3-Cheese Chicken Primavera Pasta

I feel so fortunate to know and be friends with some of the kindest people on the planet. They’re the ones who open up their hearts, souls, wallets and in some cases even their homes to others down on their luck, even if they themselves deserve the helping hand.

I whipped up this lightly cheesy, savoury, veggie laden pasta and chicken one-pot dish for a friend who could use a bit of a pick me up. She has a family of 6 at home and a work schedule crazier than mine (if that’s possible!). As I know all too well, the cooler weather coupled with the ramped-up insanity of the school year (especially between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when there never seems to be a dull moment!) can wreak havoc on the body, mind and spirit – not to mention the pocketbook! Luckily, this meal is frugal, filling and packed with nutrition (even sneaking in extra veggies like carrots, zucchini and kale) all while tasting like an Italian bistro meal thanks to a touch of homemade ricotta, roasted red peppers and fresh herbs.

3-Cheese Chicken Primavera Pasta

Whether you enjoy it fresh off the stove, reheated for lunch the next day or (my favourite) re-baked in a ramekin with a dusting of breadcrumbs on top, this pasta is hearty, Fall comfort food at it’s finest. The only thing that makes it better is sharing it with your loved ones!

3-Cheese Chicken Primavera Pasta
Serves 6
3 1/2 cups medium yolk free egg noodles (or gluten free egg noodles)
1 medium zucchini, finely shredded
1 large carrot, finely shredded
1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp tomato powder (or 2 tbsp extra tomato paste)
1 tbsp kale powder or spinach powder (optional, I made my own from dehydrated greens)
2 tbsp Egyptian onion flakes (or regular onion flakes)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
10 oz cooked skinless, boneless chicken breast, shredded
1 tbsp part-skim ricotta (I used Buttermilk Ricotta)
1 tbsp grated Parmesan
1 1/4 oz Friulano or Provolone cheese, shredded

  1. Cook noodles in a pot of salted, boiling water for 7 minutes, until al dente.
  2. Remove and reserve 2/3 cup of the pasta water, then drain noodles and return to pot.
  3. Stir in the zucchini, carrot, red reppers, tomato paste, tomato powder, kale powder, onion flakes, garlic powder, thyme and parsley, along with half the pasta water, until mixture begins to coat the pasta.
  4. Add the chicken and cheeses and stir to combine well, adding pasta water if necessary to thin.
  5. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 215.7
Total Fat: 4.6 g
Cholesterol: 55.8 mg
Sodium: 165.6 mg
Total Carbs: 26.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.4 g
Protein: 18.0 g

Advertisements

Cheese Pizza on Sourdough

I always love getting kids in the kitchen, and when I was given the chance to bring a touch of Home Ec to the little(r) ones at Summer Camp, I wanted to give them something they would have a fun time doing, would enjoy eating and actually participated in creating. Pizza making felt like a completely obvious choice, since even if I did the “grownup” work of baking the crust and shredding the cheese, they could have complete control over stirring together a simple sauce with hand-torn fresh herbs(and a secret flavour booster), as well as sprinkling the mozzarella onto the par-baked Herbed Sourdough Pizza Dough
//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Cheesy Sourdough Pizza

In retrospect, I should have had the kids make two of these – not only did they all polish off a sizeable piece (and that was after lunch!), but the staff wanted a taste too! Even the children who, while making the sauce, adamantly declared that the basil and garlic “smelled yucky” wanted seconds… I would say that’s a pretty ringing endorsement! Besides, who doesn’t love stringy, melty, ooey gooey cheese, a crispy crust and even the little crispy bits on the edges? 

Cheese Pizza on Sourdough
Makes one sheet pan pizza, 16 slices

Sauce:
¾ cup plain tomato sauce
1 (6-oz) can tomato paste
1 tbsp tamari
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
½ tsp oregano
3 tbsp minced fresh basil
½ tsp sugar

Pizza:
1 recipe
Herbed Sourdough Pizza Dough, prepared for one thicker-crust pizza
300 g part-skim Mozzarella cheese

  1.  Heat oven to 400°F
  2. Combine all the “sauce” ingredients in a bowl and spread onto the par-baked crust.
  3. Top with cheese and anything else you wish!
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and melted.

*NB: If you love the crispy cheese bits around the edges, you can broil the pizza for 2 minutes after baking.

