Thursday, December 1, 2016

Menu Swap

Jessie and I did another menu swap a few weeks ago.  I love sharing recipes with her because I get to think of my dear friend as I prepare food each night, and her menu is always great!


Thai Chicken Pizza - this was my favorite meal of the week!  The flavors and different textures were great.

Korean Beef Bowl - throw a simple veg on the side of this quick crowd pleaser for an easy dinner

Chicken and Vegetable Dumpling Soup - I'd actually made this before a long time ago, but was grateful for the reminder of this delicious soup.  We liked it so much, I made it again this week with turkey leftovers and homemade turkey stock.

Creamy Chicken and Quinoa Casserole -  this is a fancier version of your grandma's broccoli rice casserole - comfort food

Broiled Tilapia Tacos - Jessie loves tacos, so I can always count on her menu including a new version to try.  These are great, and it's worth hunting down a ripe avocado to make the sauce

Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps - this was my youngest daughter's favorite meal.  She and I are both suckers for beans and rice.  Add a crispy tortilla, wrap in foil, and you have an easy picnic meal!

Refried Beans - I made these to put on nachos for my extended family and everyone was raving about them.  I've done them in the crockpot before, but I liked the flavor of these better.

Aunt Jo's Sweedish Pancakes - the ones I was able to make without destroying were delicious, but I needed Aunt Jo to come for breakfast to give me a tutorial on how to make her pancakes!

Moon Pies - YUM!  Make these!  And if you make the mistake I did and DOUBLE the amount of butter for the pies AND the filling, your family will thank you all the more!


Monday, November 21, 2016

Chicken and Butternut Squash Satay Curry

I found this yummy recipe here.  The meal was simple to pull together, had rich flavor, and went over well with everyone at my table. 


1 medium to large butternut squash, peeled and chopped into smallish cubes
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I only used a pinch for the kids' sake)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric 
6 cloves garlic, crushed
a decent piece of fresh ginger (about 2 thumbs’ widths), peeled and chopped finely
about 800 grams to a kilo chicken thighs or breast, chopped into small pieces
14 ounces coconut milk
3 tablespoons peanut butter
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1 tablespoon honey
2x 14 ounce cans chopped tomatoes (I only used one can)

for serving:
fresh cilantro, crushed peanuts & natural yoghurt 
rice & poppadum


Toss the butternut squash in a large bowl with the chili powder, curry powder, cayenne pepper and turmeric, and set aside.

Heat up a big drizzle of oil in a heavy skillet, then cook the garlic and ginger together for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken and cook for another two minutes or so or until white.

Add the coconut milk, then stir in the peanut butter, Thai curry paste and honey.

Add the butternut squash with spices and the tomatoes, and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the squash is tender. Squish about half of the squash into the curry before serving.

Serve over rice, garnished with the coriander and peanuts, and with the yoghurt and poppadums on the side.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Pumpkin Apple Cake

After a trip to the apple orchard with my friend, Patricia, she suggested I use some of the apples to make this cake.  I always take Patricia's advice when it comes to food!  This wholesome cake is moist and just right for Fall. 


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup pure maple syrup, divided (or less - I only used 1/2 cup total)
  • 2 cups apples, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch slices
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place foil over the base of a 9 inch springform pan and then place sides on pan (I used an 8-inch cake pan). Grease well.

  • In a non-stick skillet, melt the butter and ¼ cup maple syrup over medium heat. Once the mixture is melted, add the sliced apples and stir to coat. Cover and let cook for 5 minutes.
  • Place apples on bottom of springform pan.

  • Mix together the flour, baking soda, and spices in a large bowl. In seperate bowl, whisk together the oil, remaining ½ cup maple syrup, egg, vanilla, and pumpkin. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

  • Pour pumpkin batter over apples and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Remove pan to a cooling rack and let cool for 10 minutes. With a butter knife, loosen cake from side of pan. Remove side of springform pan. Invert cake onto a serving platter. Remove base and foil from cake. Allow to cool completely and then dust with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Plantain Tortillas


My sister-in-law introduced me to this flourless tortilla alternative.  I love them!  My kids think they're a tad bitter, but not so much that a little cheese and taco meat, or sandwich fillings can't cover it up.  The plantains need to be very green (otherwise the wraps have a banana flavor), so when I see extra green plantains at the store, I consider it taco night!  


