Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Making The Most of The Roast

The makings of my beef and veggie stir-fry
At the start of the new year, I vowed to reinstate the practice of better meal planning.  This process has been great.  It saves us money because there is a plan instead of buying ingredients on a whim or craving.  It saves me time because even though it takes a chunk of time to plan the menu based on my pantry and freezer stock, what is on sale and of course what recipes I want to try; once it's done, it frees me up the rest of the week from having to think about it.  Lastly, we make better use of the ingredients we have, so there is less waste to toss out on trash night, ka-ching!

This week's menu was based around a New York strip roast that I bought last month when they were on sale for half the amount you would normally pay.  That's when I stock up and put them in the freezer.  I try to use them within a few months of the original purchase.  In the past I would thaw one, cook it and then have leftovers, but it is a lot of meat so it wasn't unusual for the last bit to go to waste.  This week's menu has taken this quantity of meat into account.  The first night it was a roast with au jus, baked potatoes and broccoli.  A good steakhouse kind of meal. 

As yummy as that was we also want to keep in mind that we are working to base many of our meals around less meat and more veggies.  That is where night two comes in.  I used a chunk of the leftover roast to make a great beef and veggie stir fry (recipe to follow) which I served over rice.  A little meat goes a long way.  This is great basic recipe that you can use with a variety of meats, tofu and veggies.  Whatever you have on hand.

Before I move to night three which will be spaced a few nights out from the original meal with the roast so we don't overdose on beef, I need to mention that there were also two lunches utilizing this same roast.  The first was the day after the original meal.  There was a baked potato leftover so it served as the basis for the lunch.  I sauteed some mushrooms and asparagus spears along with a few slices of beef.  I heated up the potato, topped it with reduced fat sour cream, and then topped it all with the beef mixture.  The second lunch was a leftover portion from Monday night's beef and veggie stir fry. 

Last but not least, the final portion of the roast will be used to make one of my favorite meals, beef stroganoff. It will be a busy day with two volunteer gigs at school as well as soccer practice during the time I would normally cook dinner, so I will employ my crock pot.  I'll saute some onions and add them to the crock pot with the leftover au jus, slices of the remaining beef, canned mushrooms and a splash of red wine.  I'll let that slow cook for a few hours. Once we get home from soccer practice, I'll stir in some reduced fat sour cream, cook some egg noodles, throw a bag of steam fresh veggies in the microwave and dinner will be ready.  Plus leftovers for lunch the next day!

So from one $24 roast, I will create three family dinners plus three lunches.  The plan is working. No wasted food. Now for the stir fry recipe.  The measurements are always approximate for this dish and the ingredients constantly change.  I think the most important thing is make sure you add the items that need to cook the longest to the wok first and then move to items that need the least cooking time.  In this recipe beef is almost last, because I really only want to heat it through.  If you use raw meat or fresh tofu, I would add it first to give it the most cooking time.  Also, have everything ready to roll, this process is fast and you don't want to over cook anything.

Beef and Veggie Stir-Fry Over Rice

Cooked rice, brown, jasmine, white...whatever you want
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 - 1 red onion thinly sliced
1/2 - 1 zucchini, sliced in large strips
1/2 - 1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
4 -8 oz mushrooms sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 - 1 inch ginger paste ( or freshly grated ginger)
1/4 - 1 inch red pepper paste, depending on your heat preference
1-2 cups sliced leftover beef
4-8 oz shredded purple cabbage
a few splashes of soy sauce

As discussed above have everything ready to go in the pot.  Have the rice cooked and set aside.  Heat the wok on med-high to high and add the olive oil.  Add the ingredients in the order listed, stirring each item for a minute or so, once the ingredient is hot, add the next.  Try not add too much to the wok at any one time to keep the heat level up.  Once the last item is hot, in this case the purple cabbage, remove the wok from the heat, add the soy sauce to taste and serve over rice.

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