Family Favorites · New Favorite

Thai Crunch Salad with Peanut Dressing

Thai food is a favorite, especially if it includes a peanut dressing. I love the IowaGirlEats.com blog and, again, this one did not disappoint. It would be a great side salad, sans the chicken, as well. It’s so yummy! You can make the salad, adding dressing only to the portion you are currently eating. This is a new favorite for my menu planning!

Thai Crunch Salad with Peanut Dressing

INGREDIENTS:
  • 3 cups coleslaw mix (green cabbage, red cabbage, carrot mix)
  • 1/2 red pepper, sliced into thin matchsticks
  • 1 chicken breast, cooked then shredded
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons peanuts, finely chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • For the Thai Peanut Dressing:
    • 4 Tablespoons smooth peanut butter (I used Smucker’s Natural)
    • 2 Tablespoons honey
    • 2 Tablespoons warm water
    • 1-1/2 Tablespoons gluten-free Tamari or soy sauce (dish will not be GF if using traditional soy sauce)
    • 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
    • juice of 1/2 large lime (slice remaining 1/2 lime into wedges)
    • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
    • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
    • heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, pressed or minced
    • salt and pepper
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Add ingredients for Thai Peanut Dressing into a mason jar or bowl then shake or whisk to combine. Taste then adjust lime juice and/or add water to thin if necessary.
  2. Add remaining ingredients into a large bowl. Drizzle desired amount of dressing on top then toss well to combine. Scoop into bowls then serve with lime wedges.

Recipe from Iowa Girl Eats

Cakes · New Favorite

Lemon Yogurt Cake

Lemon Yogurt Cake is a moist, delicious cake that can be served on its own or served with fresh berries. I must admit I messed up the recipe and it still turned out great. The recipe read in such a way that I thought the 1/3 cup lemon juice was added to the cake batter. Yikes! I quickly added another 2/3 cup flour to the batter and crossed my fingers. It turned out just fine and added more intense lemon flavor to the cake. I poked holes in the lemon cake (much like my Rum Cake) to assure that the lemon juice/sugar mixture penetrated the cake. I liked the result but that’s the reason for the holes in the cake. I added the glaze and had to take a taste! So, so good. I froze half of the bread and it was good as fresh when I pulled it out of the freezer.

Lemon Yogurt Cake

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar, divided (reserve 1/3 cup for step 3)
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (reserve for step 3)

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/4 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
  4. When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.
  5. For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.

Adapted from Recipe of Ina Garten the kitchn.com

Asian Dishes · New Favorite

Vietnamese-Style Caramelized Ground Pork Bowls

Vietnamese and Thai food are a favorite of mine and I was delighted to find this recipe. The caramelized ground pork is out-of-this-world and makes the dish. I also thought the caramelized pork would be great in street tacos (ok, so now I’m on to Mexican food). The leftovers were equally as good, warmed in the microwave. For those that do not like spicy hot, I was relieved that the green curry paste from the grocery store was not at all spicy hot, it just added the right about flavor to the dish.

