Categories
Fish/Seafood

Kimchi-Crab Fried Rice

Oh kimchi, how I love thee! You make everything you touch taste so amazing with your umami, briny self. I love you hot or cold, but I especially love the magic you bring to fried rice. Thank you for being you. 

I should probably be a little bit embarrassed about the little love note above. I mean, who writes love notes to food? Me, that’s who!

But seriously, kimchi in fried rice is heavenly . . . and even more so with crab added into the mix. Next time you’re craving fried rice, don’t go with the ol’ boring version. Kick up with kimchi and you’ll be a lifelong fan. You might even start writing your own kimchi love notes. 

Ingredients: 

2 c. cooked jasmine rice 

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 c. kimchi

¼ c. kimchi brine

2 tsp. gochujang 

2-3 tsp. soy sauce

2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

1 c. crab or imitation crab

2 eggs, beaten.

2 green onions, sliced 

Cook rice according to package directions. Place in a bowl and mix with sesame oil thoroughly. 

Mix together kimchi brine, gochujang and soy sauce in a bowl.

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Cook kimchi for a few minutes until it is fragrant. Add in the crab and heat through. Then, add rice and mix together quickly. Move everything aside in the skillet and quickly scramble the eggs. Then, add the sauce and make sure you mix together all of the ingredients.

Serve hot!

Categories
Vegetarian

Delicious Zucchini No-Meat Meatballs

Sometimes I feel a hankering for meatballs, but I don’t want to eat actual meat or even a meat substitute. I just want to eat my pasta topped with something filling, delicious, and veggie-based. I mean, I like a big bowl of pasta topped with sauce and veggies as much as the next guy, but sometimes I want something a little more substantial that doesn’t include meat. Are you feeling me?

These zucchini no-meat meatballs are just the right fit to satisfy those cravings. I would describe these as similar to really good falafel, but bathed in marinara sauce and dotted with Parmesan. These are meatless, yes, but every bit as enjoyable and tasty as regular meatballs. Put this recipe in your “too much zucchini is growing in the garden” file for summer. You’ll surely be making this on a regular basis. 

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 shallots, minced

2 c. shredded zucchini, liquid pressed out through a strainer

3 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped

2 tsp. oregano

1 egg, beaten

1 c. Italian breadcrumbs

¼ c. Parmesan, grated

Salt and pepper

For serving:

2 c. marinara, prepared or homemade

Parmesan cheese, for topping

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the shredded zucchini and cook it for 5 minutes, or until most of the water has cooked off. Drain the mixture in a strainer and press again to release any excess water. 

Place the zucchini mixture in a large bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, egg, Parmesan, basil, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper and mix together thoroughly. Using your hands, form the mixture into 12-16 “meatballs.” Place on a greased baking sheet and bake until firm and browned (25 minutes or so). 

Remove the “meatballs” from the oven and place into a skillet with 2 cups of marinara sauce. Allow them to simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce is heated through and coats the “meatballs.”

Serve with pasta or simply alone, topped with Parmesan cheese.

Categories
Fish/Seafood

California Roll Burrito

California rolls are one of those foods that never gets old, no matter how many times you have eaten them in your life. They’re incredibly simple and un-fussy, and somehow just seem to make you smile – at least until you notice you’re on your last piece. That’s when the wistfulness sets in for me. 

With a California roll burrito, that wistful feeling is dodged because there’s so much more to enjoy. It’s like a gigantic California roll that takes much longer to run out and it is even more packed with all of the things that make California rolls special: crab, avocado, sushi rice, and crispy veggies. There’s just something so fun about dunking a burrito-sized California roll in soy sauce and smearing a man-sized lump of wasabi all over the middle and then taking a monster bite out of it. Hungry yet?

Ingredients:

Sushi Rice:

1 c. sushi rice, rinsed for 60 seconds

1 c. water

1 Tbsp. mirin

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

1 tsp. sugar

Pinch of salt 

Burrito (makes two):

Sushi rice

4 sheets of nori

½ c. carrots, cut into matchsticks

½ c. cucumbers, cut into matchsticks

1 avocado, sliced

4 oz. crab or imitation crab

2 Tbsp. green onions, sliced

Serve with:

Soy sauce

Wasabi

Chili sauce

Prepare the sushi rice according to directions. Allow it to cool. Stir in the additional ingredients and set aside. 

