Friday, February 26, 2010

Beef Noodles with Oyster Sauce

This is another recipe from that Chinese Cooking book that J gave me. I talk about it here. I thought this was one of the best stir-fries I've made so far. J said it didn't have that "stir-fry" taste (I think he means burnt vegetables). Because I cook over really high heat in the wok some of the pieces taste a little charred like on a grill. I think that was the difference with this recipe. He also doesn't like asparagus so I wasn't expecting him to love this.

Beef Noodles with Oyster Sauce (adapted from Chinese Cooking)

1/2 lb beef thinly sliced into strips
9 oz. fresh Chinese Egg Noodles (found near the wonton wrappers in the store)
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 bunch fresh asparagus, woody ends removed and chopped (1.5" pieces)
2 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
4 tbsp fat free beef broth
1 1/2 tbsp rice wine
2 tbsp oyster sauce (found in the International aisle in the store)
1 tsp sesame seeds

1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp rice wine

  1. In a non-metallic bowl mix marinade ingredients and add the beef. Marinate at least 15 minutes.
  2. Boil the noodles according to the package, drain and rinse and set aside.
  3. Heat the wok over high heat. Add half the oil and heat.
  4. Add the asparagus and stir-fry one minute.
  5. Add the beef and marinade to the wok (carefully). Stir-fry until medium.
  6. Remove beef and asparagus from pan.
  7. Heat the rest of the oil and stir-fry garlic, ginger, and onion until onion is soft.
  8. Add broth, wine, and oyster sauce and bring to a boil, continuing to stir.
  9. Return the beef and asparagus to wok with noodles. Mix everything together and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Ginger Shrimp Wontons with Spicy Peanut Sauce

J was helping pick out recipes last week and he must have really been craving Asian food as you can see from the previous posts. He even had Chinese Buffet for one of his lunches, so apparently dinner almost every night wasn't enough for him. These were originally supposed to be potstickers but I didn't feel like dealing with it so these were baked nice and crunchy in the oven.
These were surprisingly fast to make. Don't be afraid of wonton wrappers; they are so much fun to work with. One day I'd like to have a dumpling party and make a bunch of fillings and sit around talking and wrapper and then snack on them during game night or whatever. If I could find enough people I would love to start a dinner club (or whatever you want to call it). Anyone interested in a once a month type of thing?

Ginger Shrimp Wontons with Spicy Peanut Sauce (adapted from Cooking Light)

(makes 24 wontons, I had some filling leftover either because I didn't fill them enough or I didn't measure my shrimp carefully enough)

1 cup shredded napa cabbage
1/3 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound cooked peeled small shrimp (I used thawed frozen pre-cooked)
Dash of hot sauce (sriracha)
24 wonton wrappers

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons chile paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek)
1/2 teaspoon sugar

  1. To prepare wontons, combine first 10 ingredients in a food processor; pulse 4 times or until coarsely chopped.
  2. Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time (cover remaining wrappers with a damp towel to prevent drying), spoon about 1 1/2 teaspoons shrimp mixture into center of each wrapper.
  3. Moisten edges of dough with water; bring 2 opposite corners to center, pinching points to seal. Bring remaining 2 corners to center, pinching points to seal. Pinch 4 edges together to seal. Place pot stickers on a large baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.
  4. Bake wontons at 400 degrees for approx. 8-10 min. Edges should be crispy but not burnt.
  5. To prepare sauce, combine 1/4 cup water and next 5 ingredients (through sugar) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Serve sauce with pot stickers. Garnish with extra chopped green onions, if desired.

Pork Chops with Hoisin Barbecue Sauce

Look out. Incoming! Another Cooking Light recipe. Did I mention I took all my clipped recipes from all different sources and tried to file them in some type of system? In doing so, I also have to make an effort to actually try these recipes I've been hoarding. Yes, hoarding. My expandable folder literally couldn't hold all of the recipes. So besides the blogs, the databases, and the cookbooks, I am also trying to use as many of these recipes as well. If it isn't any good I can throw away the recipe. This particular recipe wasn't bad per se. I just don't actually know if I would make it again. When I was little my mother had a rating system in she would write in her cookbooks with the date she first made the recipe to keep track of them. Excellent, Very Good, Good, Ok, Fair, Poor. These are the words I've been trying to incorporate myself so I can decide whether or not to make something again (although we all know that I have a hard time making the same thing twice). I would say Good and above have a decent chance of a repeat performance. This recipe I rated as Good. I wouldn't serve it to company, but as a nice weeknight meal it fits the bill.

