japchae (Korean glass noodle stir fry) with beef.

Have you ever heard of japchae? I hadn’t, until I was standing amongst boxes and bags of noodles at the Asian section of my grocery store. I was intrigued by a small tube of sweet potato glass noodles. I am always on the lookout for gluten free noodles, as I try to limit my gluten intake as I tend to have an inflammatory reaction if I consume too much. On the package of the sweet potato noodles, there was a recipe for japchae, which was compromised of stir fried vegetables (carrots, mushrooms, squash), tossed with a simple soy and sesame sauce, served with thinly sliced beef. Sold! Once I got home, I did a little research into japchae, and immediately added it to list of must make dishes.

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I am so glad I did! Japchae is a dish that is typically served at parties and special occasions. It is so flexible! Can be served hot or cold, as a side dish with just the veggies and noodles, or served as a main dish, topped with meat, seafood or tofu, like I did here. You can use any vegetables that you have in your fridge, or that are in season. I used baby white mushrooms, julienned carrots, and napa cabbage, topped with scallions and sesame seeds. You can use any vegetable that you would use in a stir fry – bell pepper or green beans would be delicious here! I went veggie-heavy as per usual, but you can scale down or up to suit your ingredients and your preferences.

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These noodles are treated in a similar fashion to rice noodles. Soak them in warm but not boiling hot water for 30 minutes, and then once ready to use, you will cook them in boiling water for 30 seconds, and then add to the pan with the vegetables, beef and sauce. These are the brand of noodles I used:

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As a bonus, this dish is incredibly  travel friendly. It can be eaten hot, warm, room temperature, cold, you name it! I particularly enjoyed it straight out of the fridge; the flavors had time to meld and the texture of the noodles was best when cold. Enjoy this Korean specialty, all!

japchae with beef.

ingredients
4 ounces sweet potato glass noodles
1/4 cup low sodium tamari
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 tablespoon hot chili oil
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1/2 cup white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup napa cabbage leaves, sliced
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 scallions, light and dark parts, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
8-10 ounces top sirloin or flank steak

directions
Soak noodles in room temperature water for at least 30 minutes. Cook in boiling water for 30 seconds, and drain. Run cool water over the cooked noodles to stop the cooking process and then toss with a half a teaspoon of sesame oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.

Combine tamari, coconut palm sugar, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside 2/3 of marinade. Use the remaining 1/3 to marinate the steak for at least one hour, but can leave up to 12.

To cook steak: Heat a grill or grill pan over medium high heat and sprinkle the steak with black pepper (no salt needed as the tamari is salty). Cook 2-3 minutes per side for medium rare, 5-6 minutes for medium/medium well. Remove, and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Slice very thinly against the grain. Set aside.

Heat the hot chili oil and grapeseed oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add the onion and carrots and stir fry for 1-2 minutes, and then add the cabbage and mushrooms. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes longer, just until vegetables soften slightly and get color to them. Add the steak, noodles and reserved marinade and reduce heat to medium, stir frying everything together for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Plate on a large serving bowl/platter, and garnish with sesame seeds and scallions. Serve immediately, or chill prior to serving.

Serves 2-3.

beef noodle bowls with sesame ginger dressing.

I’ve been trying to get more iron into my diet. I recently had some blood work, and it was revealed that I’m pretty deficient in my iron stores. I’ll soon be starting on some iron supplements, but I truly believe that the best way to get essential vitamins and minerals is through food. Since beef is one of the most well-known sources of iron, I figured it was the perfect starting point. I had a beautiful, lean top round steak in my freezer, and one Friday evening I decided to grill it up. It was nearly 1.25 pounds, so I had a lot leftover. Regular leftover steak sounded boring, so I made the leftover meat a focal point into a brand new, remade dish: asian beef noodle bowls.
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What a hit. Delicious cold, room temperature or hot, this is the ideal lunchtime food. I ate it cold on day one, and heated up the next day at work and both were equally delicious. You can bulk out the noodles with extra vegetables, and a delicious, luscious sesame ginger dressing. The dressing is thin, but coats the noodles, vegetables, and meat in the more delicate way. Give this a garnish with some sesame seeds and additional scallions, and you have a takeout-worthy dish that will simultaneously help you repurpose leftovers and clean out your vegetable crisper. Win-win!

