Category Archives: recipes

A Take On Takeout: Sichuan Noodles

If there’s anything you’ve heard me griping about, it’s that my children are so weird with their food choices. They are keen to eat junk all day (if I’d let them) but I’d say about half the time I make a meal at home, I can barely get them to eat half of it. But NOT when we make anything from some other continent. Spaghetti? Pizza? They gobble it up. Asian food? They pretty much inhale it and then lick the plates (not really but they really really like Asian food. And Indian food.) Weird?

So I’ve been trying to add to my repertoire, if you will. Mr. foodie has already bought a wok and tried his hand at General Tso’s chicken (amazing), Lo Mein (also delish) and in our regular rotation is the Korean Beef Bowl from How Sweet Eats. I can’t describe the goodness of this bowl…impossibly delicious!

So a loooooong time ago, I saw Maggie Zhu’s recipe of Omnivore’s Cookbook for Sichuan Chicken aka “Saliva Chicken” and it included her Red Oil Sauce. You’ve seen similar sauces at Asian restaurants and maybe at the store. But homemade is best, obvs.

And I have yet to make that recipe…but I have all the ingredients. But I am still going to, honest. It’s not even a difficult recipe…I have no excuse really.

Then I saw Tieghan Gerard’s “easy” Szechuan noodles recipe on Half Baked Harvest and I decided to use HER noodle recipe and marry Maggie and Tieghan’s chili oil recipe to make a little Mag-Tiegh chili oil baby. 😀

It also helped that I had some ground chicken I needed to use up. 🙂

I jooshed up both recipes to incorporate what I had on hand and what I know my kids like, but I’m so glad to have these ladies for inspo. Like I say, you get inspiration from all over…just keep your eyes and mind open. Note: Maggie’s tip says you can use bay leaf and star anise in your aromatics. After playing, I love the combo of flavors below.  You can make the oil in advance and use it on all kinds of things later. The noodles themselves come together in less than 20 minutes (if you count cooking the noodles).

Oh, and in case you were wondering….yes indeedy, this dish was a hit and gobbled right up by all the humans. Go figure.

Sichuan Noodles with Red Chili Oil
(Prep: 5 min, Cook: 30 min.)
Serves 4 (you should make double, for real)

Chili Oil (adapted from Omnivore’s Cookbook & Half Baked Harvest)
1/3 cup peanut oil or vegetable oil
4-6 cloves garlic, sliced or minced
2 tsp. Sichuan chili flakes (these are what I used), regular is fine too
1 tsp. Chinese Five Spice powder
1 tsp, ground Sichuan peppercorns (optional + I left mine whole and it was fine)
1 inch knob fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 TBS. sesame seeds

In a large skillet, heat oil. Add garlic and cook 3-5 minutes until it sweats down a bit. Add all the remaining ingredients except sesame seeds and simmer for another 3 minutes. The oil will  turn a beautiful amber red color. Add the sesame oil and the sesame seeds and simmer for another minute. The oil will be probably be sizzling but don’t let it go hard or it will make your chili flakes and sesame seeds taste bitter. Carefully transfer to a heat proof glass jar or bowl.

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Sichuan Noodles (adapted from Half Baked Harvest)
(Prep: 5 min, Cook: -20 min)

16 oz wide Chinese egg noodle (if you can’t find, pappardelli is fine)
1 lb ground chicken (ground pork is also fine) or leave out if vegetarian
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbs. honey or brown sugar
2 tbs. garlic chili sauce
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (or more to taste)
2-4 green onions, chopped
2-4 stalks of bok choy, chopped

1. Cook the noodles
2. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, garlic chili paste + 1/3 cup water in a bowl.
3. Place the same skillet  over medium high heat. Add the chicken.  Season with salt and pepper, crumbling as you go and cook for 5 minutes.   Add the onions and bok choy, and cook until slightly soft, about 3 minutes. Pour in the soy sauce mixture.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the chicken is coated with the sauce, about 5-8 minutes.
4. Once noodles are cooked, drain and add to the chicken mixture. Add 2 TBS. chili oil and toss well.

Remove from heat, serve immediately and top with more chili oil, green onions and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Note: You can add more or less seasonings to taste. You can also add mushrooms if you love them and omit the meat if you prefer.

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Paleo Banana Bread

I don’t know if you’re like me but I tend to buy bananas with the best of intentions.

“The kids will  have them as snacks!” (yeah right).

“I’ll put them in smoothies!” (but it’s so cold).

“They make such good sandwiches!  (then I forget) “Especially with fried chicken!” (who’s making fried chicken though?)

