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February 2010
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Chinese Sausage Fried Rice

February 28, 2010   

Chinese Sausage Fried Rice2 I used a Chinese style sausage in this recipe. A friend bought it for me from an Asian store. She makes a delicious Vietnamese style fried rice with this particular sausage.

I first had it back in college- I will not share how long ago that was. She would make it in our small apartment kitchen that we shared with three other girls. It was so hard to keep that kitchen clean- maybe that is where I get my anal cleaning habits… Anyway, the rice was delicious.

I had the sausage in the fridge and it had been there for a while. I decided to use it and make my own version of a fried rice. I usually add a lot of chopped vegetables but for this dish I used protein only. I was using brown rice to make a healthy dish and tamari as the primary flavoring. It is a concentrated soy sauce and packs a punch in any dish.

To make a balanced meal, I stir fried vegetables on the side. Recipe to follow tomorrow…

In the meantime, try this Chinese sausage fried rice- it is delicious.
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Top Ten Asian Ingredients…

February 25, 2010   

Top Ten Asian IngredientsI am a big believer in a well stocked pantry. Since I cook all the time and thing about food 24/7, I make sure my fridge and pantry are full with the right ingredients. I love to be able to conjure something up in my mind and make it happen in the kitchen without going to the store.

Many people ask me constantly what I have in my pantry and fridge, and what they should have in theirs. I feel you need to think about your cooking repertoire and what kind of cuisines you  make. Once you have a handle on the kinds of dishes you normally make- you can make a list of all the ingredients you need.

When I go grocery shopping- which I am ashamed (not really) to admit is almost every day- I go through the isles to remind me if I need anything to replenish my pantry.

Since I am doing top ten lists- yes I feel like David Letterman once again, I decided to start with listing the top ten Asian ingredients.

  1. Rice Vinegar– I love having this in my pantry. Great for stir fries, salads and curries.
  2. Tamari– I use this instead of soy sauce. This is a more concentrated version of it so a little goes a long way and it doesn’t make the dishes too watery.
  3. Toasted Sesame Oil– This has a delicious nutty flavor. I start my stir fries with a teaspoon of this oil. It is also great for salad dressings. Store it in the fridge.
  4. Fish Sauce– It has a wonderful underlying nutty, salty flavor. Don’t smell it while using it and you will love it.
  5. Sweet Chili Garlic Sauce– It can be found in any grocery store in the Asian isle. Great as a dipping sauce or part of a stir fry sauce.
  6. Honey- I love, love honey. I have all sorts in my pantry. It is great to sweeten anything from sauces, to salad dressings.
  7. Fresh Ginger- What a versatile ingredient. Stays forever in your fridge. Great for curries, stir fries and desserts.
  8. Garlic- I would be lost without garlic. I need to have lots of it in my vegetable basket. I put it in everything.
  9. Green Onions- They have a great, light onion flavor AND they look pretty. Excellent as a garnish on top.
  10. Light Coconut Meal- Great for Thai dishes and desserts. I use the light version since there is no difference in flavor. I always have a few cans in my pantry.

I would love to hear your top ten Asian ingredients….

Sauteed Chicken Sausage and Broccoli Pasta

February 24, 2010   

Chicken Sausage and Broccoli1 This is the quickest meal I have made recently. It was a rare unscheduled weekend day and we were planning to do absolutely nothing. My daughter usually is very good at keeping herself busy or playing with her Daddy on the weekends. I like to get a bit of a break where I hide in my room to read a book or watch a movie.

My daughter somehow secured herself a play date for the whole day. Her friend came over at 10 and stayed till around 3. She was thrilled. Actually we all were. My husband needed to work from home and I decided to go out with a friend for coffee.

Before leaving, I wanted to make a quick lunch for them. I did have a couple boxes of macaroni and cheese but I wanted make something else. I had a pack of chicken sausages in the fridge- which my daughter loves. I sauteed them quickly and added frozen broccoli florets. I boiled some penne on the side and added the cooked pasta with some of the starchy liquid to make a simple sauce. I topped the pasta with some light shredded mozzarella and that was it.

It was a fast and delicious meal- perfect for a quick lunch for the kiddies. Try the chicken sausage and broccoli pasta- it is yum!
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Jungle Shrimp- A Malaysian/Thai Style Shrimp

February 23, 2010   

Jungle Shrimp

I have recently started writing for the Patch– which is a online blog owned by AOL. Most towns around Maplewood have their own local patch.

I recently did a restaurant review for the Chatham patch and talked about a restaurant called Taste of Asia. We had a really nice meal and I decided to replicate a dish called jungle shrimp. It was delicious at the restaurant and I came home and did a lot of research to figure out the ingredients. It turned out it had a lot of Thai flavors. I went shopping to Whole Foods and bought some kaffir leaves, lemongrass and palm sugar. I made a sauce out of orange juice, tamarind and fish sauce etc.