3 green plantains
1 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt

Line a large jelly-roll pan with parchment paper.  This is a must!  Cooking spray won't cut it.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Pour onto parchment-lined baking sheet and use spatula to spread out evenly.  Bake 27-30 minutes.  Cut into 6 or 8 rectangles and serve warm with fillings of your choice.  

Reheat leftovers in the oven instead of the microwave to avoid drying the wraps out.




Monday, October 17, 2016

Cauliflower Macaroni Cheese

Pasta, cheese, bacon, bread crumbs, and "hidden" cauliflower all baked in one dish.  What's not to love?  I did have quite the messy kitchen when dinner was ready, but that's not entirely abnormal when I'm cooking so I shouldn't blame it on the recipe.  The recipe I used can be found here.  Below are the approximate translated measurements I used =)


6 slices bacon
1 head cauliflower
12 oz. dried macaroni
olive oil
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 thick slices of bread
1 Tbsp dried rosemary
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese


Fill large pot 2/3 full with lightly salted water and bring to a boil.  Meanwhile . . .

Lay bacon in a 9x13 baking dish and place in cold oven.  Preheat oven to 425F with the bacon in the oven.  The next steps should take about 15 minutes - the approximate time you'll want the bacon to cook.  

Trim cauliflower, removing coarse outer leaves and the tough end of the stalk.  Break cauliflower into large chunks and place in boiling water.  Add dried pasta and 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Stirring to prevent sticking on the bottom, bring water back to boil.  Cook partially covered with lid.  Meanwhile . . .

In a medium bowl, mix cheese, sour cream, and yogurt.  Set aside.

When cauliflower and pasta are just cooked (a knife inserted into the cauliflower stalk should slide in easily), reserve 1 cup cooking water then drain in a large colander.

The bacon should be done by now.  Remove bacon slices from dish and set aside on paper towels to absorb the grease.  Tip pasta and cauliflower into the dish the bacon was cooked in.  Add about 1/2 cup of the reserved water.  Stir in cheese mixture, breaking up the cauliflower as you go.  If necessary, use a potato masher to break into fine bits.  If the pasta mixture now seems too dry, stir in more of the reserved water.  Season to taste.

To make the breadcrumb topping: place bacon, bread and rosemary in a food processor (my Vitamix did the job).  Process well until you have a breadcrumb topping texture you are pleased with, adding a drizzle of olive oil as necessary to help bind everything together.  Evenly spread breadcrumb mixture over pasta dish.

Cook 8-10 minutes.  Broil 1-2 minutes if you want to give the breadcrumbs extra texture.  The topping should be golden and the pasta sauce should be bubbly.  Grate parmesan on top for serving.  Enjoy!


Friday, September 30, 2016

Toasted Millet Muffins

Muffins are a staple in our home.  Some muffins are more like cupcakes, but these are hearty and filling.  My friend, Patricia, introduced us to toasted millet, and my kids love the crunchy texture it adds.  You could swap out the coconut oil for any other oil, but we like the added flavor.  I bet some dried fruit would work well also.


2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup millet, toasted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare muffin pan with cups

In a large bowl, mix the flour, millet, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix the vanilla, buttermilk, egg, oil, and honey.  Stir liquid mixture into flour mixture just until everything is moist.  Transfer batter to prepared muffin pan.

Bake 12-15 minutes.  Enjoy!


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Banana Pancakes

These flourless, sugarless pancakes are a weekly breakfast favorite in our home.  You can't beat a quick breakfast that goes from the Vitamix to the griddle to my mouth.  I always make a double batch.

3/4 cups milk
2 bananas (more ripe is better)
1 cup oats
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Put everything into a blender and mix until smooth.  Pour in 2-3 Tablespoon amounts on a hot griddle (preferably with butter sizzling!).  Cooke 3-4 minutes, then flip for another 1-2 minutes.  Top with yogurt, honey, syrup, berries, whipped cream, chocolate sauce . . . enjoy!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich

We had a week of sandwiches a while ago and this one was my favorite.  By far.  The chipotle caramelized onions are a must to keep the sandwich from being a glorified BLT.  


