Tag Archives: pork

Create-Your-Own Stir Fry

Chicken Stir Fry 3

Today’s post comes to you courtesy of Little J.

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For a class assignment, Little J had to make a Family Favorite Recipe all on her own. This included planning, shopping, cooking and clean-up. This is my very favorite type of homework assignment! She chose to make a chicken stir-fry. Definitely one of her favorite meals.

My favorite thing about stir-fries is how adaptable they are to whatever you can find in your freezer and produce drawer. Little J chose to use chicken, fresh green beans, celery, carrots and onion in her stir-fry.

The recipe below is for a basic stir-fry that you can customize to your family’s taste. I also included Little J’s customization.

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I look forward to more amazing creations from this amazing daughter!

RECIPE:

Chicken Stir Fry 3

Create-Your-Own Stir Fry

1-2 lb thinly sliced chicken breasts OR thinly sliced beef (flank steak, skirt steak, or leftover roast beef) OR thinly sliced pork tenderloin

3-4 cups chopped fresh vegetables (onions, broccoli, green beans, carrots, celery, mushrooms, pea pods, asparagus, cabbage, red or green peppers, green onion—whatever is in the fridge!)

2-3 Tbs oil

Sauce:
½ cup chicken broth
¼ cup soy sauce
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs rice wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp chili paste
2 tsp sesame oil

Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Stir until cornstarch and honey are completely dissolved. Place sliced meat in a Ziploc bag and add ¼ cup of the sauce to the bag with the meat. Close bag and set aside.

Heat 1 Tbs oil in a large skillet or wok. Sauté vegetables over high heat until crisp- tender. Work in small batches, removing vegetables from the pan when they are cooked (add additional oil if needed). Place cooked vegetables in serving dish.

Add 1 Tbs oil to pan; heat until hot. Add meat to pan and cook over high heat until meat is cooked through (about 5 minutes). Reduce heat to medium-low and add sauce to pan. Cook until sauce thickens (2-3 mins). Stir in cooked vegetables. Cook 1 minute to heat through.

Serve over rice.

Makes 6 servings.

 

Little J’s Chicken Stir-Fry

4 boneless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
2 cups fresh French green beans, cut into 1-2” pieces
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
2-3 Tbs olive oil
Hot cooked rice

Sauce:
½ cup chicken broth
¼ cup soy sauce
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs rice wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp chili paste
2 tsp sesame oil

Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Stir until cornstarch and honey are completely dissolved. Place sliced chicken breasts in a Ziploc bag and add ¼ cup of the sauce to the bag with the chicken. Close bag and set aside.

Heat 1 Tbs oil in a large skillet or wok. Sauté vegetables over high heat until crisp- tender. Work in small batches, removing vegetables from the pan when they are cooked (add additional oil if needed). Place cooked vegetables in serving dish.

Add 1 Tbs oil to pan; heat until hot. Add chicken to pan and cook over high heat until chicken is cooked through (about 5 minutes). Reduce heat to medium-low and add sauce to pan. Cook until sauce thickens (2-3 mins). Stir in cooked vegetables. Cook 1 minute to heat through.

Serve over rice.

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Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peanut Sauce

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peanut Sauce

It might not be traditional American Labor Day BBQ food, but it is a favorite around here. If there is soy sauce involved, my kids will always eat it. Add some peanut butter, and Little J is in heaven!

I like to serve this with either grilled zucchini or asparagus. Set aside a little bit of the marinade before you add it to the pork and use it to marinate your vegetables for about half an hour before grilling.

Pork tenderloins almost always come two in a package at the store. Our family at home keeps shrinking, so now I usually divide the marinade in half and freeze one tenderloin in the marinade to cook another day. This also makes a good freezer meal to prepare ahead of time and have on hand for busy days.

RECIPE:

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peanut Sauce

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peanut Sauce

2 (1-2 lb each) unseasoned pork tenderloins (usually sold 2 per package)
Optional: vegetables to grill: zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus
Hot cooked rice

Marinade:
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs olive oil or peanut oil
2 Tbs honey
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp chili paste
1 tsp lemon pepper

Peanut Dipping Sauce:
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup water
2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
1 Tbs toasted sesame oil
2 Tbs honey
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chili paste
½ tsp lemon pepper
½ cup natural creamy peanut butter

Place pork tenderloins in a Ziploc bag. (**See note below if planning to freeze one or both)

Combine Marinade ingredients. If you will be grilling vegetables as well, set aside ¼ cup of the marinade. Add remaining marinade to the bag with the pork tenderloins. Place the meat in the refrigerator and marinate for 4-6 hours (up to several days). Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.

