Category Archives: Asian

Chicken and Basil Stir Fry

This recipe for Chicken and Basil Stir-Fry is quite possibly my favorite chicken recipe ever! It is so quick and simple to make and the flavors come together so beautifully.

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I’m a huge fan of basil. It adds such a wonderful light and summery flavor to lots of dishes. Caprese salad is one of my favorite uses for basil and my favorite Thai restaurant has Basil Fried Rice which is amazing! At my old house, we had extremely hearty basil! The original plant went to seed and the seeds spread throughout my yard. The lawn had various crops of basil (which made mowing it a teeny bit more pleasant thanks to the lovely fragrance) and one plant had a trunk. Yes, it was such a large and healthy plant that it had an actual trunk with tons of basil growing from it! I really miss that. We’re just coming out of winter here and I have no herb garden at the moment. I had to buy basil from the supermarket for this recipe and it was disappointing. I mean, the chicken was still perfect, but within a day of buying the basil, the leaves were wilted, even after putting it in water. Sad. Bottom line, I suppose, is grow your own basil. We will be doing that again soon for sure!

Basil Chicken

Anyway, for this recipe, I cut up a pound of boneless skinless chicken thighs into 1-inch cubes, then combined them with soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl. After heating oil in a wok, I stir fried the chicken with garlic until cooked through, then added in chili powder and hoisin sauce. You can also add a chopped up fresh red chili pepper which we’ve done in the past and it’s delicious but to make this more kid friendly I omitted it this time around (and my son still burnt his tongue on the rice. Oops).

Finally, after everything was cooked, I removed the wok from the burner and stirred in thinly sliced fresh basil.

I don’t know what it is about this recipe but the flavors meld together so well. You wouldn’t think it initially, but the basil adds the perfect touch at the end of the cooking process and is really key to bringing all the flavors together. And without the chili pepper it really was kid friendly. After my son recovered from the hot rice incident, he shoveled these little chicken chunks into his mouth with glee! So my food critics were happy and I was too! No leftovers here! Enjoy this quick, simple, and surprisingly flavorful dinner tonight!

Basil Chicken

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Chicken and Basil Stir Fry (adapted from Step-by-Step Asian Cookbook)

Yield: serves 3-4

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes or thin strips

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon peanut oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 fresh red chili, seeded and minced (optional)

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

small bunch of basil leaves, thinly sliced

steamed rice, for serving

Directions:

1. Cut the meat into 1-inch cubes. Place them in a bowl with soy sauce and cornstarch and stir to combine.

2. Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Stir fry the chicken, garlic, and chili pepper if using for 8-10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

3. Add the chili powder and hoisin and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the sliced basil. Serve over rice.

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Asian Chicken Lettuce Cups

Readers of The Dinner Pages are well aware that I’m not afraid of carbs. I mean, Banana Bread Butter Pecan Ice Cream Sandwiches and Red Velvet Molten Lava Cakes with Cream Cheese Ice Cream are not exactly light fare! But sometimes, in the midst of all those carbs, I need a break and need a quick, easy, meal that’s not so heavy. These Asian Chicken Lettuce Cups fit the bill!

Asian Chicken Lettuce Cups

I quickly browned ground chicken in a wok, then added shredded carrots for texture and color, and garlic and the whites of green onions for flavor. I stirred in a simple sauce containing hoisin, soy sauce, and some water, and let it thicken up briefly.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Cups

I served the chicken mixture on crisp lettuce leaves, garnished with green onions. The hoisin results in a slightly sweet flavor to the chicken, but it’s balanced by the saltiness of the soy sauce and the garlic. It’s a great dinner for the whole family. My toddler was literally trying to climb into his high chair to start eating it (a big change from the norm when he is kicking and flailing around to avoid sitting down to dinner!).

Of course, if you really miss your carbs, you can totally serve the chicken over steamed white rice! It’s great that way too!