1 small chicken breast, pounded thin
salt and pepper to taste or your favourite grilled meat seasoning
mayo
lettuce
tomato
bacon slices, cooked
ripe avocado, sliced
chipotle caramelized onions (click link for recipe)
sandwich buns (I used this recipe to make my own)


Brush your grill with oil and heat to medium heat.
Season the chicken and grill until cooked, about 5-7 minutes per side.
Assemble the sandwich and enjoy.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Beet Pancakes

A while back, some friends gifted me with a bag of homegrown beets.  I was thrilled!  But then I made the mistake of adding too many beets to our berry smoothie one day and the kids were NOT thrilled.  For a week, they asked every time I made a smoothie if I was going to add beets.  I backed off for a while, and then made this cake, which won back my kids' affection for beets.  
Recently I pulled out a few cooked, peeled beets from my freezer to try these pancakes.  I was evasive an answering my kids' questions about how I made PINK pancakes!!  Only after the meal did I tell them they were made with beets.  No complaints from anyone!  Another great beet recipe that went over well for my family.


about 3 small beets, cooked
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp cinnamon
a pinch of cloves
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/4 cups flour (I used half all-purpose and half whole-wheat)
2 tsp baking powder
oil for the pan

Puree the beets in a food processor (or Vitamin!) until very smooth.
In a large bowl whisk together the beet puree, greek yogurt, and milk.  Add the eggs and whisk until combined.  Add the cinnamon, cloves, and sugar. Whisk well.  Add the flour and baking powder and mix with a spatula until the flour disappears but the batter is still lumpy. Batter will be on the thinner side. If you feel that it’s too thin, add another 1/4 cup of flour.

Let stand for half an hour to an hour.

Heat a large skillet pan on medium high heat and brush oil on it.
Once the oil is hot, pour generous tablespoons of batter on the pan and fry the pancakes for about 3 minutes until bubbles start to appear on top. Since the batter is pretty thin, it’ll spread, so leave enough space between the pancakes and don’t over crowd the pan.
Once the bubbles appear and the top gets matt in colour, flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Top with plain yogurt, whipped cream, syrup, fresh berries, chocolate sauce, powdered sugar  . . . you get the idea!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Lemon, Tomato and Feta Zoodle Salad


If you haven't tried a spiralizer before, or were thinking of getting one but aren't sure where to start - let me recommend this delectable salad!  It's light, tasty, healthy, easy . . . a perfect "Welcome Spring" lunch, if you ask me!



3-4 medium zucchini
2 big handfuls of cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup feta
2 cloves garlic
5 Tbsp olive oil, divided
juice of one lemon
2 teaspoons honey
salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat your oven to 350.  Crush the garlic and combine with 1 Tablespoon olive oil.  Halve the tomatoes, spread on a baking sheet, and drizzle with the garlic oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and toss everything together lightly.  Roast for 15 minutes in your preheated oven, then set aside while you assemble the rest of the salad.

Spiralize the zucchini and put zoodles in a large serving bowl.  Crumble feta on top.  Gently scrape tomatoes from pan and add to the bowl.

Lastly, mix together lemon juice, honey, and remaining olive oil.  Pour over the zoodles, feta, and tomatoes.  Toss gently until everything is evenly mixed.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Caribbean Chicken Salad with Mango Dressing

Well Plated has been a recent source of favorite recipes for me, and this is another keeper!  The dressing alone is fantastic!  Paired with the simple chicken marinade and all the other salad toppers - I loved this easy dinner.  I made a few small changes that are reflected below.  See the original recipe along with beautiful photos here.  


