Chopped Chicken Salad

As summer comes upon us, the weather gets warmer, and I want to spend more time in the pool and less time in the kitchen, I find myself craving dinners that are refreshing, easy, and still filling.  Salads with protein are one of my favorite ways to get in some vegetables and a hearty dinner without spending hours over a hot stove.  This chopped chicken salad makes a ton – so if you are only serving a few, you’ll have leftovers for a few days of lunch.  Alternatively, served with cold beers and a killer dessert, it’s great when you have company, too (it’s beautiful to serve).  It’s also one of those meals that you can mix up the ingredients on based on what you need to use up in the fridge – the cabbage and carrots are a must to me, but any other crunchy vegetables would work well, too.  I use finely diced grilled chicken, but any leftover protein would work (shrimp. beef, even tofu).

I’m also excited to share that I’ll be sharing nutrition information for my recipes.  I’ve been pregnant and/or breastfeeding continuously for the past 3 and a half years, so being aware of my calorie intake is important.  I certainly believe that there’s a time and place for splurges (um, see the cheesecake I posted last month), so meals like this that pack in a lot of protein and vegetables without a ton of calories make for a great hearty lunch or dinner – especially when there’s great dessert to be had.  I hope you enjoy this new feature.

Chopped Chicken Salad

2 grilled chicken breasts

1 small head purple cabbage

3-4 carrots

3-4 green onions

1 mango

small handful of chopped roasted peanuts

small handful of cilantro

for the dressing;

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp sriracha

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2T honey

1/2 cup peanut butter

2T lime juice

2T sesame or olive oil

2T fish sauce

1/2 cup water

1. Chop the cabbage and finely slice the carrots and arrange in a bowl.  Finely dice the green onions and mango.  Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and arrange all in the bowl.  Top with chopped peanuts and cilantro.

2. Stir all of the dressing ingredients together until combined (unless you’re using natural peanut butter, the emulsifiers in the pb will keep it from separating).  Either dress the salad or serve with the dressing on the side (my preference).

Nutrition information:

272 calories for 1/8 of the salad and the dressing.  Note that this does not include the peanuts, which can account for a lot of calories if you aren’t careful.  They aren’t completely necessary, but if you add, say, a tablespoon, you’re adding about 80 calories.  I typically skip them unless it’s dinner and I need some extra protein and calories.

13g fat

10g cholesterol

20g carbs

13g sugars

18g protein

 

Miso Salmon

In the past decade of dating/being married to my husband he’s made a lot of requests in the food department.  I enjoy a challenge and, with the exception of one ill-conceived and poorly executed pesto, he’s always been happy to eat everything I make.  Lately he’s suggested more seafood and I have been trying some new fish dishes.  We cook with shrimp a lot, but other fish is not my wheelhouse – I am not experienced enough to make substitutes well based on what’s available.  I also have been generally opposed to salmon – it seems like salmon got trendy in the early 2000s and it was everywhere and generally poorly prepared and I just got tired of it.  I never buy it, but it was on sale at the grocery store and Ross wanted more fish, so I gave it a try.

This dish might be the single easiest dinner I’ve ever made.  It takes 3 minutes of prep the night before and 10 minutes of cooking the day of.  That’s it.  I’ve served it with rice and with quinoa, usually with grilled asparagus on the side.  It’s insanely good.  The miso paste may be hard to find, I located it at Whole Foods.  It’s fermented soybean paste – so it stays good forever in the refrigerator.  Whether you’re a long time salmon lover or a salmon skeptic, give this a try.  Mostly because you can make it in 11 minutes.  You do need to marinate it overnight, so keep that in mind.

Miso Salmon

adapted from Keepers by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion

2/3 cup red miso paste

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

3 Tbsp brown sugar

1lb of salmon filets (at my grocery store, this means 2 long filets so I cut eat in half to get four pieces)

1. Place the miso paste, vinegar, and brown sugar in a large ziploc bag or tupperware and mix together until combined.  Add the fish, making sure to coat all sides, and place in the refrigerator overnight.

2. When you’re ready to eat, line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, spray or brush with a little olive oil, and heat the oven to 400.  Arrange the salmon pieces on the foil skin side downand bake for 6 minutes, flip them over, and bake an additional 4 minutes, until you’re just able to flake the fish with a spatula.

Chicken Pad-ish Thai

Pad Thai is one of my favorite dishes of all time.  The tang of lime, crunch of peanuts, savory noodles – it’s my go-to at any new Thai restaurant.  Ross requested Pad Thai for dinner last week and, after scouring about a hundred recipes, it seemed like all of them required specialty ingredients.  I’m sure that using one of those recipes would yield a more authentic taste, but I couldn’t really picture dragging my toddler and baby across town to an Asian market where I was unfamiliar with the layout, restrooms, and exit strategy.  So I wanted ingredients I could easily find at Safeway or, better yet, my pantry.

I came up with this recipe and it is really delicious, but you could hardly call it authentic.  It lacks tamarind paste, rice noodles, tofu (due to my sucking at cooking tofu, not availability), and bean sprouts.  But if you’re looking for a noodle dish that’s spicy, a little sweet, and has a lovely peanutty taste, then this is your dish.  You could certainly substitute any protein here – I had intended to make it with shrimp, but the ones at our store looked pitiful this week, so I used two leftover grilled chicken breasts.

