Thursday, January 29, 2015

ASIAN STYLE SALAD with Creamy Orange Ginger Dressing

Today, it was chemistry in the kitchen.  What was I searching for?  A perfect recipe for the famous Asian type salad (that I love- I mean really love) at a certain restaurant chain that I once frequented.  That is until I found out how many stinkin' calories were in this salad.  Ah, yes, enough to have a couple cheeseburgers instead.  Thats just WRONG people!  Salad is suppose to be healthy!

Make it yourself.  Enter Tyson Crispy Chicken.  No fuss.  No mess.   Of course you can make your own chicken but I hate frying chicken.  And, yes, you can used grilled chicken, but I was really trying to recreate what I missed from that restaurant.  So follow this exactly and you will have that famous salad of theirs in your own kitchen.  And dare I say, you might even like it better.

ASIAN STYLE SALAD with Creamy Orange Ginger Dressing

The dressing.

3/4 cup orange juice*
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 tablespoons cornstarch or tapioca starch
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil, sunflower oil or canola oil

In a small sauce pan mix orange juice, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic and corn starch.  Heat until it thickens.  Remove from heat, stir in sesame oil.  Let cool.  Once it has cooled completely whisk in vegetable oil.

If it is too thick for your tastes, whisk in orange juice to get the desired consistency.

The salad.

1-2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1 tablespoons toasted almonds
1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/4 cup mandarin oranges
1 or 2 strips Tyson Crispy Chicken
2 tablespoons spelt or oat bran sesame sticks
2 radishes, sliced (this is not in the original restaurant salad but gives crunch)

Arrange a bed of lettuce in a bowl.  Layer in the oranges, nuts and seeds, radishes, sesame sticks and chicken.  Pour dressing over top. Serve.

* If you have a large can of oranges, you can drain them and use the juice from that.  It will be about 3/4 of a cup.

Calories: Using one Tyson Crispy Chicken strip, two tablespoons of the dressing and of course following all the measurements, this salad ends up being around 450 calories.  WAY better than the restaurant salad.  Mainly because of making your own dressing.

Full Disclosure:  I received a coupon to buy Tyson Chicken.  I was not paid in any other way.  I was not told what to say. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Vegetable Burgers

This was my lunch today. Oh yeah! It was remarkably delicious! I am super excited about this recipe.  I made a test one without the lentils, delicious.  And made some with the lentils, also delicious.

Vegetable Burgers
Makes about 12- 14 patties, depending how big you make your patties.

1 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP)
1/4 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasonings*
1/2 cup onion, minced- dried or not
1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
3/4 cup water (boiling)
1 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon tahini (or any other nut or seed butter)
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 1/2 to 2 cups crushed corn flakes

1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Montreal Steak Seasoning*

Mix the TVP, oats, onion, Italian seasonings, garlic and mustard in a bowl.  Add in the boiling water.  In a seperate bowl mix together ketchup, soy sauce, tahini.  Stir into the TVP mixture.  Let site for about five minutes.  Add in the nutritional yeast flakes and the flour.

Drain lentils (if watery) and stir them in as well.  Combine everything thoroughly. 

Stir in the corn flakes.  You want enough crushed corn flakes to be able to mold the mixture into patties.  Too many and it will crumble, to few and it will be too mushy. 

Form into patties and fry on medium to low heat. 

To make the above sandwich:  After frying my burger up and placing it on the bread, I tossed the salsa into the frying pan.  I just heated it enough to break it down and be a little warm.  Placed avocado on top and that was it.

*If You want to make your own, here are the appropriate links:

Fire Roasted Salsa
Montreal Steak Seasoning
Italian Seasoning
Those little dark spots are sun dried tomatoes.  I added them in for a little extra pizazz.

I made patties and froze about eight of them. Quick meals on a future busy day.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pumpkin Vegetarian Chili

Since my daughter decided to go vegetarian (which my husband lovingly refers to my daughter as a "Carboterian"), we have been experimenting with some new ideas.  She is kind of a picky eater to begin with.  Its taken a little more flexibility on her end and some patience on my end to come up with some dishes that she likes.  This is one of them.  If you asked me six months ago if she would eat this I would have told you "NO" most assuredly.  Things change. Right? Here's to hoping that more nutritious eating is on the horizon.

Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili

1 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup black beans
2 stalks celery
2 carrots, chopped
1 medium onion chopped
2 tablespoons Anaheim roasted chilies
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Sauté onions, celery and carrots in a soup pot.  When just slightly golden add in the remainder of ingredients.  Let cook, on very low heat, for about twenty minutes, stirring frequently as the mixture will be thick.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mini Cake Donuts

Here at our house we go from Holidays to birthday parties.  It's crammin' jammin', non-stop birthday parties. 

This is what I made for breakfast for our slumber party guests. 

Mini Cake Donuts

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon shortening

Preheat mini donut maker.

In a large bowl, beat shortening with sugar and then add in eggs, one at a time. Mix flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Stir in milk and vanilla. Beat together until well blended.

Fill each donut hold with a heaping tablespoon of batter.  Close lid and heat until ready light comes on. Remove and place on rack.

For the glaze, I just mixed some sugar with milk and poured a little on the donuts while they were still warm.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


I love Pad Thai.  I have been kind of intimidated by it.  No more.  To be fair though probably the Pad Thai you find in the restaurants takes way more care.  But on the side of Quick, Flavorful and Easy, this is the BOMB!

One commenter at this site said, " I left out the cilantro and peanuts since they're only a garnish."  Um, no, cilantro packs a major flavorful punch and it really plays off the fish sauce quite a bit- as does the lime.  Personally, I would never leave it out unless I had guests over and they hated cilantro. Even then, honestly, I would reconsider making the dish.  I think cilantro in this is just that important.

Quick and Simple Pad Thai
Go here for the original recipe at Fine Cooking.  I used Ramen Noodles in the interest of cooking it up quick.

2 tablespoons peanuts
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
a couple leaves of mint, chopped
1 package Ramen noodles
1 sweet onion chopped
1/2 cup bean sprouts
2 tablespoons roasted Anaheim chiles
1 cup small shrimp

the sauce:
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Hoison sauce
1 teaspoon chili-garlic paste
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
juice of 1/2 a lime

Mix the sauce, set aside.

Boil the Ramen noodles.  In a sauté pan, lightly sauté onion and then add peppers.  Add the noodles once they are done, then bean sprouts, peanuts, shrimp, mint and two or three tablespoons of the sauce. Cook one minute more just to heat things up, sprinkle on cilantro and POW- a meal!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup

I have been making a lot of vegetable broth lately.  My oldest daughter has gone to a vegetarian diet for the last few months.  My most favorite recipe for vegetable broth can be found here.  I cange it up a bit depending on what I have on hand.  But the constant for the broth is fennel.  I have to be honest- I am not a fan of fennel but I do very much like it in my vegetable broth. Actually it is a preferred part of the soup!

We don't eat a ton of meat so this whole turned Vegetarian thing has not been a total challenge.  But it is difficult coming up with protein sources when the girls doesn't necessarily like beans.  My husband teasingly calls her a carbatarian because that seems to be her diet staple since she isnt a total fan of vegetables either.  She will eat a few and claim she seriously likes vegetables but it is not sufficient.   For these reasons, the traditional vegetarian type dishes I have always made are not her thing either.  Sigh.  Hopefully her tastes will start changing.

Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup

1 sweet potato, peeled
5 turnips, peeled
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
2 quarts of vegetable broth
salt to your taste
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)

Cut sweet potato and turnip into cubes and place ona  cookie sheet  Roast in a 400F oven until they are lightly browned.  Place in soup pot with the remainder of the ingredients and let cook for about 30 minutes.  Blend in the blender (or use an immersion blender) until smooth and return to pot. Add in cream if desired.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Multi Grain Oat Bread

Its be kinda crazy here at our house.  Flu, multiple deaths around us (why does it come in threes- or at least seem that way), Holiday craziness, birthdays...  It hasn't all been bad though.  In between the sadness, there has been joy sprinkled in there.  Those moments are precious.  Always precious.
Source: MorgueFile.
Last night we had family game night and played Bingo.  Our cousin, upped the ante and said lets play for money.  Quarter stuff.  The kids thought that would be fun. So they went for it.  I won the first two rounds (I, like, never win) and my daughter one the final round!    

