Recipe: Red Steak Stir Fry

The house smelled soooo good when I was making dinner last night…. a definite plus after a weekend of pizza and dinners out, no matter how yummy.  Since M asked me to make a stir fry, I stopped by the grocery store on the way home from work and was able to throw this delicious meal together without too much difficulty.  Picking up two sale packages of “stir-fry beef”, a package of sliced mushrooms, a small package of Haricot Verts (long thin green beans), a bag of onions, and a bottle of Korean Teriyaki sauce, I started cooking in “layers”.  Let me explain what I mean by that…

RedSteakStirFry

Start with the onions and mushrooms.  Slice half an onion and half of the package of sliced mushrooms, and saute them in a pat of butter and a little bit of olive oil until they start to brown.  To this mixture, add some Napa Valley Pinot Noir red wine (this is what I had in the fridge… any tasty red wine will work well in this recipe) and allow the veggies to soak up the wine (here’s your first layer of flavor).  Remove the veggies and add another pat of butter and a little bit of olive oil, allowing the pan to get hot.  Add salt and pepper to the beef and add to the melted butter/oil in the saute pan.  Brown the beef thoroughly and then add more red wine (this is your second layer of flavor) so the beef can soak up more of this flavor.  Once the beef is cooked, return the onion/mushroom mixture and bring everything to temperature.

While sauteing the vegetables and beef, take a moment to pull the stir-fry sauce together.  This sauce was a blend of 2/3 cup red wine, 1/3 cup of Teriyaki sauce, some garlic, some ginger, and a spoonful of flour.  Whisk the sauce thoroughly to incorporate the flour into the sauce and wait to add the sauce until the beef is thoroughly cooked and toasty and the veggies are returned to the pan.  This will be your third layer of flavor.

Since the Haricot Verts are so incredibly delicate and quick cooking, I would suggest adding the beans and the sauce close to the same time in the cooking process.  Toss everything together for a few minutes to allow the flour to cook and the beans to warm.  I did add 1/4 cup water to thin the sauce a bit, but the stir-fry sauce I had made was absolutely delicious.  Served over a bit of brown rice (I microwaved a package of brown basmati rice), it was a thoroughly satisfying meal… warm, tasty, and totally yummy.

Try your own version of this stir-fry at your house… chances are that it will become your family’s favorite as well!

Recipe: Chardonnay Pesto Shrimp & Pasta

I started planning dinner before I left for work this morning.  I didn’t do anything as adventurous as get out the crock pot and start dinner… nope….  I just started thinking about what I wanted to make that evening.  Such is my life when I get to talk about wine all day.  Mind you, I’m definitely not complaining… just making an observation.  When I lead guests through a wine tasting at James River Cellars Winery, I gloss over recipe ideas and offer up ways to use the various wines we have to offer.  It’s the way I’ve always done wine tastings, but apparently it’s unique enough that people are stunned when I toss out recipe after recipe for our wines.  Thankfully, the winery owners have allowed my blog to be linked to the winery’s website, Facebook page, and Twitter account – guess I’m doing something right, huh?

I stopped off at the local grocery store to pick up a bag of shrimp on my wayChardonnayPestoShrimp&Pasta home and grabbed a tube of Pesto paste to use, along with some bow tie pasta.  I thawed, peeled, and sliced  the shrimp in half when I got home so that dinner prep would be as simple as possible.  Then I got out the rest of my ingredients:  a lemon, a pat of butter, olive oil, James River Cellars Winery Chardonnay, and a touch of half & half left over from another meal this week.  Once my husband got home, I was ready to start cooking.

I put some of the bow tie pasta into a pot with some salted water and got that started while I melted butter and olive oil in a large saute pan.  As soon as the butter/oil mixture was hot, I added the shrimp and allowed it to cook thoroughly – I had sliced the shrimp length-wise so the thin shrimp pieces curled up into little corkscrews.  Once the shrimp was cooked, it was time to start creating a sauce.

