Spicy and Sweet dumpling salad

I have a strange obsession with dumplings which depending on where you are in the world can also be called a potsticker, gyoza or simply ravioli. They generally has a small amount of meat and some vegetables wrapped around a wrapper and you can boil, fry, bake or any combination of the three cooking methods. I have made my fair share of homemade dumplings but I have found a frozen brand that is delicious and I haven’t made a single dumpling since. A friend of mine showed me where there is a dumpling restaurant in Montreal that I’m kind of happy isn’t closer to me.
IMG_5588.JPGI’m sure that I am not off the hook and they are not difficult to make but sometimes a quick and simple lunch or dinner is just what the doctor ordered. Today we have been getting things done. We cut down our tree and it is finally is in place, we’ll need to get it decorated before the weekend ends.
IMG_5571This recipe fits a few of my requirements especially this time of year it is quick, easy, and limits my dumpling eating to a few and not the whole pan 🙂 which I could easily do but should most definitely not.
IMG_5581Sweet and Spicy Korean Dumpling Salad

3-5 dumplings per serving
Lettuce a few leaves chopped
Cabbage a few slices chopped
1 small Cucumber – peeled, seeded and julienned
1 small Carrot – peeled and julienned
1-2 tablespoons oil for pan frying
IMG_5584Spicy & sweet dressing
1 tablespoon Koren chili paste
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon sugar in the raw
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Place veggies in a bowl and set aside. Place all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk till combined.
Heat oil in a pan on medium low heat and arrange the dumplings so the bottoms are all touching the pan, you’ll want to brown the bottoms and then add a tablespoon or two to the pan and cover with a lid cook for about 5-10 minutes till the dumplings are cooked thru.
Mix everything when you are about to sit down and eat so the veggies and dumplings stay crunchy.
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Macros = 1 serving – recipe makes 3-4 with 4 dumplings per
227 Calories – 5 g Fat – 36 g Carbs – 9 g Protein

 

recipe adapted from Korean kitchen

Pumpkin Spiced Muffins – cajun rub fried turkey

I share this recipe last year but it was so good that I thought it was worth repeating. Plus I am sitting on a beach drinking tasty adult beverages and haven’t made anything sweet and delicious to share and maybe you have a can or two of pumpkins lying around. It may last till next year’s Thanksgiving but why chance it.

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I do hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. This year I did things a little different. I made mashed potatoes and mashed sweet potatoes first thing in the morning and put each in my slow cookers to keep warm. I buy 2 smaller birds versus one enormous one, I find I have better luck having juicy meat instead of dry. This year I was on the fence on how to cook them. literally the morning of Thanksgiving I held a meeting with all in the kitchen on how to cook my two 10 pound birds. consensus was fry one and spatchcock the other. I knew that the fried one needed A LOT of spices and I needed to get going so it had time to soak in. I took the other and started to spatchcock also know as removed the backbone.  FYI it was much harder to remove than when I remove it from a roaster chicken.
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Both birds turned out great, but the cajun spice rub I put on the fried bird was amazing!

Rub
1/4 cup chili pepper
1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup ground black pepper
2 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper

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spatchcock

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cajun rubbed fried

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Pumpkin Spiced Batter – preheat oven to 350’F


1 package yellow cake mix
1 package vanilla pudding mix
1 cup canned pumpkin
½ cup oil
½ cup water
3 eggs
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract

Put all the ingredients into a bowl and with an electric mixer on low speed beat just till moistened. Move up to medium for a couple of minutes. Spoon batter into 24 paper-lined muffin cups. Fill each cup about ⅔ full

Bake for about 20 minutes. Frost cooled cupcakes with the spiced cream cheese frosting.

Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
1 package (8oz) cream cheese – softened
¼ cup butter – softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp ground cloves

Add to bowl and beat until light and fluffy, gradually add 1 (16oz) box of confectioners sugar.

 

 


Recipe by : McCormick & Co

Macaroni & “Cheese” butternut squash

I mentioned a bit ago that I heard you could make a pretty decent macaroni and cheese using butternut squash. A few years ago I would have told you you were crazy. Now I am coming around; so much so I tried it. I looked around the internet for a few recipes but decided to make my usual one and replace most of the cheese with the butternut squash. I was still a little skeptical but what was there to lose?
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I will advise you that if you are going to have your family or anyone for that matter try your new recipe I would not tell them what was in it.  I find that if you tell them it’s different or lighter or different in anyway, their senses are on high alert and they are sure to find or even look for something different with it.
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Case in point; my husband was home when I was making my lighter macaroni and cheese and when it was finished I just brought over a fork full and gave him a bite. First reaction was “mmmm good” I had to ask him what he thought it was. He looked at me a little funny and said “macaroni and cheese” but I think my comment made him add “of some sort” I had to confess it was made with squash and very little cheese. Oh and I also used rotini that was made from Chickpeas.  If you haven’t tried chickpea pasta I really think you will be pleasantly surprised. I have made 2 dishes with great success.

