Steak & Rice bowl, Mexican style

Sliced steak, grilled vegetables, Mexican seasoned rice and a refreshing tomato cilantro garnish – top it all off with this Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette and you’ve got a winning dinner.

 

We love a good dinner bowl that packs a lot of flavour.  This dressing kicks everything up a notch with the combination of sweet, smoky and spicy.  I use it on everything, and tonight it did triple duty as a dressing to brush on vegetables before grilling, a marinade for the steak and then a drizzle over the completed dish.

  • 1/2 cup avocado oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender and simply whizz it up until smooth and creamy.

RICE

In the same blender you used for the dressing, whiz up 1 tomato, 1 garlic clove, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp chicken stock and some minced cilantro stems.  Supplement that with water to give you enough for your usual ratio of water/rice.

VEGETABLES

Season the vegetables with the dressing above and grill until just cooked and still slightly crisp.

STEAK

Brush the steaks with a little of the dressing above and allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour – Grill to desired temperature.  We like ours medium rare.

GARNISH

Quarter mini tomatoes and mince up cilantro.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and give it all a squeeze of lime.

 

Pile it all on top of the rice and drizzle the dressing over – I guarantee you will be making this on repeat. Go ahead and buy the good steak – you don’t need much to complete your dinner.

I think this would work equally well with any protein you chose to make – and at this time of year when the vegetables are coming in strong locally it would make an amazing vegetarian meal if you just added more of a variety of vegetables. I missed grilling onions tonight and I think that would have added a great punch of flavour.

The vinaigrette came from Love and Lemons, a great website with so many amazing recipes.

Chipotle Vinaigrette

Is there anything better than a vinaigrette that you want to use on everything? I doubt it. We’ve used it to dress up grilled vegetables, served it drizzled over a Mexican steak bowl, and of course just as dressing for a simple salad. The added bonus is that this is the easiest dressing to make.

Use it in a variety of ways – today it was drizzled over a Mexican Steak Bowl, and it was perfect with the combination of sweet, smoky and spicy.
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 chipotle pepper from a can of chipotle in adobo sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

The directions are embarrassingly easy ….. simply toss it all in a blender and let it whizz until everything is creamy and smooth. The combination of chipotle, honey and lime is brilliant.

Grilled steak and vegetables, served over a bed of Mexi style rice and garnished with a juicy fresh tomato and cilantro salad. This dressing is amazing.

This recipe came from the the Love and Lemons website, and you can be sure anything from Jeanine Donofrio is going to be delicious.

Thai Inspired Steak Salad

It’s hard to spot the salad underneath, but it’s there! A tangle of wheat noodles and crunchy salad greens is the base of this – go ahead and use rice noodles or just omit the noodles entirely.

I love a full meal deal salad! This tangle of vegetables, both fresh and grilled, served mixed with noodles and garnished with steak and nuts is just the best. It’s on repeat around here. Go ahead and splurge for the best steak – you don’t need much to make it a complete meal.

This dressing is the star of the show – it is light and bright with just the perfect amount of zing.

  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 2-3 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (reduced sodium)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp raw sugar (or honey)
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh Thai basil, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds **
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup peanut oil
  • kosher salt to taste

** I’m a big fan of toasting nuts or seeds as it adds so much flavour. Watch closely because they go from deeply toasted (my personal favourite) to black …. beware. (yes, I speak from experience)

Whisk all the ingredients, except the oils, together in a bowl. Once combined, slowly drizzle in the oils and continue to whisk until well blended. This is the part where you taste, and adjust if needed – sometimes you need a bit more lime juice, salt or sweetener. If you prefer your dressing on the spicy side, add in a bit of Thai chili or chili flakes.

This recipe is just as versatile as whatever you have on hand. Tonight this dish included:

  • Chinese wheat noodles (cooked)
  • salad greens
  • mint leaves
  • basil leaves
  • cilantro leaves
  • cucumber
  • tomato
  • bean sprouts
  • grilled red pepper
  • grilled zucchini
  • steamed baby bok choy
  • grilled beef tenderloin
  • toasted cashews
  • toasted sesame seeds

I like to make a salad out of the cold cooked noodles and fresh vegetables, and pile that in the bottom of my bowl. Arrange the cooked vegetables around the sides along with the grilled steak. Drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle the cashews and sesame seeds over.

If you have time, and have a steak that needs marinating, just use a bit of the dressing. This works equally well with chicken, pork or tofu. If you want to use shrimp make sure to only give it a quick marinade.

When grilling the vegetables, drizzle with a little of the dressing before and after grilling.

When you start with a fresh salad as the base, everything is tastier!!

Creamy Garlicky Shrimp Tagliatelle

I don’t know about you, but an advertised 20 minute recipe NEVER takes me 20 minutes.  This one was close tho ….. and very easy.  Not only easy, but delicious and I’m more than happy to spend a few more minutes to achieve delicious.