Amount Per Serving

Calories: 170.2
Total Fat: 3.5 g
Cholesterol: 10.9 mg
Sodium: 247.2 mg
Total Carbs: 26.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.3 g
Protein: 9.4 g

Oven Simmered Asian BBQ Chicken #SundaySupper

I love finding leftovers in the fridge or freezer, even if I know I’ve put them in there for a specific reason. I mean really, leftovers from a whole roasted chicken have so much potential – there’s the meat, of course, but also the lovely flavour-rich bones waiting to be cooked down into stock. The same thing happens when it’s time to clean out the pantry – ours is a double-deep, one and a half times wide behmoth that holds everything we could hope for and more… sometimes to the extent that we lose items bought for a single recipe and never thought of again.

Oven Simmered Asian BBQ Chicken

It was in pursuit of more organized kitchen storage facilities that this recipe came to fruition. Between a hunk of roasted chicken meat from an early Summer roast, a half of a red onion from recent Greek salad making, green garlic from the farmer’s market and some Asian BBQ Sauce from San J, I knew exactly where I was headed… a twist on my old favourite pulled BBQ meat sandwich filling. Since the meat was already cooked (albeit not dried out), I oped to tenderize it by marinating it overnight in the sauce, vinegar, ginger and garlic. The next day, mixed with onions and a little more chicken broth, it cooked it low and slow in the oven until the meat had absorbed all the flavour and was back to falling-apart tenderness. There was just enough sauce clinging to the meat and in the bottom of the dish to make proper sloppy sandwiches on toasted rolls or topping a bowl of freshly steamed rice and greens – and if my family is any indication a forkful right out of the fridge makes for a divine midnight snack!

This week, Amy of kimchi MOM is hosting a #SundaySupper celebrating Asian (and Asian-inspired) cuisine. Whether authentic or Asian-esque, you’re sue to find something delicious!

Small Bites

Soupy Goodness

Big Plates

On the Lighter Side

Cheers!

Oodles of Noodles

Sunday Supper Movement 
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Oven Simmered Asian BBQ Chicken

Oven Simmered Asian BBQ Chicken
Makes 2 cups, 4 servings
2 cups chopped, cooked skinless chicken meat (for best results use a mix of light and dark)
150 mL San J Asian BBQ Sauce (about 10 tbsp or ½ bottle)
2 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp grated ginger
2 stalks (bulbs and stems) green garlic or garlic scapes, minced
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
¾ cup low sodium chicken stock (gluten free if needed)

  1. In a greased, non-reactive loaf pan or small casserole dish, combine the chicken, BBQ sauce, vinegar, ginger and green garlic.
  2. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Add onions and chicken stock, cover the pan with foil and cook at 300F for 2 hours.
  4. Uncover the pan, raise the heat to 325F and continue to cook for 3 hours.
  5. This tastes better after a night in the fridge!

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 199.3
Total Fat: 2.5 g
Cholesterol: 59.5 mg
Sodium: 711.9 mg
Total Carbs: 16.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.3 g
Protein: 23.4 g

Sesame Orangeyaki Stirfry with Tofu

I’ve obviously been on a total citrus-teriyaki kick these days, trying to achieve a balance of the tastes and textures my fellow veggie and tofu loving mom and I both enjoy. When it’s just the two of us for dinner, stir frying is generally the method of the day – we can add as many veggies as we want (without the “any meat?” comments from the peanut gallery) and it’s relatively quick to whip up. Since we both really enjoyed the marinade from the Teriyaki Tofu “Jerky” and the sauce from the Saucy Simmered Teriyaki Tofu Bowl, I decided to use those as a base for an “everybody in the pool” saute.

Sesame Orangeyaki Stirfry with TofuThis time, instead of adding water and simmering, I cooked all the veggies, along with two types of tofu, in toasted sesame oil for extra flavour, and opted for fresh ingredients over dehydrated ones both for better texture and the sake of saving me a trip to the store. Being able to make the broccoli, onions, celery and peppers just crisp-tender while the onions and mushrooms cooked a little more, and letting the garlic and ginger bloom without burning really made a difference! Since it didn’t cook as long (and I didn’t want the sauce to make soup), I thickened the mixture with a little cornstarch when I added it at the end.