You might be thinking why chickpea pasta it has less carbs than average pasta, more protein and more fiber. So it is just a little better for you than ordinary box pasta. Unfortunately I haven’t seen any at either of my local stores my boxes were bought by my daughter when she visited one of Mario Batali’s Eataly. Looks like I will have to go and check it out.

Macaroni and “Cheese”

Small onion – diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves – minced
2 pounds cubed butternut squash – I used frozen
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
box of chickpea pasta
4 ounce gruyere cheese – grated
few drops sriracha sauce
Parmesan cheese – a small amount for grating on top
1/4 cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to taste

saute onion for a couple of minutes in the olive oil.  Add garlic saute another minute. add mustard, nutmeg, butternut squash, stock and milk still squash is softened.
Remove from the heat and using either a stick blender or however you puree your soups. puree the mixture and then add the cheese, season with salt and pepper to your taste.
place in a baking dish and grate some Parmesan cheese and a little seasoned panko bread crumbs.

Per 11 ounce serving
215 Calories – 12g Fat – 14g Carbs – 16g Protein  

 

Easiest Chicken Stock

With only a few weeks left in the year 2017 I can’t be the only person trying to fit in extra shopping, 3 holidays, a few birthday’s a couple of holiday parties and try to remain sane. I think I mentioned having a pretty significant birthday coming up. While you are reading this I should be sitting on a beach hopefully enjoying the sunshine on my face, a book in one hand and a tasty adult beverage in the other. * I meant to  post this one next week – oops! I will be on a beach this time next week! While my husband and I love going on vacations together; it does take it’s toll trying to fit one in this time of year, but I didn’t choose my birth month nor did my husband; his is a month from mine. Oh and let’s throw in our wedding anniversary too.
IMG_5533Sounds like I am complaining but I really am very fortunate to be able to get a break from reality once in awhile. Life gets very hectic around here at times; especially this time of year.
IMG_5532This is probably too simple to blog about but it is SO worth mentioning and I know many people that have never made their own stock and I don’t know about you but I can never have enough chicken stock on hand. I use it for not only soups, stews and gravy; it is a great addition any night of the week. After pan searing chicken breast; it’s a great way to deglaze the pan. You can also flavor pasta and rice by using your homemade stock instead of plain water to boil them in.

This is a great thing to do today so you have some stock on hand that you can use on Thanksgiving!

Simple Chicken Stock
Chicken carcass or bones
2 celery stalks
2 carrots
1-2 onions
Season with salt and pepper to taste

After removing all the meat from your chicken; whether you made it or bought one of those roasters your local grocery makes and sells. Place the carcass in your slow cooker.  Cover with water and add a few stalks of celery; the leaves have flavor too. A couple of carrots roughly chopped and an onion.  Turn it on low before you go to bed and in the morning you have stock.
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Throw away the carcass and veggies and let the stock sit. I cover with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge so the fat will congeal on the top, I remove the fat and then put the “liquid gold” in containers and place in the freezer.

 

 

Tomato butternut squash soup

Pretty much every Friday at work a group of us order lunch out from somewhere in town. How we decide depends on if someone wants to run out and pick it up; which generally isn’t the case so we end up ordering from 1 of the 2 places that will deliver. If we can get someone to run there are so many more options and it is getting that time of year where most places have soup back on their menus.  There is a marketplace in the center of town that makes a mean tomato cheddar soup.  They are kind of “famous’ for it. Or at least here in town they are.  It is only soup that is on the menu every day of the week.
IMG_5520Many years ago one of my co-worker’s and I used to get a bowl of Tomato Cheddar each and split a loaf of their fresh made french bread at least once a month; we did this for a couple of years. The marketplace was sold and the new owner still made the soup it wasn’t quite the same so we stopped going there.  

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I think this looks pretty cool! It makes me smile…

A couple of weeks ago we decided to give it a try. I ordered a cup and was going to forgo on the bread; still trying to eat a little healthier. When I googled the nutrition of a cup of tomato cheddar soup I was shocked and so disappointed. I could eat that little cup of soup but that would have been pretty much it for the day. I had no idea; if nothing else paying attention to macros-protein, carbs and fat. I am trying to make better choices; but being a foodie I will not compromise eating yummy food.
IMG_5525I had heard and seen people on TV use butternut squash in recipes in place of cheese. I know I too was a skeptic. I hadn’t tried anything until I bought a cup of soup I didn’t feel I should eat. The I was on a mission I was going to make a hearty tomato soup that had the love that tomato cheddar has without taking up so much of my fat allowance.
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1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium or 1 large onion, diced
1 ½ lb butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon basil
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons sugar –  optional
chives and pumpkin seeds – optional but a very nice touch!

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent about 8 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the butternut squash and continue sauteing for another 10-20 minutes stirring a few times.

Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer on low for about an hour.

Puree with whatever you have, I use my immersion blender for convenience
Add salt and pepper to taste.
IMG_5531Bonus is you can freeze the leftovers since there is no cheese or cream

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My husband and I taste tested adding sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds – pumpkin won!!!


