Our family is growing in many ways... Growing in numbers, knowledge, parenting skills, growing in love, in our faith, growing our culinary skills (if you can call it that), growing without gluten (some of us), growing green...........

Monday, June 21, 2010

Meatless Meals: Stir-Fry

We've been trying to cut back on how much meat we use...for various reasons. One is the cost, but we won't really be saving any money the way we're going about this. We'll be buying better quality meat, which costs more, so using less will allow us to buy the better meat that we want and that is important to us (hormone-free, antibiotic-free, free-range, grass-fed) without it hurting our budget. Then there are health reasons. Less meat, more veggies, beans, etc, etc.

I recently asked on facebook for some meat-free meal ideas, and I got a few good suggestions and recipes from friends. I also decided to flip through my cookbooks to see what I could find. And I flipped through my recipe binders to see what meat-including recipes I could make and just exclude the meat. One of those recipes ended up being a simple stir-fry.

We've been making stir-fry a lot lately. I know it's supposed to be quick and easy, but the recipe I use isn't all that quick. Sure, the actual cooking part is, but I buy the veggies whole and make the sauces from scratch, so the prep work takes some time. But the results are sooooo worth it.

This came from my Food Network magazine. The "recipe" is actually a mix-and-match guide...and according to the magazine, you could come up with 11,375 different stir-fries. Pick one of several proteins, make a marinade for it, prep 3 cups of a mix of veggies, make one of the five sauces, and then off you go to actually stir frying. I've made it with shrimp and with chicken, with the clear sauce and the sweet and sour. This time, we went meatless, which also meant skipping some steps, cutting off a bit of the time. For our veggies, we just added more - carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms are our typical veggies, sometimes snap peas are thrown in. This time I had some spinach in the fridge that needed to be used up, so I tossed that in, as well. If you're interested, here is the recipe we used.

Veggie Stir-Fry

I used more than 3-cups. I never measure and think the more veggies, the better.
  • Sliced carrots
  • Sliced red, yellow, green bell peppers
  • Quartered mushrooms
  • Small handful of spinach (cut into small pieces b/c I don't like big chunks of cooked spinach)

Sweet & Sour Sauce:
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth,
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch,
  • 1/4 cup ketchup,
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce,
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar,
  • 1/4 cup sugar,
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, and
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil

Heat wok over high heat, 1-2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons oil, then 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 tablespoons minced ginger (or 1 if you're not a huge fan - I discovered that I AM a fan when it's fresh ginger!), 2 minced scallions, and a pinch each of salt and sugar; stir-fry about 30 seconds.

I love how it looks when I'm cooking the ginger and garlic
(we sometimes leave the scallions out, if we don't have them
on hand - tastes fine with or without them!). So very pretty!
Add the vegetables, starting with the ones that take the longest to cook; stir-fry until crisp-tender.

Add sauce and stir until sauce is thick and the vegetables are cooked through (won't take long - couple minutes at most). Thin with chicken broth if needed (you shouldn't need to).

Serve over rice. We like to use brown basmati.

Ta-da! Yummy meatless, made-completely-from-scratch stir-fry.

Fresh pineapple is a great addition to this stir-fry!

My older child who doesn't like mushrooms or cooked carrots LOVES this meal, with or without the meat. My toddler eats it like nobody's business. The night I made this with no meat, nobody noticed or said anything about it. Everyone loved it just as much as when I added meat. I loved it more because it shaved off some prep time! My only complaint is that we never have left-overs with this meal! I like to cook large dishes so I can be lazy another night or two (or more!), though it never leads to me having downtime with all the other stuff we have going on. But this dish is always a one-nighter. Maybe I could make more, but even when I think I have enough...nope. I think we have gotten a small lunch for me and Aiden out of it before.

The other night I also made a mushroom stroganoff. Camden, who really claims to not like mushrooms, really liked it! Aiden...he could take it or leave it. Of course, part of the problem was he saw an orange and then just wanted that. Ryan and I really liked it. And again, did not miss the meat. I think it would be even better if we could use regular fettuccine noodles, instead of gluten-free ones (because of Aiden's egg allergy, we need to use gluten-free noodles).

Any favorite meat-less dishes you make? Please feel free to share (comment, email, etc - if you comment, others may find a new recipe to try, too!).

1 comment:

Becky said...

Stir fry is not my thing.. Probably has something to do with the fact that I don't like cooked veggies (peppers of any color and snap peas are simply inedible but I keep trying to like them!)


This is a favorite meatless dish of ours. If you havn't prepared tofu before this would be a good place to start. Cut it small toss it in cornstarch to coat and then fry it in butter (or olive oil if you must but butter is better for beginners the taste will be familiar) until lightly browned. It will have the perfect texture. This sauce is great and the broccoli was nicely steamed and still crunchy... I don't like cooked broccoli either!