asian garlic noodles

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Asian Noodles 2

These noodles are incredible. Their salty-sweet flavor blends beautifully with the ginger and sesame notes. I make double the amount of sauce just to coat the noodles with more deliciousness!

for the noodles

  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • 12 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, rough chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 zucchinis, diced or 2 cups frozen cut green beans
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions (both white and green parts)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves (optional)

for the sauce

  • 1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 3 cloves, garlic, minced (I used 4)
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoons sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste), or more, to taste*
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, sambal oelek, oyster sauce, ginger, and sesame oil; set aside.
  2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well and keep warm..
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp and 2 tablespoons soy sauce mixture, and cook, stirring occasionally, until pink, about 2-3 minutes; set aside.
  4. Stir in mushrooms, bell pepper, zucchinis or green beans, and carrot to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender-crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in spaghetti, shrimp and remaining soy sauce mixture until well combined, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with scallions and cilantro, if desired.

notes

*Sriracha can be substituted.

PRINT THIS RECIPE  asian garlic noodles

oriental journey

Korean beef wrapsPhoto: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Cindy Barr

 

Time to fly to the Orient to sample some of the excellent dishes we can easily prepare in our northern Maine kitchens. Takeout never tasted as good as your own, freshly prepared, delectable Korean Beef Lettuce Wraps, Sticky Sweet Chicken, or Thai Peanut Chicken Noodles.

korean beef lettuce wraps

Korean BBQ can be made at home with these light, refreshing lettuce wraps! These are SO good. They can also be made/prepped ahead of time! I used boneless pork one time, and that was good, too.

ingredients

  • ½  cup soy sauce
  • ¼  cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼  cup thinly chopped green onions, both tops and white ends
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil (in the Ethnic aisle)
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly grated ginger (or 1 teaspoon ginger powder but the flavor will not be as bright)
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1½  pounds sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 head butter or Bibb lettuce
  • ½ teaspoons sesame seeds

directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, green onions, garlic, sesame oil, ginger, and cayenne. Reserve ¼ cup and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine soy sauce mixture and steak; marinate for at least 1 hour to overnight, turning the bag occasionally. Drain steak from marinade.
  3. In a large saucepan of 2 cups water, cook rice according to package instructions; set aside.
  4. Preheat a cast iron pan to medium-high heat. Add steak and cook, flipping once and basting with reserved ¼ cup marinade until cooked through, about 1-2 minutes each side.
  5. Spoon rice into the center of a lettuce leaf; top with steak, garnish with sesame seeds. Roll up, taco-style.

sticky sweet chicken

This is a tasty way to prepare chicken. You can use tenders if they are a better bargain at the store. Serve with a green vegetable and rice or noodles.

ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • ¼  cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger root (You can sub 1 teaspoon ginger powder but the flavor will not be as bright)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons hot sauce, optional (or sub a pinch of cayenne)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves cut into ½-inch strips
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

directions

  1. Mix together brown sugar, honey, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and hot sauce or cayenne in a small bowl.
  2. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken strips.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and brown quickly about 2 minutes per side till caramelized.
  4. Pour sauce over chicken. Simmer uncovered until sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes.

tip:

Never bought or dealt with fresh ginger root? Here is a handy online tutorial about how to prepare it. http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_peel_and_chop_ginger/

thai peanut chicken noodles

The surprising flavor of peanuts gives this dish an unusually delicious edge.  Add additional veggies like bean sprouts or pea pods if you like.  Whip this up in less than thirty minutes. Flavorful, and can be served as a side or main dish!

ingredients

  • 2 packages dried ramen noodles, seasoning sauce packets discarded
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts or 8 chicken tenders, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage (or use prepared slaw mix)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped peanuts

for the sauce

  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (in Ethnic aisle)
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha or Tabasco, optional

directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic, honey, ginger, vinegar, sesame oil and Sriracha or Tabasco, if using; set aside.
  2. In a large pot of boiling water, add noodles and boil until soft, about 1-2 minutes; drain well.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken to skillet and cook until golden brown, about 4-6 minutes.
  4. Stir in cabbage, carrots and green onions until heated through, about 1 minute.
  5. Stir in cooked noodles and peanut butter mixture. Serve immediately, garnished with peanuts, if desired.

 

Print this post:  CJ – ASIAN 3-23-17

ditch the trendy meals

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I love to cook, and I love to eat! I spend a lot of time online researching food facts, nutrition, and ingredients to create many of my own recipes. But ever since the elevation of the “celebrity chef” to near god-like status, trendy food styling and ingredients are out of control. Food topics are now “above the fold” and recipes are breaking news.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the attention given to the wonderful variety of foods available in our modern grocery stores. And we’re a long way from the meat and potatoes diet our grandparents lived on. Advances in nutritional science have created changes in that old “food pyramid” from an emphasis on carbohydrates to vegetables and fruit. It’s just those pesky trends that continue to irk me.

