Back when I was killing time with my friend Torey spectating a Spartan Race in Vermont (a state worth visiting, by the way), I mentioned to her I was trying to eat more lean protein and that I’m really into chickpeas as one source. She mentioned a particular recipe, and even more impressively, remembered to email it to me later the next week once we were both back on our respective coasts. It’s a happy coincidence that the kitchn is one of my favored sources for recipes too, yay! I roasted a sweet potato the first time, and grossly underestimated the amount of time for that to finish baking in my toaster oven, so if you do the sweet potato, try starting that a bit early, or cut it up to help it cook. Note: there is no recipe directly in here for sweet potato, only a link.*
A guest post from my friend Tricia! Y’all get a two-fer today, enjoy!
Upo, Two Ways
When I read about Yiling’s upo bounty, I was excited to take one on for myself. I love all vegetables and love to think up creative ways to cook them. Reading more about the squash, one recipe quickly came to mind. After looking further at how it was used in different recipes, I had another plan in mind – not a recipe, per se, but an approach.
Two upo’s arrived on my doorstep one evening and I was very impressed by their size and their heft.
Carrying one is akin to carrying a pumpkin, if the pumpkin was long and oblong rather than round. The rind/skin was very tough – nothing like a summer squash or cucumber. It took some muscle and a lot of patience to carve the rind off of the more tender center. Some parts of the squash were notably woodier than others with large, tough seeds. This was different from the pictures I’d seen, so decided to cut that away. I am guessing that this is because the squash were harvested late and/or had sat for a while toughening up. Regardless, even after cutting out about a third of the squash, I was left with enough for both recipes I wanted to try. Each recipe made 4 servings.
For my first attempt, I started at the butcher. B&E is my local butcher – taking over from A&J Meats, a Seattle institution. Fortunately, B&E hired the butcher who made A&J’s sausages, which were and are once again fantastic. I picked up 2 traditional bratwurst and 1 chicken garlic for a total of ~ 1 pound of meat. The butcher removed them from their casings, so it was ready for me to sauté along with a diced onion. I added to that some roasted poblano (spicy!) that I had left over from my CSA, several tablespoons of minced ginger, some rice wine, a spoonful of chili-garlic sauce, and a 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes. Then the cubed squash joined the party as I let everything cook together for an hour or so. The result was delicious – like a bolognaise but with more heft from the squash and spice from the ginger, pepper, and chili. I served this with roast spaghetti squash.
For upo #2, I followed this recipe from food52: Miso Quinoa Pilaf with Grilled Cucumber, Eggplant, and Soy Dressing:
I substituted the eggplant and cucumber with the upo and some diced radishes (also from the CSA box; wasn’t sure what else to do with them). I followed the recipe, more or less, other than cooking the quinoa in stock rather than milk and stir-frying the veg rather than grilling them. I also added the miso at the end, as it’s my understanding that you get more of miso’s health benefits if it doesn’t boil. Again, terrific results: the balsamic/soy/orange/miso combo was intensely flavorful, the radishes added crunch, and the squash rounded out a healthy vegetarian meal.
Novelty Rating: 5 of 5
It was really fun trying something totally different, especially as there is very little about this on the internet. The recipes I used also had very unusual flavor combinations, which made the meals fun to eat.
Likelihood of Repeat: 5%
While it was really fun trying something new, the squash took a lot of work to cut up and it didn’t, on its own, contribute much to the flavor of the dish. I would, however, try the recipes with other vegetables, however, like eggplant, cucumber, and summer squash.
Lesson learned: This was a good reminder that really tasty sausage can make a dish very special. I’ve already gone back to B&E to try another variety for another recipe.
Thank you, Yiling, for giving me a fun culinary experience!
Per last week’s comment: sadly, my stand-up paddle board (SUP) yoga class was cancelled, so nothing new to report on that front. Apparently everyone else is too chicken or prudent to sign up for September classes on the water, especially during a Seahawks game. Anyway..:
So K________ grew upo, also known as calabash or bottle squash for the first time this year, from some seeds his dad gave him. He was literally getting in touch with his roots (from the Philippines). These squash almost grew to be larger than the neighborhood kids who were checking on their progress every day, and definitely caused more than one random neighbor to stop by and ask who the heck kind of squash it was.
K_______ was kind enough to chop one up for ease of cooking, so one night when my friend J______ generously acquired some Aidell’s pineapple & bacon smoked chicken sausage, I sauteed some onions on medium, threw in the sausage, garlic and upo, and fried it all up for dinner.