That means there are always 2 or 3 just hanging out going overripe. So now I just let them do their thing because I found the perfect banana bread that’s grain-free, refined sugar-free. Basically it’s healthier banana bread. You’ll hardly miss your old banana bread once you try this. At the very least you can have it with your coffee and not feel an ounce of guilt.

I say “hardly” because it won’t rise all nice and high like a typical banana bread but that’s okay because the texture is on point! It’s delicious and my 12-year-old can’t even tell the difference. And dare I say it? It’s moist! Moist (sorry weirdos, there’s just no other word here)!

I first ran across my favorite paleo banana bread recipe over at Peanut Butter Runner’s blog. I modified this recipe just a touch and played with my sweeteners a bit. But it’s pretty close to Jen’s.

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Paleo-Friendly Banana Bread

  • 3/4 cup of blanched almond flour (this is a finer texture like regular flour)
  • 1/4 cup of coconut flour (you can sub extra almond flour here)
  • 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash to 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I do the lesser amount)
  • 2 TBS melted coconut oil (I like refined so it doesn’t have flavor)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup, coconut nectar or honey ( I have used Trader Joe’s Vanilla Bean Maple Syrup) + option of an additional tablespoon or so.
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Directions: 

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil or butter a 9 x 5 loaf pan or dish or line with parchment.

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices. Separately in a small bowl, mix together coconut oil, eggs, bananas, maple syrup and vanilla until well combined.
  • Add wet ingredients to the dry and gently mix together until combined being careful not to overmix. But taste it at this point. When it comes to baking with these type of flours and adding the soda/powder/salt…you don’t want the batter to have that acidic/salt background so if it does, just drizzle in a touch more sweetener. The bigger the bananas, the sweeter it will be too. 
  • Pour batter in prepared loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until set in the center and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for about 15-20 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. (Does anyone ever do this if it’s in a pretty pan?) I did this time. 😉
  • Once cool you can slice and try to make it last the day. You will want some with coffee (again) tomorrow.

Enjoy!

Do you have favorite banana bread recipe?

 

Recipe: Most Requested Sweet & Spicy Meatloaf

Hello, friends!

A few weeks back I was inspired to host “Family Meal” at my home and this week we finally got around to opening the door to do just that. Family Meal is simply a time to gather around the table for food and fellowship. Nothing fancy, keep it approachable. We invited our neighbors over and several of these lovely people were able to join us and bring along sides to go with  what I made…what I consider the ultimate old-school family dish, “Meatloaf.” And my meatloaf is delicious and even my kids, who don’t eat anything much, absolutely love it. This meatloaf is adapted from writer and cook, Mary Beth Albright. There are a number of variations of this recipe all over the internet, but this is my pretty-close-to-hers, slightly modified version. It’s called sweet and spicy, but it’s not spicy hot just spicy spice. It has buttermilk and panko and I swear the secret is that mixture plus the fact that I use a meatloaf mix with beef, veal and pork.  Easily found at most grocers. I get requests for it a lot, so I’m making it officially official by locking it in. Right here.  PS…don’t let the somewhat lengthy list turn you off. It’s a snap to whip up except for the extra step of sweating the onions and garlic and you won’t mind that because it smell so darn good!  Also the photo shown is of my attempt to cook it in cast iron and it turned out amazing but it’s great on a lined cookie sheet and easier to clean up. 

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eh..kinda looks like a brain 😀

Sweet & Spicy Glazed Meatloaf
(adapted from Mary Beth Albright) | Serves 6

GLAZE:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup  BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s but anything rich and smoky will do)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • splash of red wine vinegar (optional)

Heat these ingredients through completely, careful not to scorch.  You’ll use some to glaze the meatloaf at the beginning and you’ll have plenty on hand for the meal and leftovers.

  • 2 lbs meatloaf mix (beef, veal, pork or 1 lb beef, 1 lb ground pork if you can’t find the mix)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup onion, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2-3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese 
  • 1-2 tbsp oil or fat of choice (bacon grease is good!)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instruction:

Mix the buttermilk and the breadcrumbs together and let it thicken for about 5 minutes. The panko will soak up the buttermilk.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet, saute onions and garlic for about 5 minutes until very soft but not brown. Add tomato paste and herbs and heat through.  Set aside to cool.

Add buttermilk mixture and tomato paste mixture to the meatloaf mix in a large bowl. Mix with hands to incorporate the ingredients.  Add salt and pepper and parmesan. 

Turn the mix onto a lined sheet pan and shape into a loaf.  Spread the glaze on top and sides of your loaf.

Bake at 425 degrees for 50 minutes or until done.  Rest for 5 minutes.