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  • 8 ounces dried tagliatelle pasta (or really, any pasta you like!)
  • 2 tbsp butter (separated, see below)
  • olive oil
  • 10 ounces small, peeled and cleaned shrimp
  • 3 garlic cloves (yes, really)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (I like sauvignon blanc but any dry white will work – stay away from sweet tho)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 1 cup asparagus (cut into 1″ pieces)
  • 1/2 cup minced sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes (or to taste)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan (do NOT use purchased grated!)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • black pepper
  • more parmesan for serving
  1. Get a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil.  Salt and add pasta.  Cook to one minute short of the cooking instructions …. (in order to finish in the cream sauce).
  2. Before draining, scoop out about 1/2 cup of pasta water.
  3. Get a nice flat bottom skillet (non-stick works great here) and melt 1 tbsp butter.  Drain your shrimp and pat dry (you don’t want them to steam) ….. toss the shrimp into the melted butter and sauté quickly – until ALMOST cooked.  Depending on your shrimp size this might only take a minute or two.  There is nothing worse than rubbery, overcooked shrimp.  Well, okay, lots of things are worse including this COVID nightmare we are living through….  Remove from heat and lightly season with salt and pepper.
  4. In the same skillet heat the other tbsp butter and add a splash of olive oil – once melted add the onions, sauté until soft, add mushrooms and cook until just lightly browned, then add the garlic, asparagus and sun dried tomatoes.  Add chili flakes.
  5. Stir in the white wine and allow to reduce slightly, then add the chicken broth, cream and parmesan.  Season to taste ….  I didn’t need to add any more salt but that finishing black pepper is great.
  6. Add your mostly cooked pasta to the skillet and toss to cover.  The sauce will continue to thicken and this is the time to add some of your reserved pasta water a bit at a time, only as needed.  Stir in the shrimp to heat through, toss with parsley and serve with a grating of fresh parmesan and black pepper.
  7. Dig in!
These plump & juicy little guys are barely cooked and will finish in the cream sauce
Easy to make this a vegetarian meal – just stir in as many veg as you like and omit the shrimp.

Alex’s smash hit dressing!

Longer brighter days are coming and I can’t wait. We have a salad almost every night, and with the warmer weather approaching they often take the form of a “meal in a salad”. This dressing hits it out of the park for a delicious flavour bomb to dress pretty much anything with. Give it a try, I guarantee you’ll be hooked.

Salad tonight, but it could easily dress a rice bowl or serve over salmon.
  • 1/4 cup tamari (can sub soy sauce)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • dash of fish sauce (optional but highly recommended)
  • 1 garlic clove, grated (unless they are home grown, then maybe 1/4-1/2 a clove) :o)
  • 1″ ginger, grated
  • thinly sliced scallions

Put everything in a jar and shake vigorously – really vigorously. If you use warm water it will help loosen up the miso if it’s straight out of the fridge.

Drizzle lightly and grill – another sure fire winner.

This recipe came from our friend Alex – she is an amazing cook, and agreed to let me post it! #abcooks

Spicy Miso Chicken Ramen

By spicy, I mean as spicy as you like …. me? Not so spicy. I’ve also been “burnt” a few times by my chili flakes. They are made from our homegrown dried chili peppers and they pack some heat!

Add in whatever vegetables you like – this crispy chicken katsu was perfect with tonights broccolini, snap peas, mushrooms and red peppers.


INGREDIENTS

  • 3 strips thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 6-8 cups low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable if you like)
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (I like low sodium)
  • 1/4 cup miso paste
  • 2-4 tablespoons chile paste(I use Gochujang)
  • 4 squares Ramen noodles
  • 4 cups baby spinach, chopped
  • 2-3 mini bok choy
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (toasted is best)
  • soft or hard boiled eggs, for serving (optional, and not in my house)
  • Toasted nori sheets, sesame seeds, green onions, and chili oil, for serving 

CHICKEN KATSU 

  • 4 chicken cutlets, or 2 boneless chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. 1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, shallots, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 3 minutes. Pour in the broth, milk, and soy sauce, then whisk in the miso and chili paste. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes.
  2. 2. Meanwhile, make the Katsu. Place the Panko and sesame seeds in a shallow bowl. Season with salt & pepper. Dredge both sides of the chicken through the Panko, pressing to adhere by using your fist to really pound the crumbs in. Place the chicken on a plate.3. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook until golden brown on the other side, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and season with salt. Slice into thin strips.
  3. I use this same fry pan to saute the bok choy just until slightly softened. Wipe out most of the oil and it will be perfect, soaking up the sesame seeds left behind by the chicken.
  4. 4. To the soup, stir in the noodles, spinach, and sesame oil. Let sit 5 minutes or until the noodles are soft. (or precook your noodles)
  5. 5. To serve, divide the noodles between bowls and ladle over the soup back overtop. Add the chicken and bok choy. Top as desired with eggs, green onions, sesame seeds, and chili oil. Serve immediately.

