Stir Fry Chinese Cabbage

When I was in college I worked in a chinese restaurant as a waitress and delivery girl.  I had never had chinese food before college.  Okay well maybe never isnt the correct word, intensely infrequently would be a better way to put it, like 5-6 times when we would go into the city for school clothes shopping.  HAHA well anyway.  I learned alot about restaurants and chinese food that year.  I learned that most of what Americans call chinese food is not what the Chinese eat when the place is closed for the night.  Those late nights after closing the store, I was introduced to real chinese food. 

Duck tongue soup and chicken foot stew, were not really my favorites.  I would try them but I had a hard time getting past what they were.  So I ate alot of rice, simple soups and chinese cabbage or bok choy stir fried.  Fai, the owner, called me Honey and used to say to the cooks Gui and Jimmy, “Honey staying for dinner tonight, make extra bok choy, its her favorite”  and he always would.  I have never had bok choy or cabbage made as well as how Gui or Jimmy would make it.  This is pretty darn close. 

This is slightly adapted from this recipe on the website of a fellow Nestie Blogger.  I originally went to her site to find her scallion pancake recipe for Rob but I still havent made them yet.. but I saw this and had just bought some chinese cabbage randomly.. fate took a hand!   I am still not sure what had prompted me to buy the cabbage 3 days ago, especially since I didnt post for a recipe request for pancakes until yesterday….  (enter the Twilight Zone theme).

Ingredients
WW points 0 
1 head of bok choy or chinese cabbage
5 cloves of garlic (or to your taste)
S & P
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp corn starch

Cast of Characters

Start off by mincing your garlic.  I did a kind of haphazard mince so there were big pieces and little pieces to vary the flavor.

Throw it in a pot with a spray of oil.  Saute on low for about 5 minutes, you dont want it to burn but do release its fragrance.

Chop up your bok choy or your cabbage (the original recipe called for baby bok choy, not finding it anywhere, boo).

Once the garlic is fragrant, throw half the cabbage in and let that cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes to start to wilt.

Then once that is started to wilt, add the rest and cook for another minute.

Add your salt, and pepper.  Go gentle on the salt since there is a ton in the soy sauce.

Then add the soy sauce. 

Cover and let cook for about 3-4 minutes stirring often.

Sprinkle the corn starch on (forgot to take a pic of that part) and stir to combine and thicken the fluid.  Once it is thick enough, plate it up, or in this case bowl it up and enjoy! 

I am so happy that I found this recipe.  It brought back some great memories.  I am finding more and more fun things as I get more and more into this blogging thing.  I hope that you all are enjoying it as well!

Happy Sauteeing!!

French Onion Soup

Many of my friends are Nesties.  For those of you who are scracthing your heads asking what a Nestie is, let me enlighten you.  The Nest is an offshoot of The Knot, a webcommunity where many women will go to plan their wedding.  They are tying The Knot…. get it.  It was a great site where I met some of my dearest friends.  The Nest is where you go once you are married, you know building The Nest.   Clever play on words there I know.  There I met Katie, Jodi, Beth, Britni, Jess and a slew of wonderful ladies.  They have brought many things in to my life.  One of those things is this soup.

This was posted last year on a board I frequent by Sue, a fellow NH Nestie.  I had only had french onion soup once before.  I loved it.  It was rich and silky and covered with cheese and crusty bread, seriously what was not to like.  I like this recipe so much i dont even need the cheese or bread on it.  In fact I didnt even have any in the house the last time I made this. 

Ingredients 
adapted from Sue-NH Nestie

3-4 large onions
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
4 cans beef broth or 8 cups homemade (I have made this with beef, chicken and veggie broth, all work)
2 tsp worchestershire sauce

Cast of Characters


First slice your onions, thick or thin, it depends on how big you want them.  I like medium, so that is how i do mine. 
 
Break them up a bit so they cook even.

Cook in the butter until slightly translucent.

Throw in your sugar.

Stir until incorporated and then add flour.

