Tag Archives: versatile

Easiest steak stir-fry

.
Anyone who doesn’t have a personal chef is a fan of meals that are fast and easy to make. Bonus if it happens to NOT be grease-laden, deep-fried, double-wrapped hatred of yourself. Aka some semblance of nutritional value. At least to me that’s a priority.
.
This is one of my standby all-time favorite recipes, used from the lowly days of undergrad’s first apartment until the present, it has never failed me yet. Once the individual ingredients are made, they are very versatile, and remain so even after mixing.
.
Ingredients:
1 cup rice (I used easy brown)
1-2 cups frozen veggie, any you like
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed
*You can stop here for a filling vegan/vegetarian snack or meal, or continue to carnivorize it
2 tbsp sriracha, if you like it hot
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 cube frozen veggie stock or ice cube
1 small steak (or pork or chicken…)
.
Step 1: Mix 1 cup water and 1 cup rice, microwave on high 10 minutes. Let sit for 5, then fluff with a fork.

Step 2: Put frozen veggies and beans in a bowl, microwave 5-10 minutes while waiting for rice to absorb the water.

Step 3: Mix rice, beans and veggies. Sprinkle on some garlic salt and enjoy from here, or….

Step 4: Pour on the sriracha and soy sauce

Step 5: Put the steak in a frying pan on medium heat, add extra soy sauce if you like, and the cube of liquid. Cover and cook on medium for about 5 minutes, until nice and brown. Flip and cook on the other side 5 minutes.

Step 6: Remove steak and cut into bite-size pieces. Return to the pan along with the rice, veggies and beans and mix well. Heat through, and enjoy!

This is quite customizable based on what type of vegetables and meat you like, you can use white or brown rice, and mix up the type of beans too. Try Italian seasoning, or garlic salt, or Worchestershire. The sky’s the limit!

Make your own pizza, male and female style

You may think I’m weird for saying this, but I don’t like pizza that much. I know, how un-American of me. I will eat it if it’s around, and I get an occasional craving for a weird one like chicken bacon ranch, but in general if asked what I want for dinner, the answer will not be Little Caesars.
.
My current S.O. could literally live off pizza and burritos. So we found a compromise, making our own pizza. That way I can have the things I want on it (veggies) and control the sauce, and he can have what he wants (as much meat as possible) at the same time. This is our version of men are from Mars, women are from Venus, in the kitchen.
.
Ingredients:
1 tube pizza dough (about $2 at grocery store)
1 jar pizza sauce (~$2)
.
Toppings of choice: Female half
Spinach & mixed greens
Onions & peppers julienned
Zucchini
Mozzarella cheese
Pineapple
.
Toppings of choice: Male half
Deli ham
Ground beef (pre-cooked, left over from burritos actually)
Bacon
Mozzarella cheese
Pineapple
.
Step 1: Cook the meat if needed, spray a 9×13 oven safe pan. Roll the pizza dough out flat and press to the sides of the pan.
.
Step 2: Spread on as much sauce as you like. I don’t like most pizzas because I end up scraping a cup of sauce off my slices, so I put it on thin.
.
Step 3: Layer the toppings.

Step 4: Cover in as much cheese as you can handle. Because cheese is sent from heaven to make all foods taste better. Some calories are just worth it.

Step 5: Bake at 425 for ~20 minutes or until crust is brown and crispy and cheese is bubbling.

This recipe is as varied as your imagination, nearly any meat or vegetable can be a pizza topping, so if you like it then go crazy! You can use veggies left over from other meals. It’s easy to make a vegetarian (or even vegan without the cheese) pizza.

You can fold the dough in half to make a smaller deep-dish pizza. Try a bunch of variations and find what you like best.  No matter what you put on yours, its likely to still be much cheaper and healthier than a purchased one.

Crock Pot salsa chicken tacos

.
I have heard so many recipes raving about how easy and delicious Crock Pot salsa chicken is, it is on nearly every Crock Pot recipe list I’ve seen. So one day before leaving for school, I decided on a whim to try it. Turns out, all these people know what they’re talking about! It was amazing by itself over rice, and it is even better shredded on a taco!
.
Ingredients:
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups salsa
1 flour tortilla
2 tbsp refried beans
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cup diced bell peppers
2 tbsp taco seasoning
1/2 cup shredded lettuce
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 tbsp sour cream
.
Step 1: Put the chicken and the salsa in the crock pot. Cook on low at least 6 up to 10 hours. The chicken will be slightly browned, lightly salsa flavored, and fall-apart tender. It tastes amazing on its own, serve with a vegetable and a starch side dish.

Step 2: Put a tiny amount of olive oil or stock in a frying pan, and fry the onion and pepper until soft. Add the taco seasonings, cover and cook another 2 minutes.

Step 3: Smear refried beans on half the tortilla, heat in microwave 20 minutes. Add cheese so it melts, and about 3-4 oz of the chicken. Then pile on the veggies and smear the sour cream on the other half. Pour salsa on top, roll up and enjoy!

This is super filling, and all the flavors combine into a taste bud party in your mouth! Makes enough for several meals, probably 10 tacos depending on how much you stuff them. The meat could also be used for quesadillas or tamales.


