This month’s Recipe Redux theme couldn’t come at a better time. With temperatures dropping to the teens and snow still on the ground, a nice, hot batch of savory homemade soup is perfect to ward off the bitter chill. The challenge is to use a ‘new’ food trend in a soup or one-dish meal, so after looking at a few lists online, I decided to include a couple ingredients from the 2013 food trends from Bon Appetit and Fox News.

Spice is Nice
Soup is good food, but soup with some red hot chili peppers will warm you up a lot quicker! Adding gochujang, a Korean red chili paste to soups not only turns up the heat but adds a rich and savory flavor thanks to fermented soybeans. Use this paste sparingly in place of tabasco or Sriracha, and you’ll find the flavors of your dishes have taken on a whole new level.

Vegged Out
Kale is one of my favorite veggies for its neutral taste, high nutrition and low calories. From smoothies to soups, add kale to your dishes for extra helpings of fiber, vitamins and minerals (see the quick-reference nutrient chart at The World’s Healthiest Foods.) Serve water-sauteed kale with your bacon and eggs, add a handful to your favorite protein smoothie, or massage it with some salt and serve it as a raw side dish. Any way you serve it up, you’ll benefit from this nutritious powerhouse.

Soup’s On!
I have to admit, this soup changed directions as I was making it, and it was mostly influenced by my recent cravings for Vietnamese pho (rice noodle soup.) Fresh parsley and lime help balance the savory saltiness from the gochujang and a little bit of fish sauce. (My husband says it reminds him of Tom Yum Goong, a spicy Thai soup.)

This soup will take less than 30 minutes from prep time to meal time. If you can’t find the Japanese radish daikon, you can use thinly-sliced jicama, which is fairly neutral-tasting. If you don’t have Napa cabbage use all kale.

Spicy Rice Noodle Soup_1

Vietnamese-Style Rice Noodle Soup with Fish, serves 2
If you like pho or tom yum goong, you’ll enjoy making this quick soup at home.

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice
¼ teaspoon cinnamon (I used Saigon cinnamon—potent stuff!)
1″ ginger, peeled and sliced
6 ounces white fish cut into chunks
32 oz. chicken broth
2 servings (4 oz.) dry rice noodles (feel free to use either thin rice vermicelli or thicker pad thai noodles)
1 cup sliced daikon
1 ½ cups chopped kale
1 cup chopped Napa cabbage
1/3 – 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, stems and all
2 teaspoons Gochujang (NOTE: use 1 teaspoon if you’re not into spice, more if you are!)
1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as Three Crabs)

Garnish:

Fresh parsley leaves
Fresh tofu, cut into ½” cubes
Lime wedges

Directions:

Over medium heat in a large stock pot, stir sesame oil, 5 spice and ginger, heat for 1 minute. Add  fish, stirring to help cook evenly, about 4-5 minutes. Add half of chicken broth, increase heat and bring to a boil. Add remaining broth and dry rice noodles. Add daikon, kale, Napa cabbage and parsley. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in gochujang and fish sauce, heat for 1 more minute.

Divide soup between two large bowls. Top with thinly sliced onion, parsley, tofu and lime wedge. Serve immediately.

Some of these “new” food trends may already be familiar in your kitchen, but it’s also a good way to learn more about foods you may not have tried before, or even heard of.

Speaking of which, check out what other Reduxers have made with their own food trend choices.

Do you have a favorite trendy (or just popular) food at a restaurant? Have you ever tried making it at home? How’d it turn out?



On Wednesday I posted a picture of pannekoeken I made for dinner. Pannekoek is a Dutch pancake, kind of like a thick crepe and is served flat rather than rolled. It uses more milk and less eggs than crepes and can be topped with sweet or savory foods.

Pannekoek restaurant in The Netherlands.

My husband’s grandma, Hermine (or Omi), and her husband, Lodewijk. Omi ate the entire pannekoek, and drank all her milk!

