Don’t you wish you could have a list of recipes that you can whip up in a few minutes, use only a pot or two and require only a bit of time in the kitchen?? All of us lead super busy lives and we go about the daily motions wishing there will be more hours in the day. And then comes meal time! You want to feed your family something wholesome, but at the end of the day, just the thought of making something well balanced seems arduous! But what if you could make something in just about half hour and feel good knowing you are feeding the family a delicious and nutritious meal!
This dish is one of those accidental happenings in the kitchen tonight! Inspiration for this dish comes from a delicious serving of pho noodle soup I had last week. I loved the delicately seasoned simple but delectable broth, crunchiness of the fresh veggies and the soft, chewiness of rice noodles. So, I thought of making something similar with the ingredients I had in the kitchen – glass noodles, fennel bulb, savoy cabbage, green beans, salmon and cilantro. Once you clean and slice the vegetables, it is a snap to put this dish together.
To have a good flow….I will recommend starting with a pot of water to boil the noodles. Next, you should marinate the salmon in a mixture of soy sauce, ginger and garlic. While the fish is marinating, clean, wash and slice the vegetables. Now, you can add the noodles to the water, heat a pan to saute the fish and distribute the vegetables in four serving bowls. Then, you will be left with just heating the broth with a few seasonings and pouring it over the vegetables and noodles and topping off with a piece of salmon. Yum!
Asian inspired noodles with vegetables and soy glazed salmon
1 lb skinless salmon
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/6 package of sweet potato glass noodles
1 1/2 cups of thinly sliced savoy cabbage
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 cup of thinly sliced fresh green beans
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 can of reduced salt chicken broth
1 teaspoon reduced salt soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark, toasted sesame oil
Juice from half a lime
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried basil (if you have fresh basil, that will be better!)
1. Begin by marinating the salmon in a mixture of soy sauce, ginger and garlic.
2. Place a pot of water to boil; Cook noodles according to instructions.
3. Drain the noodles and keep aside and return the pot back to stove top.
4. Empty the can of broth into the pan and bring to a boil with a teaspoon of soy sauce, sesame oil, lime juice and basil.
5. Clean and prepare all the vegetable as listed above.
6. Distribute the veggies among 4 serving bowls. Top with cooked noodles.
7. Heat a frying pan over medium high heat and spray with cooking spray. Cook salmon until done.
8. Add hot broth to the vegetables and top with salmon. Sprinkle additional cilantro if desired and top with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and crushed red peppers, if desired.
OK, so I debated a while about what to name this recipe, which was inspired by a lovely lunch I got from a food cart last week! It was made by someone who has been making it all his life! So, although the idea is similar, I couldn’t bear to belittle the authenticity of the dish by calling it bibimbab. Hence the name you see here! “Bibimbap-Style Beef Dinner”
For ingredients, I guess you could pretty much use a variety of your favorite veggies (raw, steamed or sautéed) and stir-fried beef or pork with steamed rice and cooked seasoned glass noodles. Going back to my food cart reference, I almost didn’t order the bibimbap because the dish was topped with a soft-set egg. I am not a runny yolk person. So, yes, I was a coward and ordered my egg fully cooked.
For this recipe, I used a small bunch of spinach and carrots for veggies. I wish I had bean sprouts, maybe next time! Spinach was just boiled in its own liquids and carrot was briefly sautéed in a small amount of oil. I seasoned the shaved beef in some Korean marinade and sautéed in small batches.
Drizzle a bit of toasted sesame oil and sprinkle a bit of toasted sesame seeds on your served dish and you will have yourself something that may just satisfy your craving for bibimbap until your next visit to a Korean restaurant or a food cart! 🙂
Bibimbap-Style Beef Dinner
1/2 lb shaved beef
1/4 cup Korean meat marinade (bottled)*
1 small bunch fresh spinach
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 medium carrots, julienned
2 cups lettuce leaves, torn into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
3/4 cup cooked glass noodles
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup bottle kimchi, optional
1 jalapeno, sliced thin, optional
1/4 cup sliced red onions, optional
1 cup cooked rice
1. Season the beef with the meat marinade and set aside while you prepare the vegetables.
2. Prepare the glass noodles according to package directions. Add 1/4 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil and 1 teaspoon of Korean marinade. Set aside.
3. In a medium pan, steam the spinach leaves. Drain off the liquid and season with 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce. Set aside.
4. Wipe the pan and add a teaspoon of oil. Saute the carrots for 2 minutes till they are crisp tender. Season with salt, if desired. Set aside.
