Sweet and Sour Pork Stir Fry

This is another old school entrée. But old school often means very tasty and not too fancy (read complicated!) This is in that category. Lots of veggies, amazing flavor and super easy. I can’t think why I haven’t made it yet this winter.  So we had it the other day for supper. As easy and as tasty as ever. I simplified my Betty Crocker recipe just a bit. Feel free to add more or less veggies and vary them; just need that pineapple and some pepper for sure! Be sure that your soy sauce is GF: La Choy is my favorite brand.

Notes; use all the pineapple if you like lots of it. You can add raw bean sprouts instead of the celery or try sliced water chestnuts. Add them with the pea pods. If you hate any of these veggies sub in something else; I used some sliced zucchini in my most recent version; about a cup of it, added with the pepper chunks. I love lots of veggies.  You can add a bit more sugar and vinegar if you like your sweet and sour more pronounced. The chili sauce makes it a bit spicier.   Serves 4.

Sweet and Sour Pork

Ingredients:

¾ lb pork cubes

¼ cup rice flour mixed with 1.5 tsp. ground ginger
2-3 Tbsp. mild olive oil

2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

2 Tbsp. reduced salt gf soy sauce

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp. brown or white sugar

2 tsp. chili sauce (optional)

1 tsp. sea salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

1 large onion, diced

1 large red pepper, diced in large chunks

2 celery ribs cut thin on bias

1 cup zucchini rounds

2 garlic cloves minced

1-1.5 cups pea pods ( I cut the blossom ends off before cooking)

¾ can drained pineapple chunks canned in juice; save juice for sauce

2 Tbsp. cornstarch, mix with half the pineapple juice

Hot cooked rice; I prefer brown rice but what ever floats your boat!

DIRECTIONS:

Roll pork cubes around to coat with flour blend. Add 1-2 Tbsp oil to wok, Heat and add pork. Stir fry (chow) on high using a big spatula or spoon to toss: brown all sides. I have a wonderful tool with a rounded front edge which is perfect in a wok; can’t stir fry without it! While the pork browns mix vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, chili sauce and salt/pepper. Dump into medium sauce pan, add the pork once browned, cover and cook on low for 15-20 minutes until tender. While it cooks make rice. When you got that going and have 10 minutes left on the pork, reheat wok and add 1 Tbsp. oil to wok, add onion, stir for 2 minutes, add celery, and stir 2-3 minutes. Add red pepper and zucchini , cook a minute, add garlic, cook another minute. Add pea pods, stir fry 3 minutes. Add back the chicken and sauce. Stir and add the cornstarch slurry and pineapple chunks. Cook a minute and then add most of the rest of the pineapple juice. Cook another minute; add more juice if too thick. Adjust seasoning. Serve over hot rice. Enjoy!  sweet and sour pork on plate

 

Tuscan Chicken Made Fast and Easy

 

Burrr…winter has us firmly in it’s icy grip and I am looking for comfort food. And easy stuff that makes me think of summer.  This recipe for chicken is my new fav. Tasty, quick to throw together, done in my Instant Pot and it does make me think of an Italian summer. Winner winner, chicken dinner!

I use chicken thighs; bone in and skin off. Use whatever cut you like.  You might go a minute less for breast meat.  If you hate artichokes; leave them out. Any pasta will do or make potatoes to serve with this entrée. I have used heavy cream, milk or half and half; all will work; less calories for milk, richer flavor for cream.

tuscan chicken

I took this picture quickly before devouring it. The chicken blends in with the sauce and pasta and this plate is totally not arranged for a photo shoot but you get the idea!