I looked in the fridge, and all we had were drumsticks, an onion, and a bag of frozen pineapple. I had just a little extra time before my spouse would arrive home from his 20 mile bike ride, so, seized with a mild feeling of inspiration, I took a shot at this classic filipino dish of comfort food (perfect for old school methods of non-refrigeration preservation).
1.5 – 2 lbs dark meat
1/4 Cup Canola Oil
5 Cloves Peeled Garlic, Minced
About 1 tsp minced ginger
1/2 Large Onion, Peeled and Julienned
1 Cups Soy Sauce (for gluten-free: try tamari sauce)
3/4 Cups White Vinegar
1/2 c Fresh Pineapple, Crushed (used frozen, but I’d go with fresh if I had it in reach)
1 TB Black Pepper
3 Bay Leaves (didn’t have any in the house)
These days, my household tries to eat less carb-heavy things on a regular basis, and I’ve taken to making lettuce wraps regularly. One of the first google search results will give you a copycat of the P.F. Chang’s recipe, so that was my jumping off point. Frankly, that is where I’ve eaten most of the lettuce wrap dishes in my life. Not vouching for the authenticity of it here, going there kind of drives me nuts sometimes (okay, every time). I also halved all the sauces from original recipe for a full one pound portion of pork. You’ll want to adjust it to your taste, other people probably like more sweet, oozy sauce than me.
From there, I added things I actually wanted to eat..
(Insert Protein Here) Lettuce Wraps
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
For protein base:
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 pound ground chicken, pork, turkey, salmon, beef or tofu*
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1.2 tsp minced garlic)
- 1 onion, diced
- 7-10 crimini mushrooms, diced roughly
For the sauce (portions adjusted from original recipe):
- 2 Tbs hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1.5 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Optional: Sriracha sauce or red peppers, to taste
To serve with protein base:
- 1 head butter lettuce, rinsed.
- 2 green onions, thinly chopped
- 1 orange, rind peeled and pieces sliced (see video below)**
- a handful of toasted cashews, or raw cashews if you can’t find toasted.
- 1/2 an avocado, cut in bite-able chunks
- Heat oil in a saucepan over medium high heat.
- Add ground pork and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the meat as it cooks; drain excess fat/liquid. NOTE: adjust this time for other proteins until browned enough and reached safe eating temp.
- While this cooks, you can toast the cashews on the side.
- Stir in mushrooms, garlic, onion, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger and Sriracha (optional) until onions have become translucent, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in green onions until tender, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. It may already be salty enough before you add salt.
- To serve, spoon several tablespoons of the pork mixture into the center of a lettuce leaf, add cashews, avocado, orange and green onions, and enjoy!
*Note: I’ve tried this with ground chicken, turkey, pork, and salmon chunks so far, but you could pick any main protein base, including pressed tofu for the focus. For that reason, I’ve tagged this recipe as vegetarian, and paleo. I also marked it gluten-free -standard hoisin and soy sauce ingredients are NOT gluten-free, but you could buy or make a gluten-free version of this if you were up for it and I don’t think it would impact the taste much.
This Week’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 4 of 5
I still haven’t made this dish enough for it to feel old hat, and every time the outcome is a little different.
Likelihood of Repeat: 80%
Also, always a different outcome if you try different proteins with it! Chopped up chicken rather than ground chicken would probably work too, and as long as you don’t get too carried away with add-ons, it doesn’t take hardly any time at all. Interested to try tofu too.
Lesson Learned: For this recipe, salmon is at the bottom of the priority list. Meh.
The portions of the recipe say four servings, and in fact it was enough ingredients that I ended up having to split it in half when sautéing -halfway through the process-, in order to get the mushrooms and onions to sear rather than boil. However, if the flavoring turns out good, you may end up with barely 1 mouthful left to put in the fridge between two hungry adults. Success! I think this otherwise could have fed a family of four if said people waited 10-15 minutes after having a few wraps, to feel full. You may also end up with leftover butter lettuce if you buy it in the live form I do, so a follow-up meal of tacos or sandwiches may be good later in the week.
This is definitely a somewhat messy affair to eat. Bring wet naps or be prepared to wash your hands after.
Also: I added the cashews for crunch, you could also try fresh, chopped daikon radish, raw carrots if you like carrots, or other toasted nuts.
**If you’d like a demo on how to cut citrus fruit to avoid the bitter pith, check out this random video I found of a charming guy with an entertaining shirt. Fight scurvy -eat more oranges!