 

Chicken Pad-ish Thai

12 oz. linguine noodles (or spaghetti or vermicelli)

1/3 cup fish sauce

2T honey

2T sesame oil

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2T lime juice

1 tsp sriracha

1/2 cup water

1 shallot (or half an onion, if that’s what you have)

3 cloves garlic

2 eggs

4 green onions

handful of fresh cilantro

1/2 cup chopped, roasted peanuts

lime wedges for serving

oil for cooking

1. Boil the pasta according to package directions, I usually boil for 20% less time than it suggests (so 8 minutes if it says 10 – taste and see).  Meanwhile whisk the fish sauce, honey, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sriracha, lime juice, and water together in a small bowl and set aside.  Mince the garlic and shallot, slice the green onions.  Lightly beat the eggs.

2. In a large pot or wok, heat 2T of oil over high heat.  Add the shallot and garlic to the pan and cook for a few minutes until fragrant, about a minute.  Add the eggs and stir constantly to scramble the eggs – about 30 seconds.  Add the cooked noodles, green onions, and chicken, then toss the mixture together.  Pour the sauce over the top and allow it all to cook together for a few minutes.

3. Chop the cilantro and peanuts for garnish.  Serve warm with cilantro, peanuts, and a lime wedge.

 

Thai beef stir fry

In our efforts to add more Asian dishes to our repertoire, stir fry has become a mainstay.  My favorite thing about stir fry is that virtually all of the work is done in prep, so once you’re there it’s just a few minutes of cooking and then you’re ready to serve!  This particular stir fry is loaded with veggies and really is a complete meal in one dish.  We served ours with quinoa instead of rice (due to not having any rice), and honestly I think I prefer the quinoa in this case – it really soaks up the sauce and is a little fluffier.

You can substitute, add, or omit any of the vegetables involved if you don’t like them, don’t have them, or whatever.  That’s my favorite thing about stir fry – it’s great for a “clean out the fridge night” (Friday, in our case, as our trash pickup is Saturday).

Thai Beef Stir Fry

1 cup dry quinoa or rice

1 lb beef, cut into small strips – I used some thin-cut steaks that were on sale.  The cut isn’t really important

2 garlic cloves

a small piece of ginger

1 red chile (half if you don’t like spicy dishes)

8 oz mushrooms

1 large carrot

1 bell pepper

6 oz sugar snap peas

2 green onions

a few sprigs of basil

olive oil

For the sauce:

3T soy sauce

2T oyster sauce

2T fish sauce

2T rice vinegar

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp cornstarch

3T water

1. Rinse and cook the quinoa according to package directions.  Cut the beef into small strips.  Peel and mince the garlic, ginger, and red chile.  Chop the mushrooms, the carrot, the bell pepper, and the green onions.  Chop up the basil and set aside.  Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.  Congrats!  You’re almost done.

2. Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a wok (or big frying pan) until hot and sear the beef until the outside is brown, but the beef isn’t completely cooked (it will cook more later).  Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.

3. Add a little more oil and stir fry the garlic, ginger, and red chile until fragrant (a minute or so).  Then add the mushrooms, carrots, and about 1/4 cup of water.  After another minute or so add the bell pepper, snow peas, and green onions.  Stir fry another few minutes until the vegetables are a little tender (check the carrot).

4. Add the meat back into the stir fry and pour the sauce over the top, stirring to coat everything.  Once the sauce has soaked up into the stir fry, turn off the heat.  Serve the stir fry over quinoa and top with a little basil.

Source: Adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite

Vegetable Lo Mein

One of my goals for 2014 was to incorporate more Asian cuisine into our menu.  Some dishes, I’m really excited about (hot & sour soup, eggrolls, thai shrimp), but vegetable lo mein wasn’t high on my list.  See, when I think of it, my mind immediately goes to the sad vat of colorless vegetables and greasy noodles at Panda Express, where, when given the choice, I always choose the fried rice.  However, I’m a sucker for a vegetable dish, so I decided to start my quest with this dish.  I’m so very glad I did because it was wonderful.  The vegetables were crisp, the noodles were flavorful, and the whole dish was really comforting.  Also, I typically associate Asian cuisine with spice, which I adore, but my dear toddler does not.  This dish isn’t spicy at all and my little girl really liked it, so that makes it a win for sure.

I was able to find all of the ingredients at my standard grocery store.  The chow mein noodles came in 6oz. packages, sort of a tray wrapped in cellophane.  I bought 3 of them, so I had a little more than a pound, which was fine.

wpid-20140114_193400.jpg

Vegetable Lo Mein

Serves 4-6

1 lb. chow mein noodles

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 T fish sauce

2T oyster sauce

2T sesame oil

1 onion

1 bell pepper

4T olive oil

1/2 lb. shiitake mushrooms

1 zucchini

1/2 lb. broccoli

1 inch of fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves

1. Boil the noodles according to package directions (about 4 minutes).  Strain and toss with about a tablespoon of oil (vegetable, olive, whatever) to keep the noodles from sticking together.  Chop the onion, bell pepper, zucchini, and mushrooms.   Peel and mince the garlic and ginger.  Cut the broccoli into small pieces, removing most of the stems.

2. Whisk the oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, and 1/4 cup of water together in a small bowl and set aside.  Heat 2T of olive oil in a large skillet (or better yet, a wok or dutch oven) over high heat and cook the onion and bell peppers until softened, about 2 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and zucchini and stir fry until they start to brown, about 3 more minutes.  Scoop the vegetables onto a plate or bowl and set aside.

3. Add 1T of olive oil to the hot pan and cook the ginger and garlic for about 30 seconds until fragrant.  Then add the noodles and cook for about 4 minutes, turning occasionally.  Then, add the vegetables back in and toss in the broccoli.  Pour the sauce over the whole thing and use tongs to toss the mixture together until the liquid is absorbed and the broccoli is slightly tender.

Source: Adapted from Williams Sonoma.