Category Archives: Stir Fry

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

In my efforts to eat healthy some days are more successful than others.  This meal was probably the healthiest one I made all week, and definitely one of the tastiest as well.  It was a huge hit with the kids too.

If you don’t like it spicy, you will want to reduce or eliminate the Thai or serrano peppers.  Made according to the recipe, these definitely have a bit of a kick!

One note on ground chicken:  I typically don’t like to buy it.  For some reason it seems to always have a bit of a mysterious gritty texture that I don’t enjoy.  Unless you are close friends with the guy at the meat counter, there is no way to know exactly what is ground up in there.  Instead I buy chicken thighs and grind them up myself in my food processor.  A few pulses is all it takes.  It results in a coarser, juicier texture which I like, and no weird grit!  Plus you have the advantage of choosing exactly what parts of the chicken you want to eat.  I usually opt for thighs since I find them a bit more flavorful. That being said, if you’re in a hurry or just don’t want to mess with it, by all means buy ground chicken instead.

Not a fan of lettuce wraps?  Admittedly they are a little messy but I love them.  However, once you’ve made this mixture there is no reason you couldn’t put it in a wrap, tortilla, rice paper, pepper half or pita pocket.  Or just dig in with a fork.  Whatever conveyance you choose, these are just plain yummy!

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps.  Delicious!

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps. Delicious!

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps
(adapted from Cooking Light)

4 tsp. canola oil, divided
1/2 cup minced shallots
1/2 cup (or more) thinly sliced red bell pepper
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound chicken thighs (or ground chicken)
2 Thai or serrano chiles, minced (less if you don’t like it spicy)
1 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 cup basil leaves, coarsely chopped or torn
1 tbsp. lime juice
Lime wedges
Large lettuce leaves (I like to use butter lettuce for this since the leaves are sort of bowl-shaped)

Cut chicken into chunks and add to a food processor.

Making ground chicken.  I prefer this to buying ground chicken.  It only takes a few extra minutes!

Making ground chicken. I prefer this to buying ground chicken. It only takes a few extra minutes!

Pulse until coarsely ground.

A few pulses and voila!  Ground chicken.

A few pulses and voila! Ground chicken.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 2 tsp. oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add shallots and sauté 2 minutes.  Add bell pepper; sauté one minute.  Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.  Remove shallot mixture from pan and set aside.

Add remaining 2 tsp. oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add chicken.  Cook and stir 5 minutes or until browned, crumbling with your stirring utensil as it cooks.  Drain well if there is extra juice in the pan.  Reduce heat to medium.  Add chiles; cook one minute.  Add shallot mixture back in.  Stir in fish sauce, brown sugar, soy sauce and black pepper.  Cook one minute or so until everything is heated through and combined well.  Remove pan from heat.  Stir in basil leaves and lime juice.

There is nothing stopping you from just eating this with a fork if you're no fan of lettuce wraps.  Dig in!  Otherwise, load up the wrap of your choice with this yummy concoction!

There is nothing stopping you from just eating this with a fork if you’re no fan of lettuce wraps. Otherwise, load up the wrap of your choice with this yummy concoction!

Serve in lettuce leaves with lime wedges or just dig in with a fork!

 

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Sausage and Red Cabbage Sauté

Cabbage has such a bad rap.  I think it’s because so many people cook it to death, until it’s a nasty, smelly, soggy mess.  Who wouldn’t hate that?  I love cabbage.  Especially red cabbage, which always seems a bit sweeter and the leaves tend to be a little thicker, which means they hold up well during cooking.  Cabbage is full of vitamins, especially vitamin C, but the more you cook it the more nutrients you destroy.  I prefer to eat it raw, in slaw or salads, or to do just a quick sauté to give it a bit of heat and bring out the flavors.

This sauté is quick, flavorful and pretty too!  I like to use a sausage that has fruit in it, such as chicken apple sausage, or mango jalapeno.  The fruit in the sausage adds a subtle sweetness to the dish that offsets the vinegar, resulting in a lovely sweet and sour dish. The trick to getting the cabbage perfect is to cook everything else first, throwing in the cabbage just for the last couple of minutes to heat it up and soften it a bit, but not so much that you lose the texture.

Sausage and Red Cabbage Sauté

Sausage and Red Cabbage Sauté

Sausage and Red Cabbage Sauté

1 pound sausage links (I used Aidell’s mango jalapeno sausage), sliced
1 head purple cabbage, sliced or coarsely chopped
1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
Salt & pepper

Slice up everything ahead of time.  This doesn’t take long to throw together.

All ingredients ready to go.

All ingredients ready to go.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add a drizzle of olive oil and heat.  Add onion, fennel seed and sausage to pan.  Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is tender and sausage is browned (if your sausage is really greasy, drain off the extra grease at this point; if you use a lean sausage this will be unnecessary).  Add cabbage and sauté 2-3 minutes until slightly tender.  Add vinegar and salt & pepper to taste.  Stir to combine and continue to cook a minute more to let the flavors mingle.  Serve hot.

