How to – Make your Own: Crunchy Ramen Noodle Salad

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Ahhh ramen noodles.

As cliche as it is, I fell in completely in love with them, followed by entirely sick of them in my first year of university. I bought cases and cases of chicken flavoured Mr. Noodle that year. Stuck in a dorm room, a kettle as my only cooking aide, it was the only way to get a hot meal unless you wanted haul your ass down to the student cafeteria. Which required getting dressed and looking ‘reasonable’.  Mr. Noodles it is.

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Ramen is big business these days.  There are some incredible ramen houses scattered around the city, and they be fancy. And soooo delicious. Definitely not the Mr. Noodles of the early 00s.

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But oh, that humble $0.39 package of ramen still has loads of potential. Especially when you toast it up with some almonds and throw ’em into a flavour packed salad.

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The toasting step will add an extra 10 minutes to the prep work here, but with little else to do, I wouldn’t recommend skipping it unless you really must. It adds SO much flavour. Good luck not snacking on the entire pan before it hits the salad bowl. Again, if you anticipate leftovers, reserve a handful of the ramen mixture and keep it in a separate container, tossing with the salad just before serving. It is a crunchy noodle salad after all.

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The asian sesame dressing for this salad reminds me of our Asian Orzo Salad, which has always been a potluck favourite.  This newbie is about to join the potluck line-up, though! The edamame is a perfect source of vegetarian protein. If you’ve got leftovers and want to take them for lunch, throw another handful of edamame in to boost the protein so it’s ‘meal worthy’. An alternative protein source like chicken, tofu or shrimp will do the job too.

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Toss it together and voila, GORgeous.

Eat alongside a piping hot bowl of Mr. Noodles.

Erin

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Crunchy Ramen Noodle Salad

Serves 6-8
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 20 minutes
Website Lightly adapted from Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients

  • 14 ounce bag of cabbage slaw
  • 1 cup frozen edamame (thawed)
  • 1 mango (peeled and chopped)
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 2 - 2 ounce packages of ramen noodles (crumbled, flavour pack discarded)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

Asian Sesame Dressing

  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

Note

This would be a terrific potluck salad. Bring the ramen/almonds in separate container and toss them in just before serving to maximize the crunch factor!

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spread ramen noodles and almonds onto baking sheet. Bake for 5-7 minutes, stirring halfway through, until lightly browned (watch carefully over the last minute or two to avoid burning them). Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, combine cabbage slaw, edamame, mango, green onions and once cooled, ramen noodles and almonds.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients for Asian Sesame Dressing. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

How To: Healthy Breakfast – Savoury Squash Pancakes

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I’ve had my eye on this recipe for a long time.

It’s been bookmarked in my “recipe to try folder,” along with so so SO many more. Well, thank goodness for national food holidays. When #pancaketuesday rolled around last month, it was the perfect excuse for a breakfast-for-dinner meal.

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And oh how glad I was that I made these. They are deceivingly simple sounding. Just some roasted and mashed squash, an egg, some cheese and yogurt, and flour. That’s basically it. And somehow, through the magic that is Smitten Kitchen, they become addictive little pancakes that you eat so fast you thoroughly regret not making a double batch.

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These pancakes are honestly perfect for any time of day – feeling like a savoury breakfast but also want pancakes? Make these! Feeling like you want something a little different for lunch? Make these! Feeling like a breakfast for dinner type meal? Make these! Feeling a little peckish mid afternoon? Make these! The fact that they come together lickety-split makes it really easy not to miss out. They also freeze wonderfully so make up that double or triple batch, you won’t regret it.

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I’ve eaten them plain, topped with a dab of butter, and a drizzle of maple syrup. But my favourite way is to top them with a little extra plain yogurt. But you do you – I imagine a soft poached or fried egg on top would be lovely.

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So make them and tell me your favourite way to eat them, okay? And if you’ve made a double or triple batch, give me a ring!