FOR THE CARIBBEAN CHICKEN SALAD:

  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3 chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally 
  • 18 ounces chopped romaine lettuce, leafy greens and hearts
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored and diced
  • 1 cup canned reduced sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ripe avocado, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 15 ounces mandarin oranges in light syrup, drained, but reserve some for the dressing (or substitute other juicy tropical fruits, such as diced mango or diced pineapple)
  • Fresh cilantro, for serving

FOR THE MANGO DRESSING:

  • 1 large mango, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped or 1 1/4 cups frozen and thawed mango chunks
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, (about 2 medium size limes)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil   
  • 1-2 tablespoons reserved syrup from mandarin oranges


  1. Place the soy sauce, olive oil, brown sugar, and ginger in a gallon-sized ziptop bag, seal tightly pressing out all of the air, and "squish" to combine. Add the chicken, firmly seal the bag again, and move the chicken around gently so that all sides are coated and it lays flat when the bag is on its side. Let marinade for 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight. (If refrigerating overnight, let the chicken stand at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to grilling.) Meanwhile, prepare the dressing and other ingredients.
  2. Make the dressing: Puree the mango, lime juice, honey, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and reserved fruit syrup in your food processor or blender until smooth. With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil and blend to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Use for salad, then store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Shake well before using.
  3. Cook the chicken: Heat a grill pan or an outdoor grill over medium heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill for about 3-4 minutes per side, until cooked through. Remove to plate and let stand for 5 minutes. Cut into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the romaine, red bell pepper, black beans, and avocado. Add the chicken, drizzle with the mango lime dressing. Toss to coat. Scatter the oranges and cilantro over the top, then serve.


Friday, April 8, 2016

Bell Pepper Chicken Nachos

Bell pepper nachos!  My family was skeptical when they heard what was for dinner, but the pretty colors and yummy taste won them over.  


4 bell peppers, any color you like
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
4 green onions, both green and white parts, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 cup sliced black olives (black beans would well if you're not a fan of olives)
1 cup salsa 
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1-tablespoon oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the green onion and garlic and fry for 2 minutes. Than add the shredded chicken and chili powder. Toss until all ingredients are well coated with chili powder and chicken is warm. Remove from heat and add the salsa, sliced olives, salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut the bell peppers into 2-inch pieces and remove seeds. Press each piece open so the peppers are as flat as possible. Arrange close together in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
Spoon the chicken mixture evenly over pepper chunks.  Top with cheese.
Bake nachos for 10-15 minutes (I only did 10 minutes so the peppers would still be a little crunchy).  Turn the broiler on high and broil for a couple minutes to give the cheese a good, crispy melt (if you like that sort of thing). Then remove from oven and top with chopped cilantro (or not). Serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

I've made this soup several times, and each time I look for the recipe on this little blog and am surprised to find that I haven't posted it.  It's a delicious soup!  Most recently, I made four batches for a soup swap, and then another batch to share at a ladies retreat.  I've used my slow cooker, but have also made it on the stove cutting back on the time it simmers.  I know there are plenty of tomato cheese soup recipes floating around out there.  This is the one my family loves!


  • 2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 10-ounce can tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped (I've also used 3 tsp. dried basil)
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1 cup heavy cream OR half & half
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
roux
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream OR half & half


  1. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and next 7 ingredients (through broth) to a slow cooker/crockpot. Cover and cook for 2 hours on high or 4-8 hours on low. (If you are home, give it a stir every now and then and scrape down the sides)
  2. About 30-40 minutes before serving transfer soup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth, then return to crock pot.
  3. Prepare the roux. Begin by melting the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.
  4. Add flour to melted butter and stir until flour clumps up. Slowly whisk in the heavy cream (or half & half) until mixture is thickened and smooth. Add roux and parmesan cheese to crockpot and stir to combine.
  5. Allow to cook another 20-30 minutes until cheese is completely melted. Give it a good stir before serving. Top with additional basil and parmesan cheese if desired.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Creamy Pina Colada

I follow Simple Green Smoothies on Instagram and have loved trying some of their recipes.  We drink a lot of smoothies around here.  I usually just throw a bunch of stuff into my Vitamix and turn it on, but every now and then it's good to grab a new combination idea or twist.  This smoothie is a combination of a few different recipes from the SGS feed and it's our current family favorite for lunch.  My measurements are approximations because that's how I roll when it comes to making smoothies, but it'd be hard for you to mess up this tasty nutrient-packed ingredient combination.  Try it!


