Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Birthday Food Awesomeness

Last week was Pete's birthday and we had a two parties to celebrate. One was Thursday evening with his family (minus his older sister and her husband who were at the hospital expecting baby #3!) and the second was Monday night with some of his current and former co-workers. Pete's isn't a huge birthday party guy, but I love birthdays so I wanted to make sure we celebrated and Pete had a fun filled birthday weekend. Especially because his birthday weekend was going to be spent with my family at my Momma's Masters graduation. What a good husband and son-in-law!

For Thursday night we decided to grill it up so we made Greek Burgers, Greek Salad, Sunset Margaritas and Grandma Florence's Apple Pie. I can only take credit for the burgers, salad and margaritas. Pete's mom made the wonderful apple pie (specially requested by the birthday boy). 

For Monday night, we decide to make our favorite stir-fry. We were trying to find something that was pretty easy to throw together but also fed a crowd. Oh and was yummy. As I had a surplus of vegetables this week, stir-fry worked out great.  

Here's the recipes I worked from -- Enjoy!

Thursday Recipes:

Greek Burgers 
Makes 12, 3-4 oz burgers

2 lbs ground beef and/or ground lamb (we used a mix of both)
1/2 red onion finely chopped (or blitzed in the food processor)
2-3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint chopped
1/2 cup feta
salt and pepper to taste (go easy on the salt as the feta is pretty salty)
1-2 eggs
1/4 bread crumbs (I used panko)
  • Combine all ingredients and mix until well combined. Mix should not be wet and all ingredients should hold well together.
  • Form patties.
  • Grill 4-5 minutes per side (or to desired temperature)
Serve with grilled Ciabatta bread and Tzatziki! This recipe is also great as meat balls (cook in the oven for about 30 minutes) or as meatloaf. If you make it as meatloaf, I'd omit the feta and top with BBQ sauce and/or Ketchup.

Greek Salad
Makes enough for a crowd! This is an easily adaptable recipe. I kinda made it up as I went based on what I had on hand.

1 can Red Kidney beans, Garbanzo beans or Canalini beans rinsed
1 can articoke hearts chopped
2 cups chopped cucumbers
1-2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped olives
1/2 cup feta
1/2 an red onion chopped

Juice of one large lemon
2-3 tablespoons of red wine or sherry vineger
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon honey
salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder to taste. 

Whiz up in a mini-food processor or blender.

Mix all veggies and add dressing. Let marinate to develop flavors. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Sunset Margaritas
I made enough for a crowd, but you can make less using the recipe linked above. 
1 bottle good tequila (I used gold)
1 bottle triple sec
1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

1 cup pomegranate (or other red/dark juice)

Mix all items except pomegranate juice and pour over ice. Pour a little bit of the pomegranate juice down the side of the glass. It will look like a sunset! Drink responsibly and enjoy!

Monday Recipe:

Szechwan Black Bean Sauce With Chicken
Recipe modified based on Seattle Times Recipe

This picture is actually from a previous time I made this stir-fry. This time around I used asparagus, broccoli and carrots. You can really modify this with whatever green veggies you have around.

Makes 12 servings

3-4 large boneless, skinless, chicken breasts thinly sliced
2 heads of broccoli
1 bunch of asparagus
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (may need more for stirfrying)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon sesame oil or hot chili sesame oil (optional)

3 teaspoons EACH white wine, soy sauce, and corn starch

3 tablespoons Black Bean Garlic Sauce (Sunluck brand is what I use)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons white wine
1. Combine 3 teaspoon each sake, soy sauce and cornstarch. Add to the chicken, stirring to coat. Marinate 30 minutes to 1 hour in refrigerator.

2. While the chicken is marinating, stirfry veggies in 1 teaspoon oil on medium high. Add ¼ cup of water to pan and cover for 4 minutes. Uncover and cook until water has evaporated. You want veggies to be partially cooked and still somewhat crisp. Reserve veggies in another bowl. 

3. Put the nonstick skillet back on medium heat with 1 teaspoon oil (or hot chili sesame oil). When the oil is very hot, stir-fry chicken in batches adding more oil between batches as required. Reserve chicken on a plate or bowl. 

4. Combine all sauce ingredients. Dissolve the remaining teaspoon cornstarch in 1 tablespoon water. Add to the sauce to pan with any juices that have gathered around the meat, stirring until lightly thickened. Add chicken and vegetables back to pan. Stir in the chicken and veggies, stirring until lightly coated with sauce.

Serve with sticky rice.

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