Dara

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Savoury Squash Pancakes

Serves 4-6
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Breakfast, Main Dish, Side Dish
Website Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash (halved and seeds removed)
  • 1/3 cup 2 % Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 3/4 Tsp salt
  • 1 Tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • butter (for frying pancakes)
  • additional butter or yogurt, maple syrup, sour cream (for serving)

Note

These pancakes are great for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! I love them as a side to eggs and topped with some extra butter or yogurt. You could definitely cook up a double batch as they freeze really well.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place squash flesh side down on baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes, or until very tender. Remove and let cool slightly and scoop out flesh and mash. Measure out 1 cup of mashed squash and store the rest in the fridge or freezer for another time.
3. In a large bowl whisk together squash, yogurt, eggs, cheese, salt, and baking powder until combined. Add flour and stir until just mixed in.
4. Heat a large non stick skillet over medium heat and add some butter to coat the bottom of the pan (I used about 1 tbsp or so). Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, spoon batter onto pan, flattening it slightly with the back of a spoon.
5. Once brown on the bottom side, flip and cook until brown on the other side. If the pancakes are cooking too quickly, turn down the heat slightly. If you aren't eating them right away you can keep them warm on a parchment lined baking sheet at 200 degrees.
6. Serve as is, or topped with some maple syrup, additional butter, or yogurt.

How to: Make your own – Chana Masala (Indian Chickpea Stew)

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The other day I found myself browsing our recipe archives for one of my favourite quickie meals, chana masala.

Guys. There’s no chana masala recipe!

What. the hell.

I couldn’t believe it, it’s truly a staple at our house. All of the ingredients are always stocked in my pantry, it takes less than 30 minutes to get on the table and it’s a really flipping delicious healthy main.

Basically, it’s got How to Eat written all over it. So we made a video!

 

A good chana can be as easy or as complicated as you like.  No recipe I’ve found is ever the same, other than they contain a tomato and chickpea base, and some aromatic flavours and spices.

This is a no-recipe kind of meal once you’ve made it a few times.  While mine turns out slightly different each time,  I’ve carefully measured the ingredients to give you an easy time of it for now.

Once you’ve got it, change it to your liking and add a little ‘you’.

Erin

Chana Masala (Indian Chickpea Stew)

Serves 4
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 Medium onions (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 large cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger (about 1.5 inch piece)
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder (your favourite brand)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
  • 1 can (796mL) whole tomatoes with juices
  • 1 can (540mL) chickpeas (rinsed and drained)

Directions

1. Heat canola oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, add onions and sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned.
2. Add garlic, ginger, curry powder, cumin powder and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute while stirring.
3. Add tomatoes and chickpeas. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat medium low and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Break up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a spoon.
4. Remove from heat, add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with rice or your grain of choice and top with cubed avocado and yogurt.

How To: Quickie Meal – Oven Baked Sweet Chili Chicken with Eggplant & Zucchini

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Erin and I have been having a moment with sweet chilli sauce.

We’ve been putting that red and sweet sauce on pretty much everything. Have you tried it? It’s addictive. I had never thought to make my own before. I mean, why would I when the store bought variety is so darn delicious. But then I came across this recipe and it just looked too good and too easy to pass up.

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Now, you are probably asking the same thing I did – why make it myself? When you make this sauce from scratch you can control the sweetness. So you don’t have to use a boat load of sugar – here we use a mere half cup of honey to add that familiar sweet flavour. Now don’t misunderstand me – honey and sugar – the same thing. Your body processes all sugar in the exact same way. Sugar is sugar people! My point is that you can control how much of the sweet stuff you add, just like you can also control the heat in this recipe. So if you like things super spicy, throw in a little extra red pepper flakes. If it’s too much, dial it back. That’s the benefit of the “make your own” category – you know exactly what’s going in it and you get to have full reign over the finished product. The type A dietitian in me likes this very much!

So now that you’ve made a quick and delicious homemade sweet chilli sauce, we’re going to pour it all over some diced chicken breasts, zucchini, and eggplant. Now chicken breasts can be tricky – they have a tendency to dry out pretty darn fast. So that’s why we are baking them at high heat for a very short period of time and turning the broiler on for the last little bit so you still get that crispy texture and brown colour without ending up with rubbery and flavourless chicken. Because that is no fun.