Tuscan Chicken with Pasta

Ingredients

4 chicken thighs, bone in, skin removed

1-2 Tbsp. olive oil, EV if possible

1 large onion diced

1 carrot cut up into dice and/or 1 stalk celery diced

4-8 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms

3-4 garlic cloves minced

1 -2 tsp. Italian seasoning; I did half and half basil and oregano

1 cup chicken broth

¼ cup white wine

½ cup sundried tomatoes cut in half

1 small jar marinated artichokes, drained

1/3-1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half

1 1/3 cup uncooked pasta

2 Tbsp. corn starch dissolved in ¼ cup cold water

¼ cup finely chopped parsley and/or kale (use ½ cup of that)
Directions. Heat IP on sauté feature. Add oil then onions, cook about 4-5 minutes until getting soft. Add the carrot/celery after a minute of that 4-5 minutes. Add mushrooms a minute later. Add garlic in last minute of saute. Push aside; add chicken; brown on top and bottom; 3 minutes a side. Add the Italian seasoning; stir; then add wine; cook one minute; add broth and half the sun-dried tomatoes. Lock lid on and cook 8 minutes. Natural release for 10 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture; cook a minute; then add the rest of the sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, kale (if used and actually I would add that first; cook it 1-2 minutes before adding the other stuff in this list) cream and pasta (which you cooked but for 1 minute less than package suggests.) I used rigatoni this last time and liked it for this recipe. Other pasta will probably be great too. Cook it on sauté for a minute; don’t let it boil. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. You can guild the lily with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese; it is a nice touch but if you want to cut calories; leave that off and use whole milk rather than cream. I have done this with kale; great with spinach. Last time I just used fresh parsley. Enjoy!

PS: I used my IP but you could simmer the dish on your stove top in a big pan; so… after the adding of the broth; maybe 25 minutes to cook the chicken. Rest of recipe stays the same.  If you use chicken breasts cook them shorter either method of cooking; they take far less time than thighs.

Hot and Sour Chinese Chicken Soup

Leftover roasted chicken, a can of bamboo shoots, freshly made chicken broth and scallions.  What to make?  Ah hah! Chinese hot and sour soup; even better than take out ever was when I could eat it and super simple.  Lots of stuff in it but just measure and dump basically.

Notes: you can use leftover roast chicken or pork as the protein or tofu if you want to be vegetarian. I like all the vegetables but leave any of them out if you wish. You can even leave out the noodles; I would use the cornstarch then to help it be a tad thicker.

hot and sour soup in pot

Hot and Sour Chinese Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

5 cups homemade chicken broth

about 3/4 cup broken rice noodles; I prefer extra wide size

2 garlic cloves

about 2 tsp. freshly grated ginger root

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2-3 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar; can use red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. chili sauce

3 Tbsp. gf soy sauce

1/4 tsp. sriracha sauce

2 tsp. brown sugar

1 stalk celery cut on the diagonal into thin slices

1/2 cup thinly sliced red pepper; I cut it into 1 inch lengths

4 oz mushrooms; shiitake are traditional but you can use any fresh mushroom, sliced

1 8 oz can bamboo shoots; drained

1/2 cup petite frozen peas

1/2 tsp. black pepper

2 cups roasted chicken cut in small chunks

2 eggs

2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

4 green onions (scallions)

Pour the broth into a large saucepan. Start it heating on medium.  While it heats heat 3 cups of water to boiling and add 1/2-3/4 cup broken rice noodles; I used extra wide size. Let stand 9 minutes. Add minced garlic, grated ginger, two vinegars, chili sauce, soy sauce, sriracha sauce, brown sugar, celery slices, red pepper strips, bamboo shoots and mushrooms to the heating broth. Cook 5 minutes. Add peas, black pepper and roasted chicken. Then the rice noodles which you have drained. Beat the eggs up and add them, and then the sesame oil and the scallions. I like to add the white part of my scallions a minute earlier than this as I don’t like them raw; up to you! Stir as you add the eggs.  Turn off heat. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Pour into bowls; makes about 5 servings.hot and sour soup in bowl

Notes; some folks add corn starch mixed with cold water to thicken it. I like the broth thin and brothy but you can do the cornstarch; 2 Tbsp. mixed with same amount cold water; add after the initial 5 minutes of cooking. This recipe is the one where you really need that homemade chicken broth; it is critical to the perfect flavor but use what ever you have and all will be amazed at your Chinese cooking skills. Enjoy!

Turkey Posole Stew; Different and Delish!

I am betting you have some roast turkey in the fridge or freezer, maybe a pint of gravy too?  Well, I have just the recipe for you, courtesy of Rachel Ray and foodnetwork.com.  It is nothing like most traditional turkey leftover recipes.  It is a Mexican stew.  Posale stew can easily be gluten free. Just use care choosing your chicken broth and your tortilla chips that accompany this savory soup.

