Tag Archives: Asian

Chop suey and holy mole chili

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Chop suey and holy mole chili

Since we just finished the leftovers from last week, I’m (again) overdue for posting the recipes. So here they are! These aren’t veggie-friendly as they stand but look for the ***astericks*** under the recipe for swaps!

 First on the list, chop suey. Chop suey literally means “assorted pieces” and it’s a stir-fry dish often consisting of a few types of meat and/or seafood and veggies. Because of this, it is very easy to customize chop suey to your taste preference or dietary restrictions.

 Chop suey

Adapted from a recipe at Angsarap

Ingredients:

  • 3 baby bok choy, cleaned
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 12 pieces baby corn
  • ½ head of broccoli
  • 6 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 4 oz water chestnuts
  • 4 oz bamboo shoots
  • ¾ lb shelled shrimps
  • ½ lb pork belly, diced
  • 10 oz chicken breast
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 small red onion
  • ½ red pepper
  • 3 tsp cornstarch (dissolved in ¼ cup water)
  • ¾ cup chicken stock
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2-3 tbsp sriracha hot sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce

 Directions:

1) Start by chopping everything and grouping them accordingly:

  • Chop garlic and red onion; add to the same bowl and set aside (we’re going to call this Bowl #1, or B1for short).

  • Chop broccoli, baby corn (if desired), and mushroom; set aside in same bowl (B2).

  • Chop bok choy and red pepper and add to same bowl; add water chestnuts, carrots, and bamboo shoots to bowl as well (B3). Set aside.

  • Chop shrimp, pork belly, and chicken.

2) Heat up a wok to high heat; add oil and B1 and sauté for 5 minutes.

3) Add pork and chicken; stir fry for 2 minutes.

4) Add B2 and continue to stir fry for 2 minutes.

5) Add B3 and shrimp and keep stir-frying for 2 more minutes.

6) Add chicken stock, soy sauce, sriracha, fish sauce and dissolved cornstarch; bring to a rapid boil.

7) Turn stove to simmer; add sugar, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Simmer 5 minutes or until you’re satisfied with the look/smell/taste of the chop suey. Serve over jasmine rice.

***To make this recipe vegetarian friendly, simply omit the meat and substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth. You could use extra firm tofu in this recipe or faux chicken breast or you could just add more veggies to make up for the lack of meat. Easy peasy.***

I enjoyed a nice, cold Saranac pumpkin ale while I was making dinner. That is a nice thing about NY state: lots of local breweries.

The other recipe I made this week was chili. This one was significant because I have never made chili by myself. I have only made my mom’s chili recipe which is awesome (and given to her by an old lady in the supermarket) and I wanted to try something different. So I stumbled across this chili mole recipe using ground turkey and it sounded like something fit for folks with adventurous appetites.

 Holy Mole Turkey Chili

Adapted from a recipe at Gonna want seconds

 Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Oregano, ground cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, cinnamon to taste
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 14 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups beef stock
  • 4 oz tomato sauce
  • 14 oz cans small white beans, rinsed, drained
  • 6 oz mushrooms
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • Oregano, ground cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, cinnamon to taste
  • Optional Toppings
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Chalula hot sauce

Directions:

1) Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until light brown and tender, about 10 minutes.

2) Add oregano and cumin; stir 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high. Add turkey, mushrooms, and red pepper; stir until the turkey is no longer pink, breaking up with back of spoon.

3) Stir in chili powder, red pepper flakes, cocoa powder, salt, black pepper, brown sugar and cinnamon.

4) Add tomatoes with their juices, breaking up with back of spoon.

5) Mix in stock and tomato sauce; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6) Add beans to chili and simmer until flavors blend, about 10 minutes longer. For best results: refrigerate overnight; remove fat before warming over medium-low heat.

7) Ladle chili into bowls; add cilantro, a few drops of Chalula hot sauce, and a tablespoon of Greek yogurt to bowls.

***This is a super easy recipe to vegify: use veg-friendly ground-beef replacement instead of ground turkey and swap veg stock for beef stock. Bam! Done.***

Review:

This chili was really easy to make and it was a big hit. I wish the chocolate flavor would have been stronger but it was still delicious. I have never added sour cream to chili before (I was raised on a “cheddar cheese in our chili” family) so I was pleasantly surprised by how yummy it was. And by using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, I saved myself the fat and the calories. Yay! I love cilantro so I was a big fan of adding it to the bowls (another first for me!).

And now I think I am finally caught up on all of the recipes! It might be a few days before I cook anything interesting: a friend of ours just moved in with us! We haven’t seen him in a while so we are doing a lot of catching up and hanging out and eating out. But I want to establish a more normal posting schedule so that readers can know for sure when I’ll have a new blog up. So that’s what I’m working on. Until next time!