To prepare the sushi burritos, attach two sheets of nori together for each burrito. You can do this by lining the two sheets together and then brushing an inch of water along one of the sheets. Keep the rough sides up. Repeat. 

Spread equal amounts of sushi rice over each sheet of nori in one large layer. Leave about an inch at the end of each double nori sheet. If you desire, you can add a layer of chili sauce or wasabi mayo on top of the rice. Layer on half of the carrots, cucumbers, crab, avocado, and green onions on top of the rice. 

Gently roll up each burrito and then brush the end of the nori with water so that the nori sheets stick together. Cut in half. Enjoy with soy sauce, wasabi, mayo, and/or chili sauce. Yummy!

Categories
Vegetarian

Perfect Crispy Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower Tacos

Just when I thought it couldn’t get much better than air-fryer cauliflower smothered in buffalo sauce and dipped in ranch or blue cheese dressing, these tacos came into my life. A few days ago, I had some extra cauliflower florets in the fridge and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. 

My first thought was to make an appetizer-sized bowl of buffalo cauliflower and serve it with a salad for a quick dinner. But then I had a much more fun idea: I could make buffalo cauliflower tacos topped with ranch dressing, blue cheese crumbles, carrots, cilantro, green onions, and jalapenos. Yeahhhh . . . now we’re talking. They were amazing. Try them for yourself, and I almost guarantee they will make you smile. 

Ingredients:

1 batch of Perfectly Crispy Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower

8 flour tortillas, warmed 

1 c. shredded carrots

½ c. cilantro, chopped

4 green onions, chopped

Ranch or blue cheese dressing

Blue cheese crumbles, optional

Jalapenos, optional 

Prepare the buffalo cauliflower in the air fryer. Place an even amount of cauliflower in warm tortillas. Top with carrots, cilantro, onions, ranch or blue cheese dressing. Serve hot! 

Categories
Beef Soups

Rich and Delicious Homemade Pho

If you’re a pho lover, you know it’s all about the broth. We’ve all probably been to pho restaurants that left us utterly speechless (in a good way) and other restaurants that left us wondering if someone just tossed some ingredients in store-bought broth. Everyone knows the really quality pho isn’t just a noodle soup with toppings in run-of-the-mill broth. When it comes to truly amazing pho, the broth is everything. It is the STAR of pho show, not a supporting side character. 

I’m not gonna lie, this broth takes a long time to cook. But I promise, it’s totally worth it. There are a lot of shortcut recipes out there for pho broth, but there’s really no substitute for a homemade bone-based pho broth. Don’t settle for using store-bought broth to make pho. I beg you. Instead, spend a day making this divine broth at home. Maybe even double the recipe so that you can freeze some for the next round of at-home pho. Once you taste it, the payoff will be obvious.

Ingredients:

Broth:

5 lb. beef bones 

2 onions, quartered

10-12 cloves of garlic, smashed

4 1-inch knobs of ginger, peeled

5 whole star anise

5 whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

1 cardamom pod

1 Tbsp. coriander seeds

12 cups of water

⅓ c. fish sauce

2 Tbsp. sugar

Salt to taste

Pho Additions:

8 oz. thin rice noodles

½ lb. very thinly sliced sirloin 

White onions, thinly sliced

Toppings to share:

Thai basil

Bean sprouts

Green onions

Jalapenos 

Lime slices

Chili sauce

Important: you will need to prepare the pho broth the day (or two) before you plan on serving it. 

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 

To begin, you will need to boil the beef bones so that they are clean and will result in a clear, clean-tasting broth. In a large stockpot, cover the bones with water and bring to a boil. Allow them to simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and rinse bones thoroughly. Clean the stockpot.

Line a large baking pan with foil and place the bones, quartered onions, garlic, and ginger on top of the foil, allowing for space between the items. No oil is necessary for this step. Bake for 45 minutes. 

Heat the stockpot over medium heat high and add the spices. Stir for 2 minutes, or until they are fragrant. Remove from the heat and set aside. When they are cool enough to touch, wrap them in a piece of cheesecloth, securing it with twine to make a spice sachet. 

In the same stockpot, add the roasted bones and aromatics from the baking sheet. Make sure to include any leftover liquid and brown bits. Add 12 cups of water to the stockpot, along with the spice sachet, fish sauce, and sugar. 

Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for up to 8 hours. Skim the surface of the broth as fat and/or foam rises to the top. Before serving, pour the broth through a mesh strainer into a clean glass bowl or pot. Taste and add salt to taste. 