I like making it for weekend breakfasts, which gives me some time to experiment with ingredients to see how to make the perfect pannekoek. This recipe below is simple and satisfying, and I think that’s what makes it perfect!

Weights and Measures. This is probably the only repeat recipe where I use a kitchen scale to measure the flour. This should be the ideal way to measure any dry ingredient in baking (which I don’t always do) but even with a simple recipe like this, it’s good to be consistent.

Hey, batter, batter! I can tell you that spelt flour, or a combination of spelt and all-purpose flour, does not make a good pannekoek. Neither does substituting soy or almond milk, but you can certainly get away with using 1% lowfat milk.  Also, be sure to not over mix the batter. By pouring the egg and milk mixture into the middle of the flour “well”, you can stir and grab flour from the sides (see photo below). If you feel the urge to give that batter a good beating, just stir with your opposite hand to slow it down. :)

Take five…or fifteen…or thirty. The recipes I come across doesn’t instruct you to let the batter rest, but one day while my husband was fixing the car (or lawn mower, or something mechanical), I let the batter rest for a good half hour until he was ready for breakfast. This waiting period allowed the flour to absorb the liquids, the gluten to develop, and air bubbles to escape to freedom. The result: tender-er pannekoeken!

There’s a pouring technique?  There is also a technique to pouring the batter into the pan that I like: instead of pouring a pool of batter and letting it spread out in all directions, I pour the batter in a spiral pattern. Does it make the pannekoek cook more evenly? I think so!

That’s about it for my way of making a simple comfort dish. Hope you give it a try!

Pannekoeken

Pannekoeken met Appel en Krenten (Dutch Pancakes with Apples and Currants)
2 servings, makes four 10-inch pannekoeken

150 grams all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
300 mL 1% lowfat milk (2% and whole milk is fine, too)
2 large eggs, beaten, less 2 teaspoons
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (for cooking apples and oiling the pan)
3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4″ thin (Fuji apples are good, as well as Comice pears)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2-1/3 cup currants or chopped raisins, divided
cinnamon
stroop (Dutch syrup), maple syrup, or amber agave syrup

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt with a whisk. Make well in center. Add egg to milk & combine. Pour into center of flour mixture, gradually mix wet ingredients into dry, do not over mix. Let batter sit for 15 minutes (you’ll see air bubbles forming on the surface.) Transfer the mixture back into your measuring cup, you should have two cups of batter. (Add more milk, if needed.)

Apples are caramelized with butter and brown sugar.

While batter rests, in a heavy skillet melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. When butter starts to bubble and begins to brown (about a minute) add sliced apples and cook for 3-5 minutes until the undersides begin to brown. Turn over pieces, sprinkle in brown sugar, 1/4 cup currants and another tablespoon butter, if needed. Cook for 5 minutes more or until tender and apples are nicely caramelized, stirring frequently. Transfer to plate and scrape pan of any remaining sauce with rubber spatula. Set apples aside while you make pannekoeken.

These cook fast so add the currants as soon as the batter is poured.

In same pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Pour 1/4 cup batter into pan and immediately sprinkle on about 1 teaspoon currants. Cook for about 45 seconds to 1 minute or until underside of pannekoek begins to brown and top begins to firm up. Turn over and cook for 1 minute more. Top with 1/4 of cooked apples and currants, sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon and lightly drizzle with syrup of your choice. Transfer to plate and make second pannekoek. (NOTE: since these cook really fast, my husband and I ate the first two, then I finished making the other two and then we eat those.)

I hope you give this recipe a try for your weekend brunch. It’s a nice alternative to regular pancakes, and grown ups and kids will love ’em. Eet smakelijk!

Since the pan wasn’t hot enough when I made the first pannekoek the texture was “doughier” and more pliable. I filled it with apples and currants, rolled it and re-fried it. Still delicious!