5. Heat the pan over high heat and add a tablespoon of oil. Saute half the meat for about 3 minutes till it is cooked through. Remove to a platter and repeat with the remaining meat.
6. Pan fry eggs according to your taste.
7. Divide the meat, vegetables, rice and noodles among 4 plates. Add kimchi, jalapeno and onions, if desired. Lastly, top with an egg and drizzle a few drops of toasted sesame oil over the vegetables and meat.
* NOTE: If Korean barbeque sauce is not available, feel free to substitute equal amount of light soy sauce, 1 clove of minced garlic and 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar (or palm sugar)
Salmon is a great fish for broiling, poaching, baking, pan-frying……pretty much any way you want to prepare it! Although it is a great tasting fish by itself or with just a touch of salt and pepper, it does transform into something extraordinary when you add seasoning and spices! I love to make it with an Asian twist with soy sauce, ginger and sesame! That’s usually a frequent go-to recipe! But, I wanted to try something more summery for dinner the other night.
A simple salt and pepper seasoned salmon broiled to perfection topped with a cool yogurt-dill sauce with notes of garlic and lemon juice! Yum, I know!
Since this happened to be a weeknight dinner I scrambled to put together in few minutes, I forgot to take the many pictures I usually do with my recipes! I apologize! But, I hope the picture of the served dinner just in time before I devoured it makes up for it! 🙂
Although salmon is the main character, I think the supporting role wins by leaps and bounds! Yeah, I am talking about the yogurt sauce that you whip up in less than 5 minutes!
Broiled Salmon with Cool Yogurt-Dill Sauce
1-lb skinless salmon fillet
dash of salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup plain fat free yogurt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1. Preheat broiler at high (525F); Line a baking dish with aluminum foil and place the salmon filet in it.
2. Sprinkle salt and pepper on salmon filet; Drizzle the olive oil on top.
3. Place the salmon pan about 6 inches from the broiler and broil for about 15-20 minutes till the salmon is cooked through. This will depend on the thickness of the fish and heat distribution. Fish should flake easily with the fork when done.
4. While the salmon is cooking, combine rest of the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside in the refrigerator till ready to serve.
5. When salmon is done, serve it immediately topped with the sauce.
NOTE: If you don’t like your sauce sweet, feel free to add a bit of crushed red pepper or reduce the amount of honey.]
If you have read this blog before, you know I love chili! I make it with beef, ground turkey or chunks of chicken – each one with its unique taste of the moment! This particular chicken chili is made using leftover barbequed chicken rubbed with chipotle chili seasoning and garlic and I must say it was pretty darn good. Now that the warm weather is here to stay at least for the next few months, I thought this could be a recipe to use up your leftover chicken from your backyard barbeque.
This recipe really doesn’t take long to put together at all and it takes very few ingredients, especially because the chicken was well seasoned. If you don’t have spiced leftover chicken, you can substitute any grilled chicken (as long it was not basted in bbq sauce) and add a bit of southwestern or chipotle seasoning.
I added beans and some veggies to make this more wholesome. Feel free to toss in diced sweet bell peppers, carrots, celery etc. along with your favorite beans to make this filling and nutritious.
Stirring in some sour cream towards the end of the cooking makes this dish creamy and a bit tangy which adds to the complexity of the taste. I hope you give this a try!
Creamy and Spicy Southwestern-Style Chicken Chili
2 cups diced/shredded leftover cooked spiced chicken
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced sweet peppers
1 cup thinly sliced kale, stems removed
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 jalapeno, finely chopped (optional)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup light sour cream
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed well
Additional chipotle pepper rub or other southwestern seasoning to taste (optional)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Grated Mexican blend cheese
Crushed tortilla chips
1. Heat olive oil in a medium pot. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.
2. Add celery, kale, carrot and peppers and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
3. Add the chicken, additional seasoning if desired, beans and tomato sauce and simmer for 10-15 minutes over medium heat.
4. Adjust seasoning and remove from heat.
5. Serve immediately with your favorite toppings.
(See, I told you it is an easy recipe!)
No matter how well you think you planned for the week ahead, don’t you have those days when all that so-called planning amounts to nothing? Yesterday was one of those days for me! 6:40pm and no idea what to serve for dinner! Hmph, not a good feeling.
