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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.
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How to: Quickie Meal – Asian Beef Noodle Soup

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Hello, winter.

I’m not welcoming you per se, but I may be able to better handle your shenanigans when bowls of steaming deliciousness are at my disposal.

Bowls such as this one.

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You all like Phở? It’s a Vietnamese noodle soup and it’s basically a cure for winter.

Traditionally, Phở requires hours of simmering a rich stock with a variety of spices.  I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess you don’t have that kind of time?

This is a super short cut to a Phở-esque soup that is all kinds of heartwarming.  If you’re more of a plant-based guy or gal, you can also check out my recipe for Mushroom Phở.

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Anyone who reads the blog regularly knows I’m not much of a meat eater.  As a general rule, I don’t cook meat (including poultry) at home unless it’s a special occasion.  I’ll also enjoy meat when I go out to eat from time to time.  My reasoning is multifactorial, but essentially, I feel less meat is better from an environmental perspective and a health perspective.

This recipe was inspired by my first foray into making beef stock.  My brother and sister in-law decided to buy half a grass fed cow from a local farmer.  Included in their haul was a big old box of soup bones. They were going to ditch them!  I gasped in disbelief and immediately offered my freezer up!

Holy cow (get it?!), this made amazing stock. Here’s the recipe I used.

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Now a quick note on the difference between stock and broth.  Stock is made with bones, broth is made by simmering meat.  That’s it.  What you find in tetra packs at the grocery store is generally broth, which will absolutely work for this recipe.  I will say that roasted bone stock adds a lot of depth to this recipe if you do want to try it yourself.

If you can’t find a ‘no-added salt’ brand, don’t sweat it, just be mindful of the soy sauce and hoisin sauce you add.  You may not need as much.

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If you’re looking to reduce your consumption of meat at home, a good way to wean yourself and your family is to use meat as a flavouring, rather than a main dish. Along with using beef broth, this recipe only calls for one 8 oz. steak divided among 4 servings.

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It’s very important you add the beef at the very last minute. Sirloin is not something you want to overcook.  It will become tough very quickly.  That being said, if you have leftover pot roast or brisket, or some other slow cooked beef, it would work perfectly as a substitute here.

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Now then…happy slurping to you all!

Erin

Asian Beef Noodle Soup

Serves 4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • ½ lb or roughly 225gmedium thickness rice noodles
  • 6 cups beef stock (or no-salt added beef broth)
  • 225g shiitake mushrooms (stems removed and sliced)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 8oz beef sirloin or tenderloin (thinly sliced)
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions
  • 10 basil leaves (thinly sliced)

Note

Try freezing beef for 30 minutes before preparation.  Partially frozen beef will be much easier to slice thinly.

Directions

1. Cook rice noodles per package directions. Rinse with cool water, and set aside. While remaining ingredients are prepared, rinse with additional cool water every few minutes to ensure the cooled noodles don't stick together.
2. Bring beef stock, mushrooms, ginger, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, lime juice and sesame oil to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Divide rice noodles among 4 empty bowls.
Add beef and green onions to simmering broth and remove from heat immediately. Ladle soup over noodle bowls. Top with fresh basil.
Serve immediately.
Serve with additional hoisin sauce and Sriracha hot sauce.

How To: Quickie Meal – Sesame Noodle Bowls

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I’m having a bit of a love affair with bowls.

Quinoa bowls, rice bowls, and most recently, noodle bowls. Now we all know I’ve had a thing for food in bowls for quite some time, but  noodles have recently become the latest and greatest thing in my house.

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They are also very helpful for getting a toddler to eat their dinner. I bet you didn’t know that long and slurpable noodles were just about the funniest thing on this planet? And eating them? Well the most fun ever!

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What also helps is the delicious sesame peanut sauce that gets poured over top of these extra fun noodles. And my daughter is the sauce queen – having recently discovered the wonders of hollandaise sauce, this rich and creamy sauce is now the new fave.

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Any long noodle would work in this dish. Having made this more than once recently, I’ve tried my share of noodle varieties. One of my favourites is the sweet potato noodle. They are so hard to find in the regular grocery store, but a friend of mine snagged a package for me in Kensington market. I just love how chewy they are. But rice noodles would be a close second and those are readily found in your local grocery store.

Ditch the plate, grab a bowl of noodles, and douse ’em with sauce!

Dara

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Sesame Noodle Bowls

Serves 4
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Main Dish
Website Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 3/4 Pound rice noodles (udon noodles, whole wheat spaghetti, sweet potato noodles would all work)
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp tahini
  • 1.5 Tbsp all natural peanut butter
  • 5 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1.5 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1.5 cucumbers (thinly sliced)
  • 1 block of tofu (cubed)
  • handful cilantro and mint (roughly chopped)
  • 1/2 cup peanuts (chopped)
  • chili garlic paste (to taste)

Note

These noodle bowls would also be great topped with leftover shrimp or chicken in place of the tofu. Any long noodle would work in place of the rice noodle.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread tofu out evenly on baking sheet and spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Bake for about 20-35 minutes, or until lightly golden brown and firm. Remove from oven and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package direction. Drain and rinse with cold water and set aside.
3. In a small bowl, combine tahini, sesame oil, peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and garlic. Mix well. Pour over noodles and toss to coat.
4. Divide noodles evenly among bowls. Top with tofu, cucumber slices, mint, cilantro and peanuts. Drizzle with chili garlic sauce, to taste.

