Wednesday, February 27, 2013

CrockPot Mongolian Beef Recipe

After many request, here is the recipe for CrockPot Mongolian Beef. FINALLY, after a few trials, I have made enough tweaks (found in Bold) that my family loves this. The Fried Rice Recipe was key!
I am not a food stylist, this photo was actually taken on day 2 as a leftover (still delicious!) I made up my plate and quietly took it into the next room to secretly photograph it for my post ... yes, right from the dinner table. My family would not quite understand that, ha! The background fabric is from my apron (which was still on me, therefore the odd angle of the photo.) It is from Scarlet Threads, a very cool fair-trade apron shop.

CrockPot Mongolian Beef & Fried Rice

Prep Time: 10 Minutes   Total Time: 6.25 hours   Serves 4
I serve this with a plate of Egg Rolls,  a nice big bowl of Stir-Fry Vegetables and sometimes a side dish of Orange Chicken (from the freezer Section) and something American (for my non-rice, non-Chinese eating son.)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • *Optional--1 cup cut scallion, in 1.5" pieces (Or use green onions. We skipped this last time and it was great)
  • 1/3 cup fruity white wine (I opt instead for WATER her to keep it lighter in flavor)

Directions:



  1. 1Slice the steak thinly across the grain - the strips should be 2 to 3 inches long each; set aside.
  2. 2Combine the onion, soy sauce, sherry, broth, garlic, hoisin, brown sugar, ginger, and pepper flakes, then put the mixture into the crock pot.
  3. 3Put the cornstarch in a large Ziploc bag; add the sliced beef and toss well to coat.
  4. 4Add the coated beef into the crock pot, gently pushing it into the liquid to cover; pour the white wine over - do NOT stir.
  5. 5Cook on low for 4 to 5 hours; an hour before you're going to serve, turn the crock pot to high, add the last bit of wine (Or water) the cut scallions (Optional) stir, and cook for an additional hour.
  6. 6)Stir, and serve over rice or noodles.
  7. 7Note: If you don't like your Mongolian Beef slightly sweet as the restaurants around here serve it, you can cut back on the brown sugar.

Fried Rice

By my friend Anneli Johnson (with a few notes in bold from me)
* make a batch of white rice (1.5 Cups measured raw was good for our family) and set aside for several hours to dry (fried rice is better if made with "old rice.")
* scramble a few eggs (I used 5 for our family of 5) - set aside.
* cut piece of pork into very small pieces. Marinade for several hours with chopped garlic, soy sauce, salt, and sugar. (I used 1/2 lb. cooked Pork Sausage marinated in the same manner and it was delicious!)
* When ready to make, warm cooked pork in a wok.
* Add carrots, green onions (or whatever else you want in it, I made a dish of Oriental Stir-Fry Veggies as a side dish and used some of them for the rice (carrots, broccoli, onions, peppers) and scrambled eggs.
* add cooked rice
* add some soy sauce and a little more salt.
Continually stir in wok until rice begins to get a little brown.
Then enjoy! 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Slices of Time: An Attempt to Catch Up

I've not been a very good blogger for the past ... mmmm ... year? So in a feeble attempt to catch up, there's really no way to do that, here's a quick peek at many of the milestone/events that have flashed past us recently.

E's Toothless Grin
I love that he lost BOTH his front teeth at nearly the same time. I've gotten so used to it, I'm gonna miss it when his new teeth come in! (And his new teeth are not bright white like his baby teeth were. He brushes honest! And drinks lots of milk. The dentist just said everyone has different teeth color and his will be darker than his baby teeth.)

Still toothless a month later while Skiing in Colorado.

Nolan's First Skating Lessons
Nolan has taken to skating well. Which is good, because it's hard to put a kid in skating lessons when he's crying and begging you not to. (been there!) Right after his first lesson 6 weeks ago (picture below) he came down with a nasty stomach flu. Can you believe that was only an hour or so after this photo was taken? Crazy bug. (Please never revisit)
 
First Steps onto the ice.
 
Throwing stuffed animals onto the ice is a great strategy to get kids to see beyond the fact that they have blades strapped to their feet and ice in front of them. Nolan has now passed his first class, SnowPlow Sam 1 and has graduated (sans cap and gown) to SnowPlow Sam 2.
 

 The Last Days of Hockey 2012-13
There are too many photos to post of hockey! So I'll post my most recent favs. While at Subway in Faribault, MN a few weeks ago some Firemen came in for a sandwich while we were there. They gave the boys official fireman stickers (firemen are always prepared, case in point they had a bunch of stickers in their wallet!) ... and the boys even had a use for the "negative space" sticker area. They apparently make great moustaches and beards. Who knew stickers had so many uses.

