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: Recipe Makeover – Eggplant Parmesan

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We’ve been teased with a few days of warm weather over the last couple of weeks.

But I’m on to you, Mother Nature.  I’ve been a Canadian gal long enough to know you’re about to screw us over with a blast of icy garbage.

This ‘spring is just around the corner’ optimism hasn’t got me fooled! On the contrary. I’m still cooking comfort food. Crikey. I’m still cooking casseroles.

I promise, this one will take the edge off when winter does return with a vengeance.

And oh. It will.

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Do we have any eggplant haters out there?

Confession. I used to be one. In fact I was an extremely picky eater as a kid, but I had an especially big hate-on for bitter, spongy eggplant.

It turns out, all an eggplant needs to taste goddang delicious is a little love.

I haven’t had a bitter eggplant in a long time. Most of the bitterness long associated with eggplants has been bred out of the ones we’d find at the grocery store. Farmers 👈🏻 geniuses. Choose eggplants that have smooth skin and a very firm texture for freshness.

Salting the eggplant in this recipe isn’t to cut the bitterness, but to remove some of the excess moisture. Following the roasting step, you’ll be left with creamy, dreamy smokey slices of slightly salted eggplant that will be almost impossible to avoid eating on their own. You really can’t skip this step for this recipe because excess moisture will result in a really soupy final product.

As for the sponginess factor, eggplant, if given the chance will absorb a boatload of oil.  In this recipe we control the oil it can absorb by brushing lightly with oil.

Remember our AMAZEBALLS Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches? Here, we’re avoiding super spongy eggplant by providing a coating for the slices before we fry them up in oil.

And so there we have it. Eggplant: unmasked!

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As you read through the recipe below, you may find this tomato sauce recipe to be familiar. It’s a slight take on the insanely simple Three Ingredient Sauce we shared with you last year. No time for homemade sauce? Use your fave store bought. No brainer.

Half homemade is awesome too, guys. (Maybe just a smidgen of fresh basil to sprinkle in though?)

Now, layer away!

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Get your slippers ready, pour yourself a glass of red and scoop out an extra large portion of eggplant parm.  You are now prepared for winter’s final blast.

Erin

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Eggplant Parmesan

Serves 5-6
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 1 hour
Total time 1 hours, 10 minutes
From magazine Inspired by Eggplant Parmesan from Food and Drink Winter 2017

Ingredients

Tomato Sauce

  • 1 can (796mL) Canned Whole Tomatoes with juices (preferably San Marzano Tomatoes)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 Medium yellow onion (peeled and quartered)
  • 2 Large cloves garlic (peeled and left whole)
  • 8-10 basil leaves (chopped)

Eggplant Casserole

  • 2 Large eggplants (sliced into 1/4 inch rounds)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (divided)
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese (about 300g, grated)
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 cooked garlic cloves (removed from cooked tomato sauce)

Directions

Tomato Sauce
1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, add tomatoes, butter, onion and garlic and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, add basil and cook for 15-20 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat.
2. Remove onion and discard. Remove garlic and set aside to cool. Crush any large tomato pieces with the back of a spoon.
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3. Preheat oven to 400F. Sprinkle eggplant slices with salt on both sides and lay them in a single layer on a wire rack or over some paper towels. Let sit for 15 minutes, pat extra moisture dry with paper towels.
4. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and brush slices on both sides with 2 Tbsp of the canola oil. Bake 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through, until browned.
5. Meanwhile, mince cooled garlic cloves and combine with breadcrumbs, remaining Tbsp of canola oil and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.
6. Spread 1/3 tomato sauce over bottom of oiled 8"x11" casserole dish. Place single layer of slightly overlapping eggplant sliced overtop. Combine mozzarella and remaining 3/4 cup parmesan and sprinkle 1/3 of the cheeses over eggplant slices. Repeat layering 2 more times.
7. Sprinkle bread crumb topping over casserole.
8. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until sauce is bubbling, cheese is melted and panko is golden brown. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

How to: Make your Own – General Tso’s Tofu

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Yo. Meat lovers.

If ever there were ever a reason to start eating tofu, here it is.

