How to – Make your Own: Crunchy Ramen Noodle Salad

IMG_2578

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.

FullSizeRender 21

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.

FullSizeRender 25

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.

FullSizeRender 28FullSizeRender 20

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.

FullSizeRender 31

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.

FullSizeRender 22

Toss it together and voila, GORgeous.

Eat alongside a piping hot bowl of Mr. Noodles.

Erin

IMG_2578

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: Stock Your Pantry with Walmart.ca Grocery Pick Up & Make Quinoa and Chickpea Bowls

img_2134

I pride myself in my meal planning abilities.

Not to toot my own horn, but I think preparing food for the upcoming week and planning each night’s dinner is one of my best skills; that, and juggling.

But raise your hand if you feel life has just become busy with a capital ‘B’? I can imagine seeing a lot of raised hands. So there are definitely weeks where the weekend meal planning session falls to the wayside. How then, are you expected to get a healthy and Instagram-worthy meal on the table? Enter, “your pantry.”

Having a well-stocked pantry is key for creating easy and healthy everyday meals. Getting dinner on the table is way less daunting when you know you already have over half of the ingredients on hand. So, when we had the opportunity to partner with Walmart Canada on a new program that would give all our How To Eat friends a little help in this department, we jumped right in.

img_2118

Go to Walmart.ca using your computer or the Walmart Canada app, add your selections to the cart, click on your pick up zone and boom – your order is ready faster than ordering takeout. The minimum purchase is just $50. The four downtown Toronto pick-up locations are conveniently located at Yonge & Davisville, Yorkville, Leslieville, and Harbourfront. Simply choose your preferred location and pick-up time, with as little as one day’s notice or same day if ordered before 11 a.m., add in a $3 service fee and you are done.

IMG_2997

Way back when we were blogger newbies we shared our top 15 pantry items. We are now four years older and wiser and have created an updated list of our top 10 pantry must-haves. When I used the Walmart app to order my pantry essentials, I found the system not only easy to use, but extremely affordable. My pantry items accounted for just $34.90 of my total order. And don’t forget, price matching!

You can also save your pantry ‘favourites,’ so when you run low and need to restock, the items are easy to access and add to your cart. Also, when preparing your oder, everything in your cart will remain there, even as you log in and out throughout the week. It’s a living shopping list you can build on!

Top 10 Pantry Essentials

  1. Canola oil – I love the versatility of canola oil. It’s perfect for high heat cooking and is also a neutral flavour in salad dressings and baked goods.
  2. Apple cider vinegar – There are a lot of great vinegars out there, but this is my go-to. I love the subtle sweetness it adds to dressings and sauces.
  3. Chickpeas – These are a great way to bump up the protein in any salad or stir fry. They are also delicious as roasted for a snack or mashed into a sandwich filling.
  4. Quinoa – It cooks in 15 minutes, has more protein than any grain, and is just as delicious for breakfast as it is for dinner.
  5. Peanut butter – Go for the all natural kind that actually tastes like peanuts. Loaded with good-for-you fat, it’s the perfect snack or breakfast and when added with some soy sauce, makes for a delicious sauce.
  6. Maple syrup – Buy the REAL deal here. Perfect on pancakes and in salad dressings and can be used interchangeably with any other liquid sweetener.
  7. Whole wheat pasta – You get the added bonus of extra fibre and having a box in your pantry means you are always 10 minutes away from dinner on the table.
  8. Dried fruit, nuts, and seeds – Raisins, apricots, dried cranberries, or any dried fruit for that matter can jazz up a salad or an ordinary bowl of oatmeal. Toss some nuts into a salad in place of croutons for some crunch or just toss ’em in your mouth for a snack.
  9. Canned tuna – Choose light tuna for lower mercury levels.
  10. Spices and herbs – salt & pepper are a must, but having some other key spices can take an ordinary dinner to a new level. Essentials for me are cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, curry powder, oregano, cinnamon, and thyme.

While this isn’t a comprehensive list, you can easily add some fresh ingredients to these staples and create delicious and healthy meals. All of these products are available online at Walmart.ca and at such an affordable cost. Note, if for some reason they are out of one of your essentials, they will gladly choose an appropriate substitution for you.

