I had the opportunity to eat at a fabulous restaurant last night called Palate in Glendale, CA.  I went with a work colleague from NY.  Since he is originally from England (think fantastic Indian/curry) and lives in NY (fantastic food of all kinds) I wanted to bring him to a place that was very "LA" with great atmosphere and sophisticated food.  Palate was it.  I am thrilled to report it was one of the top 10 restaurants I have had the pleasure of dining in.

As you may have previously read I am generally disappointed in restaurants and think....hmmm it could be better, brighter, more dynamic.  When I go out I want to have my SOCKS KNOCKED OFF.  But alas, I am usually left with that underwhelmed feeling and when I  pay the bill I think GOSH...I would rather eat my own cooking at home for half the price.

NOT SO with this beautiful restaurant.  Palate is a hip and cool, wine bar restaurant that also boasts and impressive cheese bar.  They have a menu that changes weekly based on market fresh ingredient availability. Sad in one way, because you will NOT get the same dish twice.  But it's kind of cool in another way because you never know what you will get.  Plus, it takes a hell of a chef to come up with a complete menu every week based on what's seasonally available.  (I mean really.....I AM NOT WORTHY!-can you see me bowing?)  The food is sophisticated, simply prepared and cooked to perfection.  Every main ingredient's own flavor shined through.  The styling and serving presentation was gorgeous.  Simple and not over the top.  Each dish clearly exhibits tremendous respect and restraint for the food itself.  WOW.  At first glance?  Goosebumps.  At first bite? Again, Goosebumps...literally.  The flavor,  presentation, color, and smell create a meal that is memorable for a lifetime.  If you are in Glendale, CA and want a memorable encounter with food, I highly recommend this place.  Check them out....http://www.palatefoodwine.com/

I know, I know.......your asking me What the heck does this have to do with today's recipe?  Well, a lot actually.  What happens when you have had the meal of a life time?  The next day you are left with wanting to eat something delicious and inspiring.  And if not inspiring, then something that is a tasty and satisfying start to the day.

Two days ago I made the 10  minute soup I posted in April (Posting called:  Sometimes you just need soup!).   It's a soup that is literally as easy as opening up cans, dumping it all together and chopping a little cilantro. That's it. Really.  And while its not gourmet, it IS tasty, satisfying and filling as well as healthy and light.  Check out the post in the archives.  I am also re-stating the recipe here as well.

First thing first, Make the soup.  Eat some for lunch or dinner and save some for breakfast!  Or simply make the soup for this recipe and then have leftovers for later.  Either way, make the soup.  You wont be sorry.

Mex Chicken Soup
6 ounces cooked chicken, use left overs or precooked frozen
1 can diced tomatoes with juice (I use roasted canned tomatoes)
1 can great northern beans, un-drained (or any bean of choice)
1/2 small can green chilies, diced (optional)
3 cups vegetable or Chicken stock (whatever you have)
2 to 3 oz dried Bulgar (If you cannot find, use couscous)
about 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (use more or less to taste)
Juice of one lime and more for each bowl at the end.
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 Cayenne (optional) or more to taste
1 bay leaf

Add broth to large pot, and bring to a boil, add the tomatoes (with juice), beans (with juice), green chilies, Bulgar or couscous, lime juice, cilantro, all spices and bay leaf.  Return to boil and reduce to simmer. Cover pot and simmer for 10 minutes.  Serve in large bowls with any of the following:  Light sour cream/Mexican crema, reduced fat cheese, avocado, more cilantro and/or baked till crisp corn tortilla pieces.

See?  I told you, it's 10 minutes.  OK, I lied.  It's more like 12 minutes cause it take time to open the cans and chop that cilantro.  FINE.  It's a 12 minute soup then.  The flavor is almost like a lighter and brighter "healthy" form of chili.  The brightness from the lime is perfect..don't go without it.

Now, onto the recipe of the day:

Baked Eggs in Mex Chicken Soup

2 cups or more hot Mex Chicken soup - recipe above on in the archives
2 eggs
Cheese of your choice (reduced or regular fat) OPTIONAL
Mexican crema (or sour cream diluted with a bit of milk)
Fresh lime juice

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Use oven proof bowls and get 2 eggs (I use soup mugs):

Add at least 1 cup of hot soup to each bowl and crack an egg in each one:

Put the bowl in the oven and set your timer  for 10 minutes.  Baked eggs are a bit tough to get right, you want a cooked white with a slightly runny yolk....so watching them is important.  In 10  minutes, check them.

You can see, the egg is starting to cook, but is clearly translucent and raw.  Set your timer for another 10 minutes (or 5 and then check and 5 additional minutes)  In another 10 minutes (20 total) your eggs should look like this:

If using, add cheese (I used a super aged gouda) but Jack, cheddar or mexican fresh cheeses would work well also. 

