“Pass the Peas” Asian-inspired stir-fry

Low-carb and pretty tasty to boot, this stir fry has flavours reminiscent of teriyaki, but… not quite the same. It’s great, I love it, you should give it a try!

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So, I’m doing a low-carb type thing for a couple of weeks, and man, am I bored. There’s only so much you can do without sugar, sweet fruit, pasta, bread, or anything, well, delicious.

I’m on week two of this carb-reduced experiment, and I’m so tired of the same flavours. Tex-mex for a week straight… sounds good, gets a little dull. So, in an effort to shake things up, I tried to go for something more Italian by hauling out the Balsamic vinegar.

Then, I added ginger. Don’t add ginger if you want to “keep it Italian”.

What I ended up with is more reminiscent of teriyaki than tagliatelle, but it’s pretty tasty, so I’m not disappointed.

As I said, my focus was on the low-carb side of things, but the wonderful thing about this dish is that it can be paired with rice if you’re not reducing your carb intake. Add a side of meat (pork or chicken work best), and all the healthy food groups are covered!

Without further ado, I present…

“Pass the Peas” Recipe

This Asian-inspired stir fry is low-carb yet delicious! Pair it with pork or chicken for a bit of extra protein, or serve it atop a side of rice for a well-balanced meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 large florets cauliflower, diced (about the same size as the celery)
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Olive oil (or canola oil)
  • Seasonings:
    • 1 teaspoon oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
    • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
    • 1/8 cup basalmic vinegar
    • 1/8 cup soy sauce
    • salt to taste

Tools

  • Cutting board and knife
  • large frying pan or wok
  • wooden stirring spoon
  • Small bowl and fork

Directions

  1. Preheat the pan with a little oil and prepare your veggies while you wait. Dice the onion and cauliflower, chop the celery, and roughly chop the peppers.

  2. Add the onion to the oil and heat until the onion is translucent.

  3. Add the celery, peppers and cauliflower and sprinkle a dash of salt to draw out the liquids. Heat through until the peppers are vibrant in colour, about 6-7 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, add a sprinkle of hot tap water to the peas and microwave them for 3 minutes, stirring at the minute-and-a-half mark. The hot tap water helps give the microwave something to work with. You can optionally use canned or fresh peas instead of doing this step.

  5. In a small bowl, mix together the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and seasoning, except the salt. Stir well.

  6. By now the peppers should be vibrant in colour. Add the peas and sauce and mix well.

  7. Stir frequently to reduce the sauce. You should end up with darkly-tinted veggies, vibrant green peas and no extra sauce.

  8. Serve with pork or chicken. If you’re not watching your carbs, this goes well with rice.

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Recipe review: Our Perfect Veggie Burger (OhSheGlows.com)

Many strive for perfection. Will this burger earn its namesake? Stay tuned to find out!

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I’m going with something a bit different today; a review of one of my favourite recipes from the OhSheGlows cookbook and website .

The title is pretty bold (Our Perfect Veggie Burger ), so… Is this burger really all it claims to be?

I’ve made a batch of these burgers, following the recipe exactly, even taking the time to taste-test before cooking. It says so, right in the instructions. Gotta follow the rules, after all…

Let’s start out with the must-haves she mentioned on her recipe:

  • Can’t be mushy in the middle (the problem I have the most)
  • Crispy outer shell
  • Lots of flavour from fresh herbs & spices
  • No tofu (not a fan)
  • Crunchy, chewy texture is a must
  • No cracking or falling apart (another common problem)
  • Must cook well 3 ways: frying pan, oven, and BBQ
  • Could make a grown man shed a tear of joy (ok, that was my requirement, heh)

So, let’s break it down…

veggie-burger-review-alt-1

Can’t be mushy in the middle

The sunflower seeds, Panko bread crumbs and shredded carrot help to keep these burgers firm and moist, but not mushy. Check-mark for that one!

Crispy outer shell

After a good oven-baking or pan-frying, it crisps up quite well. This one’s covered.

Lots of flavour from fresh herbs & spices

(please excuse the silence as I enjoy the bright herbal flavour-splosion) Mmmm….

No tofu

Nope!

Crunchy, chewy texture is a must

The crunchy sunflower seeds in the middle, plus the way the oat-flour soaks up all the juices from the shredded veggies, all of that combines into a – dare I say – perfect chewy and crunchy combo.

No cracking or falling apart (another common problem)

This one’s covered by that oat flour. That stuff works wonders at keeping these burgers firm and solid.