1/2 to 1 cup coconut milk
1/2 to 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 to 1/2 cup water, depending on how thick you like your smoothie
1 cup packed fresh spinach
1/2 ripe avocado
1 to 2 cups pineapple (I've only ever used frozen - I like my smoothies thick!)
1 or 2 very ripe bananas
handful of ice cubes
I also toss in a handful of frozen mango and/or small orange if I have any.

Blend well and enjoy!



  

Monday, February 8, 2016

Steamed Pork Dumplings

Happy Chinese New Year!  
Food is a fantastic way to celebrate any special holiday, right?!  So we are making sure not to miss the opportunity to celebrate the Year of the Monkey with some yummy Chinese food in my house this evening.  My oldest gingersnaps helped me make dumplings (which happen to be the food I miss the most from living in China) as part of our study of Ancient China last week.  But we planned ahead and made a double batch, knowing that we wanted to have enough for tonight's dinner also.  I buy the packaged won-ton wrappers from the store and go from there.  Maybe one day we'll try to make our own wrappers as well!


1 pound bok choy leaves or white chinese cabbage
1 pound ground pork
1 Tbsp finely chopped scallions
1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tsp salt
1 tsp light brown sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Chinese rice wine
2 tsp sesame oil


Blanch or steam the bok choy until soft (it doesn't take long!).  Drain well, squeezing any extra liquid from the leaves, and then chop finely.  Mix the bok choy with the pork, scallions, ginger, salt, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil.  An older Chinese woman taught me to use clean hands for this step to make sure everything is mixed really well.

Place about 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons of the filling in the center of each plain wrapper.  Dip your finger in water and lightly wet the edge of the wrapper.  This will help the dumpling seal together.  Pinch the edges firmly so that the dumpling is tightly sealed.  You could easily find images or a tutorial video online of how to accomplish this step well.

Fill a large pot half-way with salted water.  Bring to boil.  Add the dumplings and one cup of cold water.  As the water returns to a boil, gently scrape the bottom to ensure that the dumplings are not sticking.  As the water begins to boil again, the dumplings will float to the surface.  When the water is boiling, add one cup of cold water.  Do this step two more times, adding one cup of cold water to the pot each time the water boils.  The older Chinese woman who taught me to make dumplings gave me these "highly scientific" instructions, which have always worked for me!

After you have brought the pot of water to boil four times, your dumplings should be ready to enjoy!  Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and serve with dipping sauce.


Dipping sauce:  

soy sauce
red chili oil
finely minced garlic
fine chopped scallions
vinegar

mix all or some of the above ingredients to create the dipping sauce you prefer.  I like equal parts of soy sauce and vinegar with some chili oil and garlic.




Saturday, February 6, 2016

Asian Zucchini Noodle Stir-Fry with Shrimp

I was given a spiralizer for Christmas, and it's been so fun trying out different kinds of vegetable noodles!  This was my first time making zucchini noodles (which I discovered are often called zoodles?!).  The meal was super easy to put together, and the sauce tasted great.  But I ended up making rice to serve with everything because the sauce was pretty runny and the zoodles weren't substantive enough to soak up the extra juice.  And because we don't have to voice gluten.  So all in all, it was a yummy and simple meal, made better with a scoop of steamy rice.

recipe found here

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 Tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

1 pound jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined

1 medium bell pepper, sliced

1/2 cup shredded carrots
2/3 cup sliced red onions
1 cup sugar snap peas
2 medium zucchini, cut into noodles

Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the vegetable broth, hoisin sauce, soy sauce and cornstarch. Set the mixture aside.
  2. Place a large sauté pan or wok over medium-low heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and and heat it for 1 minute. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook, stirring as needed, until the shrimp are cooked throughout and pink on all sides, about 3 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and then transfer them to a bowl, leaving any liquid in the pan.
  4. Increase the heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, then add the bell pepper, carrots, red onions and snow peas and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes until the vegetables are crisp but tender. Add the prepared sauce and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Return the shrimp to the pan, stirring to combine, then add the zucchini noodles and cook, tossing to coat, for 1 minute.
  5. Transfer the stir-fry to serving plates, garnish with toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Crockpot Crispy Caramelized Pork Ramen Noodle Soup

I've saved my favorite meal from the menu swap to share with you last.  This, right here, is some real deal sophisticated ramen soup.  Jessie said this was her favorite meal from 2015, and I immediately understood why after my first bite.  The broth is full of fantastic flavor.  Add in some unique toppings (curried miso roasted squash?!) and good 'ol ramen noodles, and you have yourself a bowl of goodness that you'll slurp to the very last drop.  Take the extra ten minutes to caramelize and crisp the pork.  It's totally worth it.