Thanks to Abby for loaning me a spiralizer so I could try it out!
Thanks to Fitnessista for this recipe combo, the proportions I made up from my trial.
For the pesto:
1/2 cup raw shelled sunflower seeds
1 tsp garlic
1 cup spinach
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoon goat cheese
For the rest:
1 large yam, peeled
your protein add of choice (shown below are seared scallops, made the Alton Brown way).
Purée sunflower seeds, garlic, spinach, basil, oil, goat cheese and lemon zest and juice until smooth. Season with salt. Thin pesto with water if too thick.
Cut off ends of sweet potato and install flush against spiralizer, spiralize to your heart’s content.
Boil sweet potato spirals in water no more than 3 minutes.
Combine with pesto.
Serve with blindfold on.
Today’s Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 4 of 5 stars.
Likelihood of Repeat: 50%
I couldn’t get my ‘roommate’ to eat much of it, but I’d like to try it again -next time with the julienne blade of my food processor.
Lesson Learned: If you boil it too much the ‘pasta’ crumbles fast (similar risk with reheating). Yes, you could buy a single-purpose tool like a spiralizer if you think you’ll eat a lot of spiralized things every week, but a food processor might work just fine for a rare occasion. Also, I always forget how easy it is to make pesto, I need to do this more, especially since you can make cheaper versions without pine nuts! Yum! I have read that real sweet potatoes are more dense and jam up the machine, better stick with the soft orange ones –yams? Whatever they are called..
I’ve made several different sets of this since the first time I shared this recipe (click here for the first post on it), and both settled on a preferred base of ingredients, and eaten enough of them to stop making them for a while (what, about a month of eating them every weekday is not enough?) I have put in my additional updates in blue font below.
Chardegg Cakes for Breakf*st
*So fast you can eat it while you run out the door and skip the ‘a’.
Original inspiration from: Paleo Living Magazine‘s Paleo Kale and Chives Egg Muffins + I Breathe I’m Hungry’s Swiss Chard & Ricotta Pie.
1/4 cup almond milk
1 cup chard, finely chopped (or whatever palatable veggie you have on hand such as kale, finely-diced broccoli, zucchini, etc).
1/4 c onions, finely chopped
1 roma tomato, sliced
1/2 tsp minced garlic (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
6 slices very thinly cut deli ham,
or plus coconut oil to grease cupcake cups
1. Sauté onions 4 minutes on medium, add garlic (optional), fry 1 minute more until garlic is golden.
2. Grease 6 cupcake molds with coconut oil, line thinly with half a ham slice in each cup.
3. Whisk together eggs, almond milk, chard, and onion-garlic mix.
4. Filled 6 cups with mixture, top with one tomato slice each.
5. Bake 30 minutes, then pop out egg cups to eat for the week.
Storage Note: if you make a double portion, these also freeze for a pretty decent breakfast later (defrost the day before you want to eat them). If you are a toaster oven devotee, you can pop them in to toast and it crisps them right up.
Today’s Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 4 of 5 stars.
The is the second round, I may update if I find the ham was even better (or maybe tasted more virtuous to eat than turkey bacon, which may or may not be better for you than using prosciutto).
Likelihood of Repeat: 98%
This has been a household hit too, increasing the chances of repeat. It’s also so portable and satisfyingly filling!
Lesson Learned: Just always oil the pan, otherwise you’ll be scraping forever and ruining the finish on your cupcake mold. Also, they are so much prettier with tomato slices on top (and the egg rises through it when baked, neato).
I feel like using thinly sliced ham is both less fattening than prosciutto and less of a waste of prosciutto (and less tedious than pressing sausage into the molds).
Last week was the lunar new year. Happy year of the sheep, friends!
My spouse and I had a few friends over to make and eat pot stickers. My parents used to do this when I was a kid, back in the day when frozen pot stickers were not readily available in Asian groceries in the Midwest. Making these on your own turns tedious and feels unrewarding fast, but getting a bunch of people together to take turns at it and eat them together is much more fun. Turns out when you get a handful of adult friends in on it, they get kind of competitive with the folding. We wrapped about twice as many as we were able to eat that night!
Without further ado, a recipe from my lifelong friend Jenny. It was nice that even though she couldn’t make it, her recipe was still there to help. I doubled it and split the difference between cabbage and spinach-based filling –but it’s not worth bothering with that.
