Tag Archives: adaptable

Lunch in a Jar, Pt. 2: Cold Soba Noodle Salad

3 Feb

The next step in the never-ending quest to make work lunches interesting, I made up some spicy, crunchy, filling cold soba noodle salads. This past week’s incarnation was vegetarian, but you could toss in chicken or pork should you so desire.

One of the best things about this recipe is that it will last up to 5 days in your fridge and nothing goes soggy, assuming you don’t add something highly perishable like bean sprouts. That means you can prep a week’s worth of meals all at once and not have to think about it again til the weekend!

To make a less spicy version, cut the sambal oelek in half. Unlike the soup jars, you won’t add any liquid to these so the sauce won’t get watered down at all.

Makes 4 jars.

Ingredients

2 tb peanut butter
2 tb sambal oelek
4 ts soy sauce
3 ts rice wine vinegar
1/4 c olive oil
1 ts sesame oil
2 bundles soba noodles
1 sweet pepper, julienned
1 carrot, shredded
1 cup corn
1 cup edamame
1 ts sesame seeds

Directions

1. In a small bowl, mix together the peanut butter, sambael oelek, soy sauce and rice win vinegar. Slowly add in the oil and whisk til smooth. Set aside.
2. Cook the soba noodles according to the package. Remove from water, rinse til the noodles are cold and lightly toss with sesame oil.
3. Spoon the sauce into the bottoms of the jars. Add in the noodles, peppers, carrots, corn and edamame. Top each with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
4. Close  up the jars, toss ’em in the fridge and grab as needed for a tasty lunch.

jars

Lunch in a Jar, Pt. 1: Noodles!

12 Jan

Always on the hunt for tasty lunches to bring to work, I’d bookmarked a few recipes for meals in a jar. They are so appealing! They’re contained, they’re colourful and they’re endlessly adaptable. I could have soup with noodles just about every day in winter so I opted to make that first. I based it on a Michael Smith recipe but made a bunch of alterations to suit my tastes.

soup-prep

Makes 2 meals

Ingredients

1 chicken breast, poached and cubed
1 carrot, shredded
2 large handfuls bean sprouts
3 tb cilantro, chopped
2 tb peanuts chopped (optional)
1 package ramen noodles
2 tb ketchup
2 tb smooth peanut butter
2 tb grated frozen ginger
1 tb soy sauce
1 tb fish sauce
1 ts hot sauce
1 ts lime juice

Directions

1. Mix together the ketchup, peanut butter, ginger, soy, fish sauce, hot sauce and lime juice making a flavour base. Taste and adjust as necessary, keeping in mind you’ll be adding water that will dilute the flavour. Spoon half into the bottom of each mason jar.
2. Layer in the shredded carrot, chicken, bean sprouts, cilantro and peanuts (if you’re using them). Place in the fridge til you’re ready to eat.
3. Two options for cooking the noodles. Just pick based on the size of your mason jar!

a) Place the noodles in a bowl (for the love of all that’s good, discard the sodium-laced flavour packet that comes with them) and pour boiling water over. Cover and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Pour off some of the water into the mason jar, cover and shake then pour everything out into the bowl.

OR

b)Break up the noodles in the package and pour them into the mason jar. Pour hot water into the jar, cover and wrap up in a towel. Give the jar a gentle shake and let sit 6-7 minutes.

soup

Mango Lime Popsicles

19 Jun

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY, SUMMER!

Alright. Glad to have that out of my system.

I’m a woman who likes to have a project and I tend to have several on the go simultaneously. This summer’s kitchen project? Homemade popsicles. Who doesn’t love a popsicle and who doesn’t love being able to customize them in whatever way they choose? Need something refreshing? Berries and watermelon! Sweet tooth ruling your day? Nutella and banana popsicle to the rescue! Throwing a party? Toss in some Kahlua and you are good to go.

IMG_9616

I started with what I had in my kitchen: mangoes and limes. It was ridiculously easy to prepare these icy treats; the hard part was waiting the four hours to eat them. The next time I make them, I think I’ll grate a little ginger into the mix for an added dimension.

Makes 8.

Ingredients

2 large mangoes, peeled and choppedIMG_9611
1/3 c lime juice
1/4 c sugar
pinch of salt
1 c water

Directions

1. Toss everything in the blender and puree.
2. Freeze it all for at least four hours.

They’ll be good your freezer for about four days, but it’s unlikely they’ll last that long.

