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

IMG_3723

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.

IMG_3687

IMG_3688

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.

IMG_3689

IMG_3691

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?

IMG_3693

IMG_3696

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

Dara

IMG_3704

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.
Sauce
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: Make a Chicken Soup for Cold Season

IMG_0957

Anyone else feeling like this cold and flu season has been particularly brutal?

Granted, my daughter is spending her first year daycare, too. Also known as the world’s biggest germ factory.  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised it’s been cold central around here.

IMG_0943

When my nose is raw and my throat lumpy, all I want is a magical cure for my dulled taste buds.

This soup is some seriously heartwarming shit.

Like it will satisfy your soul, people.

Ginger and lemon give it a bright, zingy flavour and turmeric, a spice that can be found on many a 2017 food trends lists, is your anti-inflammatory and antioxidant friend.  It also gives it a pretty colour.

Of note, I tried to find credible, scientific evidence supporting turmeric’s ‘super food’ status with little success. There are only a small number of human studies that exist, with an even smaller number of double-blind placebo controlled studies (the gold standard in scientific research) to support the many many MANY claims being made about its power to cure everything from acne to cancer to Alzheimer’s.

Big picture, guys: Eat a variety of whole, unprocessed foods & focus on vibrant colours (ahem…turmeric) and you’ll get plenty of anti-imflammatory goodness.  Dieititian hand to heart.

IMG_0960

Now, back to this fan-bloody-tastic soup that takes 30 minutes start to finish.

30 minutes for soul satisfaction? Pretty sweet deal if you ask me.

And it might even cure your cold.

Erin

Chicken Soup for Cold Season

Serves 4-6
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 35 minutes
Website Adapted from Soup Addict

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 Small onion (diced)
  • 2 celery stalks (sliced)
  • 2 Medium carrots (sliced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups cooked cubed or shredded chicken (rotisserie chicken is an easy option)
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Note

I found Israeli couscous at my local bulk store, but feel free to use your favourite pasta shape in this soup.

Directions

1. In a large pot, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes until softened.
2. Add garlic, ginger and turmeric and cook, stirring for another minute.
3. Add broth, chicken and couscous and simmer for 10-12 minutes until couscous is cooked through. Add lemon juice along with salt and pepper to taste. Serve!

How To: Quickie Meal – One Pot Quinoa with Chicken, Vegetables, and Peanut Sauce

img_1329

Do you know what I want more than anything in the world?

I want there to be some kind of robot that will just follow me and my two girls around and continuously clean up after us. It seems that my entire day is spent cooking, feeding, and cleaning. And at the end of the night, when all I want to do is put on netflix and binge watch my latest show (any new ones??), I have a high chair covered with the remains of dinner, a kitchen counter covered with whatever snack my 3 year old has chosen before bed, and a kitchen sink filled with dishes.

img_1302

img_1305

So my latest weapon against all this kitchen destruction is the one pot meal. The less pots, the less mess, the more time for netflix.

Enter this one pot quinoa. You have your protein, veg, and grain, all cooked together in one large pot and tossed with a creamy peanut sauce. Okay so you do need a small bowl to mix that sauce up, so we can call it a 1.25 pot meal if you want to get picky.

img_1317

img_1319

This meal is easily customizable for the  whole family – I separated out the edamame and chicken for my daughter who wants everything divided on her plate (typical threenager) and gave her some extra peanut sauce on the side for dipping. As a side note, I find she will generally eat anything if she has a dip – that’s your free tip for the day. My husband and I enjoyed it all mixed together with a squirt of sriracha for some extra heat.

img_1321

Until my kitchen and dining room can magically clean themselves, get ready for many more one pot recipes!

Dara

img_1322

One Pot Quinoa with Chicken, Vegetables, and Peanut Sauce

Serves 4
Meal type Main Dish

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite sized pieces)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 red pepper (chopped)
  • 1 broccoli (chopped)
  • 1 bag of coleslaw
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 2 Tsp ginger
  • 2 Cups frozen shelled edamame (thawed)
  • 1/3 cup cilantro (chopped)

Peanut Sauce

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 Tsp sesame oil

Note

If you wanted to make this a vegetarian dish you could substitute tofu for chicken and cook it the same way, or simply double up on the edamame. Other vegetables, like mushrooms, cauliflower, or zucchini, could be used in place of the red pepper and broccoli. If you like things spicy, top with a squire of sriracha.