Tomato & Butternut Squash soup
Macros = 8 ounce
68 Calories – 2.2g Fat – 10.9g Carbs – 3g Protein

Tomato & Cheddar Soup generic
Comparison Macro = 8 ounce
370 Calories – 28g Fat – 19g Carbs – 15g Protein

Bark – chocolate, pistachios, craisins

There is nothing more surprising to me when someone walks up to me or sends me a message to ask a question or make a suggestion about what I blogged about last week or last month. Or when someone I’ve never met makes a comment, hits the like button or starts to follow me.  Thank you for all who reach out, I truly appreciate it and you for taking the time out of your crazy life to acknowledge little ole me.  I am pretty proud of this weekly delve into my food and sometimes personal journey!
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I talked with my daughter about doing a blog of some sort with her for a few years until I finally pulled the trigger on writing about one of both of our passions. While it ended up being more of my food blog I do share this journey with her as she is my strongest supporter, she is my sounding board, my technical adviser, my social media guru and a huge inspiration – thanks sweetie!
IMG_5483So I have been trying to make things a little healthier around here for me and my family but sometimes you just have to have something that just totally rocks – good bad or indifferent I just have to share this ridiculously easy treat that I can’t believe I have never made before.
IMG_5485I saw it a few weeks ago, I can’t even remember where; TV, Magazine, Online I have no idea but I literally went to the kitchen and threw it together.  And I guiltily have made it at least a half dozen times since. Though my first few times were with semi sweet chocolate, almonds and craisins my brilliant daughter called me on her way to work with a batch for her co-workers and said “White Chips, Pistachios, Craisins” if you have never had this combination in anything you need to stop reading this and make SOMETHING – ANYTHING with this combo. We discovered them, well at least in my house, when we made the biscotti recipe I blogged about awhile back. I think they are magical together and this bark is crazy good!
IMG_5490Spoiler alert some of my close peeps that follow my blog might just be seeing some for a little Christmas love this year!

1 cup chips melted – your choice
Dried fruit chopped
Nuts chopped

Yeah its that easy!
IMG_54861 cup white chips melted in the microwave – takes a minute or so
½ cup Dried craisins – chopped a little smaller
½ cup Pistachios – chopped a little smaller

Spread the melted chocolate onto either parchment or if you are lucky enough to have a silpat mat; if you don;t ask for one or two for Christmas, Birthday, Thanksgiving or even Wednesday.

Sprinkle your toppings and place in the fridge till it hardens.  Break apart and enjoy!
IMG_5489I’ll give you the macros for the 2 I have been making; but they are not great. OK! am back I just made a batch so I could give the most accurate measurements.  You’re welcome and Thank you 🙂

Macros = 1 ounce white bark
210 Calories – 11 g Fat – 24 g Carbs – 3 g Protein
Macros = 1 ounce semi-sweet bark
243 Calories – 13 g Fat – 24 g Carbs – 4 g Protein

Chicken Parmesan Bites

It’s around this time of year when I start thinking about what appetizers I want to make. Who’s with me???
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Holiday party and get together season is coming up rapidly fast and the invites for us have already started with a Halloween party, next up will be Thanksgiving, Christmas and ending with New Years oh and I also need to throw a few birthdays in there.
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Most people; when planning a party will take care of a few of the main dishes; then rely on their guests to fill in the gaps. I am curious to know if you spend as much time as I do trying to figure out something that is not only easy to make it needs to be easy to transport. But on top of all of that it HAS to taste delicious!
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I am still in my wrist brace from my carpal tunnel surgery a few weeks ago, I think I should be able to take it off sometime next week; I know it’s still going to take some time to get my strength back but I haven’t stopped cooking this whole time. Though I have decided to use a few shortcut staples that I knew about but honestly can’t recall using before. Pre-chopped frozen onions and minced garlic while not my favorite has come in quite handy! Get it “handy” yeah I know not funny! I also found a garlic mashed potato that you heat up in the microwave which are surprisingly creamy, garlicky and the entire family felt they were pretty darn good!

I have actually shared this recipe in a slider form awhile back but I thought it would make a great little pick up and go kind of app.

Ingredients

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 ½ tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground chicken
1 ounce parmesan reggiano cheese, grated
1 cup marinara sauce
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Mozzarella balls, sliced in half
Few sprigs of small leaf basil

Directions

Saute the onions, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper and oregano just until the onions are translucent. Place mixture in a large bowl and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Add chicken and parmesan plus ½ cup of the marinara sauce.
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Mix well and then using a small scoop, which helps keep them all the same size; makes approximately 24 meatballs. Preheat oven to 400’F for 15 minutes. I turned my to broil for another 4 minutes. Trying to get a little color on them, even though they will be covered with a small mozzarella ball and some basil.    
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Heat the remaining marinara sauce and cover and sit the meatballs in the sauce
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Macros = 2 Meatball
54 Calories – 3 g Fat – 3.5 g Carbs – 4 g Protein