Notice that I said I used two types of tofu – the types I’m referring to aren’t regarding the firmness of the protein (i.e. silken vs. firm) or the form in which I bought it (dried vs. water packed vs. fried), but the actual beans each block was made from. I’ve fallen in love with the Korean-style black soybean tofu from VitaSoy I found at the Asian market, and decided it’s distinctive nutty flavour would play well with the sweet, salty and bitter notes in the rest of the mixture and heighten the taste of the sesame oil. I knew, though, that Mom would probably go for the “regular” extra firm stuff she was used to more willingly, though, so I compromised with a block of each with excellent results. That said, either one alone is fine – it’s all about using what you have after all!

Shared with Waste Not Want Not Wednesday and Gluten Free Fridays 

Sesame Orangeyaki Stirfry with Tofu

Sesame Orangeyaki Stirfry with Tofu
Serves 8 (more with rice!)

Tofu:
1 lb low-fat extra firm tofu, frozen, thawed, pressed and cubed
1 lb black soybean tofu (from Vitasoy / San Sui), frozen, thawed, pressed and cubed
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup tamari (I used San-J Black Label)
2 tbsp water
1 1/2 tbsp Sriracha
1 1/2 tbsp  unseasoned rice vinegar

Stir Fry:
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 large sweet onions, diced
1 tbsp fresh-grated ginger
zest and juice of 2 oranges
2 cloves minced garlic
4 stalks celery, sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
10 cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
225 g broccoli florets
4 heads baby bok choi, sliced
2/3 cup Teriyaki Sauce (I used San-J)
1/2 cup Asian-style orange sauce (I used San-J Orange Sauce)
1 tbsp cornstarch
60 g chopped green onions

Tofu:

  1. In a shallow, covered dish, combine the sugar, ginger, garlic, pepper, tamari, water, Sriracha and vinegar. Whisk well.
  2. Add the tofu pieces and fold through, coating evenly.
  3. Cover and marinate overnight.

Stir Fry:

  1. Heat oil in a large saute pan or wok over high heat.
  2. Drain the tofu and add to the pan in one layer.
  3. Cook, without stirring, for one minute, then carefully stir in the onions, ginger, orange zest and garlic. Cook 5 minutes, until onions begin to soften.
  4. Add the celery, bell pepper, mushrooms and broccoli. Cook 8-10 minutes, until softened.
  5. Add the bok choi and cook 2 minutes.
  6. While the vegetables cook, whisk together the orange juice, teriyaki and orange sauces, cornstarch and green onions.
  7. Add to the hot pan and cook, stirring, until thickened.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 293.8
Total Fat: 7.4 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 1,271.9 mg
Total Carbs: 35.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.6 g
Protein: 20.6 g

Saucy Simmered Teriyaki Tofu Bowl

Remember how I promised that I’d share some of the other things I did with San-J’s Orange and Teriyaki cooking sauces? Like 3 weeks ago?? Well, I finally managed to rescue the photos and recipes from hard disk death and have the original dish ready for you – along with a second, similar dinner I made recently (more on that tomorrow!).

Saucy Simmered Teriyaki Tofu Bowl

This first meal (well, meal when you add a side of rice or noodles) came almost straight out of The Dehydrator Bible too, using not only vegetables I dried at home but a new batch of the Teriyaki Tofu “Jerky” I had made specifically for this purpose. Since the author had added fresh orange flavour to the teriyaki sauce in her beef-broccoli dish, I kept with the theme, swapping in my tofu jerky for the beef in the original and adding San-J’s Orange Sauce for an extra kick of citrus. It took a while for everything to rehydrate and simmer down, and the sauce was still slightly too runny for my own taste, though Mom liked sopping it up with brown sticky rice. However, the chewiness of the tofu was the opposite for us – I liked it’s mouthfeel, and the fact it held the sauce well, while Mom wasn’t as much of a fan. Our varied experiences proved to me that the dish is totally subjective, especially depending on what you served it with, and the fact that the flavour was still so good regardless was one of the reasons I made a second, more veggie-packed version recipe.

If you have an hour or so to kill and some Teriyaki jerky on your hands, I definitely suggest simmering up this pot of gluten-free, (almost) vegan yumminess a go. Just make sure to cook up a mess of rice or some other grain, otherwise you have (an admittedly delicious) soup on your hands instead!