Put under a boiler for a minute, remove and top with Mexican crema:

When you cut into your egg,  the yolk should be fairly runny.  Don't worry if your whites seem a touch underdone, the egg continues to cook in the hot soup.  Squeeze with lime juice and enjoy.

The result?  A tasty, satisfying and hearty breakfast.  The egg yolk creates a creaminess to the dish that is delicious and  comforting.

From my home to yours, ENJOY! 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tender Beef Stir Fry - Mexican Style!

By now you know I could spend HOURS in the kitchen working on one meal - (and making a HUGE MESS).  But NOT when I am literally starving to DEATH.  During those times, I want something FRESH, GREAT TASTING AND HEALTHY  - and yes, I STILL want it fast.  I know what you're thinking....but the answer is NO!  Those canned, boxed or pre-made convenience foods are not really options for me on a regular basis. Even if I need food faster than you can say "Dinner is served !!

After my work-outs I am SO hungry these days!!  NOT not a little.  I mean REALLY, REALLY HUNGRY and a bit on the CRANKY side.  Well, OK...maybe more than just a tad, bit cranky (sorry honey!!)   But it's true.  I cant help it - that dip in blood sugar takes it's toll and POOF (like the little bunny Foo- Foo) I am turned into a mean, cranky and IMPATIENT hungry person!!

Sometimes I have  2 pt shake as a quick snack while I cook.....I feel (somewhat) satisfied so that I can withstand  cooking without eating everything in site during the process, But STILL, that darn meal better be on the table FAST because my body burns  that shake up quickly when my metabolism is in high gear!!

If you are growing veggies - especially cherry tomatoes and/sweet peppers - this is a great recipe to use them in.  I had just harvested a pepper and some tomatoes (along with green beans!)  I threw everything in with other veggies in an effort to boost nutritional value by creating that all important "rainbow" of colors (we will talk about that later), and to BULK IT UP!! 

Go ahead, throw in the kitchen sink (or not) depending on your preference - this recipe can take it!

Tender Beef Stir Fry - Mexican Style

For the STEAK
1/2 Pound top sirloin, skirt or tri-tip (I used a tri-tip steak)
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon Chili powder
1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder
salt and pepper

For the Stir Fry
1-2 small to med zucchini squash cut into sticks
1 large onion sliced thin
Cherry tomatoes (quartered or halved)
ANY OTHER VEGGIES YOU WANT (cabbage or green beans....?)
Your favorite salsa
Fresh cilantro - chopped
Avocado, Diced
Fresh limes
olive oil

1 cup rice
2 cups water
1 Pack Knorr Fideo con pollo (chicken noodle) or any other Chicken noodle soup mix

First Get your rice in your rice cooker or on the stove.  I used a rice cooker - I added the rice, water and ONE packet of the chicken noodle soup:

Let rice cook and gather the balance of your ingredients:

Grab your steak - it's best to have it partially frozen so it's easier to cut into thin slices

Now thinly slice your steak AGAINST the grain:

In a bowl, toss the steak with the garlic and chili powders along with a good amount of salt and pepper - add more spices if you wish and then squeeze in the lime.  Toss well and set aside.  It should look like this:
                                (Definitely not that exciting looking...but the taste is great!!)

Prep your veggies:

Prep your mango by cutting off the flesh then dice and set aside:

Now heat a non stick pan with a little olive oil until very hot.  Toss in your seasoned meat and COOK FAST until JUST BARELY DONE - if you overcook now, you will end up with chewy steak!!  Trust me on this one.  REMOVE your steak to a bowl and set aside.  Toss out any juice that accumulated in the pan and reheat with a bit more olive oil.

Add the onions and cook until nicely golden (not too dark) - The flash "bleached out some of the color (sorry!)

Then add peppers, and other veggies that take a bit longer to cook and saute until crisp tender.  Add zucchini and saute until done ( just a few minutes or they will be too soft)

** Check your rice for doneness and turn off (if done) and let sit:  It should look like this - note the little brown noodles in the rice?  YUMMY in your TUMMY!!

  Add your meat, tomatoes, fresh chopped cilantro to taste and about a 1/2 cup of prepared salsa. Toss until hot and REMOVE FROM HEAT (your tomatoes will sort of smoosh from the heat, which I like!)

Put the stir fry over the rice and top with mango, avocado, cilantro and extra lime juice!

The result?  A quick, healthy and delicious meal that's full of color, flavor, nutrition (Don't forget the YUMMY rice!)  This is a great dish to get your servings of fruits and veggies.  PLUS its an opportunity to use up the stuff in your garden or veggie bin.  AND, if you want - go ahead and throw in the kitchen sink!

From my home to yours, ENJOY!