I decided to take my now perfectly stocked pantry for a whirl with this delicious quinoa and chickpea bowl.

img_2130

This recipe comes together in no time at all using mostly pantry ingredients you already have on hand. Because you already have gone online and stocked your kitchen with this list, right!? Good.

Chickpeas, quinoa, and peanut butter – three of my kitchen pantry must-haves – form the base of this vegetarian bowl. Apple cider vinegar and maple syrup help form the sweet and creamy peanut dressing.

img_2102

img_2132

All I’ve added is some fresh baby spinach and roasted sweet potatoes. While this bowl is a complete meal on its own, you could also throw in some canned tuna, any leftover grilled meat or fish, or some roasted tofu to up the protein. Any leftover veggies you want to use up in your fridge could be tossed in as well. Make a large batch on the weekend, and you have lunch or dinner set for the week ahead.

img_2139

Whatever you do don’t forget the sauce – it just turns this bowl of grains, beans, and veg into one of those oh so trendy Buddha bowls found at every vegetarian restaurant these days. Except way more affordable, healthful, and delicious.

You are only one click away from having this meal on your table. So what are you waiting for?!

Dara

img_2138

Quinoa Bowl with Chickpeas, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Spinach and Peanut Sauce

Serves 4
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 Cups water
  • 2 sweet potatoes (chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 5oz baby spinach
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Peanut Sauce

  • 1/4 cup all natural peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup

Note

While I've assembled these bowls individually, you could also toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl and store in the fridge until you are ready to eat. It will keep in the fridge up to 5 days. The quinoa, sweet potatoes, and peanut sauce can all be made a day or two ahead of time.

Directions

1. Place quinoa and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until all the water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked, about 12-15 minutes. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rub sweet potato with canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove and set aside.
3. Divide quinoa among four bowls. Top with spinach, roasted sweet potatoes, and chickpeas. Drizzle peanut sauce over top and dig in!

This post is sponsored by Walmart Canada as part of the Walmart.ca Grocery Pick-Up program. In exchange for this post, I have received perks in the form of products and/or compensation. All opinions on this blog are my own.

 

How To: Quickie Meal – Panko Crusted Baked Tilapia

img_1597

This was one of those dinners that was so good I made it again the very next night. Seriously. It may have also had something to do with the fact that I had a costco size tray of tilapia fillets that had to get used up. But that’s besides the point.

The fact that my husband looked up half way through his meal and stated “this is the best fish you’ve made in a long time” should also convince you why you too should purchase a costco size tray of tilapia fillets. It also made me wonder what was wrong with our last of couple fish dinners...

img_1583

img_1584

img_1586

If you’ve been reading our blog for some time now, you know that Erin and I have a thing for creamy sauces. What would these fish tacos be without that lime crema? So it shouldn’t shock you that underneath the crunchy panko exterior lies a very flavourful mayo coating that helps to keep the tilapia nice and moist.

I’ve been known to make a double or even triple batch of this mixture and use it on everything from fish to veggies to salad.

img_1587

img_1592

This tilapia can act as the perfect main to a one pan supper. I served it with some green beans and tomatoes that I roasted right along side the fillets. The best part? The clean up! Roll up the aluminum foil and done. No muss no fuss – just the way I like it!

Dara

img_1590

Panko Crusted Baked Tilapia

Serves 4
Meal type Main Dish
Website Adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients

  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • 1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
  • 1 Tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 Tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 1/8 Tsp pepper

Note

The mayo mixture is delicious and also makes a great dipping sauce. I like to double it and remove half to serve on the side with the cooked fish.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray.
2. In a small bowl mix together mayo, mustard, lemon juice, and oregano.
3. Place tilapia fillets on the prepared baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Spread tops of tilapia evenly with mayo mixture and sprinkle with panko. Spray with cooking spray.
4. Bake for about 6 minutes on the top oven rack and then switch oven to broil. Broil for about 3 minutes, until panko is golden brown. Remove and serve with additional lemon wedges on the side.

How To: Recipe Makeover – Vegetarian Cobb Salad

IMG_9174

I know this title may read like an oxymoron.

