Tart and Tangy Thai Pork Noodles

This makes for a quick and easy dinner, using one skillet (or wok), and just involves a bit of chopping.  As always, please please, taste your marinade before adding cornstarch.  If you don’t smack your lips and say yum yum, try adjusting.  Maybe you like it spicier?  – add chile flakes.  Maybe you like it more tart?  – add lime.  Any dish that has Thai in the title should be well balanced, with salty, sweet, spicy & sour in perfect harmony. Once you get that perfect balance add the corn starch.

Pork noodles

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb boneless pork loin,  cut into strips
  • tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • tablespoons soya sauce (reduced sodium)
  •  4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 1teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces rice noodles
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided use
  •  broccoli florets
  • carrot, sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • bamboo shoots (optional)
  • water chestnuts (optional)

Realistically – – – all the vegetables are optional, use whatever you like, just make sure you have a good assortment of color and crunch.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, honey, cornstarch, sesame oil and red pepper flakes.  Remove enough just to cover pork and place in bowl.
  2. Add pork, marinate while preparing pasta and vegetables or up to overnight.
  3. Cook (or soak) rice noodles according to package directions, drain.
  4. Heat 1 tsp oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute garlic & ginger for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add vegetables and saute until crisp-tender (about 5 minutes).
  6. Remove vegetables from skillet and keep warm.
  7. Add remaining oil and pork mixture to skillet. Cook until pork is nicely browned.
  8. Remove pork, keep warm and stir in remaining marinade to skillet.  Cook until bubbly so the cornstarch is cooked through and thickens.
  9. Return pork & vegetables to skillet, add rice noodles, heat through and serve.

Garnishes:  sliced green onions, toasted and chopped peanuts and roughly chopped cilantro.

This dish works equally well if you want to make it a vegetarian dish, or decide to change up the protein, try:

  • sliced chicken thighs
  • prawns
  • seafood

We like rice noodles, but you could easily use any type of pasta you have on hand like chinese egg noodles or spaghetti noodles.

Crunchy Broccoli Slaw

Broccoli Slaw

Huge thanks to SmittenKitchen for this delicious, crunchy and addictive slaw.  We loved it!  I’ve tried a few recipes out, but this one hits all the notes and it will be on repeat all summer long.

Makes about six cups of slaw

2 heads of broccoli
1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds, toasted
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

Buttermilk Dressing
1/2 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (or if you are like me, and always have some pickled red onions in the fridge, use those ….. so pretty!)

Using a jar, combine all dressing ingredients and shake vigorously to combine.  Set in fridge while you prep the salad.

Peel the broccoli stems and either use a mandolin on a fine setting, or dice quite small.  Separate the broccoli florets into bite size pieces, slicing the larger bits.

In a large bowl, combine broccoli, cranberries, and red onion.  Pour dressing over, and stir to mix well, sprinkle with toasted almonds.

Enjoy!  This works exceptionally well as a side to any grilled meat – tonight we served it with smoked baby back ribs.

Coconut Curry Noodle Bowls with Peanut Dressing

I’ve been trying to simplify some of my dinner plans ….. as much as I like puttering in the kitchen for a couple of hours after work (what I call kitchen yoga), there are times I just need to make a quick dinner.  This is one of my favourites …. quick, easy, healthy and most of all, absolutely delicious.  You don’t really have to make the peanut dressing to drizzle over, but honestly, isn’t everything better with peanut sauce?

coconut-curry-noodle-bowl

Tonight’s version of this bowl included prawns, mushrooms, snow peas, bok choy and lots of colourful peppers.

PEANUT DRESSING:
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 heaping Tbsp natural salted peanut butter
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
splash of lime juice
scant 1/4 tsp chili garlic sauce
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced or grated
splash of very hot water (only if too thick)

COCONUT CURRY:
1 tablespoon oil
2 shallots
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 14-ounce can regular coconut milk
1 ½ cup reduced sodium chicken or veggie broth
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon hot chili paste (sambal oelek)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice (optional)

BOWL: (These are suggestions, use whatever veg you have on hand)

4 ounces rice or egg noodles
1 tablespoon oil
half an onion, chopped
1 cup chopped broccoli florets
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup chopped asparagus
1 cup shredded purple cabbage
sesame seeds & chopped peanuts for topping
limes for serving
a handful of fresh basil & cilantro for serving

I’ve also used snow peas, zucchini, sweet peppers & bean sprouts.

To prepare your peanut sauce combine all ingredients except the hot water, blend well and stir in just enough of the hot water to allow everything to become smooth and creamy.

Preparing the curry sauce is pretty easy.  Heat oil in a sauce pan and stir in shallots and fresh ginger, saute briefly just until translucent and stir i the curry paste.  Fry curry paste for 2-3 minutes, just to allow flavours to wake up.  Stir in the coconut milk, and stock.  Simmer for a few minutes just to allow flavours to get to know each other…… Taste …. if you can handle a bit more heat stir in the hot chili paste.  Remove from heat and add the sugar, fish sauce and soy sauce.  Taste again and adjust.  Remember, every brand of these ingredients will have a slightly different profile, and you need to make adjustments for that.  Last thing is to add the lime juice.  It should wake everything up and make you want to keep tasting …..