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays 

Saucy Simmered Teriyaki Tofu Bowl
Serves 4
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
2 green onions, minced
juice and zest of 1 orange
1 cup chopped Teriyaki Tofu “Jerky”
1/2 cup dried onion flakes
1/4 cup dried celery slices
2 cups chopped broccoli
1 1/2 cups chopped snow peas
1/4 cup Teriyaki Sauce (I used San-J)
1/4 cup Asian-style orange sauce (I used San-J Orange Sauce)

  1. Bring the water, ginger, garlic, green onions, orange zest and orange juice to a simmer in a large pot and add the tofu.
  2. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, until tofu is almost rehydrated.
  3. Add the onion and celery pieces and cook 5 minutes.
  4. Add the broccoli, snow peas and sauces.
  5. Cook, stirring to coat everything, for 5-10 minutes, until broccoli is tender.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 267.9
Total Fat: 8.0 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 971.9 mg
Total Carbs: 33.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.5 g
Protein: 16.0 g

Foul Weather Fowl Soup

Well, it’s official – I’m sick. Again. Because it’s Winter, and that’s what happens. I’m giving my school kids a pass on this one, since this time around I managed to avoid the flu – trading it for an ear, sinus and chest infection rolled into one!

I know I always appreciate having a prepared, go-to meal in my back pocket, whether it’s because I’m sick or because I’m just too worn out to cook during the week. Luckily, I didn’t even have  to think about making this during the week, because I had a few small armies of children help me make it in class a few weeks ago! This simple, hearty and vegetable-laden soup was a great frugal recipe for us to make, especially given that the weather was reaching down into the -20°Cs then and the weather in general was downright frightful! To keep costs low, I used up leftover Christmas turkey meat and some homemade broth, but even with storebought ingredients it doesn’t break the bank! It was also easy enough for the kids to make (with supervision), they did all the chopping, measuring and tasting!

Soup is the perfect choice for when you’re laid up at home, since even if you’re making a batch from scratch while sniffling and coughing, it’s easy work and the smell is just as therapeutic as the taste – even more so if your tastebuds are on vacation too! I’m also one of those people who just can’t remind themselves to drink fluids (other than tea) if bumming around the house, so a bowl of soup – while not as ideal as pure water – can help keep those levels up. In fact, if you (or your loved ones) are off with the stomach flu, homemade soup is great, thanks to the sodium and potassium in the broth!

No matter why you make it, there’s no denying a bowl of this is 100% comfort food that hugs you from the inside! Just ask my sous-chefs :-).

Foul Weather Fowl Soup
Serves 8

8 cups low sodium storebought or homemade chicken broth
2 large carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced into half-moons
2 medium celery stalks, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 leeks, halved and thinly sliced
2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried rosemary
½ tsp poultry seasoning
1 ½ cups dried pasta shapes or broken spaghetti
2 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken or turkey
Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional: frozen peas, halved snow peas, corn, baby spinach, diced broccoli 
  1. Bring the broth to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the carrots, celery, leeks, tamari, thyme, rosemary, poultry seasoning and pepper, stirring to combine.
  3. Return to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer (stirring occasionally) until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Stir in the noodles and chicken* and cook a further 6-7 minutes, until the noodles are done.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve!
*If using any of the optional ingredients, add them with the chicken.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 169.9
Total Fat: 1.7 g
Cholesterol: 34.8 mg
Sodium: 1,087.0 mg
Total Carbs: 21.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.8 g
Protein: 15.2 g

Grandma’s Mac n’ Cheese – #SundaySupper Lightens Up!

I know a decent amount of people who serve baked macaroni and cheese casseroles as part of a Sunday family dinner. Now, where I’m from, mac and cheese is more or less “kid food”, a simple slap-together meal for even the pickiest kids after a long day at work and school… but as I (and my family) get older, I’m realizing that comfort food can be a better Sunday night meal than the most gourmet roast beef or fancy platter. 

We usually invite my grandmother over for one family supper a week, partially to visit and partially to make sure she’s still eating at least one decent sized, nutritionally balanced meal a week (or two/three with leftovers). It’s no secret that my grandma’s not overly fond of nutritious eating – especially when it comes to vegetables and quality protein – but she loves pasta, bread and cheese. Grandma’s become more of a “nibbler” than an “eater” lately, too, having a piece of toast or a tiny pot of yoghurt as a “meal” more often than not. With this in mind, I decided to make a few “TV dinner” style mini-meals for her that she could re-warm in the oven as needed and could last a day or so in the fridge if (read: when) she didn’t eat a whole one.

