Friday, July 15, 2016

Szechuan Pork with Bok Choy

I love a good stir fry. Not only are they quick and easy to prepare, they're the perfect way to get protein and veggies in one dish. Serve over rice or toss with cooked pasta and dinner is done.

Szechuan pork with bok choy

My friend Mary Ellen recently posted this recipe for Szechuan Pork with Bok Choy. I immediately put it on the menu. Unfortunately, my grocery store didn't have the large heads of bok choy so I guessimated the number of baby bok choy I'd need as a substitute. I was way, way off. The bok choy all but dissolved in the sauce and Steve said he would never have known it was in there if I hadn't told him. Cooking fail.

I vowed to try again and this time, I looked up bok choy on Wegmans' website. I really love that their site lists their products as well as where you can find them in the store. I saw that a large head of bok choy weighs in at 1 1/2-lbs, so I told Steve to buy 1 1/2-lbs of baby bok choy. Problem solved! I remade the dish and this time, there was plenty of that crunchy goodness.

Szechuan pork with bok choy

This is such a simple meal that's packed with flavor. I love how the pork and vegetables stretch 8-oz of pasta into 5 meals and how quickly I was able to get this meal on the table. Thanks for another delicious dinner, Mary Ellen!

Szechuan Pork with Bok Choy
Slightly modified from Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations, originally from Rachael Ray

1 1/2-lbs baby bok choy
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
1 small onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 lb ground pork
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon chile garlic sauce (more or less to taste)
1 cup chicken broth
8 spaghetti, cooked and drained
4 scallions, chopped

Cut off the bottom stem of each baby bok choy and discard any yellowing outer leaves. Chop the remaining bok choy into large chunks.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the bok choy, onion, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and bok choy start to soften, about 5 minutes. Remove the vegetable mixture to a bowl and return the skillet to the stove.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame oil to the pan, then add the pork. Cook, breaking the pork up with your spoon, until browned.

Add the soy sauce, chile garlic sauce and chicken broth to the pan. Bring to a simmer, then add the vegetables. Simmer together for a few minutes, then add in the cooked noodles and scallions. Toss together and serve.
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Friday, July 08, 2016

The Best Shrimp and Grits

I'm a sucker for shrimp and grits. If I see it on a menu, I have to order it. I just love the creamy, soft grits topped with the bursty, delicious shrimp. I've tried making it at home a few times, but wasn't successful. Now my search is over - I've found THE BEST recipe for shrimp and grits. This was Katie's first time eating grits and she literally licked her plate clean. Steve couldn't stop raving about it either. We were all silent as we ate, each of us savoring the delicious plate of food in front of us.

Shrimp and grits

The recipe could not be simpler - grits are cooked in a mixture of chicken broth, milk and butter. Aside from stirring them every once in a while, they cook themselves. Shrimp are cooked in delicious bacon fat with a little garlic. The whole thing takes less than 30 minutes to prepare, making it the perfect weeknight meal.

Shrimp and grits

I served the shrimp and grits with spinach sauteed in oil with some sliced garlic. It was the perfect accompaniment, especially since I could just plate it alongside the shrimp. The only thing I might do is add a little fresh chopped tomato - not because the dish needs anything but for that hint of freshness and acidity.

The Best Shrimp and Grits
As seen on The Redhead Baker, originally from Taste of Home

For the grits:
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup uncooked stone-ground/old-fashioned grits
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

For the shrimp:
6 thick-sliced bacon strips, chopped
1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 scallions, thinly sliced

Combine the broth, milk, butter, salt and pepper in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the grits. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the shredded cheese and stir until melted. Set aside covered, and keep warm.

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon; reserve drippings in the skillet.

Saute the shrimp and garlic in the bacon drippings. Flip the shrimp as soon as they turn pink. Remove once both sides are pink.

To serve, divide the grits into four bowls. Top each with one quarter of the shrimp. Garnish with the reserved bacon and scallions.
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