Crunchy Veggie Stir Fry

It’s been a while since I’ve posted to Sweetly Salted – lots of changes as our son left for college this past fall and we are adjusting to our empty nest. Food-wise it means smaller meals, more leftovers (because I still can’t estimate amounts properly yet), and more spur of the moment dinners. I’m trying new recipes and making stuff up. Here is a fun way to get rid of a lot of odds and ends and leftover veggies. A simple stir fry of vegetables with mixed nuts.

 

Ingredients:

1/4 head of cabbage, sliced into 1/2″ square pieces
1-2 cups of broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces
a handful of baby carrots sliced longwise and crosswise into bite-sized pieces
4 scallions, sliced on the diagonal
1 stalk of celery, cut on the diagonal
large handful of mixed nuts
peanut oil
sesame oil
low-sodium soy sauce
small handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat peanut  & sesame oils in skillet. Throw nuts in, stir for a minute. Follow up with the vegetables. Add a few shakes of soy sauce. Coat vegetables with the oil and soy sauce, stir over medium high heat for five minutes, then turn heat off. Serve with rice or quinoa. Top with chopped cilantro.

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup – Slow Cooked

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Love me a bowl of steaming hot Chicken Tortilla Soup, my go-to dish in Mexican restaurants. Adore the salty, sour flavors, fragrant steam and the colorful vegetables. Here’s an easy recipe you can make at home in your slow cooker. Leftovers taste great the next day, and can be frozen for later use.

Ingredients:

1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken tenders
1 large onion, diced (I like the sweet Vidalia onions)
1/2 each – green, yellow, orange and red bell pepper, diced
Sprinkle of garlic powder
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock or broth
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Scallions, chopped
Avocado, pitted and sliced
Sour cream

Instructions:

Place chicken in bottom of slow cooker. Add onion, garlic, tomatoes & chicken stock. Sprinkle chili powder, cumin, oregano & paprika on top. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours or high heat for 5-6 hours. Half an hour before finishing cooking, add peppers to cooker. Use a fork to shred the chicken. Add cilantro, chopped scallions, avocado and a dollop of sour cream, and serve with a side salad and tortilla chips. Makes 6 servings.

Campfire Stew

Most weeknights I am scrambling to put a nice dinner on the table ~ one that is satisfying to the ravenous teen athlete and not too overwhelming for the lighter eaters in our family. I found this recipe in a vintage church cookbook and adapted it to “health it up” and match our pantry offerings. From my Girl Scout days, I remember it as “Campfire Stew.” Without the campfire, this delicious stew is made up of  ground beef with a medley of vegetables in a tomato & beef broth. Accompanied by crunchy toasted cheese melts and a green salad, cooked in under an hour, and we have a winner of a dinner. Serves 8-10

Campfire Stew

4 cups beef broth (carton of low-sodium, low fat broth)
1 15 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 large onion, diced
6 stalks celery, diced & divided
2 bay leaves
salt & pepper to taste
1.5 lbs ground beef
2 15 oz cans corn or frozen equivalent
2 cups frozen peas
4 large carrots, peeled & sliced into 1/2 inch dice
4 Yukon Gold Potatoes slided 1/2 inch dice

  1. Brown ground beef over medium heat in a 4 quart stew pot. Remove beef with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel in a shallow bowl. Pour our remaining fat, leaving a light coating.
  2. Saute diced onions over medium heat in stew pot. When translucent, add tomatoes, half of the celery, bay leaf, salt & pepper, cooked beef and the broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Add carrots & potatoes  & rest of celery and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Add corn and peas and simmer for another five minutes.

Cheese Melts

Whole wheat bread
Cheddar cheese slices

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375
  2. Arrange wheat bread slices on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil (for easy clean up)
  3. Place cheese on top of bread and let cook for 15 minutes or until browned.
  4. Remove from oven and slice into 4 strips for each piece of bread. These can be dipped into the stew or eaten on their own.

Green Salad w/sweet + sour vinaigrette

Assorted greens (spinach, butter leaf, arugula)
Feta cheese crumbles (1/2 cup)
Vinaigrette (store bought or see below)
Roasted sunflower seeds (handful)

  1. Wash and dry greens or buy pre-washed)
  2. Put as many handfuls of greens as you have people you are serving.
  3. Add Feta cheese
  4. Mix 1/2 c olive oil, 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp. italian herbs, 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp dijon mustard – in a cruet or a pyrex cup. Stir well and pour over greens. Use tongs to incorporate dressing into salad. Add roasted sunflower seeds on top.

Shrimp and Leek Stew

This light and tasty shrimp stew is perfect for our midwinter-into-springtime when days start out chilly and warm up quickly. A fragrant stew that receives its flavor from the combination of cumin and cinnamon that coats the vegetables ~ leeks, carrots and tomatoes ~ and wraps around the shrimp to give a burst of flavor with each  taste. Serve over cous-cous and with a green salad and crusty buttered bread. Voila! a delicious meal in less than 30 minutes!

