Asian Broccoli Bowls

We love ethnic food in our house and since transitioning to a predominately vegetarian diet, we love it even more! So many ethnic dishes are already tailored towards plant-based eating. This dish was inspired by the Peas and Thank You recipe Szechuan Broccoli and Quinoa. I made a few minor adjustments to the sauce and added several ingredients to make this a main-dish meal for us. It’s so tasty that I’ve made it twice in the last week! And the leftovers are delicious too!

Feel free to substitute your veggies of choice, just adjust cooking times as needed.

Don’t let the long list of ingredients and instructions deter you from trying this. Once you get your veggies prepped, this meal comes together quite quickly.

Asian Broccoli Bowls

ASIAN BROCCOLI BOWLS
(adapted from peasandthankyou.com)
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Cooked Quinoa or Brown Rice (use half broth for the cooking liquid)

1-1/2 lbs broccoli florets
1/2 lb mushrooms, cut into chunks
1-2 onions, cut into chunks
sesame oil and/or olive oil for drizzling
season to taste

1/2 lb extra-firm tofu, cut into small cubes
sesame oil and tamari sauce for drizzling
season to taste

Sauce
1/4 c. tamari
1/4 c. vegetable broth
1 Tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar
1 Tbsp sweet red chili sauce, such as Thai Kitchen Brand (opt.)
1/4 tsp ginger powder
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp ground flax seed
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Cook the quinoa or brown rice according to package instructions.

Cut the tofu into cubes. Lay a clean towel on a cutting board and place the tofu on top. Either fold over that towel to cover or lay a second towel on top. Place another cutting board or baking sheet on top and stack a few heavy items to create a tofu “press.” (Cookbooks work well.) Leave the tofu to press for 30-60 minutes.

Cut up veggies.

Preheat the broiler.

Arrange mushrooms and onions on a medium baking sheet and drizzle with a little sesame oil or olive oil; if desired, sprinkle with a little salt, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder, if desired. Arrange pressed tofu cubes onto another medium baking sheet, drizzle with a little sesame oil and tamari sauce; if desired, season with a little salt, ginger powder, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Arrange broccoli florets on a large baking sheet and drizzle with a little sesame oil.

If your oven size allows, broil the mushrooms and onions alongside the tofu for 10-15 minutes, stirring once. Then place on the bottom rack to keep warm while you broil the broccoli for 6-9 minutes, stirring once and making sure not to burn.

While the veggies and tofu are broiling, make the sauce. In a small saucepan, combine all of the sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Lower heat and simmer for a minute or two, until thickened. Remove from heat.

Scoop quinoa or rice into each bowl, top with the roasted veggies and tofu, drizzle with the sauce and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

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International Cuisine: Orange Chicken

Orange Chicken isn’t an authentic Asian dish as far as I know, but you’ll find it in many take-out Chinese restaurants. Since take-out Chinese is not a part of our diet, I like to make my own take-out from time to time. This isn’t as gooey, rich, and breaded as you’ll likely find at your local eatery. But it’s tasty, definitely healthier, and best of all can be made at home.

This recipe is from one of my favorite gluten-free cookbooks, Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking by Kelli and Peter Bronski. I added some crisp-cooked broccoli to the chicken and sauce and served it over brown rice.

ORANGE CHICKEN
(from Artisanal Gluten-Free Cookbook)
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2/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup tamari wheat-free soy sauce
1 Tablespoons dry sherry
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
zest of 1/2 orange, julienned
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

Mix together the orange juice, soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, and cornstarch in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve the cornstarch. Heat over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and zest and sauté until fragrant. Add the chicken and sauté until browned and cooked through.

Add the orange sauce to the chicken and heat through.

Market Fresh: Eggs

Eggs are always in season and a wonderfully versatile ingredient. I am blessed to have access to local, organic eggs at $2.25/dz. I could eat eggs for breakfast and supper in the same day; I don’t, of course, but I could.

Today I want to share with you two great egg recipes that just might be out of your normal scope of egg cooking and eating.

Sometime ago, while flipping through an issue of Everyday Food, I came across several recipes that involved baking in parchment paper packets. The salmon recipe is amazing (will have to share another time). The egg recipe, equally superb. Combining eggs with seasonal veggies, you’ll have a balanced, semi-fancy meal within 20 minutes. It’s perfect for breakfast, brunch, or supper.

Parchment paper is a little pricey, but I find having a roll on hand is indispensable.

EGGS WITH ASPARAGUS AND MUSHROOMS
(adapted slightly from Everyday Food, issue unknown)
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2 teaspoons, extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1/2 pound of fresh asparagus spears, woody ends broken off
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
4 large eggs
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare two 24-inch long pieces of parchment by folding each in half and then cutting into a half-heart shape. Place both pieces on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush half of each heart with olive oil. Place mushrooms and asparagus spears on oiled half. Carefully crack two eggs over each. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Pleat tightly around the edge to seal. (I’m not very adept at the pleating, so just do your best!)