As usual, I first do a mental inventory of what ingredients I had on hand that could be quickly transformed into a meal that the family will enjoy. Yes, I had chicken in the freezer, but I didn’t have the patience to deal with the defrosting process! Ahhh…..then I reached for the shaved beef. Really, I don’t think they are not all that bad for you! Their fat content is significantly lower than a typical burger and they are so versatile.
You could transform this super thinly sliced meat into a cheesy Philly steak sandwich, spicy fajitas or a stir fry with Asian veggies. But this time around, I gravitated towards a spicy fajita with the typical toppings – a simple avocado/tomato relish, shredded lettuce and purple cabbage (yes, yes, purple cabbage is one of my obsessions now a days, so I throw them fresh into whatever I can!), salsa, sour cream and …..no cheese (ran out of cheese! :-O).
With minimal preparation and immense amount of flavor and well-balanced nutrition, this weeknight dinner ended up being a big success. So, what not to love about it! C’on, give it a try – I promise you will appreciate the ease of it all!
Easy Weeknight Beef Fajita
1 lb package shaved beef
1 packet low-sodium fajita seasoning (or make your own)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 small red pepper, sliced into long, thin strips
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 plum tomato
1 green onion
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pinch of salt
1/2 cup thinly sliced romaine
1/2 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
8 small flour or corn tortillas, warmed
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced, optional
Bottle salsa, optional
Sour cream, optional
1. Begin by preparing the avocado-tomato salad. Peel and dice the avocado. Combine with diced tomato and thinly sliced green onion. Toss with the lemon juice and set aside.
2. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over high heat and cook the beef till cooked through. Sprinkle the taco seasoning over the meat and continue cooking for additional two minutes. Remove the beef onto a serving platter and keep warm.
3. Wipe down the pan and add the remaining oil. Reduce heat to medium-high and stir fry the red peppers till lightly browned. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and transfer onto the beef.
4. Warm the tortillas in the microwave (30 seconds) or in a warm skillet. Serve immediately with the meat and all desired toppings.
Weeknight meals are tough, even for the most seasoned cook. You are dealing with kids’ after school activities, homework, house work, other errands etc., that even if you love cooking, it sounds like a grueling task! It doesn’t have to be an arduous task if you have a quick, delicious and not to mention rather healthy recipe!
That brings you to this spaghetti dish in a spicy tomato sauce. As an option, you can add in seafood of your choice – shrimp, mussels, lobster meat, or even scallops! I used shrimp in mine because I had it on hand.
Instead of grabbing a bottled pasta sauce, I wanted to make something from “scratch” – in quotes because I didn’t quite blanch the tomato and crush it. I opted for a can of no-salt added crushed tomato, saving precious time in the kitchen! 🙂 Grated lemon zest, chopped fresh basil and a good sprinkling of crushed red peppers lend a wonderful blend of spicy, citrusy note to the sauce that goes so perfectly well with the seafood. Yum! The sauce itself is a keeper even for a simple vegetarian meal!
You can save even more time if you already have leftover cooked pasta of any kind. If you are really in a pinch, use a low-sugar bottled pasta sauce AND add in extra basil, lemon zest and crushed red pepper. By using a can of crushed tomato, you can adjust the salt and other seasonings to your own specifications – now who wouldn’t want a tailored sauce??!!
Weeknight Spaghetti in Spicy Diavolo Sauce with Shrimp
1/2 package spaghetti of your choice (regular, whole grain etc.)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes (adjust to your taste)
1 1/2 cups no-salt added crushed tomato
Grated zest from half lemon
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 lb large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley for garnish
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1. If not using leftover cooked pasta (a time saver), cook pasta according to package directions and set aside.
2. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium high heat and sauté the shrimp till cooked through. Sprinkle with a dash of salt. Remove from pan and set aside, covered to keep warm.
3. Heat a small sauce pan over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté onion and garlic.
4. Add crushed red pepper flakes, crushed tomato, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and let simmer for 12-15 minutes till all flavors meld well.
5. Stir in the basil and remove from heat.
6. Toss the pasta with 1/2 cup of sauce and shrimp. Serve on individual plates. Top with remaining sauce distributed among four plates. Garnish with a sprinkling of parsley and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Serve immediately! Bon Apetit
Who doesn’t love the creamy deliciousness of Alfredo sauce??!! Yeah, that’s what I thought…everyone does, right! So, you have had Fettucine Alfredo many a time! But how about a grilled chicken breast topped with a lightened Alfredo sauce with notes of garlic and citrus??? We are talking pure indulgence without wreaking havoc with your diet! So, if you are like me and have been on the quest to find a lighter version of this goodness, look no more. I think once you try this recipe, you will agree it’s a keeper.