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Asian Chicken Lettuce Cups (adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray, January/February 2014)

Yield: serves 4

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

1 pound ground chicken (or turkey)

1/2 cup matchstick carrots (or 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced)

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

4 green onions, whites and greens separated and chopped

1 head romaine lettuce (or the lettuce of your choice)

Directions:

1. Combine the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and 1/3 cup of water in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. In a large nonstick wok, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned, about 6-8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the carrot and the other tablespoon of oil. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Add the garlic and the whites of the green onions and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the hoisin mixture and cook until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.

4. Divide the lettuce leaves among 4 plates and top with the chicken. Garnish with green onions before serving.

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Soy Glazed Tofu

This quick and easy Soy Glazed Tofu is one of our favorites! We usually have most of the ingredients on hand so we can have one of our most requested dinners ready to go in minutes. We just introduced our son to this delicious meal too and he approved so it’s sure to stay in our rotation.

Soy Glazed Tofu

I know that a lot of people are intimidated by tofu. I agree that it seems a bit of a challenge as it just comes in a big white block of nothingness in a tub of water. What to do with it? It took me some practice before I was able to cook tofu in a way that I found edible. I’m really not sure why because now I do just fine without difficulty. Maybe it was just a matter of finding the right recipes…this is definitely one of them! Tofu Pad Thai and Crispy Tofu and Vegetables are other popular choices in our home.

I started off with firm (or extra firm) tofu as it stands up to stir frying better. I cut it into 1-inch cubes and laid the cubes on a paper towel-lined plate, covered with another paper towel, then another plate, for at least 15 minutes, pushing down occasionally. This helps to free excess fluid from the tofu, making it crispier when cooked.

In the meantime, I prepared the soy glaze. In a small saucepan, I combined seasoned rice vinegar (you can get this in the vinegar section in most supermarkets, or check the Asian section), freshly squeezed orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, and some orange zest and brought it to a boil, then reduced the heat and simmered until thick, stirring intermittently while cooking the tofu.

Getting back to the tofu, I heated dark toasted sesame oil in a large wok over medium-high heat, then cooked the tofu until lightly golden brown, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid sticking/burning. Using a nonstick wok or skillet will help prevent the tofu from falling apart (one of my early problems with cooking tofu). Once the tofu was cooked, I removed it from the heat, poured in the soy glaze, and garnished with chopped green onions and sesame seeds.

Soy Glazed Tofu

The sweetness from the orange juice and brown sugar contrasts nicely with savory soy sauce and vinegar, and the flavor of the toasted sesame oil resulting in a fantastic dish. We usually serve it with white rice. It would pair nicely with freshly steamed broccoli as well. This is a meatless meal that you can have ready for your family within 30 minutes. So challenge yourself…try cooking with tofu!

Soy Glazed Tofu

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Soy Glazed Tofu (adapted from Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2010)

Yield: serves 4

1 12-ounce package firm tofu

3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon dark toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions (for garnish)

1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds (for garnish)

Directions:

1. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes. Place the cubes on a plate lined with a paper towel, cover with another paper towel, then another plate. Let sit for at least 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the rice vinegar, orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, and orange zest. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer until thick, stirring intermittently.

3. In a large nonstick wok or skillet, heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the tofu cubes to the pan, and cook for about 10 minutes, until light golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, add the sauce, garnish with green onions and sesame seeds, and serve right away.

Per serving: 130 calories, 5 grams fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)

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Check out these other tofu recipes from The Dinner Pages:

Soba Noodle Salad with Vegetables and Tofu

Crispy Tofu and Vegetables

Tofu Pad Thai

Check out other recipes submitted to the Cook Your Books link up… cookyourbooks

Chinese Almond Cookies

Chinese New Year is this week. This year is the year of the Horse. Now, I’m not Chinese but I am all about celebrating any holiday that involves good cuisine, plus I think their zodiac characteristics are interesting. I was born in the year of the Sheep. Supposedly that means I’m wise, gentle, and compassionate (hopefully true) but also a worrier (definitely true) and weak-willed and puzzled about life (not true at all, I’m fairly outspoken and very determined and driven). My baby was born in the year of the Dragon. Apparently this has a high reputation in Chinese culture and I hope for him, that this bodes well for his future success.