I don’t know about you but I‘m pretty much done with the laundry list of fads that continue to assault this foodie’s semi-purist sensibility.

Personally, I’ve had it with Buffalo-style anything, especially chicken wings—possibly the most unhealthy part of the beloved bird. Then there are chipotle peppers, chimichurri, salsa, red pepper flakes, and hot sauce in everything! Let’s dial hot, spicy foods back a bit so we can taste the delicate flavors we love.

When did cilantro become a staple? TV chefs are putting the soapy, nasty herb in dishes that never rubbed elbows with it before! When I saw a cook assaulting some beautiful grilled salmon with cilantro, I wanted to—well, let’s just say I was not happy.

And what’s up with kale? Chefs are putting it in places it’s never been before.  Cooked, it has a strong, bitter, “cabbagey” flavor; raw, it’s tough, like chewing on elephant ears. Yum. Give me more of that. Actually, I still prefer spinach, romaine, and leafy lettuces—so tender, crisp, and sweet.

Then there’s presentation. Stacking food in the middle of the plate has been a popular serving style since the 1980s, but I hated it then, and I hate it now. It’s pointless (you still have to level off everything to get at it), and it’s dangerous (ever try carrying plates loaded with towers of food to a table of hungry teenagers?).

My recipes will never ask for kale, cilantro, food towers, or trendy anything. I can’t guarantee gluten-free either. I try to buy organic vegetables, meat, and eggs, and steer away from foods that aren’t non-GMO. I’m not perfect so I leave it to you to make food choices you are comfortable with. Here’s an easy, quick, and delicious way to start. Happy eating!

easy non-trendy “tex-mex” orzo

serves: 6

Always available, always a bargain, and always easy to prepare, orzo is rice-shaped pasta kids and adults alike enjoy. Combining beans with vegetables makes a nutritious dish you and your family will love.  If you feel the need for a protein, add diced poached chicken or shrimp. No hot sauce required unless you like it!

ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced (or ½ tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 15.5-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1½ cups frozen  or drained canned corn
  • 3½ cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth, or whatever you have on hand)
  • 16 oz. orzo pasta

instructions:

  1. In a large pot over medium high heat, add olive oil and heat until shimmering.
  2. Add red bell pepper, green bell pepper, garlic, and onions. Sprinkle with salt and sauté for 3-5 minutes, until just softened and fragrant. Add cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper and stir until combined.
  3. Add the black beans, diced tomatoes, corn, and orzo. Stir to combine.
  4. Slowly add the chicken stock then bring mixture to a boil, turn the heat to medium low, cover and let simmer until orzo has fully cooked through and absorbed most of the liquid, about 13 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Serve hot with warm flour tortillas or in lettuce cups. Pass the shredded jack cheese.

Is there a food fad you love to hate? I’d love to hear from you. You can also send me your favorite recipes. If I use them in my column or blog I will credit you. Let me know at my new blog address, http://www.cooksjournalblog.com, where you can comment, follow me, and receive and print out every post sent directly to your inbox.

PRINT THIS POST: cj-ditch-the-trendy-meals-2-15-17

romantic suppers and sweets

Shrimp pasta

I failed to post this column on time as I became ill shortly before the holiday! Sorry to all my followers! Here it is, new and improved!

Valentine’s Day means expressing your love for your spouse, partner, family, and friends. What better way than to say it with food you lovingly prepare? Here are two suppers and two desserts to consider.

pasta with shrimp, tomatoes and feta cheese
Who said you can’t serve seafood with cheese? Ever have a tuna melt? Crab and swiss? Here’s delicious exception perfect for a Valentine Day supper.

ingredients

  • 3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb raw large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced very thin
  • 1 Tbs each white wine and balsamic vinegar
  • ½ to 1 lb pasta (I usually make only half a pound since I like a higher shrimp-to-pasta ratio using linguine or bowties.)
  • 15 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • 1 (6-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese

directions

  1. In a skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cook shrimp, garlic and white wine for 4-5 minutes or until shrimp is pink. Do NOT overcook!
  2. Remove shrimp with slotted spoon and set aside. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until al dente; drain and keep warm.
  3. While pasta is cooking, place diced tomatoes and halved grape tomatoes with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, and basil over medium heat into wine mixture in skillet until tender—10 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, toss hot pasta with shrimp, tomato mixture, and feta. Feta will melt slightly. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and a crusty bread.

