Life has been insane lately.
My meal planning has suffered greatly during the past few weeks. I pride myself on being organized (almost to a fault), and each week’s menu and accompanying grocery list is planned out well in advance. Except when life takes over.
Not only have we been super busy with social stuff lately, but we’re trying to prep for an upcoming beach vacation, during which we’re flying with Kieran for the first time, all while dealing with toddler tantrums and home-ownership woes on the reg (our pool has been the bane of our existence this summer. So much money, so little swimming). All first world problems, of course, but exhausting all the same. That vacation can’t come soon enough.
The general life craziness coupled with my summer laziness when it comes to cooking has resulted in some pretty pathetic meals as of late. Lots of pizza has been ordered. Lots of eggs have been consumed for more than one meal in a day. Lots of “what do you want for dinner?” “I don’t know. Nothing that we have here, that’s for sure.”
Blah! It makes my type-A self nuts.
One good thing that comes out of me being in a cooking rut is that I eventually get inspired to try out some new meals. Some new QUICK meals. I’m a sucker for anything “one-pot” or “30-minute” in the recipe title. I hone right on in on these types of recipes when I have been lacking the motivation in the kitchen. I need something quick, easy, and super yummy to get me back on the horse.
So, today, I’m sharing one of the results of my post-slump inspiration: sesame beef stir fry! Bonus: it is ALMOST a one-pot meal (you have to cook the rice in a different pot).
This meal comes together so easily and tastes so incredible, it’s hard to believe you can get it on the table in 30 minutes. But you can!
It starts with cooking your rice at the beginning of your half-hour cooking block. Get that out of the way. Just fluff it up and keep it covered in the hot pot until you are ready to serve.
Next, the beef. AKA: the most important part of beef stir fry. Slice it thin, toss it in a bag with some cornstarch, and sear it in a hot pan until crispy. While the beef cooks, chop up your veggies.
Then, cook the veggies in the same hot skillet (“hot” is key here. Whenever you’re making stir fries, everything should cook quickly and over high heat) and whisk up the sauce to pour over them as they get nice and tender.
Toss it all together and serve over that rice. Easy peasy. And freaking delicious.
Meals like this one have become my saving grace these past couple weeks. And while take-out pizza still makes a once weekly appearance at our house (unapologetically so), I hope I can keep churning out meals like this one to keep our boredom at bay.
1 lb flank steak
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 cup shredded or finely chopped carrots
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped scallions
2 handfuls of baby spinach (roughly 1½-2 cups)
¼ cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon hot sauce
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, pressed or grated
1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 3 tablespoons of cold water
2 cups cooked brown rice
Additional chopped scallions, for garnish
Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Cook your rice, according to package directions, at the start of your cook time. Fluff with a fork and keep warm until you are ready to serve.
Meanwhile, slice the flank steak, against the grain, as thinly as possible (Tip: if you have a little extra time, stick the beef in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes before slicing. If not, no biggie!).
Place the sliced steak in a resealable plastic bag and season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Add the cornstarch and seal the bag. Shake the bag until all the beef is evenly coated in the cornstarch.
Preheat a large skillet over high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add half the beef to the pan, being sure not to overcrowd the pan, and sear for 1-2 minutes per side, or until browned on both sides. Remove the first batch of beef from the pan and place it on a plate. Repeat with the second batch. Chop up your veggies while the beef cooks.
Reduce the heat slightly and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the carrots, bell pepper, and scallions and stir frequently, cooking for a few minutes or until the veggies are tender-crisp.
While the veggies are cooking, make the sauce by whisking together all the ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup until smooth. Add the baby spinach to the pan and allow it to wilt slightly, and then pour in the sauce.
Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring almost constantly, until it is thickened and glossy.
Return the beef and any collected juices on the plate to the pan and stir to incorporate until everything is evenly coated in the sauce.
Serve the beef and veggies over the cooked rice and garnish with additional scallions and sesame seeds.