Bacon and chicken are two of the ingredients typically found in a Cobb salad, joining eggs, blue cheese, tomatoes, and avocados. But who says you can’t deviate from the original now and then? What would life be like if we were all the same, right?

IMG_9169

When I posted this picture of my unique cobb salad creation on instagram, one person commented this was definitely not a cobb salad. It may not be typical, but it is MY cobb salad, my VEGETARIAN cobb salad to boot!

IMG_9172

Instead of chicken and bacon, we’ve got black beans and sweet potatoes. Instead of blue cheese, creamy and tangy goat cheese. Instead of eggs, sweet beets. I’ve kept the usual avocado and tomatoes. And when all of these ingredients are arranged oh so prettily on top of a bed of romaine, a vegetarian cobb salad is born. Top it all of with an herby mustard vinaigrette and you’ve got one heck of a delicious summer meal.

So call it what you want – a vegetarian cobb salad, a fully loaded salad, a rainbow salad, or just an extremely tasty salad. Bottom line, make this salad.

Dara

IMG_9174

Vegetarian Cobb Salad

Serves 2-4
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish, Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of romaine
  • 2 sweet potatoes (chopped)
  • 1 can of sliced beets (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 large avocado (diced)
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese (crumbled)

Salad Dressing

  • 1 Tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 Tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/4 Tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Note

This may not be your typical cobb salad, but it is just as delicious. Feel free to sub the usual blue cheese for the goat cheese, or feta would also work well. Chickpeas or kidney beans can replace the black beans. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a crowd.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 and toss sweet potatoes with 1 tbsp olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, or until brown and tender. Set aside.
2. On a large plate place a layer of romaine lettuce. Top evenly in rows with sweet potatoes, tomatoes, black beans, avocado, goat cheese, and beets. Top with dressing or serve on the side for everyone to toss themselves.
Salad Dressing
3. Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined.

How To: Quickie Meal – Asian Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing

IMG_8909

The classic Chinese chicken salad.

The one featured on every chain restaurant menu. It always sounds so good with the supposed crispy noodles and tangy dressing, but then you take a bite and you either have a way too sweet dressing, overcooked bland chicken, or a salt explosion in your mouth.

IMG_8902

This Asian chicken salad has none of the above. Instead you have delicious and flavourful tender chicken pieces, crunchy cashews, loads of fresh and sautéed veggies, and a perfectly balanced, delectable peanut dressing. And just in time for this incredible spring weather we’ve been having. FINALLY! You know I actually got burnt on a walk last Friday?

Not only is this salad about a million times healthier and tastier than the usual restaurant variety, it also comes together in no time at all. Quick enough for a mid week dinner and refined enough for a Saturday night meal.

IMG_8907

I’m normally drawn to that crispy rice noodle and canned mandarin orange salad too – but after one bite of this salad I’ll take my homemade version over the mundane chain variety any day!

Dara

IMG_8904

Asian Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing

Serves 4
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish, Salad
Website Salad adapted from How Sweet Eats and dressing adapted from Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas (chopped)
  • 2 red peppers (chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut in pieces)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 large or 2 small romaine hearts (chopped)
  • 1 mango (peeled and chopped)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup frozen edamame beans (defrosted)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup grated carrots

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 Tsp sesame oil
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • 1/2-1 Tsp sriracha
  • 3 Tbsp hot water

Note

This salad is extremely customizable - add as much or as little of all the ingredients as you would like. I like a salad with lots of stuff in it so I load it up. You will have extra dressing so save it in the fridge for future salads or use as a dipping sauce for veggies.

Directions

1. Pre-heat a large non stick skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil. Add peppers, snap peas, and garlic an mix to coat. Add cashews and cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until they start to blacken and soften. Remove and set aside.
2. Spray the same skillet with cooking spray and add chicken. Season with salt and pepper and cook until just cooked through. Add soy sauce and mix to coat. Remove and set aside.
3. In a large bowl add romaine, carrots, edamame, and mango. Add pepper mixture and chicken and toss. Pour dressing evenly over salad and toss again to coat evenly with dressing.
Dressing
4. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine. If you like things a little spicier add some extra sriracha.