Asian-Inspired Bean Sprout Salad with Citrus and Soy Dressing

Whew! I’ve made it through yet another exam season. Grad school is a bit different, we tend to have large research papers to hand in. I’m relieved to be done course work for a few weeks. And am working on a few other projects before the spring term begins. One is a research project I’ve been working on for a little over a year. It’s nice to see it coming together! The other is an event for game enthusiasts: Make a Game or DIY Trying. We’ve invited local speakers who work in the game industry to talk about their careers and will host a design competition in the afternoon. I’m looking forward to taking a few days off next week to relax before the next set of classes start.

With everything coming to an end for the term, Bryan and I took the evening of April 23rd off to celebrate our 9 year anniversary! 9 wonderful years. It sounds like a long time. It hasn’t felt all that long.

Us at Bryan's convocation -- there are very few pictures of us because I'm usually the one holding the camera

Us at Bryan’s convocation — there are very few pictures of us because I’m usually the one holding the camera

Anyway, we were both quite busy during the day, but were able to spend the entire evening together, starting with dinner at our favourite restaurant, Taka! It’s on the opposite side of the next town (near where I grew up), but is always worth the trip! The family that manages the restaurant is very generous, they always greet us with enthusiasm, give us appetizers on the house, which usually means we go home with leftovers. Yesterday was no different. Warm welcome, fantastic and friendly service, delicious food, and enough leftovers for a quick lunch today. We then headed home for a quiet evening. We’ve been watching Game of Thrones (I got the DVDs for my birthday a while back) and watched the final episode of season 2. We can’t wait for season 3 to finish and come out on DVD!

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is a salad that I’ve been making a lot recently that we’re both very fond of. The idea for the salad is based off of a recommendation from a friend. It’s very easy to make and surprisingly filling!

Asian-Inspired Bean Sprout Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups bean sprouts – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1/2 cup watercress – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen edamamae beans – approximate cost $1.50

Method

  1. Cook edamamae beans according to package.
  2. Soak hot edamamae beans in an ice water bath.
  3. Rinse the bean sprouts and watercress.
  4. Pat dry.
  5. Combine bean sprouts, watercress, and edamame beans in a large salad bowl.
  6. Mix well.
  7. Top with Citrus and Soy Salad Dressing.
  8. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Citrus and Soy Salad Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lime juice – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine) – approximate cost $0.15
  • 3 teaspoons Kikkoman soy sauce – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 teaspoons sesame oil – approximate cost $0.50

Method

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing glass. 5.75
  2. Mix well.
  3. Pour over salad (before the oil and citrus separate).

Makes 2 meal-sized servings (approximate cost: $2.88 per serving) or 4 appetizer-sized servings (approximate cost: $1.44 per serving).

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Shrimp Stir-Fry with Cookin’ Greens and Spicy Sauce

Over the summer, I received coupons to try any products from the Cookin’ Greens line of frozen vegetables. I frequently forgot the coupons at home on shopping days. And I never quite felt like making a special trip to the store when the coupons stared at me from their spot on the fridge. Eventually, they expired. Unused. I was a bit disappointed that I never found the time to use the coupons.

Despite letting the coupons expire, I still wanted to give the product a try. On a recent trip to the grocery store, I picked up the Athlete’s Mix (collards, kale, spinach, red pepper, and white beans). I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to make at the time, But the mix looked very appealing!

The other night, I had some shrimp that needed to be used up. I suggested a pasta, but Bryan didn’t sound very enthusiastic about it, so we decided that I should make a stir-fry instead. This was the perfect opportunity to try the Cookin’ Greens, because we wanted a quick dinner without much fuss. No chopping required. It’s really a toss what you’ve got into the frying pan sort of dinner.

The stir-fry? Delicious (and healthy too)! I was very glad that I’d made enough for leftovers. This will definitely make a reappearance on my dinner table sometime soon! It would probably also go very well with chicken or tofu pieces.