Bake until the egg whites are set and asparagus is tender crisp, 8-10 minutes. Top with shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired.

(Note: If you make more than two servings, you will need to place baking racks in the upper and lower thirds and then rotate two baking sheets halfway through baking.)

Egg Drop Soup is a super easy and yummy first course for a home-cooked Asian meal. If you’re making this gluten-free be sure to use gluten-free soy sauce.

BETTER-THAN-TAKEOUT EGG DROP SOUP
(from The Cleaner Plate Club)
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1 Tbsp canola oil
2 scallions, chopped, white and green parts separated
4 c. chicken broth
1/2 tsp sherry (I used a splash of white wine)
1/2 tsp soy sauce (La Choy or San-J for gf)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
3 drops sesame oil
2 eggs

Heat the canola oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the white parts of the scallions and sweat for five minutes.

Pour 3 1/2 cups of broth into the pan, reserving 1/2 cup. Add the sherry, soy sauce, salt, ginger, and white pepper. Bring to a boil and let cook for 5 minutes.

Mix the cornstarch with the reserved broth in a small bowl, and add to the pan. Add the sesame oil. Turn the heat to low. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then add to the broth while stirring rapidly in a clockwise motion. Stir for 1 minute, until the eggs have cooked and look like shreds.

Sprinkle the soup with the scallion greens. Serve hot. Serves 4.

International Cuisine: Stir-Fried Shrimp

I’m a bit iffy about shrimp. The texture troubles me and I dislike cocktail sauce (the way shrimp is typically available to me); however, my husband likes shrimp. Thus my quest to find a shrimp recipe(s) that I enjoy. Aldi sells frozen bags of de-veined, peeled shrimp for under $4. I bought a bag of the medium-size and set out to find a recipe.

The Cooking Light website offered several recipes that sounded quite good, but for the sake of ingredients on hand, I tried the Stir-Fried Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce. I added a bag of frozen sugar snap peas and diced onion (didn’t have the green onions) and served it on a bed of vermicelli noodles. The flavor was delicious. The texture, I’ll continue to acquire. Overall, a success and a recipe I’d definitely consider making again and tweaking with additional veggies.

Bonus, this is easily made gluten-free, if you use gf soy sauce (La Choy brand is gf, also San-J wheat-free Tamari).

STIR-FRIED SHRIMP WITH SPICY ORANGE SAUCE
(slightly adapted from Cooking Light website)
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1 1/2 pounds peeled, de-veined large shrimp
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon chile paste with garlic (I added 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes and an extra clove of garlic)
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 Tablespoon minced peeled fresh garlic
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup chopped green onions
frozen vegetables of choice (optional)

Place shrimp in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with cornstarch; toss to coat. Set aside.

Combine juice, soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, and chile paste, stirring with a whisk. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet or a wok over medium-high heat. Add the minced ginger and garlic; stir-fry for 15 seconds, until fragrant. Add shrimp mixture and any additional veggies of choice; stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add juice mixture and onions; cook 2 minutes or until the sauce thickens and shrimp is done, stirring frequently. Serve immediately over a bed of rice, vermicelli noodles, or stir-fried veggies.

International Cuisine: Mongolian Beef & Broccoli

My dad loves Asian food and over time, most of us have to come to share that love. It’s one of my favorite comfort foods and I really like that it makes the perfect relaxed evening or can be dressed up for a nicer dinner. While I thoroughly enjoy take-out, it’s also a lot of fun to make Asian dishes at home! Perhaps one of my first favorite dishes (beside Sweet & Sour Chicken) is Mongolian Beef. Today, I’m sharing a recipe that I adapted and we enjoyed. Just make sure to choose a tender cut of beef and thinly slice it.

MONGOLIAN BEEF & BROCCOLI
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2 tsp. vegetable or canola oil 
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced 
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. water
1/4-1/2 c. brown sugar
vegetable oil, for frying
1 lb. flank steak
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 lg. head of broccoli florets
4 large green onions

Make the sauce by heating 2 tsp of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over med/low heat. Don’t get the oil too hot. Add ginger and garlic to the pan; add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches. Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then raise the heat to about medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove it from the heat.

Slice the steak against the grain into 1/4″ thick slices. Dip the steak pieces into the cornstarch. Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks. As the beef sits, heat up about one cup of oil in a wok. Heat the oil over medium heat until it’s nice and hot, but not smoking.

