Vegetarian Chao Mian (Chow Mein) and Gai Lan

I’ve been craving a lot of Chinese food recently. I think it’s because I miss home and my mom’s delicious home-cooking. However, Chinese New Year just happened, so I took advantage of some of the sales at the Asian market and picked up some ingredients for some of my favorite comfort foods. Then I got a coupon for a discount off my next purchase so obviously I had to go back… Anyway, this is one of the meals I cooked for myself recently, and it’s been the perfect comfort food for the dreary and drizzly week we’ve been having here in Seattle.

I decided to make chao mian, then add a side of gai lan (Chinese broccoli) to have a little more green on my plate. I’ve never made gai lan, but it turns out, it’s super easy and fast! You just boil some water, drop the gai lan in, cook for a few minutes, and then remove it and you’re done! Drizzle a little oyster sauce on top and it’s just like off a dim sum cart.

As for the chao mian, I prefer the thicker noodles, so that’s what I used, but you can use whatever kind of stir fry noodles you’d like. You can also change up the vegetables to be whatever you’d like, this is just the combination I had on hand. I didn’t follow any specific recipe for the sauce, this is just the blend of flavors I always use and like, and it’s a combination of the Chinese sauces we keep in the fridge at home. I also don’t really use exact measurements, I just add sauces, mix it up, and taste it until I like what I taste.

So here’s my version of Chinese comfort food!

Chao Mian

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients

½ block of high protein tofu, sliced into thin rectangles

2 tsp olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

3-4 green onions, sliced

8-10 shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 large carrot or about ¾ cup baby carrots, sliced thin

2 tsp canola oil

32 oz package noodles (I used miki noodles, a thick Shanghai stir fry noodle)

½ head of napa cabbage, sliced

Sauce (approximate measurements, I just pour sauces in and mix until the flavor is good)

3 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp hoisin sauce

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

3 slices of ginger

1 tbsp marsala wine/cooking sherry

Directions

Mix up the sauce ingredients in a bowl or measuring cup. Slice the tofu and add to the sauce to allow it to marinate.

Chop the garlic, green onions, mushrooms, and carrots. Heat a deep skillet or wok over medium heat, then add the olive oil. Cook the garlic and green onions until fragrant, then add the mushrooms and carrots. Cook until slightly tender the mushrooms start to release their juices. Make a well in the middle of the vegetables and turn up the heat to medium-high. Heat the canola oil. Add the tofu to the skillet in the canola oil and allow to brown, stirring every couple minutes. Reserve the marinating sauce to add later.

Once the tofu is browned to your liking, add the noodles and the remaining sauce. Cover and allow to steam-cook for a few minutes to warm and soften the noodles. While you are waiting for the noodles to cook, chop the napa cabbage crosswise. Add the cabbage to the skillet and stir to incorporate the sauce. Reduce heat to medium or medium low and cook until the cabbage is as soft as you prefer. Stir the noodles to distribute the toppings, and serve warm. Enjoy!

Gai Lan

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

2 bunches gai lan

Oyster sauce

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the gai lan and blanch for 2-3 minutes, longer if you want it softer. Remove from the water and drain.

In a small saucepan, thin the oyster sauce with a little water and cook over medium heat for a minute or so. Drizzle over the gai lan. Enjoy!

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Roasted Fall Vegetable and Lentil Soup

Happy Sunday everyone! I’m taking a study break, and I wanted to share a recipe for a soup I made earlier this week that turned out better than I expected. I was making some pumpkin cookies, and I was going to have some pumpkin puree left over, so I started thinking of way to use it, and settled on making some soup. I added the lentils to give it some protein and make it hearty enough for a full meal, and roasted a bunch of vegetables to add to the pumpkin. This is a recipe where an immersion blender comes in extremely handy, since once I had all the ingredients in my pot, rather than blending it in shifts, I was able to just whir my immersion blender through it all and it became wonderfully smooth. It’s a great recipe for a chilly fall evening, and I’ve been having it with some toasted baguette on the side for the last few days. Here’s the recipe!

Roasted Fall Vegetable and Lentil Soup

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil (approximately)

1 acorn squash

1 sweet onion

4-6 oz carrots (I used baby carrots I had in the fridge)

1 1/2 cups split red lentils

4 cups vegetable broth

2-3 cups water (more or less depending your desired consistency)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (this is what I had left in the can, you could do more or less, or omit if you don’t have it on hand)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425˚F and line a couple baking sheets with foil. Cut the acorn squash in half, drizzle with olive oil, and place cut side down on one of the baking sheets. Roast for about 30-40 minutes, until fork-tender.

Chop the onion and carrots, toss with olive oil, and spread out on the other baking sheet sheet. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until fork-tender.

While the vegetables are roasting, put the lentils, vegetable broth, and 2 cups of the water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow the lentils to cook until soft, then add the pumpkin puree.

