Archive for the ‘Weeknight meals’ Category

Pad Kee Mao

January 14, 2015

I had my suspicions when Mark Bittman claimed this would “give Pad Thai a serious run for the money,” but I’m sold. This is super delicious, super quick and easy, and satisfied even our somewhat picky almost-4-year-old. We did omit the chilies to keep it kid-friendly, and next time we’ll have sriracha on the side! I’m sure chicken or turkey would sub in fine.

Blogging it so I don’t forget!

Pad Kee Mae (source)

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark sweet soy sauce(kecap manis)
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 5 bird’s eye chiles
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup sliced onion
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • ½ cup sliced bell peppers
  • 12 ounces fresh rice noodles
  • 2 handfuls of holy basil leaves (or Thai basil, in a pinch). [Okay, Mark Bittman… regular basil works fine here!]

PREPARATION

  1. Whisk together the fish sauce, soy sauce and vinegar, and set aside. Roughly chop the garlic and 3 of the chilies together. Smash the other two chilies with the flat of a knife, and set aside.
  2. Put a wok (or a large frying pan) over medium-high heat; when it’s hot, add the oil, the garlic-and-chile mixture and the onion. Cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the pork and a splash of the sauce. Cook, stirring to break up the meat, until the pork is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the peppers and noodles. Turn the heat to high, and add almost all of the sauce (save a spoonful or two to add later if needed). Cook, tossing everything together and separating the noodles if necessary, until the noodles are coated in sauce and take on a slightly charred flavor from the wok. Taste, and add more sauce if needed. Toss in the basil and the smashed chiles, and serve immediately.
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Mediterranean Pepper Salad, two ways

July 22, 2013

Mediterranean Pepper Salad

Well, it’s barbecue season and Cari and I are always looking for alternatives to the standard summer salads.  This refreshing take on a Greek Salad comes to us by way of the brilliant Smitten Kitchen.  It uses many of the ingredients common to your everyday Greek salad (feta, red onion, cucumbers, kalamata olives), but because it uses an assortment of bell peppers in place of tomatoes, it won’t get soggy!  The brilliance of this dish is not only it’s deliciousness, but also the fact that you can make a relatively large batch and keep it for several days.  We’ll often make it to have with barbecue and then use it as a side for future dinners, or even as a standalone lunch.

When planning out a barbecue menu for my father’s birthday, we found ourselves in a bit of a conundrum.  We really wanted to serve this, but my Dad keeps kosher.  That means no mixing of meat and dairy.  We felt we needed something to replace the feta, but weren’t sure what.  That’s when we remembered a trick we learned from our collection of Moosewood cookbooks.  A lemon-herb tofu actually pairs quite nicely with the flavours of Greek salad!  So, either make the Smitten Kitchen version or our dairy-free take on the recipe.  Both are delicious.

Mediterranean Pepper Salad (recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 a red onion, diced
3 bell peppers (the more colours you use, the nicer it looks – we once made a double batch and used green, red, orange, yellow and purple.  It looked glorious)
1 english cucumber
1/4-pound firm feta cheese (of lemon-herb tofu, see recipe below)
1/4 to 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives (save yourself the grief and buy them pre-pitted)
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

First, marinate the red onion.  Mix the red wine vinegar, water, kosher salt and sugar in a small bowl until the salt and sugar are dissolved.  Add the red onion and set it aside.

Next, chop the vegetables.  Core and seed your bell peppers and chop them into 1/2-inch pieces. Chop the cucumber and feta (or tofu) into similarly-sized chunks. Put your peppers, cucumber, feta (or tofu) and olives in a large bowl.

By now, your onions will have lightly pickled, which makes for a unique and nice flavour. Drain them and add them to the other vegetables in the large bowl, but reserve the vinegar mixture. Pour a quarter cup of the vinegar mixture over the salad, then drizzle with olive oil. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste. Toss evenly and serve at once, or let the flavors muddle together in the fridge for a few hours.  Like I said earlier, this salad can even keep for a few days.

Lemon-Herb Tofu (adapted from Moosewood Collective’s Simple Suppers)

1 cake firm tofu
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)

Preheat the oven 400.  Cube the tofu as you would have the feta, and spread them into a lightly oiled baking pan large enough to hold them in a single layer.

