Category Archives: Meat

Lady and the Tramp, Anyone?

I love Disney. Even with its subliminal messages and not so subliminal ones.

I love the simpleness of its romances. I cannot see spaghetti and meat balls without thinking of Lady and the Tramp. Of course, no real person, or dog, would slurp a strand of spaghetti without chewing through and breaking it. That makes the scene all more romantic. I like the film even though I honestly can’t remember anything else about it besides that scene, but I thought about it today while I thought, planned, and made dinner.

Simple spaghetti and meatballs.

Okay, maybe not that simple. I did use whole wheat spaghetti and ground flax after all. I know, I can’t leave anything well enough alone. But regardless of all my efforts at health-isizing this dish, it retained its heartiness. A true comfort food through and through.

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and dig into the meat with your fingers. This helps to distribute the spices without overworking the meat and produces the most tender meatballs. Be sure to give the meatballs a deep golden brown, this contributes greatly to flavour.

The ground flax is not really noticeable in the meatballs, but you’ll that it’s there to give your meal fibre and Omega 3 fatty acids. I also used prepared pasta sauce to speed up the process, and also because I didn’t have any tomatoes. Feel free to substitute your favorite recipe for tomato sauce.

Cat’s Spaghetti and Meatballs (Be comforted in knowing that this comfort food is somewhat good for you)
makes 4-6 servings

3/4 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
salt
1/2 c. dried bread crumbs
a few dashes Worchestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 Tbsp. dried parsley
scant 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/3 c. minced onion
2 Tbsp. ground flax, optional
1 tsp. olive oil
1 24-oz jar of prepared pasta sauce (I used garden vegetable)
1 lb. spaghetti, whole wheat

  1. Place the ground meat, Worcestershire, herbs, pepper, onion, garlic powder, flax seed, and bread crumbs in a large bowl. Salt generously.
  2. Plunge all ten fingers into the meat and mix thoroughly. Shape into 24 meatballs. Wash your hands well afterwards.
  3. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan and brown the meatballs in batches, until well browned.
  4. Pour the pasta sauce into the pan and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Toss with the sauce. Serve piping hot and twirl away.

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Filed under Comfort Food, Dinner, Meat

Happy Birthday Franklin!

Today is my brother’s birthday. We celebrated on Sunday with his church friends and a much-loved soccer ball cake. My mom and I cooked a lot of food for dinner today. It was a feast, as I’m sure my stomach will happily tell you. Here are some pictures, enjoy!

This is This is Braised Smoked Pork Shank. We purchased the pork shanks partially cooked and smoked, and braised it in soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, and green onions. The soy sauce is probably why it turned out so dark, but looks notwithstanding, the meat was tender and wonderfully smoke infused.

This is Tofu with Fish Sauce. The tofu is panfried until crisp and then briefly cooked in the sauce. The sauce has nothing to do with fish. It’s simply a version of a sweet and sour sauce with Sichuan peppercorns.

I’ve never seen vegetable Asian noodles before, but today at the supermarket Franklin requested them so we bought it. It’s flavoured with spinach and reminds me of spinach pasta. This is Stir-Fried Vegetable Noodles with ground pork, mushrooms, and zucchini. The Chinese traditionally eat noodles on birthdays because the noodle’s length symbolizes a long life.

Mom’s specialty. Simply stir-fried shrimp. See it also here.

Baby bok choy with dried salted shrimp. It’s refreshing to have a simple vegetable dish in a multi-course meal.

This is a cold dish and makes a great appetizer. It’s blanched long beans tossed with soy sauce, black vinegar, and smashed garlic. Very addictive.

Chinese chives with squid. Both main ingredients are fresh-tasting and complement each other. The squid is tender;  the chives are vibrant. I realized that I may possibly like squid more than shrimp, perhaps because there is no shell to peel. Lazy me. 😉

The last dish is just peanuts roasted in the wok. This dish usually accompanies potent Chinese liquor such as Maotai. We didn’t drink with our dinner but included this dish because mom wanted to make eight dishes. Eight is an auspicious number in the chinese language because when pronounced, the word sounds somewhat like the word “to become rich.” So it wouldn’t do to have only seven dishes. Gotta have eight for my brother. The peanuts are wonderfully salty and nutty because of the low heat and long toasting time. Use high heat the peanuts will be burned. My mom rushed making this dish because we all wanted to start eating already.