Cook for 3-4 minutes, it will get thick and look kind of gummy, dont worry it will cook out.  You need to let it cook for that long so that the flour cooks fully and will thicken it slightly.

Then add your stock or broth and worchestershire sauce. 

Let simmer for about 30 minutes, give it a taste.  It might need some salt or a bit of pepper per your tastes.  Serve either as is..

Or like this..  which I just made for the boys.. right now.. to be able to take this picture.. the wine is for me.. i am studying.. haha

For the cheesy way above, you can take croutons (easy but can change the flavor of your soup) or a dense bread that you toasted and lay it on the top of your soup.. lay the cheese over it and broil until the cheese is melty and browned.

Either way it is yummy..  though when I make the cheesy one for me.. I prefer swiss but the kids like colby mix.    This is a great thing to take to potlucks and I took it to the oncology department a couple times while Rob was getting chemo.  It was a hit.  It is a great to use crock pot to keep it hot and you can just bring some cheese and croutons for ease.   Thanks Sue for a great recipe.

Happy Cooking!!

Chicken W Dijon Sauce

Until about 3 months ago, Rob didnt like mustard.  Then one day he asked to try a lick when I got some on my finger, and proceeded to put it on his sandwich.  That is how life with Rob has been since we started dating.  Nik and Aaron will eat pretty much anything you put in front of them.  That is partly because when they were little they had to try something new each day.  It wasnt a question they just had a new “try” each day.   Now they like just about anything.

The first time I cooked for Rob he ate only about 1/3 of stir fry I gave him.  He ate the chicken and the carrots.  That was it.  Now he is the one pointing out new things to try.   I was so excited when I found a recipe in a magazine (Yes that same Rachel Ray magazine as the orzo recipe) and I mentioned I like chicken and mustard so Rob, in post chemo stupor said go for it.  He was a bit skeptical but hey what the heck right??

So here is my take on that recipe.  I had to do away with some of the items due to lack of ingredients on hand and the salad didnt do too much for me so I made my own. 

Ingredients
yield 8 servings (5 WW point)    adapted from Rachel Ray mag

3 lbs boneless skinless chicken
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
2-3 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup half and half
S&P to taste
Some oil for pan frying

Here is the cast of characters

First step is to trim up and flatten the chicken breasts

Then season with S&P.

Heat up your pan roaring hot with just a little oil. 
Fry your chicken on one side for 3-4 minutes without touching it.  This will create a nice golden brown with yummy crispy bits on the pan.

Flip your chicken when you have a nice golden yumminess and cook for about 3-4 minutes on that side.  Remember that you want the chicken about 3/4 of the way done but not fully for tender juicy perfection.

Take out of the pan and put on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Measure out your vinegar.  As you can see the recipe started out with only one tbsp of vinegar but I found that wasnt enough.  When I put it in the pan it evaporated in about 10 seconds and other than burning my eyes didnt do much for the sauce, so I upped it to 1/4 cup.

Turn the heat down to medium high.  After you have added the vinegar (and the 1/4 cup of water) and got all the crunchy bits off the pan, add your half and half and stir vigorously.  It will look less than appetizing but trust me..

Add the mustard.  As you can see I just eyeballed it. 

Stir to make a sauce then add your chicken back in.. cook for a couple more minutes turning frequently to disperse the sauce onto the chicken.

Serve with sides of your choice.  I did it with rice.  I forgot to put the veggie on the plate.. haha.  This would be so yummy with a nice potato salad in the summer, or sliced and presented on a bed of lettuce for salad.
 

Rob and the kids response was that it was a keeper.  The kids then asked for more.   Best praise ever.  Post chemo Rob ate a half a breast which is alot for him right now. 

Happy Cooking

Summer Curry Chicken w Basmati

Trader Joes is one of my favorite stores.  I am not sure if they have one around where you live and if they dont I am sure you have something similar, but if not I am truly sorry.  It is what my dad would call a hippy store.  My dad is a full blown redneck and to him any place that specializes in all natural or organic or free range, etc is a hippy store.  Personally I love hippy stores.  The produce is better and usually local, the herbs are fresher and they have so many fun and interesting things to try. 