Multi Grain Oat Bread

Recipe from Red Star Yeast.  I skipped the topping, I was in a hurry.  Not nearly as pretty but equally delicious.

½ cup sugar
½ cup warm water (110°-115°F)
4+1/2 tsp Active Dry Yeast*
1+1/4 cups boiling water
¾ cup quick-cooking rolled oats
¼ cup cracked wheat
¼ cup vegetable oil
1+1/2 tsp salt
¼ cup flax seeds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup whole wheat flour
4+1/2 cups bread flour

1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 TBSP quick-cooking rolled oats
2 TBSP flax seeds

1. In small bowl, dissolve 1 tsp sugar in warm water. Stir in Active Dry Yeast; let stand for 10 minutes, or until foamy.

2. In a mixer bowl, combine remaining sugar, boiling water, rolled oats, cracked wheat, oil and salt; let stand for 20 minutes. Stir in yeast mixture, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and whisk the eggs in with an egg beater.

3. With a rubber spatula, incorporate in the whole wheat flour and 2 cups of bread flour. Attach the hook attachment of the mixer and knead on low setting for 7-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary.

4. Lightly grease the mixer bowl, turning the dough to coat all over. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in warm draft-free place for 1 hour.

5. Grease two 8 x 4-inch (1.5 L) loaf pans; set aside.

6. Punch down dough; turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half; knead each portion into ball. Using rolling pin, gently roll each into rectangle the length of loaf pan. Roll up into cylinder; pinch along bottom to seal. Fold each end of loaf in and pinch to seal. Place into prepared pans. Cover and let rise in warm draft-free place for about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

7. Brush egg over loaves, sprinkle with topping of rolled oats and flax seeds. Bake in center of 375°F (190°C) oven for about 30-35 minutes or until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on bottom. Remove from pans; let cool on racks.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Crockpot Apple Butter
Polish folk art or wycinanki (pronounced vee-chee-non-key)  Source:  Polish News Seattle

Happy New Year!

The end of 2014 had some rough spots for us.  The flu hit us this Holiday Season.  Also, the passing of a man that I babysat when he was young.  He leaves behind a wife and three young children.  Sadly.  His death has hit me hard.  My sadness is for his family.  I love them so.  Seeing them hurting just breaks my heart to pieces.  Sadness because he was too young and too precious to go.  A beautiful spirit.  41 is just too young.  A brain tumor. 

My best friend lost her father a few days after Christmas.  I sat in Church, during the service, thinking about how he touched my life.  When I was in my early twenties I had the good fortune of going with my friend, her sister and her Dad to Poland.  I was very fortunate to go and am still very grateful about that! We stayed with his relatives in Gydinia and Gdansk. My friends father, in his younger days, was a Merchant Marine.  He sailed the world over and learned many languages.  I always thought that was very mysterious and exciting.  

It is really the kindness of someone that you remember.  I sat there, in Church, thinking about that.  How kindness really does matter.  Sure the accomplishments of an individual you remember too.  But what really is the stand out for me is the love and kindness that the person extended to you and the world.  (And really in some cases the lack there of- let's be honest). 

I am looking forward to this New Year. Besides the fact that I don't really have a choice, 2015 is here.  Period.  I do like the freshness of a new day.  The freshness of a New Year!  How the slate seems to be wiped clean in some ways.  But new beginnings are really in every moment.  Aren't they?  Each moment is a decision to be a better person, to live a better life, to give to someone.  It is true there is no greater gift than the giving of one's self to another.  The moments you spend with your children, your spouse, your friends, your parents.  Or even the small kindness you give to a stranger. 

The hardest part of this recipe is chopping all the apples.  The rest?  Easy Peasy.  Place in crock pot, turn it on and forget about it.  You don't have to even stir it.  Just let it simmer away.

Crock Pot Apple Butter

18 large apples
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cider or water

Fill crock pot with apples.  I use the above as a guide for about how much spice to put in.  Don't add your spices until right at the end.  Since everything will cook down quite a bit the flavor will condense as well.  The vanilla will just cook out so wait until the end for that as well.  Mine was in the crock pot for 12 hours.  It never stuck to the pan at all.