Friday, May 30, 2014

Spicy Thai Chicken and Noodles

Once the weather starts to warm up, Jon starts hinting that he would love me to make something with tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro and onion that he can enjoy while drinking a Sol. In other words, he wants pico de gallo  I have been making my pico de gallo recipe for 7 years now and it still always takes me back to Cabo.  
So last weekend I got home to find 3 huge bags of tomatoes sitting on the counter ... not such a subtle hint, is it?? He had been talking about it for a few days so I wasn't completely surprised - the man had a serious craving going on! He also sharpened the knife so I'd be ready to go, so a few hours later we were enjoying some awesome pico.
What does that have to do with this recipe? Well I had a bunch of cilantro left over as well as a jalapeno, and I planned on making chicken so that's how this recipe came to be.
I created this one on the fly and it was really, really good! Spicy but light and healthy with some brightness from the lime and cilantro. It also only took about 25 minutes to pull together making it a great weeknight meal.
Spicy Thai Chicken and Noodles
Marinade Ingredients
  • 1/4 c low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 2 tsp spicy chili garlic sauce (I used this one by Huy Fong Foods)
  • 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lime
All of the other ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp light olive oil
  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced into 3/4 inch thick strips
  • 1/2 jalapeno, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 red pepper sliced into 1 inch long thin strips
  • 3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 c low sodium chicken broth
  • chili garlic sauce (I used about 1 Tbsp; adjust to your liking)
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 handfuls of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 lb noodles, cooked (I used thick spaghetti)

  • Mix all of the marinade ingredients except the lime juice. Pour over chicken and let marinate in the fridge for a few hours. A half hour before you are ready to cook, add the lime juice.
  • Heat most of the olive oil in a large sauté pan or wok. Add the chicken and cook several minutes until done. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
  • Add the rest of the oil to your pan; add the jalapeno, garlic, and red pepper slices. Saute 1-2 minutes.
  • Mix the soy sauce, peanut butter, broth, chili garlic sauce and lime juice and add to the pan. Bring to a simmer for a few minutes. Taste and adjust for heat.
  • Return the chicken to the pan and add the noodles and cilantro; toss to coat.
  • Top with green onions.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Grilled Naan Pizzas

I have been wanting to try grilled pizza for ages. My parents do it all the time and they like using Naan bread (Indian flat bread) so I picked some up at Wegman's one day.

We made these for lunch one weekend and everyone picked their own toppings. I wanted something light and fresh without traditional pizza sauce so I went with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, arugula, and some spicy Italian sausage. Jon wanted something more traditional as did the little one, so they both used sauce, cheese, and sausage. That's what I love about making personal pizzas - you can set out a toppings bar and let everyone assemble their own.

 I cannot get over how fabulous these were! The bread got nice and crispy and wasn't too doughy like pizza can sometimes be. Besides loving the way these tasted, I have two other favorite things about them. First, no need to turn on the oven and heat up the house. And second, removing the foil for the last 30 seconds of grilling really crisped up the bottoms and gave them that charred taste (a good char!) you get with wood or coal oven pizzas.

Forget traditional pizza crust - I'm hooked on Naan and think these will be a go-to dinner when we want something simple and on the grill this summer.

Grilled Naan Pizza
Ingredients for my Sausage, Tomato and Arugula pizza
  • Naan flatbread, 1 per person
  • 1 links hot Italian sausage (per pizza), casings removed
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • 2 vine ripened tomatoes per pizza, sliced
  • 1 c arugula per pizza
  • 1 tsp olive oil plus a touch more for brushing
  • Salt and pepper
  • Heat a large sauté pan and crumble the sausage in to it. Cook until browned (alternatively you could cook your sausage on the grill and then slice it - keep all the mess outside!)
  • Put the arugula in a bowl and toss it with 1 tsp olive oil and some salt and pepper
  • Brush the toppings side of your Naan with a touch of olive oil.
  • Layer your pizza - tomatoes, mozzarella, and sausage.
  • Place a sheet of foil on a hot grill and place the pizza on top of the foil. Let cook approximately 8 minutes with the grill lid closed. Once the pizza is almost as crispy as you want it, add the arugula. Close the lid and let the arugula wilt. If you want an extra crispy and slightly charred pizza, pull the foil off the grill and let the pizza cook another 20-30 seconds, watching it carefully.
  • Slice and serve!


Monday, May 19, 2014

Korean Pork Medallions with Vegetable Fried Rice

When you have pork, do you prefer it with sweet ingredients (like chutneys, fruit, sweet glazes) or do you like savory flavors (spicy, salty, earthy)?  I love savory pork dishes and always get excited when I see a menu that has a pork dish without some sort of fruit. The best one I ever had was at Emeril's No 9 Restaurant in Vegas - it was a spicy pork loin with a chocolate-less mole sauce. I still need to figure out how to recreate that some day!