Vietnamese-Style Caramelized Ground Pork Bowls

INGREDIENTS:
  • For the Quick-Pickled Carrots:
    • 4oz grated carrots
    • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 2 Tablespoons sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • For the Caramelized Ground Pork:
    • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
    • 1lb ground pork
    • 1 shallot, chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    • salt and pepper
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • For the Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice:
    • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
    • 12oz fresh or frozen cauliflower rice
    • salt and pepper
    • squeeze fresh lime juice
    • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • For the Green Curry Drizzle:
    • 2 Tablespoons green curry paste (I like Thai Kitchen)
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/2 cup coconut milk (I like full fat)
    • 2 Tablespoons chicken broth
    • squeeze fresh lime juice
  • For the toppings:
    • 8oz broccoli florets, steamed
    • sliced jalapeños
    • chopped cilantro
    • chopped green onion
    • kimchi
DIRECTIONS:
  1. For the Quick-Pickled Carrots: Add vinegar, water, sugar, and salt into a microwave safe dish then microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved then pour over carrots, stir to combine, and refrigerate. Can be done several days ahead of time.
  2. For the Caramelized Ground Pork: Place 2 layers of paper towel on a large plate then set aside. Heat oil in a large wok or skillet over high heat. Add ground pork, shallot, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper (to taste) then saute until pork is just barely cooked through, breaking it up as it cooks. Add brown sugar and fish sauce to the skillet then stir to combine. Spread pork into an even layer in the bottom of the wok or skillet then saute for 2 minutes – DO NOT DISTURB OR STIR THE PORK as it caramelizes. Stir then spread the pork into an even layer again and cook for 2 more minutes, undisturbed. Continue cooking then stirring in two minute increments – leaving the pork alone as it cooks and caramelizes – until the pork is brown and caramelized. You may need to cook in 1 minute increments near the end to prevent the sugar from burning. Scrape the caramelized pork onto prepared paper towel lined plate to drain then set aside.
  3. For the Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice: Get out a serving bowl then set aside. Place wok or skillet back over high heat then add oil. Once oil is hot, add cauliflower rice, season with salt and pepper, then stir fry until cauliflower is crisp tender, 3-4 minutes. Add lime juice and chopped cilantro then stir to combine. Scrape cauliflower rice into serving bowl then set aside.
  4. For the Green Curry Drizzle: Place wok or skillet back over medium high heat. Add curry paste then saute for 30 seconds, scraping/flattening/stirring it with a spatula. Add coconut milk, chicken broth, and sugar then stir until smooth and bring sauce to a simmer. Turn heat down to medium then simmer until sauce is slightly thickened and reduced, 3-4 minutes. Squeeze in a little lime juice to taste.
  5. To assemble: Scoop the Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice into bowls then top with the Caramelized Ground Pork, Quick Pickled Carrots, toppings, and Green Curry Drizzling Sauce.

Recipe from IowaGirlsEats and RecipeTinEats

Breakfast · New Favorite

Sweet Potato Toasts with Eggs, Avocado & Spinach

Whoever heard of Sweet Potato Toasts? They are delicious! Making them in the toaster…brilliant! I love recipes from IowaGirlEats and this one did not disappoint. The only change I made was using Everything But the Bagel seasoning on the Sunny Side Up eggs and that was a game changer. I mentioned this recipe to a friend who suggested replacing the sautéed spinach with mushrooms…that is next on the list!

IowaGirlEats also suggests eating the sweet potato toasts with other toppings. I tried it with peanut butter and it was so good. I toasted several slices of sweet potato to use another day, storing them in the refrigerator. Heated up in the microwave, they were equally as good.

Sweet Potato Toasts with Eggs, Avocado & Spinach

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 small sweet potato, cut lengthwise into 1/4″ slices
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 giant handful baby spinach
  • evoo, garlic salt, seasonings (I used Everything But the Bagel Seasoning)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Add a sweet potato slice to each toaster slot then toast on high for the longest duration offered by your toaster. Flip and rotate the sweet potato slices then toast again on high and for the longest duration. If the sweet potato slices aren’t tender by this point, flip and rotate once more then toast a third time (might only need half the duration as previous rounds.) Top toasted sweet potato slices with avocado mashed with a little garlic salt then set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, place a small skillet over medium-high heat then add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Add baby spinach then season with garlic salt and saute until tender. Place on top of mashed avocado.
  3. Turn heat down to medium then cook eggs to your liking – sunny side up, fried, scrambled, etc. – seasoning with the seasoning of your choice (I used steak seasoning but garlic salt and pepper is just fine!) Place eggs on top of spinach then serve.

Recipe from IowaGirlEats

Asian Dishes · New Favorite · Soups and Stews

Quick & Easy Won Ton Soup

Lunch time and what to eat? I had limited time and the ingredients to make this quick and easy Won Ton Soup. I first saw this recipe on the Facebook page, Favorite Trade Joe’s products. The Chicken Cilantro wontons from Costco (or Trader Joe’s) are delicious but I’ve never used them in Won Ton Soup. This soup took about 20 minutes to make, from start to finish and it was delicious. It would be easy to mix it up and use spinach and/or pea pods. It serves 2-3 for an entrée or 5-6 for an appetizer.