So, anyway, as you guys already know, typical Alfredo sauce though is loaded with fat (anyone watching their calories out there?). So, Alfredo, like other rich, calorific sauces are usually reserved for extra special occasions, but what if I could enjoy it without any guilt more often than couple of times a year!!
I do try to make quick white sauces with 1% milk thickened with a roux. Although they impart a slight creaminess, it is definitely not the same as the richer version. This recipe however might change that though once and for all. Little bit of lemon zest, a dollop of reduced fat cream cheese, generous helping of grated parmesan and lots (did I say lots?) of garlic in this sauce provide the satisfying creamy richness without your arteries swelling up with plaque.
Drizzle it over grilled chicken just before serving and serve with a side of your favorite vegetable or salad. Trust me, you won’t even miss the bread or other carbs! It is satisfying and will leave you longing to make it again!
Grilled Chicken Breasts with Light Alfredo Sauce
4 chicken breasts, cut to about 4-6 oz each
salt and pepper to taste
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
3 cloves of garlic, grated or minced finely
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups 1% milk
2 tablespoons reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/8 cup grated pecorino cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
optional – sautéed mushrooms
1. Begin by preparing the chicken. Marinate the chicken in a marinade of lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper for about 15-20 minutes.
2. Preheat the grill or a sauté pan at medium high heat. Cook the chicken breasts for 12-14 minutes till juices run clear and meat is cooked through. Remove to a platter, loosely covered with a foil and set aside till you prepare the sauce.
3. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and sauté the lemon zest and garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the flour and continue to cook, stirring constantly for a minute or so.
4. Stir in the creamed cheese, followed by milk. Stir continuously to break up any lumps. Cook for about 5 minutes till the sauce starts to simmer and thicken up a little.
5. Slowly stir in the grated cheese and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook for just about a minute or so till the sauce becomes evenly creamy and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped parsley.
6. Sauce will thicken further as it cools. Therefore, it is best to serve immediately. Spoon desired amount of sauce over the grilled chicken breasts alongside a serving of steamed or sautéed veggies.
NOTE: You will likely have leftover sauce. If so, store in the refrigerator for a day or so. You could thin the sauce by adding bit of milk or cooked pasta water. I mixed my leftover sauce with a tablespoon of homemade light pesto sauce and tossed with cooked pasta for a delicious and quick lunch. My family absolutely loved the leftover as much as their dinner.
It started with sweet and sour chicken – “it” as in my kids’ introduction to Chinese food! Few years have passed since then and now their all-time favorite dish to order at a Chinese restaurant is orange chicken – crispy fried morsels of bite size chicken pieces that are lightly coated in an orange and soy infused glaze. If you are lucky to have had the opportunity to bite into one of these perfectly prepared chicken pieces, you can easily see why this dish is so popular with kids and adults alike.
Having said that, not all orange chicken dishes are created equal. Actually not even close! I have had many an encounter with tiny crumbs of chicken clinging to their dear reputation in mounds of soggy breading/batter. There have been instances of good balance between meat and batter, but the meat could have seen better days. And there have been instances when both meat and batter were just right, except for the overload of barely wet dried orange rinds with overly sweet concoction of what is supposed to be a delicious orange sauce.
Hmph! So, having had one of those episodes recently, I figured why not make a version at home that will hopefully not only taste better, but better for you as well. Chicken breast, oven “fried” rather than deep fried, just a touch of brown sugar rather than corn syrup or other concoctions??!! Yep, you got it!
So, armed with all-white chicken meat, fresh oranges (for both the zest and the juice) and panko bread crumbs, I braved myself to trust my senses of taste and smell and recreate a dish that is enjoyed by my family, especially my kids.
This dish surpassed all my expectations, especially when it came to the texture of the cooked chicken and the perfectly balanced sweet-sour-spicy nature of the sauce/glaze. Panko coating left the chicken pieces crispy and held out quite strong even with the glaze on top. I deep fried a small batch of chicken coated in egg and cornstarch but my kids preferred the oven “fried” version with panko because of its texture and taste! I couldn’t be happier! 🙂
So, here is a disclaimer…I have not traveled to the Hunan province of China to really know what this dish is supposed to taste like. So, this is purely based on my experience enjoying crispy battered chicken coated in a citrusy/orange soy glaze. 🙂 Enjoy at your own will!