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Feasting

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Feasting

If you’re sensitive to pictures of dead animals, you might want to avoid this blog post.

Man, I am still behind on recipes! I’m sorry that I’ve been slacking on the blog-front; it’s been a little busy around here and I’ve not been in the blogging mood. But before I cook anything else, I want to catch you up on everything that I haven’t posted. So I’m going to start a while back with the feast that we had. A few days after The Boyfriend’s party, he and I started kicking around the idea of doing a feast.

We usually had a feast as a celebration for The Boyfriend’s birthday but we hadn’t this year. The feast would have a $10-$15 buy-in and there was usually six or eight of us who would buy in. We’d buy crab legs and shrimp and scallops and sometimes lobster tails. It’s always been a good excuse for a fun night with friends and a fancy dinner at low cost. We wound up deciding to do a small feast with just a few friends in Albany; with our $40 budget, we bought shrimp, lobster (tails and claws), sea scallops, and a duck. Roasted duck is one of my favorite things to make in part because it’s so easy. And, besides also being really delicious (it tastes like the dark meat of chicken), it also yields duck fat. Duck fat is a fat that can be cooked in; it’s a liquid at room temperature, it is less bad for you than butter, and it gives a light, smoky flavor to food that is cooked in it. In short, it is a miracle elixir of magical proportions in the kitchen.

Back to how easy duck is to prepare: the first time I made a roast duck, it was under the supervision of a close foodie-friend of mine, Wilco. Whenever I was got insecure that I was doing something that was going to ruin the duck, I’d ask Wilco. Wilco always responded the same way “The worst that can happen is you’re going to have a roast duck.” And that is pretty much true. If you cook the duck too long, yeah, the meat might be a little tougher but the skin will be all the crispier. If your rub isn’t flavorful enough, you can always add more salt once it’s cooked. Trust me, a duck is one of the easiest things you can make but it sounds so fancy that it will impress people. AND it tastes great. What more could you want from dinner?

My favorite rub is a barbecue-style rub; it is salty and smoky and sweet and spicy.

Crispy BBQ Duck

Ingredients  

  • 1 whole duck, 5.5 to 6 lbs
  • ½ white onion
  • 5 cloves garlic, whole and peeled
  • 1 cup boiling water

Spice rub

  • Butt rub
  • Brown sugar
  • Spanish paprika
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Italian herb seasoning
  • Salt and pepper

 Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Remove duck from packaging; drain blood and check to make sure there is nothing inside the duck (like the duck’s organs in a bag).

3) Using a knife, score the duck skin or poke shallow holes into the skin; make sure you get all over the duck, both sides.

4) Pour 1 cup boiling water all duck.

5) Mix up seasoning in bowl; adjust quantities to taste.

Rub seasoning all over duck, making sure to get every part.

6) Shove onion and garlic cloves inside the duck; place duck on broiler pan in oven.

7) Cook for 2-3 hours, depending on the size of the duck (2 hours for a 4.5-5 lb duck; 3 hours for a 6.5-7 lb duck). Turn the duck in the oven every half hour. Duck is done when skin is brown and crispy and juices run clear.

 Pouring boiling water over the duck after it’s been scored loosens up the fat under the skin of the duck. When the duck roasts, the fat melts off making the skin crispy (and creating quantities of  wonderful duck fat).

Our duck really was whole this time: head and feet included! You can get frozen duck at the grocery store; these will likely have head/neck and feet removed. Or you can buy refrigerated ready-to-cook duck from an Asian supermarket; this duck will more likely have head/neck and/or feet still attached. It is just a matter of preference. For me, I prefer being able to eat the whole duck; the meat on duck feet is delicious and extra crispy.

We bought ¾ lb of scallops at our local Asian supermarket. They were very fresh: large, white, very round.

 Bacon scallops with butter sauce

Adapted from a recipe at http://www.spotsfordates.com/07/2008/recipes/bacon-scallops-with-butter-sauce-recipe

Ingredients:

  • 8 sea scallops
  • 8 slices of bacon
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp white wine (or sub for a mixture of light beer and white vinegar)
  • ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Tooth Picks

Directions:

1) Start by making sure that your scallops are completely dry: set the on paper towels to drain and blot the tops with another paper towel.

2)  While the scallops are drying, cook up the bacon; cook the same number of slices as you have scallops. Blot grease off bacon and set aside.

3) When the scallops are dry, season both sides with a little bit of salt and pepper.

4) Put 2 tbsp butter in a different frying pan over medium high heat.

5) When the butter has started to bubble, add the white wine (or beer/vinegar) and lemon juice.

6) Add scallops to pan and cook 3-4 minutes per side; remove from pan to a plate.