Happy WIAW! Busy, busy is what I’ve been, but I’m back with a very cozy casserole recipe from Better Homes and Gardens, some fall pictures, and even something pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month. Thanks once again to Jenn at Peas and Crayons for hosting a very awesome virtual get-together.

It just started getting chilly around these parts, and though the leaves are dropping, there’s still lots of fall color. Here’s what the scenery looked like in front of our house the past couple of months:

August 10, 7 a.m., 60s.

September 25, 7 a.m., mid-40s.

October 4, 6 p.m., low 60s.

Why do I take a picture of the road and why at these times? Because I think it’s pretty for one, and also because that’s when my husband leaves for work and when he comes home. :)

After seeing my husband drive off, I headed back in to do some of my own work (feed cats, check fun email, do regular work, maybe laundry). One day I had to run errands and stopped into Best Bagels in Town to get some of their featured flavored coffee as a treat. I noticed some new bagels that morning–PINK bagels! 25% of the proceeds from these pink bagels will go toward breast cancer research. I couldn’t resist, so I got one with pumpkin cream cheese:

Maybe a strawberry cream cheese would have looked prettier, but this tasted great!

If supporting a good cause can be delicious, then I’m all for it!

Over the Columbus Day weekend we did some shopping at Waterloo Premium Outlets. I am glad that my husband enjoys shopping, and he actually has better fashion sense than I do (he gets it from his stylish mom!) With lots of store sales and discount coupons to get the most bang for our buck, I was looking forward to this shopping trip.

But of course, we needed sustenance! Ithaca was on the way and we stopped at our favorite brunch spot called Simeon’s. I always get their quiche, my husband likes their pulled pork sandwich, and we always order steaming mugs of deliciously dark coffee:

Quiche of the day: sausage, roasted peppers, fontina, mozzerella. Last time it was bacon and caramelized onion. The time before that…I can’t remember, but it was delicious!

Savory pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and sweet pickles.

After our wonderful brunch we headed up to the outlet mall. The place was packed, but we were able to slowly make our way around to our favorite stores and picked up a few sweaters, jackets, and small housewares.

It was a great day: beautiful drive, delicious brunch, shopping trip, and another beautiful drive back home!

Dinner that night was leftover chicken enchiladas (delicious recipe found here) but the next day I made my first non-box tuna noodle casserole. I used to like making the box mixes of Tuna Helper, but I won’t ever eat that again after making this homemade casserole! I especially love the addition of Dijon mustard, and after reading a great tuna tip from Whatever is in the Kitchen, using a generous squeeze of lemon helped to brighten up the flavors very nicely. Use whatever cookable vegetables you like, use whatever noodles you like. I love celery but my husband hates it, so I just chop enough for myself and add it to my fresh spinach greens.

Tuna Noodle Casserole, adapted from a Better Homes and Gardens recipe
Serves 4. With side salad, serves 6. :)

Ingredients:

4 ounces dry noodles (anything goes: spaghetti, shells, rotelles, elbows, made of spelt, sprouted grain, or buckwheat)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped onion or leek
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup broccoli and/or cauliflower florets
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/ 4 cup flour
2 1/4 cups lowfat milk
1/4 cup dijon mustard (add more to taste)
2 5oz. cans water-packed tuna, drained
1 lemon
1/2  cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions:

In a large stock pot, boil noodles according to package directions. Drain, set aside.

In the same pot, melt butter over medium heat until frothy. Add onion or leek, cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add broccoli and peas, stir and cook for 1 minute.

Sprinkle in flour, about 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring around until it gets thick and sticks to the veggies before adding more. Slowly add 1/4 of milk, stirring until thickened and heated before adding more. Add 1/4 more milk and stir until it gets thick again. Add 1/4 more milk PLUS mustard, stirring well before adding remaining milk. Stir until heated through.

Adding the milk gradually will make it nice and creamy. I used orange cauliflower, leeks, peas, broccoli, and sprouted grain spaghetti.