Chinese Almond Cookies

If you’ve been reading my blog for a little while (well it’s only been around for 3 months so no one has been reading it for a long while), you may have noticed that I post a lot of recipes featuring Asian style ingredients and flavors. We are huge fans of the varied cuisines from all across Asia and since having a baby we don’t get out quite as much as we used to so we try to replicate these meals at home. One thing I miss about the Chinese buffets we used to eat at from time to time was the almond cookies for dessert. After a heavy meals, the almond flavored cookies always hit the spot. They’re less bland than fortune cookies but aren’t overly filling to tip you over from pleasantly full to overstuffed, as can so easily happen at a buffet. These homemade cookies are a bit cakier than those at the buffets however they’re still nice and crispy.

Chinese Almond Cookies

I’m celebrating the Chinese New Year with a batch of these Almond Cookies. And maybe some Lo Mein or Asian Glazed Chicken Wings while I ponder my fate after being born in the Year of the Sheep. Under what Chinese zodiac sign were you born under? Do the characteristics fit?

Chinese Almond Cookies

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Chinese Almond Cookies (adapted from Great Cookies)

Yield: approximately 40 cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup granulated sugar, divided

2 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

1 egg white, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon of water

40 whole blanched almonds (about 1/3 cup)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line 2 cookie sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

2. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the shortening and 3/4 cup sugar with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat to combine, then add the almond extract.

4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients and beat until combined.

5. Place rounded walnut-sized balls of dough (heaping teaspoonfuls) onto the cookie sheets about 2 inches apart and flatten slightly with your palm to make a 1 1/2 inch round.

6. Brush the cookies with the egg white and water wash. Top with a blanched almond and lightly sprinkle with the remaining granulated sugar.

7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack.

Per cookie: 88 calories, 5 grams fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)

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Garlic Edamame

Have you ever gone to an Asian restaurant and enjoyed steamed edamame (soy beans) as an appetizer? They’re generally served still in pods and are delicious when lightly salted and a healthier alternative to fried eggrolls and such. It’s easy to get the same effect at home, just boil the edamame pods for about 10 minutes, lightly sprinkle with salt and that’s it. Use your teeth to get the individual edamames out from the pods. I’m not sure if the pods are really edible but they impart a lovely salted flavor when eaten like this. Edamame also make a tasty appetizer or side dish when entertaining. Serve them family style, and make sure to have extra empty bowls for people to deposit their empty edamame pods. You can even serve them alongside your chips and salsa and wings for game day.

Garlic Edamame

In exploring my Hawaiian cookbooks, I came across this recipe for Garlic Edamame and immediately knew it would be on my menu for the week. I love edamame and I really really love garlic and needed a side for the Pineapple Curry Stir Fry meal. So Garlic Edamame it was.

The soy beans are cooked in pods in boiling salted water for about 10 minutes as I described above, then drained. In the meantime, I prepared a compound butter, which is just butter with other added ingredients to provide extra flavor. I used a stick of butter and combined it with a healthy dose of garlic, some minced shallot, a touch of Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, some lemon juice, and a pinch of dried parsley. If your butter is at room temperature it will be easier to combine. Use your hands to get all the flavors melded, if you need to…that’s what I had to do since my butter was a little cold and the paddle attachment for my mixer was in the sink.

Then I melted the compound butter in a large wok over medium heat, and added olive oil and even more garlic, sauteeing the garlic until it began to brown slightly. I tossed the cooked soy beans into the lovely garlicky sauce and finished with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Despite the quantity of garlic in this recipe, it wasn’t overwhelming at all. My husband, who does not favor garlic quite as much as I do (sorry, honey) enjoyed them with me, but you can definitely cut back on the garlic a bit if you’re not a fan. Try edamame for a game day snack, an appetizer at your next dinner party, or as a side with dinner and take it to a new level with Garlic Edamame. Make sure to share it with someone you love.