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A perfect storm of intense flavour, perfect texture and…damn it, it’s just glorious. Trust me.

The inspiration behind this one is Dana over at The Minimalist Baker. Both Dara and I have been infatuated with this recipe since discovering it.  We’ve even inspired a few friends to try it, with resounding success!

My version is super close to the original, with a few less steps. Delicious: simplified *fist bump*

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When using extra firm tofu, to get the ‘meatiest’ texture possible, you want to remove as much moisture as possible. This is what wrapping in towels and weighting it will do.  However, if you need dinner on the table 10 minutes sooner, you can skip this step. Just pat the tofu dry before marinating.

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Ginger is one of my fave flaves. I’ve probably mentioned this a zillion times, but it’s totally worth mentioning again.  Freeze your ginger and grate it with a microplane. I don’t even peel it (👈🏻badass).  It’s such a quick and efficient way to use fresh ginger and there’s no waste, because you can just baggie-it and pop it back in the freezer for next time.

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I quickly realized this recipe requires a double batch at our house (pictured above). I’m guessing you’re gonna want to go that route once you try it, too. Maybe even triple-sies.

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Let’s talk about the cornstarch step.  I’ve tried the recipe with and without this.  Again, not totally necessary from a flavour perspective, but you’ll get some some nice crispy bits if you follow this step.

I found using a non-stick frying pan or a wok worked best to stir-fry the tofu.  When I tried using a non-non-stick (does that make sense?), it was kind of a sticky burny mess, even with lots of oil.

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I’ve left stir-frying the garlic and ginger right until the end.  When cooking at a high heat, these delicate flavours will burn quick and taste like hell when they do.  So no burning stuff, k?

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Once you add the marinade, it will begin to get thick and a little sticky and it will smell completely irresistible. Add the tofu, sprinkle on some seeds and eat the heck out of it. FAST. Before anyone else can.

Erin

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General Tso Tofu

Serves 3-4
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Website Adapated from The Minimalist Baker's General Tso's Tofu

Ingredients

  • 1 package extra firm tofu
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch (divided)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (divided)
  • 1 bunch green onions (roughly chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds

Marinade & Sauce

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup liquid honey
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1.5 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic chili sauce (or more to taste)

Directions

1. Wrap tofu in a few layers of paper towel or a clean, dry dishcloth. Place wrapped tofu under a heavy pot or under a plate weighted with some canned goods. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
Cut tofu into approximately 1" cubes.
2. To a large shallow dish, add ingredients for marinade and whisk to combine. Add cubed tofu and toss until all sides are coated. Marinate for at least 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. Transfer tofu, piece by piece to a large freezer bag. Reserve marinade and whisk in 1 Tbsp corn starch.
3. Add remaining 2 Tbsp of cornstarch to freezer bag, seal bag and toss to combine. Tofu should have a gummy coating.
4. In a large non-stick sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat, heat 2 Tbsp of the canola oil. Carefully add tofu and stir-fry for about 4 minutes, stirring and flipping tofu pieces to evenly brown on all sides. Remove tofu and set aside.
5. Add remaining canola oil and heat over medium-high. Add green onions, stir-fry for one minute. Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry for another 30 seconds.
6. Add reserved marinade, reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Add tofu pieces and stir to combine and evenly coat tofu. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Serve immediately to enjoy the crispy tofu bits.

How to: Recipe Makeover – Mushroom Stroganoff

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I have been dying to share this recipe. I would be shouting ‘MUSHROOM STROGANOFF!’ from the rooftops if it was at all socially acceptable.

Short ingredient list. Cooks in under thirty. A monkey could make it.

That’s a classic triple threat, right there.

Wait. It’s also just-try-holding-me-back-from-eating-the-whole-pot delicious.

Quad threat.

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I’ve been holding this little recipe card in my pocket for a few weeks, since I tested it out in the same week I shared our recipe for Mushroom Bourguignon.

I figured, no one wants to be over mushroomed, Erin. Hold your horses. So I held on. And that was tough, because I think you need this in your life.