***Variations…you can use sour cream instead of buttermilk and regular breadcrumbs or almond meal. The texture may change ever so slightly.  Fresh herbs are key and I’ve only used freshly grated parm so I’m not sure what happens with the stuff in the can. I’ve probably used it before but I rarely use it anymore. 

Do you have a meatloaf recipe that you and your family love?

“People who love to eat are always the best people.”
–Julia Child

Carolina Poutine with Pulled Pork

Did you say poutine? Yes, yes! This is your all local poutine inspired by the abundance that North Carolina offers. I am receiving compensation from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to raise awareness about purchasing pork at NC farmer’s markets. All opinions and content are my own.

IMG_7515Every once in a while a great opportunity comes along and you get a little more bang for your buck when it comes to being a cheerleader for all things local–you get a whole TEAM of cheerleaders. I’ve partnered with the NC Department of Agriculture’s Got to be NC program along with bloggers across the state, to highlight some of our local farmers. Bloggers like me, who love local goodness (I’ll call them my SQUAD), are shopping at their local NC farmer’s market, buying the ingredients for a meal and sharing the recipe with folks like you. We’ve got chicken and pork coming at you. I’ll share links to those at the end of this post.

My farm is Mill River Farm in Mount Airy. I’m actually familiar with farmers, Kim and Steve, as I subscribed to a CSA with them a few years back. Such quality meat and produce!  I looked forward to what would be in my box every Saturday when I picked it up from the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Farmer’s Market.  market - booth2

Kim and Steve have an abundant farm and they sell pork products such as bacon, pork belly, pork butt and loin, chicken, grass-fed beef, eggs, produce of all varieties like lettuce, kale, peas, beets, sweet potatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and I could go on and on. You can visit them at the farm (details here) or at the Fairgrounds Farmer’s Market, where you can speak to them directly and find out more about how they raise their animals and grow produce that you can feel so great about.  They’re both super knowledgeable and enjoy sharing what they do. Kim even has a cookbook called Cook Like a Farmer .  It’s full of great recipes. The thing that we don’t want you to forget is: When you visit your North Carolina farmer’s market, don’t forget the meat!

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When I saw Kim and Steve, they weren’t in their traditional digs inside the farmer’s market since the fair was in town. But they had enough yumminess on hand for me to purchase the main ingredients for my #GotToBeNCPork Carolina Poutine.  Poutine? Yeah, baby! Poutine is typically french fries and cheese curds with a rich brown gravy.  If you’ve had it, you know it’s like the guiltiest pleasure ever. Mine is a riff on that.

Let’s take a look at my truly local…

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Carolina Poutine with GotToBeNCPork
Serves 2-4

2-4 Sweet Potatoes (count on about one per person), preferably #gottobeNC
Pulled pork (from a 2-3 pound #GotToBeNCPork butt or shoulder)
Ashe County Cheese Curds
BBQ Sauce of your choice (I used a blend of chipotle sauce with some Eastern NC sauce I had on hand)

To prepare the pork: Give the pork a good liberal rub of your choice of seasoning plus plenty of salt and pepper. If you’re able, grill the pork on all sides. I don’t have a smoker, so I let my grill and my slow cooker do the work for me. Get it good and browned on all sides, then place in the slow cooker with about 1 1/2 cups of water or broth (beer or a mixture of bbq sauce and water is fine too–you just want a flavorful liquid). Allow to cook on low for 4-6 hours.  Once tender and falling apart, remove from cooker and shred it, baby.

Cut your NC Sweet Taters into fry-sized sticks. Coat with oil (I used avocado oil, but you can use whatever you have on hand) and sprinkle with smoked paprika (optional), salt and pepper. Bake at 400-degrees until lightly browned and crispy, about 30 minutes.

Just before you remove the fries from the oven, heat up the sauce. I simply used my favorite Sam Jones Eastern NC style sauce and added some smoky chipotles to it.  You will want that sauce to be PIPING hot so that it can melt the cheese curds as it hits them.

On a platter or pan, place the crispy sweet potato fries in heaping pile. Top with shredded pork, cheese curds and drizzle the sauce over the top. The sauce should be hot enough to start melting the cheese curds. If not, it’s okay to blast it under the broiler until they appear to be just melting.

Garnish with chopped green onions and enjoy!

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I want you to know that this delicious and fun recipe is simply a guide. If you can slow cook your meat on a smoker, so much the better. As I said before, I don’t have a smoker but I do have the grill and a slow cooker. I get a really good crust by grilling on high, though I keep an eye on it as the fat and any sugar on the outside can cause it to light up. You can also bypass the slow cooker and modify by cooking on a low heat in the oven for 2 1/2-3 hours. The sauce is also up to you. A mole would be amazing with those sweet potatoes. Play around with your flavors and have fun!