7) Cut bacon strips in half; to plate, slide one slice bacon (2 halves) onto a toothpick. Stick a toothpick with bacon onto a scallop. Pour butter-wine sauce over all scallops onto the plate; serve immediately.

I made the bacon-scallops this way rather than the “traditional” method (wrapping uncooked bacon around raw scallops and cooking them in the oven) to ensure that the bacon was crispy and the scallops weren’t overcooked. And it worked great! The scallops were very juicy and the chewy, saltiness of the bacon complimented them nicely. Also, this whole recipe took about 15 minutes start to finish and again, looked fancier than it really was. Double bonus.

The other two things we made were boiled shrimp and lobster tails and claws. Unfortunately the quality of the seafood was bad in this case—the seafood was frozen when we bought it and it suffered from freezer burn. The recipe is still solid so I’m going to post it, but I recommend using fresh seafood.

Seafood boil with butter

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 3 lbs lobster claws and tails
  • 3 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • Large pot
  • Garlic butter (1 clove garlic, chopped mixed into 2 tbsp melted butter)
  • Lemon butter (2 tsp lemon juice mixed into 2 tbsp melted butter)

Directions:

1) Heat up a lot of water in a huge pot; add Old Bay and vinegar.

2) Once the water is boiling, add seafood; cover and cook 5-7 minutes or until shrimp is pink and lobster is bright red.

3) Serve with garlic butter and lemon butter.

And so we feasted! And it was glorious.

Playing catch-up!

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I have gotten quite behind on posting and a lot of my recipes fell to the wayside, so today is catch-up day. There are a lot of recipes, so bear with me. For my vegetarian readers, I am trying to make this blog more vegetarian friendly so look for the stars (***) under each recipe for my recommended alterations to make the recipe veg-friendly. I have to admit, I haven’t cooked a ton of vegetarian food so please comment and add your suggestions for veg-friendly swaps.

And now…away we go!

During the last week, The Boyfriend and I bought ingredients to make Thai basil chicken. This recipe was great for a couple of reasons: The Boyfriend and I are notorious for not eating leftovers so the fact that this recipe made just enough for 2 was great. The only problem with that was that it was so delicious! We enjoyed it so much that we wound up making it three times in a week! This recipe was easy and quick and I could eat it again this week in a heartbeat.

Thai Basil Chicken Recipe
Adapted from a recipe at Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 10 oz boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 ½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 big bunch basil leaves, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • 1-2 tsp dried mint
  • 2 dashes ground white pepper

Directions:

1) Heat a wok or a heavy skillet over medium high heat until very hot.

2) Add the oil and garlic and stir fry until the garlic is very fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3) Add the onion and Sriracha and continue stir-frying until the onions have wilted, about 5 minutes.

4) Add the chopped chicken and fry until the chicken is cooked, about 5-7 minutes.

5) Stir in the fish sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar and white pepper; continue cooking until most of the liquid is gone.

6) Add the basil and toss a couple of time until the leaves are wilted and bright green. Serve immediately.

We used regular basil and dried mint instead of Thai basil, partially because we found beautiful basil at the farmers’ market and partially because The Boyfriend and I both find Thai basil a bit too strong in flavor for our tastes.

Lovely green basil from the farmers’ market!

***I’m not sure what you could sub the chicken for here to make it tasty but still vegetarian friendly; maybe extra-firm tofu that’s been marinating in a teriyaki sauce? Or perhaps portobello cap that has been sliced?***

We served it with jasmine rice. We have been without a rice cooker for a few months now and because of that, we’ve been laying off of the rice.

Chicken over rice

But since I discovered a (nearly) foolproof way to make jasmine rice on the stove, we have been eating a ton of it.

Jasmine Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1 ½ cup water

Directions:

1) Rinse rice in a colander until water runs clear; drain.

2) Add rice and water to a pot; cover.

3) Cook on high until water starts to boil; turn down to simmer and cook covered and undisturbed for 15 minutes.

4) Move pot off of hot burner; let rest for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with fork.

After repeated rice-making-fails, this one is a winner. I think we have made it successfully 5 times in the last 10 days. Yay!

Ok, another recipe from last week: chili rellenos. Since our deep-fryer is currently empty, we decided to take the opportunity to healthify the recipe by grilling the peppers. I sort of hodge-podged together two different recipes and the result was a success. Let’s start with ranchero sauce:

Ranchero Sauce

Adapted from a recipe at Closet Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • ½ small onion (diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • ½ jalapeno (seeded and diced)
  • 1small handful cilantro (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Puree the tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeno and cilantro in a food processor.
2. Heat the oil in a pan.
3. Add the tomato mixture, chicken broth and cumin and season with salt and pepper.
4. Bring to a boil and simmer until it thickens, about 10 minutes.