Add the beef to the oil and sauté for just two minutes, or until the beef just begins to darken on the edges. After a couple minutes, use a large slotted spoon to take the meat out and onto paper towels, then add the broccoli and saute until tender crisp (about 3 min.). Remove broccoli and pour out excess oil. The add the meat and broccoli back into the wok and simmer for about one minute. Add the sauce, cook for one minute while stirring, then add all the green onions. Cook for one more minute. Serve over rice.

Weekend Fare: Thai Salad Rolls

My friend, Elora, introduced me to this delicious Thai-style dish.  Layers of veggies, noodles, and meat with a delicious sauce to dip the rolls in. It’s a meal worth sharing with friends and family and perfect for enjoying for a leisurely weekend meal.

Preparing the meal takes quite a lot of cutting, but it’s really worth it! Do be warned that while this is a  fun and festive meal, it does take work for those participating in the eating as well (Little Red Hen gets help from all her friends!), as everyone assembles there own rolls.

The spring roll wrappers can be find at an Asian grocery. Also, a note for any of you gluten-free folks, hoisin sauce is often not gluten-free, so do be careful and read the label. As I haven’t sought out a gluten-free brand, I actually just found a recipe online to make my own.

THAI-SALAD ROLLS
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assorted sliced/shredded vegetables (ie: carrots, green onions, lettuce, cabbage, bell peppers, avocado)
spring roll rice paper wrappers
vermicelli rice noodles
cooked meat of choice (steak, chicken, shrimp, or even tofu)
homemade Thai dipping sauce

HOMEMADE THAI DIPPING SAUCE

3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes
oil of choice (I used coconut oil)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
3 Tbsp hoisin sauce
3 Tbsp peanut butter
1/2 Tbsp sugar
3/4 c. water

Saute garlic and pepper flakes in oil for one minute. Add rest of the ingredients whisking constantly. Simmer and thicken.

TO ASSEMBLE

Soak spring roll wrapper in very hot water to soften (fill a pie dish, wok, or some other dish) and lay it on a plate (we find it best to soak two together as it holds up better with all the fillings!). Layer noodles (prepared according to package), meat, veggies, and some of the sauce (if desired). Roll it up. Serve with a side of more dipping sauce.

Weekend Fare & Foodie Fridays

We enjoyed a yummy Asian Noodle Dish this week! I adapted it from a recipe I found and it was kind of lo-mein style dish. Everyone liked it – I would have added a few more chili flakes but kept it mild for the kids. This is super easy and very quick to prepare! It’s also a very flexible recipe, you could substitute whatever type of meat and vegetables you prefer.

ASIAN NOODLES
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8 ounces of dried Asian noodles
1 bunch broccoli
1/2-3/4 c. sliced carrots
5 green onions, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried ginger or 2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
juice of 1/2 lemon
pinch of chili flakes (more if you like it spicy)
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the noodles according to the directions on their package.  Drain and keep warm until ready to toss into stir-fry mix.

Wash and chop vegetables (leave broccoli in small-medium florets and peel and cut stem) and cut chicken into chunks.

Heat a large skillet or wok over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons oil and chicken.  Stir-fry it for a few minutes until golden, then move the chicken onto a plate.

Put the garlic, ginger, and vegetables EXCEPT green onions, in the frying pan with a little more oil.  Stir-fry them for 5-6 minutes, turning them all the time.  Add the chicken, green onions, and drained noodles.  Mix everything together.

Blend the soy sauce and lemon juice together, then pour over chow mein mixture.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for 2 more minutes to heat through. Enjoy!  

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FOODIE FRIDAYS!

Welcome to another edition of Foodier Fridays! There is so much we can learn and share from one another! We hope you will find this feature encouraging and inspiring.

Here are just a few guidelines for participating in Foodie Fridays:
1) Leave a link to your post with Mr. Linky (you can also click on Mr. Linky to check out who has linked up!).
2) Your entry can include a recipe, a kitchen success, an ingredient, a tradition, a book/magazine/restaurant review, a favorite (or not) tool or gadget, food photos, recipe website, a food memory, a cooking or eating experience or anything food related.
3) Please link back here in your participating post.

Hope you have fun, meet new people, learn a few things, feel encouraged, and find inspiration as you cook, bake, and entertain!

International Cuisine: Chinese Main Dishes

We love to order take-out every once in awhile. These recipes made me realize that I should make Chinese at home more often!

SZECHWAN SHRIMP
(adapted from allrecipes.com)
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4 Tb. water
2 Tb. ketchup
1 Tb. soy sauce
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 Tb. peanut or vegetable oil
1/4 c. sliced green onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces peeled, deviened shrimp with tails

In a bowl, stir together water, ketchup, soy sauce, cornstarch, honey, crushed red pepper, and ground ginger. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in green onions and garlic; cook 30 seconds. Stir in shrimp, and toss to coat with oil. Stir in sauce. Cook and stir until sauce is bubbly and thickened and shrimp is fully cooked – about 5-7 minutes.