 

Chicken feta beans toms

greek chicken tenders with veggies
Prefer chicken? This dish is packed with flavors sure to spark up any evening!

for the chicken

  • 2 Tbs plus 1 tsp olive or avocado oil, divided
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb fresh green beans
  • 1.5 lb chicken tenders
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • 3­/4 Tbs balsamic vinegar (do not substitute)
  • 1 cup grape/cherry tomatoes, halved

for the greek dressing

  • 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 fresh squeezed lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt 1/2 tsp black pepper

directions

  1. Sauté mushrooms in large frying pan with 1 tsp of the oil, until just browning. Remove from pan, set aside.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium­-high, add green beans. Sauté until green beans are cooked, but still a bit crunchy. Remove from the pan, set aside.
  3. Heat remaining 1 Tbs oil over medium-­high, add chicken, salt, and pepper.
  4. Cook chicken 3­-4 minutes on both sides and remove once browned & cooked though. Remove from pan, set aside. Whisk all dressing ingredients together.
  5. In the same skillet, lower heat to medium, add dressing, honey, and balsamic vinegar. Stir and heat until bubbling.
  6. Toss in mushrooms, and green beans then the cooked chicken and tomatoes. Stir to heat through. Serve over rice or pasta.

 

easy chocolate bar fondue
This takes on a romantic hue when served with champagne. If made ahead, keep the chocolate warm in a double boiler till ready to serve.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound milk or dark chocolate bars, broken into pieces
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 1 store-bought angel food cake, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces dried fruit, such as pineapple slices and figs

directions

  1. In a small saucepan, over low heat, warm the cream and chocolate. Stir until the chocolate melts. Transfer the fondue to a warm serving bowl or fondue pot.
  2. Serve immediately with forks for dipping strawberries, angel food cake, or whatever you like.

 

chocolate-cinnamon pudding with raspberries
So easy to put this together ahead of time. Kids will especially love the flavors.

ingredients

  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 Tbs packed brown sugar
  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups fresh raspberries, or frozen raspberries, thawed

directions

  1. Combine the cocoa, cinnamon, cornstarch, and 2/3 cup of brown sugar in a heavy saucepan. Whisk in milk and 1/2 cup of cream.
  2. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until pudding is thick and smooth.
  3. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  4. Whip remaining cream in a separate bowl with the remaining sugar until soft peaks form.
  5. Pour pudding into individual ramekins or a large bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Serve warm or chill for at least two hours. Top with raspberries and whipped cream.

your turn
Hope you enjoy these romantic dishes! Here is a PDF you can print out for your recipe collectionRomantic Suppers and Sweets Blog 2-16

tips & tricks – odds & ends – bits & basics

Saving time and trouble in the kitchen conserves a cook’s energy. Seasoned cooks know many of these tips and basics, but if you’re new to the culinary world, you’ll appreciate learning these.

tips & tricks (totally random)

  • Add ½ cup of water or beef broth to 1 lb ground beef (or chicken broth to ground turkey or chicken) for the juiciest burgers ever.
  • Cookie and ice cream scoops make life easy. How have I lived without them all these years! Use them to make uniform size cookies and meatballs, dip batter into muffin cups, the list is endless.
  • For sky-high muffins, let batter sit in tins for about a half-hour before baking.
  • If using coarse or kosher salt, double the amount called for in recipes calling for regular table salt. The opposite also applies.
  • Freeze ground meat packed in 1-qt zipper freezer bags, and flatten to about ½ to ¾ thick, distributing evenly. Freeze flat. This takes only a half-hour or so to defrost.
  • Wrap chicken or pork chops separately (I use cheap sandwich bags), freeze 2 hours; place in a larger freezer bag. Pull out only pieces you need. No defrosting huge blocks of meat for hours!
  • Never buy scallions for $1 a bunch again! Cut off the white root ends. Put them in a glass jar with an inch of water, place on a sunny windowsill, and they will re-grow! Keep trimming off when you need green tops, and they’ll shoot up again! Trimming encourages growth. Mine shot up 8 inches in a week. You can also plant them in a pot after a while.

freezing veggies

  • Most vegetables like peas and green beans should be blanched before freezing. Blanching means boiling for three minutes or so (varies by vegetable), plunging into icewater to “shock,” draining very well, and wrapping securely before freezing. Blanching ensures your veggies will maintain their color and won’t get freezer burn if used within a reasonable period.
  • I always blanch my bell pepper halves before making stuffed peppers because they bake up so much more colorfully. Fresh sliced, halved, or whole bell peppers, however, can be placed in plastic bags and frozen dry without any need for blanching. So can sliced apples and berries.

basic recipes i can’t live without

homemade ranch dressing is so good, and it is SO much healthier than the bottled kind, which is loaded with sugar (Really! Have you read the ingredients?) This mixes up quick and easy.