Healthier Grilled Chili Rellenos

Adapted from a recipe at Once Upon a Plate

Ingredients:

  • 4 good-sized poblano pepper
  • 4 oz good quality mozzarella cheese + a small handful shredded cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Toothpicks

Directions:

1) Wash poblanos.

2) Optional: roast poblano peppers in the oven at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes or until lightly blackened. Place peppers in Ziploc bag and let sweat for 5 minutes; after sweating, carefully peel peppers.

3) Slice stem/cap almost all of the way off of the pepper; flip back stem/cap to remove seeds and membrane.

4) Cut mozzarella into 1 oz chunks that are the size of pepper and stuff cheese into pepper.

5) Secure stem/cap with toothpicks, 2-3 toothpicks per pepper.

6) Brush poblano peppers lightly with olive oil and cook on hot grill; cook 2-3 minutes per side for roasted pepper or 5-8 minutes per side for raw peppers.

7) Optional: Put peppers in a casserole dish; cover with ranchero sauce and shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

This was really tasty. We cut a few corners on our recipe (we didn’t roast the peppers or bake them with the sauce and cheese) but we thought that the recipe would have been even tastier had we not cut any corners; I put both options in the recipe so you can choose your route.

Empty plate = happy tummy!

We served it with a redo of the corn and black bean salad from a few weeks ago and our beer margaritas.

For my lunch last week, I decided to make dumplings. Again, I cobbled together a few recipes and they came out pretty good.

Chicken Dumplings

Adapted from a recipe at Weekend Food Projects

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 package dumpling wrappers

Directions:

1) Mix all the ingredients in medium bowl and refrigerate for one hour.

2) Use a teaspoon to measure the amount of mixture. Place the filling into the center of the dumpling wrapper and wrap or just seal.

To cook:

1) Place a non-stick pan on medium-high heat with two tablespoons of vegetable oil.

2) Place the dumplings in the pan in a single layer; cook dumplings until the bottoms are brown. Flip dumplings so that all sides get brown.

3) Add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan and cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for three to four minutes. Once the water has evaporated, your dumplings are done.

OR:

1) Steam dumplings in well-greased steamer for 5-6 minutes.

I found a great technique for folding dumplings on Fuss Free Cooking: there are step-by-step instructions with pictures! I still had to have The Boyfriend demonstrate the folding technique; he was really good at it! Mine all came out a little lumpy but his were really nice looking.

I folded one just intuitively

and then one where I used a fork to seal the edges

before I succumbed to the “normal” technique.

That’s mine in the front and The Boyfriend’s in the background. His is much more symmetrical than mine. Luckily they all cook up the same 🙂

Eventually we figured out where I was going wrong so my last two dumplings came out okay, haha.

We made so many!

I made a batch of about 50 of them and froze them in bags of five. If you steam them from frozen, add an extra minute or two to make sure that they are done.

***If you wanted to make these vegetarian, I bet you could sub crumbled TVP or chopped tofu (or even sweet potatoes, if you wanted to get creative) for the chicken; and if you added extra veggies and herbs to the filling (chopped carrots, fresh ginger, etc) they would be quite tasty. Hmm, maybe I’ll have to try that now…***

I also made some summer rolls and while they were good, the recipe wasn’t good enough to brag out. I do think that I rolled them nicely so I am going to photo-brag about that! Haha.

Bam! Pretty summer rolls.

They had cucumber, avocado, and crab-stick in them, in case you were curious.

***Replacing the crab stick with marinated tofu, sweet potaotes, or any number of veggies makes it veg-friendly!***

More recipes! The Boyfriend’s birthday was a while back so we had a small get-together at our house. I made some great party dips for the revelers and even though I don’t have any pictures (it was so hectic, sorry!) I wanted to post the recipes because they were really delicious.

Best fresh salsa

Adapted from a recipe at Kayotic

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium shallot
  • 1 medium roma tomato
  • About 10 slices of pickled jalapenos
  • 2 garlic clove
  • Handful of cilantro
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • Ground cumin
  • Salt
  • Pinch of sugar

Directions:

1) Coarsely chop shallot, garlic, and tomato; add to a food processor or mini chopper.
2) Add the salt, a pinch of sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and the ground cumin.
3) Pour in the diced tomatoes; squeeze in the fresh lime juice and add the cilantro.
4) Blend until it reaches desired consistency.

The Boyfriend and I have made a lot of salsa but we have never found a recipe that stuck…until now! We are in LOVE with this recipe! The color was beautiful and the flavor was outstanding: spicy and fresh. The pinch of sugar did cut the acidity which was wonderful. I blended it until it had the consistency of restaurant salsa and it tasted as good as anything I’ve had in a restaurant (and better than some that I have had!).