I’m not going to pretend this is authentic Japanese Ramen ….. this is perfect for the home cook, it delivers on so many levels, flavour, simplicity and comfort! (to start) We aren’t fond of eggs in our house, so we always leave those off, but if you love eggs, make sure to add. Jade, this is perfect for your newly laying hens and those beautiful eggs they are producing.

Get everything chopped while you crisp up the bacon. You could omit the bacon, but I think it is a quick, week night hack for getting that traditional flavour of pork belly into a ramen dish.
Saute it all up until those onion bits begin to caramelize. See my gorgeous wooden utensil? Hayley made that and it makes cooking more fun.
Today’s version of vegetables and toppings. Use whatever you have on hand! We have enough for two nights, so I think my next dinner I will omit the chicken katsu, and serve with prawn & vegetable tempura.
Adding the sesame seeds to the panko gives the chicken lots of flavour and extra crunch.
I like to use the same pan – remove the excess oil, leaving the sesame seeds and bits of panko, then sauté the vegetables until tender but still have some crunch.
Another night …. another selection of vegetables.
Tonight we served this with green onion pancakes, and my toasted sesame vinaigrette.

This recipe came from Half Baked Harvest ….Tieghan calls it a 30 minute dish, let me know if that works out for you …. it sure didn’t for me! If I had to, it might be faster but after a day of desk work I don’t mind taking my time. Hop on over to her website if you haven’t already, she not only has fabulous recipes, she has lots of tips and videos to make sure your home meals aren’t getting boring during this “stay at home” Covid rut!

Cacio e Pepe with bacon!

Every time I make spaghetti carbonara I think it would benefit from a bunch of crispy bacon, so here it is … a tangled mash up of cacio e pepe and carbonara. I think it is perfect! Also quick and easy.

A tangle of creamy pasta, sharp cheese and crunchy bacon can’t be beat. Apologies to Italian pasta grannies for any offence this mash up could cause, but it sure is delicious.

Kosher salt

  • 6 oz. pasta (such as egg tagliolini, bucatini, or spaghetti)
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, divided
  • 1tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 8 oz cooked bacon, chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • ¾ cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan
  • ⅓ cup finely grated Pecorino

This serves 2 as a generous dinner helping – adjust for your table!

Slice bacon into thin strips and cook over medium heat, stirring often to separate, until crispy and cooked through. Set aside on paper towel lined plate to drain and cool.

Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain, reserving ¾ cup pasta cooking water.

Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute.

Add ½ cup reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter. Reduce heat to low and add whisked egg, Grana Padano, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Do this relatively quickly so the egg doesn’t scramble. You only want it to cook through via the hot pasta. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta, and pasta is al dente. (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.) Transfer pasta to warm bowls and serve, with a generous helping of more Parmesan and cracked pepper.

If you only have one of the cheeses, that is fine too – I’ve had to adapt this a few times during our Covid restrictions to work with whatever I had on hand.

Serve with this aromatic green onion and pepper focaccia and a big salad.

Malaysian Laksa

It’s cold around here! If you are looking for a big bowl of comfort, well here you go! Dress it up however you like, made it vegetarian if so inclined, whatever you do, give it a try. This is perfect for a chilly night.

Once you have tried this creamy coconut broth, laced with spicy chili and fresh crunchy vegetables you will be putting this on repeat!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 tbsp oil
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • 2 cm (1 inch ish) ginger, grated
  • 1 lemongrass , white part grated
  •  2 birds eye chillis , finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 cup (175g) laksa paste 
  • 400g / 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth 
  • 2 tsp fish sauce (sub soy but fish sauce recommended)
  • 2 tsp chili sauce
  • cooked noodles, either rice vermicelli or Udon noodles
  • any cooked protein if you like ….. chicken, prawns, crispy tofu, the options are up to you
  • cilantro, roughly chopped
  • sliced green onions
  • bean sprouts

METHOD

  • Heat oil in a large saucepan or small pot over medium low heat. Add garlic and ginger, sauté for 20 seconds, then add lemongrass and chillis. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Add laksa paste. Turn heat up to medium and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, or until fragrant.
  • Add chicken stock, coconut milk, fish sauce and 2 tsp of Chilli Sauce. Place lid on and simmer on for 10 minutes.
  • Adjust to taste using lime juice (for sour) and fish sauce (for saltiness). Leave on turned off stove with lid on for 5 minutes.

To assemble, place noodles in bowl, add in vegetables and bean sprouts – top with broth and then any of the fixings you like

Personal touches added to each bowl make all the difference. I used the “Umami Crisp” from Big Smoke in Whistler, BC to add in place of the chili paste.
I love to make this a one dish meal, so I saute or steam a bunch of fresh veg for color flavour and brightness. Use whatever you like. Cook separately from the laksa broth so you retain their color and brightness.