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beef noodle bowls.
dressing adapted from The Pioneer Woman.

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ingredients
6-8 ounces leftover steak, thinly sliced (top sirloin, hanger, skirt, flank)*
4 ounces brown rice noodles or whole wheat thin spaghetti
1/2 cup white mushrooms, thinly sliced
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon olive oil

salad dressing:
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce (or 1/4 cup tamari)
1.5 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon avocado oil (can use olive or grapeseed)
1.5 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar OR coconut palm sugar
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced

directions
Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl. Meanwhile, take the leftover steak out of the fridge to pull the chill off of it.

Make the dressing: Combine the ingredients in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously until well combined. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Heat a non stick skillet over medium heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Once the oil is heated, add the mushrooms, carrots and pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until just slightly tender. Remove vegetables and add to the noodles. Add the scallions and beef and 1/2 of the dressing and toss to combine, adding more to your taste.

Divide amongst two bowls and top with sesame seeds. Eat cold or warm.

Serves 2.

**Please use grass fed beef and organic ingredients wherever possible**

Note: If you do not have leftover steak, you can simply sprinkle your choice of steak with sea salt and pepper and grill for 4-5 minutes per side, until medium rare. Let rest and slice, proceeding with the recipe.

 

 

 

unstuffed cabbage roll casserole.

Happy Friday! It felt like such a long week, didn’t it? We’re nearing the end of harvest season (sniff!), but there are still many delicious, in season vegetables to choose from at your local markets and farm stands. One of the hardiest being cabbage. I don’t know about you, but up here in New York, cabbage grows like a weed. At my local market, you can buy a huge head of green (also called white) cabbage for a measly dollar. I’m talking an overly inflated basketball sized cabbage. Now, I’ve shown you that leftover cabbage is easily thrown into a smoothie, but how many dishes out there highlight cabbage as one of the main ingredients? Besides coleslaw I mean….

If you thought ‘cabbage rolls’, you and I are thinking along the same lines! Maybe it’s my Polish heritage, but I love a good, simple cabbage roll. Delicate leaves stuffed with rice, beef and onions, and cooked slowly in a simple tomato sauce. Mm! Just the thing to warm you up on a chilly day. Not surprisingly, cabbage rolls take a little patience and finesse to make properly, and I was feeling mighty lazy and just not up to the task of making them. What’s a girl to do? Why, deconstruct them of course! This ‘unstuffed cabbage roll casserole’ is the end result of that thought. I know, the name of it is a tongue twister, but I wanted something that would accurately reflect the dish. If I had called it ‘cabbage roll casserole’, I was concerned people would assume that it was full of actual cabbage rolls, and who wants to be disappointed before they eat?? Hello, HANGRY (hunger + anger = me way too often).

This recipe is perfect for when you want the yumminess of cabbage rolls, but want the convenience of a casserole. I hope you try it out and it warms you up on the chilliest of October days! Bonus – this is gluten free and healthier thanks to the brown rice. So you can have seconds without the guilt! Or you can sneak extra forkfuls standing over the stove after dinner… it happens!

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unstuffed cabbage roll casserole.
inspired by giverecipe.com.

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ingredients

1.25 pounds cabbage, chopped into 1 inch by 1 inch pieces (about 3 cups)
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes with juice
1/4 cup plain tomato sauce (see note)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 1/4 cup cooked brown rice
1 tablespoon lemon juice

directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop cabbage into one inch pieces. Blanch them in boiling water for about five minutes, until just barley tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add ground beef. Cook until browned, and add in onions, garlic, Italian seasoning, sea salt and pepper (add in a touch of olive oil if it seems dry) and cook until onions are soft and translucent, about five to ten minutes. Be careful to not burn the garlic.

