Thai Beef Salad

Thai Beef Salad
Summer finally arrived about a week ago and it’s been too hot to cook. Too hot for heavy meals and just generally too hot. My favorite thing about this dish adapted from this Shape.com recipe is it’s served chilled and for a light dinner, it is really filling.

Ingredients:
Well-marbled New York steak or a skirt steak, grilled (we broiled and pan-seared a couple of times when it was too hot to grill) to your liking, but preferably no more than medium rare
1 small red onion, sliced into skinny wedges
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped, no stems
Large handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (or 1/2 vine-ripened tomatoes cut into wedges)
1 green pepper, sliced thin
2 limes (or about 1/4 to 1/3 cup lime juice)
1 tablespoon brown sugar (you may need more. Note: the original recipe called for palm sugar, but we’ve had a hard time finding it)
1.5 tablespoon fish sauce
Thai chili powder to taste (we found a blend at Penzy’s Spices that we love for this dish – Bangkok blend)

Directions:
Grill, pan-sear or broil the meal as directed above and slice into thin strips after allowing to rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. Put the brown sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl, add some of the lime juice and mush into a thick liquid form. Add the rest of the lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar.
When the steak has cooled, Add it to the sauce mixture. Toss with your hands to incorporate all over the steak. Add the rest of the veggies, toss and taste. Tasting as you go is the most important part. Add more fish sauce if it needs more salt, or more sugar if it is to lime-y.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or so to let the flavors meld. Then serve on a bed of lettuce and garnish cilantro.

My opinion:
You can add the cilantro into the sauce mixture, just give it a rough chop. If you want to quick sautee your veggies in peanut oil (or your favorite cooking oil), feel free it adds another layer of flavor. This is the perfect dish for a hot summer evening.

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Best Sweet and Sour Chicken

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We’ve been eating a home a lot more lately. Which means, when we’re craving specialty food, we have to make it ourselves, while trying to use up the left overs.We had left over onions and green peppers from grilling and decided to try our hand at sweet and sour chicken adapted from this recipe. It was amazing. Right up there with the Kung Pao. Flavorful and even better easy.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sherry wine
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (you can use fresh too)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups vegetable oil
1 (15 ounce) can pineapple chunks (we used a bigger can and be sure to save the juice!)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 medium green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 onion, cut into 1-inch pieces

Directions:
Mix together first 6 ingredients. Add chicken; coat well. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Fry chicken until lightly browned (we skipped this since we velveted the chicken).  Removed chicken; drain. Drain pineapple, reserving liquid. Add enough water to juice to make 1 cup (if you used a larger can of pineapple, you should have one cup of juice from the can and won’t need the water). Add the cornstarch, mixing well. Combine pineapple juice mixture and next 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. Stir green pepper, onion and chicken into sauce; cook until thoroughly heated. Serve over rice.

My opinion:
I know what you’re thinking, will this sauce really taste good? It has ketchup for goodness sake! I promise, you it will not only taste good, but be delicious. I like this dish so much better than the one at our favorite local Chinese place. Especially without the breading. One of the secrets is not to cook the green peppers too long. You want them to still be bright green, not dull green. Next time, we might add a dash or two of chili peppers to make it a bit spicy. Yum!

Homemade Pizza

On our second try with homemade pizza, we did better than the first. It will still need some tweaking, but all in all, I would eat this meal again.

Ingredients:
Store Brand Pizza Dough (the kind where you just add hot water)
For the Margherita half
Olive Oil
Fresh Whole Milk Mozzarella (we found one you can unroll! How awesome is that?)
Roma Tomatoes (I used two)
Basil (I took a sprig from the garden)
For the regular pizza half
Small Wedge of cheddar cheese (I used a Baby Bel that needed to be eaten)
Onion
Green Pepper
Pasta Sauce (I used the Bertolli Tomato & Basil)
The rest of the Whole Milk Mozzarella

Directions:
Mix the pizza dough as directed. Using floured hands push dough out onto a lightly greased (I used olive oil for this) pan. I then filled in all the holes and tried to even it out. For the Margherita half, I brushed the dough with the rest of the olive oil. On the regular half, I brushed the dough with the pizza sauce. Then add 2/3 of the mozzarella, enough to cover most of the crust. Put in the oven (at the pizza dough packaged directions). The key here is to keep an eye on it. All the cheese was melted at about 15 minutes for me. I then added the toppings (except the basil) and covered with the left over cheese and baked until the cheese was all melted. Once I took it out of the oven, I added the basil and let it cool.

My Opinion:
In the future, I would add some spices to the crust. At least garlic and oregano. I would also bake the crust alone, plain, until lightly browned before adding the toppings. It was a little chewier than I like this time. Additionally, I would reserve a little more cheese to help the toppings stay in place.