Grandma's Mac and Cheese

The first thing I did, knowing her eating patterns, was to take a leaf out of the many “kid food” cookbooks and puree a bunch of cauliflower and tofu into the three-cheese sauce, fortifying it with protein and vitamins while keeping the undeniable creamy-cheesy flavour and texture. Pasta-wise, I opted for enriched brown rice fusilli and topped each little pan with a sprinkle of gluten free breadcrumbs. She’s none the wiser, and claims that the meals are delicious! 

With the holiday season, filled with decadent and delightful meals, creeping ever closer, it’s still important to balance that indulgence out by eating lighter fare during the “lull” periods between feasts. This week for #SundaySupper we’re sharing these lighter types of dishes that taste just as great as the richest feasts of the holiday season.This week’s event is hosted by Kathia of Basic N Delicious. Thanks Kathia!

Drinks

Appetizer or starter

Main Dishes

Side Dishes

Desserts

Sunday Supper Movement

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Grandma’s Mac n’ Cheese
Serves 6
5 oz cauliflower florets
8 oz low-fat silken tofu
1/3 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese (the real stuff)
300g shredded low-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup hot 1% milk
½ tsp salt
pinch garlic powder
pinch paprika
pinch pepper
2 cups whole grain fusilli pasta (I used Tinkyada brown rice fusilli), cooked and drained
3 tbsp whole grain breadcrumbs (GF if needed), or crushed whole-grain crackers, for topping

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F and lightly grease a 9” square foil pan (or mini loaf pans).
  2. With a double boiler or the microwave, steam the cauliflower florets until very tender. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor.
  3. Add the tofu, ricotta and Parmesan and puree.
  4. Add the Cheddar, milk, salt and spices and puree again until smooth.
  5. Place the pasta in a large bowl and pour the sauce overtop. Fold in well to coat the noodles.
  6. Pour into the pan(s) and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs.
  7. Bake 15 minutes.
  8. Let stand for 5 minutes before enjoying.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 222.6
Total Fat: 6.7 g
Cholesterol: 17.6 mg
Sodium: 615.1 mg
Total Carbs: 20.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.5 g
Protein: 19.8 g

Noodles in Lemon Sauce (for One)

With school back in full swing (and my new role as Home Economics teacher filling my off hours with lesson planning and recipe testing), fast and simple meals are definitely on the menu more often than not. I love Chinese (well Chinese-American) style food, but it’s been ages since I’ve been able to have takeout from anywhere – not a bad thing, really, since my wallet and my health are better for it! Stir fries are the quintessential backbone of most of those dishes anyway, and given that they are so fast and simple to whip up a la minute it’s only natural that meals like this one have graced my plate multiple times a week.

I actually started coming up with this combination of flavours when I had an unusual craving for lemon-sauce chicken. Now, I’ve never liked lemon chicken from the Chinese take-out place, but for some reason that sticky, thick and tangy-sweet dipping sauce was running through my mind. I was also craving a big bowl of veggies and carbs (what else is new?) so I decided to try combining the two for a simple dinner. The sauce was really the catch-all for a host of flavourful ingredients – fresh lemons, tamari, garlic, chilies and ginger, plus a healthy pinch of a premade Nanami Togarashi mixture were all sweetened a touch with stevia and thickened with tapioca starch. It cloaked the brown rice noodles, broccoli and beans delicately without the gluey cloying nature of it’s takeout inspiration and was the perfect hit of exoticism for a mid-week, run-off-your-feet meal.

