Stir It Up! Fast and Easy Stir-Fry Cooking


On busy days, it’s often more than a little tempting to get an expensive drive-thru dinner just because the ingredients you have at home will take too long to make into a meal. But I’ve found that if I keep ingredients handy in the pantry and refrigerator for simple meal prep, I can have dinner on the table in a flash – and protect my pocketbook from that ravenous Fast Food Monster at the same time!

One of my favorite quick fix meal preparation methods is stir-frying. Including the prep time of chopping up meats and veggies, I can usually have a meal on the table from start to finish in about 15-20 minutes. It’s just a simple process where you rapidly cook meat and vegetables in a small amount of oil. The process is similar to sauteing, except you use less oil, hotter temperatures, and usually a wok. I do most of my stir-frying in my large heavy skillet on the stove-top because I don’t have enough storage in my kitchen to keep my wok handy. I’m usually just too lazy on a hectic day to walk to the cupboard down the hall to grab the wok.

You can find basic stir-fry instructions in almost any good general cookbook or browse through books at the library on Asian cooking. With a quick search online, you’ll discover that the Internet’s full of great recipes – and all for free! Don’t you just love that price? It warms my little frugal heart.

Here are few simple tips to keep in mind when you pull out your first wok recipe:

  1. You want the oil in your wok or frying pan hot enough that it’s slightly smoking, otherwise the stir-frying will be too slow and your vegetables will be limp.
  2. Cut your ingredients into thin, bite-sized pieces so they’ll cook evenly and quickly.
  3. It’s helpful to choose vegetables and meats that will all cook at about the same speed, otherwise you have to keep track of when to add the different ingredients so everything’s cooked, but nothing’s overcooked.
  4. Cook the meat first, remove from the pan, and then cook the vegetables. Add the meat back into the pan at the end of cooking. This keeps the flavors distinct and separate, and also keeps the meat from overcooking.
  5. If you have ingredients that need to be added at different times in the cooking process, chop them up ahead of time and put them onto separate plates. Then you can just pick up the plate and dump the contents directly into the wok or frying pan as needed.
  6. When stir-frying, you want everything chopped and prepped in advance because you can’t stop stir-frying partway through the process to cut up vegetables or slice meat.
  7. Once you start cooking, keep stirring and tossing constantly or things will burn or cook unevenly.
  8. Fresh vegetables are wonderful in stir-fry meals, so when your summer garden really starts producing, you’re in the middle of stir-fry days.

To make stir-frying easy as can be, you’ll want to keep stocked up on some pantry staples. Keep watch for the following items when they go on sale – then you’ll be ready to stir-fry at a moment’s notice: fresh garlic, crushed red pepper, sesame seeds, red chili paste, fresh ginger, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, chopped peanuts and cashews, Chinese spice blend, sesame oil, peanut oil, soy sauce, Teriyaki sauce, rice vinegar, beef broth, cooking sherry, cornstarch, rice, and Asian noodles.

Happy fast-and-easy cooking, everyone!

~Debi


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A Simple Christmas Workshop

cinnamon ornamentsA couple of years ago, I put together a short online workshop on how to simplify your holiday celebrations.  I thought for those of you who may have missed it, you might want the opportunity to work your way through the simple thoughtful practices.

You can find Day One at the following link:

A Simple Christmas Workshop – Day One

I hope you find these exercises helpful.

~Debi

Funding a Frugal Holiday Season

santa-piggy-bank

With the holiday season upon us, we often hear the familiar refrains of our favorite Christmas carols and seasonal music. But too many of us tend to sing different words to the familiar tune of Jingle Bells: Continue reading

Christmas Tree Poll

Use-It-Up Quiche (a great way to use up leftovers!)

Basic “Use-It-Up” Quiche Recipe
(6 servings)

You can use almost any leftover vegetable or meat in this recipe. If you have eggs, milk, rice and cheese, you can practically clean out your fridge right into your quiche pan. I always add the cheese last when making this quiche. The cheese makes a beautiful mellow-brown crust on the top. I usually add a bit of chopped onion to my quiches for flavor, and broccoli makes an especially nice vegetable quiche.  And it’s gluten-free, too!

Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rice, cooked (white or brown)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp soy sauce

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb any leftover vegetable or meat, chopped (single vegetable or a mix)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, or light cream
  • 1 cup cheese, grated (your choice: Swiss, Cheddar, Jack, etc.)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • Dash nutmeg, or ground mace

Crust Directions:

  1. Mix together cooked rice, egg and soy sauce.
  2. Spread evenly to cover well- buttered quiche pan or pie plate.
  3. Bake rice crust at 350 F for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven.

Filling Directions:

  1. Place chopped vegetable/meat onto the bottom of crust.
  2. Mix together: eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour over broccoli.
  3. Top with grated cheese. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes, or until set.
  4. Remove from oven, and let sit ten minutes before slicing, if serving fresh; or wrap pie pan, label and freeze.
  5. Quiche can be served cold after thawing for a yummy hot weather treat; or heat the thawed quiche at 350 F for 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

~Debi


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