Easy Won Ton Soup

INGREDIENTS:
  • 6 cups chicken broth low sodium
  • 1- inch piece fresh ginger (sliced thin)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 20 mini frozen wontons (I love the Chicken Cilantro one’s Costco but may be available at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms (I used baby portabella)
  • 4 baby bok choy (halved lengthwise and halved)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • scallions (sliced green parts only for garnish)
  • Optional: I added a bit of onion powder and salt
DIRECTIONS:
  • Bring chicken broth to a boil in a large pot.
  • Smash the sliced ginger with the side of a knife to bring out the flavor and add to the pot with the garlic, cover and cook 5 minutes.
  • Add the bok choy and partially cook 5 minutes, then add the frozen wontons and mushroom, simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, until the wontons are heated through and bok choy is tender and wilted.
  • Stir in soy sauce and sesame oil.
  • Divide soup in four bowls. Garnish with fresh scallions.

Recipe slightly adapted from SkinnyTaste.com

Fish · New Favorite · Pastas

Tagliatelle with Swordfish

Tagliatelle with Swordfish

INGREDIENTS:
  • 11 ounces boneless Swordfish, skin removed and cubed
  • 1.3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup black olives or capers
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup Prosecco or white wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian Parsley, Mint or basil (tear into pieces)
  • Olive Oil
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1-2 lemons
  • fresh pasta – Tagliatelle or similar
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Heat a few tablespoons olive oil.  Add garlic, then fish.  Brown the fish.
  2. Add red pepper flakes (to taste) and Prosecco.
  3. Cook 2 minutes.
  4. Add cherry tomatoes and cook on high for 2 minutes.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add olives.
  7. Turn off heat.  Add fresh herbs.
  8. Toss sauce with cooked pasta.

Recipe from Chef Lucas Migliorelli

New Favorite · Vegan · Vegetables · Vegetarian

Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts and Raisins

Cauliflower is a vegetable I has grown to enjoy, raw and roasted.  I’ve roasted cauliflower with or without broccoli and other vegetables dozens of time, drizzled with olive oil and kosher salt.  Adding toasted pine nuts and raisins was a delicious treat! I chose to roast flowerettes vs. cauliflower steaks.  Either way, it’s delicious!

The recipe could easily be adapted to Vegan by substituting olive oil for the butter.  I used traditional raisins and dried parsley and, in the future, I plan to try the recipe with Craisins or dried cherries instead of raisins.  Play with it…Make it your own… Enjoy!

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH PINE NUTS & RAISINS

2 heads cauliflower
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup fresh parsley, torn

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut off the cauliflower stems, then place the heads cut-side down and slice into 1/2-inch-thick steaks. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Transfer to the oven and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, flipping after the first 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, add the pine nuts to a dry medium sauté pan and toast over medium heat until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the raisins and butter and season with salt. Cook, tossing, until the butter has melted and coats the pine nuts and raisins. Off the heat, stir in the parsley.
  • Transfer the roasted cauliflower to a serving platter. Pour the pine nut-raisin mixture over the top. Season with salt.

Recipe from Valerie Bertinelli/Food Network 

Health · New Favorite · Poultry

Change Your Life Chicken

I’ve listened to the podcast ‘The Lazy Genius’ for a while and especially enjoyed the episode talking about her recipe ‘Change Your Life Chicken’.  It sounded so easy and I love roasted vegetables.  Never in my life have I set my oven for 500 degrees F, but I was up for the experiment.  I chopped carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes and onions.

My oven must run extra hot so I only needed to roast the chicken and vegetables for 35 minutes.  The chicken skin was crispy, the vegetables were cooked through and some were crispy.  It was a delicious dish and a quick meal.  I would have especially loved this recipe when I was working full-time, needing to get dinner on the table quickly.