Shrimp Stir-Fry with Spicy Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs, beaten – approximate cost $0.70
  • 2 1/2 cups sticky rice, cooked – approximate cost $0.75
  • 16 pieces of shrimp – approximate cost $8.00
  • 2 cups Cookin’ Greens Athlete’s Mix – approximate cost $2.20
  • 1/4 onion, chopped – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon cane sugar – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil – approximate cost $0.10

Method

  1. Cook sticky rice according to directions.
  2. Preheat a frying pan and 1/2 teaspoon of grapeseed oil.
  3. Add the onion and shrimp (I used uncooked shrimp with the shell on, a bit more finicky to eat, peeled shrimp will also work well).
  4. Preheat a second frying pan and 1/2 teaspoon of grapeseed oil.
  5. Add the beaten eggs to the hot frying pan.
  6. When egg begins to set, carefully flip it.
  7. Break egg into bite-sized pieces.
  8. Remove egg from frying pan.
  9. Add the ketchup, cane sugar, dark soy sauce and chili garlic sauce to the shrimp.
  10. Mix well to coat.
  11. Add the Cookin’ Greens.
  12. Mix well and cook until heated through.
  13. Divide rice into four portions.
  14. Add equal portions of shrimp and greens.
  15. Decorate with egg.
  16. Drizzle with sesame oil.
  17. Serve and enjoy!

Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $3.13 per serving).

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Belated Valentine’s Day Post

Valentine’s Day was as fantastic as we planned. Not everything went according to plan (I made numerous last minute changes to our menu), but we had a wonderful evening together nonetheless. The evening began with a romantic round of Super Smash Brothers Brawl in which we battled our favourite video game characters for an hour or so while dinner was cooking. We played on a team against two computer-controlled characters. See… we did something co-operative, that’s romantic and coupley, right? Whether or not this is your ideal way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, we very much enjoyed the night in together, away from overly-crowded restaurants and prices that make us think we might need to drop out of school to pay for our dinner (Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit about the price of eating out once in a while).

The dinner, however, was one to remember for a while. Rib-eye steaks, roasted potatoes and carrots, and asparagus with a miso sauce. By the time we got half way through dinner, we decided that dessert (red velvet cheesecake) would have to wait until another day.

Rib-eye steaks au jus

These were some of the best steaks we have ever had at home. We don’t have a barbecue, so we tend to avoid making steak at home and prefer to enjoy it when visiting friends and family. The steaks were a bit on the expensive side, but I don’t regret splurging on an occasion! Also, the steaks were large enough that we enjoyed them over two meals.

The au jus recipe is adapted from a recipe at Steamy Kitchen. Despite making a few changes… it was so flavourful! I enjoyed the au jus more so that that which you would get at a typical pub. I wish I made more. For dipping with bread. For hot beef sandwiches. One of us may or may not have licked our plate clean before cleaning up the meal. I want more…

Ingredients

  • 2 rib-eye steaks (bone in) – approximate cost $12.00
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced – approximate cost $1.50
  • 3 carrots, sliced into quarters – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 whole head garlic, broken into quaters (leave the skin on) – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/4 cup of butter– approximate cost $.63
  • 1/2 cup red wine – approximate cost $1.00
  • 2 tablespoons beef bouillon – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 cup water

Method

  1. Freeze the steaks (Yes, seriously, I was trying out a tip from The Kitchn).
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Heat butter in a frying pan and sear the frozen steaks (approximately 4 minutes per side).
  4. Combine beef bouillon and water in a bowl, stir until well-combined.
  5. In a large roasting pan, combine seared steaks, onion, carrots, garlic, and beef bouillon mixture.
  6. Bake for 1 hour (steaks will be medium to medium-well)
  7. Remove steaks to a cutting board and let stand while you prepare the jus.
  8. Strain the roast mixture into a pot, discarding the vegetables and keeping the liquid.
  9. Heat until the liquid boils and add the red wine.
  10. Boil jus mixture for about 10 minutes, or until it begins to thicken.
  11. Pour jus over steaks and serve.
Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $4.47 per serving).