This week at work a friend of mine Lilly had a dish that had been made by another coworker Pauline and I wanted to try it.  So I didnt get to the asian market but thought.. ohhh Trader Joes will have what I need.  Well not exactly so I thought I would make my own recipe. 

The main ingredient besides the chicken is a Summer Curry Sauce from Trader Joes.  If you dont have one around the sauce is made from tomato, garlic, red curry and some spices.   It was a puree and was smooth so I think that if you find something similar it would definitely work!

I liked it, it didnt have the intense curry I was looking for but this was still very good and I will make it again, just need to get some curry paste.  Rob and the kids werent as impressed as I was but liked it enough that with a tweak of extra curry it will be perfect.  I wanted to post this since way since not everyone likes curry as much as I do.  HAHA 

Ingredients 
Yield 8 servings   adapted from Pauline
2 lbs of chicken breast, boneless
1 onion (which was an impromptu addition so it isnt in the Cast picture)
1 jar of TJs Summer Curry Sauce (or similar type sauce)
1 1/2 cup of light coconut milk
2-3 cups of snow peas
salt and pepper
Prepared Basmati Rice

Cast of Characters

Cut up your chicken into cubes and season it with the S&P

Get your rice going while you are prepping the meat and veggies.

While the rice is cooking have the children help you with prepping.  They kind of tag teamed while doing other things so here they are…   This is Aaron!

Niks hands…
Really Mom I dont need my pic in your blog.. but I will smile just in case you use it. 

Dice up your onion.

Saute in your pan lightly sprayed with oil.

Once the onion is done to your liking (we like them a bit crispy still so we barely cook them since they will cook more with the chicken), add the chicken.

Cook until chicken is about 3/4 done****

Add the snow peas and cook for 1 minute.

Add Summer Curry Sauce and stir to  mix together.

Once incorporated, add in the coconut milk.
Stir together and serve over rice. 

****  A side note about cooking chicken.  I have found that I cannot eat dry meat.  If it is dry I simply cant eat it.  I had a gastric bypass a few years ago and it makes me sick, not sure why but it gets stuck and I am done eating.  So I am pretty good with making sure meat is juicy, if I want to eat it that is.  HAHA  So I have found that if I am making chicken with a sauce I only cook it about 3/4 of the way through and it finishes cooking when the sauce is cooking/heating up. 

I was actually pretty surprised by Robs reaction to this.  He said he didnt like curry and he doesnt like coconut but he was having a crappy day so didnt care, if he didnt like it he would have a PBJ sandwich.  He liked it.  Isnt it wonderful when someones palate opens up!

Happy Cooking!!

Redneck Caviar

This was recently a post on the Nest’s Whats Cooking site.  I was surprised to say the least.  I had gotten my black bean and corn salad recipe years ago from Allrecipes and had tweaked it alot, but had never seen it anywhere else.  Now here were recipes that gave me so many ideas for many more tweakings.  Haha  I think most other recipes added other types of beans and veggies to the recipe so that isnt something I can thank one specific person for.  But I would like to thank a couple of the ladies of WC for their recipes that helped me tweak to this final product.. first of all Melissa Bakes for her addition of tomato which was unique to the others I looked at.  And secondly Vintage Victuals for her addition of hot sauce.  YUM.  The rest is from an original recipe I found on Allrecipes  8 years ago and I dont think I even bookmarked it since it needed alot of tweaking. 

Now let me say, this is a total bean and veggie fest.  It is not terrible points wise on Weight Watchers either.  A 3/4 cup serving as a side dish is 3 points and it is high in protein!   It is rich and flavorful and goes well with chicken.  I have been using the last week in place of dressing and only using a 1/4 cup which has the same points as dressing but adds protein and flavor. 

Rob and the kids dont like beans.  Well Nik did until Rob moved in and now he doesnt like beans.  KIDS!!  LOL  Rob doesnt like mushy texture and I have yet to find a bean he will try.   So i eat alot of this when I make it.   It is so good on crackers or tortilla chips.  I served some last Sunday to Robs gaming buddies and they loved it.