Garlic Edamame

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Garlic Edamame (adapted from Star Advertiser By Request 2)

2 pounds frozen soy beans (edamame) in pods

salt, for the boiling water

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

8-9 cloves garlic, minced, divided (can reduce amount if desired)

1 teaspoon minced shallot

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus more to taste

pinch of dried parsley

2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

1. Boil the edamame pods in well-salted water for about 10 minutes. Drain.

2. Prepare the compound butter by combining the butter, 1 tablespoon of the minced garlic, shallot, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and a pinch of parsley in a bowl until the butter is slightly softened and all the ingredients are mixed evenly.

3. Melt the butter in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and the remaining minced garlic and saute until the garlic starts to lightly brown. Remove from the heat and stir in the edamame. Toss to coat with the butter sauce. Garnish with a squeeze of lemon juice to taste.

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Pineapple Curry Stir Fry

As we approach mid-winter, with its dreary gray cold days and heaps of snow in some parts of the country, it’s easy to dream about somewhere a bit more tropical than the east coast I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy several wonderful vacations over the years but the tropical locale I’ve visited so far that stands out in my mind the most is our 50th state, Hawaii. My husband and I spent our first Hawaiian vacation exploring Oahu. We hit the typical tourist stops to include Pearl Harbor, the Dole Pineapple Plantation, Waikiki, snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, and hiking up Diamond Head (which turned out to be a crazy experience…but I’ve save that story for another day).

Hawaii

On our second trip to Hawaii, we first visited Moloka’i. I wanted to experience the old leprosy colony since I find the history fascinating and my husband agreed to it because we got to ride mules down sea cliffs, the highest sea cliffs in the world. Nerve wracking, to say the least, but totally worth it.

Molokai'i

My mule took me up and down this cliff!!

My mule took me up and down this cliff!!

Then we went island hopping on a cruise and got a taste for Maui, the Big Island, and Kauai’i. I look forward to getting back to Hawaii someday. Though not yet because the thought of that long of a flight with my little son induces a panic attack.

Hawaiian cuisine is a fusion of Pacific Rim (Asian-American), Hawaiian regional, ethnic cooking from the multiple nationalities that make up the population, as well as local favorites and ends up being quite diverse in flavors and ingredients. It may be cliche but I made it my business to eat pineapple, in some form, every single day while vacationing in Hawaii. We even planted some at the pineapple plantation to help replenish the supply.

Gecko at Pineapple Plantation

I made sure to bring home a few cookbooks with me as souvenirs and this week, I’ll share several recipes I discovered from those books. Are they traditional Hawaiian cuisine? I’m not totally sure. But the flavors sure do remind me of a sunnier, warmer time. Aloha!

We’ll start with this Pineapple Curry Stir Fry showing off the local food (pineapple) and the Asian influence. There is some spice to this dish but it’s nicely tempered by the sweetness of the pineapple. We used tofu as the protein in this meal but boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into small chunks would work great as well. After cooking minced onion on low heat to sweat out the flavor, garlic, ginger, and several other spices (essentially creating your own curry mixture) are added in along with the tofu (or chicken). After it’s cooked slightly, it’s simmered on low until cooked through, then pineapple is added. Use fresh pineapple if you have it available but canned works just fine. Coconut milk (which also brings back Hawaiian memories…I did not know you could eat the skin of a coconut!), cashews, and a little cilantro are stirred in to finish it off and the curry is served over rice.

Pineapple Curry Stir Fry

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Pineapple Curry Stir Fry (adapted from Best of the Best from Hawaii)

Yield: serves 4

1 package of firm or extra firm tofu (or 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 yellow onions, finely minced

3 cloves garlic (about 2 teaspoons)

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnmon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup water

fresh lemon juice, to taste (I used 1 tablespoon)

salt, to taste (I used 1/4 teaspoon)

1 cup diced pineapple (fresh or canned)

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup cashew nuts (I used salted but unsalted would work too)

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

rice, for serving (optional)

Directions:

1. Drain the tofu and cut it into 1 inch cubes. Let sit on a plate lined with paper towels covered with more paper towels and another plate to get some of the liquid out. If using chicken, cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces.

