The Spring Break Finale

Tonight I cooked dinner for the last time this week, and I have to confess that I'm somewhat relieved. I'm slowly learning how time consuming cooking can be, particularly when you move as slowly and ungracefully as I do, still. Compared to the rest of this week, though, tonight's meal came together painlessly and (relatively) quickly.

I chose a Beef & Orange stir fry and paired it with a Wild Rice & Barley Pilaf with Pomegranate Seeds, a recipe that I doctored so much I think it would more accurately be described as being inspired by that recipe. I try not to change recipes much if at all the first time I make it - after all, you have to know what you're dealing with before you charge in making all of these changes, right? But pomegranates are not so easy to come by and a wild rice whole grain blend in a box was more readily available and feasible than two separate containers that my family would never finish on their own, anyway. So, many substitutions ensued. The end product? Delicious:

Beef & Orange Stirfry, courtesy of
Yield: 4 servings
3 Oranges
2 cloves of garlic, minced (substitution: pre-minced garlic, a fraction of a spoonful)
2 T. soy sauce
1 1/2 lb. trimmed, boneless sirloin or rib eye, cut into 1/2 in. strips
1 T. cornstarch (substitution - whole wheat flour due to a last minute inability to locate the cornstarch)
1-2 T. canola oil
6 scallions, green parts only, cut into 1-in. pieces (modification: cut into typical small rings, taste preference)

Into a small bowl, finely grate zest and squeeze juice from 1 orange. Add garlic and soy sauce.

With a sharp paring knife, peel remaining 2 oranges. Slice oranges crosswise 1/2 inch thick, then halve slices; push out, and discard any seeds. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss meat with cornstarch until coated. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Working in batches (adding more oil if needed), brown beef on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes; transfer to a plate.

Pour juice mixture into skillet, and boil until syrupy, about 1 minute. Return beef to skillet; add orange slices and scallions. Toss until coated and heated through. Serve hot.

"Wild Rice & Barley Pilaf with Pomegranate Seeds" courtesy of
Yield: 6 Servings
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 C wild rice, rinsed
} (substitution: Persia Organic whole grain blend, discarding the seasoning packet)
1/2 C pearl barley
3 C reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth (substitution: water - chicken broth was another m.i.a. ingredient in my pantry tonight)
1/3 C pine nuts
1 C pomegranate seeds (substitution: an estimated 3/4 C dried cranberries)
2 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
2 T. chopped flat leaf parsley (substitution: 1 T. dried parsley flakes, after absentmindedly telling my mom last night that I was done using the parsley we had bought at the store)

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened. Add wild rice and barley; stir for a few seconds. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the wild rice and barley are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 45 to 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until light golden and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl to cool.

Add pomegranate seeds, lemon zest, parsley and the toasted pine nuts to the pilaf; fluff with a fork. Serve hot.

And that brings to a close my week of being active with this blog. However, I'm going to make crepes for my boyfriend this weekend, and it is my mom's birthday next weekend so I told her I would come home and cook a meal for her. And then there's Passover, and I'll be home to hopefully bake some Passover-friendly baked good. So here's to thinking that from here on out I'll be a lot better at keeping up with this. I really like keeping track of all that I've made and a few thoughts on the recipes, even if I am the only one reading this.

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