Remove from heat, add zest of one lemon to pot, stir. Add tuna fish and stir until incorporated. Stir in juice of 1/2 lemon. Add cooked noodles, stirring gently to coat well. Put in a 8″x8″ pan or 9″x13″ pan (depending if you want thick pieces or thinner ones). Top with shredded Parmesan cheese.

I poured about 2/3 of the noodle mix into this 8×8 pan and topped with Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until top is golden. Serve with fresh spinach or a side salad and an extra squeeze of lemon juice.

Serve it up on a bed of spinach (no dressing needed.)

Do you have a favorite noodle casserole recipe? (Speaking of casseroles, I wonder if anyone has ever found out what really is in Julie Kotter’s famous Tuna Casserole…)

This month’s Recipe Redux theme is something pretty interesting, it’s all about fermented foods!

Have you grown up eating something that you didn’t know was good for you? Sure there are healthy dishes like baked potatoes with steamed broccoli & cheese, roasted chicken and veggies, or a nice chef’s salad. One of my favorite Japanese foods was a simple soup made with miso paste and garnished with green onion and tofu. Japanese restaurants always serve this with your meal, but homemade versions of miso soup can have dried shrimp, pieces of chicken or beef, a raw egg stirred into the steaming broth (like Chinese egg flower soup) or it can be made into a hearty meal with pearl barley, carrots, and konbu (see my recipe here). It’s also eaten for breakfast! Better than a bowl of cereal, miso soup is gluten-free, vegan, contains probiotics to keep your gut healthy, is low in fat and calories, and even contains protein, vitamins and minerals. (The ingredients of Shirakiku brand shiro miso contains water, soybeans, rice, salt, and alcohol.)

Turkey and Vegetable Seaweed Soup uses chicken broth and white miso.

After doing some reading, I now know a little more about the benefits behind this savory soy-based paste. Probiotics are the gut-friendly bacteria that help maintain the integrity of the stomach lining, break down food, and boost our immune systems. These little critters are found in fermented foods like miso, kimchee (Korean pickled cabbage), tsukemono (Japanese pickles), sauerkraut, dill pickles, and yogurt. Though bacteria might seem indestructible when you’re trying to get rid of it, they can be destroyed with antibiotics, a poor diet, or stress, and this leads to an increase in the unfriendly bacteria that causes gas, bloating, cramps, and…well, you probably know what I’m talking about! But as long as we have a good amount of probiotics in our gut, it will be easier to stay healthy and function like the happy humans we were born to be.

Another way to ensure a good supply of gut-friendly bacteria is to eat yogurt. Check the label to be sure it contains live active cultures.

Here is an easy recipe for chicken that is marinated overnight and cooked in just minutes. For an easy clean-up, use a foil lined pan or do what I do and improvise!

Easy Miso Chicken (serves 2)

1/2 cup shiro (white) miso paste
1/2 cup sake (Japanese rice wine)
1 teaspoon white or brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 chicken breasts or 4 chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
sesame oil
several pieces green onion (about 1/4 cup chopped)

Directions:

Combine miso, sake, sugar, and pepper flakes in a bowl, mix with a wire whisk until combined. Reserve half of marinade and store in tightly sealed container in refrigerator. Add chicken, coat well. Cover with plastic wrap or store in a plastic container with lid, refrigerate overnight.

Pan-fry Method: Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade, letting excess drip off. Fry chicken pieces for 3 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Top with reserved marinade and let simmer for a minute or two before serving. Garnish with chopped green onion.

No pan? Use heavy-duty foil or double-up regular foil, fold the edges up to form a shallow dish and pinch the edges. Place on a pizza pan or cookie sheet when baking. Use foil to store leftover chicken or toss when done.

Oven Method: Drizzle sesame oil in a shallow baking dish lined with foil, add chicken and marinade, making sure chicken is in one layer. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 7 minutes or until top is starting to brown. Remove and set oven to broil. Top with reserved marinade, return to oven and broil for 3-5 minutes or until top begins to scorch (but don’t let the whole thing scorch!) Garnish with chopped green onion.

