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Posts tagged ‘Peppers’

A little mid week Chinese chicken

Back in the day……

There was nothing I loved more than a great Chinese Buffet!

I had this one particular friend, who she and I would dawn our most spacious sun dresses and steal away to the buffet and eat till we could barely walk!

But times of have changed.

Now I try to eat healthy and then since I developed that pesky shell fish allergy, going buffets where I don’t know exactly what’s in everything, is simply just high risk behaviour!

But every now and again, I get a strong craving for some Chinese style chicken!

So last night I googled “Sweet and Sour Chicken” and so this recipe is loosely based on the first three or four that I looked at.

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Start by cutting and appropriate amount of  fresh chicken ( I used boneless breast) into nice manageable strips or bite size chunks.

Place the chicken in a bowl with one egg white,  2 tsp of cornstarch and 1/4 tsp of salt.   Mix throughly till the chicken bits are well coated, then set aside.

Meanwhile chop up a bunch of your favorite Asian style veg into nice strips.

I used:

  • red pepper
  • yellow pepper
  • red cabbage
  • broccoli

But any nice firm veg will do.

And some finely chopped fresh ginger, about 1″ knob or at least 1 tbsp.

 

Chinese chicken002

Oh yes…..and you will probably want to be cooking some rice or noodles or something on the side to go with it……or not.

Okay, now you are ready to go.

Get out your wok, or in my case big skillet and get it pretty smokin hot!

Then add about 1 tbsp of high smoking temp oil.  Do NOT use olive oil!!  I used coconut, it has a nice neutral flavour and can get nice and hot before burning.

 

Chinese chicken006

Once the oil is nice and hot, dump your chicken in the pan and quickly spread it out to a single layer.  But then DON’T touch it!!  And yes it will immediately stick!

But then after a minute or two of cooking, with a good strong spatula, flip it over and let it go another minute or two.

Then remove it to a CLEAN bowl or plate.  Don’t worry if it still looks a little pinkish, it will cook some more soon.

Then add a little more oil to the pan, let it heat, then toss in all of your veg, including the ginger and give them a good toss.

 

Chinese chicken005

 

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NOTE:   now in all the “Sweet and Sour” recipes I looked at, they were using pineapple as the “Sweet”.   I didn’t have any so I substituted in the sauce (coming next) but if you WERE to use pineapple chucks, this is where you would toss them in, with the veg and then use the juice in the sauce.

 

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Sauce:   So as mentioned, the real recipes called for canned pineapple and then the juice in the sauce.   But the closest thing I had was oranges.

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 white or rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • and in hind sight, I would have used a pinch of chili flakes

Mix that up well.

Once the veg have cooked for a minute or two, pour in the sauce, mix well and turn up the heat until the sauce starts to bubble.

Then add the chicken back in to the pan.   Stir it all up, put the lid on and let simmer for a couple of minutes until everything is well cooked.

Serve with your favorite side dish!

Easy chicken!  And the best part is……you know EXACTLY what’s in it!!

 

Chinese chicken008

Cheesy Eggy Pie

I think I might be watching too many episodes of “Top Chef” on the food network, because I am getting very good at just putting something together out of whatever happens to be around!!

For those of you who have never seen the show, Chefs are often given a few random ingredients and are expected to make something editable out of it.

I’d say my cheesy Eggy Pie might qualify!

So here is what is in mine, but as is always my motto, what ever you happen to have around will do!

  • 1 medium onion finely sliced
  • 1 bell pepper sliced ( any colour or combo)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced.

Toss these into a frying pan with a slosh of oil and saute till wilted.   Then add them to a casserole dish.   Then I added:

  • a large handful of chopped spinach
  • asparagus chopped in 1 inch bits ( fresh or left over cooked)
  • 2 green onions chopped

Toss in with the peppers.   Chopped tomato  or zucchini would go fine too.

Then add some cooked pasta.  I used rotini, but any short hearty pasta will do.  If you are going to use noodles, I would break them in half before cooking.

Toss all that together.   Feel free to add some chopped fresh or dried herbs like oregano or parsley.

Then, you will mix up some egg with cream or milk like you are going to make something like a bread pudding.   Add a few shots of hot sauce if you like, or paprika.

Then pour this mixture all over the pasta and vegetables.   It shouldn’t be swimming but enough to maybe fill up the sides half way.

Then sprinkle with your favorite cheese and bung it in the oven at about 350 degrees for about 20 minutes to half hour.

You will know it is ready when you take it out and shake it a little and there is no liquid moving around and the cheese is melted nicely.

Spoon it up and serve with a little green salad and you have a quick Summer supper!

Cheesy Eggy Pie

Pineapple Chicken

For those of you who have been following along for a while, you’ll know that I don’t usually eat in Asian style restaurants.

Not that I don’t LOVE that food, it’s just that with my shell-fish allergy it is just too high risk to make sure I don’t accidentally eat the wrong thing?

So I often have to rely on trying to recreate my favorite dishes so that I know exactly what is in them.