What do you say? Isn’t Franklin a lucky boy?

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Filed under Chinese, Dinner, Meat, Seafood, Side dishes, Vegetables

Ribs for Lunch

Alas, we have come to the end of July, which means the conclusion of my National Blog Posting Month. I have posted every day for the past month, and I have enjoyed sharing both food stuffs and life stuffs with you. Although there were a couple days when I wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t have blogged, if not for my commitmend, I stuck it through, and I’m glad I did.

For this last post, I have no real food stuffs because, unfortunately, I’ve been out all day, to a company-sponsored BBQ lunch. Ribs was the main idea. Accompanied by the traditional potato salad, coleslaw, Boston baked beans, and a myriad of other sides. The meat was juicy but could have been cooked a tad longer, for more smokey goodness. I had strawberry shortcake for dessert, and make-your-own ice cream sundae for post-dessert.

Sadly, no other pictures of food since I have both an old camera and old batteries, which means the battery life is about 30 pictures. They are happily getting replaced soon.

I’m currently baking my brother a birthday cake. It will be in the shape of a soccer ball. Wish me luck! 🙂

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Chicken Stir-Fry with Broccoli and Carrots

Here is a fairly classic stir-fry combination, at least around my house. You get kind of a tri-colour effect, green-orange-white, which is very eye appealing. The key here is to marinate the chicken briefly with cornstarch added to incorporate flavour and to promote tenderness. If you just slice and fry, the chicken breast will dry out.

Another very important thing is to fry the chicken first, then the vegetables, then add the chicken back to the wok. This prevents the chicken from becoming overcooked.

I used about one tablespoon of a Korean sweet chili sauce. It’s not enough to get a discernible increase in the heat of the dish, but it does give an anonymous sweetness and very very subtle kick to the dish. Feel free to leave it out if you don’t have the ingredient.

Chicken Stir-Fry with Broccoli and Carrots
serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as part of a multi-course meal

1 lb. chicken breast, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. light soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Chinese rice wine
generous pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. corn starch
1 crown broccoli, broken into florets
2 medium carrots, cut on a bias into slices
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
2 green onions, sliced
3 Tbsp. oil, divided
1 tsp. Sichuan peppercorns
1 Tbsp. Korean chili sauce, optional
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Mix together the chicken, soy sauce, rice wine, salt, and corn starch with your fingers. Set aside for 15 minutes, while you chop the vegetables.
  2. Heat a wok on medium high heat. Add 2 Tbsp. oil when hot. Add the peppercorns and toast for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the ginger, garlic, and green onions. Fry for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  4. Add the chicken, stir-fry until cooked, about 5 minutes. Be sure to separate all the pieces. Remove from the wok and set aside.
  5. Reheat the wok with the remaining Tbsp. oil. Add the chili sauce and fry for 30 seconds.
  6. Add the broccoli and carrots, toss in a couple Tbsp. cold water. Stir well and cover. Cook 2-3 minutes and stir again. Continue to add little bits of water and covering the wok until vegetables are cooked crisp tender. Salt to taste.
  7. Add the chicken back to the wok and stir together. Heat 2-3 minutes until all is heated through. Serve with rice.

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Filed under Chicken, Chinese, Dinner, Meat

Penne with Sausage and Tomato Sauce

We had this for lunch yesterday. It was very easy, relatively quick, and pretty darn tasty. Italian sausage is simmered with crushed tomatoes with basil, onion, and a bit of butter. Then tossed with whole wheat penne. Good stuff.