The foodNURDling enjoying his first (of many) popsicles.

The foodNURDling enjoying his first (of many) popsicles.

Slow Cooker French Toast

14 Apr

What else needs to be said? Those are four beautiful words when combined. This recipe makes something akin to bread pudding, but without the sogginess that sometimes accompanies it. This is a glorious, sweet, luscious, calorie-laden treat that I made for dinner on the weekend. (Should you so desire, you could add sliced apples into the mix or top with bananas or berries.) While it was undeniably decadent, it didn’t feel especially heavy or overly filling – I didn’t desperately want a nap post-dinner. It fed four adults and a very happy toddler and took almost no time to throw together.

You probably already have most of these ingredients kicking around your kitchen, so why not treat yourselves to a yummy breakfast for dinner this week?

Serves 4.

Ingredients

1 loaf of bread, cubed

Egg mixture
2 1/2 c milk
7 eggs
2 ts cinnamon
pinch of salt

Topping
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c butter, softened
1 ts cinnamon

Directions

1. Coat your slow cooker with cooking spray.
2. Toss in one layer of the bread, a little less than half the loaf.
3. In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients until they’re mixed together really well. Spread half across the bread in the cooker. (Don’t worry about it being perfect. Just try to get a fairly even coating.)
4. Add in the rest of the bread and the topping.
5. Combine the egg mixture ingredients and pour evenly over the top of the bread and filler.
6. Set your slow cooker to low and cook 6 hours. If you have a bit of extra time, remove the lid and cook another 30 minutes so you get even more crispy bits on top.

Salbutes

24 Nov

This is one of my absolute favourite Belizean dishes to make. I first tried them years ago when J’s mom made them for dinner. Instantly hooked. As with many local specialties, everyone makes them just a bit differently and everyone claims their (or their mom’s) way is best. The basics, though: crunchy fried tortillas topped with shredded chicken or pork. The toppings and sauces are totally up to the cook: pickled onions, salsa verde, avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream, green onion, sliced jalapeno, and cilantro are all popular options. We do ours with thinly sliced avocado, shredded chicken simmered in salsa verde, sour cream, green onion, cilantro and a bit of hot sauce. You can include or omit just about any of the ingredients listed above: it’s truly about your own personal taste. We usually roast a whole chicken so we have leftovers for the rest of the week and shred both wings, a thigh and a breast. (Tip: take the skin off and save it to add when you’re dressing the tortillas. You want it to be crispy.) You could also poach chicken breasts in spice-tinged water – salt, pepper and oregano would be a nice combo.

This recipe makes 10. Two of us can polish that off but we are very full afterward.

Ingredients

10 tostadas (or 10 tortillas, fried)
2 chicken breasts or equivalent, cooked & shredded
1 c salsa verde
2 avocados, sliced
salt & pepper
lime juice
3 green onions, sliced
1 handful cilantro, finely chopped
sour cream
hot sauce, optional

Directions

1. Warm up your tostadas in the oven at a low temp. They have a high oil content, so make sure you keep an eye on them ensuring they don’t burn.
2. Heat up the salsa in a sauce pan til it simmers. Add in the chicken and stir. Allow chicken to warm through, 5-8 minutes.
3. Divide the avocado slices evenly among the warmed tostadas then season with salt, pepper and lime juice. Layer on the chicken, sprinkle with green onions and cilantro. Top with dollops of sour cream and, if you wish, dabs of hot sauce.

photo

Mexican-style Salad

30 Sep

In an attempt to make some healthier choices (I’m even back at the gym after a prolonged absence. Helllooooo, muscles I’d forgotten about!), I’ve been ransacking some cookbooks I haven’t opened in a while for inspiration. In the book Get Naked in the Kitchen, there is a pretty great recipe for a Mexican taco salad bowl. I made minor adjustments to the original to suit both my taste and what was in my cupboard. The end result had everything you could want in a healthy meal: it was filling, it was easy, it had lots of flavour, it was balanced, it came together in 25 minutes and it’s 100% adaptable. You can substitute the lemon juice for any vinegar, the brown rice for white or quinoa, the flavouring of the black beans or the black beans for another kind be it white, pinto, black-eyed peas…whatever you like. You could also throw in some tortilla chips for extra crunch. Give it a go!