 

Salsa & egg breakfast burrito

.
This is something I came up with when I realized I woke up 20 minutes earlier than I needed to for class. Since I had time to actually cook something, I decided on eggs. I looked in the fridge, and as I had been preparing for tacos this week, I had tortillas and salsa and a bag full of cut up bell peppers.
.
So I figured why wait for these awesome Mexican-inspired flavors! I could make a protein and veggie packed breakfast that could even be portable.
.
Ingredients:
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1 diced green onion
3-4 tbsp salsa
1/4 cup shredded cheese
1 flour tortilla (10″)
.
Step 1: Fry the peppers and onion in a skillet with a tiny bit of oil if needed.

Step 2: Whip the eggs in a small bowl or cup. You can add a splash of milk for a fluffier texture. Add to the pan and cook slowly over medium heat. Use a wooden or plastic spoon to continually push the egg around until it is all cooked through.

Step 3: Heat a tortilla in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Add egg and veggie mixture, then a handful of shredded cheese to melt on top. Top with as much salsa as you prefer.

Step 4: Roll up and enjoy!

As always, the add-ins are optional, put whatever veggies you like in it. You could even add beans, potato, sausage, bacon or tofu if you have a big appetite in the morning. You could wrap these in plastic or aluminum foil and carry them with you for a healthy, filling breakfast on the go. Much better for you waist and wallet than a fast food drive through breakfast burrito!


 

Moroccan Beef & Couscous

.
So this is another one where I had some odds & ends, found a recipe that used most of the ingredients, then changed it to fit what I felt like making. Original recipe is from GoodHousekeeping.
.
Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
1 can chickpeas
1/2 zucchini, diced
1/2 yellow squash, diced
1/2 cup carrot, sliced
2 tbsp dried onion (I would have preferred a whole onion diced, but didn’t have one)
2 tbsp dried cranberries
Cinnamon, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper
1 box wheat couscous
1 cup chicken stock

Step 1: Dice the vegetables and saute in a frying pan over medium heat.

Step 2: The recipe called for the beef to be cooked in the same pan, but if I were to do it again I’d cook the beef separately so I could drain the fat easier. Cook the beef until no longer pink.

 
Step 3: Add 2 tbsp of the cumin and paprika, and 1 tbsp of garlic and cinnamon.
.
Step 4: Open and drain the chickpeas, add to the pan and heat through. Stir in the cranberries and cover 2 minutes.

Step 5: Cook the couscous as directed. I put it in a microwave-safe pan with a cover, added the stock and included spice packet and microwaved on high 5 minutes.

Step 6: Fluff the cooked couscous. Put about 1/4 cup in a bowl, and spoon 1/2 cup beef and veggie mix on top. Enjoy!

I was given the advice to add onion (which I definitely will next time) and pineapple to add a bit of sweet, which I totally agree with. I might try adding eggplant too. You could use any vegetable you like, and try different spices too. The beefy, soft veggie, sweetness combo is perfect over soft fluffy couscous.

The versatility of stir-fry

.
Especially during the summer, when fresh produce is cheap and plentiful, a veggie stir fry is always an awesome option. Cheap, easy, very filling and excellent for you. It is also very versatile, as my many meals from the stir-fry will show!
.
Ingredients:
1/2 red, orange, and yellow bell pepper, julienned
1/2 zucchini, diced
1 large radish, diced
2 turnips, diced
1 med carrot, diced
1 can black beans
1/2 red onion, diced
1 cup cous cous
 .
Extras:
Torn romaine lettuce, tomato chunks, sour cream, salsa, diced avocado

Step 1: Saute all the veggies in order of hardness, until all are tender. Add the black beans and heat until warmed through. Season if you want with garlic and other spices.

Meal 1: Add the stir fry and all extras into a flour or corn tortilla, eat as a burrito.

Meal 2: Put the hot stir-fry over some freshly cooked cous cous. You can top with hummus, salsa or a dressing if too dry.

Meal 3: Cover a large plate with torn romaine, add cooked cous cous, and veggies and extras on top, eat as a salad.

These meals were all eaten on different days, because the stir fry makes a ton and keeps well in the fridge. This is easy, cheap and very versatile. Add whatever veggies you like and have on hand. These 3 meal types will work well with any kind of stir fry, so go crazy!


 

Chicken Tacos

.
So yet again I’m moving soon, and need to clean out my freezer and pantry. I had some chicken quarters I had gotten cheap a while back , and was sick of ground beef tacos. So I decided to make some chicken tacos. It helps that Meijer had a great sale this week, $1 bell peppers and avocados.
.
Ingredients:
2 chicken leg quarters
Taco seasoning
Chili powder
1/4 red, orange and yellow bell pepper
1/4 red onion
1 tortilla
1/4 avocado
2 tbsp salsa
1 tbsp sour cream
1/4 cup black beans

Step 1: Put the chicken in a sprayed crock pot, sprinkle with taco seasoning and chili powder. Add 1/4 cup water to keep moist. Cook on high 4 hours or until chicken is no longer pink.

Step 2: Remove chicken meat from the bones and skin, throw it away. Add more seasoning if you like.