One thing about tomato sauces. I used to be a super herby kind of girl. I tossed herbs of every kind into my tomato sauces. Of course everything do not always taste good together. That saying something along the lines of “if you use a lot of good tasting ingredients, you can’t end up with something other than good tasting food,” unfortunately, isn’t always true.

Since then I’ve abandoned the herbs approach when it comes to tomato sauces. I became more of a purist. I tried the three-ingredient tomato sauce from Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking. I became a believer. That simple sauce is unbelievably good for something that takes next to zero effort to put together. Heck, my kitchen un-savvy boyfriend can make it. All it takes is butter, onion, and tomatoes! You don’t even need to chop the onion! Seriously, if you’ve never tried it, you simply have to.

One 28 oz can tomatoes.

Half a stick of unsalted butter.

Half an onion.

Don’t chop anything. Don’t brown anything. Toss everything in a large sauce pan. Simmer for about half an hour, or until the tomatoes break down and your kitchen smells heavenly. I eat the sauce with spoon. And the onion with my fingers.

This recipe is inspired from that. With a couple of changes.

Penne with Sausage and Tomato Sauce
serves about 4 for lunch

1/2 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes with basil (don’t worry about the basil part, use plain crushed tomatoes if you like)
2 Italian sausages (I used sweet, but use hot if you like the heat)
1 Tbsp. butter, unsalted
1/4 medium onion
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz. whole wheat penne, cooked al dente

Remove the sausages from their casings. Heat a medium saucepan on medium high heat. Brown the sausage, breaking them up into small pieces. Do this until the meat is no longer pink. Drain the pan. Add the onion, unchopped, the butter, and the half can of tomatoes. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for half an hour. Stir and check every 10 minutes or so.

Toss the pasta into the sauces, season to taste. Serve with a tossed salad and some good bread.

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Filed under Comfort Food, Dinner, Lunch, Meat

Steak and Onions

For meat lovers. Nothing else to be said. Stuff inside sandwich rolls. Stuff ’em good. I mean, well.

Steak and Onions
enough for 4 sandwiches

1 lb. shaved steak
1 large onion, sliced thin
lots of salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsp. butter
about 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
a few dashes of Tabasco

Season the steak well with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet on medium heat. Fry the onions until softened and slightly brown, about 6-7 minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside. Heat another Tbsp. butter on medium-high heat, add the meat when hot. Fry until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the onions back in and add the Worcestershire and Tabasco. Season again to taste. Turn off the heat and melt in the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter.

Serve on hot, toasted, buttered sandwich rolls.

For the guys.

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Comfort Food…Chinese Dumplings

One of the strongest memories I have, is of my mother’s floury hands. How she swiftly kneads dough, rolls dough, fills dough, taking care to pinch the little wrappers together. Sometimes she added a pretty border on some of them, to my delight. I would always eat those dumplings first.

This is my childhood.

Ever since I was nine, I’d begged my mother to let me help her make the dumplings. I’d like to say she was patient, but after several rounds of “no, you’ll ruin the dough” she gave me a wrapper of my own with a little spoon to scoop up the filling. Then I would imitate her and gingerly pinch the wrapper around the filling. It wasn’t pretty. Flat. Lopsided. Wrinkly. Oozing. Sometimes it looked like a dead fish.

But I got better. Now I’m proud of my dumplings. Now my mother no longer worked alone. Now I have my own floury hands.

I wish I could give you the “family recipe.” But truth be told. There is none. Meat is vigorously stirred. Vegetables vehemently chopped. Soy sauce generously added. Sesame oil delicately sprinkled. It’s different every time. All depends on what’s in the fridge and judgment on what’s “enough.” No recipes involved. It’s an art form.

I never get homesick. I like living on my own. But sometimes I crave my mother’s dumplings. I know the “art” well enough now that I can make my own. Mine never taste just like hers though. Good but never hers. Everyone who has had my family’s dumplings claim it’s amongst the best they’re ever had. My father claims, each time we make dumplings, that this time it’s the “best ever.”

I always have to agree.

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Filed under Chinese, Comfort Food, Dinner, Meat, Vegetables