Whisk together the other ingredients and pour over the tofu.  Bake uncovered for about 20-25 minutes, stirring often.  For best results, cool completely before adding to the salad.

Stir-Fried Noodles with Chicken

September 30, 2012

Thai-Style Noodles with Chicken

love, love, love Asian noodle dishes.  They are one of my go-to meals for lunch or dinner and something I never tire of.  Unfortunately, Cari and I have never had positive luck with cooking any of these dishes at home.  That is, until now.  Cooks Illustrated recently published this recipe for Thai stir-fried noodles with chicken and it’s absolutely delicious and – despite the many steps involved – not that complicated or time-consuming to make.  We’ve made this dish twice already and will gladly do so again.  The two of us managed to polish off the whole thing both times, so if you want leftovers, make sure you either double it or load up on other dishes.

Oh, and as it turns out the trick to really good stir-fried noodles is to cook it in batches and leave it alone.  That’s right, don’t stir your stir fry!  Who knew!?

Thai-Style Noodles with Chicken

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Tortilla Pie

August 25, 2012

Tortilla Pie

We first had this with some family friends, and after we insisted they email us the recipe. It’s since become one of our staple dinners – make once and we easily get two meals out of it. We haven’t tried, but I bet it would even freeze well.

This is basically a Mexican style lasagna using tortillas instead of pasta and beans instead of meat or ricotta. The original recipe calls for a prepared tomato sauce typically used for pasta, but we’ve actually found we prefer it with just canned tomatoes as most prepared sauces are a bit too seasoned for this.

Tortila Pie
Serves 8

Preheat oven to 350.

Use a springform pan, oiled.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbspn. Oil
  • 2 tspns. Minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onions
  • 1 cup chopped red peppers
  • 1/2 cup chopped green peppers
  • 1.5 cups chopped tomatoes (canned is easy)
  • 1 cup canned corn
  • 1 tspn. Dried basil
  • 1 tspn. Chili powder
  • ½ tspn. Ground cumin
  • 1.5 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1.5 cups canned chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1. 5 cup shredded cheese (you pick flavours; feel free to mix 2 or more)
  • 2 tbspn. Grated parmesan
  • 5 x 10 inch tortillas
  1. Heat oil in frypan- medium heat. Cook garlic and onions 4 minutes, stir some. Add peppers and cook for 3 minutes, stir some. Stir in tomato sauce, corn, basil, chili powder and cumin; cover and cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  2. In bowl combine beans. Mash roughly, stir into veg. mixture.
  3. In small bowl, combine all cheeses.
  4. Place tortilla in pan. Spread with1/3 of sauce. Sprinkle with 1/3 of cheese. Repeat layers twice; top with final tortilla. Cover pan tightly with foil.
  5. Bake 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese has melted. Cut into wedges with sharp knife.

Tortilla Pie
Yum!

Chili-Bean Quesadillas

January 17, 2011

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Cari and I cook a lot with tortillas.  They’re cheap, satisfying and versatile.  They’re also our go-to “I don’t know what to cook” meal.  Just load ’em up with whatever you’ve got in the fridge and you’re in business.

Trouble is, after a while the whole idea of putting whatever in a tortilla and baking it gets kind of boring.  That’s why we were very happy to find this Mark Bittman recipe that is also very simple but different enough that it satisfies our cravings for something a little different.

This is also the recipe that made us fall in love with poblano peppers.  While not as hot as some other peppers out there, be careful while you’re slicing them… I’ve had to avoid wearing my contact lenses the following day because some of the juice got absorbed into my fingertips.

Here’s the recipe, adapted from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian

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Penne with Poblanos and Chipotle Sauce

October 20, 2010

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After making and freezing many batches of homemade tomato sauce, we’ve been relying primarily on what is lurking in our freezer for quick weeknight dinners. In other words, we’ve had our fair share of pasta with tomato sauce. And while it’s tasty, we were a bit ready for something new.