When we were choosing dips to make, we wanted to keep costs low so we chose dips that could all be eaten with tortilla chips and that would complement each other. I wanted to make something with avocados that would keep longer than guacamole and when I stumbled upon this recipe, I decided to give it a try. It was pretty good: creamy and spiced and different. Mmm…

Hank’s Tomatillo-Avocado Dip

Adapted from a recipe by Hungry Texan

Ingredients:

  • 1 poblano pepper
  • ½ white onion
  • 1 large can tomatillos, drained
  • 1 Serrano pepper
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 4 Hess avocados
  • Juice from 2 limes

Directions:
1) Roast the poblano, onion, Serrano, and jalapeño in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

2) Peel the poblano, stem and de-seed the Serrano and jalapenos.

3) Add all of the ingredients to the food processor and run until smooth and creamy.

4) Season to taste with salt and a bit of garlic salt.

The last dip was the crowd-favorite for the day. Since this was the first year in a few that we didn’t do a seafood boil for The Boyfriend’s birthday, I decided to incorporate seafood in a dip. As is the theme for this post it seems, I combined a recipe for crab dip that I found online with an artichoke dip recipe that my college advisor used to bring into class. The result was a hit!

Creamy Stovetop Crab Dip

Adapted from a recipe at Annies Eats
Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ white onion, minced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 12 oz. canned lump crab meat
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup light mayonnaise
  • 8 oz can water chestnuts, drained
  • 14 oz canned artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha
  • Paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the onion and sauté until tender, about 7 minutes.

2) Add the crab meat to the pan, including the juices in the can. Stir in the cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, green onions, mayonnaise, Sriracha, water chestnuts and artichoke hearts; cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until all the ingredients are warmed through Season with salt and pepper.

3) Spoon mixture into a casserole dish and sprinkle paprika on top. Top mixture with breadcrumbs and pop in the oven for 7 minutes or until breadcrumbs are browned. Serve with warm bread or tortilla chips.

***You could just omit the crab here to make a vegetarian-friendly artichoke dip, if you like. Adding mushrooms to it would give it another nice texture, to replace the texture lost when the crab is removed.***

Ok, I think that wraps up this recipe roundup. I have more recipes from this week that I am going to try to get out in a timely manner so keep an eye here for that. I’m also joining our local grocery co-op tomorrow so I’ll have an update on that and what it is like to shop there!

Working on my mussels

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Working on my mussels

For the past few days, I have kind of been on an eating “vacation.” I had a friend visiting who was on vacation and it was easier to eat out than to cook; it was more fun to eat burgers and pizza than it was to watch my diet. But my friend left yesterday and although I will miss her, my diet is much improved now that I am cooking again. Today has been a pretty healthy day! I had Greek yogurt and blueberries for breakfast; a turkey wrap for lunch; and mussels for dinner. I am pretty proud of myself 🙂

Onto the healthy recipes!

Chipotle Turkey Wrap

Adapted from a recipe by College Girl Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 1 wrap

  • 1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Queso Fresco & Chipotle spreadable cheese

  • 4 pieces turkey
  • 1 handful green-leaf lettuce
  • 1 small handful matchstick carrots
  • ½ tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • Optional: drizzle of olive oil vinaigrette

Directions:

1)  Heat wrap in microwave for 15-30 seconds.

2) Spread Laughing Cow cheese on warmed wrap.

Add hot sauce on top of cheese.

3) Lay 4 pieces of turkey on wrap, overlapping; leave about ½” space between end of turkey and edge of wrap

.

4) Top with cilantro,

lettuce,

carrots, and drizzle with olive oil vinaigrette.

5) Fold the wrap like a burrito: start by rolling the edge closest to you over the filling (make sure this is tight!)

Fold in the right side

and then the left.

Cut in half and serve.

Notes/Review: I saw this recipe on College Girl Cooking (via Foodgawker) and I was attracted to it for a few reasons. The simplicity of it was, of course, very appealing but I was especially excited about trying it because I love the Laughing Cow spreadable cheeses. While my favorite is the original light cheese, I also liked the sundried tomato and I have been eying the queso fresco flavor. I’m also tired of salads for lunch so a salad wrap sounded tasty. And guess what? It was! I added the extra ingredients (hot sauce, cilantro, carrots) because I had them in the fridge and I wanted to add a little more spunk to the wrap. We chose Hot! Ocean Deck Rasta Sauce because it is smoky and garlicky and peppery. It went well with the chipotle cheese and the rest of the wrap. Avocado would have been an awesome addition (I might try that tomorrow!); red/green pepper or cucumber would also be nice. You really can customize the ingredients to your taste preferences; I recommend keeping the turkey/cheese/cilantro/hot sauce to keep the tasty flavor intact. Overall it was a really healthy lunch and very tasty! 4 stars

For dinner, The Boyfriend and I have been wanting to make mussels for a few days so we finally bought them and cooked them in a curry and lime broth.