When I cook pork at home I often choose Asian ingredients to enhance it. When I saw this recipe for Korean Pork Medallions on The Way the Cookie Crumbles, I immediately bookmarked it. Slicing and pan searing pork tenderloin is such an easy way to cook it - the cooking time is so short that you can have a great dinner on the table in no time, and the meat stays so amazingly tender.

Korean Pork Medallions
Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles
(note, the original recipe includes ingredients and directions for both the pork and a Napa cabbage slaw; the recipe below has been updated to show only the ingredients and cooking method for the pork)

  • 1 large or 2 small pork tenderloins (about 1¼ pounds)
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ Tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tsp Sriracha sauce
  • 2 scallions (both white and green parts), trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
  • Trim the pork of any silverskin and excess fat, and cut on the diagonal into ½-inch-thick medallions.
  • In a small measuring cup, whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and Sriracha. Toss ½ of this mixture with the pork medallions in a large bowl; reserve the remaining mixture to use as a sauce. Let the pork sit at room temperature for 25 minutes or refrigerate for up to 2 hours.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil in a 12-inch, heavy-based skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Remove the pork from the marinade, shaking off the excess, and transfer the pork to a clean plate. Discard the marinade. Add half of the pork medallions to the skillet, spacing them evenly. Cook them without touching until well browned, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until the pork is just cooked through (slice into a piece to check or use a meat thermometer), about 2 more minutes. Remove pork from the pan and pour out the oil and wipe the pan with paper towels (if the drippings on the bottom of the pan look like they may burn, wash the pan). Return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil, and cook the remaining medallions in the same manner.
  • Pour the reserved soy-ginger sauce over the medallions. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the remaining scallions.
I served the pork with Vegetable Fried Rice. I used carrots, red peppers, and tiny cauliflower florets and loved it!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Whole Grain Pasta with Tomatoes and Arugula

I love pasta. Who doesn't? I love it in tomato sauce, cheesy and creamy sauces, oil based sauces, baked, with veggies, without, cold, hot.. really any way you can make it, I'll eat it.

I haven't been able to get my husband to eat whole grain pasta, so when he was away last week I cooked it. It definitely has more bite to it than regular pasta and takes a bit longer to cook, but other than that I didn't taste a difference. And not only did I like it, my daughter did too!

I served her pasta with some tomato sauce, and I made a fresh vegetable sauce with tomatoes and arugula that was so light and fresh and perfectly tart, and I loved the peppery notes the arugula added. Normally when making pasta this way I'd use chicken or vegetable broth to add some liquid. But in an effort to cook lighter, I only used some of the pasta water. Adding in some Parmesan cheese at the end made it creamy and added a touch of saltiness.

Whole Grain Pasta with Tomatoes and Arugula
Original Recipe

  • 6 oz whole grain pasta; I used penne
  • 1 Tbsp light olive oil
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 3-4 vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 c water from the pot of cooking pasta
  • Large handful of arugula
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add some salt and then add the pasta. Cook until done to your likeness (keep 1 c of pasta water before you drain it)
  • Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat.
  • Add the onion, garlic, and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and saute 3-4 minutes and then lower the heat and let simmer while your pasta cooks.
  • After a few minutes add about half of the pasta water and let simmer another 2 minutes.
  • Add the pasta and arugula; toss.
  • Add the Parmesan cheese and adjust salt and pepper, if needed. Serve immediately.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Baked Egg Rolls

I love making lists. Every Sunday I make a list for the week. I write out what we have going on each day like work, school, appointments, deadlines, things I want to accomplish each day, etc. Along the bottom I make a list of other things I would like to (need to) get done that week, like calls to make, things to get scheduled, and house projects. Finally, down the right side of the page I keep a running list of things I need to buy at the market that week. I live by this list and am constantly updating it - I can't remember anything without a list!

So whenever I go to the supermarket I always have a list and put it in order of the aisles (are you starting to think I might have a Type A personality??). If my husband asks me to get something as I'm walking out the door, chances are that I'll forget unless I grab a pen from my purse and scribble it on the list. But just because I have a list doesn't mean I only buy what's on it. When the little one is with me we'll often pick up an extra snack or sweet treat. Or if I see something interesting or inspiring I'll throw it in my cart.
That's how these egg rolls came to be. I was looking for kale and they were out (ugh - hate that!!). But right next to the empty shelves I saw a bag of what they called "ribbon salad." It was cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower all cut into short and thin ribbons. I immediately thought of egg rolls and grabbed a package of egg roll wrappers and ground pork (2 more things not on my list!!).
I made egg rolls once before but didn't follow a recipe so I did not include a sauce in the mixture, and they came out a little dry. This time I did some research and adapted a recipe I found on Taste of Home. I followed the ingredients for the sauce, changed up the protein to ground pork and veggie ingredients, and following the baking method.
These were awesome! Baking made them crispy but not greasy like the ones you get in a Chinese restaurant. The filling was perfectly moist, savory, and the veggies still had a bit of crunch to them.
Another plus - they are fun and easy to make. My almost 4 year old had so much fun rolling them and then watching them bake.

