Thai Stir Fried Beef and Vegetables with Coconut Rice

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When I literally have no time to make anything, I often make hamburgers.  Just season the ground meat, form it into patties, cook it on the grill, stick it in between two buns, add some cheese and condiments and voila! Dinner is served! A perfect easy meal.

But sometimes the perfect meal doesn’t fit into life’s social schedule. This weekend I was in a total dinner dilemma as we went to a barbecue the day before and were invited for another one the day after.  Not only was I sandwiched in between two hamburger events, but also had chicken burgers at a birthday party earlier in the day.

Then evening rolled around, the kids were starving, and I had to do something with the ground beef that was staring at me from the refrigerator.  I needed a non-burger solution.  I found this Thai inspired beef dish online and it really hit the spot. I would not say this is an authentic Thai recipe, but it is easy, fast, delicious and does not resemble a hamburger…a perfect easy meal!

Thai Stir Fried Beef and Vegetables with Coconut Rice

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INGREDIENTS:

1 1/4 cups jasmine rice or basmati rice

1 can (14.1 ounces/ 400ml) coconut milk

Coarse salt

2 tablespoons fish sauce (can use less, to taste)

2 tablespoons soy sauce (can use less, to taste)

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 garlic cloves, chopped

3 cups broccoli, chopped in small florets

1 red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 thai red chili or 1 jalepeno pepper, deseeded and chopped (Optional – Can omit chili if don’t want to be spicy, or just use less chili, or add a few red pepper flakes instead).

1 pound  or 500g ground beef sirloin

1 cup loosely packed torn fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon chopped frozen basil leaves

Lime wedges, for serving

PREPARATION:

1.  In a medium saucepan, combine rice, coconut milk, 3/4 cup water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed, about 25 minutes.

2.  While rice is cooking, combine fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl.  Set soy mixture aside.

3.  Heat a cast-iron skillet or wok over high. Add oil, and garlic and chilis (if using). Cook, stirring constantly until garlic softened (about a minute).  Add veggies and cook for a few minutes.  Remove vegetables and set aside.

4. In same pan, add beef and cook until completely browned. Add soy mixture and cook 30 seconds. Add basil and veggies  and cook for a couple minutes, stirring to combine.  Check for seasoning. Serve beef over coconut rice with lime wedges. Tastes yummy with some fresh lime squeezed on top. (I didn’t have limes on hand so used lemon and that works too).

Pantry Diva Logo1PANTRY DIVA TIP: You can use ground chicken, turkey, or pork in this recipe.  Also feel free to add other spices or seasonings…ginger, onion, etc.

You can add any vegetables you have on hand.  Good way to clean out the veggie drawer in the fridge!  Also, I have noticed that if I am making this for kids, the smaller I chop the veggies the better.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s Thai Beef with Chilis and Basil over Coconut Rice. See original recipe here.

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Spiced Roasted Chicken with Garbanzo Beans and Cherry Tomatoes with Yoghurt Sauce

Have you ever noticed how certain things can trigger different emotions? Maybe you have an outfit that makes you feel amazing so you can walk into a meeting with confidence and authority. Or perhaps you hear an old song on the radio and it brings back fond memories of your first school dance. For me, all my emotions revolve around food. If I’m happy, I eat, if I’m sad, I eat. Even if I’m happy for someone, I make something and go eat with them.  

I have a recipe that brings me utter joy, and a recipe everyone will thank me for. It is a recipe that will save you on a weekday when you don’t have time to cook. It is a recipe that you can cook and take to a potluck or bring to a friend. It is a recipe that the whole family will enjoy.  It is delicious, nutritious and has minimal preparation and cook time. I will not say much more about this recipe but will only relay my emotions about it:  I feel  love that I have found it, joy when eating it, and now happiness that I can pass it along.

Spiced Roasted Chicken with Garbanzo Beans and Cherry Tomatoes with Yoghurt Sauce



Inspired by a recipe from Epicurious

INGREDIENTS:
3-4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1-2 teaspoon ground cumin
cayenne powder to taste
½-1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup lowfat plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
4 chicken breast halves with bones or 12 drumsticks (I like to use drumsticks because easier for kids to grab and eat)
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1 12-ounce container cherry tomatoes
1 cup chopped fresh coriander, divided
Cous Cous, Rice, or Pita to serve with, if desired

PREPARATION:
1. Preheat oven to 450°. Put olive oil, garlic, cumin, paprika, cayenne and salt in large bowl and mix. Place chicken inside bowl and mix so it is covered with the mixture. Take out spice covered chicken and place in  roasting tray.
2. Pour chickpeas in same large bowl chicken was in. Put ½ cup coriander in as well and mix around. There should still be a bit of spice inside the bowl to coat the chickpeas. Pour the chickpeas over the chicken in the roasting pan.
3. Put the tomatoes on the chicken and chickpeas in the roasting pan and put in oven at 450F for 30 minutes or until done.
4. While chicken is in oven, put yoghurt in a small bowl and add a ½ – 1 teaspoon of cumin, and cayenne and salt to taste. Add water to thin yogurt to desired consistency. Set aside.
5. If desired, make rice or cous cous or salad to serve with chicken.
6. Take chicken out of oven when done, and sprinkle with remaining coriander. Serve with rice or cous cous or pita and yogurt sauce.

