Mongolian Beef

The secret behind good Mongolian Beef is apparently a super heated wok to caramelize the beef. While we can’t recreate a super heated wok, J came very close to mimicking the flavors modifying this recipe from Big Oven using brown sugar.

Ingredients:
lbs Flank Steak cut into strips
1/3 cup Cornstarch
1/4 cup Vegetable oil
1 bunch Green onion, sliced

Sauce
1 tbs Vegetable oil
1 tbs Ginger, minced
3 tbs Garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
1/2 cup Soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Brown sugar

Directions:
Put cut up steak into a plastic bag along with corn starch. Shake well to coat and let sit for 10 minutes. In small sauce pan, heat 1 Tbs of oil until hot. Add red pepper flakes, ginger, and garlic. Saute briefly making sure not to burn. Pour in soy sauce and water, then add brown sugar. Boil sauce for 2-3 minutes to thicken slightly. Remove from heat. Heat 1/4 cup of oil in wok or large skillet. When oil is hot, add beef and stir fry until brown and cooked through. Add sauce and green onions. Cook for 1 minute. Do not leave in pan too long or the sauce will thicken from the corn starch.

My opinion:
This rivals the best  restaurant prepared Mongolian Beef. Fair warning, though, if you do have left overs, the cornstarch will make the gravy congeal in the container. It’s still tasty the next day, just with thicker sauce.

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Beef Stroganov


While this isn’t my most favorite dish, it is one of J’s most favorite dishes and he’s been searching for a good recipe for a while. He found this one from Big Oven ending the search. Extremely filling and comforting, with a few tweaks this is hands down the best Beef Stroganov recipe. Originally fearful of the nutmeg addition, it added a flavor depth that made the whole dish.

Ingredients:
2 Boneless Sirloin Steaks, sliced thinly
1/2 cup flour
1 medium onion, sliced thinly (we used a mandolin)
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups beef stock
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon Seasoning salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup sherry
1 can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 cup of sour cream
egg noodles
Fresh parsley chopped

Directions:
Heat olive oil in pan. Coat sliced meat in flour and cook until brown. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes until slightly softened. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add beef stock and bring to a boil. Add paprika, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Simmer until meat is tender, approximately an hour. Add mushrooms and sherry and simmer about 10 more minutes. Turn off stove and fold in sour cream. Let dish reheat gently and spoon over egg noodles. Garnish with fresh parsley.

My opinion:
I usually find  Beef Stroganov to be too heavy, too filling and too much everything. This dish isn’t too much of anything. It’s flavorful without being overwhelming.

Szechuan Kung Pao Chicken


I love Chinese food. When I was younger and my sister and I got to pick the restaurant for our birthday dinner, I always chose the local Chinese restaurant. As I grew up, I loved trying the flavors of the different provinces, but Szechuan has remained a favorite. J found this recipe from Big Oven (our new favorite go to recipe source). It was divine. I was so disappointed there wasn’t any left overs! The secret is in velveting the chicken. This crucial step is what makes all the difference.

Ingredients:
1 lb chicken thighs (we used two large boneless, skinless, chicken breasts)
10 whole red chili peppers (we left five whole)
1 small red onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic (original recipe calls for crushed, we used minced)
1/2 piece fresh ginger (crushed, we just tossed this in the food processor.)
Handful of roasted peanuts (we used unsalted and about a half cup)
Marinade:
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or Sherry (we used a dry sherry)
1 Egg white
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
Seasoning:
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or sherry (again, we used a dry sherry)
1 tablespoon dark vinegar (balsamic will do)
1 tablespoon Dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
1 scallion (we used a “bunch” of scallions from our garden)

Directions:
Dice chicken into half-inch cubes (We originally went a little too big, but you also don’t want to make these as small as they are in traditional Kung Pao dishes served in your local Chinese establishment.) Mix marinade, lightly beating the egg white and pour over the chicken. Leave to stand for no more than 30 minutes. Velvet the chicken with oil or water (again, this is the secret and makes a HUGE difference! We used the water method, but the oil method would work as well):
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Stir the chicken to separate and stir again. Simmer for about 2 minutes until the chicken turns white. Drain the chicken. Tear the chilis into pieces, then soak them in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain. Peel the onion and cut into square 1 1/2 inch pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the wok until very hot (until it starts to smoke). Add the garlic and ginger to the oil, stir for 15 seconds, then add the chilis and stir for a minute or two. Add the onions and continue to stir and flip for another minute. Add the chicken, scallion, peanuts and cook for another minute. After this, if you notice that it seems a little dry for your taste, feel free to mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with a little bit of water and pour in along with your seasoning. Give it a good quick stir (I mean it, be quick, the sugar will burn.) Serve with rice!

My Opinion:
Leaving the chilis in whole meant this dish was spicy. We liked it so much we actually added the left over rice to the wok in order to sop up all of the left over sauce. The chicken was tender, juicy and just amazing. Next time, we’ll add a bit more onion, ginger and garlic. Plus a green pepper for some added vegetables. This dish was so good I could eat it every single day for a long time and never grow bored.

p.s. If anyone one knows where to find Shaoxing wine in Columbia, let me know! I’m sure it would just add a bit more depth to the dish!

Easiest Chicken Pot Pie Ever

J’s grandmother is known for her chicken pot pie. He’s spent years trying to recreate the recipe. He finally got one that is just about right with this one from Big Oven.

Ingredients:
1 2/3 cup frozen mixed vegetables (we used the ones with pearl onions, carrots. celery and potatoes)
2 chicken breasts; cooked and diced
1 10.75-oz can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup Original Bisquick mix
1/2 cup milk (we used skim)

Directions:
Heat oven to 400 F. Mix vegetables, chicken and soup in ungreased glass pie plate. Stir together remaining ingredients (Bisquick and milk) with fork until blended. Pour over chicken mixture. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 6 servings

My Opinion:
This was the easiest recipe and came out perfectly crisp on top. For a quick meal on a cold winter’s night, this is perfect!