Ingredients
yield about 9 cups  adapted from: see above

1 can black eyed peas
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can corn
1 Roma Tomato, seeded and diced
1 medium onion (I use red or vidalia)
1 green pepper (if I had red pepper I would have used that too in addition)
Dressing
1 large fresh jalapeno
4-5 cloves fresh garlic
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cayenne or chili pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp dry basil
2 packets splenda (or you could use 2 tsp sugar)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 lemon (or you can use the whole one but this one was uber juicy!)
1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 shakes of hot sauce
1 tbsp water

The Cast of Characters

Drain the corn and beans.  Dont rinse but do put the beans in first and then dump the corn on top!  The water in the corn will rinse it a bit.  I might try two cans of corn next time.. but I am a farmers daughter and used to sell corn.. so I do love me some corn.

Finely mince the jalapeno and the fresh garlic.  And YES you do need to use fresh and not that ready chopped stuff.  You are looking for flavor here not ease!

Set aside in a bowl that is atleast 3-4 cup capacity.

 Dice up your peppers and onions.

Toss in a bowl with the beans and corn.

Seed the tomato.  I like tomato but I dont care for the sloppy middle and the seeds.  This eliminates that mess. 

Then dice them up!

Now make the dressing.  Add the balsamic, oil, hot sauce and the water.

Squeeze your lemon into the bowl.  If you have a juicer thingie use it but I dont so my hand is a juicer!

Add seasonings and such.  Taste to make sure it has enough salt and sweetness.  It is supposed to be a bit tangy but still have a touch of the sweetness.

Pour over the beans and veggies.  And mix….

Serve as a side dish,  or with tortilla chips, or any way.   Its yummy!

Happy Cooking!

Spicy Chicken Sandwich

I love spicy.  I love garlic.  I love spicy garlic.  If you read my post about the parchment chicken packets you would know that.   On the olive bar at most grocery stores there is this great mix that is garlic and hot peppers in olive oil.

It is so spicy and garlicky goodness.  I will just pop the garlic in my mouth and savor the impending dragon breath!  It is so good with chicken I use the two together quite often.   Here is yet another take on it.   I had bought some mushrooms and while Aaron and I are the only ones who like mushrooms to eat,  Rob and Nik like the flavor they give. 

Ingredients

5-6 chicken breasts (about 2 1/2 lbs)
Smaller package of mushrooms ( or bigger, I just happened to have a small one)
7-8 cloves of the marinated garlic
1-2 pieces of hot pepper
salt and pepper
reserved hot oil

To start off, slice your mushrooms and chop up your garlic or slice.

With some of your reserved oil saute your veggies until the mushrooms have wilted.


When cooking boneless chicken breasts, I always suggest pounding them so they are the same thickness all the way across and that all the breasts are of the same thickness so they all cook uniformly.  This is also a trick of the eye.  We as a society are always eating bigger portions than we need, by taking a piece of chicken and thinning it out, it makes it look bigger.  And it covers the roll better.  LOL

Remove the veggies.  And put a bit more oil in the pan.


Saute your chicken breast and get a good crust on one side and flip!


Put your veggies on top.  This way they wont get too crispy (unless you like them that way) and they will stay warm and infuse more flavor into the chicken.

When done split a bulky roll, onion roll, hamburger bun or even a tortilla wrap and pile with lettuce, tomato and some of the warm veggies.  If you like you can add mayo or whatever but it didnt need it.   Then drop your chicken on it ( I had a huge roll and the littlest piece of chicken so mine looks funny.  The kids were almost done theirs before I got mine ready for picture or I would have shown the size difference by pounding).


This is very food group balanced; chicken for protein, roll for carbs, veggies for veggies and garlic for spicy; so all i added was some brussel sprouts!


I hope that you can have fun with this recipe as Idid.  And that you can find ways to make new and fun meals with a few ingredients.

Happy Cooking!!