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Chinese(-ish)

Let’s talk about the real reason that I did not cook anything last week.

Settle down, it is not that exciting. Two very minor setbacks collided causing kitchen use to grind to a complete halt.

Problem #1: See all that clutter on my counter?

It could have easily been piled up in one corner of the counter, but what you are looking at are carefully stacked, organized piles of “to do”. Combining the piles was not an option.

That doesn’t look organized to you?

Those piles have clear visual signals to my eyes: “to read”, “to file”, “to pay”, “to mail”, and “to keep for long enough on the counter that you eventually feel absolved of all responsibility to do any of the former”.

I think that last item should be relabeled “to trash”, but let’s not worry too much about semantics.

Problem #2: Way too many masks on the counter.

Chris has a mask problem We have a mask collection, so naturally while we were on vacation, we collected a few new treasures to compliment the 18 fine specimens that are already hanging on our walls.

Hold it! You have 18 masks hanging on your walls?

That’s right folks. They decidedly take up more wall real estate than anything else we own. Thankfully only 9 of them are visible from the living room. It would terrify most small children.

Anyway, these two guys and their third rafiki spent all of last week on the only bit of counter space not already being used in our complex paperwork organization scheme (hidden by Chris in the photos).  

Technically, I could have just moved three items off of our counter and had plenty of space to cook, but trust me, it seemed like an insurmountable task. Instead we survived for a week on dinners of mashed potatoes topped with ketchup and barbecue sauce.

Thankfully, our kitchen is back to normal now and we can resume eating actual meals.

Adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles.

Ingredients:

  • 2 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts, 12 to 16 ounces each, cooked and shredded
  • olive oil spray
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken broth (I used fat-free reduced sodium broth.)
  • 12 ounces shiitakes, stemmed discarded, caps sliced thin (I substituted baby bellas.)
  • 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions:

  • Sauté the leeks, ginger and garlic in a light spray of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until the leeks soften, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the water and broth; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms and chicken to the broth mixture and simmer for several more minutes.
  • Stir in the rice vinegar, soy sauce, chile oil, sesame oil, and cilantro.
  • Serve.

Servings ~ 6
Calories ~ 108, Fat ~ 3.6 g, Carbohydrates ~ 9.7 g, Protein ~ 10.4 g

Do you get much snow where you live?

I would typically say that we do not get much snow here, but this winter may prove me wrong. We have gotten measurable snow at least three times so far this season and if this trend continues it will likely be our snowiest winter in Southern Indiana to date.

“Much snow” is a pretty relative thing, isn’t it? Chris saw snow falling from the sky for the first time about four years ago whereas I just always remember having snow.

I was lucky enough to witness Chris’ first snow day from school while we were at Purdue.

He literally went out to play in it. Well, he took his monster truck of a Jeep out in the snow anyway.

Chris had a lot of newish cold weather experiences that year. He had been snowboarding before, but wasn’t exactly a snowboarder until that winter. He went for his second ice skate. You get the idea.

This is a picture of Chris and I during his second ice skating experience…my nose looks a bit cold.

Do you prefer a white Christmas or do you like for it to be warm enough to eat Christmas dinner outside? Chris and I are definitely split on this one!

Adapted from Peasant Cuisine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
  • olive oil spray
  • 1 medium head of bok choy, washed and chopped (stalks and leaves)
  • 64 oz vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

Directions:

  • Sauté the onions, garlic, ginger and carrots using a bit of olive oil sprayed into the bottom of a large pot until the onions turn transparent.
  • Stir in the bok choy and continue to cook until it begins to wilt.
  • Add vegetable broth and soy sauce, then simmer until the carrots become tender.
  • Optional: Stir in some soba noodles to make it a meal, just be sure to stir them in one bowl at a time so that they don’t become soggy.

Servings ~ 6
Calories (without soba) ~ 62, Fat ~ 1 g, Carbohydrates ~ 11 g, Protein ~ 4 g

From the moment I saw these on Shelby’s blog, I knew that I needed to try them. She always has tasty looking dinners, and this one was no exception.

Shrimp rangoons were a major win in my book. They took just minutes to put together and in my typical style, I was able to have the whole kitchen cleaned up before they were out of the oven.

Excellent “after work” dinner choice. Equally good for a snack or appetizer. Best of all, this dish gets the “we can serve this to other people” seal of approval.