Lemon Sauce Noodles

Noodles in Lemon Sauce
Makes one generous serving
zest and juice of 2 unwaxed (preferably organic) lemons, plus additional juice to make ¼ cup if required
½ tbsp tapioca starch
¼ cup low sodium vegetable broth
1 tsp tamari
1 (1 g) packet stevia
generous pinch chili flakes
1 tsp fresh-grated ginger
¼ tsp Nanami Togarashi*
1 large clove garlic, minced
30 green beans
3 ½ oz broccoli
2 oz brown rice noodles (I used a wide, “Pad Thai” style), cooked and drained

  1. Blend juice, tapioca starch, broth, soy sauce, stevia, lemon zest, chilli flakes, togarashi and garlic. Set aside.
  2. In a small amount of water in a wok or saute pan, cook beans and broccoli until just crisp-tender.
  3. Pour in the lemon sauce and noodles.
  4. Simmer, stirring, for 4–5 minutes until the sauce is thick and coats the noodles and vegetables. Serve immediately

*Togarashi, the Japanese word for “chilies,” is a group of condiments always including chilies that bring out the clean, simple flavors of Japanese food. Shichimi togarashi is also called seven spice (shichi is “seven” in Japanese), because seven ingredients are generally used. Nanami togarashi is a close cousin, with a slightly different proportion of ingredients emphasizing citrus zest. If you don’t have it, substitute a pinch of cayenne, a dash of black pepper and a few grates of lemon or orange zest.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 308.9
Total Fat: 0.7 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 386.2 mg
Total Carbs: 68.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 13.3 g
Protein: 11.1 g

Sweet and Spicy Noodle Toss (A Spirited #RecipeRedux)

Since my mom is the sole cook for the majority of the family (I’m the exception, since my own meals necessarily have to be separate), she’s occasionally hard pressed to think of ways to jazz up the nighttime meal for her palate while catering to the whims of my picky selective stepfamily. Even though she’s retired, she’s often pressed for time too – not only does she volunteer during the school year (with spot fill-ins during the Summer), but she golfs, gardens, takes care of the dog and sees to the individual needs and wants of my sister and I. My stepfamily works during the week, sometimes with late hours or unpredictable schedules, which can mean we’re 4 for dinner or 2, unless my soon-to-be stepsister-in-law or grandma (or both) is over.

One of the “happy mediums” the family has managed to achieve regarding dinner routine is the stir-fry. Obviously, it’s a quick method, but it’s also incredibly versatile and over the Summer months is a fabulous use for the squash, carrots, onions, beans, peas and tomatoes growing in the garden. Thanks to the incredibly kind gifts that the folks at San-J sent to me last Christmas as well as a few months ago, we’ve been spoiled for choice flavour wise. My personal favourites are the Mongolian and Sweet & Tangy varieties, while my mom favours the spicy Thai Peanut and Szechuan sauces, especially when mixed up with a pinch of brown sugar or a dash of honey. One rare night I was given the task of helping create dinner for the family and soon took over, combining sweet, spicy and savoury in a veggie-laden, gluten free medley of fresh produce, brown rice vermicelli and crumbled “soy burger” (don’t tell the stepfamily!). For kicks, I punched up the saute with Szechuan peppercorns, Chinese five spice, ginger and garlic – you can’t go wrong with that combo! The merest splash of sherry helped deglaze the pan along the way, making sure all the decadent flavour stayed with the noodles and veggies and not sent to the sink.

Sweet and Spicy Noodle Bowl

This month’s #RecipeRedux is featuring spirits of all kinds – be they liquor, wine, beer or extracts. Be sure to check out the rest of the gang’s offerings and say hi! We’ll bring the booze!

Sweet and Spicy Noodle Toss
Serves 6
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 large onion, sliced thinly
4 stalks celery, sliced thinly
1 head Egyptian onion bulbs, minced (you can use 2 large scallions)
5 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1 bag (approx 400g / 14 oz) gluten free, vegan burger crumbles (I used Gardein)
1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
¼ tsp cayenne
1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
1 tbsp dry sherry
2 carrots, julienned (I used a julienne peeler for “noodle” strips)
100g (3.5 oz) dried brown rice vermicelli, soaked in hot water and drained
¼ cup tamari
¼ cup Mongolian Sauce
1 tbsp Szechuan Sauce

  1. Heat sesame oil in a deep pan over medium high heat.
  2. Add the sliced onion and cook, stirring, until softened.
  3. Stir in celery and cook 2 minutes.
  4. Add Egyptian onion, garlic, ginger, burger crumbles, Szechuan peppercorns, cayenne, and five spice. Cook 2 minutes, stirring to coat everything with the spices.
  5. Add sherry and stir well, then add carrots, noodles, tamari and sauces.
  6. Toss to combine thoroughly and serve.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 243.1
Total Fat: 4.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 1,334.1 mg
Total Carbs: 33.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 6.1 g
Protein: 18.1 g

Mongolian Beef Stir Fry

Some nights it seems like there is no time at all to put together a decent dinner at home. I’ve been there – the clock is ticking and your stomach is grumbling, you’re fretting because you haven’t been to the store yet so all you have are bits of this and that leftovers and payday is still a few days off, making take-out a no-go. Those days, I turn to my trusty deep saute pan and basically empty the kitchen into a stir-fry: fast, easy and really hard to mess up, especially when you have a few key things in the pantry to rely on.