Serves 2.

Ingredients

3-4 c greens (I used baby arugula)
2 tb olive oil + 2ts for beans
1 tb lemon juice
1 c brown rice, cooked
1 can black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
1 garlic clove, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 ts cumin
1 ts chili powder
splash of water
1/2 sweet pepper, chopped
1 avocado
Salt & pepper
handful of cilantro, chopped

Directions

1. Cook the rice according to directions.
2. In the meantime, heat the 2ts of olive oil in a pan to a medium heat. Add in the garlic and onion and sauté until the onions are translucent, about five minutes.
3. Add in the beans, cumin, chili powder. Toss in salt & pepper to taste. Stir together and then add a couple of splashes of water to the pan. Turn up the heat and cook another 5-10 minutes until the water evaporates.
4. Slice the avocado in half. Remove the pit and cut the flesh into cubes. Season with salt, pepper & lemon or lime juice.
5. Toss greens and red pepper in a bowl with the remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Split evenly on two dishes, making a well in the middle.
6. Plate rice in the well among the greens and then top with beans, avocado, cilantro and hot sauce if you so choose.

Homemade Granola

2 Jul

File this under “why didn’t I do it sooner?” I’ve had it in my head that I’d like to make my own granola for ages but somehow never got around to it. Finally, timing and motivation collided and in less than an hour with almost zero effort on my part I had aromatic, crunchy, salty, rich, sweet, filling, semi-healthy granola! (Yes, it’s high in fat but they are beneficial fats and if you’re in need of a snack, this stuff is better for you than junk food.)

There is no right or wrong way to make granola as it’s pretty much the most adaptable recipe of which you could conceive. There are some basic ratios but your ingredients can change with every tasty batch. If you want large clusters, don’t stir the granola while it bakes; for small pieces that work well as a topping for yogurt, give the whole batch a good stir every 15 minutes. Or, do what I did and stir half to get the best of both worlds. If you intend to add dried fruit – and I recommend you do – make sure you stir it in at the end when the granola has cooled. Otherwise, the baking process will dry them out further and you’ll get a pretty unpleasant texture. Same goes for chocolate chips: add ’em in at the end or you’ll get melted chocolate.

Makes…a lot, which is good because it won’t stick around long.

granola

Ingredients

3 c old fashioned oats (not the quick-cooking kind)
1 1/2 c chopped nuts (a mix of walnuts, peanuts, almonds, cashews, pine nuts, pecans, pistachios, etc.)
1 1/2 c coconut shavings or flakes
1/2 c maple syrup
1/4 c coconut or olive oil
1/4 c sesame seeds
1/4 c sunflower seeds
1/4 c flax seed
2 tb brown sugar
1 1/2 ts salt
1/2 ts cinnamon
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 c dried fruit (cherries, raisins, cranberries, bananas, apricots, blueberries, mango, pineapple, etc.)
1 handful chocolate chips, optional but delicious

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 300F.  Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Stir together everything except the dried fruit and chocolate chips until thoroughly combined.
3. Spread the whole thing out on the baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes for small pieces; don’t stir at all for large clusters; or stir some for a mix of both.
4. Allow to cool and then add dried fruit and chocolate.
5. Store in an airtight container and it’ll last for a solid two weeks if you don’t eat it all before then.

Maple Oatmeal Muffins

2 Jun

It’s Friday night, 9pm. I have just finished off a quick dinner after putting the foodNURDling to bed and gardening for a bit. Thoughts turn to the weekend and what I’m going to eat for breakfast. Out of bagels, not in the mood for slow-cooked oatmeal and wanting something more substantial than cereal, I hit upon muffins. I hadn’t tried out a new muffin recipe in a while and wasn’t really enthused at the idea of cheese muffins (though they are pretty fabulous, if I do say so myself). I scoured the interwebs for inspiration and found it: maple oatmeal muffins. The recipe is pretty basic and lends itself to creativity: you could add chopped pecans or walnuts, chocolate chips, flax seed for a health boost or, as a friend suggested, crumbled bacon. That last option is one I will be exploring in the near future, no doubt.

Makes 12.