Once the vegetables are roasted, add them to the pot and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Add more water if you want a thinner consistency. Serve with crackers or toasted baguette and enjoy!

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Spaghetti Squash Bowls with Broccoli Pesto and Eggs

Happy Memorial Day weekend! I’m currently in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with my wonderful ultimate frisbee team, BLU, and we just finished day one of College Nationals! I couldn’t be happier to be playing with this team, and I’m super stoked to see what the next three days hold for us. Considering it’s been about a month since my last post I figured I could put something up during our down time.

I made this for myself last week, and it turned out to make a great lunch for the next few days! I bought a fresh basil plant at Trader Joe’s a few weeks back, and I figured I could make good use of it, as we approach summer time. I love homemade pesto, and I figured adding a bit of broccoli just adds a few more nutrients to the meal. I love spaghetti squash as a base for healthy meals, since it’s slightly sweet and holds flavors well. I added cauliflower for another veggie, and to add a little protein, I topped it off with some eggs. The result was delicious!

Spaghetti Squash Bowls with Broccoli Pesto and Eggs

Makes 5 servings

Ingredients

1 spaghetti squash

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets

2 cloves garlic

1 small head broccoli, cut into florets

1/2 cup almonds/walnuts, or a combination

15-20 fresh basil leaves, sliced

1/4 cup olive oil, more if you desire a thinner consistency

Salt and pepper, to taste

Eggs (I did 10, 2 per serving)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Slice the spaghetti squash in half and remove seeds. Drizzle olive oil over the spaghetti squash and place cut-side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until fork tender. Set aside to cool.

Toss the cauliflower florets in olive oil and bake for 25-30 minutes, until fork tender. You can do this while the spaghetti squash cooks.

To make the pesto, you can either microwave the broccoli for a few minutes with a bit of water, or drizzle with olive oil and roast with the cauliflower. Once cooked, place in food processor with  garlic, basil leaves, and garlic. Pulse until desired consistency is reached. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Fry the eggs for a couple minutes on each side if you like runny yolks, for longer if you want more solid yolks.

To assemble bowls, scoop out spaghetti squash strands with a fork. Toss with roasted cauliflower and pesto until the spaghetti squash “noodles” are coated with pesto. Divide into 5 even portions. Top each portion with 2 eggs. Serve warm. Enjoy!

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Sweet Potato Black Bean Patties with Thai Peanut Sauce

Happy Monday! Although I guess it’s Tuesday now. Anyway, some exciting news, my ultimate frisbee team spent the last weekend at SoCal Sectionals, and we won! I’m so glad to be part of this team, and I can’t wait for Regionals, then hopefully Nationals coming up later in May.

Anyway, that’s just a quick little celebration, but now onto the food. Sweet potatoes were on sale a while ago, so I got inspired to make these patties. I served them with some roasted vegetables and topped it off with a delicious thai peanut sauce. I had leftover sauce, so I ended up using it as salad dressing and a dip for carrots and other raw veggies. It was amazing! The patties were also quite good, with plenty of sweetness from the sweet potatoes, and packed with protein from the beans. Here’s the recipe!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Patties with Thai Peanut Sauce

Ingredients

Patties

2 medium sweet potatoes

Half a sweet onion, chopped

1 15oz can black beans, drained

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 cup cooked brown rice

2 eggs

Thai Peanut Sauce

3/4 cup lite coconut milk (half of a 14oz can)

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup agave nectar

2 tbsp red curry paste

Directions

For the patties, cook the sweet potatoes using your method of choice-either roast them at 400˚F until soft (about 40 minutes) or microwave for about 7 minutes. Allow to cool, then scoop out the insides.

Preheat the oven to 375˚F and line baking sheets with parchment. Combine the sweet potato, onion, beans, green onions, and brown rice in a food processor and process until loosely combined but still chunky. Mix in the eggs until a doughy mixture forms. Scoop out 1/4 cups of patty mixture and form into round patties. Place on the baking sheets. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the patties are set and dry on the outside. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

For the sauce, combine all ingredients in the food processor and pulse until well-incorporated. Add warm water as necessary to thin sauce to your desired consistency. Drizzle over patties. Enjoy!

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The Thai peanut sauce really adds to the flavor of these patties

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Asian Sesame Eggplant Shiitake Frittata

Hello world! I know it’s been a long time since my last post, but I’ve been in a study hole for the last few weeks. Midterms, papers, more midterms, more papers… Yay quarter system. This post will be quick so I can get back to work, but I wanted to share this recipe with you.

I never really liked eggs, but I’ve recently discovered that if they are flavored correctly, they can be quite delicious. One of my new favorite flavors for eggs is adding sesame oil and green onions, to give it a distinct asian flair. I added some other asian sauces, eggplant, spinach, and shiitake mushrooms to this frittata to make it a well-rounded meal. The whole thing is quick to come together and bakes right in the cast iron skillet that you cook the vegetables in, so it’s a easy and delicious meal. Here’s the recipe!

