I am a creature of habit. When I go into a new restaurant, I'll usually order something I'm pretty sure I'll like, and if I do, every time I go back, I'll order it again.

I'm not terribly adventurous. When meeting friends at a Thai restaurant last year, I stared at the menu for a long time, and asked about a million questions, until the waitress pointed out a beef dish that was similar to Sweet & Sour Chicken, which I love.

She tried to discourage me, however, and suggested I be adventurous and try something else.

I thanked her for her help, but ordered the beef dish, and I liked it. I did, however, step out of my comfort zone a little, and ordered a highly recommended Thai beverage that unfortunately tasted like steeped potpourri.

You win some, you lose some.

It should be no surprise then when we went to a national chain known for its Asian cuisine that I ordered the closest thing to my favorite sweet/sour combo: Mongolian Beef.

I enjoyed it so much, and since this restaurant is so far away, I searched online for a copycat recipe so that we could make it at home. I found dozens of them. We found one that sounded good, and it was. In fact, after several adjustments, we thought that what we made tasted even better than what we had in the restaurant.

I have to give my husband credit for adapting this recipe into deliciousness. We've added vegetables to make it a complete meal, and cut the sugar in half. I won't say it's a healthful dish, but probably a lot better for you than the original.

Serve it on a bed of steamed rice, and you have an entire meal.

Mock Mongolian

Beef

Makes four servings

3 teaspoons oil

4 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 cup of broccoli florets

Salt and pepper

Paprika

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

2 teaspoons fresh garlic, chopped

1 cup soy sauce

One-half cup water

Three-quarter cup brown sugar

1 cup of oil for frying

1 to 1 and one-half pounds lean beef (we use a London broil or flank steak)

One-quarter cup cornstarch

2 large green onions, sliced

4 cups fresh cooked rice

In a large frying pan heat 3 teaspoons of oil over medium heat, then add carrots and broccoli, season with salt, pepper and paprika to taste, and stir fry for about 5 minutes.

Remove from pan and set aside. Add ginger and garlic and sauté for about a minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add soy sauce and water and bring to a boil, then boil for 2 minutes. Set aside.

Slice meat into long thin strips and coat with corn starch. Allow to set for about 10 minutes. Heat oil to about 350 degrees in another large frying pan and cook meat until brown on both sides. Remove from oil and drain.

Remove oil from pan, but leave behind any brown bits. Add meat, vegetables, sauce and green onions and heat through.

Serve over cooked rice.