After I put my rangoons in the oven and shifted my focus to the dipping sauce, I realized that I was missing one key component from Shelby’s recipe: apricot preserves.

I searched high and low for a good substitute, but all of our preserves were berry flavored. Berry dipping sauce just didn’t seem right.

By the time Chris got home from work, I was feeding him a spoonful of sweet and spicy red dipping sauce out of the food processor and asking “Does this taste like an Asian-ish dipping sauce to you?”

It did. Peach pineapple chipotle salsa puréed into oblivion and masquerading as Chinese dipping sauce.  Sweet (and spicy) success!

 

From Shelby at eat, drink, run

Ingredients:

For the rangoons:

  • 6 oz salad shrimp, ours came pre-cooked, peeled, and w/o tails
  • 12 wonton wrappers
  • 1/4 cup low-fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chili paste (or sub 1/2 tsp Sriracha)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • olive oil spray

For my sauce:

For Shelby’s sauce: (I didn’t try this one because we had no apricot preserves, but I imagine that it would be tasty as well and the ingredients are probably easier to find.)

  • 2 tbsp apricot preserves
  • 1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • splash of soy sauce

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • If your shrimp are damp, put them on a baking sheet in the oven for a few minutes as it heats to dry them out.
  • Combine cream cheese, scallions, honey, vinegar, soy sauce, chili paste, garlic and sesame oil.  Stir until smooth.
  • Lightly spray a 12-cup muffin tin with olive oil spray, ensuring that each cup’s bottom and sides are coated.
  • Press a wonton wrapper in to each cup.
  • Place about 3 small shrimp in the bottom of each cup reserving 12 shrimp for toppers.
  • Divide cream cheese mixture among cups, spooning it on top of the shrimp.
  • Place one shrimp in each cup on top of the cream cheese mixture.
  • Bake until edges of wontons are brown and crisp, about 12-15 minutes.
  • To make my sauce: combine ingredients in food processor, pulse until smooth.
  • To make Shelby’s sauce: stir together all ingredients.

Servings ~ 2

Calories (rangoons) ~ 361, Fat ~ 10 g, Carbohydrates ~ 41 g, Protein ~ 26 g 
Calories (rangoons w/my sauce) ~ 465, Fat ~ 10 g, Carbohydrates ~ 69 g, Protein ~ 26 g
Calories (rangoons w/Shelby’s sauce) ~ 422, Fat ~ 10 g, Carbohydrates ~ 57 g, Protein ~ 26 g

Although P. F. Chang’s has been around since the early ’90’s, I was kind of late to the game in trying it out. I specifically remember the first time that I had it a few summers ago while working in Austin.

I don’t remember what I ordered, but one of my co-workers (who apparently has better eating self-control than I do) ordered their lettuce wraps and offered to share some with me. I distinctly remember thinking “Where have these been all my life?” So. Good. My world had changed. I’m pretty sure that I scarfed down my whole dinner and half of hers because that’s how I roll.

I’m not typically a fan of chain restaurants, and P.F. Chang’s is no exception, but I sure do dig their lettuce wraps. I would not call these a copycat recipe necessarily, but they are darn good. We made a double batch and polished them off as a midnight snack the same evening. Enough said. They can get me through any P.F. Chang’s craving, which is fortunate because we live nowhere close to a P.F. Chang’s.

 

Adapted from Our Best Bites and Branny Boils Over.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb ground turkey, 93% lean
  • 1/2 cup minced mushrooms
  • 2 scallions, slices
  • 1 8 oz can water chestnuts, chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp freshly minced ginger
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • sesame seeds
  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce
  • Asian Dipping Sauce

Directions:

  • In a non-stick pan, cook ground turkey until lightly browned. 
  • Add water chesnuts, mushrooms, lemon zest, juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger.  Lightly cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. 
  • Remove from heat and fold in cilantro and scallions. 
  • Divide mixture among 6 iceberg lettuce leaves and top with sesame seeds. 
  • Serve warm with Asian Dipping Sauce.

Servings ~ 2
Calories (w/o dipping sauce) 281 ~ , Fat ~ 13 g, Carbohydrates ~ 18 g, Protein ~ 27 g

This dipping sauce had a good flavor, but it was too runny for lettuce wraps. Next time I make it I will heat it and mix in some corn starch, xanthan gum, or guar gum to thicken it. Definitely still in progress, would be great as-is over rice or stir fry though.

