My mother is one of those people who always has a fully-stocked kitchen. The fridge and freezer are always over-flowing, as are the cupboards. If there is a blizzard, my parents will not starve. If there is a tropical heatwave, there will be cool drinks. In a Nuclear Apocalypse, they’ll outlast the cockroaches. On judgement day, there will be nachos.
I’m not one of those people.
I plan my week’s meals, and I buy the ingredients for them. A week at a time. If I’m craving chocolate, I have to walk to the shops, and convince myself that I’m burning off the calories I’ll be consuming.
Once in a while, things go wrong – one of the ingredients will have gone off, I’ll have forgotten something, or I just (shock) won’t feel like cooking (most often, it’s more accurate to say that I won’t feel like cleaning up after). Those days are known as Eff-it days…. as in “eff-it, I’m having a take-away!” Those who know me, will know that this happened far too often.
Lately, I’ve been trying to lose some lbs and save some £££s, so the Eff-it days have greatly dwindled, to be replaced with what my friends Trudy & Julian call Ifits days – “If it’s in the cupboard, that’s what we’re having!”
So, despite my propensity towards Mother Hubbard-dom, I can honestly say that the beef itself is the only ingredient from Ifits Sweet & Spicy Beef Stir-fry that wasn’t already in my cupboards. The whole Idea of this recipe is that many of the ingredients can be replaced by anything else!
So what are you waiting for? Get your sleeves rolled up, and get up to the elbows in the cupboard!
Whatever’s in the cupboard
1 pack of stir-fry beef strips
1 large leek, trimmed and sliced length-wise
1 large red pepper, sliced
1 pack of noodles (I used Amoy Straight-to-Wok ones)
2tbsp dark soy sauce
1tbsp runny honey
juice & zest of 1 lemon
1tsp garlic puree
1tsp ginger puree
1/2tbsp chilli flakes
1tbsp coconut oil
I ate this to myself, because I’m a big boy, but it would probably do two normal appetites!
1. First up, let’s make the sauce. Combine the soy sauce, honey, lemon juice & zest, garlic, ginger, and chilli flakes.
2. Add the beef to the sauce, and leave it to marinate. Ideally you’d do this for at least an hour or two, maybe even overnight… but as it’s an Ifits meal, you’re probably starving and in a hurry… otherwise you’d be off to the shop or take-away, right? So, you can just leave it as long as it takes to…
3. In a wok, sauté the leeks in the coconut oil, to soften them. Yes, leeks. Ifits, remember! They were left over from another recipe that will feature in the future. Don’t judge me, I had no onions. Leeks are good. And… I’m in Wales, so… in the words of Jesse Pinkman: Yeah Bitch, Leeks!
4. Add the marinated beef (and the marinade), and stir-fry until the beef is almost cooked through.
5. Chuck the peppers in for the last few minutes, so they keep a little bit of crunch. Add the noodles at this point too (now, if you’re using dried, instant noodles, you’ll regret not cooking them first… go back a few stages, and pretend the rest didn’t happen yet. You’re the master of your own density.)
6. Heat the peppers and noodles through for a few minutes, make sure it’s all thoroughly combined, and serve with salt & pepper, to taste.
Given that you shouldn’t have to buy anything especially to make a true ifits meal, this should be a freebie! However, in the interests of fairness and completeness, I’ve completed a costing for the items I did buy in (that’s just the beef!)
And believe it or not, we have a tie! Tesco & Asda are honours even at £4.00. Morrisons follow shortly after at £4.05, with Sainsbury’s trailing behind (as usual) at £4.50. In fairness, you get a little more for your money at the latter two, but the Tidy Savings rules look at pack cost rather than weight-cost, as long as the pack covers the quantity required for the recipe.
The whole point of this recipe is that it’s one big tweak in its entirety!
Had a roast dinner on Sunday? Chuck the leftover meat in here instead of the beef (unless you had beef. Then, it will just be the beef, not instead of the beef. What is your beef? You’re in a funny mood, today!) I’d particularly like to try this with smoked gammon!
Why use meat at all? Chuck in any and all veg you have. Except cucumber. That’s the devil’s food, and must be avoided at all costs!
It’s unusual for me not to have any mushrooms knocking about somewhere, but I’d definitely have either sliced chestnut mushrooms, or whole/halved button mushrooms in there if I could.
The zest of the lemon didn’t seem to add anything much, so I wouldn’t go to the hassle in future – I just happened to have a spare lemon from the same recipe that the leeks came from. If I hadn’t had a lemon to hand, I do have lemon juice in the house.
I guess I’d struggle without the honey & soy sauce. The stir-fry could work without a sauce, but it wouldn’t be for me!
Finally… I had intended to chuck some halved cashew nuts on top, as I’ve always got them knocking around from my recent health-kick… but I forgot 🙁
This is a personal creation, and I’m glad to share it. It’s simple and straightforward, and there’s a real sense of achievement in creating something out of nothing.
I do owe some thanks to Trudian for ifits and effits, though!