This paired beautifully with Vinegar Roasted Potatoes.

Sausage and Red Cabbage Sauté with a side of Vinegar Roasted Potatoes

Sausage and Red Cabbage Sauté with a side of Vinegar Roasted Potatoes

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Pork and Broccoli Stir Fry with a Twist of Orange

I won’t pretend this is any sort of authentic recipe, but it is one I make often.  It’s my healthier take on Chinese stir fry.  I usually use a small amount of meat, and a large amount of broccoli or other veggies.  I love the fresh udon noodles in this and use them often.  If you haven’t come across these before, I usually find them in the produce section with the refrigerated items such as tofu and wonton wrappers.  They also freeze well which makes them extra convenient in my book.  If you are on a low carb or low gluten diet, feel free to leave them out or serve the stir fry with rice instead.

I always find it interesting to note that when I eat with chopsticks I always eat less.  I think it’s because I have to concentrate a bit more on my food instead of eating mindlessly.  I also eat slower and take smaller bites.  Maybe I should start eating everything with chopsticks.

Pork and Broccoli Stir Fry with a Twist of Orange

Pork and Broccoli Stir Fry with a Twist of Orange

Pork & Broccoli Stir Fry with a Twist of Orange

1/2 pound boneless pork loin chops, sliced into thin strips
1 big bunch broccoli, cut into florets (I usually slice up most of the stems as well)
1-2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp. lime juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. chile garlic sauce (find in the Asian section of the store)
1 pkg. fresh udon noodles (find in the produce section in most stores)
Toasted sesame seeds

In a small bowl combine soy sauce, lime juice, orange juice, cornstarch and chile garlic sauce.  Stir until cornstarch dissolves and set aside.  Set your noodles in a colander and rinse with warm water to separate noodles.  Set aside.

Heat a large skillet or wok over medium high heat.  Add sesame oil and let heat for a few seconds.  Add ginger and stir fry for about 30 seconds.  Add pork.  Stir fry until most of the pink is gone.  Add broccoli.  Continue to stir fry 4-5 minutes until broccoli is just tender (I prefer mine a little on the crunchy side, but feel free to cook a bit more if you like it softer).  Pour sauce over meat and veggies and cook for a minute or two until it is slightly thickened and coating everything well.  Add noodles and stir fry (gently so you don’t break up the noodles too much) another minute or so to combine.   Top each serving with a generous sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and eat!

 

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3 Pepper Sauté

When I was young I didn’t like any peppers at all.  Strange that now I can’t seem to get enough of them, especially this time of year.  My favorites are the sweet red, yellow and orange ones, but I’ll eat any of them that come my way.  The poblanos in this add a little kick and more complex flavor, but if you don’t want that, just use regular green peppers as a substitute.

This is a simple recipe that I usually make as a side dish for tacos, or chicken or well…whatever.  It also works great in a bowl by itself, as a burrito filling, or folded into an omelet for breakfast the next day.

3 Pepper Sauté

 

3 Pepper Sauté

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup sliced red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Poblano peppers, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Salt & pepper

Sauté onions, garlic and peppers in olive oil until the veggies are tender.  Add corn, beans, lime juice and seasonings and mix well.  Stir and cook a couple of minutes until it’s all heated through.  Serve hot or cold.

 

 

 

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Sesame Snap Peas & Noodles

Pasta is so good, but unfortunately not that great for you in large quantities.  That’s why I’m always trying to find ways to make it a little more healthy.  And that usually means piling on the veggies.  Luckily, my kitchen is usually well-stocked with vegetables of all sorts since I tend to buy everything that looks good at farmer’s markets on the weekends.  And believe me, EVERYTHING looks good this time of year!

I love this Asian take on noodles and veggies.  It’s such a quick and satisfying meal.  I used brown rice noodles, keeping with the Asian theme and also keeping it gluten-free.  As far as gluten-free noodles go, I really like these; they are very similar to regular pasta in taste and texture.  But any type of pasta will work great.  In this dish, I love the contrast of the cool noodles with the hot stir-fried veggies and light, zippy sauce.  Perfect for a summer dinner.

Sesame Snap Peas & Noodles

Sesame Snap Peas & Noodles

8 oz. thin spaghetti or angel hair
1 tsp. garlic chile paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp. lime juice
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp. sugar
1 pound snap peas, strings pulled and sliced in half
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp mince fresh garlic
1 orange or red bell pepper, diced
1 spring onion, sliced or diced
1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

Cook noodles until tender, but firm to the bite, 6-8 minutes.  Rinse with cool water and set aside.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine, garlic chile paste, soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil and sugar.  Set aside.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a drizzle of canola oil.  Add snap peas, ginger, garlic, bell pepper, and onion.  Stir fry a few minutes until veggies are crisp tender.  Add bowl of sauce and sesame seeds and stir well to combine.  Cook for another minute or so.  Toss with noodles and serve.  Serves 4.