Serve on a bed of fresh spinach with steamed brown rice and kimchee or tsukemono.

Easy miso chicken

Here are more recipes using miso:

Panko Crusted Chicken Strips
Miso-Lemon Dressing
Miso Quinoa Salad (use Miso-Lemon Dressing above)
Turkey and Vegetable Seaweed Soup (shown above and featured in May’s Recipe Redux)
For more information on the health benefits of miso, check out this great article at The World’s Healthiest Foods : http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=114.

Want to know more on probiotics and Asian fermented foods?

Kimchi and probiotics: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/grace-suh-coscia-lac-diplom/fermented-foods_b_1220756.html
A mouth-watering guide to Japanese pickleshttp://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2349.html
7 Benefits of probiotics: http://www.3fatchicks.com/7-benefits-of-probiotics/
Facts on my yogurt of choicehttp://chobani.com/products/faq/




Is it August already?! Time flies when you’re having fun, especially for those of us who share yummy treats and awesome eats on What I Ate Wednesdays!

Last month was incredibly fun with Jenn’s theme of “Food, Fun and Fitness” and the momentum is carried over to August with “Summer Staples.” One summer staple I’ve been enjoying are big bowls of healthy fruit disguised as lunch salads. Combinations of fresh fruits, veggies, yogurt, and even some protein powder make a wonderful midday meal that is packed with vitamins, minerals, water, fiber, protein, and deliciousness! It’s a mish-mash of raw foods and gut-friendly yogurt, so it’s also great for digestion. Plus, it’s low in fat…reeealll low! ;)

On to breakfast!

Post-workout breakfast was peanut butter jelly toast, coffee and fruit (recycled picture here):

Lunch was a fruit & veggie salad bowl (It’s been my favorite for the past couple weeks now!) If you regularly have a good supply of fruits and veggies, you can come up with some crazy combinations that taste great!

A mish-mash of fruits, veggies, and marinated tofu & cucumber…delicious!

This has got to be the most delicious and healthy snack I’ve made in a long, long time: 6oz yogurt mixed with a spoonful of protein powder, dash of cinnamon (for sweetness and flavor,) and a heaping half cup of fresh fruits:

Make your own yogurt bowl with any combination of yogurt and fruits (no granola needed!)

Dinner was inspired by Paula Deen’s recipe for “Oven Fried Chicken.” I reduced the cheese and oil and added miso paste for flavor (and some salt.) Instead of water and additional oil, I used lemon juice. Serve it up with Lemony Basil Pesto and steamed brown rice (don’t forget the chopsticks!)

With brown rice and Lemony Pine Nut Pesto, this dinner is complete!

Basil Crusted Panko Chicken Strips – serves 2

Ingredients:

1 cup panko or crushed corn flakes
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil (or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons white miso paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 8-oz chicken breast, cut into 1/4″ think pieces
optional veggie sides: asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, or any veggie you like roasted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix panko, cheese and basil. Divide in half, set aside. Mix olive oil, miso, and lemon juice. Add chicken pieces and stir to coat. Dip chicken pieces in half of the panko mixture, adding more from the reserve mix as needed. Place on silpat or cookie sheet sprayed with nonstick spray, leaving some room for veggies, if using.

There was enough room to squeeze in the asparagus. Perfect dinner for two!

Using your hand, toss veggies in leftover miso paste, add 1-2 tablespoons panko mixture and tossing well to coat. Place on cookie sheet with chicken or on a new sheet if not enough room. (leftover panko mix can be used in your favorite burger, meat loaf or meat ball mixture. Store in fridge for up to 3 days.)

Bake for 10-12 minutes (3-5 minutes longer if your chicken is cut into thicker pieces.) Serve immediately with Lemony Pine Nut Pesto.

What are some of your favorite fruits of the summer? Got any great recipes for potlucks, picnics or family gatherings?