Sesame Beef and Broccoli "Lo Mein"

Counting down the days to spring break! I still need to get some work done next week, but perhaps there will be less scheduling. Plus I'm gearing up to go out to the vineyard to do some initial prep for my second field season. I can't believe it's been over one year since I moved to Texas and I have over a whole year of my Ph.D. under my belt. Despite the increase in work in the last year I still love coming back and blogging recipes. This is one of my favorite escapes from my usual responsibilities! Lately it seems like all I do is read. My stack of journal articles on my desk seems to be growing despite all my reading. It's impossible to speed-read through them because I will miss out on important details. I wish journal article reading was like reading a book for pleasure because then if I skip a word or two it wouldn't alter the outcome of my comprehension of the material.

At least despite all my work I took some time to go to a local park this weekend and have a picnic. This park is pretty special because it has something called "Prairie dog town" which is a prairie dog habitat. I'm sure some people think of them as nuisances, but I think prairie dogs are super cute; I love the little bark sound they make. Sorry to disappoint, but I didn't go to any trouble making any picnic food. My honey and I got salads from a salad bar and enjoyed them partly at a picnic table...until we got too cold, then we had to migrate to the car. I think it still counts as a picnic, right?

I hope to spend some time outdoors this spring break instead of working through it. The weather is getting so sunny and nice---around 55-70 degrees here in west Texas. Even as I sit here in my office I can hear the birds chirping. It's hard to focus on work with all the sunlight streaming into my office window! I just want to be outside...But, the sunshine putting me in a good mood, which is welcome after these few stressful weeks that have passed. Plus I'm snacking on Sophia's Survival Food jerky chews as I work, which also puts me in a good mood...the mild flavor is my favorite!

Also this weekend I hurriedly grocery shopped. Luckily I checked out the store flier before going so I had a good idea of what I wanted. There were a lot of great sales, including bags of pre-chopped fresh vegetables 2/$3. I don't normally buy that stuff because it is a bit more expensive, but this was a good deal and they honestly do save time and effort. I used these veggies to make an awesome stir-fry that reminded me of lo mein! The veggie lo mein came in the form of broccoli slaw mix, which is primarily shredded broccoli with some shredded carrots and purple cabbage. I love cooked cole slaw mix as a quick side dish, so I thought broccoli would be good as well. The broccoli even has the square-ish shape of lo mein and becomes tender like al dente pasta as it cooks, so it was the perfect substitute. Stir-fries look like they will be fast because they are fast cooking, but all the vegetable chopping takes a while, so these vegetables were a great way to have dinner on the table quickly. If you have the time or don't want to use pre-cut vegetables, use whole stalks of broccoli but save the stems and cut them with a mandolin slicer or julienne with a knife.

Sesame Beef and Broccoli "Lo Mein"
Printable Recipe

3 tbsp low sodium wheat-free tamari sauce (can substitute coconut aminos)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ginger powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 lb beef stir fry meat (can come pre-cut or you can cut sirloin or round steak into thin slices)
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 tbsp virgin coconut oil
3 cups broccoli florets (I used pre-cut, but broke a few larger florets into smaller pieces)
1 cup snow peas, ends trimmed
2 1/2 cups broccoli slaw mix (mix of pre-shredded broccoli stems with shredded carrots and purple cabbage)
1/4-1/2 cup water

1. In a medium bowl, blend the tamari, onion, garlic, and ginger powders and black pepper. Mix the meat into the sauce mixture; I used my hands to make sure all the surfaces were coated. Set aside to marinade for 15 minutes at room temperature.
2. In a large skillet set between medium and medium-high heat, add the sesame seeds and toast them until lightly browned. They will first look oily, then clump together, before becoming fragrant and golden. This usually happens when you aren't looking and before you know it they are burned so don't walk away from them and be sure to stir them frequently. Set them aside.
3. Melt the oil in the same pan you toasted the sesame seeds in. Add the beef and all its marinade and stir-fry. You may have to turn up the heat to keep the meat from steaming, which will prevent browning.

4. Once the meat is about 80% cooked, add the broccoli and stir-fry for about 2 minutes, or until the florets are just tender but the stalks are still raw and the broccoli takes on a brighter green color. Then add the snow peas, cook 2 minutes more (they should turn bright green as well), and finally the broccoli slaw and 1/4 cup of water to create steam and de-glaze the pan. Stir-fry until the broccoli slaw wilts, about 2 minutes. You may need to add a little more water to keep things from sticking. By the time the sauce is nearly evaporated, toss in the toasted sesame seeds and serve.

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