2. In a large deep skillet, heat the oil over low heat and saute the onion until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and other spices to the skillet along with the tofu or chicken. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

3. Add the water, and lemon juice and salt to taste then cover the skillet and let simmer over low heat for 6-7 minutes.

4. Stir in the pineapple and let simmer for another 4 minutes.

5. Add in the coconut milk, cashews, and cilantro. Stir together and cook for 1 minute. Serve hot over rice.

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Asian Spiced Chicken Noodle Soup

In my soba noodle salad post, I promised a recipe to use up the other half of a napa cabbage so at long last, here it is. It’s still January so it’s still National Soup Month plus in our house we really enjoy using Asian flavors in our cooking. This Asian Spiced Chicken Noodle Soup was derived from a recipe in Parents magazine. The original recipe was a bit bland, probably because it was intended for little kids, but with a few modifications it morphed into a flavorful soup suitable for the whole family–even with the spices it wasn’t too much for my toddler to handle. He slurped it right down. And my husband had thirds. If that’s not a marker of success, I don’t know what is!

Asian Spiced Chicken Noodle Soup

We all know that chicken soup is dubbed Jewish penicillin. Aside from being a quick and nutritious weeknight anytime meal, this soup may help you feel a little better if you’re suffering from a mid-winter cold. While it’s not totally clear why chicken soup is such a comfort food during illness (for me, ice cream works well too, haha), the steamy vapors from a hot bowl of soup may improve congestion and the soothing broth provides extra hydration. So it’s worth a shot since it tastes better than cough syrup anyway.

Asian Spiced Noodle Soup

The first part of this recipe involves making a gingery broth, flavored with the whites of green onions. I also cooked chicken thighs during this stage. Once the chicken was cooked, I shredded it with two forks and returned it to the pot to make the rest of the soup. At that time I added the thinly sliced napa cabbage, snow peas cut into thirds, and pad Thai rice noodles. When the noodles were tender, I added a little soy sauce then seasoned the soup with salt, pepper, and Thai spice. The original recipe called for just salt and pepper but I tasted the broth at that point and it was too bland. Thai spice, which I got from Spice Sage, one of my favorite places to purchase various spices and herbs (thanks Dad for recommending it!), fixed that problem. Thai spice is a mixture of ginger, basil, cumin, cardamom, garlic, cilantro, pepper, and turmeric. If you don’t have Thai spice, you could try adding some of those seasonings to taste. Alternately, Chinese five spice powder (which includes cinnamon, anise, pepper, cloves, allspice, and fennel) would also work well–and yes, I realize that’s more than 5 spices. Slurp up!

Asian Spiced Noodle Soup

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Asian Spiced Chicken Noodle Soup (adapted from Parents Magazine, January 2014 issue)

Yield: serves 6

3 green onions
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/2 head of napa cabbage, thinly sliced
8 ounces brown rice pad Thai noodles
8 ounces snow peas, cut into thirds
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
Salt, pepper, and spices such as Thai spice to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon Thai spice)

Directions:
1. Separate the white part of the the green onions from the green part. Place the white part into a large Dutch oven and thinly slice the green parts for topping the soup later.
2. To the Dutch oven, add the chicken thighs, broth, and ginger, along with 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for another 15 minutes.
3. Remove the onions from the broth. Remove the chicken and shred with two forks, then return the shredded chicken to the pot and bring back to a boil.
4. Add the cabbage, noodles, and snow peas to the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until the noodles are tender. Stir in the soy sauce and seasonings. Taste the broth and adjust the flavors as needed. Top with the sliced green onions and serve.