I have been making it every fall after Thanksgiving and always look forward to a few bowls of it.  Spicy, crunchy, tangy; unlike any other soup I make.  It is called turkey posole. It can be made with roasted pork and I have done so.  I like it far better with roast turkey.  I have served this stew to many people and it is always well received and enjoyed, even by my elderly mother.  I made it tonight and it was so delish!

Ingredients

2 tbsp mild olive oil or canola oil

2 medium onions chopped

4 cloves garlic chopped fine

1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped fine –use two if you like it spicy, I use one!

1 tbsp. ground cumin

1 GF beer (can use 1 cup water if you want but it gives more flavor)

Coarse salt and pepper

12-16 tomatillos; about 2 lbs, take off the paper cover and chop up.  Can coarsely chop in food processor

5-6 sprigs fresh thyme; chop it up off the stems.

2   15 ounce cans hominy

1.5 qt chicken stock (can be part gravy)

1 ½ to 2 lbs chopped turkey meat; can be mixture of light and dark

1 lime juiced

Chopped cilantro leaves to garnish (optional)

Tortilla chips; the ones with lime go particularly well with this.

tomatillos

Cook first six ingredients about 5 min in a large stock pot.  Add beer or water, cook one minute.  Add chopped tomatillos and cook 5-6 minutes until softened.  Add hominy, thyme and stock and cook 15 minutes.  Taste and add salt and pepper.  Add lime juice, stir well.  I never use cilantro; something I just don’t like, but feel free to add it as the original recipe uses a bunch of it.turkey posole soup

 

THen ladle the posole into bowls and serve lots of white tortilla chips to crunch over the top of the hot soup.  As the soup disappears from my bowl I like to add more chips to keep the crunch going.

Notes:  I halved the garlic and tomatillos this time. Used most of a good sized jalapeno pepper and two cans of hominy. I used a cup and a quarter of water for the beer and a carton of gf chicken broth. No gravy this time.  It was delish!

tomatillos

The more jalapeno pepper you add the hotter it will be. I have tried canned tomatillos and they are not really a good substitute.  You can get them fresh (found near the fresh tomatoes) in many stores including Giant.  They are used in Hispanic and Mexican cooking and add a lot of flavor and tartness to the soup. I have heard that some folks use salsa verde instead of tomatillos but it really isn’t hard to chop them up so I recommend the real deal.

Hominy is a corn product; whole kernels soaked in lye to swell and soften.  The kernels have a mild corn flavor plus they soak up other flavors quickly and add a certain texture and body to the stew.

The wild turkey is native to North America and one turkey species is originally from Mexico.  So turkey is a natural component in this stew.  The Aztecs revered corn and liked to cook it with meat.  Tomatillos are native to Mexico, related to cape gooseberries.  They are used in salsa verde and other Mexican dishes. So this compilation of turkey, corn, tomatillos and lime is a natural combination that will be easy to make and fun to eat. Go on, be adventurous and enjoy a steaming hot bowl of delicious posole and use up that turkey in a totally different way!

Coconut Shrimp Stew

I was not been feeling so great last week. So, I was searching for a healthy soup or stew for supper one night. I took a cauliflower turmeric soup recipe from realfarmacy.com and changed it quite a bit to fit the ingredients I have. I love and it feels so healthy. It even has some seaweed in it, yeap I went there and it worked; just one sheet of nori seaweed chopped up with a scissors. Adds complexity and it is good for skin care which is what I need right now.  You can alter it as you like. I used shrimp as I had them. If you prefer chicken go right ahead and swap out for that. Or use cauliflower and make it more veggie driven. I think this is a flexible stew; thick and very flavorful. Great on a cold day especially if you feel ill or sluggish. It will perk you up!

Shrimp and Coconut Stew

Ingredients:

1 medium onion chopped

2 Tbsp. coconut oil

1 tsp. cumin seeds

2 lg garlic cloves

1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. turmeric

2 tsp. finely chopped fresh ginger

1 can unsweetened coconut milk

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup finely sliced Chinese cabbage

1/2 cup shredded snow peas

1 tsp. sea salt

1 sheet nori seaweed

Big handful of dry rice noodles; maybe a cup of them; I used large width.

3/4 lb large raw shrimp; peeled or not!

Directions: heat oil in large soup pot, add cumin seeds and stir for a few moments; add onion and cook for 2-3 minutes; add garlic; cook a minute and then add all the dried spices and chopped ginger. Stir and cook a minute; add the tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes until they soften. Add the Chinese cabbage, coconut milk and broth. 