The instructions below are taken word for word from Thelazygeniuscollective.com website.  She does a great job of explaining the process.

CHANGE YOUR LIFE CHICKEN

What You Need

  • chicken thighs with the bone and the skin
    Yes. I said thighs. That have the bone and the skin. Trust me on this. You can do breasts if you want, but we’re a thigh family to the bone. (I love chicken humor.) Adults eat one, hungry adults eat two, and weird picky tiny kids eat a half.

  • two handfuls of vegetables per person
    You can use whatever you have. Options: onion, carrot, potato, green bean, asparagus, leek, sweet potato, and cauliflower. (Avoid mushrooms, zucchini, squash, and broccoli with this method.) I’ll share some favorite combinations at the end.

  • olive oil, salt, and pepper

How You Make It

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Not a typo. Five hundred.

2. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty foil. Your pan needs to hold your vegetables comfortably – not too close together, not too far apart. Heavy duty is less likely to tear, i.e. to get dirty from chicken grease. Do not use glass. It will shatter. I’d recommend not using any kind of baking dish with high sides because you won’t get the same kind of crisp. Baking sheet… like you use for cookies.

3. Cut your vegetables, and toss with olive oil, more salt than you think you need, and black pepper. These are the sizes to go for: large bite-sized. Carrots take the longest, so make those thinner than the rest. Consider cooking speeds with the vegetables you choose.

Green beans don’t need cutting, so those get tossed with the rest. Notice how cozy the vegetables are with each other but that there isn’t more than one layer.

4. Peel the skin back from the chicken. Don’t wig out. It’s cool. You want to generously season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper, but you want to season under the skin. So pull back the skin, season, and fold the skin back over.

5. Pat the chicken skin dry with a wad of paper towels. This is how you get magic crusty chicken skin, i.e. the state fair craze somebody needs to start. The best order is to place the chicken skin side down on the vegetables, season, flip, pull back the skin, season, put the skin back, and pat dry. The worst is drying the skin and then realizing you forgot to season the bottom.

6. Place the chicken skin side up directly on top of the vegetables. Here’s what happens: the fat from the chicken skin will seep into the vegetables underneath, imparting flavor and moisture while the exposed vegetables get a tiny bit charred. It’s a perfect marriage of texture and flavor. I’m not showing you a photo of raw chicken because raw chicken.

Ew.

7. Bake at 500 degrees for 50 minutes. Don’t worry if the chicken will be done; it will be. And we don’t have to be concerned about the vegetables burning at such a high temperature because they’re nestled closely together. The most you’ll get will be a few crusty edges, and those are delightful.

And since blog posts don’t have sound effects yet, trust me on the crispiness of the crust. In the Instagram story, I tapped it, and it sounded like a little magic chicken woodpecker. You’re allowed to invent bird species when dinner is this easy.

And that’s it! Then you eat. Bonus: any leftover vegetables are a great snack/lunch straight from the fridge for busy days. (Except for potatoes. Leftover potatoes have a weird texture and are a little depressing. See: old French fries.)

Variations

Start with what’s above, but once you feel comfortable with how it works, feel free to change it up.

  1. Add fresh rosemary or thyme to the vegetables.

  2. Rub the chicken (not the skin) with lemon or orange zest. (Rosemary and orange are a heavenly match.)

  3. Reinvent the meal with different vegetable combinations: onion, potato, carrot; leek and asparagus; onion and sweet potato, green bean and cauliflower. If you love it, try it. The worst that can happen is it’s not great and you won’t make it again.

  4. Same goes for exotic spices. Go nuts with curry powder, a taco seasoning blend, or whatever you want to try. You won’t know if it works until you try.

  5. Use chicken breasts with the bone and skin if you must; be sure to bump the time to an hour. I can’t vouch that it’ll be as good, but I’m not your chicken boss.

Meh, yes I am. Make this chicken, y’all, and change your life.