Directions

1. Place chicken pieces in a large ziplock bag and add the 2 tbsp of soy sauce and cornstarch. Shake so all the chicken is evenly coated and place in the fridge to marinade for at least 30 minutes.
2. Heat a large wok or skillet over medium high heat and add canola oil. Stir fry chicken until browned and cooked through. Remove and set aside.
3. Add red pepper and broccoli and stir fry for about 5 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften. Add coleslaw mixture and continue to cook for another couple minutes. Add ginger, quinoa, and 1 1/2 cups of water and mix to combine. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is fully cooked.
4. Fluff with a fork and add edamame and chicken and mix to heat through. Add peanut sauce and cilantro and mix to evenly distribute sauce.

 

 

How to: Quickie Meal – Mexican Street Corn Quesadillas

img_7626

Quesadillas were one of the first meals I learned how to cook. They were simple, required minimal ingredients and they involved cheese. SOLD.

Over the years I’ve filled them with lots of wacky stuff, but guys, I promise you, this is a contender for top all-time quesadilla fillings.

img_7611

 

img_7612

Mexican street corn and Mexican food in general, have been kind of a big deal in my neck of the woods over the last few years.  As the name suggests, it’s a popular Mexican street snack consisting of a cob of corn slathered in all sorts of delicious stuff (chill, lime, mayo, CHEESE).  It’s also known as elote.

I’ve made my own version of elote at home a number of times and although it’s always a huge hit, it’s doesn’t work well as a complete meal.

Until now!

img_7613

These come together in less than 20 minutes ALL IN (prep and cooking included). Meaning, perfect for a last minute weeknight meal.

Quick jalapeño tip: I find they can be all over the place when it comes to heat level.  Slice yours in half and have a tiny sample of it before you throw the whole thing in. You may only need half. Or a quarter. Depending on how much of a heat pansy you are.

img_7614

We’re pretty much done with fresh local corn for the year, which just means the high-quality frozen fresh stuff will soon be on sale! Bonus, this recipes is on the table even quicker without having to cut the kernels off a fresh cob.

img_7616

This is my tried and true quesadilla technique.  You can certainly cover the entire thing with filling and top with a second tortilla.  Good luck with the flip, though!  I’m guessing you’ll be finding corn in the dark recesses of your kitchen for the next new months.

Also, a note on the cheese.  Use whatever tickles your fancy. I like harvarti ’cause it’s creamy and melty.  Mozz, gouda, monterey jack or even cheddar would work.

img_7615

img_7621

I served mine alongside sour cream and smokey tomatillo salsa.  A perfect combo.

If you want to serve them with something green and leafy for a more complete meal, go right ahead you health nut!

Erin

Mexican Street Corn Quesadillas

Serves 4
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil (divided)
  • 1 Small onion (peeled and finely chopped)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 cup harvarti cheese
  • 4 12 inch flour tortillas

Directions

1. Heat 2 tsp canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and jalapeño and sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add chili powder and cook for additional 30 seconds. Add corn and salt and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
2. Transfer corn mixture into a bowl, add mayonnaise and lime juice and stir until combined.
3. Heat large frying pan over medium heat. Brush pan with a tsp of oil. Lay one tortilla in pan and top ½ with ¼ of corn mixture, and sprinkle with ¼ of grated cheese. Fold tortilla over to make a half-moon and press down on top half with a spatula.
4. Cook quesadilla for about 2 minutes, carefully flip it over and cook an additional 2 minutes until tortilla is browned and cheese is melted. Transfer to a cooling rack then cut into 3 pieces when slightly cooled. Repeat with remaining 3 tortillas.
5. Serve plain or with salsa and/or sour cream, if desired.