Vegetarian Rice Cakes (Nian Gao) with Napa Cabbage

Nian Gao or rice cakes

I remember trying rice cakes for the first time when I was visiting China, and I instantly fell in love with it’s soft, almost gnocchi-like texture.  Since I’ve moved to a city with a huge asian grocery store,  I found myself suddenly craving that dish.  I bought dry rice cakes and napa cabbage, but couldn’t find a recipe online that didn’t require pork.  So I turned to my most trusted advisor, my mom, and she knew exactly what to do.

Note: The amount of each ingredient is an estimate…you know how your mother and grandmother seem to just “sense” it.

Ingredients (Serving 1-2):

oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 TB chopped green onions
salt
2 cups chopped napa cabbage
1 cup rice cakes (if you’re using dry rice cakes, they must be soaked in water overnight)
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 tsp. soy sauce
dash of sesame oil

Directions:
1. Heat oil in a large pan. Add mushrooms and green onions, cook until tender. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.
2. In the same pan, add some oil and napa cabbage. Cook for about 3 minutes, add the rice cakes on top and chicken broth. Cover, turn heat to medium, cook until rices cakes are tender. Add salt to taste, add the cooked mushrooms. Stir in soy sauce and sesame oil.

Easy Crockpot Pork Roast with Diced Tomatoes

pork roast crockpot
I was browsing the meat section at Safeway and came across a beautiful pound of pork roast. This will make a nice crockpot dinner, I thought to myself.  On weekdays I have a huge appetite but lack the motivation to cook anything complicated. I took home this nice round roast and began surfing for easy recipes.  I couldn’t find a recipe with ingredients I currently had, so I altered a couple a made my own and crossed my finger.  It turned out delicious!

 

Ingredients:

1.5lb Pork Roast
ground rosemary
pepper
dried thyme
1 cup chopped celery
1 14.5oz can beef broth
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
1 8oz can tomato sauce
salt

Directions:

1. Rub pork roast with rosemary, pepper, and thyme. Let it sit for a few minutes.
2. Add celery to crockpot. Lay the roast over the celery. Add all the canned ingredients and a dash of salt. Slightly stir.
3. Turn to low and cook for 6-7 hours.

Serve with rice or serve as soup.

Superbowl Season: Mild Buffalo Wings

I have a weak will when it comes to wings of any kind. Buffalo wings in particular are my guilty pleasure.  I adapted the recipe from Punchbowl, making it less burning-my-mouth.  The image is from the day after I baked them, so it doesn’t do these lovelies justice.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 20 chicken wings
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup hot red pepper sauce
  • Blue cheese or ranch dressing (for dipping)

Directions:

1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and lightly grease with cooking spray (VERY IMPORTANT).

2. Place the flour, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and salt into a resealable plastic bag then shake to mix. Add the chicken wings, seal, and toss until well coated with the flour mixture. Place the wings onto the prepared baking sheet, and place in the refrigerator. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

4. Whisk the melted butter and hot sauce together in a small bowl. Dip the wings into the butter mixture and place back on the baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and crispy on the outside, about 45 minutes. Turn the wings over halfway during cooking so they cook evenly.

5. Serve with dressing.

Baked Mild Buffalo wings

Simple Condiments and Spices to make Food Pop

Chili Mayo Sauce

I bite into a burger or sandwich and wonder what is missing. The meat is perfectly cooked, I got all the trimmings, there’s even bacon, but why does it still taste dull? That’s where condiments and spices come in. Nothing fancy required. Just a dash of chili powder or an already made salad dressing can add a ray of sunshine for the tastebuds.

Here’s a few I’ve discovered:

  • Thousand Island Dressing aka “Anything Dressing” adds a sweet and tangy dimension to burgers and sandwiches
  • Mayonnaise + ketchup + dash of red wine vinegar for burgers
  • Tzatziki sauce is a creamy and refreshing addition to any sandwich
  • Ranch – I like adding some to my mac n’ cheese
  • Guacamole – versatile and delicious on anything
  • Cajun spice for eggs, potatoes, and seafood
  • Red pepper flakes to add a kick to any sautéed dish
  • Sour cream + Mayonnaise + Chili powder + dash of lime juice for any seafood dish
  • Pesto!
  • Sour cream + maple syrup for sweet potatoes
  • Dijon mustard

 

Baked Spinach Stuffed Turkey Burger

turkey

Ingredients

20oz package of Extra Lean Ground Turkey (I used Jennie-O)
1 cup spinach, chopped
2 dashes of worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup of Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella
1 egg
salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Use hands to knead the ingredients together, about 1 minute. Form into four round patties. (Note: Patties will be very soft)

3. Brush the top part of an oven boiler pan with olive oil. Arrange the patties on the boiler pan. Bake 30 minutes, turning once. Top each patty with a slice of cheese during the last few minutes to let it melt.

Serve on a bed of sliced avocado and your usual trimmings.  Maybe even try with this burger sauce: http://yumdom.com/better-burger-sauce/234830!

turkey2

Mussels in White Wine and Tomato Sauce

photo 2
Ingredients:

1lb cooked mussels
1 Tb. olive oil
1 Tb. butter
1 Tb. minced garlic
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
2 Tb. dry parsley
1 Tb. thyme
1 ts. Creole Seasoning
1/3 cup White Zinfandel
1/4 cup Chinese cooking wine

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat in a large pot. Add greens onions and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, parsley, thyme, creole seasoning, white zinfandel, and cooking wine. Cook until heated through.

2. Add mussels, cover the mussels with the sauce. Cover the pot, turn the heat to medium low, cook for 8 minutes or until heated through.

TIP: Use leftover sauce for pasta.

Mussels