If you run into any Change Your Life Chicken issues, I dedicated an entire episode of The Lazy Genius Podcast to it. Listen to it here.

My Roots · New Favorite · Soups and Stews

Cabbage Roll Soup

Cabbage Rolls were not a part of my childhood but I enjoyed them as an adult at Hungarian restaurants. I’ve never made cabbage rolls but I loved the idea of soup, my go-to meal in winter.

This is a simple and wonderful soup.  The rice absorbs much of the broth, but you could easily add more broth or vegetable juice.  Yummy!

CABBAGE ROLL SOUP

1 large onion diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 pound lean ground beef
½ pound lean ground pork
¾ cup uncooked long grain rice
1 medium head cabbage chopped (core removed)
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups beef broth
1 ½ cups V8 or other vegetable juice
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

  • In a large pot, brown onion, garlic, pork and beef. Drain any fat.
  • Stir in chopped cabbage and let cook until slightly softened (about 3 minutes).
  • Add all remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and reduced heat to medium low. Cover and simmer on low until rice is fully cooked (about 25-30 minutes)
  • Remove bay leaf and serve.
If you prefer a thinner soup, add more beef broth to reach desired consistency once rice is cooked.
Italian Dishes · New Favorite · Soups and Stews

Italian Wedding Soup

Welcome to 2022! Italian Wedding Soup was on the menu after seeing this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, IowaGirlEats. I had the ingredients on hand and needed to take a meal to my daughter after giving birth to my 5th grandbaby. Be careful that you don’t eat all for the tiny meatballs when they come out of the oven. They are delicious! Next time I would make a double or triple batch of the meatballs, so I would have them in the freezer when I want to make the soup. Serve with a hearty Italian bread.

Italian Wedding Soup

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced (~1 cup)
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced (~1 cup)
  • 1 large shallot or small onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • 1 parmesan cheese wedge rind (optional)
  • 3/4 cup dry gluten free orzo
  • 3oz fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • For the Pork Meatballs (makes ~75 meatballs):
    • 1/2 cup small-torn pieces of soft gluten free white bread (crusts removed first)
    • 1/4 cup finely grated onion + juices
    • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
    • 1 egg, whisked
    • 2 cloves garlic, microplaned, pressed, or finely minced
    • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • Pepper, to taste
    • 1lb ground pork (I used Italian Sausage)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. For the Meatballs: Preheat oven to 400 degrees then line a half sheet pan with parchment paper or non stick sprayed foil. To a large bowl add torn bread and grated onion then mix to combine and let sit for 1 minute. Add parmesan cheese, egg, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper then stir to combine. Crumble ground pork over the top then use your hands to mix until just combined.
  2. Use a teaspoon to portion meatballs out then gently roll in your hands and place on prepared baking sheet – meatballs can be very close together but not touching. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Set meatballs aside – can be done a few days ahead of time.
  3. Meanwhile, heat extra virgin olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and shallot/onion, season with salt and pepper, then saute until the vegetables are tender, 8-10 minutes. If the vegetables are taking too long to soften, I like to add a glug of extra chicken broth to the pot then place a lid on top and let them steam for a few minutes.
  4. Add chicken stock and parmesan cheese rind (if using) then turn heat up to high to bring liquid to a boil. Add pasta then turn heat down to medium-low and simmer until pasta is al dente, 20 minutes or so. Add cooked meatballs then stir to combine. Bring soup back up to a bubble (may need to turn heat up a touch) then add spinach and cook until wilted and tender, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Whisk egg and parmesan cheese together very well in a small dish. Give the soup a couple of big stirs to get the liquid swirling in one direction then slowly stream in egg mixture. Continue to stir to create small threads of egg (NOTE: the eggs are NOT curdled, they are COOKED – like egg drop soup!) Taste then add more salt and/or pepper if desired. Let soup sit and thicken for 10-15 minutes before removing parmesan cheese rind, scooping into bowls, and serving.

Recipe from Iowagirleats