Pineapple chicken used to be one of my favorite dishes from the Chinese take-out.   I am embarrassed to admit that I used to love that heavily battered stuff in the super sticky unnaturally red sauce.  I even liked the frozen version that you could bake in the oven in the tin foil box!

My how times have changed.

I think you will find this version just a tad healthier.

You will need:

  • skinless, boneless chicken ( breast or thighs)
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 orange or yellow bell pepper cut into triangle chunks
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 can of pineapple chunks in own juice.  ( drain but keep juice for sauce)

Start by dicing the chicken into bite size bits and add to a hot  skillet with a few sloshes of a neutral oil.

Brown on all sides and then add onion, peppers and ginger, keep cooking.

After a few minutes, add the vinegar, soy sauce and chili flakes.   And if you like things sweeter, at this point you could add a tbsp of brown sugar or the sweetener of your choice.

Mix well, then add the pineapple chunks, stir in, turn down the heat and let simmer until everything is cooked through.

Once everything is well heated and chicken is cooked, it is time to make the sauce.

Add to the reserved pineapple juice, 2 tsp of cornstarch and mix it in until it is completely dissolved then add to the chicken and keep stirring until you see that the sauce is thickened up.

I served it with some “orange scented” basmati rice.  Which basically means I used orange juice as half of the cooking liquid and then added some fresh orange zest just before serving.

For greens, I cooked up some brocoli with a bit of bok choy and fresh ginger with a splash of soy sauce and sesame seeds.

There you go.  A healthier version of an old favorite and you know exactly what you put in it!

Pineapple Chicken

Stuffed Peppers three ways

The Chef is a fan of three ways.

You know, when it comes to preparing dishes.    He really likes taking one ingredient and preparing three different versions of the same item.

The other night he made three different coloured peppers stuffed with three different stuffings!

Let’s break down the fillings.

Filling # one:

  • corn
  • black beans
  • cooked rice

Filling # two:

  • cooked green lentils
  • green olives
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped parsley
  • 1 clove minced garlic

Filling # three:

  • cooked red lentils
  • crushed tomato ( or tomato sauce)
  • sun dried tomatoes

Feel free to add anything extra that you might like, but these are the basic ingredients.

So make up all these different fillings separately.

I know all that  seems like a lot of work, but just keep the left overs because they make great “salad” accompaniments for your lunch for the rest of the week!!

Cut the peppers in half removing the insides.  Sprinkle with a little olive oil and bake at 350 for about 12 minutes till they are a bit wilted.

Then stuff each pepper with one of the fillings, try to make the colour contrasts interesting.  Or not.

These particular versions are all Vegan, but if you wanted to add some cheese on top to melt in, that would be very tasty too.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until they are heated through.

Stuffed peppers three ways

Enjoy with side salad or other veg.

Singapore Noodles

Back in the day, I used to eat a LOT of Singapore Noodles! 

Back when I lived in Montreal, I used to work as a Stage Manager in live theatre, so every Thursday night, I would call in the order from the lighting booth and then after the show,  we would swing by the Kam Shing restaurant on Cote des Neiges Blvd to pick up a big order of Singapore Noodles and General Tso Chicken.

Those were the days!   I could still eat shrimp back then.  In fact, it was while eating those noodles every week that I started to notice “the trouble”.  I always dread the thought that I may have over eaten shrimp to the point of being allergic!!

Oh well……so now I make my own, without the shrimp of course!

Feel free to add shrimp if they are no trouble to you.  Or substitute with chicken or tofu or like in this particular version, there is nothing at all!

Firstly, you will need:

  • 1 pack thin rice stick noodles (rice vermicelli)

Then, thinly slice up:

  • 1 red or green bell pepper  ( or half of each)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 carrot into match stick size bits
  • 2 cups Napa cabbage
  • 3 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1 cup of mung bean sprouts ( but I didn’t use any)
  • 2 green onions

Then for the sauce mix together:

  • 1/4 cup water or broth
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar  ( or favorite sweetener)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt  ( or 1 tsp soy sauce )
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder, or to taste

Start by boiling some water for you noodles, either in a pot or a kettle.  When the water boils, turn it off and add the noodles or pour boiling water over noodles in a bowl, stir to soften them.

Rice vermicelli noodles

Then in a skillet or a wok, heat some oil then add, peppers, carrots and ginger. 

Once they get a head start, add the cabbage and if using, bean sprouts.  Add a bit of the sauce to help cook down the cabbage.

Drain the noodles and add to the skillet, toss into vegetables.

Add the remaining sauce and the green onions, toss quickly till noodles are completely coated.

Singapore Noodles

Serve immediately.  I garnished with some chopped cilantro and black sesame seeds.

Ah the memories!

Home made pickled peppers

Well, not really.

But you know those “hot pepper” rings that come in a jar or that they have at hot dog stands to put on your wiener or on pizzas or what have you?

Did you know they are super easy to make and it doesn’t involve all of that “sterilizing of jars” business and all the other day long activities associated with “pickling”?

I had some red jalapeno peppers kicking around.  I often get too many thinking I am going to do one thing or another with them  but then they start to get tired looking so I panic and need to do something right away, or worse, let them shrivel to oblivion.