Slice squash lengthwise (or trim asparagus ends) and place in a Ziploc bag with reserved marinade for about 30 minutes.

In a Pyrex measuring cup, combine all of the Peanut Dipping Sauce ingredients except for the peanut butter. Heat in the microwave for 45 seconds. Stir in peanut butter. Add additional water if the sauce is too thick or too strong. Heat for an additional 30 seconds, just before serving.

Prepare and oil grill. If you are using a gas grill, leave one burner of the grill unlit so that you can cook the tenderloin with indirect heat (so it doesn’t burn).  Remove the tenderloin from the marinade and place on the unlit side of the grill. Close grill cover. Grill the tenderloin for about 5 minutes per side (4 sides) until the internal temperature registers 145-150°F in the center. Remove from grill and let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

While meat rests, grill the marinated vegetables over direct heat for about 3 minutes per side.

Slice pork diagonally into ½ – 1” slices. Serve the pork and grilled vegetables with peanut sauce and hot steamed rice.

**FREEZER NOTE: If you do not plan to eat both tenderloins (or just want to prepare a freezer meal ahead of time), place tenderloins in separate freezer bags and add half of the marinade to each bag and place in the freezer until ready to cook. The peanut sauce can also be prepared ahead and frozen. Thaw completely in the refrigerator before cooking. Do not freeze raw vegetables.

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Szechuan Beans

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Szechuan Beans are one of my favorite dishes at Chinese restaurants. Often at restaurants, they are made with Chinese long beans. When I make them at home, I use the skinny French filet beans.

These beans are slightly spicy, flavored with Szechuan peppercorns, a good dose of garlic, ginger and chili paste. Szechuan peppercorns are actually less spicy than regular black pepper or chili peppers. They have a slightly lemony taste and leave your tongue with an interesting tingly, slightly numb sensation.

Szechuan Peppercorns

Szechuan Peppercorns

I buy whole Szechuan peppercorns from Penzeys. If I am grinding a large quantity of the peppercorns, I use a mini electric coffee grinder. For times when I only need a small amount of ground peppercorn, I have a separate peppermill (the wooden kind you turn by hand) that I keep full of these peppercorns. Don’t use your regular black peppercorn mill to grind the Szechuan peppercorns and then refill with the black ones. As straight Szechuan peppercorns can leave your tongue feeling numb, your kids might not appreciate that sensation when they are expecting regular pepper.

I like to include a small amount of ground pork when I make these beans, but you could leave that out for a vegetarian dish.

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RECIPE:

Szechuan Beans 3

Szechuan Beans

1 Tbs oil
¼ lb ground pork
4 green onions, chopped
1 Tbs minced garlic
2 tsp chopped fresh ginger
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp ground chili paste (use more for spicier beans)
1 tsp honey
½ tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns
1 lb Chinese long beans or French filet beans, ends trimmed

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground pork, green onions, garlic and ginger. Cook until pork is cooked through.

Add soy sauce, chili paste, honey and ground peppercorns to skillet. Stir to mix, then add green beans to skillet. Cook for 2 minutes. Add 3 Tbs water to the skillet and cover with a lid. Cook beans for about 3 minutes, or until beans are not quite done.

Remove lid and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and beans are crisp-tender. Do not overcook beans. Serve immediately.

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Greek Pork with Tzatziki in Pitas

Sometimes I think that I should be a paid spokesman for Ziploc. More often than not, dinner at my house either starts in a Ziploc bag full of marinade, or ends up in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.

I am not a fan of bland meat. Honestly, I prefer my meat to taste like something other than meat (except for the occasional really good-quality steak, and even then I tend to be a heavy seasoner). Which is probably why I lean towards Asian cooking so often. Soy sauce, ginger and garlic are a great cure for flavorless chicken breasts.

This dinner is not at all Asian, but does start in a Ziploc bag full of strong flavors. Mediterranean cooking is also one of my favorite styles, with heavy use of olive oil, vinegar, oregano, feta cheese. No wimpy flavors here!

These filled pita pockets can be made with chicken or pork, but I prefer pork-either a pork tenderloin or a pork loin. The loin is a little tougher cut of meat, but if you leave it in the marinade long enough (overnight, at least), it will be tender when cooked. The sautéed pork is combined with peppers, onions, feta cheese and tzatziki and can be served in pita bread pockets or on a bed of lettuce for great salad.