Meanwhile; heat 2 or 3 cups water to a boil in a separate dish and add the noodles; turn off heat and let stand 8 or 9 minutes. I heat the water in my microwave but you can do it on the stove of course.

Add the shrimp and snow peas to the soup once the mixture had come nearly to a boil. While it is heating you can add the seaweed. I folded my sheet up and cut it into narrow strips with a scissors and dumped it all in. Turn down heat so it doesn’t boil, and simmer 5-6 minutes. Don’t over cook those shrimp! Add the cooked rice noodles and salt at the end of this time, stir and add  water or more broth if it has gotten too thick. Make sure it is hot, and that you have tasted to see if there is enough salt to your tastes. Serve in a wide shallow bowl. Enjoy!

 

Notes: I generally break up the rice noodles into 2-4 inch lengths; they come in a packet of long strips; hard to measure. I just grab out a big chunk and break them up somewhat before dumping in the very hot water. You can use any width you prefer.  You can use any type noodle you prefer but rice noodles are most authentic.

If you don’t like shrimp use another seafood like scallops or a white fish like cod. If you don’t like seafood/fish you could add cooked chicken in slivers or go with no protein at all. To make it vegetarian use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. To “beef up” your vegetarian version try adding some small flowerets of cauliflower; maybe a cup or two when you add the tomatoes.

If you shiver at the very thought of the nori; just leave it out. It adds flavor and protein and does increase the authenticity of the flavors. Enjoy!

Chunky Mushroom Soup

 

Cream of mushroom soup.  Sounds kinda dull. Everyday.  Nothin special… but when you make it from scratch and you use wild mushrooms it becomes extraordinary and quite memorable. I have made this soup before but this time I had several kinds of wild shrooms to use which amped up the flavor quotient.  I posted a picture on a facebook mushroom id group and got a lot of likes and a request for the recipe so I thought it could be my next post; why type it up just for that one or two folks who asked it; better to share it on my blog for my peeps!

My amounts are somewhat flexible; can use less or more cream, can use store mushrooms. What ever you want. My local farmer’s market has a vendor who sells wild mushrooms; another good source for your ingredients.  Just be sure you know the variety of mushrooms and that every shroom is safe and edible! Use what ever dairy you like. I have used a range of choices in the past.  This time I went with half and half and whole milk.  If you want to chop the mushrooms finer; go for it; you can even puree it but I much prefer it a bit chunky.

We ate outside by candlelight last night and I didn’t bother with a picture of it in the soup bowl due to the light conditions; tonight I will update this post with one of those shots taken in the kitchen! PS: I found most of the shrooms we picked; I am good at it! Joe is much better at identifying; I am a beginner and he is pretty expert at it. It is fun to do together.

Chunky Wild Mushroom Soup

Makes almost 2 quarts.

Ingredients:

  • 15-16 ounces assorted wild mushrooms, chopped coarsely

1 cup yellow onion, chopped

4 Tbsp. butter, divided

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 carrot chopped in small cubes

1 large shallot chopped small cubes (about 1/2 cup)

2 Tbsp. white rice flour

6-8 stems fresh thyme

1 cup dry white wine (I used a dry Riesling)

1.5 tsp. sea salt and ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper or white pepper

1 cup chicken broth

2 cups vegetable broth (or more chicken broth)

1 cup half and half or light cream

½ cup whole milk

1-2 Tbsp. chopped garlic or regular chives

Sprinkle of fresh parsley (I used dried as my parsley plant has bit the dust)

Directions; chop the ingredients so everything is ready. I like my mushrooms chunky but cut them how you like to eat them. Heat the olive oil and half the butter in a large heavy bottomed sauce pan; mine is copper; about 4 quarts. Add the onion, sauté on medium for 4-5 minutes until softened, add the shallots and stir for a minute. Add the flour; stir and cook for a minute. Add the wine, stir and cook a minute. Add the mushrooms and stir for 5-7 minutes until they soften, then add fresh thyme, broths and a tsp of sea salt and some fresh ground pepper. Cook 15-20 minutes on medium.  You want all the veggies to be soft and fully cooked but not mushy. Add the cream and milk, stir well; heat; do Not boil.  While it heats add the finely chopped chives, I used garlic ones and add parsley. I have a five tined scissors for herbs; it chops them perfectly right into the soup. Taste and add more salt if needed.  mushrooms soup