I’ve tried a number of laksa recipes, and they tend to disappoint. Part of the problem is a difficulty sourcing different pastes and sauces where we live. Laksa paste itself is a very complex flavour compound. This recipe came from Recipe Tin Eats, and it was her recommendation to use a paste that convinced me to try again. Nagi was right on with that suggestion, by the time you have enough of the right ingredients to make laksa paste, you would have to be making it frequently to keep all your supplies fresh. Hop on over to her blog for even more components to this dish, even recipes to make your own stock and chili paste.

We love this served with my green onion pancakes, perfect for dipping!

Miso Herb Roasted Veg stock

The perfect base for any kind of soup – wonton tonight, laksa another night.

Cold dreary days lead to healing soups! Even the start of this, with the miso coated vegetables roasting in the oven promises great flavour. I promise you will feel like brighter days are coming by the time you finish this bowl of deliciousness. (Is that a word?)

  • 4 tbsp white miso paste
  • 3 tbsp grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 3 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 sheet of dried seaweed (optional but recommended)
  • 1 large yellow onion, skin on, thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed clean and thinly sliced
  • 2 large celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 2 heads of garlic, cut in half, skins on
  • 4 inch knob of ginger, unpeeled, thinly sliced
  • 5 sprigs parsley (or any other herb you have around!)

To finish: juice of one lemon, salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325 and cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl combine miso, oil and water, whisk to combine.

Place piece of seaweed and all prepared veg on the parchment and toss well with the miso mixture.

Roast for at least an hour, until veg are lightly browned.

Turn into a large stock pot, and cover with 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1-2 hours.

Strain the stock off, discard the vegetables (you’ve cooked all the goodness out of them!) and add in the juice of 1 lemon, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

This is delicious!!! I got it from the kitchen of Jillian Harris, she calls it Gut Healing Veggie Broth, and it is a sure fired winner.

Don’t you just know how good it is going to be already??
Once that miso gets tossed in there with it all and starts roasting your whole house smells fabulous.
The broth alone is a great starting place for amazing soups.
LAKSA – totally delicious with this stock.

Vietnamese Pepper Chicken Rice Bowl

I love THE FRESH BRIGHT FLAVOUR OF A RICE BOWL LIKE THIS! THE ADDED BONUS IS THAT IT ALL COMES TOGETHER VERY QUICKLY AND IS AS VERSATILE AS WHATEVER YOU HAVE ON HAND.

Today’s version included some stir fried vegetables to make it a one bowl dinner, and some quick pickled peppers.
  • 4 chicken thigh fillets
  • 180g (6.3 oz) dried rice vermicelli noodles 
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil 
  • 100g (3.5 oz) baby spinach leaves 
  • sliced cucumber, to serve 
  • finely julienned carrot, to serve 
  • ¼ cup roasted peanuts, crushed or finely chopped 
  • roughly torn mint leaves, to serve 
  • Marinade: 
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce 
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated 
  • 1 tsp sugar 
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper 
  • Nuoc cham dressing: 
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce 
  • 3 tbsp sugar 
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar 
  • 2 tbsp lime juice 
  • 1 long red chilli, finely chopped (or a pinch of chili flakes to taste)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 

Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, toasted peanuts, slivered green onions, and if you have them cilantro & herbs.

STEP 1
In a large bowl, combine the chicken fillets with the marinade ingredients. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the remaining ingredients. 

STEP 2
For the nuoc cham dressing, place the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Set aside for later. 

STEP 3
Cook the noodles in boiling water for 2-3 minutes or until just cooked. Drain and rinse until cool. Divide among serving bowls. 

STEP 4
Heat the oil on a large grill plate or in a frying pan over high heat. Add the chicken fillets and cook 3-4 minutes on the first side or until lovely and golden. Turn the fillets over and reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from heat and slice the chicken. 

STEP 5
To serve, arrange the baby spinach, cucumber and carrot on top of the noodles. Top with chicken slices. Spoon over a generous amount of the nuoc cham dressing. Top with the crushed peanuts and mint leaves and serve. 

For such a simple marinade, this chicken was very tasty! Fish sauce is a real flavour booster.

I’ve adapted the recipe here according to what I had at home, and we felt more like rice than rice noodles tonight. Honestly, we struggle with rice noodles after our trip through Vietnam and Cambodia, the noodles here at home just never taste as fresh and tender. We were in Cambodia, at the Kampot Pepper plantation and I keep finding ways to use that fabulous pepper.

This recipe is exactly as written from Marion Grasby of Marion’s Kitchen. If you haven’t followed her yet on Instagram or Youtube, you are missing out. She is amazing to watch, and every recipe is on point! Thank you Marion!