Mussels with Coconut Curry Lime Sauce

Adapted from a recipe at Verses from my Kitchen

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tbsp green curry paste
  • 1 can (14 ounce) coconut milk
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • Juice of one lime
  • ½ Serrano pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 2 pounds mussels, washed/scrubbed/debearded
  • Small handful chopped cilantro

Directions:

1) Melt the butter in a large wok over medium heat; add in the shallots and garlic and cook for one minute.

2) Add in the curry paste and the thickened top half of the coconut milk and stir for another minute.

3) Pour in the rest of the coconut milk along with the beer, vinegar, lime juice, green chili and ginger. Bring to simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

4) Add the mussels and increase heat until a low boil starts. Cover the pot and boil softly for about 8 minutes, or until all the mussels have opened up.

5) Place mussels in bowls and pour sauce over top. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro.

Notes on the mussels: Since The Boyfriend and I usually keep beer in the house, we swapped the wine in the recipe for the beer that we already have. I recommend using a lighter-colored beer; we just used an inexpensive beer from our local grocery store. The flavor of the beer is very apparent in the recipe so make sure you pick a beer that you enjoy. The original recipe did not specify a type of curry paste or a type of pepper; we hit up our local Asian food store to buy the curry paste. Please don’t buy name-brand, mainstream curry paste: the flavor is always weak, diluted, and not even close to authentic. The brand we normally buy is MAESRI; they sell a variety of types of curry paste and we’ve been able to find them in several Asian supercenters. We picked green curry because the ingredients sounded the closest to the flavors in this recipe; we bought the Serrano pepper for the same reason.

Mussels review: We gave this recipe a solid 4 stars. The broth was tasty and nicely accented by the cilantro; the spice level was appropriate; and the mussels themselves were soft and tender. We are going to freeze all of the leftover broth and make shrimp curry with it in a few weeks. Yum!

Curried Grilled Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 large yellow squash

Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1 tsp Badia curry powder
  • 1 tsp Spanish paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: ½ tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Directions:

1) Whisk all of the sauce ingredients (except lemon juice) together in a bowl until combined; set aside.

2) Wash zucchini and squash; halve both vegetables and slice into thin (1/8”) pieces.

3) Using a pastry brush and liberally brush both sides of every slice of squash and zucchini.

4) Grill veggies about 4 minutes per side.

5) Add lemon juice to veggies and serve.

Notes: If you are like me and don’t have a pastry brush, you can use your hands to spread the sauce on the veggies; it’s a little messy but it gets the job done. We did not put any brown sugar in the sauce and it was still tasty; I just thought that a little sweetness would have been given the sauce some nice depth.

Review: The squash was solidly good but not terribly exciting; for that reason, I gave it 3 stars (out of 5). I enjoyed the squash (and The Boyfriend ate it, which is great because he isn’t a squash fan) but I have made other squash recipes that I like better (remember Cannibalistic Squash? Now that is a “Wow!” squash recipe).

The Boyfriend and I shared a side salad and some tasted and buttered sourdough bread, in addition to the mussels and squash. Overall, we both gave the meal a solid 4 stars; I was quite happy with the balance of flavors and textures that this meal presented.

Ok so end-of-blog question time: what’s your favorite indulgent, so-bad-it’s-bad food?

Nostalgia circle

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Nostalgia circle

I’ve been a little sentimental this week, thinking of all of my friends (whom I miss very much) that live elsewhere. When I got to making the grocery list for the week, I was still in nostalgia-land and so I decided to make chicken adobo. This is a Filipino recipe that reminds me of a great friend—and great chef!—Alberto, who is from the Philippines. Alberto made pork adobo and brought it to share at a recent burn and it was fantastic. Since I can’t have Alberto here right now (boo! He is a great person and gives the best hugs) then at least I can have a taste of his home.

Chicken Adobo

PigPig’s Corner

 Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken thighs, skin on
  • ½ white onion, sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed and quartered
  • 1/8 cup vinegar (apple cider or white)
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 bay leaves, dried or fresh
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorn
  • 1 handful fresh basil, torn

Directions:

1. Heat up a bit of oil in a large pot. Brown chicken pieces on all sides. Leave aside for later use.

2. In the same pot, fry onions until softened and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.

3. Add garlic and fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

4. Add all the other ingredients (including chicken) to pot.

5. Bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer until sauce thickened, about 30-45 minutes.

6. Stir in basil and serve over rice.

The chicken was really tasty and beyond easy. It made enough for about 6 meals for us because The Boyfriend eats an entire thigh per meal and I eat about ½ a piece. When I told Alberto about making adobo, he gave some great advice for the leftovers:

“Shred the chicken while reducing the sauce (or add cornstarch + water) to thicken. Fry shredded chicken and top with thickened sauce. Great with rice and fried eggs or in a sandwich with slices of tomato.”

