Monday, August 31, 2009

Where's the Beef?

Ty has been salivating over the beef stir fry with rice that is pictured on the front of the Cooking Light cook book since I brought it home last week and when I woke up Sunday morning all I wanted was a big, juicy cheeseburger (I'm not going to lie, had a few too many martinis while watching Ralphie May Saturday night). So we declared it Red Meat Sunday, we had homemade burgers & twice baked potatoes for lunch (Ty prepared the burgers, I supervised the potatoes) and beef stir fry for dinner. I figure we don't eat red meat all that often and my friend Bekah always says "If you're going to do it, do it right."

We took a trip to the grocery store to get everything we'll need for our meals this week (LOVE that this cookbook includes shopping lists). $133 later we're ready for the week. That sounds like a lot but we actually stocked up on a few things (pasta sauce, rice, Reese Puffs...) and we needed a few household items like toilet paper and trash bags. All together we actually spent $30.10 on the ingredients we'll need to cook 3 meals from the cookbook this week and many of those will be used again for other recipes (spices, Worcestershire sauce, rice, etc.). I'll break down the price per meal throughout the week, after all, part of the reason I'm doing this is to learn how to eat healthy on a budget. The only thing we did not get was couscous because it seems Food Lion doesn't carry it. I asked a manager who happened to walk by if he know where it would be and he said "What is it?" - great question because I had no idea. But I did check near the pasta and the rice and didn't see it. (Note: I Googled it and it's a type of pasta).
So we start on lunch. Baking is not my fortay, potatoes or otherwise (hence this blog) so I figured I should find out if there is more to baking a potato than throwing it in the oven. I put "how to bake a potato" into Google and low & behold, someone read my mind: This peaked my interest so I threw out a few other seemingly simple culinary feats and found:,, and the ever helpful (these also brought up a ton of hilarious YouTube videos, seems I'm not the only one who can't cook.) After following the potato baking instructions (note it takes about an hour to bake a spud so be prepared to wait) Ty got started on the burgers. (He also got a little fancy by seasoning & heating some cocktail shrimp for an appetizer)

He kept it pretty simple, just adding grill seasoning & Worcestershire sauce (I was on a roll with Google so I found out this is actually a fermented fish sauce - could've gone without knowing that). Once the potatoes were baked, I cut a hole in the top and scooped the insides into a bowl jack-o-lantern style. Be careful if you try this as potato skin is not as sturdy as pimpkin rind - Ty's potato boat sprung a little leak.

To the potato insides I added sour cream, crumbled turkey bacon & cheddar cheese, then I carefully stuffed it back in. Top it with a little more cheddar and back in the oven it went to get melty. We timed it up perfectly, the burgers & potatoes were done at about the same time so we dug in:

Mmm mmm mmm! Gotta love meat & potatoes. We did forget a little Bobby Flay tip about burgers: put a dent in the middle of the patty before you toss it on the grill or they shrink up and are really thick in the middle. We also went with kaiser rolls from the bakery section, definitely worth it.

A few hours and much digesting later, I started to tackle my 1st meal from the new cookbook: Beef Stir Fry with Rice. This was so simple and took maybe 20 mins total with prep and cooking. Ingredients: 1 lb. top sirloin, garlic, frozen stir fry veggies thawed, Worcestershire or oyster sauce, rice. Total cost: around $10 (forgive me for not being exact but I'm to lazy to calculate the exact cost of the amount of rice or Worcestershire I actually used. And I hate math.) I started boiling the water for the rice while I thinly sliced the steak and minced the garlic (also decided I need a sharper knife...).

Got the pan nice and hot and then threw in the meat & garlic. One thing I have learned from past cooking disasters: garlic burns really easy. And burnt garlic smells really bad. So I made sure to keep it moving around in the pan this time. Once the meat was browned I added the veggies. I didn't read that they needed to be thawed until we were already too hungry to wait for that to happen, so I added them in frozen. Didn't seem to be a problem although it did make the sauce a little runny. I also added the Worcestershire and pretty much just waited for the veggies to warm up. A few minutes later:
The verdict: Jess is down with the stir fry.

I have to say though, it was a little bland. I forgot that I wanted to try another Food Network trick (Giada maybe?) and use chicken broth instead of water to cook the rice to add a little more flavor. I added soy sauce to my rice and Ty used Siracha (asian hot sauce) and that helped. For next time though I think we'll use fresh veggies (this mix included water chestnuts which neither of us are fans of - I just Googled to find out what they are, Wikipedia says: a grass-like sedge grown for its edible corms - that is not a typo. I'm a firm believer in knowing what you're eating and if you are what you eat, I don't think I want to be a corm). We'll also try out the chicken broth/rice combo and maybe see if we can add some spices to the sauce. However, I think all together the meal was a success.

I'm on a roll here people, I'm unstoppable.

1 comment:

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