Stir-Fry – Why Try?

If ever there was a compelling reason to try the Quick and Healthy Stir-Fry recipe I posted last week, an email I just received is it! Not only did this email make me literally laugh out loud, it warmed my soul to know that some out there are actually reading and enjoying my blog – and even trying different things.  Hope this makes you laugh too (and inspires you to try the stir-fry either as-is or with vegetarian version I modified, below):

“Hi Karen –

It’s been a Lo-Co recipe weekend in our house and I had to tell you that my entire family LOVED the Stir-Fry.  It is almost impossible for me to find a recipe that both my kids enjoy…..beyond hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken fingers.  Both kids liked this recipe and ate all their veggies with no complaints.  I had broccoli, zucchini, squash, snap peas, red peppers and mushrooms in the mix and all veggies were eaten with out any gagging noises being emitted from my kids.

I can’t tell you how much my daughter hates broccoli.  A few months ago my husband and I  found broccoli florets stuffed in the silk floral arrangement that sits on our kitchen table – only after the stench was so bad that I went on an all out search to find the cause ( I did mention that she is a freshman in HS, not a 2 year old, right) did we figure out she was using it to ditch the veggies.  I now have to move our arrangement any night I know I’m making a veggie she doesn’t like.  Amazing revelation…my daughter proclaimed she liked the broccoli tonight.

Thank you for making Sunday dinner a hit.”

And hey – I learned something too — I have only ever tried this recipe with broccoli, carrots, green beans and snow peas.  Never once thought of zucchini or squash (I dislike peppers so that would never have crossed my mind!)

The timing of this email about vegetables was fortuitous – because the same day I got this email, I also received an email from a blog subscriber asking if I had a vegetarian version of this recipe.

So, I am going to try this recipe again – vegetarian style.  And this time, in addition to broccoli, snow peas, shredded carrots and string beans, I’m going to add zucchini and squash. I think I’ll stir-fry these two new-to-me ingredients separately and last because they’re likely to release a lot of liquid which I can then just blot out if needed – and thus any excess liquid won’t prevent my broccoli, string beans and carrots from crisping right up.

I would add TOFU for protein, but I don’t know how.  Maybe I should look that up. You think?  But I find tofu way, way intimidating.  So many questions:  what kind do you buy? How do you cut it? Is straining involved?  I have no idea, really.

Any tofu advice or suggestions, please send them on in!




Quick and Healthy Stir-Fry

My college freshman son was just home for the holidays, and I wanted to make a few of his favorite home-cooked meals. Trouble was, I needed a recipe that I could make (or not) with little-to-no notice, since college kids and planning are not copacetic.

That recipe search led me to an old favorite: beef stir-fry. When my son’s not home, I make this with chicken, but last week I made it with his far-preferred protein, beef.  And as a bow to lo-co, I made one healthy modification by cutting down on the beef and upping the vegetables.  Shocker: it turns out he liked it that way. In fact, he actually declared it one of the best stir-fries I’d ever made.

So they do learn some good things in college.

And some bad things too.  But that’s a different story.

But back to stir-fry. Just back from the grocery store, I was chatting with my neighbor Christine, wondering aloud if I was making the stir-fry that evening, or if my son was going out with friends for dinner, last minute, again. Christine said she liked stir fry but never made it because it never turned out well – always got mushy.

I said the trick is all about the vegetables. You have to briefly steam them first, then stir fry and remove them from the wok while cooking the meat, then add them back later after the meat is cooked.  (Gosh, typing that makes it sound like a pain and a lot of steps… but overall this process takes, like, 4 minutes, max.)

That got me thinking that perhaps I should share this recipe. It’s easy to make and while I don’t have nutritional information so am not sure how lo-co it truly is, what I do know is that it’s an authentic Chinese stir-fry recipe (thanks, Dina!) that is mostly vegetables and heart-healthy oil. So other than the saltiness of the soy sauce, I think it’s quite healthy. Certainly more healthy than ordering MSG-laden take-out.  And some might argue it’s tastier, too.

Once you slice the vegetables (your choice of 2-3 vegetables) and beef and set aside upfront, this recipe is a snap to make. Three tricks to making this recipe great:

  1. Cut all the meat and vegetables first and set aside – mise en place is vital
  2. Make sure your wok is VERY HOT before you stir-fry either the vegetables or the meat
  3. See above for vegetable directions: you must steam them first (in microwave), stir fry briefly on high heat, then remove while you cook the meat.

After mise en place is done, the total cook time is about 5-10 minutes, max for this delicious, healthy dish.

If you’re hankering for a healthy stir-fry, try Karen’s Stir-Fry Recipe. And let me know how it goes.