Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sick at Home Edition: Lazy pho

Okay, it's actually Saturday, but I've been feeling like crap all week and I've decided that the only thing that could fight off this flu/cold is bowls and bowls of hot, spicy pho (rhymes with "whuh?".

Traditional pho takes almost 20 hours and a whole bunch of ingredients that I can't deal with right now, like beef thigh bones, carrots and other stuff to make the broth. Being of compromised health, I decided to cut out the whole broth thing (sacrilege, I know) and just buy it.

This recipe makes a lot of broth. Cook the noodles and beef as you need to throughout the day.

1 carton/900mL beef broth (I used President's Choice organics brand)
1 sirloin steak
1 serving vermicelli (you can buy packs that have them portioned into servings. It's pretty great)
1 small onion
1 hot pepper (or more, or less)
2 star anise
1" piece of ginger, peeled
5 cloves
3" stick of cinnamon
5 black peppercorns
a few splashes of fish sauce
1 lime
Fresh basil (or mint, if you don't have basil)

Note: I was really arbitrary about the spices. Don't worry about being too exact.

Let's do it!
First, bring the broth to a boil and add the star anise, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns and fish sauce. Lower to a simmer and cook, covered,  for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, soak the vermicelli as per package directions.

After 20 minutes of simmering, taste and adjust flavour. If this is purchased beef broth, it's probably going to be pretty salty already, so lay off the salt. Add the onions and hot pepper a this point if you prefer your onions soft and your broth spicy.

Slice the beef thinly. I only used half the steak for my lunch and am saving the rest for dinner.


Turn the heat up to a low boil and add the vermicelli. Stir until cooked, a few minutes. Scoop the noodles into a bowl, and add the beef. Boil until cooked to your liking (I like mine rare). Place that into the bowl and top with broth, basil/mint and a squeeze of lime. Enjoy!

Note: I have omitted the raw bean sprouts that usually come with pho because I just don't like them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Note, the white things are leftover brown rice thrown in.

Fajitas are always a winner in our house, due to the husband's fondness for wraps. They're also pretty easy to make. Here's a recipe I made yesterday that yields about 4-5 servings.

3 large red peppers, seeded and sliced into strips
1 large green pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
2 medium red onions, peeled and sliced into strips
2 chicken thighs, deboned and sliced into strips
1 cup diced smoked sausage
3 tablespoons or more of Tex-Mex seasoning mix (recipe to follow)

Tex-Mex seasoning mix:
1 part paprika
2 parts cumin
1 part cayenne
1 part oregano
2 parts garlic powder

Put it all in a jar with a tight fitting lid. I like to keep a batch of this in the kitchen to quickly throw together tacos, fajitas or chili.

Let's do it!
Put the meat in a container with a tablespoon of Tex Mex powder. Mix well and let marinate while you're cooking the veggies.

Heat a large pot/wok to medium high and add enough oil to lightly coat the bottom. 

Throw in the veggies and saute, stirring until really soft. This took an agonizing amount of time because I started with low heat. Don't make my mistake. Start high and keep stirring! I also threw the bones in with the veggies for added flavour.

When the veggies are soft, throw in 2 tablespoons of seasoning and stir until well mixed. Add the meat and cook until cooked, maybe another 10 minutes. At this point, taste and adjust for salt and seasoning. Add hot peppers if you like it spicy.

Lunch it up!
I pack the fajita mix in a tight-fitting container and put a couple of tortillas in a ziploc bag. To eat, heat them up separately. The tortillas take about 10 seconds, the filling will take about two minutes, since it's got meat in it.

Optional: If you're a fancy pants, bring along some sprigs of parsley, a couple wedges of lime and an avocado (cut it up at work to reduce grossness)


Friday, September 2, 2011

Lainey-Style Beefaroni

Sometimes I crave the garbage-food of my youth (okay... early 20s). The problem is, since I'm allergic to dairy, I can't just pick up a can of Chef Boyardee and go to town on it. No, I have to MAKE it. So what is normally a 3 minute convenience food for many becomes an hour-long process0 for me, just to satisfy that one little craving.

Enter, Lainey-Style Beefaroni. All the gooey goodness/badness, none of the dairy, and somewhat less preservatives.

Tomato sauce
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 package Daiya mozzarella shreds
4 cups or so of cooked Kraft Dinner macaroni noodles, substitute with good pasta if you want.
Bread crumbs

Let's do it!
Brown the ground beef in a skillet and drain. Add to the tomato sauce and simmer while making the pasta.

A note on the pasta: The reason why I have KD macaroni in the house is because my friend came over, planning on dropping off a bunch of food at the grocery store in the donation box. The grocery store didn't have a donation box for some reason, so he ended up leaving it at my house. I noticed that the KD was past its expiry date, meaning they probably wouldn't take it. So I threw out all the seasoning packs and put all the noodles into a plastic container to cook myself. I use these noodles every time I want some garbagey pasta.

Put the pasta in an oven-proof dish with most of the Daiya and the meat sauce. Mix well.

Top with a thin layer of breadcrumbs and the rest of the Daiya.

Place in the oven (or toaster oven) on broil for about 20 minutes. You don't NEED to do this, but I like having some crispy portions to the otherwise soft mess that is this dish.

This isn't nearly as garbagey as the canned stuff, but the processed taste of the Daiya cheese mixed with the beef and tomato sauce hits the right spot for me.