It sounds like a tasty way to eat up the leftover chicken; The Boyfriend and I will probably give it a try for lunch tomorrow.

I served the chicken with a great veggie stir-fry and jasmine rice.

For the stir-fry, I used carrots, broccoli, yellow cauliflower, green onion, and red pepper. It was a nice accompaniment to a yummy meal.

Yellow cauliflower: more nutritious regular cauliflower!  And our grocery store was out of the normal stuff. The Boyfriend said that he preferred the taste of the  yellow cauliflower actually, even though I thought they tasted the same.

I’m sorry that I have such random pictures lately. It’s just been difficult to coordinate prep work and cooking and cleaning with taking step-by-step photos. I’ll try to get better pictures in the coming weeks.

Yay Pepsi Throwback! Made with real sugar and tastes way better than regular canned Pepsi. Mmm!

I’m trying this new “end posts with a question” thing so tonight’s question: do you have any nostalgic food? Foods that you make or eat when you feel sentimental or food that makes you feel sentimental?

I’m trying this new “end posts with a question” thing so tonight’s question: do you have any nostalgic food? Foods that you make or eat when you feel sentimental or food that makes you feel sentimental?

Spicy food for a spicy day!

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Spicy food for a spicy day!

Today has been pretty great, spicy in fact. I have 3 exciting pieces of news to share!

  1. The future
  2.  Home improvements
  3. Welcome home

Ok, so first up something exciting about The Future. That sounds nicely cryptic, right? Well I won’t keep you in suspense any longer—I have a job interview tomorrow! I won’t tell you where because I don’t want to jinx it but fingers crossed that I get hired!!

Number 2 (ha!): home improvements. I’m sure that I mentioned that The Boyfriend and I have a laundry list of things we want to do to our new place (and if I didn’t, I’m mentioning it now). Seeing as neither one of us have an income right now, we have to tackle our “honey-do list” slowly (aka inexpensively). Today we hit up our local Home Depot and spent about $25 picking up supplies to work on 2 projects. The first project is putting in shelves in our common closet! Our apartment really doesn’t have a common closet so The Boyfriend and I made one out of one of the pantries in our kitchen. Fortunately, it is a nice big closet; it used to house our refrigerator! Unfortunately, it requires a bit of work before it can be an efficient closet; we’ve already taken the door off of its hinges and now we just need to put up a few shelves and a curtain rod + curtain. First step, putting up a shelf! It cost about $12 for the entire project: 1 piece of wood (3/4” x 11” x 48”), 2 brackets (we opted for the fancy ones so we could also install a hanging bar), and some screws (we bought a pack up 10 for $1.00; #8 x 1” flathead). I won’t take credit for this project—The Boyfriend screwed the brackets to the wall and then to the shelf and mounted the whole thing. I think it took him about 30 minutes and he said his hand was sore when he was done but that it was worth it.

I probably should have documented the process better (and I will in the future!) but I just thought of adding my home improvements to the blog like 5 minutes ago. However, I do have an old before picture and a new after picture that I can share!

Before:

After:

Bam!

The second home improvement task that we accomplished today was the creation of an ‘Art While You Fart’ set-up in our bathroom. AWYF is something that I first saw at a burn (more about those later); at the burn, it was a poster board hung inside the port-o-johns with a marker attached. In another joint venture, I noticed the perfect “chalkboard-like” space to the left of our toilet and The Boyfriend spray-painted it with chalkboard paint. Bam! Instant art…while you fart. The only thing left for that is installing a chalk shelf and buying chalk. I’ll post a picture of the AWYF space as soon as there is some art on it!

Ok, last update and then recipes, I promise! Maybe you’re wondering what the “welcome home” means. Well even if you’re not, I’m going to tell you. The Boyfriend and I (along with a good group of friends) bought our tickets for Playa del Fuego tonight! Playa del Fuego (PDF) is a northeast regional Burning Man event. I could try to explain what burns are but I think I’ll let the wiki page do it for me. PDF is a smaller (1200 people compared to BM’s 50,000) regional burn that happens in Delaware in May and October. It will be my fifth burn but my first time at PDF. I am beyond excited! The “welcome home” title refers to the greeting (+ a hug!) that every single person gets when they get to a burn; virgin burners (first-time burners) also traditionally get paddled.