RECIPE:

Greek Pork with Tzatziki in Pitas

2-3 lb boneless pork loin or pork tenderloin, cubed
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbs chopped fresh oregano (or 1 Tbs dried)
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp ground cayenne red pepper

1 sliced Onion and 1 sliced Red Pepper
————— (or 1 bag frozen onions/peppers)
Pita Bread
Feta Cheese, crumbled
Tzatziki

Combine cubed pork with marinade ingredients (next 10 ingredients) in a Ziploc bag. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Drain pork in a colander. Sauté in a large skillet for 5 minutes; drain any excess liquid. Cook 10 minutes longer, or until pork is cooked through and nicely brown. Add peppers and onions to skillet; cook until tender.

Serve pork in pita bread halves with feta cheese and tzatziki.

OPTIONAL SERVING VARIATION: Serve cooked pork, onions and peppers on a bed of Romaine lettuce, topped with the tzatziki and feta cheese.

—–

Tzatziki

1 32-oz container plain yogurt (not nonfat) **
½ of a large seedless cucumber
salt
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs lemon juice
4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dill
Dash white pepper

Line a colander with cheesecloth (or a coffee filter) and place over a bowl. Strain yogurt in cheesecloth in refrigerator for several hours (or overnight) until very thick. Grate cucumber (unpeeled), sprinkle with salt and drain in colander until most of the liquid is removed. Combine yogurt and cucumber with remaining ingredients. Add additional salt (usually about ½ tsp) to taste. Refrigerate several hours to blend flavors.

**You can substitute Greek Yogurt (about 16 oz) for the regular yogurt, and skip the straining process

 

While you can always use pre-made, tomorrow I will share my recipe for homemade pita bread. They really make a huge difference, and are not difficult to make.

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Crock Pot Thai Pork Wraps

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As we head into kids’ spring sports seasons, crock-pot meals make a more frequent appearance in our house. I especially like this one in the spring and summer, because it is not a heavy meal like many crock pot meals tend to be.

Cooked and shredded pork in a slightly spicy peanut sauce, topped with crisp, cool cucumber slices and lettuce. Sprinkle with some chopped peanuts and an Asian dressing, and roll the whole thing up in a tortilla (or use whole lettuce leaves for a twist on the traditional lettuce wrap).

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You can use either pork tenderloins or a cheaper pork loin. After cooking in the crock pot all day, both will turn out super tender. Simply put the pork in your crock pot. Combine sauce ingredients (except peanut butter) and pour over pork. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until pork is tender enough to shred.

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Remove the pork roast from the crock pot and shred with forks. Stir some peanut butter (either creamy or chunky) into the sauce in the crock pot. Return pork to crock pot and mix into sauce. Stir in some Thai basil (cilantro also adds a nice flavor, if you don’t have Thai basil).

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I grew Thai basil in our garden last year and loved it! I brought some inside in the fall and have been trying to nurture it along during the winter. I am excited to plant outside again soon!

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DSC02840-1I serve this in warmed tortillas with lettuce, chopped peanuts, sliced cucumbers and an Asian dressing (which is completely optional; the wraps are flavorful enough that you don’t need additional dressing, but the slightly sour vinegar taste does add a nice flavor).

For the cucumber, I use a seedless cucumber and slice it into wide julienned strips. Peel and slice cucumber in half crosswise (giving you 2 cylinders). Cut in half again lengthwise. Slice each piece lengthwise into very thin strips (they should resemble long rectangles, not half-circles).

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This in our favorite Asian dressing. It is found in the supermarket in the produce section by the sushi. You could also use any Asian ginger or sesame/tahini based dressing, as well.

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The flavorful, tender pork topped by the crunchy peanuts and cool, crisp cucumbers and lettuce make for a great texture combination. And the convenience of preparing it early in the day is definitely a plus on hectic weeknights.

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RECIPE:

Crock Pot Thai Pork Wraps

2-3 lb pork loin roast (or pork tenderloins)
¼ cup soy sauce
2 Tbs lemon juice
3 Tbs brown sugar
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ cup peanut butter
2-3 Tbs chopped fresh Thai basil or cilantro

Tortillas (or use iceberg/Bibb lettuce for lettuce wraps)
Chopped lettuce
Julienned cucumbers
Finely chopped peanuts
Asian dressing (we like the Miso flavored dressing, found in the produce section by the sushi in our grocery store, but any ginger or sesame/tahini based dressing would be good)

Place pork roast in crock pot. Combine soy sauce, lemon juice, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Pour over roast. Cook on low for about 6-8 hours (about half that on high). Remove pork and skim excess fat. Stir in peanut butter. Shred pork and return to crock pot. Turn crock pot to high and cook for 5-10 minutes uncovered (longer if pork is too liquidy). Stir in Thai basil or cilantro just before serving.