Adam stumbled upon this recipe, and it fit the bill well. It’s a southwest take on a pasta dish – with great smokey flavours along with a nice creaminess of sour cream. It kind of tasted like combo of a fajita and pasta. In fact, perhaps next time we should throw in some grilled chicken and serve with tortilla chips and guacamole on the side. Mmmm.

Best of all, it’s an extremely easy dish to throw together, and one I’m sure we’ll make again.

The only substitution we made was to use whole wheat pasta penne in place of ziti, and we used light sour cream instead of full fat. It made for a much healthier dish, and the whole wheat pasta held up well with all of the flavour going on with the sauce. I think it would work well with a variety of flavours – so feel free to play with quantities and flavours.

Full recipe: Penne with Poblanos and Chipotle Sauce

Recipe-free Cooking: Fajitas

September 27, 2010

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I take full credit for fajitas being a regular part of the Miller household.

Going back about 10 years ago, my mom asked my brother and I what we wanted for Christmas dinner. Neither of us were too big into the “traditional” Christmas roasts, so we opted for our favourite meal: Fajitas! It worked perfectly as I was a new vegetarian, and could substitute black beans in place of chicken or beef. The “build-your-own” aspect of fajitas makes it an extremely easy to throw together, and one that accommodates many different tastes.

Adam had a much different experience as he grew up only liking hard taco shells, never opting for tortillas. Lucky for me, he was open to try my family favourite during his first Fort Wayne Christmas, and it soon became a favourite of his too.

Here’s how we usually do it.

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Pistachio-Crusted Tofu with Ponzu

September 25, 2010

Pistachio-Crusted Tofu with Ponzu

In our household, tofu is still served more regularly than chicken or beef.  Maybe it’s a leftover from Cari’s vegetarian days, but we enjoy the versatility and texture it provides.  It’s also cheap and healthy.

We have a few favourite tofu recipes, but are always on the lookout for new ways to prepare it.  This recipe intrigued us for a few reasons.  Most obvious was the use of ponzu.  It turns out that ponzu is a citrus-infused soy sauce available at Asian supermarkets.  For some reason, I went to Whole Foods and forked over $10.99 for it.  Next time I’ll know better.  Another thing that we liked about this recipe is that there are only five ingredients: peanut oil, pistachios, mayonnaise, ponzu and tofu.

This dish turned out very well.  The sauce was really interesting – I had never thought to whisk mayonnaise and soy sauce together, but it actually worked!  It didn’t taste unlike the flavour you get in certain sushi rolls that use mayo.  We served the tofu alongside brown rice, which soaked up the extra sauce and tasted great.  The only challenge I had was that the pistachios only partially adhered to the tofu.  Still, we definitely got enough pistachio to get the idea.  We’ll be making this again; a great weeknight meal.

Once again, we didn’t adapt this recipe.  So here it is, courtesy of Epicurious.

Mediterranean Chicken in Foil

August 26, 2010

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Upon our return from Italy, we were determined to cook as frequently as possible. Trouble is – as we’ve observed on many occasions – it’s difficult to find recipes that are equally healthy, convenient and satisfying.

Enter Joy of Cooking and their recipe for Mediterranean Chicken in Foil. Although Cari and I were familiar with the preparation of fish in the oven wrapped in foil, we never thought to try it with chicken. Ultimately our chicken breasts came out extremely tender and loaded with flavour. Such is the benefit of cooking it in such close quarters with olives, basil and sun-dried tomatoes.

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Spanakopita

May 5, 2010

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We’ve made this one before, and each time we make it we wonder why we don’t cook with phyllo more often. Such an easy and wonderful dish filled with amazing spinach flavour, salty feta and creamy ricotta cheese. The onion and garlic adds a nice balance, and the phyllo ends up perfectly every time. Of course, buying the ready made frozen phyllo makes it a no-brainer. I can’t say I’ve attempted the phyllo-from-scratch thing… yet.

And while fresh spinach is certainly nice, frozen spinach works just as well – making it even easier.

Our friends Adam and Emily helped us out with this one as we made it for the same meal as the 40-clove chicken and baguettes, so I was a bit preoccupied. They laid out layers of dough and brushed oil like pros! It’s really handy to have someone else do all of the work on something in your own kitchen. Come over anytime, guys!

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