Sesame Snap Peas & Noodles

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Spicy Thai Noodles with Spring Veggies

If I owned a grocery store, I would stock latex gloves next to the fresh chile peppers.  Why?  Because I ALWAYS forget to buy them when I’m grocery shopping, and I always wish I had them when my fingers are stinging and I’ve forgotten I shouldn’t rub my eyes after chopping peppers.  Someday I will learn my lesson and buy a case to have on hand at all times.

But until then, stinging fingers and eyes are just part of the sacrifice I’m willing to make for delicious spicy food.  This is a zippy, fresh tasting recipe that makes the most of spring vegetables available right now.  I love how the cold rice noodles are balanced by the hot, spicy stir-fried veggies.  If you are not a fan of spicy food, you can use less (or leave out) the fresh chiles.

Spicy Thai Noodles with Spring Veggies.
(And teenage boy fingers snatching noodles!)

Spicy Thai Noodles with Spring Veggies
(adapted from Cooking Light) 

7 oz. (1/2 package) flat rice noodles
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped mint
2 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. walnut oil (or peanut oil)
1 1/2 tbsp. grated peeled fresh ginger
6 garlic cloves, sliced
2 serrano or Thai chiles, finely chopped (use less if you don’t like it spicy)
2 cups snow peas
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (or more) unsalted, dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

To cook noodles, bring a pot of water to a boil.  Remove from heat and submerge noodles.  Let sit in the hot water for about 10 minutes until tender.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Place in a large serving bowl.  Add radishes, green onions, basil, cilantro, mint, lime juice and fish sauce.  Toss.

In a large skillet, heat walnut or peanut oil over medium-low heat.  Add garlic, ginger and chiles.  Cook for 2 minutes, stirring.  Increase heat to medium, add veggies and salt to pan.  Continue to cook and stir about 3-4 minutes, until veggies are crisp-tender.  Add to noodle mixture, toss well to combine.  Sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

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Project Veggie: Day 9 – Sesame Noodles & Broccoli Stir Fry

Traditional Chinese food is something I have not had much luck replicating perfectly at home.  I’ve tried.  I’ve used recipes.  I’ve got cookbooks.  I’ve had some successes certainly, yummy results…sure, but tasting like true Chinese take out…no dice.  I don’t know if it’s the ingredients, the equipment, the know-how.  Probably all three.  But I’ve decided to stop trying to figure it out.  Some things should remain a mystery.  So when I’m really craving Chinese I usually order out from the place a couple blocks from my house, and when I walk in the door to pick it up, the owner yells out, “Welcome home!”  Then he hands me my food and says “Here you go, Cutie!”  I get mouth-watering take-out and a compliment in less than 10 minutes, for under 10 bucks.  Can’t beat it.  So I don’t try.  Instead, I do many Asian-inspired stir fry type things.  They have less to do with recipes or ethnic authenticity and more to do with blending some of my favorite flavors with whatever happens to be in my fridge at the time.

My son Luke is a freak for noodles.  Always has  been.  I’ve been feeding my kids ethnic food – really, whatever I was eating – ever since they started eating food.  As a result, they like pretty much everything now.  But when they were little, I started out simple, introducing them to new flavors slowly and adding more as we went along.  Sesame noodles are something I’ve been making for them since they were small.  It’s perfect for kids (or picky adults) because there are no weird ingredients.  Simple and basic, they are perfect by themselves or with any stir fry.  They are delicious served hot, cold, or in between.  This time I paired them with a spicy broccoli stir fry.

Sesame Noodles & Broccoli Stir Fry

Sesame Noodles

1 pkg. thin spaghetti or angel hair noodles
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds (you can buy them toasted or toast them yourself a minute or two in a skillet on the stove)
2 tbsp. sliced green onions

Cook noodles according to package directions.  Do not overcook!  Drain and rinse (I don’t normally rinse pasta but I usually do with this since I prefer it at room temperature and don’t like it to stick together).  Add other ingredients and toss.

 

Broccoli Stir Fry

1 tbsp. canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. minced ginger
2 cups of broccoli florets
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
1-2 tsp. garlic chile sauce (found in the Asian section of the grocery store)
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. sugar

Heat oil in skillet or wok over med-high heat.  Add garlic & ginger and saute a minute until fragrant.  Add veggies, stir fry for a few minutes.  Add garlic chile sauce (add more or less depending on how spicy you like it), sesame oil and sugar.  Continue to stir fry until veggies are crisp-tender.  Serve with noodles.

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