  • Soup
  • 2-3 pounds pork shoulder roast (or butt)
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth, plus more of needed
  • 1/4-1/2 cup + 2-4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce 
  • 1/4 cup + 2-4 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons thai red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek (chili paste) (or to taste)
  • The juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese five spice
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 cups wild mushrooms, left whole - or button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 packs Ramen noodles, seasoning packets discarded
  • 4 soft boiled or fried eggs, for serving
  • Chopped carrots, sliced jalapenos, cilantro + green onions, for serving
  • Curry Roasted Acorn Squash
  • 1 medium acorn squash, seeded + diced
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder (I use spicy curry)
  • 1 tablespoon white miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Pepper, to taste

Add the pork to the bowl of a crockpot. Pour the chicken broth, 1/4-1/2 cup soy sauce (depending on your taste), 1/4 cup rice vinegar and fish sauce over the pork. Add the thai red curry paste, ginger, sambal oelek, juice of 1 lime, Chinese five spice powder, black pepper and 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Cover the crockpot and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours (I recommend going low and slow).
About 40 minutes before you are ready to eat, roast the squash. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a small bowl mix together the melted coconut oil, curry powder, miso, brown sugar and a good pinch of pepper. Add the cubed squash to a greased baking sheet and pour the curry mixture over the squash. Toss well. Bake for 30-40 minutes, tossing a couple of times during cooking. You want the squash to be lightly browned and crisp.
Meanwhile, remove the pork from the crockpot and add the mushrooms. Cover the crockpot and crank the heat up to high. Lightly shred the pork with two forks or your hands.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sesame oil. Once hot, add enough pork to cover just the surface of your skillet, do not over crowd the skillet. Sprinkle a little brown sugar over the pork, add 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, toss. Allow the pork to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Stir and allow the pork to continue to caramelize, about 3-5 minutes total. Remove the pork from the skillet, repeat with the remaining pork. Keep the pork warm.
Add the Ramen noodles to the crockpot and allow them to cook 5 minutes. Once the noodles are cooked, stir in only half of the pork. Ladle the soup into bowls. Top with extra caramelized pork, curry roasted acorn squash and an egg. Season the egg with salt and pepper, Add the carrots, jalapeños, green onions and cilantro if desired. Happy slurping!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Slow Cook Thai Chicken


Such an easy and yummy winner dinner!  The sauce is so rich.  I might try adding a little brown sugar to the sauce next time just for fun.


6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter (I used chunky)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
3 green onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts


DIRECTIONS

1. Place the chicken breast strips, bell pepper and onion into a slow cooker. Pour in the chicken broth and 1/4 cup of soy sauce, then season with cumin, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir to blend, then cover and cook on Low for 4 1/2 to 5 hours.
2. Remove 1 cup of the liquid from the slow cooker, and mix this with the cornstarch, peanut butter, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and lime juice. This should blend into a fairly thick sauce. Stir the sauce back into the slow cooker, and place the lid on the pot.
3. Cook on High for 30 minutes. Garnish with green onions, cilantro and peanuts before serving.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Baked Potato Soup

Jessie's photo

I chuckled when I saw this soup on Jessie's menu for us, knowing I had put a similar potato soup on her menu!  After trying both in a matter of two weeks, I don't think I could choose a favorite.  Both are equally creamy, filling, simple, and delicious!