  • ¾ cup buttermilk (Shake well!)
  • ¾ cup real mayonnaise (Do not substitute with Miracle Whip!)
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp each dried tarragon and basil (Essential!)
  • Fresh cracked pepper to taste

Whisk together and refrigerate for a couple of hours if you have time. Make it on the fly, and it still tastes better than that stuff hiding in the valley advertised on TV. Add some fresh chopped chives just before serving. (Mine are coming up! So stoked!)

crumb topping can always be found in my ’fridge. I make it in triple batches and never have an excuse not to whip up an awesome pie. This topping bakes up golden-buttery and sweet and makes that second crust unnecessary. I’ve used it on apple, berry, peach, and rhubarb pies with great success.

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ stick soft butter
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Mix with your fingers till crumbly. Pile an inch or more deep on top of your pie and bake as usual. Double or triple so you always have it on hand. Store in the refrigerator in a tightly closed container. Makes a great topping for coffee cake, too!

basic quiche is a springboard for endless variations you can whip up in record time, amazing your friends and family! Well, maybe not quite that fab, but it’s a handy, delicious, and filling meal and makes great leftovers. I love my homemade crust, but I use the prepared rolled crust for my quiche. Add grated cheese (any kind), ham, cooked mushrooms, or whatever.

  • 2 cups shredded cheese (Swiss is traditional but not required)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Dash of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375°. Beat eggs. Add milk and salt. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Spread cheese (or any other stuff) evenly over top. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let sit 15 minutes before cutting. Great cold the next day!

basic crepes (pronounced kreps) are a meal or a starting point for fancier dishes. Whether served with fruit and eaten like pancakes or stuffed with savory crabmeat filling and smothered in Swiss cheese sauce, crepes are not only versatile—they are also convenient since you can make up a bunch of them and freeze for a quick meal on busy nights.

  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tbs melted butter
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • Dash of salt

Beat well. Batter should be thin, so add more milk if needed. Prepare a 10-inch nonstick frying pan by heating to medium and spaying lightly with cooking oil. When pan is hot enough (a drop of water dances around and disappears), pour in one third cup of batter and immediately swirl pan around to distribute so batter covers entire pan surface. When top is set and edges brown and begin to curl, flip crepe carefully. Cook till second side is lightly brown. Slide on to a large plate and cover with a damp tea towel till all batter is cooked. These can be rewarmed in the microwave and served right away or stored in the refrigerator or freezer separated by sheets of wax paper or parchment and well-wrapped in plastic or foil.

basic brown butter sauce is a delicious way to transform a plain pasta or rice meal into something special, and the ingredients are usually on hand or easily obtainable. This is a basic recipe, but there are endless variations with the addition of mushrooms, Parmesan or Romano cheese, fresh sage leaves (yummy), lemons, hazelnuts, or pine nuts, vegetables like parsley, chives, blanched green beans, asparagus, artichokes or cauliflower, and proteins like lobster, mussels, crab, scallops, or chicken. I’ve been making this on the fly, so thanks for the great directions from CD Kitchen!

  • Cut 1 cup (2 sticks) of salted butter into tablespoon-sized pieces and place in a 2-quart sauce pan. Place the pan of butter on a burner over medium heat. Bring butter to a slow boil (about 5 minutes).
  • Once the butter begins to boil, stir constantly to prevent residue from sticking to the bottom of the pan. As the butter cooks, it will start to foam and rise. Continue stirring, otherwise the butter foam could overflow (about 5 minutes) and catch fire.
  • When the butter stops foaming and rising, cook until amber in color (about 1 to 2 minutes). It will have a pleasant caramel aroma.
  • Turn off the heat and remove pan from burner. Let the sediment settle to the bottom of the pan for a few minutes.
  • Pour the brown butter through a strainer into a small bowl. Do not disturb the residue at the bottom of the pan.
  • You can keep it hot over a double boiler. Brown butter can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated in a microwave as needed, but be careful!
  • Boil your pasta of choice until al dente. Drain pasta and divide into four servings. Spread with 1/4 cup of hot brown butter.

Next time we’ll post additional basic recipes you can tuck away in your recipe notebook (you do have one, right?) and pull out when you’re in a bind or on a tight schedule. Add your own personal touch, and you’ll impress even your toughest critic.

Print this revised post: CJ-5-13-15-TIPS