Per serving: 280 calories, 7 grams fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)

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Ginger Chicken Noodle Bowl

Every time it gets cold out, my husband asks for this noodle bowl for dinner. We’ve been making it for 6 years now and it is still a favorite of his (and mine too). Because it’s one of his preferred meals, he usually ends up cooking it too. When I walked in the door and this was almost ready for dinner the other night, I nearly swooned with how good the house smelled. The Chinese five spice powder with the cumin emits the most wonderful fragrance and makes this dish even more appetizing.

GInger Chicken Noodle Bowl

It’s a quick meal to make too, originally derived from one of the Rachael Ray 30 minute meal varieties so it’s a great choice for dinner, and a one pot meal to boot, so clean up is also fast. After browning chicken thighs in a large dutch oven, garlic, ginger, carrots, and the spices including the cumin and five spice powder are added. Chicken stock joins in followed by some vermicelli or spaghetti. Once the noodles are cooked, scallions and bean sprouts are stirred in and dinner is ready. Its distinctive flavor is just so delicious and is a soup we make again and again.

Ginger Chicken Noodle Bowl______________________________

Ginger Chicken Noodle Bowl (adapted from Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats)

Yield: serves 4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces

6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 cup matchstick carrots

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder

6 cups chicken stock

1/2 pound vermicelli or spaghetti

4 green onions, cut into 2 1/2 inch matchsticks

2 cups fresh bean sprouts

Directions:

1. Heat a dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and after it is heated, add the chicken and brown it lightly, about 3 minutes.

2. Add in the garlic, ginger, carrots, cumin, and five spice powder, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

3. Add the vermicelli then reduce to a simmer for 3 minutes. Add the green onions and bean sprouts. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Information:

Per serving: 460 calories, 14 grams of fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)

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Soba Noodle Salad with Vegetables and Tofu

Soba noodles, also known as buckwheat noodles, are a traditional New Year’s food in Japan. It is thought that the length of the noodles symbolizes longevity in life, which of course is a good thing to hope for going into a new year. Aside from the length of the noodles, this dish may help contribute to a long life because it’s really good for you. I know a lot of people make various healthy eating resolutions starting January 1st and this recipe won’t derail you. Over the next few weeks I’m planning to feature a number of nutritious and lower calorie meals that will help you to achieve your resolutions. I’ll put the nutrition information at the bottom of the recipe. If there’s not nutrition info, more than likely you just don’t want to know (or my 15 month old son just wouldn’t go to bed so I didn’t have time to calculate everything, which is a distinct possibility these days)!

This dish is satisfying thanks to delicious sweet and spicy Asian flavors. The distinctive flavor of sesame oil is enhanced by the sweetness of brown sugar and orange juice, and spiced up with some chile paste, ginger, and garlic. The salad is served cold, but I really prefer cooked tofu so instead of “raw” tofu as called for in the original recipe, I seasoned and broiled it to crisp it up a little and add more flavor.

Soba Noodle Salad with Vegetables and Tofu

This salad contains tofu and long soba noodles for a long life. Other than cooking those, which requires minimal hands on time, this is a quick weeknight meal to put together. The salad veggies include napa cabbage, bean sprouts, and carrots and provide a nice crunch in contrast to the noodles and tofu. A bagged coleslaw mix could be substituted for the napa cabbage if you’re really in a rush. I’ll share another use for napa cabbage soon too so any leftovers don’t go to waste.

Soba Noodle Salad with Vegetables and Tofu

I want to wish all of The Dinner Pages readers a safe New Year’s celebration and a happy and healthy 2014! For this blog, which has only been around for 2 months, I hope to continue to bring you delicious, family friendly, and (mostly) healthy recipes. Let me know what you’d like to see more of and I will get cooking!

Soba Noodle Salad with Vegetables and Tofu

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Soba Noodle Salad with Vegetables and Tofu (adapted from Cooking Light Complete Meals in Minutes)

Yield: 4-5 servings

Dressing:

1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic (or finely minced fresh garlic)

1 teaspoon chile paste with garlic

Salad:

1 package (12-14 ounces) firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes

nonstick cooking spray

salt and pepper

1 8-10 ounce package of soba noodles (can substitute whole wheat spaghetti)

half a head of napa (Chinese) cabbage (about 3-4 cups), thinly sliced

2 cups fresh bean sprouts

1 cup shredded carrot

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions:

1. Prepare the salad dressing by placing the first 9 ingredients (under dressing) in a small mixing bowl and combining with a whisk. Set aside.