Step 3: Cut the peppers and onion into thin strips. I steamed the peppers for about 10 minutes first.

Step 4: In a tbsp of butter or oil, saute the peppers and onion until soft and translucent. Add some taco seasoning.

Step 5: Warm the beans and tortilla. Layer the chicken, peppers & onion, beans, avocado in chunks, salsa and sour cream.

The combination of flavors is amazing: the creamy avocado, the spiced chicken, the crunchy-soft peppers and sweet onions, tangy salsa, milky sour cream…. just mmmmmmmm! And so much protein and veggie goodness! Obviously you can omit the chicken and just use veggies for vegetarian, and add as much or whatever spices you like.

Jealous? You should be.

Vegetarian Stir Fry

This is one of my favorite go-to meals because: 
a) it is quick
b) it is easy 
c) it is cheap
d) it is different and delicious every time! 
Stir fry is great because it is so versatile. Basically it’s rice and whatever else you want to put in it! I’m sure I will be stir frying a LOT this summer, because I’m working on an organic CSA farm (http://www.facebook.com/schoonerfarms) and will have a ton of fresh veggies once the growing season gets into full swing. Also, I’m trying to eat at least 2 full days a week vegetarian, for health purposes. So anyways, here is the stir fry du jour.
Ingredients
1/2 cup white rice ($2 for 24 oz)
2 large baby bella mushrooms ($1 for the pack)
Handfull snow peas (Free from the farm)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped ($1 for pepper)
1/2 large carrot, shredded ($1 for 1 lb bag)
1/2 cup small broccoli pieces ($1 for a head)
1 stick celery (~1 for 2 lbs)
2 tbsp each soy sauce, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce
Garlic salt
Total cost: ~$2
 
Step 1: assemble ingredients, put oil in a frying pan on low. Boil water for the rice.

Step 2: Dice up all the veggies while the rice cooks.

Step 3: Begin cooking veggies, toughest one first. I put in the broccoli for about 2 minutes alone, then the celery and peppers, then the carrots and peas, and finally the mushrooms. It helps to add a few tbsp water and cover tightly to steam them for a few minutes.

Step 4: Add the cooked rice and sauces, fry everything together for a minute or 2, and enjoy! There are endless variations of this, you can add as much sauce and different kinds or none at all, you can scramble an egg or add meats if you like. This is also very frugal and budget-friendly because you can use up all the odds and ends of vegetables in your fridge before they go bad!

Slow cooker BBQ pulled pork

 

Slow cookers are a godsend to any busy cook, I myself often throw ingredients in it early in the day in order to come home after a long day of teaching, research, attending classes and work. But they can also add joy and flavor to a lazy Sunday. As the weather cools, warm and filling foods fill my imagination. This led to inspiration for some slow cooked BBQ pork.

Ingredients:
1 pork loin
5-6 garlic cloves
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 medium onion
1/2 cup vinegar
2-4 cups BBQ sauce of your choice

Step 1: Cut shallow grooves in the loin and insert garlic cloves. Place in the slow cooker with the vinegar, and the onion cut into chunks. Rub the top of it with the brown sugar, and put on high for 4-6 hours.

This is what it looks like after about 4 hours on high. I cut it into 4 chunks to shred it easier. Drain off the excess liquid and throw out the onion and garlic. Using two forks, shred the pork and return it to the slow cooker. Cover the meat with BBQ sauce and mix well.

Then leave it in the slow cooker on low for another 1 – 5 hours, to let it stew and the BBQ to cook into the meat. 

This is the first way to eat the pork, on a bun with some extra BBQ sauce. I had steamed broccoli and baked beans as side dishes.

However, you usually have plenty of meat left over. Therefore, this post includes a special bonus dish. With the leftovers, a great snack or even full meal is BBQ pork over tortilla chips. Just sprinkle on the pork, add cheese and heat in the microwave. Then add sour cream and enjoy!

Many uses for ground beef: Nachos

Recently I bought 5 pounds of ground beef to save money. Buying in bulk is great when it’s a.) something you will for sure use and b.) cheaper per weight than not buying in bulk. It’s something I tend to eat a lot of, especially because I love tacos.

Therefore I cooked up half a batch with taco seasoning and turned 2 pounds of it into chili. The tacos get old after a while though, so to switch it up I used some of it for taco salad (recipe posted earlier) and some for this great snack whenever you want something substantial but not a true meal.

Ingredients:
Ground beef

Taco seasoning
Tortilla chips
Whatever toppings you like: cheese, salsa, sour cream, lettuce, etc.

Step 1: Brown the beef and drain off the extra grease. Add in 1/4 cup taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water. Let the beef simmer in the seasoning until all water evaporates and the beef is well seasoned. 

Step 2: Heap a handful of nachos onto a plate, and cover with a layer of beef. Then top with whatever you like. 

Nachos bel grande at home

Here I used salsa that I made and canned myself, so the beef and nachos ($1 or so at Aldi) were the only things paid for. I usually add some shredded mexican blend cheese and/or beans too. Enjoy your snack!

 
 
What’s your favorite nacho topping?