Notes; if you are not gluten free use all purpose flour. If it is too thick add more milk.  It does thicken on standing. I used a blend of honey brown mushrooms, hen of the woods, chicken of the woods and just a speck of chanterelle in my soup this time. A mixture really is nice for a full flavor. Use whatever mushrooms you like. If you want it richer use heavy cream instead of half and half. You can add more butter if you like but I find it quite rich just like I make it.  I pluck out the stems of the thyme when it is cooked; the tiny leaves fall off into the stew; you can remove the leaves from the stems before cooking if you prefer to do that.  You can replace the shallot with leek if you prefer.

This is a rough adaptation from a recipe from Food Network, by Ina Garten – I simplified it quite a bit. And I cut back on the butter, flour and dairy.  I used different mushrooms and made it gluten free as that is my life these days! Enjoy!

 

 

Eggplant and Potato Curry

Lots of September eggplants mean I am looking for great recipes to enjoy them to the fullest. This happens to be one of my favorite ways to do just that.  It is a vegetable curry, now don’t be put off by that; no long list of spices: only a couple and some fresh ginger in it and it isn’t too spicy or wild tasting. I have simplified it a bit and as a bonus I give you my best eggplant frying tip. Yeap, it is vegetarian but that can be a nice change of pace from all that meat. I serve it over brown rice and it is very satisfying. You can feel virtuous enjoying this savory entree and use all that fresh fall produce.

This recipe came from my favorite Indian cookbook Indian Cooking for Pleasure by Charmaine Solomon.  This 70’s bible for Indian cookery is out of print and very pricey to buy on line. I have used literally dozens of recipes from it. She knows her spices and chooses great recipes that always work.

You can use big fat eggplants as I did this time or smaller ones; you will just need more of them. These days there are many interesting smaller eggplant varieties; any will work here; just cube, no need to peel.

Eggplant and Potato Curry

1 medium eggplant

2 large potatoes

2 decent sized tomatoes or most of a can of chopped tomatoes

1 large onion diced

1 small red pepper and 1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced.

1 bunch spinach or a big handful of roughly chopped kale

3-4 Tbsp. mild olive oil

1 ½ tsp. grated ginger, I freeze mine and just grate it frozen

½ tsp. cumin seeds, crushed in a pestle

½ tsp. ground turmeric; I did a rounded measurement; a tad more than level

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. brown sugar

Directions: Slice eggplants into ½ inch rounds and cut into cubes. Peel and dice the potatoes into a bit less than ½ inch rounds. Chop the tomatoes. Chop the onion. Seed and chop the peppers (you can use any level of spicy pepper you like; the original recipe said green chilies). Wash and chop the spinach or kale (I used kale this time; subs in great)

Heat 3 Tbsp. mild oil in a large frying pan. Fry the cubed potatoes until golden; you will need to turn them a few times. Remove from pan. Add the eggplant and fry until cooked; once the oil is soaked in I wait a half minute and add a couple tablespoons of water to the pan; let the water steam off and the eggplant should be done; if you have to do that again; go ahead. This trick saves adding a lot more oil to keep the eggplant from sticking/burning. When mostly done remove from pan.  It will cook more later so it is okay if edges and bits are not fully done.

Note: you could fry the eggplant at the same time in a separate pan to save a few minutes if you are in a hurry; might take a touch more oil that way; worked for me.

Then, add a touch more oil to the same (now empty) pan and pour in the chopped onion and fry until soft and turning golden. Add the cumin, turmeric and grated ginger. Fry for a minute, stirring. Add the chilies, tomatoes and salt, stir well and add back the eggplant and potatoes. Tip: when I make this in a wide 12 inch frying pan I don’t have a big enough lid; I use an upside down metal pizza pan and it makes a great lid.

Top with the spinach or kale. Stir after a minute, cover and cook on low heat for a few minutes until the spinach is soft, adding up to ½ cup water to keep it from sticking/burning. Add the brown sugar and cook the curry uncovered until it is thick; no more than 8-9 minutes. Serve with Indian bread or brown rice. As I haven’t really found time re-create my favorite Indian breads I served mine over brown rice.  eggplant curry on plante