Pork Chops with Hoisin Barbecue Sauce (adapted from Cooking Light)

3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup (King Syrup)
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons Chinese hot mustard (such as Ty Ling brand)
Cooking spray
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (4-ounce) boneless center-cut loin pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick)
4 green onions
1 cup hot cooked white rice
  1. Combine sugar and syrup in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook 3 minutes or until sugar melts, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in hoisin, vinegar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and garlic; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in mustard. Keep warm.
  3. Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray.
  4. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper over pork. Add pork to pan; cook for 2 minutes on each side or until done.
  5. Add pork to hoisin mixture, turning to coat. Keep warm.
  6. Combine onions, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and rice; serve with pork.

Marinated Beef with Vegetables

You know those inexpensive cookbooks that don't really have an author (just a publishing company) that they sell in the sale sections at bookstore or in the front of stores like Ross, TJ Maxx and Marshalls? Well, somehow I have acquired several of those over the years. Some were gifts, some were impulse buys because two dollars for any book is worth it to me. At any rate, I've always been afraid to cook from them because I don't trust that anyone has ever tested these recipes. Let me know if you know anything about that. Paragon Books puts out several different kinds of these books and for Christmas one year J gave me one called Chinese Cooking: A collection of easy and elegant recipes. This Christmas I got a wok and J requested that I make a stir-fry once a week. So I decided what better way to get so use out of this book than to try to cook all the recipes that we would actually eat. The idea of cooking my way through an entire cookbook is very intriguing, but there are is rarely a book in which every single recipe sounds like something I would like. I'm not picky anymore but the few things I know I don't like I stay away from. Why waste calories on something you don't really want to eat? Going to weight watchers has definitely instilled this philosophy in me. This works only for things that aren't good for you of course. The healthy guidelines are good for you even if you don't really want to eat your vegetables. I guess the key is making the vegetables something you that you want to eat. This particular recipe includes lots of vegetables. I personally thought the recipe was a little bland but I like my Asian food to have some kick to it. J added a little hoisin or you could add some sriracha if you wanted something with a little more flavor.

Marinated Beef with Vegetables (adapted from Chinese Cooking)

1 tbsp sherry
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp sugar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp sesame oil

1/2 pound thinly sliced beef
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
2 crowns broccoli, cut into florets
2 carrots, julienned
2 cups sugar snap peas
1/2 cup fat free beef broth
1 bag baby spinach
1/2 cup white rice, cooked according to package

  1. Combine ingredients for marinade, add beef and cover. Let marinade 30 min and remove beef.
  2. Heat half the oil in the wok at high heat. Stir-fry beef until medium rare and remove from pan.
  3. Combine cornstarch and soy sauce. Add remaining oil to wok and add broccoli, carrots, and peas and stir-fry 2 minutes.
  4. Add stock and let vegetable steam 2 minutes (covering if possible).
  5. Add spinach, beef and cornstarch mixture. Cook to thicken and serve over rice.

Shredded Romaine Salad

Recently my friends and I have been talking about decreasing the amount of meat in our diets. I have been taking various steps at our house; being sure to package meat in single servings, only making enough to eat 2 servings or packaging extra servings immediately for later consumption, making meatless meals whenever possible. We watched Food Inc. at the local independent theatre and I starting looking into flexitarian living. My aunt and my sister are vegetarians but I don't think I'll ever have enough of a commitment to really go all the way and become a vegetarian. J would NEVER get on board with that one and I don't think I could give up some of my favorite foods. For me vegan is out of the question. Cheese is way too important. Anyway, I started looking into flexitarian cookbooks to nudge us in the right direction. While I haven't quite made any of the entree recipes my new book did give me some lunch ideas and made me a little less annoyed with my salad making attempts. After reading many reviews on cookbooks, for Christmas, I requested The Healthy Hedonist by Myra Kornfeld. So far I've made two salads which have both been very good. I've had to make some substitutions based on availability at the grocery store but the Baby Greens with Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette and Warm Goat Cheese Medallions was very good and so was the Shredded Romaine Salad with Dill and Scallions. As a change of pace for the side dish with those turkey meatballs (J insists upon each week) I made the salad.