Ingredients

1 c rolled/quick-cooking oats
1/2 c milk
1 c flour
2 ts baking powder
1/4 ts salt
1/2 ts cinnamon
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 c butter, melted
3/4 c maple syrup

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 400F and pop liners into your muffin tin (or butter/spray each cup).
2. In a medium bowl, mix the oats & milk. Let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile,  stir together the flour, baking powder, salt & cinnamon in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle.
3. Add the egg, butter & syrup to the oat-milk mixture. Combine thoroughly and then add to the dry mixture. Stir until JUST combined.
3a. if you’re going to add walnuts, pecans, bacon or chocolate chips add a 1/2c at this stage and then top with the remaining 1/2c.
4. Spoon into the muffin tins. Pop the tray into the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

IMG_6109

Pad Thai

24 Feb

By request, here is a great Pad Thai recipe. Don’t be intimidated: it’s really not too difficult. It’s going to require a bunch of ingredients, but the steps are not complicated. If you can have everything ready, so much the better as once you get cooking, things go quickly. I ended up making this dish twice in a week it was so yummy. Feel free to add more veggies if you want more crunch, or more chili powder if you want it to have more heat (or omit it entirely if you want no heat at all!). You can make it vegetarian by replacing the chicken with tofu or add shrimp for some extra protein: any way you make it, it’s going to taste great.

Serves 4.

Ingredients

1 lb boneless chicken breasts, sliced as thinly as possible
1 pkg 5mm rice noodles
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 ts cornstarch
1/2 c soy sauce
1/3 c brown sugar
1/3c fish sauce
2 tb tamarind paste
1/4 ts white pepper
1/2 tb chili powder
1 tb vegetable oil
2 eggs
4 c bean sprouts
1/2 c crushed peanuts
6 green onions, sliced
1 c fresh cilantro
4 lime wedges, for garnish

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, stir the cornstarch and soy sauce together. Add the chicken, stir to coat and put in the fridge while you get everything else ready.
2. Cook the noodles according to the directions on the package. Be sure to stir the noodles every few minutes so they don’t stick together. Drain and set aside.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the tamarind, fish sauce, brown sugar, white pepper and chili powder until thoroughly combined.
4. Heat oil in a wok or large frying pan to medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute. Then toss in the chicken and its marinade. Cook for roughly 7 minutes.
5. Remove the chicken from your pan and add the eggs, stirring them constantly so they scramble. Once done, add the chicken back to the pan. Cook both the eggs and chicken together for 1 minute.
6. Add the noodles and sauce to your pan. Using two utensils, toss all the ingredients together so they are thoroughly combined. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the bean sprouts and repeat.
7. Divide the Pad Thai among four bowls. Garnish with peanuts, cilantro and a lime wedge.

Josh’s Delicious Thai Chicken Soup

13 Oct

The weather here in Toronto has been pretty spectacularly crappy the last couple of days.  It’s grey, it’s gloomy, it’s rainy: the kind of weather that makes you want to hunker down under a blanket with a big bowl of comfort food. Enter: Josh. He took a pic of this fantastic-looking soup and I knew I wanted to make it – that it was perfect for this kind of week. You can make the entire thing in about 20 minutes, including prep time.

Happily, he posted the recipe within a day or so and I made it last night.  I added shredded carrots, mushrooms and a little more hot sauce than it calls for, but that’s just me. The base recipe is great. You could also make it a vegetarian dish by substituting the chicken bouillon cubes for vegetable stock/cubes and not adding any protein.

Josh's Thai Chicken Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

425g (15 oz) tinned corn kernels, undrained
2 chicken stock (bouillon) cubes, crumbled
8 spring onions (scallions), sliced
1 tb finely chopped fresh ginger
500g (alb 2oz) skinless chicken breast, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 ts sweet chilli sauce
1 tb fish sauce
200g (7oz) fresh thin rice noodles
2 large handfuls cilantro leaves, chopped
2 ts grated lime zest
2 tb lime juice

Directions

1. Bring 1 litre of water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Add corn kernels and their juice, the stock cubes, spring onion and ginger, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 minute.
2. Add the chicken, sweet chilli sauce and fish sauce and simmer for 3 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
3. Meanwhile, put the noodles in a large bowl heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 5 minutes, or until softened. Separate gently and drain.
4. Add noodles, cilantro, lime zest and lime juice to the soup and serve immediately.

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