Chop lettuce. Finely chop peanuts. Julienne cucumbers: Peel and slice cucumber in half crosswise (giving you 2 cylinders). Cut in half again lengthwise. Slice each piece lengthwise into very thin strips (they should resemble long rectangles, not half-circles).

To serve: Place pork in tortillas. Top with lettuce, cucumbers, peanuts and dressing.

**These are also good eaten as lettuce wraps; just use iceberg or Bibb lettuce instead of tortillas.

 

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Sweet & Sour Pork Stir-Fry

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Tonight was one of those “Oh no, what I am going to make for dinner tonight!?” nights.  You would think that after 20 years of marriage, dinnertime would not come as such a shock to me. But, alas, sometimes it does. I try to be organized and have a list of meals and available ingredients so that dinner preparation is a little easier. However, there are many a night when 5 o’clock rolls around and I have yet to even consider what we are going to eat for dinner. When those nights happen, one of my favorite fall-back recipes is a stir-fry. I can usually scrounge up enough ingredients, fresh or frozen, to pull something together in a fairly short amount of time.

Tonight, the meat of choice was pork. I had a nice pork tenderloin in the freezer that would not take too long to thaw in the microwave. Vegetables included fresh onions, carrots and celery, frozen broccoli (I wish it had been fresh, but it still worked out fine) and a can of water chestnuts. The sauce: sweet & sour (not too sweet, however: I do not enjoy overly sweet stir-frys).

If you are tackling this last minute like me, put the pork in the microwave to thaw and start chopping vegetables. Put the yellow onions, carrots and celery in a bowl, and have your water chestnuts and broccoli handy. If you have green onions, place these in a separate small bowl. They are added at the very end.

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Stir together sauce ingredients and set aside.

When the pork is thaw, cut it into bite-sized thin strips. Once everything is chopped, it is time to start cooking. Don’t try to cook and chop at the same time when making a stir-fry. It is easy to overcook the vegetables and end up with a really soggy stir-fry. It is worth the small wait to have all of your ingredients cut before you start cooking.

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Heat 1 Tbs peanut or coconut oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add yellow onions, carrots and celery. If you have fresh broccoli, add it now too. Or any other fresh vegetable you have with a slightly longer cooking time: like red or green peppers, mushrooms, green beans, Chinese cabbage. Wait until later to add quick-cooking vegetables like green onions, snow peas. When vegetables are crisp-tender, remove them from the wok and place them in a bowl.

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Add one additional tablespoon of oil to the wok and add your pork. Stir-fry on high heat until pork is cooked through and begins to brown.

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Pork tenderloin is often a high water content meat, so if you have a large amount of liquid in the bottom of your pan, drain it off. You want to stir-fry the meat, not boil it.

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When meat is cooked through, add the sauce with any frozen vegetables you are using and cook 3-4 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken and vegetables are crisp-tender. Return onion/celery mixture to pan along with water chestnuts and green onions (and any other quick-cooking vegetable you are using). Heat through.

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Serve with white or brown rice.

RECIPE:

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Sweet & Sour Pork Stir-Fry

2 Tbs oil (peanut or coconut), divided
2 lb pork tenderloin, cut into thin strips
1 red or green pepper, diced (I used broccoli instead this time)
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1 can water chestnuts, drained
1 bunch green onions, cut into 1″ slices

Sauce:
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup rice vinegar (unsweetened)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbs toasted sesame oil
1/2 Tbs minced garlic
1 Tbs sugar or agave nectar
1 Tbs cornstarch

Combine sauce ingredients; set aside. Chop vegetables and pork. Heat 1 Tbs oil in wok or skillet. Add vegetables (except water chestnuts and green onion); cook until crisp-tender. Remove from pan. Add additional 1 Tbs oil to pan. Add pork and cook until pork begins to brown. Add sauce to pan and cook 2-3 minutes, until slightly thickened. Stir in cooked vegetables, water chestnuts and green onions. Heat through. Serve with white or brown rice.

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