Beer Friday Appetizer: Stuffed Mushrooms

The best stuffed mushrooms I’ve had came from Falling Rock Tap House. They’re not usually the kind of thing I order off a new menu; too easily badly done. Done well, though, they’re delicious. Couldn’t tell you now what prompted me to order them there a couple years ago, but it seemed the right thing at the time.

I’ve never tried to make them before, so here’s my first crack at them. The recipe is based on this one.  Though the recipe doesn’t say so, it’s worth being ready to drain the pan of liquid–soggy mushrooms are no fun.

Happily, they were a hit.

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Steak Kabobs

I don’t recall eating kabobs much as a kid, but I’m sure I would have loved the idea of ramming a stick through my food. I’m guessing that my sister and I would have balked at the vegetables–I didn’t like onions, she didn’t like mushrooms. But kabobs seem the perfect way to satisfy each kid’s individual taste–here’s yours without onions, but lots of bell pepper; here’s yours without any mushrooms. Stop complaining. Go eat.

I’ve made this a dozen times or more and it’s pretty easy.  It probably takes a little longer than 30 minutes in total if you make the marinade, but you could definitely cut down the time to close to 30 minutes by buying pre-cut steak chunks and a pre-made marinade. Dinner was on the table 25 minutes after I got home from golf–mostly a function of how long it took the rice to cook.

Marinade Ingredients

  • 4 TBSP Soy Sauce
  • 2 TBSP Honey (I eyeball the soy and honey mix, I don’t think too much of either will hurt the flavor)
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • Lime juice
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 1″ piece of ginger, minced
  • 1 lb sirloin, cut into big chunks, maybe 2″

Marinade Directions

  1. Throw everything but the steak into a bowl and mix. The honey sticks a little, so a little stirring will get everything blended.
  2. Toss in the steak, coat.
  3. Cover, refrigerate, anywhere from no time to 24 hours (last night’s sat for 30 hours or so).

Kabob Ingredients

  • Green & red bell pepper
  • Red onion
  • Mushrooms
  • Tomatoes
  • Steak
  • Skewers
  • White rice
  • Soy sauce

Kabob Directions

  1. I suppose you’re “supposed” to soak wooden skewers for 30 minutes. I don’t usually–if they burn a little, it’ll be alright.
  2. Get the rice going. It usually takes a little longer than the kabobs, so get that started.
  3. Cut vegetables into 2″ pieces.
  4. Stab vegetables and steak chunks with sharpened wooden sticks. I probably have 8″ worth of food on a stick.
  5. Grill until the steak’s as done as you like.
  6. Serve over rice. Flavor with soy as necessary.

Yields 8 skewers, 3-4 servings.

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Asian-y Chicken

I often don’t think about what to make for dinner until it’s well into the afternoon and then I need to scramble to get it done. Usually, I realize too late that dinnertime is fast approaching and have to hustle to get things ready to eat at a reasonable hour.

I googled for easy chicken recipe and came across a couple of Chinese stir-fry dishes that caught my attention. This one, in particular, seemed pretty easy. After scanning the pantry for discrepancies between available and needed, I ran down to the UnSafeway for chicken, onion and peppers (and other stuff for marinating steak kabobs for another dinner…details tomorrow). I didn’t have white wine vinegar, but since I usually prefer to modify existing recipes, I didn’t bother getting everything on the recipe.

One of the problems I have is that I waste too much unprepared food, like green onions, half-used peppers, etc., and I’ll just toss them after a few days when they’re limp and useless.  Part of this project is to be better about using the ingredients I have on-hand, even if they’re not explicitly called for in a recipe. I figure it’ll be alright tossed in. And I don’t need 7 different flavored oils, the two (olive and peanut) I have handy should get any job done.

I probably could improve on last night’s dinner by adding in a little crushed red pepper and a little salt.  Not much, but just enough to add some kick.

Prep time: 15 minutes, cooking time 25 minutes.

Ingredients

  • Package of chicken breast tenders
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Peanut oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Chives (leftover from a previous dish)
  • Red bell pepper (I used ½ of one, figuring to use the other half in a different meal)
  • Soy sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • 3 green onions
  • Water chestnuts (a can happened to be lying in the cupboard)
  • White rice

Directions

  1. Start the rice.  I love having a rice cooker.  It’s easy—throw in a little water, salt, rice, press a button and presto, 20 minutes later, you have perfect rice. I try hard to avoid kitchen gadgetry, but if there’s one that I’ll compromise on, it’s that.  Nothing sucks the life out of a meal like badly done rice.  Since I don’t currently have a rice cooker, so my strategy is to throw in a small pat of butter with the rice on the stovetop, turn the heat up to medium-high and get it to boil before bringing the heat down to low (not the lowest setting, but 2-3 on my stovetop).
  2. I try to cut up the garlic & vegetables first, so that I don’t have to cut anything after I’ve been mucking around with raw chicken, and leave them aside.
  3. Cut the chicken into chunks.
  4. The original recipe called for 3 tablespoons of cornstarch.  I just eyeball it; I’m sure I went over 3 tablespoons.  Won’t matter.  Combine the cornstarch and chicken chunks in a bag, shake to coat.
  5. The original recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.  I love the way peanut oil tastes and smells while cooking, so I used that.  Again, eyeballing it, probably 3 tablespoons.  Heat the skillet with the oil.  I like it hot, but not sizzling.  Call it medium-high for a couple minutes.
  6. Toss in the minced garlic.  I like to let the garlic go a couple minutes soaking in the hot peanut oil.
  7. Toss in the coated chicken.  Let the chicken brown.  Stir, careful not to let the chicken burn until the chicken is browned and mostly done.
  8. Toss in some soy sauce (probably 4 tablespoons) and some rice vinegar (probably 3 tablespoons), again it won’t really matter because you can always add a little more.  The soy sauce gives the chicken a nice browned color.
  9. Toss in the chives, bell pepper, onions, and water chestnuts.  Stir.
  10. Hopefully the rice is done.  Serve the stir fry over rice.  Nom.
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Easy Fajitas

I loved fajitas as a kid.  My parents would occasionally treat us to a Mexican place in town and I would get all giddy at the sizzle of the cast-iron skillet on the table.  It wasn’t until I’d gotten well into adulthood that I ever got the idea to make them on my own.

Historically, I’d just get fajita spice packs at the grocery, but it’s not that hard to marinate some chicken in some olive oil, cumin, lemon juice, minced garlic, tabasco, salt and pepper for a few hours.

I had half a green bell pepper and onion sitting in a tupperware container in the fridge and went ahead and sliced them while the chicken soaked and returned the slices to the fridge, ready to go when I got back from ball practice.

They went into a lightly oiled skillet for a few minutes, and after a few minutes on the grill, the chicken tenders were nice and juicy.  I sliced them down to a more manageable size and threw them into the skillet, too.  All told, I think the prep and cooking took under 30 minutes.

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Beer Friday Appetizer: Marinated Mozzarella

I’d gone to a Beer Friday event some weeks ago and figured if the firm was providing the beer, I should bring something along.  That first week, I’d brought stuffed jalepenos; this week I brought easy to prepare marinated mozzarella.

Marinated Mozarella

The recipe is based on this one.  I’m not much of an exact recipe follower, so I added more sun-dried tomatoes than the recipe asked for and I added a pinch of sea salt (’cause who doesn’t like a little saltiness with their beers?)

Easy and quick to make–just enough time to throw it together and let it marinate in the fridge while I shower before the drinking unwinding begins.

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