Baked Egg Rolls
Adapted from: Taste of Home
Ingredients (for 8 rolls)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 6 oz ribbon salad (alternatively you could use julienned carrots, peppers, cabbage, water chestnuts, etc.)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Sriracha sauce
  • Cooking spray


One note: when working with eggrolls, be sure to keep the wrappers covered with a wet paper towel as they are waiting to be used. Once I would finish rolling one, I'd cover it with another wet paper towel. You don't want the wrappers to dry out and crack before you cook them.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the pork and cook, breaking it into tiny pieces with the end of a spatula or wooden spoon, until almost cooked through (about 3-4 minutes).
  • Add the onion, ribbon salad (veggies), and garlic. Saute 3 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch, water, soy sauce, vegetable oil, brown sugar, and Sriracha.
  • Add the sauce mixture to the pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust soy, brown sugar, or Sriracha to your liking.
  • Roll the rolls - Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Lay a wrapper flat on the sheet (like a diamond - pointed end facing you) and spoon about 1.5 Tbsp of the mixture onto the bottom third of the wrapper. Fold the bottom of the wrapper over the mixture and fold in the sides. Roll it once and fold in the sides again. Roll it until sealed (about 1.5 more turns) and place seam side down for baking. Continue rolling all of the rolls until done and then spray them with cooking spray.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown, flipping them over a little more than halfway through cooking.  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Lemony Chicken Quinoa Soup

I know, it's May and I'm posting a soup recipe. But it's still a bit chilly here in the Northeast, especially at night. And even though this is a soup recipe, it's a very springy recipe - light, healthy and full of lemon and herbs.

I was inspired by two things - a package of chicken I defrosted to cook that night as well as a recipe I first saw on Pinterest for a Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup. The link took me to the blog Damn Delicious and my mouth was watering after looking at the amazing pics.

I read through the recipe and decided to use it as inspiration. Below is my adaptation of the recipe using quinoa instead of orzo, as well as several other changes to make this a light and healthy soup.

Lemony Chicken Quinoa Soup
Loosely adapted from: Damn Delicious

  • 1.5 Tbsps olive oil
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts (or thighs); cubed and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1/2 sm onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/4 bag of baby carrots, chopped (about 1 c chopped)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 c dry quinoa
  • juice of 1/2 of a lemon
  • Heat 1 Tbsp of the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat
  • Add the chicken and cook until done; about 4-5 minutes; transfer to a bowl
  • Heat the remaining oil in the pot and add the garlic, onion, celery, and carrots; sauté 3-4 minutes until tender.
  • Add the thyme and rosemary; stir
  • Add the chicken broth and quinoa. Bring to a boil and then cover and let simmer until the quinoa has cooked through, about 10-12 minutes.
  • Return the chicken to the pot and add the lemon juice. Stir.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bonefish Grill Copycat Bang Bang Sauce and Bang Bang Tofu

Have you tried any of the copy-cat "bang-bang" recipes out there? You know, that creamy spicy sauce made popular by Bonefish Grill's Bang Bang Shrimp. Ever since that dish became popular, I have seen many things made "bang bang" style.

I made Bang Bang Cauliflower a while back and had been craving it again, but wanted it as an entrée. One night Jon was making some shrimp and I planned on making tofu for myself, and as soon as I grabbed the Sriracha sauce I knew I wanted to make Bang Bang Tofu. I used the cauliflower recipe as inspiration.

 I pressed and cubed the tofu, dipped it in a thick batter, and fried it up before tossing it with the sauce that makes my mouth water every time I think about it. Using tofu in this way was perfect - the batter gets thick and crispy while the tofu stays soft. If you have been wanting to try tofu but are nervous about the texture, this may be the way to do it since you'll have some other textures than just the soft tofu.

Bang Bang Tofu
Inspired by: Bang Bang Cauliflower
The Batter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 c ice water
  • 1 3/4 c flour, sifted
Place the egg yolks in a large bowl. Add iced water gradually, blend well. Add the flour all at once and stir briefly so it's all mixed, but still has lumps and clumps. Make this batter as soon as you are ready to start cooking - you don't want it sitting around.

The Bang Bang Sauce
Mix these ingredients together in a bowl -
  • 1/4 c mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
The Tofu (sub this for anything you'd like - shrimp, chicken, veggies)
  • 1 block of tofu
  • Canola or vegetable oil; about 1/4 - 1/3 inch deep in a large nonstick pan
  • Green onions for garnish
Take 1 block of extra firm tofu, wrap it in paper towels or a clean, dry kitchen towel and place it on a plate. Place something heavy on top of it (but not something that will crush or break the tofu) and place it in the fridge for about an hour.
Heat the oil over high heat
Cube the tofu, dip each piece in batter, and drop it into very hot oil. Fry about 90 seconds - 2 minutes, flip and fry the other side (if frying chicken or shrimp, make sure it is fully cooked by checking the temperature). 
Remove from the pan and place on paper towels to let some of the grease drain. Toss with the sauce and top with green onions.