I sauteed the shrimp with some sweet peppers and onions and added the sauce. The dish was delicious- not the same as what we had at the restaurant but very enjoyable.

I loved the complex flavors of the sauce with the tamarind and the palm sugar. I served the dish with some fried rice to make it a complete meal.

If you are able to get all the exotic ingredients- no problem. You can substitute the palm sugar with honey, tamarind with lime juice, kaffir limes with lime zest, etc. The idea is to get a similar flavor- it doesn’t have to be exact. I would highly recommend it!
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Blood Orange and Feta Salad

February 22, 2010   

Blood Orange Salad1 Blood oranges are in season- and they are delicious!

A friend noticed a citrus salad recipe in the New York Times food section. This particular salad was made with a grape fruit and a navel orange. She had bought some blood oranges and we paired them with a grape fruit. She had some olives in the house decided to top the salad with them. I am always happy with a pop of salty goodness. We made a simple dressing and enjoyed the salad.

I decided to replicate the salad for a dinner party. Trader Joes has an abundance of blood oranges. I love buying them- it reminds me of being in Italy. This past summer, while we were staying in Spello- we would do some basic grocery for breakfast. Usually we are a juice free house- but there I bought a carton of orange juice. My daughter was fascinated to see the dark red color of the juice- I explained to her the orange juice is made out of blood oranges- hence the color. The juice was delicious!

I cut the oranges into disks and topped them with the olives and feta. For some reason feta comes to mind when I think of citrus. I also remembered I had a orange muscat champagne vinegar from Trader Joes. I used that to make a delicious, clean dressing with a hint of honey.

The salad was delicious! Everyone loved it. I have a big bunch of blood oranges which I am planning to use them again. Definitely make the blood orange salad- you can even substitute regular oranges- any citrus will be delicious!
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Mushroom and Truffle Ragu Lasagna

February 21, 2010   

Mushroom and Truffles and Ragu2 We were entertaining a few weekends ago and yet again, I was at a loss- what should I make?? My brain is usually all stressed out until something comes to mind and then I am at peace.

As I have mentioned many times before, our favorite restaurant is Arturos here in Maplewood. My favorite thing to eat there is a wild boar and mushroom ragu. I love that dish- I actually dream about it. It is consistently good and I can’t get enough of it.

I decided to make something similar but in a lasagna form. I had recently bought some dried mushrooms from Trader Joes. I reconstituted them and added them to some delicious cremini mushrooms. I used ground turkey meat instead of wild boar- well where was I supposed to get that?? Anyway, I am more comfortable using turkey meat for health reasons. The lasagna was layered with a simple bechamel sauce. I also used a truffle paste I picked up from Spello, Italy. I finished the ragu with a drizzle of truffle oil (thanks to Trader Joes).

I served the lasagna with a garlic cheese bread and a citrus salad. I of course had to serve a side of fresh tomato sauce- since my husband loves his red sauce.

It turned out to be a very successful dinner. Everything was delicious- I was very happy. Next time you have a few minutes- try the mushroom and truffle ragu- you won’t regret it.
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Ten Healthy Eating Tips..

February 18, 2010   

Top Ten Healthy Eating Tips

I am hoping to start a weekly tradition of top ten lists. This week I begin with things to change or do to stay healthy. I am definitely not a doctor nor a dietician but I do have common sense and I know what works for me and my family. Especially as a woman in my late thirties (I can’t say that for too long- so I will milk it for what it is), I find it harder to stay on course in terms of losing weight or keeping it off. I find I have to eat far less than I used to and exercise a lot more than before.

I guess things change as you get older and have kids. I feel very responsible for teaching my daughter healthy eating and living habits. Things that will stay with her for a life time. I want her to know how to live a balanced and happy life- well that maybe a completely different post…

So- I ask all of my readers to go through the list and comment ‘on the blog’ what things are on your list that are missing from mine. I would love to get a conversation going and learn from all of you out there. If you all are interested, we can do this on a weekly basis.

Here is my top ten list- I feel like David Letterman

  1. Eat a good breakfast- consisting of fiber, protein and fruit- Whole-wheat toast with one egg and some strawberries on the side.
  2. Eat every 3 hours to keep your metabolism high.
  3. Snack on non-fat Greek yogurt, fruit with raw honey and walnuts.
  4. Take all white flour and white bread out of the house. Eat whole wheat bread and substitute the regular flour for white whole-wheat flour.
  5. For lunch- make a one-slice open sandwich with whole wheat bread, smoked salmon, fresh tomatoes, sprouts and cucumbers. Spread some hummus and sprinkle a dash of garlic powder on top.
  6. Substitute evaporated cane juice for white sugar.
  7. Cook with extra light olive oil and use extra virgin olive oil for salad dressings and topping pasta dishes.
  8. Drink eight (8 ounces) glasses of water.
  9. Have an ounce or two of dark chocolate.
  10. Have a dinner consisting of fish, shrimp with lots of vegetables.