I made the sauce with the shrimp in the pan.  Sometimes I’ll remove the shrimp, but I was feeling a little lazy tonight and didn’t do this extra step.  I added some wine to the shrimp and let it sizzle for a bit until the chardonnay had almost been absorbed by the shrimp.  I then added the juice of the lemon, some pesto paste, a little more wine, a splash of half & half, and some of the pasta cooking liquid.  I allowed this to simmer until the sauce looked thick enough before I tossed everything with the cooked pasta.  It was quick and delicious!

The entire meal, cooking from start to finish, really only took about 15 minutes.  I even had enough time to defrost and toast a ciabatta roll so we could each have half to soak up the sauce.   While there are tons of different things I could have added or changed about this recipe, the clean taste of the wine, lemon, and shrimp paired with the pasta was just what I was looking for tonight.

I hope you’ll experiment with this recipe and come up with your own favorite version… it’s one of my favorite things to do.  Enjoy!

Recipe: Teriyaki Shrimp Stir Fry

I have to give my husband credit for the inspiration for this recipe.  I asked what he wanted me to make (using a pound of shrimp) for dinner and he rattled off a list of options that included the name of this dish.  I wasn’t thinking “teriyaki” until he threw that idea out… but it sounded yummy to me, so I set about rifling through the fridge to come up with ingredients that might work as a teriyaki sauce.

What I found, already in my fridge, were the following items:  half a jar of orange marmalade, Bragg Liquid Aminos (something like soy sauce, that *isn’t* soy, that my niece mentioned once on her blog so I bought it), homemade BBQ sauce, and a bottle of James River Cellars Montpelier wine (this new vintage is 100% Cabernet Franc, made as a semi-sweet blanc/rose’ wine… soooo yummy).  Since I hadn’t cooked with Montpelier yet, I was eager to try and find a way to use this fun wine.  NOTE: If you don’t have access to this specific wine, you’re welcome to substitute your favorite semi-dry/semi-sweet white wine or a lightly dry rose of your choice.  You could also just substitute chicken stock, if you prefer, but I really like the back note of wine in this dish.

TeriyakiShrimpStirFry

I defrosted a pound of frozen shrimp (I always like to have this on hand for quick and easy dinners that I know my husband will love) and sliced them in half, length-wise.  I love doing this with shrimp because they end up looking like little cork-screws of shrimp and they cook so quickly.  Feel free to cut them up or leave them whole… it’s entirely up to you!

I sauteed the shrimp in good olive oil until they were slightly toasty and browned.  Again, cook your shrimp according to your family’s preference… this is simply the way we like to have shrimp.  I wanted to add some sort of vegetable into dinner, so I used about a cup of broccoli slaw and tossed that with the cooked shrimp until it started to look a little glossy from the olive oil.  NOTE: If you’ve never used broccoli slaw before, you can find it in most grocery stores in the bagged vegetable area.  I love this stuff and try to keep it on hand to add to dinners whenever possible.  It cooks amazingly fast and is a nice addition to stir fry dinners.  I also like to use it in egg rolls, but that’s for another post on another day…

Once the veggies were well incorporated, I added the sauce that I’d made, using the ingredients i found in my fridge.  To be more specific, I used the half jar of orange marmalade, a few tablespoons of liquid aminos (this stuff is really salty, so go slow when adding and taste as you go), 2-3 Tablespoons of BBQ sauce, and 1/4-1/3 cup of Montpelier wine.  I tasted the sauce to make sure all the flavors combined well and adjusted as needed.  I let the sauce simmer with the shrimp/veggies until it had reduced a bit and didn’t look quite so wet in the pan.