But today I had an idea I’d thought I’d try.   The Chef LOVES his little hot peppers from the jar but let’s face it, unless you do it yourself, who really knows what is in that pickling potion or what sort of alchemy is preformed to get them in those jars!

I’ll admit that I wore some food preparing gloves to perform this task.  I find that cutting hot peppers never really burns my fingers, but every so often I forget and touch my face or worse my eye and cry with agony from the burn!   Or I’ll cut hot peppers and then put on my dish gloves to wash something, only to find that I catch a burn off them for a week to come!

So use caution when cutting the hot peppers, or at the very least wash your hands immediately and repeatedly!

I washed the peppers well and then cut off the stems.  I took a paring knife and dug in and cut out the ribs inside and then pulled the innards out with my (glove clad) fingers and then tapped them over the sink ( or garbage) to get out the last seeds.

Then cut them into nice thin circles.   It is when cutting hot peppers that you wish you can do that “Hey look at me I don’t even have to look while I chop…” chef trick because more than once in my time I’ve had a little bit a pepper juice squirt up and get me in the eye.  I probably shouldn’t recommend this but I tend to squint a little when I cut hot peppers, but perhaps protective eye wear might be a better answer!

So cut up all your little peppers and place them in a sealable GLASS jar or bowl.  I don’t like to use plastic when dealing with acid products and whatever you do, don’t use metal with them!

Then add a couple of teaspoons of plain old white sugar, depending on how many peppers you have.   I know I am not a fan of plan old white sugar, but in this case it is probably the best option and certainly better than commercial preservatives!

Then enough white vinegar to cover them.   Give them a bit of stir to mix everything together.  Seal up your jar or bowl and stick them in the fridge.

I’d give them at least an hour or two to “cook” before using them.

The Chef tried them and thought they were great!  Put them on his salad and sandwiches or any place you’d like to add an extra zing!

And when you make small batches you can easily use them up before they go off, but they will probably last comfortably for a week or two in the fridge.

Decidedly Mediterranean

All right, I’ll admit it.  I’ve been on a bit of a Mediterranean kick lately!

Sometimes I just can’t get enough of it.  Luckily the Mediterranean covers a large choice of things to eat, but the one thing they all have in common is a lot of flavour!

So someone asked me if I’d ever made Imam Bayildi”  which apparently translated means “the Iman fainted”, I guess cause it is supposed to be THAT good!  But I had to admit  that I’d never heard of.

Needless to say I looked it up and felt the need to try and make it myself.

So this is what I came up with that is loosely based on most of the recipes I came across.

Basically it is an eggplant stuffed with other vegetables.  But I felt the need to bulk it up a little and use it as a more substantial main dish.  So I added some bulgur wheat to it.

Bulgar is quite easy to make, just put about 1/2 to 1 cup dry Bulgar ( depending on how much you need, it expands a lot!) into a heat safe bowl.

Pour boiling water over it, enough to cover it and then swim a little.   Then cover it with a plate or something like that and let it sit for about 10 minutes or so.

Then when all the liquid is sucked up and the bulgur is all puffed up, you are ready to use it!

Meanwhile, get a nice size eggplant, or a few small ones, depending on if you are making it as a main dish or side dish.   Wash them, pat dry and remove the green bits off the stem.  Then slice them in half and place them in a shallow baking dish.  Put in the over at about 375 for about 15 minutes.   But keep a close eye on them.  You don’t want to cook them fully, just enough so that the innards are soft enough to remove easily.

On top of the stove, in a large skillet add:

  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 red and/or green pepper diced
  • 2-3 cloves fresh garlic minced
  • 3 coarsely chopped Roma tomatoes ( with juicy bits from inside)

Start with the onions and peppers and cook till softened.

By now your eggplant should be done enough, so remove it from oven and give it a minute or two till you can handle it without pain.

Scoop out the innards and chop it up well and add it to the pan with the onions and peppers.  Set the shells aside waiting to be stuffed.

Then add the tomato and let all of that cook till it is well acquainted.

Then add:

  • a tsp of ground cinnamon (gives it that Mediterranean flare!)
  • juice of half a fresh lemon
  • a good handful of fresh chopped flat leaf parsley

At this point you have more or less the traditional filling, but now is when I added about 3/4 of a cup of the cooked bulgur wheat and mixed thoroughly.

Now you are ready to stuff your eggplants.   Spoon in generous amounts of the filling and pack it in there.  Everything is basically already cooked so we will just be essentially re-heating.

The real recipes don’t call for it, but you could add a bit of bread crumbs on top, or like what I did with a bit of grated parmesan cheese, just to give it a bit of a crust.

Bake for about 15 minutes till everything is nice and warm and serve with the side dishes of your choice. And a little drizzle of good olive oil to make it particularly Mediterranean!

Stuffed eggplant

Tonight I just made some lemon and herb brown rice pilaf to go with it.  The other thing that would go nicely with this and which I had toasted and waiting on the counter but simply forgot to add, would be some pine nuts.   The would definitely add to the “decidedly” Mediterranean taste!

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