9.15.2014

Making Perfect Stir Fry

We are now obsessed with stir fry. It's our go to dish. It's the most versatile dish I know, too. You can toss almost anything (any edible thing that is) into a stir fry and it will most likely turn out fantastic!
We eat stir fried vegetables and chicken probably 2-3 nights out of the week. Usually, I have no specific plan as to what vegetables will go in a stir fry on which night. Most nights, I open the fridge and choose the vegetable combination that sounds most delicious to me that night that we have available. My Stir fry style is unplanned, unmeasured and thrown together. Most nights I use vegetables, chicken, a tsp or two of oil, a squirt of Braggs and call it a night. It's delicious just like that. 
I say now about as referring to the last 5 years. Since right before we've moved abroad basically. Just before we moved to Korea, I lived with grand parents for the summer, and saw them stir fry often. Seeing them stir fry so much placed a little bit of stir fry knowledge in my brain, stored away, ready to be taken out upon our arrival to Korea. In Korea, we didn't have an oven, only a stove top, and had something like a whopping 3 man fleet of pots and pans, which included the glorious Wok, the King of stir fry's. 
Growing up we never saw our mothers make stir fry (besides fajitas! We ARE Texans after all. Or sauteed mushrooms and onions to top our steaks on steak night! Holla!). So, it made us think maybe others were the same, and are still living in a stir-fry-less world.
So, because we love stir fry so much, I decided to share with you some of our best stir fry tips and recipes!

Why Make Stir Fry
1. You only use one pot! Easy cooking and easy clean up!
2. They're super easy and fast.
3. They're healthy.
4. They're a great way to clear out veggies in your fridge.
5. It's a great way to add more vegetables to your diet!
6. They're delicious!
7. You don't need a recipe. 

My Stir Fry Tips

-Buy a Wok. I good, thick wok. Our wok is our most used kitchen accessory. Woks are perfect for stir frying because of their fantastic heat retention.

-Only use a few tsp of oil. Seriously, this is all we use for a huge wok-full of stir fried veggies & meat. Depending on what kind of oil I am using, I usually put 1 to 2 tsp down first, tilt the pan around to coat the bottom, then I place the veggies. I usually cook the meat last. Before placing the meat in the pan, I push all the veggies to one side, drop another tsp of oil on the other side, and place the meat on top.

-Any vegetable will do!  Any vegetable is stir friable (is that a word?). Before you slice up your veggies, think about flavor combinations. Some things just go great together! Making stir fry is also a great way to get your leafy greens in. In China, any and all greens are cooked. Thinly chop a whole bunch of spinach, kale or other leafy green and throw it into your stir fry the last 30 seconds.

-Use garlic and ginger. Add more flavor to your stir fry without increasing the sodium or adding fake junk into your veggies. 

-Think about how you should cut/slice/chop. Some days I go with long sliced vegetables. Other days, if I'm making stir fried veggies as a side dish, I go with chopped small veggies. Some days, its all random.

-Think about order. If you're adding large pieces of potatoes, carrots or other hard vegetables, put those in first. If your cooking large chunks of potatoes with thinly cut mushrooms, you don't want to cook away your mushrooms while your potatoes are softening.

-Get creative! Try different oils. Add a drop of sesame oil. Add some nuts. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds. Add a vegetable you seldom cook with or have never tried. Sprinkle with some fresh herbs. Throw some kimchi in there.

 -Seasonings. Kind of a repeat but I'll touch on it. First, try to season with natural, low calorie things, like ginger, garlic, onion, kimchi, lemon, lime, red chilli and fresh herbs and spices. If you still need more flavor, add some low sodium soy sauce, or better yet add Bragg's Amino Soy Sauce. Try a tbs or two of oyster sauce or fish sauce (these are go to flavor boosters in our house). I have even added a little mustard to some stir fry. Again, get creative!

-Try adding fruit. Pineapple is a great one to add! But hard apples, oranges and pears also work. The fruit is great for bringing out the meats flavor. 

-Think about steaming. If you have a lot of hard vegetables your cooking with or you want things to cook even faster throw all your veggies in the wok. Put 1/2 or so of water, put that amazing Wok lid on, and let your veggies sit for awhile steaming under that glass dome. After 5 minutes or so, remove the lid and let the veggies stir fry uncovered, so all the water cooks up. If I steam them, I don't use oil, and just cook the meat in a thin layer or the left over water.

-Protein Sources. We use chicken most often but there are nights we throw shrimp, salmon, clams or tofu in instead. We rarely use pork or beef, but both are great, too! 

-Think about trying some new curries. Curry paste packets are extremely easy to find and can turn your stir fry into something even more amazing! I rarely follow the vegetable recommendations on curry packets. I add the coconut milk or water it calls for, and then load it up with the vegetables I want. 

 -Serve with rice, quinoa, noodles or eat plain. 