Potatoes and carrots roasted with thyme

Yummy, yummy, yummy! These roasted vegetables were great as leftovers for lunch the next day.

Ingredients

  • 10 small red potatoes, halved – approximate cost $2.00
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil – approximate cost $0.15

Method

  1. Preheat the over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a 9×13 roasting pan.
  3. Toss until the potatoes and carrots are well coated with thyme, sea salt, and oil.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, turning the vegetables once after about 20 minutes.

Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $0.99 per serving).

Asparagus with miso sauce

Another recipe I am saving. I’ll be making this again when asparagus is in season in June. There’s nothing like buying asparagus fresh from a local farm. It is one of my very favourite vegetables.

Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.34 per serving).

Red velvet cheesecake

This cheesecake is very sweet and very rich. I had three bites and that was enough for me. Bryan’s first words after taking a bite were “Mmmmm this is fantastic!” If you like cheesecake and sweets, this recipe is a keeper. Make sure to plan ahead, there is a long period of time in which the cheesecake must cool.

Makes about 12 servings (approximate cost: $1.28 per serving).

Egg Drop Soup

I usually avoid cooking Asian foods at home. The recipes often call for a variety of exotic sauces and spices that I don’t keep on hand. That, tied in with the perceived complexity of the recipes usually discourages me from even trying.Last week, I came across a recipe on The Kitchn for Egg Drop Soupthat looked so simple I had to try it for myself. It really was easy to make! From start to finish, I think it took 20 minutes to prepare (and I might even be over-estimating!).egg drop soupWe needed a quick dinner with a few leftover in case our guests were hungry when they arrived. Our friends assured us they weren’t hungry, but a few hours later one of them gave the soup a try, saying they just wanted a small taste. As I filled the soup bowl, he commented that it would be way too much because he wasn’t very hungry. When we cleared the table, the bowl was empty. As you can imagine, I was very glad that our guests enjoyed the dish as much as we did.This soup is so simple and tasty that it could easily be served as the main course on a busy weeknight or as an appetizer when you have guests.

Egg Drop Soup

Adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 8 cups chicken broth – approximate cost $4.00
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon cornstarch – approximate cost $0.10
  • 8 large eggs – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons red miso – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1/2 package of firm tofu, diced into bite-sized pieces – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 bunch bok choy, thinly sliced – approximate cost $1.50
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced – approximate cost $0.75
  • 8 teaspoons of sesame oil – approximate cost $0.20
  • 2 teaspoons of white pepper – approximate cost $0.10

egg drop soup

Method

  1. Pour the chicken broth into a large pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add miso and soy sauce. Stir until miso dissolves.
  3. Turn down the heat to medium-low (so the mixture simmer for 15 minutes)
  4. Taste and add more soy sauce as needed.
  5. Add the tofu pieces and bok choy slices.
  6. Whisk together the eggs in a small bowl and add the remaining teaspoon of cornstarch to the eggs. Mix well until there are no powdery lumps. Set aside briefly.
  7. In a separate bowl or cup, combine 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with a small amount of cold water. Mix well until there are no powdery lumps.
  8. Slowly mix the cornstarch and water mixture into the stock and let it simmer for a minute or two until the broth no longer tastes starchy and begins to thicken.
  9. Ask a friend to help you with this part. Have your friend to hold a fork over your pot of soup.
  10. Slowly pour the eggs through the fork while constantly stirring the soup. Let the soup stand for a few seconds to finish cooking the eggs.
    Note: If you don’t want to invite anyone to assist, work in batches. Pour a small amount of the eggs through the fork and take a short break to stir the soup. Repeat until you run out of eggs.
  11. Serve immediately. Provide green onions, white pepper, and sesame oil on the side as a topping and allow others to add these items to taste.

Makes 8 servings (approximate cost: $1.25 per serving) as an appetizer or 4 servings (approximate cost: $2.50 per serving) as a main course.

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