4 Servings

2 large leeks, white and green parts, washed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut int 1/2 inch dice
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt to taste
2 cups chopped tomatoes (15 oz can), with juice
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound medium to large shrimp, shelled and deveined, with tail left on
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf Italian parsley

  1. Slice leeks in half lengthwise and cut into 1/4  inch dice
  2. In a stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add leeks, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes.
  3. Add carrots, spices, salt. Lower heat to medium low and cook until carrots are tender, about 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes, wine and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium; cook 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in shrimp, cook until pink, 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, add cilantro and parsley & serve over cous-cous, rice or orzo. Enjoy!

Baked Deliciousness

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I’m in hibernation/cabin mode. Craving long hours of sleep and comfort food to warm the tummy. This dish has it all: Pasta, steak, cheeses, onions, mushrooms & spinach all baked into creamy deliciousness. Sort of a cheesesteak pasta casserole. I’ve lightened it up a bit but you may choose not to. Lots of options here, and didn’t take too long to make, but I did use up a bunch of pans and bowls, so find someone else to clean up and you’ve got a winner!

Baked Cheesy Penne with Steak, Mushrooms & Spinach
Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 3/4-1 pound beef (I used “Thin Sliced Beef for Carne Picada” from Aldi’s)
  • 3/4 pound mushrooms, sliced (I used mixed white and cremini mushrooms)
  • 4 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • dash of garlic powder
  • 2 medium white onions, peeled and thinly chopped
  • 1 1/4 cup milk (we used 1%),
  • 2 tablespoons half & half
  • 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/3 cup Blue cheese, crumbles; plus extra for garnish
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • water, for boiling

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Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400º F and oil a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  2. Set a large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta according to packaging directions, or until al dente. (9 minutes). Put in large bowl.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet or saute pan over medium high heat. Add beef to pan and add salt and pepper to season.
  4. Once hot, cook beef for 5-6 minutes, to brown on all sides. Remove from heat & set aside. You can line a bowl with a paper towel and put beef in there to drain the fat & oil.
  5. In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and cook onions until transparent. Then add in sliced mushrooms and garlic powder or minced garlic, stirring occasionally.
  6. Season with salt and pepper and add 2 tablespoons half & half. Stir until thickened, then add to pasta bowl. Add drained beef to pasta bowl.
  7. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and spinach to the pan, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until spinach is wilted. Add to pasta and mushroom/onion mixture.
  8. Pour 1 1/4 cup milk into a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.
  9. Add in parmesan and blue cheese and reduce heat to a simmer, stirring until cheese is completely melted and sauce is smooth. Add pinch of nutmeg.
  10. Pour cheese sauce over pasta/vegetables/beef mixture and mix until everything is coated with sauce and well incorporated.
  11. Pour mixture carefully into baking dish and top with blue cheese crumbles. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.
  12. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes. Serve hot. EAT & ENJOY!

A Warm Winter Stew

It’s been a slow-to-get-started January for me. The weather keeps changing its mind: first part of the week was pipe-freezing cold; the latter part was outdoor cafe-warm. I keep a coat and scarf in the car to ward off the chill. At home, I start making my winter stews – a comfort food to keep us warm inside and out. Beef Bourguignon, or Beef Burgundy is one of my cherished mid-winter meals. A stew with all my favorites: bacon, beef, red wine, onions and mushrooms. All bubbling together to taste delicious! Add a bed of mashed potatoes, crusty bread and a green salad and you have a tasty, elegant, comforting dinner.

Beef Bourguignon

This recipe feeds 4-5. I once quadrupled it for 19 people, and we had no
leftovers at all…

1 1/2 lbs. chuck steak cut in 1/2 inch cubes
6 oz. bacon bacon
1 level tbsp. flour
1 cup beef stock
1/2 cup red wine
bay leaf
1/2 tsp. mixed dried fine herbs de provence 
salt & pepper
12 baby onions or shallots (peeled)
8 oz. mushrooms,  (I use baby bella)
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice (optional)
Fresh chopped parsley (to sprinkle in while cooking, and on top when stew is done for color and flavor)

1. Preheat oven to 335.
2. Fry bacon, put in 6 q casserole.
3. Stir fry beef cubes in bacon fat until browned. put beef cubes on top of
bacon in casserole.
4. Pour out fat and beef juices, leaving 2 tbsp.
5. Blend in flour & cook until browned.
6. Stir in stock and wine. Bring to a boil and simmer till thickened.
7.Stir in bay leaf, herbs, parsley & seasoning
8. Pour over meat in casserole, cover and cook 1/2 hours. (Can also be cooked on stovetop on low simmer)
9. Add onions and mushrooms, cook one more hour
10. Sprinkle parsley on top of Beef Bourguignon and serve with mashed
potatoes, rice, wide noodles or crusty bread.

EAT and ENJOY