From Our Best Bites.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds

Directions:

  • Combine ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Enjoy!

Servings ~ 2
Calories ~ 53, Fat ~ 1 g, Carbohydrates ~ 11 g, Protein ~ 2 g

This was my first experience cooking tempeh. I randomly bought it a few months ago, stashed it in my freezer, and forgot about it.

Earlier this week I “discovered” it and remembered that I better use it before it got freezer burned or something. I set out to find a great recipe, but couldn’t find anything that really sparked my interest.

Finally, I gave up and just made something up. It worked out pretty well except that I might add some chopped cashews next time. I would probably also go for lettuce with a bigger leaf than romaine, or at least bigger than the puny heads of romaine that I bought.

This one will definitely make another appearance at Duke’s House, maybe with shredded chicken next time. Chris did not get to taste it, but I am quite confident that he would give it the “we can serve this to other people” seal of approval!

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz tempeh, sliced (You could easily use beef or chicken here, just be sure to adjust cooking times to ensure that the meat is thoroughly cooked.)
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup water chestnuts, chopped
  • 1 clove elephant garlic, minced
  • 8 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 8 large leaves romaine or Boston lettuce
  • olive oil spray

Directions:

  • Spray a skillet with olive oil spray.
  • Cook the tempeh at a medium-high heat for about 5 minutes on each side until lightly browned.
  • Add mushrooms, water chestnuts, garlic, and scallions and cook for several more minutes. If needed, add a tablespoon of water to the skillet.
  • Next add the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and cilantro and continue to cook until vegetables are tender.
  • Serve with large lettuce leaves, either pre-wrapped or as an “assemble your own dinner”  a la fajita.

Servings ~ 2
Calories ~ 370, Fat ~ 14 g, Carbohydrates ~ 42 g, Protein ~ 27 g

We have another winner! Duke’s House deems these “Good enough to serve to other people!”

The prep time on this dish was a bit longer than I typically like for a week night dinner, but it was well worth the effort. I suppose that I could have chopped up most of those veggies the night before to cut down prep time, but that would involve planning my meal ahead. Highly unlikely.

I read yesterday that jicama could be used as a substitute for watercress in stir fry, so I thought, why not use my leftover jicama from my Corn and Jicama Salad in some egg rolls? It was a great plan!

I highly recommend serving these with Spicy Mango Dipping Sauce. Chris was kind enough to make the dipping sauce, which seemed a little overwhelming after cutting all of those veggies and filling the egg rolls. It could easily be made a day ahead of time, or there would have been plenty of time for me to make it during the 14 minutes that the egg rolls were in the oven.

We both enjoyed these tremendously and will probably serve them as hors d’oeuvres next time we have a party.

Adapted from LovesToEat.

Ingredients:

  • egg roll wrappers (I used 16)
  • 1/2 lb. salad shrimp, deveined and w/o tail
  • 1 avocado, sliced thinly
  • 1 mango, peeled and sliced lengthwise very thinly
  • 1/2 orange pepper Julienne
  • 1/2 green pepper Julienne
  • 6 scallions sliced lengthwise very thinly
  • 1 cup carrots sliced very thinly (I used about 10 baby carrots)
  • 1 cup jicama sliced very thinly (optional)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • olive oil spray

Directions:

  • Cook shrimp. When finished, drain and set aside.
  • Slice vegetables as described above.
  • Crack one egg into a small bowl and beat egg.
  • Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Coat a baking sheet with olive oil spray.
  • Assembling the egg rolls:
    • Place an egg roll wrapper on a flat surface.
    • Put a few pieces of each filling ingredient on a diagonal across one corner of the wrapper.
    • Begin rolling from the corner about 1/2 of a turn, then fold the two sides in snugly.
    • Continue rolling until about 1″ of wrapper remains.
    • Use a brush to brush some egg onto the corner flap to stick it down.
    • Brush the remainder of the egg roll lightly with egg, then place on the baking sheet.
    • Repeat as needed.
  • When all of the rolls have been assembled, bake for 6-7 minutes at 425 degrees.
  • Flip the egg rolls, then bake for an additional 6-7 minutes.
  • Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.
  • Serve with dipping sauce, I recommend Mango Dipping Sauce, hoisin sauce, or soy sauce.

Servings ~ 4
Calories ~ 465, Fat ~ 9 g, Carbohydrates ~ 76 g, Protein ~ 24 g