Shredded Romaine Salad (adapted from The Healthy Hedonist)

1 small head romaine lettuce, shredded
1-2 tsp dried dill weed
1/2 bunch sliced scallions
salt and pepper
1 minced garlic clove
juice from 1/2 a lemon
2-3 tbsp olive oil
pomegranate seeds (from approximately 1/2 a pomegranate)
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

  1. Mix the lettuce, dill, scallions, and salt in pepper.
  2. To make the dressing, whisk the garlic, lemon, and oil and toss with greens.
  3. Garnish with fruit and cheese.

Sweet Orange Salmon

I am a big fan of Cooking Light recipes. I guess it is a pretty well known fact because my good friend B gave me a Cooking Light Cookbook this year. I found this recipe in that book and salmon was on sale. The recipe was extremely easy and flavorful. The orange was not over-powering and the sugar cut through the acidity.

Sweet Orange Salmon (adapted from Cooking Light)

1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 salmon fillets
Cooking spray
  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Combine first 8 ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Rub spice mixture over both sides of salmon fillets.
  4. Place salmon on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray.
  5. Broil for 8 minutes or until salmon flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pork Stir-Fry with Asparagus and Sugar Snap Peas

J thinks we should have a "wok meal" (basically a stir-fry) once a week. I am totally loving the new wok, but I don't know if I really want to have a stir fry once a week. We'll see how it goes. I was a little apprehensive trying this one because J doesn't eat asparagus. I personally thought the asparagus was less pungent a flavor compared to the sugar snap peas. This was one of the first times I had ever used pork strips in a stir-fry and I really like them. Next time I would probably not use sesame oil for the high heat frying. Dark sesame oil is usually used for finishing and flavor; I would use some peanut oil perhaps for the frying and add some sesame oil at the end perhaps. I'm a slowly learning the importance of my mise en place, this time I only forgot one ingredient when I was getting ready. I have also (finally) learned the importance of drying your meat before searing in a pan. The soba noodles were all J's idea. The recipe originally called for rice but I was ok with no starch at all.

Pork Stir-Fry with Asparagus and Sugar Snap Peas (adapted from the kitchn)

1/2 small pork loin, cut into 1/2 thick strips totalling approx. 1 cup
salt and pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sherry
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon corn starch
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 large shallots, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch piece ginger, grated
1 pound asparagus, sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  1. Season the pork strips with salt and pepper.
  2. Whisk together the soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and corn starch. Set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil in a wok over very high heat. Add the pork and cook, stirring, until edges begin to brown and they are just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
  4. Add the other tablespoon of sesame oil to the pan, and cook the shallots for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.
  5. Add the asparagus, cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, and then add the sugar snap peas.
  6. Pour the water into the pan, and scrape the bottom of the pan to pick up browned bits.
  7. Sauté the vegetable mixture for another 3 minutes, until asparagus and peas are bright green but still crunchy. Add the red pepper flakes. Add the sauce and the pork. Cook and stir until everything is coated in the sauce. Serve over soba noodles.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pumpkin Risotto

Rice is born in water and must die in wine.
Italian Proverb

I know I've said how much I love risotto in the past. This was another experiment. I'm sure it would have been better with fresher ingredients but I tried my best with what I wanted to use up. I had some leftover pumpkin frozen that I wanted to use up. At first I wasn't sure that I liked this recipe but it really grew on me. I brought this over to a friend's house and we ate it as a side dish for some breaded tilapia and salad. I had originally intended on this being a main course, but many people don't see risotto as the centerpiece to a meal so it became our side dish. I think it was less overpowering as an accompaniment to something else. The almond flavor was very strong in my opinion. I should have either used less cookies (mine we so small I increased from 4 to 6 cookies) or omitted them and used something else. I think a ginger snap (while being less Italian) would have been a welcome flavor.