Fluffy Pancakes

I was invited to my friend’s place for dinner the other day. She doesn’t have kids. She had made enchiladas and I was looking forward to having a leisurely meal without having to worry about flying cutlery or airborne cheese. But I soon realized that certain meal time behaviors had been ingrained in me even though my little ones weren’t there.
I was the first one served, and milliseconds after the first enchilada hit my plate I wolfed the whole thing down, still standing, chewing just long enough so it wouldn’t get lodged in my throat as I quickly swallowed each bite. After a few seconds I looked up to see my friends staring at me in horror.  I wanted to explain to them that I am not this ravenous unmannered ingrate that can’t wait for everyone else to be served before I start eating. I was searching for the words to convey the feeling of never knowing when my one year old will start launching his cheerios off the high chair, or when my 3 year old will finish eating peanut butter with his fingers and then run straight for the white couch.  For these reasons I am often standing alert and ready while eating at the dining table waiting for the next food “attack”. But my friends are not yet parents and they would not understand. So instead, I took another helping and ate very very slowly to overcompensate for my previous gorging and hoped they noticed my flawless fork and knife technique.
I’m not saying every meal I have with my kids is crazy. But there have been enough episodes that have kept me on my toes. So if you are having one of those challenging days, I found the perfect pancake recipe that is really easy and quick to make. More importantly, it has the added bonus of stacking each piece on top of each other which gives the dish added height just in case you have to stand up and eat. 
Fluffy Pancakes


INGREDIENTS:
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
cooking spray
PREPARATION:
1. Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to “sour”.

2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into “soured” milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
(The batter will initially be separated and bubbly, just keep stirring. It will also be pretty thick. This is fine, do NOT add more milk or anything to thin it out.)

3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.

Serve with syrup, fresh berries and whip cream, or a fresh fruit puree. 

Easy Broccoli and Spinach Quiche

There is a PQ near my son’s nursery and we often go there for lunch after I pick him up. We have our own little ritual. As we walk in, the negotiations immediately begin.  Rayan wants to eat either a chocolate tart or éclair for lunch. I then attempt to talk him down to something with a bit more nutritional value such as a croissant or blueberry muffin. We then come to a deadlock which is broken by Rayan screaming “Mommmmyyy Peepeeeeee” and then running through the café to the bathroom. Aadam also likes to chime in at this point with a little screech of his own.  

The good thing about the bathroom break is that it serves as a distraction, and I can sneak in my order of a healthier lunch option. Today I ordered the salmon and spinach quiche du jour, and quickly found some seats outside so the eating (flinging) of food could commence.  The quiche was light and fluffly and amazingly more ended up in my kids’ mouths than on the floor. We were soon finished and a small team of waiters was dispatched to clean our table and its surroundings. As waiter no. 1 was removing my plate she said, “Madame tomorrow we are starting our new kids menu.” Waiters nos. 2 and 3 quickly shot her a sharp glance and she knew she had said too much. The last thing they wanted was to give us any more incentive to frequent their restaurant. But luckily for everyone, I have a quiche recipe that is easy to make at home. My kids love it, so I foresee more quiche at home and less at PQ. Although I do love their lemon tart so I cannot stop going there altogether…
Easy Broccoli and Spinach Quiche


INGREDIENTS:
Puff pastry sheet ** OR make own quiche crust. Recipe below.
3 eggs
¾ cup heavy cream
¾ cup whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon oregano
1 large red onion
¾ cup grated emmental (or any cheese you prefer)
1 -2 cloves garlic
1 ½  cup cooked broccoli
½ cup cooked frozen spinach, thawed and drained

PREPARATION:
1.  Roll out puff pastry to line round 9” tin up about 1 ½ inches on sides.

2.  Pulse onion in food processor and add on puff pastry.

3. Pulse broccoli, spinach, and garlic in food processor. Add in oregano, generous amount of fresh pepper and salt to taste (about ¼ tsp salt). Mix well.

4. Layer vegetable mixture on top of onion.

5.  Layer ½ cup cheese on top of vegetable mixture.

6.  In separate bowl mix eggs, milk, cream, and some salt and pepper with electric mixer. Add on top of other items in pan.

7. Top with remaining ¼ cup cheese.

8. Bake in oven at 350F (180C) for 50 minutes. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before cutting.


**Just found a recipe here for a homemade quiche crust. See below:


Homemade Quiche Crust


Ingredients:

  • cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup ice water (I use refrigerated water)

  • Preparation:
  • 1. Mix flour and salt with fork.
  • 2. Beat oil and water with whisk or fork to thicken.
  • 3. Pour into flour and mix with fork.
  • 4. Press into 9″ pie crust.
  • 5. Fill with quiche mixture and bake at 400F until done.