budding top chefs

July 21, 2011


As much as I love to bake at every chance I get, I surprisingly do a very limited amount of cooking.

This summer, I’ve gotten a little taste of the apartment life. Though at first I was apprehensive, I discovered that I absolutely LOVE it, and I would be very sad to move back to the dorms this fall if I weren’t living in a sweet suite with one of my best friends.

However, living in an apartment means living without a meal plan, and “very limited cooking” translates into a diet consisting of cereal, wraps, yogurt, fruit, and raw vegetables. Occasionally, I’ll even approach the stove to heat up some soup, but only if I’m feeling especially daring that day.

If you walked into our apartment, I’d be willing to bet a dozen cupcakes that the Food Network would be on TV. It has a mesmerizing way of pulling me in–the intense racing against the clock to create culinary masterpieces, the palpable tension between competing chefs, the deftness of seasoned cooks creating quick and delicious meals, and the gorgeously decorated cakes capture my attention in a way that rivals the way that ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ can.

One of my really good longtime friends, Kerry, is equally riveted by the FN. He’s been at Penn State as well for most of the summer, being a researcher by day, Food Network watcher by night (among other things). But the prime difference between us is that not only has he been watching, but he’s also been doing.

With his help, I decided it was time for me to venture into the cooking world.

Kerry deserves most of the credit though. I can’t say that a single one of the hands in the pictures are mine. I probably spent more time behind the camera than cooking, and sadly I didn’t even have the DSLR camera to take quality pictures. But I’m totally fine with being a sous-chef!

Here’s what went down:


You’ll need some sirloin, peppers, onion, chili sauce, brown sugar, sherry, cornstarch, red pepper flakes, plus some other ingredients that I forgot to include (my b).


Start off by crushing some garlic


Mince it to release yummy garlicky flavor


Slice up the beef into thin pieces


Mix up the soy sauce/sherry/chili sauce/etc. concoction



And throw the meat in to marinate while you prepare the vegetables.


Chop up some gorgeous bell peppers (Look at that ring action! Skills)


Dice up some onions and try not to cry


Add the vegetables to very hot olive oil and cook until slightly browned but still firm


Do the same with the beef


Combine everything (beef, peppers, onions, and marinade) and simmer for a couple minutes until the sauce thickens.


Prepare some sauteed asparagus on the side.


So, so, so good.


We served this over rice, with asparagus on the side. The asparagus was sauteed in olive oil with salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and red pepper flakes.

My first foray into real food was so much fun! And nowhere near as difficult as I thought it would be. Definitely a success 🙂

Beef with Peppers

adapted from The Pioneer Woman


1-1/2 pound Sirloin Steak, sliced thin against the grain

1/2 cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce

3 Tablespoons Cooking Sherry

2 Tablespoons Packed Light Brown Sugar

2 Tablespoons Cornstarch

2 cloves Garlic, Minced

1 teaspoon Red Chile Paste

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 whole Medium Vidalia Onion Sliced

2 whole Red and Yellow Bell Peppers, Cored And Sliced Into Rings

Red Pepper Flakes, For Sprinkling

Mix together soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, cornstarch, garlic, and chili paste. Place sliced beef in the mixture and toss to coat. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high to high heat. When it is very hot, throw in the onions and cook for less than a minute. Remove to a separate plate. Return skillet to flame, allow to reheat, and add bell peppers. Cook for a minute, tossing, until peppers have brown/black bits but are still firm. Remove to a plate.

Return skillet to heat and allow to get hot. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add 1/3 of the meat mixture, evenly distributing over the surface of the skillet. Allow to sit for 20 to 30 seconds, then turn with tongs. Cook for another 30 seconds, then remove to a separate plate. Repeat with remaining meat until all brown.

Reduce heat to low. Add all meat, onions, and peppers to the skillet and toss to combine. Pour in remaining marinating sauce and stir. Allow to simmer on low for a few minutes. Sauce will slowly thicken. Turn off heat.

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