To assemble the pho, place the noodles, sliced onions, and sliced beef in large bowls. Pour the broth over the top (this cooks the beef). Garnish with your desired topping, e.g. Thai basil, beans sprouts, lime, etc. Enjoy hot!

Categories
Vegan Vegetarian

Cabbage and Chana Dal Curry

It doesn’t get much healthier and cleaner than a huge bowl of warm and comforting cabbage curry. This meal is simple to prepare and is packed with flavor, but not packed with fat and calories. Every time I eat this meal, I truly enjoy every bite and feel completely satisfied after eating it. 

Cabbage and chana dal curry is proof that a meal can be both delicious and nutritious. Thanks to the aromatic garlic, ginger, onions, and spices, a simple pile of chopped veggies becomes a decadent and memorable dish. I like to serve this curry with a side of basmati rice as a vegan entree, but it can also be served as a healthy side dish alongside other Indian dishes. 

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. mustard seeds

1 inch knob of ginger, minced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 roma tomatoes, diced

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. garam masala

¼ c. chana dal or yellow split peas, cooked

3-4 c. cabbage, chopped

Salt to taste

Chopped cilantro, for topping

Basmati rice, for serving

In a large skillet, heat ½ c. water over medium high heat. Add the cabbage and cook for about 3 3-4 minutes, or until slightly tender. Drain thoroughly and set aside on a plate. Dry the skillet quickly.

Using the same skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until they are soft. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for one more minute. Add the tomatoes, turmeric, chili powder, garam masala, and chana dal and cook for 2 minutes. Add the cabbage back into the skillet and cook until the cabbage is tender (but not mushy). Season with salt. Serve with basmati rice. 

Categories
Salads Vegan Vegetarian

Lahpet Thoke (Burmese Fermented Tea Leaf Salad)

Several years ago, I ate a salad while on vacation in northern California that was life changing. This lahpet thoke salad was so divinely different than anything I had ever eaten. It was a tastebud-altering experience, to say the least. My mind was boggled by the combination of the complex flavors and the simplicity of the ingredients. 

While I was still sitting in the unassuming Burmese strip-mall restaurant in which this salad first graced my palate, I vowed that I would learn to make this incredible salad on my own so that I could eat it as often as possible. I went home and got to work on replicating this salad. As it turns out, it wasn’t quite as simple as I thought to create a truly wonderful lahpet thoke. 

After many attempts and a few years of not quite “getting it,” I think I have finally found the right balance of ingredients. I have discovered that the true secret ingredient in a good lahpet thoke is a good quality sencha tea.  If you decide to make this, don’t get the cheapest sencha available. Spend a little more to get big, leafy tea without sticks. I promise it’ll be worth it. You may never eat a “normal American” salad again. 

Ingredients:

Fermented Tea Leaves:

¼ c. sencha tea leaves, loose

1 c. water

1 c. vinegar

¼ c. sesame oil

¼ c. olive oil

1 Tbsp. maggi seasoning or dark soy sauce

1 Tbsp. fish sauce or vegan fish sauce

Juice from one lemon

1 inch knob of ginger, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt to taste

Salad:

1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped 

2 roma tomatoes, diced

½ c. peanuts

½ c. sunflower seeds, shelled

¼ c. toasted sesame seeds (I prefer black and white)

½ c. fried chana dal or yellow split peas (see instructions below) 

¼ c. fried garlic, prepared or homemade

Lemon wedges, for serving

The fermented tea leaves will need to be prepared 2-3 days before the salad is served. To prepare the tea leaves, you should first remove any twigs that may be mixed in with the leaves. This is important because you don’t want to bite down on a hard twig when you’re enjoying your divine salad. 

Next, boil the vinegar and water. Remove from the heat and steep tea leaves in the liquid for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse. Then, steep the tea leaves in a bowl of cold water for 1 hour. Drain and squeeze out any extra liquid by pushing the leaves against the strainer. 

Place the tea leaves in a food processor, along with the sesame oil, olive oil, maggi seasoning, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, and lemon juice. Process until the leaves are finely minced. Season with salt and process quickly again. Place the tea leaves in an airtight glass container and set in a cool dark place. Allow the leaves to ferment for 2-3 days.

To make the chana dal, soak 1 c. of chana dal for 4 hours and then drain. In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add the chana dal to the pan and stir until cooked. Place the cooked chana dal on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Season with a small dash of turmeric, chili powder, salt, and pepper. 