ASIAN BEEF with PEA PODS
(adapted from allrecipes.com)
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3 Tb. soy sauce
2 Tb. rice wine vinegar
1 Tb. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1 Tb. peanut oil
2 tsp. fresh ginger root, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. beef round steak, cut into thin strips
8 oz. pea pods

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice wine, brown sugar and cornstarch. Set aside.

Heat oil in a wok or skillet over medium high heat. Stir-fry ginger and garlic for 30 seconds. Add the steak and stir-fry for 2 min. or until evenly browned. Add the snow peas and stir-fry for an additional 3 min. Add the soy sauce mixture, bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower heat and simmer until the sauce is thick. Serve immediately.

SWEET & SOUR CHICKEN
(adapted from allrecipes.com)
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1 (16 oz.) can pineapple chunks, drained (juice reserved)
2 green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 3/4 c. water
3/4 c. white sugar
1/2 c. distilled white vinegar
2 drops orange food color
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1 inch cubes
2 1/4 c. self-rising flour
2 Tb. vegetable oil
2 Tb. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 egg
2 c. water
1 quart vegetable or canola oil for frying

In a saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups water, sugar, vinegar, reserved pineapple juice, and orange food coloring. Heat to boiling. Turn off heat. Combine 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/4 cup water; slowly stir into saucepan. Continue stirring until mixture thickens.

Combine flour, 2 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, salt, white pepper, and egg. Add 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 cups water gradually to make a thick batter. Stir to blend thoroughly. Add chicken pieces, and stir until chicken is well coated.

Heat oil in skillet, fryer or wok to 360 degrees F. Fry chicken pieces in hot oil until golden. Remove chicken, and drain on paper towels.

When ready to serve, layer green peppers, pineapple chunks, and cooked chicken pieces on a platter. Pour hot sweet and sour sauce over top. Serve with steamed rice if desired.

Market Fresh: Chinese Vegetables

We decided that we would do several posts in preparation for the Chinese New Year! So this week will be an international focus on Chinese food with Friday switching to Valentine’s Day for two. We hope you enjoy!

Today, I’m going to share a few recipes for vegetarian and vegetable-focused Chinese dishes. We invited guests over to enjoy our Chinese feast and this Vegetable Lo-Mein was a huge hit!

VEGETABLE LO-MEIN
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6 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tb. fresh ginger, minced
1/2 c. vegetable or canola oil 
1 Tb. sesame seeds 
1/2 c. smooth peanut butter
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. chicken or vegetable stock 
1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
1/4 c. honey
1/2 tsp. hot chili oil
2 Tb. dark sesame oil
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 pound linguini
1 c. bean sprouts
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
4 scallions, sliced diagonally (white and green parts)

Combine the garlic, ginger, oil, sesame seeds, peanut butter, soy sauce, stock, vinegar, chili oil, sesame oil, black pepper, and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Stir well to fully combine.

Cook the linguine as directed until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander, place it in a large bowl, and while still warm, toss with 3/4 of the sauce. Add the sprouts, red and yellow bell peppers, and scallions; toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature. The remaining sauce may be added, as needed, to moisten the pasta.

CHINESE BROCCOLI
(adapted from allrecipes.com)
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2 bunches broccoli, cut into florets
2 Tb. white sugar
1 Tb. cornstarch
2 Tb. soy sauce
1 Tb. rice vinegar
1 Tb. sesame oil
3 Tb. hoisin sauce
1 tsp. fresh ginger root, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sesame seeds (opt.)

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli and cook uncovered until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, hoisin sauce, ginger, and garlic together in a small saucepan over medium heat until thickened and no longer cloudy, 4 to 6 minutes. Toss the broccoli in the sauce, pour into serving dish, sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired, and serve.

EGG ROLLS
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1/2 lb. pork sausage
1/4 head of cabbage, shredded
1/4 head of napa cabbage, shredded
1/2 c. carrot, shredded
1/2 c. bean sprouts
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tb. Hoisen Sauce
2 Tb. Smooth Peanut butter
1 package Egg Roll wrappers

Brown sausage. Add vegetables and garlic and saute until slightly cooked but still crunchy. Add sauce and peanut butter. Divide mixture into egg roll wrappers – about 2 Tb./wrapper.

To Roll: Place filling lengthwise towards end closest to you. Fold sides in and slowly roll. Seal edge with water.

Fry in a deep fryer until golden brown or bake in oven at 400 for about 15 minutes or until golden. Serve with Sweet & Sour and enjoy!