Pumpkin Risotto (adapted from

4-5 cups chicken broth

3/4 cup arborio rice
3/4 cup sweet white wine
1 medium white onion, chopped
3 tbsp European style butter
1 cups pumpkin flesh
6 small amaretti cookies
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

  1. Start by melting 1 tbsp butter with a little oil in the large pot. Gently fry the onions. DO NOT let them become brown.
  2. As soon as the onions are soft, pour in your rice.
  3. Mix the rice with the fat and onions over high heat for about 2 minutes or until every rice grain is coated with butter and they toast slightly.
  4. Pour in wine and stir briskly so that all of the rice will coated with wine.
  5. When the wine has completely evaporated, add one generous ladle of stock and mix briskly.
  6. Stir the rice every 20 seconds. Continue adding one ladle of broth at a time as it evaporates.
  7. After about 10 minutes, add the pumpkin flesh to the rice and mix. Continue to cook as before with another ladle of broth, making sure the risotto never sticks.
  8. Crumble your amaretti in a mortar. Be sure to leave larger crumbs to add interest to the dish.
  9. Add the amaretti crumbles to the risotto and mix in. Continue to cook, tasting every 30 seconds now, until they rice is almost done.
  10. First remove the pot from the heat and let it rest for 1 minute covered. Then cut the rest of your butter in small and add them to the rice. Mix in the butter.
  11. Grate the Parmesan and add it to the risotto. Mix it in.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Pasta with Broccoli Rabe Bolognese

When J was out of town, I spent the week cooking meals I knew he wouldn't like very much. The artichoke soup was one of them. He also find broccoli rabe to be too bitter in most recipes. I don't know what it is about broccoli rabe, sometimes I find it too bitter and other times it doesn't bother me. It doesn't matter if I blanche it before I use it or not it varies on the bitterness. This recipe I'm sure would have been too bitter for J. This is a Weight Watchers recipe that I changed slightly. I ate it for several different meals. The beef was a welcome protein that we haven't used much lately (on the BL challenge we have been trying to limit it more than before). I don't cook with beef a lot in general but I know J has been eating more bison and poultry for his lunches. I try to buy very lean beef when available. I also tried a different shape of pasta (the recipe called for penne but this is pipette.

On a side note, I've been reading some other blogs and some insights about why people blog. Sometimes blogging seems like a very egocentric activity. Trying desperately to be heard by the masses. I think that for me however, I am using the blog as was way of documenting my food experiments. The blog puts all my opinions in one place and gives me a photo history of the cooking experiences I am having.

Pasta with Broccoli Rabe Bolognese (adapted from Weight Watchers)

1/8 tsp table salt, for cooking pasta

2 tsp olive oil

1 cup(s) onion(s), chopped

1 Tbsp minced garlic

1 pound uncooked lean ground beef (with 7% fat)

2 1/2 tsp fennel seed, crushed

28 oz canned tomato puree

1/4 tsp table salt

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp dried oregano

12 oz uncooked whole-wheat pasta, penne rigate suggested

1 bunch broccoli rabe, ends trimmed, cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch pieces

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent. Add beef and fennel seeds to pan; cook until browned, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon.
  3. Stir in tomato puree, salt, red pepper flakes and oregano; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  4. While sauce simmers, add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package instructions, adding broccoli rabe to pasta water 5 minutes before pasta will be done; cook until pasta and broccoli rabe are tender.
  5. Drain pasta and broccoli rabe; return to pot. Add sauce; toss to mix and coat.

Creamy Artichoke Soup

I know it isn't the most appetizing color. I don't even know how I stumbled upon this recipe. However this is the second time I've made Giada De Laurentiis' Creamy Artichoke soup. I don't really follow the instructions verbatim of course. At one point I was thinking this would be a very good soup to make for my parents, but perhaps the artichoke flavor is stronger than I first realized. It is a super easy recipe and comes together very quickly. Use vegetable broth to make it vegetarian.