Fried Dumplings (a.k.a. Pot Stickers)
- Two packages of frozen wonton or gyoza wrappers (12 oz per pack, about 30 pieces each, available at asian grocery) -this is the 10% non-homemade part
- 1 pound ground beef or pork
- 1 package of shredded cabbage (iceberg salad mix works, or half a flat chinese cabbage + 1 medium carrot) OR use 1 pkg defrosted spinach
- 1 bunch scallions – I did a mix with garlic chives with this
- 1/4 teaspoon minced ginger OR powdered ginger
- 3T Sesame oil
- 2T Soy sauce (gluten-free)
- 2T cornstarch
- Ground pepper
- Cooking oil
- 2T soy sauce
- 1T sesame oil
- 1/2 t rice vinegar
- dash of garlic powder and sugar, to taste
- Scallions, minced
1. Place 5 cups of cabbage in a large bowl. Add 1T salt and mix. Let stand
for 1 hour to de-hydrate and soften the cabbage a bit. Squeeze out excess
water from cabbage. If using spinach, drain and wring out as much as possible.
2. Combine cabbage, ground meat with 1 egg, 2T soy sauce, 3T sesame oil,
chopped scallion, minced ginger, 1/2t ground pepper and 2T cornstarch. Stir
and mix the content. Add more cornstarch if the mixture seems loose.
3. Place 2T packed filling in the center of each wrapper. Wet the edge with
water, and then fold over to make a half-moon shape. Pinch edge together to
form small peaks along the round edge using the thumb and index finger of
4. Spread out 2T of cooking oil on a large frying pan. Set stove at medium
high heat. Arrange dumplings tightly but not overlapping. SautÈ until
bottoms are golden (3-5 minutes, depending on how many you put in). Add 3/4-1C water (depends on pan, 1/8″ deep). Cover and cook until water has
evaporated (bout 8-10 minutes). Place a serving plate over the pan and invert
the pan quickly.
5. Serve with dumpling sauce.
Storage tip: you can freeze the raw pot stickers after wrapping, being careful to let them freeze on a dish lightly dusted with flour to prevent them from freezing in one clump, then cook as usual plus a couple minutes.
Yes, i made two attempts at gluten-free pot sticker skins with varying result. One: per Broke Ass Gourmet‘s recommendation for rice paper wrappers. A second: per Food and Wine‘s recipe for from-scratch wrappers. I was lazy and used only Pamela’s gluten-free flour mix, no rice flour. If I tried it again I might try it with rice flour and egg and/or xantham gum.
Today’s Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 5 of 5 stars.
The base recipe is best, it’s not even worth trying to get fancy since the starting point is so good. The novelty lies in the fact I only bother trying it out around once a year or so.
Likelihood of Repeat: 100%
Lesson learned: Rice wrappers are even more sticky and frustrating to use as pot sticker wrappers than for summer rolls.
Also: “these aren’t meatballs, they’re naked pot stickers.” That’s what you’ll hear if you roll leftover filling into balls, bake them at 350 until they are sufficiently crisp and reach safe eating temp of 160, and serve them. The meatballs turn out pretty darn salty too.
As a kid, my mom would make steamed broccoli, and my favorite parts to eat were the little slices of tender stalk (outside bark was peeled off) that she would steam along with the usual tree-like shapes I would stick in bowls of rice to create a tiny diorama before eating. It wasn’t until years later that I learned other people don’t necessarily consider the stalk worth even cooking. I found this combo while searching for recipes to use up the giant quantity of miso I will have left over from another one that calls for only a few tablespoons.
From The Kitchn’s recipe.
1/3 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons yellow or red miso (note: check labels to ensure specific gluten-freedness)
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Step 1: mix everything in a blender.
4 broccoli stalks, julienned into bite-sized pieces*
4 cups chopped spinach
1/2 cup finely chopped sliced almonds
Step 2: mix dressing and salad ingredients in a large bowl. Garnish with almonds and chill or serve.
Today’s Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 4 of 5 stars.
This was astonishingly a salad I was both happy to eat, and that I thought was good for me, and the flavors only seemed to get better on day 2 and day 3.
Likelihood of Repeat: 20% See below.
Lesson Learned: Unfortunately, being the thrifty person I am, *I did not buy “Trader Joe’s broccoli slaw,” so the amount of time it took to shred broccoli stalk myself was maddening, and did not feel equal to the amount of slaw I got out of it. Still seems weird that Trader Joe’s would sell something people often might thing to throw away, or could get out of spare stalk, though..