Mexican: Light & Refreshing

For dinner tonight, a friend came over to catch up on girltime. I prepared a quick dinner that was light, flavorful and used what I had on hand, since the hubby to the car to work today. (And it was a perfect chance to cook beef for myself since my hubby doesn’t eat beef!) With that said, here’s what I came up with and was pleasantly surprised what a little creativity can do!

Mexican Steak “Pitzas” with Cilantro Cream

1 lb beef flank steak, finely chopped
1/2 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon southwest seasoning
1 teaspoon Sazon con Cilantro seasoning
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon canola oil for cooking
4 gyro pitas
1/2 cup shredded mexican blend cheese
1/2 finely diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
2-3 tablespoons water

– Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
– In a skillet over medium high heat, add the cooking oil, onions and garlic; saute until softened.
– Add the beef and seasonings and cook until browned.
– Meanwhile, place your gyro pitas on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes to soften the pitas. Remove the pitas from the oven and set aside.
– When the beef has cooked thoroughly, carefully spoon the beef over the warmed pitas to cover completely.
– Top the beef with the shredded cheese and bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes until cheese has melted.
– While the pitas are baking, prepare the cilantro cream by combining the cilantro, sour cream and water. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
– When the pitas are done baking, remove from the oven and top with the cilantro cream and chopped tomatoes; serve.

Tex Mex Quinoa Salad

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 chicken breast, boiled and chopped
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 stalk green onion, sliced
2 japelenos, finely diced
1 can sweet kernel corn, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, add the quinoa and chicken broth. Cook until done and set aside.
Meanwhile, add the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss.
Add the slightly cooled quinoa to the bowl and toss
Season with salt & pepper to your taste.

Mongolian Beef Filling

The following recipe was used for my Steam Buns cooking class. You can read about my class and get other links to recipes HERE.

Mongolian Beef Filling

2 bunches green onion, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 lb lean beef, sliced thin
salt & pepper to taste
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce

Season sliced beef with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.
Sprinkle cornstarch over beef and toss to coat. Set aside.
In hot pan saute garlic and onion in cooking oil until softened.
Add meat and brown.
Add oyster sauce and soy sauce; stir to coat.
Add green onions and toss.
Allow to cool before using as filling.

Beef & chorizo filling

The following recipe was prepared for my Tamales cooking class. You can read about my class and get other links to recipes HERE.

Beef & chorizo filling

4 lbs lean ground beef
1 pkg of beef chorizo (2 large links)
1 packet of Sazon seasoning
1 large onion, finely diced
2-4 garlic cloves, minced

In a large skillet, brown chorizo and ground beef.
Add remaining ingredients and cook through until onions have softened.
Place in bowl and allow to cool.
Cover and chill until ready to fill tamales.

Leftovers Aren’t So Bad…

One of our staple dishes I resort to whenever we have leftovers is fried rice. It’s a dish that we make to use up leftover veggies and meats we have on hand… and the rice we use is always cold. That’s key for perfect fried rice, just like what you’d get at Chinese restaurants and how my parents made theirs for their catering business. Here’s my recipe for fried rice:

1 cup leftover meats – pork, chicken, beef, seafood
1-2 eggs
3-4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 onion finely diced
3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup chopped vegetables (fresh or frozen)
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1-2 tablespoons light or dark soy sauce
1-2 cups prepared rice, cold (or day old)

In a hot skillet or wok, heat oil.
Add garlic and onions & stir.
Add leftover meats of your choice, chopped up in bite sized pieces.
Stir fry meats until you get them a bit crispy.
Push the meats aside and crack eggs into the pan.
Scramble the eggs into the pan until cooked.
Add cold rice over the eggs & meat into the pan, making sure to crumble it in your fingers. (Dumping a large chunk of rice is not going to work here. You need to crumble it so it separates nicely).
Add salt, pepper, onion & garlic powders and soy sauce; toss.
Allow the rice to heat up and absorb the spices and soy sauce, tossing to help it along.
Add the fresh or frozen veggies and toss into the rice.
Continue cooking it all on high heat until rice is heated through and veggies are cooked.

I used leftover grilled chicken and some frozen veggies for lunch and served this with some homemade eggrolls – which I’ll be dedicating a whole post to in a couple of week. I’m teaching an eggroll class so I’ll save the details and recipes on making eggrolls then!

Pad Si Ew

The following recipe was featured for my Thai Cooking Class. You can read and view other recipes from the class HERE.

Pad Si Ew
(sweet soy sauce noodles)
Joelen’s recipe
1 onion, sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons oil
1 lb sliced chicken, pork or beef (your choice)
4 tablespoons black soy sauce
4 tablespoons regular or lite soy sauce
2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 package wide rice sticks (pho noodles)
2 cups frozen broccoli

To prep rice sticks, boil water in a dutch oven. Once water has come to a boil, turn off heat and place dried rice sticks into the water. Let it sit for 5-7 minutes until it softens. Drain & set aside.

In a large wok, heat oil. When hot, add onions & garlic.
Once onions have softened, add meat (chicken, pork or beef) and saute for 3-5 minutes.
After 3-5 minutes, add soy sauces and sugar.
Stir and reduce until sauce is slightly thick, about 5-7 minutes.
Add broccoli & toss to heat through.
When broccoli is heated through, add drained rice stick and toss gently.
To serve, place noodles on platter and garnish with fresh bean sprouts, crushed peanuts and/or sliced green onions.

Beef osso buco

This recipe was made for my 2007 Holiday Party featuring an Italian inspired menu. You can read about it and view the additional recipes I made for this event HERE.

Beef osso buco

3lb. beef shanks

salt & pepper to taste
onion & garlic powder to taste
olive oil for browning
2 cups cabernet sauvignon wine
1 onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 handful fresh basil
1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon rosemary herb mix
1-2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cups marinara sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Season shanks with salt, pepper, garlic & onion powder.

In a dutch oven, add olive oil to hot pan to coat bottom.

Brown shanks in oil on both sides.
When browned, add wine to pan to deglaze.
Add remaining ingredients to pot.

Cover and bake in preheated oven for 1.5-2 hours, until beef shanks are tender.

Clean out the fridge… It’s time for Pot Roast!

Last night I defrosted what I thought were beef shanks. While on my way home, I decided to do an asian twist on a beef osso bucco. However when I went to get started, I realized I defrosted some beef chuck instead! It worked out great because it’s been awhile since I had made a pot roast and I had some leftover veggies from my recent fondue party.The pot roast came out wonderful! The use of fresh herbs my friend Dan gave me definitely added some amazing flavor and aromas. I served this savory beef & veggies over some pappardelle pasta.Here’s my recipe for Rosemary & Basil Pot Roast:

2 lb. beef chuck roast
salt & pepper to taste
onion & garlic powder to taste
olive oil for browning
2 cups beef broth
1 onion, quartered
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 handful fresh basil
1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon rosemary herb mix
1-2 cups baby carrots
1-2 cups parboiled red potatoes, quartered

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Season roast with salt, pepper, garlic & onion powder.
Dredge roast in flour.
In a dutch oven, add olive oil to hot pan to coat bottom.
Brown roast in oil on both sides.
When browned, add beef broth to pan to deglaze.
Add remaining ingredients to pot.
Cover and bake in preheated oven for 1.5-2 hours, until beef is tender.