Must cook well 3 ways: frying pan, oven, and BBQ

I’ve tried these two ways, oven-baked and fried. Oven baked is a little drier than I’d like, but they’re still quite tasty. Pan fried, these are just delightful. I get that crispiness on the outside from direct contact with the heat, which I’ve been unable to reproduce in the oven.

Here’s a bonus: One other way she didn’t mention here: Cooked from frozen. I’ve had great success cooking, freezing and re-heating these on the stove. Just splash with water, microwave for 90 seconds to thaw them out, then finish them on the stove.

Sadly, I have not yet tried these on the BBQ.

Awe shucks, I’m just going to have to make these burgers again to try them on the BBQ… what a shame [/sarcasm].

Could make a grown man shed a tear of joy

I think I saw a glimmer of a tear. My meat-loving husband did actually go back for seconds, so I’ll call that one a pass.

My verdict?

Perfectly perfect!

Give them a try. If you’ve ever enjoyed a veggie burger, this one will wow you!

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Celebration Squash Soup

Pureed squash, and other vibrant veggies make this a brightly coloured soup, perfect to clear up those winter doldrums!

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Ah, sigh, I got married to this soup. Well… not married to the soup, but the soup was there… er… this is awkward…

Ahem, so yeah, when I got married I made this bright and pleasant soup as one of our buffet foods. My wedding was a small affair: City hall for a brief ceremony, followed by a party in my home for our closest family and friends. It was fun; good times, even. I made this soup; it was tasty.

This soup reminds me of that time during the first few days of my marriage, getting ready for our honeymoon, and just relaxing… Those were the times… yeah…

Now it’s 6 AM Saturdays and slow-cooker suppers and out-the-door or child will be late for something. Manic or not, I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but every now and then, that nostalgia for simpler days will hit me and I’ll throw this recipe into the family meal plan.

I think my favourite part about this soup is the texture. It’s a blended soup, so all the ingredients (chosen for their orange hues and complimentary flavours) just meld together into a thick, silky broth. Adding some home-made croutons gives it just a little crunch, making for a satisfying yet light meal.

That it’s so easy to make, well that’s just the icing on the cake!

Celebration Squash Soup Recipe

Makes 15-20 portions, depending on the size of the veggies and amount of broth used.

Ingredients

celebration-squash-soup-alt1
  • 1 medium Butternut Squash
  • 2-4 Carrots
  • 1 small Turnip
  • 2 Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 large Red Onion
  • 4 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Litre of Soup Broth
  • Salt to taste (about 1/2 a teaspoon)

Add some crispy Bacon on top if you’re looking for something more “healthy-ish” than healthy.

Tools

  • Slowcooker/crockpot or large steamer basket and stock pot
  • Blender (immersion or full-sized)
  • Ladle

Directions

  1. Prepare the veggies. Peel and roughly cut each of the vegetables into large chunks, basically cut the large enough so they just fit in the steamer basket or slow cooker. Cut the onions into quarters or eights, whatever fits.

  2. Add the veggies to the slow cooker or steamer basket, and cook until tender. In the slow cooker, you should have all the veggies jam-packed together; Add broth until the veggies are just covered and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 2+1/2 hours. If using a steamer basket, add enough water to allow to steam for 45 minutes; if you need to remove the drippings, set it aside for the soup later.

  3. Blend the soup using an immersion blender or carefully in small batches using a full-sized blender. Place a towel over top of the blender and firmly hold it down before starting to blend. As soon as you turn on that blender, the super-heated air is going to expand and try to explode! I’m not kidding, this can be scalding!

    Add broth or water to allow the blender to work its magic.

  4. Mix the soup thoroughly to make sure the broth is fully incorporated together.

  5. If desired, fry up some crispy bacon and crumble it into a bowl. Set it to the side and allow each diner to sprinkle some over top of their own bowl.

  6. Eat within a day or two, or freeze immediately. This recipe doesn’t scale down well, but it’s easily freezable and tastes just as great re-heated.

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Sweet Chili Cashew Chicken

This cashew-crusted chicken is whipped up in minutes and takes a low-maintenance 25-45 minutes to cook (depending whether the chicken is fresh or frozen). Throw on some steamed green beans or carrots and some rice, and you’ve got yourself a delicious, protein-packed meal.

Choose your seasonings wisely… this bad boy can pack a wallop if you add more Sriracha, or it can be sweetly mild without the kick. Your choice!

