Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pepper Steak

The mother of a former sweetheart of mine used to boil her steak, regardless of the cut, until it was grey, slice it and serve it. It was chewy and unappealing.  I grew up in a household where steak was fried.  The first time I ever had a roast beef, I was 18.  I can still remember my husband and I taking my mother and two younger brothers out to dinner in a nice middle class restaurant.  My oldest brother saw roast beef on the menu and his eyes lit up; roast beef sounded so fancy.  He proudly placed his order and when the waitress asked him how he'd like it done, he stumbled, looking confused and abashed,  and said, "Fried, I guess." 

I needed a recipe for beef tips and when I found this recipe I was prepared not to like this, mostly because of the way the beef is prepared ...simmered  until tender, even if it was with other delicious flavors.   However, I needed something quick and easy, something a little different than I normally serve, with items I had on hand.  Gosh, this was good.  Ole Sweetie-Pi, the beef lover, gave it two hearty thumbs up.

This is a good recipe if you're trying to cut back on meat.  With one pound of beef, you can serve four people. You're going to have to like the flavor of green peppers, though.  It's a predominate flavor along with the stewed tomatoes.  The recipe calls for cutting the peppers into rings, which makes for a nice presentation, but not so easy to eat. I'd be inclined to save a couple of rings for decorative purposes and cut the peppers into large chunks.  Same with the stewed tomatoes.  I threw the can in whole, but next time will cut the tomatoes into at least halves if not fourths.

Leftovers were very good.  The noddles had a chance to absorb some of the broth and I think I liked this even more the second day.

Pepper Steak with Stewed Tomatoes

1 pound sirloin tips cut in serving-sized pieces
2 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, diced finely
1 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
1 cup beef broth
1 14.5 ounce can stewed tomatoes, tomatoes broken up
1 large green bell pepper, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
pinch sugar

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium low heat.  Add the beef and brown, about 15 minutes.  Add the onion and garlic and season with the salt and pepper.  Add beef broth to the meat and cover and simmer over low heat, about 25 minutes, or until meat is tender.  Add the tomatoes and green pepper; cook 10 minutes longer. 

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the cornstarch, water, and soy sauce.  Stir well to make a slurry.  Add to the meat mixture, stirring constantly, about five minutes to thicken the sauce.  Add a pinch of sugar if desired.  Adjust seasoning.

If sauce is too thick for your liking, add a small splash of water and stir.  If it's not thick enough, make another batch of slurry (just water and cornstarch) and add in small amounts, allowing it to cook in between before adding more  to determine how thick the sauce is going to be. 


Monday, April 16, 2012

Strawberry-Banana Trifle

 I wasn't going to post this, but Ole Sweetie-Pi kept yammering at me until I agreed to put this on the blog, smiles.  This is a dessert I've made for 30 years or more, and don't even have a handwritten recipe for it.  It's one of those easy, delicious, beautiful, make-ahead desserts that you can make without a lick of baking, or if you have the time and inclination, to make as much from-scratch as you wish.  I can't tell you how many times I've made this over the years, and it's still a favorite.  No trifle bowl?  No problem!  Fits nicely into a large pie plate.

Sweetie-Pi ate almost the entire pie-panful by himself!! recipe...just a how to. 

Strawberry-Banana Trifle

One loaf pound cake, cut into an even number of slices
Strawberry jam
A bit of sherry (the kind you drink, not cooking sherry!)
3-4 bananas sliced
Vanilla pudding (two boxes prepared according to directions on box)
A pint of strawberries, rinsed, dried, sliced
Whipped topping

Make "sandwiches" wth the sliced pound cake and strawberry jam and line the bottom and sides of your pie plate with the sandwiches, cutting to fit as needed.  Doesn't have to be beautiful or perfect.

Sprinkle with the sherry.  Go careful or you can add too much and the sherry will overpower all other flavors.  Probably 3-4 tablespoons in total is more than enough.  I would urge you not to forgo the sherry.  It imparts a wonderful flavor and really is one of the ingredients that really makes this trifle.

Spread half of the vanilla pudding over the jam-pound cake sandwiches.

Scatter the sliced bananas over the pudding.

Spread the remaining half of the vanilla pudding over the bananas.

Add sliced strawberries.

If you have it, any extra vanilla can  be spead it over the strawberries, helps to keep the strawberries encased for longer freshness, otherwise it's not necessary.

Cover with plastic wrap and allow flavors to develop for several hours.  Serve with whipped topping of choice.

UMMM-ummm good! 

Monday, April 2, 2012

(Not Key) Lime Pie

Oh boy, if you love the tang of lime, this pie is for you.  Gosh this is good.  Neither Ole Sweetie-Pi nor I could stop taking slivers of this luscious pie even after we had a whole piece to ourselves.  The first thing to hit the taste buds was the tang of the lime and then the sweet of the sweetened condensed milk and then the tang of the lime again.  My mouth waters at the thought of this.  And yes, I ate a piece of it for breakfast the next morning, grins.

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? As you can see, this makes a thin pie; I suppose it's to allow plenty of room for mountains of optional meringue (which I don't eat) or whipped cream.  When I saw how thin the pie was I was a tad disappointed but when I tasted it, the big lime flavor and aroma more than compensated.  I would not be tempted to double the filling as I think it would be overwhelming, but use your best judgment.  The recipe calls for a 9-inch pie plate; perhaps you'd prefer to use an 8-inch to make a pie with a thicker filling.

The ingredients are so simple and so few.  This is one pie we'll be enjoying often!

(Not Key) Lime Pie

4 eggs, separated
1 rounded tablespoon grated lime zest (about 2 limes)
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk, which is a different product entirely)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

one recipe graham cracker crust, premade or your favorite recipe or try the one below

Preheat oven to 325*F.

Rinse your limes under cold water and dry before using. 

In a medium sized bowl, sseparate the four eggs, (the whites from the yolks and reserve the whites for another use). Whisk the egg yolks and lime zest together in a bowl for about 2 minutes or until the yolks turn a light greenish yellow color. There will be bits of lime zest in the whisked mixture.  Whisk in the sweetened condensed milk and then add the lime juice. Whisk to combine and set aside.  Allow to sit for about five minutes or until the filling thickens ~ the whisk will leave a trail in the filling when pulled through the filling.  Pour the filling into the prepared graham cracker crust and spread evenly.

Bake  in your preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until almost completely set.  The filling should still be a bit wobbly when the pan is jiggled.  Cool to room temperature on a wire rack and then completely chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before slicing and serving.

Graham Cracker Crust

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 1 1/2 packets of graham crackers)
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350*F

Put the crumbs in a small bowl and stir in the sugar.  Pour the melted butter over the crumbs and mix thoroughly.  With your impeccably clean hands, press and pat the mixture evenly into a 9-inch pie plate. 

Bake the empty crust for 8 to 10 minutes or until a dark golden brown.  The crust will continue to harden as it cools.  Cool the crust on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before filling.  You can make the crust up to a day ahead of time; just store it in the refrigerator.

MY NOTES:  I like whipped cream with my lime pie.  I had a little lime zest left over and just added a bit to the whipped cream.  YUM!  Lots of lime flavor.

I use the back of a teaspoon to smooth and thin the amount of graham cracker in the curve of the pie plate~you know where the bottom edge of the pie meets the "floor" of the pie.  Sometimes the crust can become pretty thick there.