 

How To: Quickie Meal – Hoisin Chicken and Vegetable Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

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This past weekend we purchased our first two pints of local Ontario strawberries of this season. I think there may be some strawberry jam happening in the near future.

June is prime time for local produce – rhubarb and strawberries and asparagus, oh my! While June may not scream SWEET POTATOES, this recipe is too good to not shout share.

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One of the best things about this recipe is the sauce. That should be no surprise here coming from a self proclaimed saucy gal. The sweet and salty hoisin sauce is mixed into the quickly stir-fried ground chicken and vegetable mixture – I’ve used broccoli and red peppers but really any vegetables would work. And when I say quick I really mean quick. Once your prep is done, and this could be done a day or two in advance, this meal comes together lickity split.

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And lets talk about the stuffed sweet potatoes for a second. Looking back, it seems we have a little thing for stuffing vegetables – stuffed spaghetti squash, stuffed eggplant, stuffed peppers, a Mexican stuffed sweet potato, and now this version. Our motto – when in doubt, stuff it!

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Make ’em, stuff ’em, enjoy ’em!

Dara

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Hoisin Chicken and Vegetable Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4
Meal type Main Dish
Website Adapted From Cookin' Canuck

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Tsp five spice powder (divided)
  • 2 Tsp ginger (grated)
  • 1 Pound ground white meat chicken
  • 1 Large bunch broccoli (cut into florets)
  • 1 red pepper (chopped)

Sauce

  • 6 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 Tsp chili garlic sauce

Note

Once your chopping is done, this meal comes together in literally 10 minutes. You could substitute any vegetables for the broccoli and red pepper - mushrooms, green beans, or zucchini would all work great. Ground turkey or beef could also be used in place of the chicken.

Directions

1. Pierce the sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Micowave for 4 minutes, turn them over, and microwave another 4-5 minutes, until soft. Remove and let them sit until they are cool enough to handle. Slice them lengthwise and scoop out the flesh, leaving the skins intact.
2. Mash the flesh in a large bowl with 1/4 tsp five spice powder. Stuff the mashed sweet potato back in the shells, dividing it evenly among all four shells. Set aside.
3. Heat a large non stick wok or skillet over medium high heat and spray with cooking spray. Add ginger and cook for about 30 seconds. Add ground turkey and 1/4 tsp five spice powder and cook until fully cooked through and beginning to brown. Remove to a plate and set aside.
4. Add broccoli and red pepper to skillet and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add ground turkey and sauce to the skillet and cook until everything is coated with the sauce and heated through.
5. Spoon turkey mixture on top of sweet potatoes and dig in!
Sauce
6. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

How To: Healthy Lunch – Asian Bean Salad

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Do you know that the last time we posted a healthy lunch post was way back in April with a delectable quinoa salad? I know, it’s just terrible! It’s the beginning of September, back to school season, and we are seriously lacking recipes and posts in the healthy lunch department. Let me make it all better with this delicious and oh so simple Asian bean salad.

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I actually had to do a serious and thorough reading of past blog posts to make sure I hadn’t posted this recipe for you in the past (with almost 200 recipes!!!! it’s easy to lose track). It’s a household staple that I really can’t believe it has taken me this long to share it with you.

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When I said this recipe was simple, I meant it was really REALLY simple. The dressing is just three ingredients – apricot jam, olive oil, and rice vinegar. A sweet and sour combo that works so well in this bean salad.

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And what else could you want in a healthy lunch for the back to school season besides simple?

So I think it’s fair to say this recipe makes up for the lack of healthy lunch recipes in the past months, don’t you?

Dara

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Asian Bean Salad

Serves 6
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Salad, Side Dish
Misc Pre-preparable
By author Adapted from Ellie Krieger

Ingredients

  • 1.5 Pounds green beans
  • 1 Package frozen and shelled edamame
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 Red pepper chopped
  • 5 green onions (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup apricot jam
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

Note

The bean salad is great as a vegetarian main for lunch or a side for chicken or fish for dinner. It's best made a day ahead of time so the beans can soak up the flavourful dressing. Some grated ginger or garlic would be a great addition to the dressing.

Directions

1. Steam green beans and edamame until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Cut green beans into 1 inch pieces and place in a large bowl with edamame.
2. Add green onions, red pepper, and black beans to green bean mixture and mix until combine.
3. Mix together jam, oil, and vinegar and pour over bean mixture. Toss until mixture is fully coated and season withs salt and pepper to taste.

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