It’s going to good to go home in October; even better will be the reunion at Afterburn* in November.

*AB is a Florida burn. It was my second burn and is still my favorite of the burns that I have been to. Seeing all of our best friends is a pretty great incentive for The Boyfriend and I to make the 1200 mile journey.

Ok, now what you’re really here for: food! With all of the excitement of today, I didn’t have a ton of time to spend on dinner. Nevertheless, it was a solidly tasty effort with very little effort expanded on my part!

Sriracha Chicken

Adapted from a recipe at Whisk Kid

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 3 tbsp chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha, more or less to taste
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1) Place the chicken in Ziploc bag; set aside.

2) Add the rest of the ingredients to a food processor (or in my case, a Magic Bullet) and blend until completely combined. Add marinade to plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

3) Preheat the oven to 350F; cook the chicken, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes until cooked through.

A wee bit blurry…

For being so easy, the chicken was really tasty. The Boyfriend said “It tastes like actually good Chinese food” so I guess that was a compliment, as well as a testament to the fact that making this wasn’t much harder than ordering take-out.

Balsamic green beans with feta

Adapted from a recipe at Chinese Grandma

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb green beans
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp feta cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1) Snap ends off green beans and rinse; pat dry.

2) Heat a skillet large enough to hold the beans comfortably; add olive oil.

3) Add green beans to skillet but be prepared for a lot of popping oil. Be careful!

4) Using long tongs, stir the green beans around the pan making sure that they all get covered in oil. Turn the temperature to medium low and cover pan.

5) When the popping has subsided, take the cover off and stir beans again; they should be turning bright green.

6) Add a ¼ cup of water to the pan and cover; cook for 1 minute or until beans are at preferred doneness.

7) Drain excess water from pan; add salt and pepper to taste.

8) Remove beans from skillet; drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with crumbled feta.

I’m sold on anything that has feta cheese but in general, these green beans were pretty great. Very easy, very healthy, and a nice change from our normal butter-and-garlic-sauteed green beans.

I bet you’re exhausted reading a post this long (and it IS pretty late at night too), so I’ll just say goodnight for now but I do have one question for the evening: what do you think of Art While You Fart? Totally awesome or so weird?

A very green dinner

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My last entry for Farmers’ Market week! This time our local ground beef was the star, with the fresh kale in a supporting role.

Asian-Style Lettuce Wraps

Adapted from a recipe at The Cynical Chef

Ingredients:

  • 16 butter lettuce leaves
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar (or 2 tbsp white vinegar + 1 tsp lemon juice)
  • 1 (8 ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained and quartered
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 4 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Siracha hot sauce

Directions:

1) Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not tear them. Set aside.

2) In a medium skillet over high heat, brown the ground beef in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, stirring often and reducing the heat to medium, if necessary. Drain, and set aside to cool.

3) Cook the onion in the same pan, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar, and Siracha to the onions, and stir. Stir in chopped water chestnuts, green onions, and sesame oil, and continue cooking until the onions, mushrooms, and red pepper have cooked, about 7-10 minutes.

4) To serve, spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf. Wrap the lettuce around the meat like a burrito, and enjoy!

I loved this recipe. It kind of reminded me of sushi, in a weird way. Not the ingredients (obviously) but the wonderful feeling of protein inside a leafy, green wrap. Maybe this is a good time to explain that I love lettuce—the taste, the texture, the color. Lettuce wraps pretty much encapsulate (ha!) everything that I love about lettuce while still feeling different and exotic, mostly thanks to the Asian ingredients: sesame oil, water chestnuts, hoisin sauce. Anyway, 4.5 out of 5 for me on this: it was awesome. The Boyfriend said he liked it too but he would have rather eaten the beef mixture over rice than inside a lettuce leaf.

We were under a time crunch so we made a simple side dish: sautéed kale. And when I say we, I really mean him: The Boyfriend graciously took care of the kale so I could focus on dinner and we could get out of the door sooner rather than later. The kale was okay—this is one of our go-to recipes because it is easy but it won’t win any flavor awards anytime soon. It is definitely competent but not exciting, if you know what I mean. He did a great job with it, the recipe is just not very exciting; but it is easy and it tastes good.

Sautéed Kale

Adapted from a recipe at Foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

  • ½ bunch kale
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (or 1 garlic scape) chopped
  • ½ cup stock (chicken or vegetable) or water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Directions:

1) Wash kale; remove stem and cut into bite-sized pieces.

2) Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.

3) Add the garlic and cook until soft, but not colored.

4) Raise heat to high, add the stock and kale and toss to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

5) Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring until all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add vinegar.

Due to all of the green, I was pretty satisfied with the healthiness quotient of this meal.