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Rich, creamy and savoury just like the classic beef version but with meaty cremini mushrooms instead. This would delight any vegetarian, I guarantee it.

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The combo of goat cheese and greek yogurt give it that signature stroganoff tanginess while doing double duty as a good source of protein.

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And the egg noodles?

Egg noodles for President.

That’s all I have to say about that.

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Just looking at this photo makes my salivary glands go bananas.

Guys, you’ve gotta make this one STAT.

Erin

Mushroom Stroganoff

Serves 4-6
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1.5lb mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1 package wide egg noodles
  • 1 Small package goat cheese
  • 1 cup 2% greek yogurt
  • 1 bunch green onions (sliced, white and green part separated)
  • 2 tablespoons parsley (chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Directions

1. In a large sauté pan over medium heat melt butter and add mushrooms, sautéing until cooked through and most of the liquid is evaporated. Add white parts of onion and cook for another minute until all liquid is evaporated.
2. Sprinkle flour over mushrooms and stir for 30 seconds until dissolved. Add beef broth, lower heat to medium-low and simmer for about 8 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cook egg noodles per package directions in salted water. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking liquid when done.
4. Add goat cheese to mushrooms and stir until melted and evenly dispersed. Remove from heat, stir in yogurt, green onions, salt, pepper and parsley.
5. Add cooked noodles and toss with mushroom sauce, adding reserved pasta water slowly until desired sauce consistency is met. Serve immediately.

How to: Make your Own Mushroom Bourguignon

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This post was inspired by the leftover wine I had sitting around from Christmas.

Just kidding.

No such thing.

But if there is such a thing in your home, this recipe will make excellent use of it.

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It’s also an adaptation from my blog hero Deb Perlman via Smitten Kitchen. I’ve been making and swooning over it for years, but haven’t shared it before because, well, it’s a lot of work.

I’ve adapted the method and have done my best to streamline this crazy delicious meal for you without sacrificing on flava flave. Start to finish you’re looking at about 45 minutes. Perhaps not a quickie weeknighter, but definitely do-able if you have a little extra time to spend.

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Those up there are pearl onions and they are flippin delish. Though I’ve seen food TV chefs cook with pre-peeled frozen packages of them, I have never found them frozen myself, so I take the extra step to peel them, which I admit is a pain in the A.

You can absolutely leave them out if need be though.  I have in the past and it really is still excellent.

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I’ve also adapted this dish to make it truly vegetarian (vegan, actually). Use a good quality vegetable broth instead of beef and use a little cornstarch and water for thickening rather than the butter and flour.

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It’s a really great and satisfying vegetarian main. Perfect for a dinner party and dynamite served over my creamy baked polenta. I promise, it tastes as luxurious as it looks.

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Freeze whatever you don’t eat, too.

Imagine coming home on a blistery winter’s night after a long day of work and having to simply pop a bowl of this in the microwave for dinner?

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Heaven I tells you.

Erin

Mushroom Bourguignon

Serves 6
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Website Lightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2lb cremini mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1 Medium carrot (diced)
  • 1 Small onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups pearl onions (peeled)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (softened)
  • 1.5 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • more salt and fresh ground pepper (to taste)
  • parsley and sour cream/greek yogurt for garnish

Note

The pearl onions are a delicious addition to this stew, but you can leave them out if you have a hard time finding them.  To easily peel them, drop them in boiling water for 1 minute and drain. Slice off the very end of each side and slip the peel off.

Directions

1. Heat canola oil in a large pot over high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté (they will squeak around in the pan) until they begin to release their juices. About 3-4 minutes.
2. Reduce heat to medium. Add carrot, onion, garlic, thyme, red wine, salt and pepper and simmer until vegetables are soft and liquid is reduced by half, about 8-10 minutes. Add beef broth, tomato paste and pearl onions and continue to simmer for another 5-7 minutes.
3. In a small bowl, mix together softened butter and flour until it forms a paste. Stir it into the mushrooms, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, 2-3 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper, as needed.
4. Remove from heat. Serve with smashed potatoes, egg noodles or your carb of choice to soak up all the wonderful gravy. Garnish with sour cream or greek yogurt and parsley, if desired.