2. To prepare the tofu, coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place the cubes of tofu in a bowl and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste. Transfer the cubes to the baking sheet and broil on high for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden, turning the cubes over once halfway through.

3. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil then add the soba noodles and cook according to package directions, about 4 minutes. Drain the noodles, rinse in cold water, then drain again.

4. In a large bowl, combine the tofu, noodles, cabbage, sprouts, carrot, and cilantro. Top with the dressing and toss together to combine.

Nutrition Information:

For 1/4 of the salad: 371 calories, 9 grams of fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)

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Asian Glazed Chicken Wings

This deliciously different game day recipe makes use of a really helpful appliance, the slow cooker. My husband and I were a bit slow on the uptake with regard to slow cookers. Honestly we bought one about 7 years ago, used it once or twice, and actually had it in our “donate” box until my son came along and all of a sudden, the slow cooker came in from the garage and we asked ourselves what we had been thinking by shunning it for all those years! So I was very excited when Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2 was one of the lightning deals on Amazon recently and I managed to snag a copy for almost half price. This is the first recipe we’ve tried from this book and based on our success, I imagine there will be more to come.

asian glazed chicken wings

These glazed wings are a slight departure from your standard Buffalo wings. They’re sweet thanks to plenty of hoisin sauce but a bit of Sriracha packs just the right amount of spice. This recipe doesn’t lend itself to starting in the morning and leaving it in the slow cooker all day for dinner like some others do. You could do that, but it only needs to be in the slow cooker for about 3 to 4 hours so it’ll just spend most of the day hanging out if you start it before work. I think it lends itself better to a weekend treat. If you prep it after brunch you’ll have wings ready in plenty of time before kickoff.

asian glazed chicken wings

The technique was a little different from other slow cooker wings I’ve made in the past. We first coated the chicken wings with a flavorful dry rub and cooked them on low for a few hours. I expected them to be dried out from cooking them without added liquid, but that wasn’t the case at all. After that, we broiled them on a baking sheet for 10 minutes, until they were nice and crispy on the outside.

asian glazed chicken wings

I took them out from the broiler, brushed them with a hoisin-rice vinegar-Sriracha sauce and broiled some more, flipping halfway through to brush again. A final coat of sauce after broiling made sure the wings were sticky and delicious.

Serve with eggrolls for some themed appetizers or serve with rice for an anytime entree.

asian glazed chicken wings

Some notes:
-Using split wings will save you some time. You can certainly split whole wings yourself, like we did, but it would have been faster not to

-If you use Lee Kum Kee Hoisin sauce, it comes in an 8.5 ounce jar. Just use the whole jar, then you don’t need to measure, it’s close enough to a cup.

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Asian Glazed Wings (adapted with minimal changes from Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2)

1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 pounds split chicken wings

1 cup hoisin sauce

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce

nonstick cooking spray

green onions, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, ginger, garlic, salt, and pepper. Rub the mixture over the chicken wings and place them in a 5 1/2 to 7 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours, until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

2. Adjust the top oven rack so it is about 10 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler. Place a metal rack on top of an aluminum foil lined baking sheet and spray with nonstick spray. Transfer the chicken wings to the rack and broil for about 10 minutes until crisp, flipping the wings halfway through. Discard the liquid in the crock pot.

3. While the chicken is broiling, combine the hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, and Sriracha in a bowl. After the first 10 minutes of broiling, remove the wings from the oven and brush with about 1/3 of the sauce. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes. Turn the wings over, brush with another 1/3 of the sauce and broil for 5 more minutes. Remove from the oven, brush with the remaining sauce. Garnish with green onions, if desired, and serve.

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