Vegetable & Soba Noodle Salad

It is officially spring in Washington, DC: my Instragram feed is full of cherry blossoms and the car is dusted with pollen.  Life is good again (as long as the tourists stick to the right side of the Metro escalator.  Seriously, ok? Right. Side.).

Spring means more happy-looking vegetables, even at our local Safeway.  It also means that fresh, quick & easy is the best way to do dinner.

This “recipe” comes courtesy of my sister, and before that, one of her friends.  Really, though, there’s no plan to follow here – just use the vegetables in your refrigerator.  Although as my sister wisely said to me, “I know you wouldn’t do this, but obviously don’t skimp on the avocado.”  OBVIOUSLY NOT.

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Soba Noodle Salad

  • 1 package soba or buckwheat noodles
  • 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 head purple or green cabbage, shredded
  • handful sesame seeds
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • a big handful cilantro, chopped
  • other optional toppings: feta cheese, shredded/cooked chicken, pan fried tofu, peanuts
  • dressing:
    • 1 part olive oil
    • 1 part rice vinegar
    • 1 part soy sauce
    • 1/2 part toasted sesame oil
    • 1 tablespoon or so honey, plus more as needed
    • juice from 1/2 lime
    • healthy dose sriracha
    • freshly grated ginger
    • s&p to taste
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook soba noodles until just before al dente, about 5-6 minutes.  Rinse immediately with cold water.
  2. Combine all of your chopped veggies (from bell pepper through cabbage) in a large bowl and set aside.  Whisk your dressing together; continually taste and adjust to your liking.
  3. Add noodles to veggies; top with sesame seeds & dressing.  Give the bowl a thorough mix with tongs and add avocado and cilantro.  Serve warm or cold.

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The Verdict:

Husband hasn’t passed the verdict yet, so you can be the judge…d’accord?

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Slow Cooked Chicken Pho

I’ve been knocked flat by a cold.  I do mean I have literally been knocked flat – getting out of bed requires a monumental amount of effort.

I need some chicken soup, but I need to be able to make it without having to stand up for too long, because that gives me the coughs.  Obviously, my slow cooker is going to save the day; recipe inspired by Eating Well.  Because what could be better for your breathing than lots (and lots) of Asian spice?

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Slow Cooked Chicken Pho

  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts, skim removed
  • 8 cups chicken broth (the best stuff you have)
  • about 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • about 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 8 whole star anise
  • dash ground cloves
  • dash crushed reds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 inches fresh peeled ginger, grated
  • 1/2 package udon noodles
  • 5-6 bunches baby bok choy, washed, bottoms removed, and roughly chopped
  • fresh herbs: basil, cilantro
  • toppings: scallions, thinly sliced yellow or white onions, sriracha, fresh lime, hoisin sauce, jalapeno
  1. In a large deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sear in the pan, 3-4 minutes on each side, to maximize chicken flavor.
  2. In your slow cooker, combine ingredients starting with the broth and going through ginger.  Give it a quick mix and then add the chicken, meat side down.  Cook on low for about 7 hours.  Take out the chicken from the slow cooker, and remove it from the bone.  (Optional step: strain the broth for the star anise, so you don’t accidentally bite down on them later.)  When slightly cooled, shred, and add back to the cooker for another 20-30 minutes.
  3. With about 20 minutes to go, boil water for your udon noodles and cook according to directions.
  4. With about 5-10 minutes to go, add the bok choy to the slow cooker and give it a stir.
  5. Place noodles in a bowl and ladle the chicken soup over the top.  Serve with your desired toppings – big handful of herbs, sriracha, lime juice, anything that sets your mouth on fire.

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The Verdict:

The crunch and spice of the basil, cilantro and scallions at the end are a must.  This was the first thing I’ve actually tasted in a while, so you know it tasted good.  Anything with this much heat is bound to clear up the sinuses, at least for a little while!  That being said, the Husband really dug this, too…though he thought it might be better with a little less star anise.  Would love feedback from anyone who gives it a go!

Slow Cooked Chicken, Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Curry Stew

It’s been at least two or three weeks since I last busted out our crockpot, which just isn’t right.  Thinking about how to right that wrong, I decided it was time to build on the earlier success of this week (I was pretty pumped for being able to rescue the curried red lentil soup) – and do it all over again.  That’s how you learn, right?  Recipe inspired and adapted from Food & Wine.

these veggies are excited for the crockpot.
these veggies are excited to get crockpotin’.

Slow Cooked Chicken, Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Curry Stew

  • 1 pound or so chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry (Note: this would probably be tastier with chicken thighs, but the Husband and I BOTH don’t like dark meat = at least we’re equally weird.)
  • salt + pepper
  • canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger (Tip: keep a fresh ginger root in your freezer and just grate it as you need it!)
  • 2 tablespoons or so curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste, for kick
  • 1/4 cup chicken or veggie broth
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 15 oz light coconut milk
  • 1 bag frozen peas, thawed (Tip: just take them out of the bag, sit in them in a colander and let drain as the rest of the dish slow cooks)
  • optional: cilantro, lime
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yea, veggies.
  1. Heat oil in a hot saute pan.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sear them on each side, until just golden brown.  Transfer to your crockpot.
  2. In the same saute pan, reduce the heat, add a bit more oil and then your onions.  Saute until starting to soften, then add garlic & ginger.  Cook for a minute, then add curry powder and chili paste.  Cook another minute or so and then add your broth, scraping up the yummy bits from the pan.  Pour over the chicken in the crockpot.
  3. Add sweet potato, cauliflower, and coconut milk to the crockpot and give it a quick toss.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook on low for about 7-8 hours, until chicken is cooked and vegetables are tender.
  5. Stir in the peas until warmed through.  Serve over brown rice, squeeze with a hit of lime juice, and top with cilantro.
mm, mm good.
mm, mm good.

 

 The Verdict:

This 1. was just the right amount of spicy; 2. smelled awesome; and 3. tasted great.  Veggies were maybe slightly mushy, and there was a lot of liquid.  With a bit of tweaking on this adaptation, this is a winner.  That will feed you for days. And days.  (Especially when the Hubs is at work – nothing like a crockpot full of chicken and veggies for one, okthanks.)