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I’m a fan of Chicken Parmesan. No, you aren’t at the wrong recipe, I said Chicken Parmesan. Sweet chili cashew chicken is nothing like Chicken Parmesan. Except for the chicken part. Everything else… not the same. Not that I knew that at the time I first threw this together.

Let’s hearken to a story from not so long ago…

Tired and hungry, a weary traveller stared into a hollow box of ice, wondering just what to prepare for a meal that would satisfy a craving most fierce. Lo! Chicken was found, and with it the great “Chicken Parmesan” could be crafted. But, um… “forsooth” and such… er… (blast, where’s ye ole dictionary when you need one??) I… um… *rustles paper* … okay fine, I ran out of Parmesan.

Parmesan-less, like an animal, what could I do but search high and low for alternatives across the great wide web?

One recipe caught my eye, but an empty pantry left that idea hanging. Whole grain mustard and something else I’d never heard of? I wasn’t going to find those in my kitchen.

Yet, I was intrigued.

“Cashew Crusted Chicken”.

It had potential. But… Cashew butter on chicken seemed so plain. I had to make it more interesting…

Enter Thai Sweet Chili sauce. Mildly spicy but sweet, it seemed to go well with the cashews. Yet, after more than a couple of bites, it was one note: sweet cashews. Not enough “chili”.

Not to be deterred I tried again. This time adding that ubiquitous Sriracha hot sauce to the “sweet”.

The result is this sweet yet spicy crusted chicken that’s easy to make and still full of delicious zingy flavour.

“But what about the children!?” you might ask.

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!

If you prefer something with zero zing, substitute the Sweet Chili Sauce and Sriracha for plain old cherry sauce. Dish up one serving of cherry-sauce cashew sauce on one piece of chicken, then add some Sriracha to the rest.

Kids have their sweet, parents have their spicy!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this sordid tale….

And I hope you’ll enjoy this chicken even more!

Sweet Chili Cashew Chicken Recipe

Ingredients

White rice - OrderNaryLife.ca

White rice. Still goes with everything.

  • 2 large (or 4 small) boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Sauce:
    • 1 cup cashews
    • 1 cup water
    • 1/8 cup sweet chili sauce (or cherry sauce)
    • 1-2 Tablespoons Sriracha, to taste
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt, to taste

Goes well with a side of rice or steamed veggies.

Tools

  • Blender or food processor
  • Baking pan, uncovered
  • Oven
  • Spatula or serving spoon

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

  2. Blend the sauce ingredients until smooth. Add more water if the sauce is too thick to pour.

  3. Dollop a small amount of sauce onto the bottom of the baking pan.

  4. Place the chicken breasts on the pan in the sauce, so they’re spaced apart. Cover each chicken breast with the remaining sauce.

  5. Prepare your side dishes while the chicken cooks.

  6. Bake the chicken until cooked through (about 25 minutes if the chicken is raw, or 45 minutes if it’s frozen).

  7. Serve with a side, such as rice, string beans or steamed veggies.

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Vegetarian Butter “Chicken”

This sweet curry is filling and delicious. If a vegetarian meal is what you’re looking for, this captures the essence of Butter Chicken without the chicken.

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Let me be clear: I love butter chicken. Its sweet, mild and creamy curry base is an excellent companion to tender chicken. Served over a bed of rice and with a side of home-made naan bread, this is hands down my family’s favourite meal.

veg-butter-chicken-1

I even keep a spare bottle (okay, two bottles) of butter chicken sauce in my pantry “just in case”.

That being said, it takes a bit of work. My usual Butter Chicken recipe takes a full hour and half, and is worth the wait – but only when I have the rare opportunity to make it, that is.

Enter the chickpea

So, without a spare couple of hours, but really wanting some butter chicken, I looked in my cupboards for something, anything that might taste somewhat close to chicken.

“Chickpeas!”

Alone, they weren’t quite enough.

“Mushrooms?”

Yes! Much better!

And so, I came up with this adaptation that takes only 20 minutes start to finish, and yet still keeps the same spirit. It still replicates that sweet curry I’m so fond of – but it’s so much quicker to prepare. Armed with this recipe, my family and I can finally have Butter Chicken (or, more accurately Butter “Chicken”) during the work-week.

This version relies heavily on the bottled sauce (unlike my full butter chicken recipe – coming soon), so it’s important that you get a brand of Butter Chicken sauce that you like. I’ve tried a few and like Patak’s and Sharwood’s, but the store brand does work in a pinch. If you’re industrious (or if you plan ahead) a home-made sauce would work too. I haven’t worked out the homemade version… yet.