The method is fairly flexible, saute your veg in a wok with the oil just until crisp tender and set aside.  Alternatively, if you are using egg noodles, once you have removed the egg noodle from the boiling water, plunge the veg in for just 1-2 minutes until crisp tender and remove.

SERVING TIME:

Place noodles in the bottom of your bowl, layer on the veg, and sprinkle with toppings.  Gently pour over the coconut curry.  You can make this as saucy as you like by doubling up the curry sauce if you want more of a soup.  Drizzle over the peanut sauce and enjoy!

Mexican Chopped Salad

Leafy green saladThis is the best, most refreshing light and lively salad dressing whenever you are having a Mexican style meal – salad may not be something often on a Mexican comida menu, but we usually want a bit of a green, fresh vegetable element on our dinner table!

We love this as a salad dressing on a variety of greens, but also fabulous on an assortment of chopped vegetables, i.e. jicama, cucumbers, radish, red onion, carrot … you get the idea!

¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon cumin
1 clove garlic
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
taste and add salt if needed

Blend all ingredients well and dress your salad only when ready to serve.

Chopped Salad.jpg

Panzanella Salad

When tomatoes and basil are this fresh you can’t go wrong with a Panzanella salad, so simple, few ingredients and yet the flavours are just bursting with freshness.

Juicy tomatoes, bursting with flavour, basil out of the garden and naturally, a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio while preparing it all.

Juicy tomatoes, bursting with flavour, basil out of the garden and naturally, a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio while preparing it all.

These amounts are rough, use whatever you have on hand that is fresh:

Grilled bread, cut into bite size pieces (or use home made croutons – well seasoned)
fresh tomatoes, cut into about the same size piece as the bread
1/3 cup kalamata olives, sliced in half
1/4 cup roasted red pepper slices, diced
fresh basil, torn

Dressing:
1 tbsp capers
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup really good quality extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

In serving bowl mix dressing ingredients together, taste and adjust seasonings ….

Stir in all the other ingredients, mix well and allow to sit for 30-45 minutes to allow flavours to blend.

The combination of olives, capers, and fresh tomatoes along with the texture of crispy crunchy bread is absolute summer perfection.

The combination of olives, capers, and fresh tomatoes along with the texture of crispy crunchy bread is absolute summer perfection.

Wam Kale Salad

I wanted to credit Joni for this delicious salad – served warm or at room temperature, but she insisted I give the credit to her sister Brita, who originally came up with this – regardless of who gets credit, I will happily take it now as I post it and recreate it in my own kitchen! So delicious, and like lots of salads it is easy to adapt with whatever you have on hand or in your fridge.

This delicious salad is equally great served warm or at room temperature.

This delicious salad is equally great served warm or at room temperature.

Kale (chopped and massaged)
spinach
pears (bite size pieces)
dates (diced)
almonds (roasted and roughly chopped)
feta

onion, garlic, asparagus & cherry tomatoes

Saute onion until translucent, then add garlic and asparagus and cook only until asparagus is tender crisp, add cherry tomatoes, stir and remove from heat.

Dressing:

1/3 cup olive oil
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup Bragg’s
salt and pepper to taste – be cautious with the salt tho as both feta and Bragg’s will be a bit salty

Combine all ingredients – tossing in a large bowl with warm onion/garlic mixture and dressing.

This salad is so delicious and packed with nutritious bites that it can easily be a full meal – if you like add shrimp or cooked chicken, maybe a little quinoa??

Wild Rice Salad with Kale, Pecans & Blueberries

This salad is so beautiful to look at, and packed with deliciousness in every bite.  The contrasting textures work so well together – a meal in a bowl but also an amazing side to pretty much any barbecue.  Take it to a potluck and watch it disappear!

We were delighted when Tory produced this deliciously colorful salad.

We were delighted when Tory produced this deliciously colorful salad.

1 1/2 cups wild rice
1 cup raw pecans
6 large kale leaves
3 T walnut, pecan or vegetable oil
1T brown rice vinegar
2t brown sugar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup fresh blueberries

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the wild rice and cook until tender to the bite, about 45 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, preheat the over to 350F. Lay the pecans in the single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until toasted, about 10 mins. Watch carefully or set your timer – they go from golden brown to burnt in the blink of an eye! Let the pecans cool, then roughly chop them, set aside.

Trim and discard the thick stems form the kale, then chop the leaves.  Use your hands to massage and squish handfuls of the leaves until they soften and turn a darker shade of green, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper.  Add the cooked rice and toss to coat.  Add the kale, bell pepper and green onions and toss again.

At this point the salad can be kept, covered and chilled for up to 2 days.

Add the blueberries, and pecans just before serving.