After THIS Sunday's tournament, Easton went with his coach and teammates to a practice in Dubuque for his team. It was a bit odd to leave with just 2 boys. And with them cashed out in the back, 
 I mean REALLY cashed out for the nearly 3.5 hour drive, 
 we had a quiet ride home.
And this is one of my fav. photos ... which we took self-portrait style in the hockey arena earlier this season ... uh, in the bathroom. Oops. Not the best place perhaps, but someday I'll treasure this moment.
I already do.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Colorado Ski Trip 2013

(Awful photo ... but it's all we've got)

This is our fourth trip to Copper Mountain, Colorado ... and in my book the best skiing yet. (There was even wonderful puffy, bountiful snow the last 2 days of the week! Those are my favorite conditions in which to ski.)
Of course the first fateful trip when our truck and all our stuff was stolen will forever be remembered ... but it's nice to fill in with good memories to help that first trip fade a bit.

I think the key this year for me was forgoing ALL coffee, chocolate, caffeine and really cutting back on my salt intake and power-drinking water. Last year I had a huge problem with my heart kinda freaking out ... which was a bit scary ... and after returning home I found out I was having episodes of PAC and PVC (pre-atrial contractions and pre-ventricle contractions) aka: an extra heart beat in both chambers of the heart. Apparently it's not a serious thing and is just something to monitor and manage by finding out what triggers it and avoiding those things. Well, coffee, chocolate, caffeine and stress are all key elements for me I guess. So in addition to avoiding those things I skied easier terrain and tried my best to be mellow.

Other than the rough start of acclimating to the higher altitude (800 feet above sea level in Iowa to 9,000+ feet in Colorado) things went very well. Higher altitude and my genetics apparently don't do so well ... surprising since I'm part Norwegian ... from the mountainous region even. hmmm. So "acclimating" included Nolan throwing up as soon as we reached our stopping destination to get skis (he does this every year so we were prepared with a bucket) ... and then having him AND Easton throw up all night for the first night. (ewww)  Easton also had splitting headaches and nightmares most of the week. Oh yes, Brayden also hit his wall right on schedule Monday afternoon, rebounding after Tylenol and a good long afternoon nap. The first three days of no sleep and headaches of my own did leave me a bit weary ... but it was good when most everyone rebounded. Here's a photo run down of some highlights.

The crew getting fitted for their skis.

Group #1 ready for the first day out.



Easton waiting for the bus ready to go skiing. They have a terrific bussing system at Copper Mtn. that will take you anywhere and goes constantly from 6am to 11pm!




Nolan did very well, although he preferred to forgo any
snowplowing and instead relied on his dad (and strap) to stop him. Hopefully he'll get the snowplow down by the next year. He "COULD" do it ... he just chose not to. (grrrr)
(He did ski without the strap btw ... this photo was early in the week)

 

The bigger boys had their own bedroom.





 Brayden is a much better skier than me thanks to hockey and having no fear ... and so I didn't see him most of the week. He skied with his Dad and the other guys. That was a bummer for me.
 

This is the look of a boy who would much rather ski with his dad and brother than with his mom. (Can't you feel the love?) It was a constant look last week ... Easton is a very good skier and he did not let himself enjoy that very much last week unfortunately. In fact, all the kids seemed to be battling fevers and colds on and off. Easton still isn't feeling the best.


This is how we look when we ski, honest. Crazy, eh?


I was glad Easton got to hang out with me ... even if he wasn't exactly thrilled.
Part of Easton and my favorite run, "Easy Feeling":


Nolan:

 


Easton:



Brayden:


 

I love this shot of Easton swooshing in the snow. 

 The kids hanging out


 Skiing the trees (Ethan, Gabe, Brayden)



Brayden and Gabe in the deep snow mogels



 This was a new pose. The "face-plant-snow-angel." Nolan has it down.

 (If you zoom in you can see he's smiling and that there really IS a snow angel, ha!)
Forever the Kidder.

 Hot-Tubbing after skiing



Pretty shot




Easton and I on the chairlift:




Pretty Shot 2




 Jeff and Nolan on the chair lift


Jeff and I even got the opportunity to go out for supper on Valentine's Night thanks to a generous offer from Dwight and Bonnie to watch the kids for us. We so rarely get out alone, it was quite a treat.


Remember how I was supposed to stay mellow? 
Well, Thursday when I came in for lunch this is what I found. 
Brayden was on a steep run and hit a big bump of snow that he did not see. His knees came up and hit him in the nose and mouth. I guess there was quite a big blood spot in the snow from a gushing nose bleed, torn lip and gums.

 It was pretty swollen and a good chunk of the inside of his lip is gone. But luckily nothing was broken! The photos don't quite capture it.

This was one of the shots I took when I was skiing alone (pretty much every afternoon.) It was quiet solitude. In fact, some days I was literally the ONLY PERSON on the run ... it was kinda crazy. But crazy-fun. My favorite run was the one I took at 3pm on Valentine's Day in the deep, puffy snow of my favorite run, "Easy Feelin'." I dedicated it to a little girl named "Charlotte" from NDS. Nothing like doing a run in someone's honor ;-)  I totally recommend it. 

Funny, this is the first year that these huge mountains hovering all around, breathing down my back ... haven't really bothered me. Could it be that we've made peace and I'm getting used to them? I could even see myself moving here someday. ;-)

The family

The family