Without further delay, I present:

Vegetarian Butter “Chicken” Recipe

Ingredients

White rice - OrderNaryLife.ca

White rice. Goes with everything.

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 can mushrooms
  • 1 bottle Butter Chicken sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup of raisins
  • 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter

Goes well with a side dish of rice or naan bread.

Tools

  • Large sauce pan and spoon
  • Cutting board and knife
  • Can opener

Directions

Butter chicken sauce simmering - OrderNaryLife.ca

Simmering sauce, just waiting for the chance to be eaten.

  1. Heat the oil on medium-low temperature (4/10) in a large sauce pan.

  2. Add the onions and mushrooms and stir occaisionally.

  3. Meanwhile, start cooking your rice as per package directions. Set the rice aside if it’s done before the sauce.

  4. Add the raisins and milk when the onions are translucent, then heat until the milk is hot but not boiling. Add the peanut butter and mix through.

  5. Rinse and add the chickpeas once the peanut butter is mixed through.

  6. Add the butter chicken sauce and mix through.

  7. Bring to a simmer until the chickpeas are ready (about 15 minutes).

  8. Serve over rice or alone as a soup.

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One-Pot Pasta

Easy-peasy, this recipe makes enough for a hoard, and tastes pretty good, to boot!

Just throw everything in the pot, stir a few times and in 25 minutes, you’ve got enough for supper, seconds and even a few lunches.

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Picture, if you would, the following scene: A toddler tugs impatiently at your leg, doing a semi-hop over and over, all the while letting out just that right pitch of shrill to grind what little nerves you might have had into powder.

Welcome to Monday night supper at my house.

Well, I should say, that was what Monday night supper used to be like until I found this gem of a recipe! To see the original, head on over to Mama Bake. Their version is a great bulk recipe that serves more than 15 portions. A bit of overkill for my family, so I’ve adjusted my version to meet my family’s tastes. My 6-8 portion version is below.

While I really enjoy the ease of this recipe, it does trade off a bit in the flavour department. To counteract this, when I have an extra few minutes, I’ll sweat the onions, mushrooms and peppers first, then throw everything else in.

For my picky eater (*cough* toddler *cough*) I actually blend everything except the pasta before I put it in the pot. The result is a smooth sauce with the pasta and all the veggies are disguised.

If you can plan ahead, the night before, chop up the veggies, otherwise the ol’ “throw-as-you-go” preparation method works fine (Add your ingredients into the pot as they’re ready and cover in between).

The key to this recipe is literally to cook everything together. No pre-cooking the pasta, no straining out the water. Just toss it all in and cook!

By now, you must be thinking: “Everything in one pot… Oh! The chaos!”. Don’t worry, it works out, I promise!

One-Pot Pasta Recipe

Makes 6-8 servings.

Cooks in 25 minutes, with 5 minutes of prep

Ingredients

  • 250g pasta (about 3 cups macaroni or rotini, or a loonie-sized amount of spaghetti)
  • 2+1/8 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomoato soup or a cup of pre-made/leftover pasta sauce
  • 1/2 Green Pepper, diced (about 1/4 cup frozen)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 can mushrooms (or about a cup of fresh sliced mushrooms)
  • Seasonings (adjust to taste):
    • 1+1/2 Tablespoon dry Italian seasonsing (1+1/2 teaspoons dry basil, 1 teaspoon Oregano, 1/2 teaspoon Thyme)
    • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon Chili Powder (or a dash of Cayenne if your family’s adventurous)
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Hardware

  • A large stew pot with lid (about 5L or 5 quarts). Trust me, you want the lid.
  • Mixing spoon
  • Knife and cutting board (if chopping any fresh veggies)

Directions

  1. (optional) Chop your veggies before-hand if you can. Otherwise, carry on.

  2. Put everything except the pasta in the pot. Stir around the wet ingredients so they’re thoroughly combined. Notice that I didn’t do this in my featured picture. I had a little trouble getting it evenly mixed.

  3. Turn on the stove to medium-high (about 7/10).

  4. Stir in the pasta. When I use spaghetti, I find cracking it in half or quarters helps it all fit. Stir so all the pasta is covered in liquid.

  5. When the sauce is bubbling, stir and reduce to medium-low (about 4/10). Stir occasionally for 20 minutes, or until pasta is cooked.

  6. Relax for a few. Seriously. You deserve it!

  7. Optionally, serve with garlic bread and Parmesan cheese.

I hope this recipe adds some calm to your day. Enjoy!

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