-Make a straight veggie stir fry as a side dish to a main. I've done this the last few nights. I've made a baked chicken dish with a finely chopped vegetable medley stir fried on the side.

-Save the left overs. There's so many things to do with the left overs. You can throw it in eggs the next morning. Throw it in a soup the next night or make lettuce wraps with it, to name a few examples. 
-Remember portions! Just because it's healthy and mostly vegetables doesn't mean you can eat the whole pan. I am seriously just learning this. I mean I knew, but I didn't think about it. It was just good! And so I'd eat more and more. Ugh, sad but true. Use a measuring cup to serve your self, or if you're cooking for two and you have enough for four, dish the 3rd and 4th serving into containers before you serve your self for dinner. It's perfect for lunch the next day!
A few of my Stir Fry Obsessions 

I am obsessed with..

Mushrooms, red bell pepper and broccoli.
Previously any stir fry I made you could guarantee that it would have these three veggies in it. But then Zachary requested that we take a break from broccoli, "What husband? You don't love having broccoli every night?!" So, now you can guarantee that there will always be red bell pepper and mushrooms included. And if there's not, I get a little sad. 

Cabbage. It's kind of an obsession in our house. In Dongying there were months where we'd eat stir fried cabbage with peanuts almost every single night. It was just amazing.

Coconut oil. Oh man. I'm in love. Currently, I am loving cooking the chicken first in coconut oil, then adding mushroom, red and yellow bell pepper and zucchini. Stir frying it all together and topping it with a few cashews. 

Happy Stir frying! 

Do you stir fry often? What are your best tips?

*Original Photo Source by Ginny
  post signature

9.10.2014

The Chocolate Hills

 photo thechocolatehills-bohol_zps8b63148c.jpg
Everywhere we went in Bohol was soaked in beauty. The earth was rich with all the best hues of green and the sky was always a beautiful blue. The Chocolate Hills, one of Bohol's most famous sites, if not THE most famous, was no exception. The Chocolate Hills are pretty awesome to behold. They are all perfectly circle at the base and are said to look like little, or rather huge, Hershey Kisses, in the deep of summer, when the grass has turned brown.
We visited the Chocolate Hills area twice. To get there the first time we rented a driver, who took us to all the Bohol sites in a morning to afternoon for 1200 pesos. The car entrance fee into the Chocolate Hills was 50 pesos, after that, your good to climb on up to the top of one of those Hershey's, where they have bathrooms, a staircase and a viewing deck. The second trip, we rented a scooter and drove out to the Chocolate Hills area but we stayed below since we had already done the observation deck. On scooter it took us around 2 hours from Loboc. As an alternative to the deck, we went to Chaps, a ropes course arena and park, which boasted more great views. 
Half of the viewing deck was under construction due to the most recent Earth quake.
The views were beautiful no matter which way you turned your camera, Chocolate Hill or no Chocolate Hill.
But I will say I liked the views that included the Chocolate Hills best.
At the entrance of the park you can also rent ATV's to roam around on and explore. You can rent them at a whopping 800 pesos for 1/2 hour. To which I say, so not worth it! But hey, to each his own.
To one direction of the hill we were on, a storm was rolling in. Short, nightly storms this time of year are what make everything so lush and green in the tropics!
 It was a bummer because some of the best views of the hills were straight ahead, which often included the earthquake damage in our pictures.
Exhibit above, the construction "site."
Let's try this again, sans construction site. Darn, still there.
There we go! Oh, but no hills! Boo. Dumb earthquakes.
The Chocolate Hills did not disappoint. They were as stunning as everyone says they are. It's obvious why they are Bohol's trademark. The Chocolate Hills, just another reason added to the long list of why we've fallen in love with Bohol!
post signature

9.04.2014

Motorbiking in the Rain: Bohol

 
While in the Philippines, we rented a scooter for the day, so that Zachary could have a 'test drive' at all the scooter fun/gain some scooter skills before buying one. Also, we know renting a scooter would be a great way to explore some of the island on our own. I'm so glad we rented one. It was super cheap at $10 for the day & we had a wonderful time! We rode the entire day and had tons of fun stop offs. The first half of the day was bright and sunny, but our 2 hour ride home was super rainy!  There were several people pulled over on the side of the road, waiting the rain out, but we decided to keep going. This made for some great pictures & a cool ride.
The Philippines is hecka gorgeous, rain or shine.
People pulled over waiting the rain out.
Zipping through the man made mahogany forest. 
 
Once we go closer to town (Loboc), after our hour and a half ride through the rain, we decided to pull over for a little bit. As soon as we did, the rain started to reside, leaving some of the most beautiful views. AND, a rainbow! It's been ages since I've seen a rainbow, so this made me extreeeemly happy & just super grateful.
It was such a good day and the rainbow topped it off. I was exuding with joy. Thank you Lord for such a great day & the fact that rainbows always point to You!
post signature
Pin It button on image hover