Once the stir fry was done, I plated dinner in two different ways.  My husband really likes rice, so I like to keep microwaveable brown rice in the cupboard for meals.  I heated his rice and chose to put my dinner over a bag of Shiritake (tofu) noodles.  Let me say that I really like substituting regular pasta with these spaghetti-shaped noodles.  They’re low cal, low carb, gluten-free, vegan, and only about 30 calories for the entire bag (which is the amount I always eat).  They need to be rinsed REALLY well, as they are kept in a brine of some sort, but I find them to be a fun substitute that works well for me and how I want to eat.  I’m very visual, so I want to see a big plate of food or I feel like I haven’t eaten enough (no matter what my stomach actually says) and will snack more later.  NOTE:  The link I’ve included is the the Google search page for Shiritaki noodles… I didn’t want to limit you by suggesting a specific brand, since I’ve tried a few and don’t really have a favorite.

This dinner was super-simple and used things that I already had in my fridge or pantry.  I love being able to create something for dinner that doesn’t need tons of unique/single-use ingredients.  Orange marmalade is a terrific example of something that I keep on hand for tons of different uses.  Find your favorites and you’ll be able to pull dinner together in a snap – this was even faster (and cheaper) than take-out!

Enjoy!

Recipe: Chardonnay Croque Monsieur

I made a very “fancy” dinner last night… Croque Monsieur, which is really just a fancy French name for a Grilled Ham and Cheese.  Sounded impressive, yes?  It kinda was… cuz I added wine.  Wait… it gets better… I put it on the CHEESE!

Chardonnay Croque Monsieur

I started with some really yummy sourdough bread from the local grocery store.  I sliced it and popped it into a hot oven to dry the bread thoroughly.  As the bread was drying, I tossed a few tablespoons of Chardonnay with some tasty shredded cheese.  Note:  I used a sharp cheddar with a little mild cheddar thrown in, but I could have just as easily used gruyere or swiss cheese.  Since sharp cheddar is what I had in the fridge, sharp cheddar is what I used.  This is my favorite rule of thumb… use what you’ve already got in the fridge if at all possible.  I really don’t like to have to make a separate trip to the store for one item… I always come home with too many “extras”!  I also made sure that I had some deli sliced ham already in the fridge to be able to use… Check!
The biggest addition to this meal really is just a simple condiment.  I’m not sure what you’d call it, but I stirred together about half a ramekin of fat free sour cream a glob of dijon mustard some garlicsalt and pepper.  I used this flavored sour cream as the “glue” to keep all the layers together during the cooking process.  It was a really tasty addition.  I was making dinner for my husband and myself, so I used enough of all the ingredients to make four open-faced sandwiches (two for each of us).  If you’re making dinner for more people, you’d obviously want to have more ingredients on hand to feed everyone.

Once I had everything ready, I drained the cheese on some paper towels and blotted it to remove any excess moisture.  This is important because the excess liquid ends up making the cheese a little soupy instead of getting browned and toasty as it broils.

Assembling the individual Croque Monsieurs was quite easy.  I spread a thin layer of flavored sour cream on the dry toasts, topped it with ham (I used a thinner amount of ham for myself and a thicker layer for my husband… see?  Individualizing your meal is easy when YOU”RE the cook!), then spread another thin layer of the sour cream mixture.  Check out the photo of this in the collage I’ve included… even at this point, it’s looking delicious!  I piled on enough cheese to make a mound on each sandwich.  The broiler really did all the heavy lifting on this dish… bubbly and hot, these sandwiches were really decadent.

When I told a friend of mine what I was making, she let me know that she really prefers a Croque-Madame… and that is a croque monsieur with a fried egg on top.  I might have to try that one the next time this makes it into my dinner rotation.

Feel free to play around with your favorite cheeses and different deli ham… maybe even try a heavier bread… whatever you do, I hope you’ll try this recipe and see how it’s received in your family.  Tweaking recipes to fit individual tastes is really what makes cooking so much fun.

I may not be a chef… but my family will never starve.  Of this, I am certain!

On a side note:  my darling husband said that he couldn’t look at the name of this dish without being reminded of an episode of Friends, where Joey tries to learn how to speak French.  Apparently, in our house, this dish will always be known as “Joey’s Grilled Ham and Cheese”.  :/  Enjoy this YouTube link!