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I love Japanese eggplant and zucchini in my traditional stir fry, but you can use other quick cooking veggies like green beans or peppers. Make sure to cook up a batch of quinoa or rice to go with this chicken. You need something to soak up all that delicious sauce you just put your blood, sweat, and tears into, right?

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Did I tell you this was a one pan wonder? My other new obsession. Two thumbs up for less clean up.

Dara

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Oven Baked Sweet Chili Chicken with Eggplant & Zucchini

Serves 4
Meal type Main Dish
Website Adapted from Sallys Baking Addiction

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into cubes)
  • 2 zucchini (sliced)
  • 2 Japanese eggplant (sliced)

Sauce

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 Tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tsp sriracha
  • 1/2 Tsp salt

Note

You can prepare the sauce a day or two in advance if you would like. Red peppers or onions would work well in place of the zucchini and eggplant. If you don't want it too spicy, reduce the red pepper flakes to 1 tsp.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
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2. In a small sauce pan whisk together all sauce ingredients. Bring to a simmer and continue to whisk, for about 3 minutes, or until thickened. Set aside.
3. Place chicken, zucchini, and eggplant in the prepared baking dish. Spoon sauce over top until all the chicken and vegetables are evenly coated.
4. Bake for 25 minutes, until vegetables are soft and chicken is mostly cooked through. Switch oven to broil and cook for another couple minutes, until chicken and vegetables begin to brown.
5. Remove from oven and serve chicken and vegetables with sauce over your grain of choice to soak up all that delicious sauce.

 

How to: Recipe Makeover – Crispy Coconut Chicken Strips and Mango Curry Dipping Sauce

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Eating chicken strips (AKA fingers – which always weirded me out as a name btw) transports me right back to the big chains restaurants of my childhood.

Ahhh, the 90s.

No matter the chain, I could always count on a plate of these scorching hot…delicacies, generally complemented by an equally elegant…sugar sauce.

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Though my palate has matured, chicken strips still turn my crank.

Criteria being: MUST be crispy (generally deep fried), must NOT be overcooked and MUST have a kick-ass dipping sauce.

Homemade strips, historically, haven’t made the cut. I usually don’t go to the trouble of deep frying at home and baked strips have a bad rap for lacking a good crunch and/or being overcooked.

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All this to say, I’ve got a cure for shitty homemade baked chicken strips!

And it’s pre-toasting the crumb! In this case a magical combo of panko and coconut.

This simple 5 minute trick seriously revolutionizes the homemade chicken strip, guys.  This is high level stuff. By pre-toasting, you’ll still get a golden brown, crispy exterior without drying out the chicken.

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Add a super flavourful batter to lock in the moisture, and a slightly sweet (but way more grown up and complex) dipping sauce and CHABANG! Chicken strips are back baby!

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It almost makes me want to relive the 90s.

Just kidding.

Never.

Erin

Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken Strips and Mango Curry Dipping Sauce

Serves 4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 12 minutes
Total time 22 minutes
Website Adapted from Recipe Tin Eats

Ingredients

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup medium unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Large egg
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard (or your mustard of choice)
  • water (a few teaspoons, as needed)

Mango Curry Dipping Sauce

  • 1/2 cup mango chunks (thawed frozen work well)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon liquid honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon curry powder

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375F. In a small bowl, combine panko crumbs, coconut, canola oil and salt until the whole mixture is evenly and lightly coated in oil. Transfer mixture to a lined baking sheet in a shallow layer. Bake for 4-5 minutes until golden brown, stirring halfway through.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk to combine egg, flour, mayonnaise, and mustard. Whisk in water, by the teaspoon, as needed to make a batter that evenly coats the back of a spoon and runs off slowly.
3. Add chicken pieces to the batter and toss to coat each piece well. Transfer chicken piece by piece to the panko/coconut baking sheet. Cover each piece generously with crumbs, pat gently and flip to repeat. Transfer coated pieces to a second lined baking sheet. Bake for 11-12 minute until chicken is just cooked through.
4. Meanwhile, combine all of the ingredients for the mango dipping sauce in a blender and puree. Alternatively, use an immersion blender.
5. Serve hot and crispy chicken strips with dipping sauce immediately.