To make the salad, place the ingredients in separate piles around two plates (dividing ingredients equally). Make sure to include a big scoop of the tea leaves in the center. Squeeze lemon on top, if desired, mix together all of the ingredients, and enjoy!

Categories
Sides Vegan Vegetarian

Chinese Mushroom and Bok Choy Stir Fry

Mushrooms are one of the best foods in the world, in my humble opinion. They come in all shapes, sizes and textures and always taste so earthy, meaty and satisfying. Mushrooms are simple to prepare and never complicated in taste. When cooking mushrooms, my belief is that they should not be overpowered by too many ingredients because they are amazing by nature. 

While the star of the show in this quick and amazing Chinese mushroom and bok choy stir fry is definitely the complex and earthy shimeji and beech mushrooms, this dish is further enhanced by the fresh and clean taste of the tender, but crunchy bok choy. These lovely vegetables are lightly coated in a simple sauce so that their beautifully natural flavors shine though – just like nature intended. 

Ingredients:

½ lb. Shanghai bok choy or very small baby bok choy, cleaned and halved lengthwise 

1 package of seafood  (white beech) mushrooms, hard ends removed 

1 package of shimeji mushrooms (enoki would work too), hard ends removed

4 green onions, sliced

2 tsp. sesame oil 

1 inch piece of ginger, minced

1 clove of garlic, minced

½ Tbsp. oyster sauce or vegan oyster sauce

1 Tbsp. soy sauce 

1 tsp. dark soy sauce

Black pepper to taste

Heat the sesame oil in a wok over medium high heat. Add the boy choy and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add a bit of water (2 Tbsp. or so) and cook until the water evaporates, about 2 more minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, and green onions and toss together for about 1 minute. Add in the mushrooms, oyster sauce, and soy sauces and cook, tossing, for about 2 minutes (or until the liquid evaporates). Season with black pepper to taste. 

Serve hot as a side dish or a main course with steamed rice. 

Categories
Soups Vegan Vegetarian

Thick and Hearty Vegan Chili

If you think you need to put meat in chili to make it rib-stickingly delicious and hearty, I hate to break it to you . . . but you’re wrong. Really, really wrong. This vegan version of chili is full of beautifully-colorful and nutritious veggies and protein-packed beans, making it an ideal choice for a meatless dinner that your whole family will love. 

On top of being healthy, this thick and hearty vegan chili is (gasp!) actually even more tasty than traditional, meaty chili, in my humble opinion. Serve this with a thick chunk of cornbread, a side salad, on top of nachos, or all alone. Whatever way you choose to serve and enjoy this chili, I’m guessing you will want to make it a staple at your house from here on out.  

Ingredients:

1 yellow onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 carrot, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 medium sweet potato, diced

1 4 oz. can of green chiles

1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes

1 15 oz. can of kidney beans

1 15 oz. can of corn

1 c. vegetable broth

2-3 Tbsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. cumin

2 tsp oregano 

1 tsp. paprika

Salt and pepper

Serve with:

Shredded cheese (or vegan cheese)

Sour cream (or vegan sour cream)

Green onions

Cilantro

Lime

Tortilla chips

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the onion, carrot, red bell pepper, sweet potato and green chiles and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until soft and fragrant. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the spices, except for salt and pepper, and mix with the cooking vegetables for one minute.

Add the broth, tomatoes, kidney beans, and corn to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and allow the chili to simmer for 30 minutes so that the flavors have time to infuse. Feel free to add more broth, if necessary, during the cooking process. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with your favorite toppings!

Categories
Chicken/Turkey

Quick and Healthy Cabbage and Turkey Kielbasa Skillet

Modern society and fast food joints have trained many of us to believe that food that is ready quickly has to be junky or prepackaged. The truth is that sometimes the healthiest meals to eat are also the fastest to prepare. This super-quick, one-skillet cabbage and turkey kielbasa meal is very nutritious, low in calories, and tastes so clean and delicious. As an added bonus, this delightful meal costs practically nothing. With this lightning fast dinner, you can save dollars, calories, and a trip to the drive-through.

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

14 oz. turkey kielbasa, cut into bite-sized rounds

1 medium head of cabbage, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

3-4 garlic  cloves, minced

2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the kielbasa and cook until it is heated through and browned, about 3-5 minutes. Add the onion and cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until the onion is softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the cabbage, lower the temperature to medium and cook until the cabbage is wilted, but still somewhat firm, about 8-10 minutes. Add the apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.