Obviously, you need some sort of starch to sop up all the juices and sauce from your concoction, and for that I almost exclusively pick a brown Basmati. Not only does it taste out of this world delicious on its own, but the grains stay more or less distinct, fluffy and fragrant (the word ‘Basmati’ actually means ‘queen of fragrance’ in Sanskrit). It’s also one of the healthiest rices, with the most amino acids and essential nutrients as well as a fairly low Glycemic Index (45). Can you tell I freaking adore this stuff??

For me, veggies are the be-all and end-all of a good stir-fry, so I always try (try, mind you) to keep a bunch of stuff in the fridge. That said, when I’m cooking for one it doesn’t always make sense to buy full packages of snow peas, bamboo shoots and the like, so I scope around until I find a frozen mix that looks good. No big deal. 

Then the crowning glory – the sauce. I’ve written before about my love of San-J’s cooking sauces and tamari, not only because they’re gluten free but they are consistently delicious! The company was gracious enough to reach out to me at Christmastime with a box of their product, and recently contacted me again to ask if I’d be interested in trying one of their new cooking sauces – Mongolian Sauce. We love Mongolian BBQ here and couldn’t wait to give it a taste!

It was a twist of fate that the day the sauce arrived at my door was also a “grill night” at our house. I had originally planned to make a stir-fry with fresh ingredients and raw meat, but the leftover steak presented itself and made me wonder if marinating it overnight would help re-tenderize it, as well as infusing it with the sweet and spicy elements of the sauce. I whisked up a fairly simple blend of both the Mongolian and Szechuan Sauces, some red wine, beef broth, sesame oil and chili flakes, then sliced the cooled steak and popped it in. The next night, I stir-fried the beef with my go-to frozen veggies and poured the marinade overtop to form a sweet and spicy sauce that soaked into the rice, making the whole bowl one of deliciousness. I can’t wait to try the sauce on tofu, or even grilled mushroom caps!

San-J is online – visit their website, facebook or twitter page for more info. Canadians can get some awesome coupons for the company’s Tamari and Cooking Sauces on The Healthy Shopper site too.

Mongolian Beef Stir Fry

Shared with Gluten Free Friday – turns out Cindy likes San-J too!


Mongolian Beef Stir Fry
Serves 2
3 tbsp San-J Mongolian Sauce, divided
1 tbsp San-J Szechuan Sauce
½ tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp red wine
¼ cup gluten free, low-sodium beef broth
Pinch chili flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
4 oz cooked steak (I used leftover grilled sirloin), sliced into strips or cubed
1 tbsp sweet rice flour (or cornstarch), divided
2 tsp coconut oil
Mongolian Beef Stir Fry1 lb frozen stir-fry vegetables
1 cup cooked brown Basmati rice, for serving

  1. In a bowl, whisk together 1 tbsp Mongolian Sauce, Szechuan Sauce, sesame oil, wine, broth, chili flakes and garlic. 
  2. Add the cooked beef, cover and marinate for 24 hours.
  3. Drain beef, reserving marinade, and pat with paper towel to dry slightly. Toss with half the sweet rice flour. 
  4. Whisk remaining flour into the marinade, along with remaining Mongolian Sauce.
  5. Melt oil in a wok or deep saute pan over high heat. 
  6. Add the dredged meat and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.
  7. Add vegetables and cook 7-8 minutes, until tender. 
  8. Whisk the sauce mixture again and pour into the wok.
  9. Cook, stirring often, until sauce thickens and coats the vegetables and meat.
  10. Serve immediately over rice.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 453.4
Total Fat: 13.7 g
Cholesterol: 20.0 mg
Sodium: 963.8 mg
Total Carbs: 57.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.5 g
Protein: 25.7 g

*Disclaimer – I was given the Mongolian Sauce for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own