Chicken is so versatile, yet there are times when I simply am not sure what I want to do with it. That’s how this recipe came about! I had a package of chicken thighs and had less than an hour to get dinner on the table. What do I do with it?
After bit of pondering, I remembered I had fresh lemons, garlic and parsley on hand. I imagined that to be a rather straightforward “Chopped” basket and quickly thought of a way to incorporate them into a dish that had some sauce/gravy to it. It’s almost like I was working backwards. I had a freshly baked bread from earlier in the day and I wanted something to go with the bread… 🙂
This dish with a wonderful citrus and garlic notes with just the right amount of a light sauce was amazing with a slice of a crusty bread. Since I had incorporated some green beans right into the chicken dish, it really was a wholesome meal. I would certainly like to prepare it again, but this time cook in the oven. If any of you try this in the oven (I would say 375F for about 45minutes or so – check for doneness), do drop a note below to say how it turned out.
Chicken Thighs in Lemon-Garlic Sauce
4 medium chicken thighs, bone-in, skin removed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped onions or shallots
1 cup water or chicken broth
1/2 lb fresh green beans, end trimmed
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon butter or heavy cream, optional
1. Cut chicken thighs into 2-3 pieces and season with salt and pepper.
2. Slice half the lemon into thin slices.
3. Heat olive oil over medium heat and lightly caramelize the lemon slices. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
4. To the pan, add the chicken pieces and brown them on both sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
5. Add a teaspoon of additional oil if needed and sauté the onions and garlic till onion turns translucent and starts to turn golden.
6. Add back the chicken pieces and a cup of water or chicken broth, making sure to scrape off all bits from the pan.
7. Cover and let cook for 30 – 35 minutes till the chicken is cooked through.
8. Add the trimmed green beans, lemon slices and juice from remaining half lemon. Adjust salt and pepper and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in parsley.
9. Serve immediately with crusty bread.
NOTE: If sauce is too thin, remove chicken and vegetables to a serving platter and continue to cook the sauce with a tablespoon of butter and/or cream for a few additional minutes till it thickens a bit.
How many of you have
heard of tried Chicago-style deep dish pizza? The pie with its classic tall buttery crust, similar in appearance to a tart shell lovingly embraces within its boundaries copious amounts of cheese, sauce and toppings of your choice. For a person with a normal appetite, one slice is all it will take to satisfy your hunger. Anything beyond that is pure indulgence on cheesy, buttery, flaky, chewy goodness.
Although a fully loaded cheesy pizza with all the trimmings can be delicious, I am discovering that a homemade crust topped with lighter cheeses and healthier toppings are far more superior in taste and nutrition than what you can get at a restaurant. I especially enjoy making crusts with varying combination of spices/herbs etc. and amping up the nutrition value by lowering the cheese and increasing the amount of veggies. In order to stick with healthier options, for a meaty pizza, I prefer small amount of cooked crumbled bacon or diced up grilled chicken breast.
This pizza however has just sliced vegetables – I would have used more but had to do with what I had on hand that was topping appropriate.
This is the first time I ever tried making Chicago-style deep dish and I am delighted to say that my kids who can be harsh critics (even though they will eat whatever I make) enjoyed every bite of it. Fresh mozzarella used melts beautifully leaving a nice cheesy curtain when you lift a slice to serve. The crust, molded in a tart pan crisps up nicely on the outside while remaining chewing and soft on the inside. It also holds the toppings well without getting soggy. I did modify the crust recipe a little bit by adding a teaspoon of garlic powder and 1 teaspoon each of crushed dried parsley, basil and oregano. All in all, another successful pilot attempt in my kitchen.
Lighter Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza
1 recipe dough
4 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/8″ slices
1/2 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups of sliced vegetables of your choice (I used red peppers, tomato and red onions)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. After the dough has proofed, punch it down. Grease a large tart shell with removable bottom (or similar pan with at least 1 1/2″ tall sides) lightly with nonstick cooking spray (or oil).
3. Pat the dough down on the pan and stretch lightly to cover the bottom and the sides completely.
4. Prick the sides with a fork and layer the bottom with fresh and grated mozzarella.
5. Bake for about 7 minutes till the fresh mozzarella begins to melt. Remove from oven and spread your favorite sauce (I used heart healthy bottled sauce).
6. Top with your favorite toppings. Sprinkle parmesan cheese and drizzle the olive oil all over.
7. Return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes till vegetables are cooked and crust is golden.
8. Serve immediately.