So… what makes it poutine? To a purist, is it still poutine if it doesn’t have real gravy but rather a sauce?

I’m not here to debate that. I just do know this poutine delicious party, nosh, use-up-leftovers kind of fare that tastes great with a NC craft beer. Support your local farmers at your local market. I’ve got links below to plenty of convenient locations and some of the best pork in North Carolina.

PS: You are going to have plenty of pork leftover for another poutine, tacos, breakfast…or a good ol’ BBQ plate.

Here’s a list of the pork and chicken from my squad:

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Got To Be NC Pork at Your Local NC Farmers Market

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Watch Heidi’s video!

Got to Be NC Chicken at your NC Farmers Market

 

Your new favorite summer salad: Squash Salad w/Buttermilk Dressing

Hi, friends!

Long time no chat. Boy have we been super busy. We moved again, no thanks to issues with the house we rented while we build THE house. And now we are temporarily in a charming farm house way on the other side of town. We love the more spacious kitchen with its most excellent light.  But I  am looking forward to finally, one day, moving, hopefully for the very last time. Ever.

Months from now.

Anyhoo…while we’ve been busy cleaning up floods and traveling to forget it all, we came across this awesome little restaurant in Charleston called The Glass Onion. It’s adorable and we were starving and trying to be true to our new Keto way of eating (or at least mr. foodie is, lol) and it came highly recommended. Slid right in before their Saturday brunch ended and grabbed a couple of small plates of deviled eggs and this Squash Salad. We were like, “What the heck is a squash salad?” And the server, bless him, told us about it and said it was unlike anything he’d had before but that it was delicious, so of course we had to try it.

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 The Glass Onion’s Squash Salad

It was a yummy crisp salad but the only greens was a small bed of butter lettuce. Piled onto the lettuce were very thinly sliced yellow squash, mint, slivered almonds and a homemade buttermilk dressing. On top of THAT was a veritable cloud of freshly grated parmesan.

Disclaimer (I realize here that buttermilk is not exactly Keto. I get mine organic from a local market but it has no nutritional info regarding sugar. In the place of buttermilk in this recipe, feel free to use a plain kefir or Greek yogurt, though I prefer Siggi’s Icelandic Yogurt to any and all). If you use yogurt, you may want to cut back on the mayo or add a little milk or something to loosen so it’ll have the consistence of dressing and not a dip.

So giving credit where credit is due, here’s a hat tip to The Glass Onion and my version of its delicious Summer Squash Salad.

Summer Squash Salad (adapted from The Glass Onion, Charleston, SC)

For the Dressing (serves a salad for 4-6 people):

3/4 cup mayo (I use Duke’s because it has no sugar)
1 cup  buttermilk (If Keto, full fat or plain Greek or Siggi’s yogurt or plain Kefir)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 shallot, minced
2 tbs. red wine or white wine vinegar
2 tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
dash hot sauce (I used Texas Pete)
fresh ground pepper to taste
Salt to taste

In a pint mason jar, add ingredients, attach lid and shake, shake,  shake. You can also whisk all the ingredients in a bowl but since I put the dressing in a jar anyway, I just throw it in there. Add more salt or pepper or even hot sauce as necessary. Hopefully you won’t use it all and can make another salad for another day or use it as a dip. Refrigerate for 1-2 weeks.

This dressing makes a great base and you can go from there to adding parmesan or italian herbs for a great creamy Italian if you like. Or the zest of the lemon to make it more lemony.

For the salad:

2 zucchini squash
2 yellow squash
1-2 sprigs mint leaves, chopped or torn
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds (you can also toast for extra flavor)
1/2 cup fresh parmesan for grating

Slice the squash very thinly with a mandolin or with a knife to about 1/8 inch thickness. Line a salad bowl with butter lettuce, baby lettuce or baby spinach (just a handful). Top the greens with the sliced squash. Add almonds and sprinkle the mint around the squash. About 10 minutes prior to serving, pour the desired amount of dressing onto the salad. You can toss it if you want here, but I don’t bother to. Just before serving, shave the parmesan over the salad. It’s best to cover the whole salad (with an audience) for maximum effect.

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Before the cloud…

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My version of Summer Squash Salad

 

The fresh squash and the pop of mint along with the crunch of the nuts make for a great summer salad that really is unlike anything you’ve ever had. And it has definitely become my new favorite.

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Enjoy!