3 bacon strips, diced 
1 small onion, chopped 
1 clove garlic, minced 
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon dried basil 
1/2 teaspoon pepper 
3 cups chicken broth 
2 large (already) BAKED potatoes, peeled and cubed 
1 cup half-and-half cream 
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce 
Shredded Cheddar cheese 
Minced fresh parsley

In a large saucepan, cook bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings. Set bacon aside. Saute onion and garlic in the drippings until tender. Stir in flour, salt, basil and pepper; mix 
well. Gradually add broth. Bring to boil; boil and stir for 2 minutes. 
Add the potatoes, cream and hot pepper sauce; heat through but do not boil. 
Garnish with bacon, cheese and parsley.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Spinach Salad with Sweet-Spicy Nuts, Apples, Bacon, and Feta

This salad, another great recipe from Mel's Kitchen, could easily have been my favorite meal from our menu swap week (if it weren't for the Asian noodle soup that is coming up . . . YUM!).  There wasn't a single bite left in the bowl when my family of five walked away from the table.  Next time I would try brown sugar or maple syrup instead of white sugar for the nuts.  

    Salad:
  • 16 ounces baby spinach
  • ½ small red onion, slivered (see note about tempering the onion flavor)
  • 6 slices of applewood smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled or chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cup Feta cheese crumbles, more or less to taste
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or cherries, more or less to taste
  • 1-2 Honey Crisp apples, cored and sliced thin 
  • Sweet Spicy Nuts:
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of cayenne (more to taste if you want)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Red Wine Vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 clove of garlic, pressed or finely minced
  • 1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, more or less to taste
  • Fresh cracked pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS
  1. For the dressing, shake all the ingredients together in a mason jar until well combined or run them through a quick blender cycle. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. The dressing can be made up to a week in advance. 
  2. For the nuts, lightly toast the nuts in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, checking often so they don't burn. While they toast, place the sugar, cayenne and salt in a skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the sugar mixture until it liquifies completely, adjusting the heat so it doesn't bubble and burn. Toss in the toasted nuts and stir to coat the nuts with sugar. Let the sugared nuts cool completely.
  3. To assemble the salad, toss all the salad ingredients together along with the cooled nuts. Serve immediately with the vinaigrette alongside. All the components can be measured out/prepped ahead of time and stored separately (I like to soak the apples in a bit of lemon juice in water to help prevent browning). Just toss right before serving. Enjoy!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Chicken (or Turkey) Pot Pie Crumble

Jessie and I did a menu swap before Christmas, but I'm just now getting around to sharing the recipes!  As usual, Jessie's picks for our weekly meals did not disappoint.  We started out with this one-pan-dinner, which I enjoyed more than I thought I would.  The crumble topping takes the dish up a notch from your standard "pot pie".  I had Thanksgiving leftovers, so I swapped out turkey for chicken, leaving everything else the same.  The directions seem long, but it's really fairly simple to pull together.


1 ½ pounds chicken (or turkey
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced (about 1 cup)
2-3 stalks celery, chopped (about ½ cup)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
½ cup flour
1 cup milk
3/4 cup frozen peas

Crumble Topping:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup heavy cream

DIRECTIONS

To prepare the chicken, place the chicken and broth in a large Dutch oven or pot and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Cook the chicken until it is just done (don’t overcook or it will dry out) – about 10-12 minutes. Alternately, if you are planning in advance, you can place the chicken and broth in a slow cooker and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 5 hours. Transfer the cooked chicken to a medium bowl. Pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup and reserve. Return the pot to the stovetop (no need to wash if you used it to cook the chicken).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Sprinkle the chilled butter pieces over the top of the flour. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Add the cream and stir until just combined. Crumble the mixture into irregularly shaped pieces onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the crumble topping until fragrant and starting to brown, about 15 minutes, tossing halfway through. Set aside.

For the filling, heat the olive oil in the now-empty pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking, shred the chicken into small bite-size pieces. Transfer the cooked vegetables to the bowl with the chicken; set aside.

Over medium heat melt the butter in the empty pot. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the reserved chicken broth and milk. Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes, taking care not to burn the bottom. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat and stir the chicken, vegetables and peas into the sauce.

Pour the mixture into a 9×13 pan. Scatter the crumble topping evenly over the filling. Place the 9X13-inch pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until the topping is well browned, about 15-20 minutes. Let the casserole stand for 10 minutes before serving.
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