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Monday, September 16, 2013

Mongolian Beef

Hey you guys? Do you realize its September? When did that happen?

Wow. This summer went by so quickly. I hope you all had a great time with plenty of relaxation and time outdoors. I'm a huge fan of summer (I live in Florida, land of eternal Summer) but this year I didn't get as much time to relax as I usually do. As you know, I'm a Ph.D. student in a psychology program, so "rest" and "relaxation" don't really work well in graduate programs. Rest and relaxation are often combined with guilt and feelings of inadequacy. "Oh, you want to go to the beach this weekend? Make sure you print out two or three articles to read. No pleasure reading for you!"

Thankfully, my husband and I were able to schedule a beach vacation in Naples/Ft. Myers/Sanibel Island just after I turned in papers that completed my comprehensive exam process. This timing allowed me the perfect opportunity to go away on vacation with almost no guilt (6 months of torture was enough) and I really had a chance to disconnect from work (NO EMAIL FOR 9 DAYS!).

The great thing about living in Florida, other than no snow, is that beautiful vacation spots are always nearby. We wanted to spend a week on the beach, and we looked into international travel, but the flights were all too expensive. We chose to spend a few days in Naples, Ft. Myers, Sanibel Island, Florida (Naples is only 1.5 hours from where we live). We quickly fell in love with Naples and enjoyed our entire vacation. We ate great food, lounged on beautiful beach, swam in clear warm water, and collected tons of shells. I would recommend a trip to Naples to anyone looking for a relaxed beach vacation without of the crazy touristy feel of most beach town. Beach access is everywhere, parking isn't expensive, and we found a nice inexpensive hotel just a few minutes from the ocean. Here are just a few photos of what we did/saw.

But alas, it's back to the grind. The semester just began and I'm back to making dinner every night. I recently discovered an amazing recipe for Mongolian Beef (I hear it tastes just like PF Chang's, but I've never eaten there… I prefer local Chinese food places) that is a quick hearty weeknight meal.

Mongolian Beef (30 minutes or less!)

1 large steak (about 1-2lbs…I use London broil, I can find it on sale for $3.99/lb, but flank steak would work as well)
½ C cornstarch
1 C oil
2 tbsp ginger (grated/diced)
2 tbsp garlic
1 C soy sauce
1 C packed brown sugar (you can go a little light on this if you want)
Assorted veg: steamed broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, chopped green onions, mushrooms, edamame, carrots, etc
Cooked rice/quinoa (I like 2/3 basmati rice and 1/3 cup quinoa), or noodles
Beef cooking up
Slice up the beef really thin, about a ¼ inch (it helps if it’s a little frozen, about 30 minutes in the freezer) and toss it with the cornstarch. Let the cornstarch sit on the beef for a few minutes while you prep the sauce. Mix the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and brown sugar together in a bowl. Heat up the oil in a skillet or wok. Once good and hot, add the beef and cook until just cooked through (meanwhile prep and steam your veggies). Once the beef is cooked, remove it from the pan and let it drain onto a plate lined with a paper towel. Add the sauce to the hot skillet and cook until it bubbles and thickens. Add the beef and veggies back into the skillet and toss to coat. Serve hot over rice/quinoa. Dig in!
Fun story: I found an oyster mushroom on a free at my apartment complex, and I added it to my stir-fry (disclaimer, I do not support you randomly finding and eating wild mushrooms unless you really know what you're doing).

Finished Product: Yum!

Do you have any great Chinese food take-out recipes? I love me some good healthy take-out swaps!

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