Asian Sesame Eggplant Shiitake Frittata

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 eggplant, diced

1/2 cup dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrated and chopped

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp hoisin sauce

8 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained

8 eggs, beaten

1 tsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp black pepper

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add the green onions and eggplant and saute until the eggplant is soft. While the vegetables are cooking, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Add the mushrooms and spinach, along with the soy sauce and hoisin sauce and stir to incorporate the flavors.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, and pepper. Pour the eggs over the vegetables and stir quickly to evenly distribute the vegetables. Allow to cook for a couple minutes, then transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a knife inserted comes out clean and the frittata is set. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, then slice and serve. Enjoy!

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A frittata full of delicious asian flavors

 

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Curry Lentil-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Well, I had my first final today. Which means that I should start studying for my other two next week, but instead I’m going to take a break and talk a little bit about food. To all my fellow quarter-system college students-good luck studying!

I decided to make some acorn squash, since I’ve used a lot of butternut squash and sweet potatoes, but I feel like I neglect this fall squash. It’s not my favorite, since it’s not quite as sweet at butternut squash or sweet potatoes, but it sure is pretty. When you cut the squash crosswise into rings, they make nice little flowery rings, and I just had to do something with that, so here we are!

For this dish, I made some curry lentils in the slow cooker, then I roasted the acorn squash, some cauliflower, and onions. I put a scoop of lentils inside the acorn squash rings, then topped the whole thing off with the roasted vegetables. The result? A delicious meal, packed with fall flavors. The slightly sweet squash, combined with the spicy curry, and the savory roasted vegetables all complement each other to make a wonderfully balanced meal. It does take some waiting, for the vegetables and lentils to cook, but the hands on time is pretty minimal. In any case, this is a dish worth trying!

Curry Lentil-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups red split lentils

1 14oz can lite coconut milk

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1 tbsp curry powder

2 tbsp olive oil

2 acorn squash, sliced crosswise, seeds removed

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets

1 sweet onion, sliced

Directions

Mix together the lentils, coconut milk, vegetable broth, and curry powder in the slow cooker. Turn on low and allow to cook for 4-5 hours, until the lentils are cooked through and soft. This can also be done on the stove. Simply combine all ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the lentils are soft.

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. On one baking sheet, toss the acorn rounds with half the olive oil, then place in the oven. On another baking sheet, toss the cauliflower and onion with the other half of the olive oil, then place on the sheet. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through.

To assemble, place an acorn squash ring (or two or three) on a plate, then place a scoop of lentils in the middle. Top with the roasted cauliflower and onions. Serve warm. Enjoy!

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A delicious fall meal! It happens to be vegan too 🙂

Sweet Potato Gratin

Happy fall! It’s raining here in SoCal. I hate, hate, hate the rain, but we really need it so I don’t mind too much. One thing though, I really want to swim in the rain, since if you’re getting in the pool, you’re going to be wet anyway, and the droplets make such pretty patterns on the surface of the water, but the weather is just working against me. I’ve gone swimming three times in the rain this week, and every time, I walk to the pool in the rain, but as soon as I get in the water, it stop. Then of course, once I hop out of the pool, it begins to rain again. Go figure.

Anywayyyyy on a side note, the UCLA Women’s Volleyball team is hosting NCAA’s this week! It means quite a few extra hours for me, but it’s pretty exciting! It’s been super fun to watch them this year and to work with them as a team, and they’re a great bunch of girls. I’m excited to watch them rock it this weekend.

However, onto the food! At the very beginning of the school year, my apartment and the next door apartment had a big “family” dinner together. We all made dishes and had a fun meal together, so this recipe is from way back then. But, it would make a great fall meal for these cooler nights! It’s all made in the cast iron skillet, so it’s easy cleanup. It’s also fairly easy preparation. I like to make it look pretty for the pictures and all, but the slices really could just be thrown in and it would taste the same, it just wouldn’t be quite as aesthetically pleasing. But when it’s just going in your stomach anyway, who cares how it looks? This combination of sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, and a sprinkle of cheese is quite delicious. and it would make a lovely side dish for any fall meal.

Sweet Potato Gratin

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

1 sweet onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 sweet potato (orange)

1 white sweet potato

1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used a mozzarella blend, parmesan would be good too)

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized. This should take about 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400˚F.

While the onions are caramelizing, slice the sweet potatoes into thin coins. Once the onions are done cooking, turn off the heat and place the sweet potato slices in any patter you wish. You can arrange them in a spiral, or just throw them in the pan over the onions. Sprinkle the cheese over the top.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are soft and the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Serve warm. Enjoy!

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All baked up and ready for a roommate dinner!