Creamy Artichoke Soup (adapted from Giada De Laurentiis) serves 2

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 leek, white part only, washed well and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small potato, peeled and chopped
1 can/jar of artichoke hearts in water (4-6 oz)
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons mascarpone cheese

  1. Heat olive oil in a heavy, large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and the garlic and stir. Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the artichokes, stock, salt, and pepper and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Using a handheld immersion blender, or in a blender in batches, puree the soup. Add the 2 tablespoons mascarpone and blend again to combine.
  3. Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Dollop the top of each of the soups with a spoonful of the softened mascarpone cheese.
Feel free to garnish with chives or parsley (I used dried parsley and it turned out well). I have used both the immersion blender method and the blender method of pureeing. The the regular blender makes more of a mess but I think you get a smoother soup. It's really your call.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Stir Fried Chicken and Broccoli Rabe with Peanuts

With our Biggest Loser contest, I am now able to get J to eat more and more vegetables. This is one of the recipes I made the first week. He normally hates broccoli rabe, but this version he actually liked. This was also the first time I got to use my brand new wok. Yay wok! I don't usually keep salted peanuts in the house but I think it may be better for this recipe to go ahead and buy some. I didn't and the peanuts tasted a little out of place. It was a super easy recipe and very filling with how much broccoli rabe we ate. J likes the stir frying so much he wants me to make one once a week. He did say he would have preferred some soba or ramen with his chicken, but I don't really think it needed it. The recipe also suggested other greens if you don't like broccoli rabe, but when I see that as part of a recipe I naturally gravitate towards it. My friend told me that it is because I'm Italian. The funny thing is, we never had broccoli rabe at home growing up. Once in a while at a deli or sandwich shop they would sell it with sausage and my dad would get a little tub of it and we might eat it on bread. When I was in college I think it was more readily available in grocery stores and my mother starting making a Giada de Laurentis recipe using hot Italian turkey sausage and broccoli rabe.

Stir Fried Chicken and Broccoli Rabe with Peanuts
(adapted from Bon Appetit)

2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
2 tablespoons dry Sherry, divided
3 teaspoons Asian sesame oil, divided
2 teaspoons golden brown sugar, divided
1/2 pound skinless boneless chicken breast, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-wide strips
1 tablespoons peanut oil
4 green onions, white parts and green parts chopped separately
2 teaspoons chopped seeded serrano chiles
1 large bunch broccoli rabe, thick stems removed, cut into 1" chunks
1/4 cup peanuts

  1. Whisk 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Sherry, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon sugar in medium bowl. Add chicken; marinade 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Whisk remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Sherry, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon sugar in small bowl and reserve.
  3. Heat 1/2 tablespoon peanut oil in wok over high heat.
  4. Add white parts of onions and chiles; stir 30 seconds. Add chicken; stir-fry just until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer chicken mixture to bowl.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to same skillet; heat over high heat. Add greens by large handfuls; stir just until beginning to wilt before adding more. Sauté just until tender, 1 to 6 minutes, depending on type of greens.
  6. Return chicken to skillet. Add reserved soy sauce mixture; stir until heated through, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving bowl; sprinkle with green parts of onions and peanuts.

Potato, Ham and Cheese Frittata

I made this for dinner but it really works at any meal. It is really low in WW points (so much so that we decided to have seconds). I served mine with strawberries but any filling (low point) side would make a filling dinner. This recipe called for a few ingredients I didn't have or couldn't find so I improvised. Otherwise it was very easy.

Potato, Ham and Cheese Frittata (4 servings/4 WW points per serving)
(adapted from Cooking Light)

Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups frozen Southern-style hash brown potatoes (such as Ore-Ida)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped lean deli ham
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 large eggs
4 large egg whites
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add potatoes, onion, and ham; saute 8 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown.
  3. Remove from pan. Wipe pan clean with paper towels; recoat with cooking spray. Combine salt, hot sauce, pepper, eggs, and egg whites in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir in potato mixture, cheese, and chopped green onions.
  4. Heat pan over medium heat. Pour in egg mixture. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 3 minutes or until bottom is lightly browned, lifting edges and tilting skillet as eggs cook to allow uncooked portion to flow underneath cooked portion.
  5. Wrap handle of pan with foil if non-oven safe. Broil 2 minutes or until top is lightly browned and set.