Add tomato paste and cook for an additional minute, stirring consistently. Add in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and stir well.

Add in chopped parsley, lemon juice, cooked rice and blanched cabbage. Stir well to combine, and lower heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes longer.

Spray a casserole dish with olive oil cooking spray. Pour the mixture into dish and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Serves 4.

Note: Use plain tomato sauce that often comes in cans near the diced/canned tomato products. It is usually thin, unseasoned sauce. Do not use pasta/spaghetti sauce.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible**

southwestern stuffed peppers.

Funny story: remember when I said that I liked lighter dishes once the thermostat finally rises? Well, in true WNY fashion, one day of high 80s can quickly turn into a high of low 60s the very next day! Unpredictable to say the very least. One upside to the cooler weather is I get to go back to nice, warming dishes! And boy is this one that will make it into my regular recipe rotation. When most people think of stuffed peppers, they think of italian seasonings, soft green bell peppers, tomato sauce, and a very, very long cooking time. In fact, I usually make an “unstuffed” pepper casserole, as my normal stuffed pepper recipe is too time consuming on a week night. Much to my delight, this Mexican take on stuffed peppers is much quicker! I like them spicy, so I used spicy homemade salsa that my dad and I made last summer, but you can use your favorite salsa and alter the recipe to suit your spice preferences. The original recipe called for corn, but I used diced zucchini instead as a way to get a serving of green veggies into this dish. You can also use any grain of your choice, or add any veggies you like!

This recipe has you roast the pepper halves while you make the filling; a great time saving trick! You stuff the roasted pepper halves with the spicy beef and bean mixture, top with salsa (and cheese if you like!), and bake for another 15ish minutes until completely softened and voila! Spicy, hearty, healthy and totally satisfying. As an added bonus, these freeze beautifully! Add a margarita (or two.. no judgment!), and enjoy the taste of Mexico from your kitchen!

southwestern stuffed peppers.
inspired by simply love food.

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ingredients
olive oil
3/4 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
1 cup onions, chopped
2 cups cooked rice (I used brown)
3-4 bell peppers, halved and seeded removed (I used yellow, orange, red)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small zucchini, chopped
2 cups salsa, plus additional for topping
shredded cheddar or jack cheese to top (optional, I didn’t have any, so I skipped it)
1 heaping tablespoon homemade taco seasoning (blend of cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic, paprika).

Toppings:
cilantro, sour cream, avocado

directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat the peppers with olive oil and roast in baking dish for 15-20 minutes, or until just barely tender. Remove the peppers from the oven and allow to cool.

While peppers are roasting, cook ground beef in medium skillet until no longer pink; drain off any excess fat. About halfway through cooking, add onion and cook until lightly softened.

In a large bowl, add the taco seasoning, cooked ground beef, onions, drained black beans, zucchini and rice. Add in salsa and mix well.

Spoon the mixture into each pepper half and place back into the baking dish. Top with any additional salsa if desired. Cook the peppers for another 15-20 minutes, or until the peppers are cooked through. If desired, remove from oven, top with cheese, and return to oven until cheese is melted.

Remove, top with cilantro, avocado or sour cream before serving (optional). Serves six.

yang-yang crispy beef.

Living by myself used to mean takeout. Lots and lots of takeout. Sometimes pizza, maybe a burger, but usually takeout meant Chinese. Because I’m fickle, I could never decide on exactly what I wanted, so I would usually leave the restaurant with two different entrees, rice, an egg roll and fortune cookies. Oh, and those little crunchy things with duck sauce. Economical? Not exactly. But leftover for days? Oh yes. I ate Chinese for dinner, breakfast, lunch and dinner. And breakfast again. Aka, the office microwave smelled like takeout Chinese for days. Whoops. Sorry old coworkers!!

Alas, as I’ve become older and have discovered my love for cooking, takeout has become less of a regular thing and more of a treat. Luckily, with recipes like the one below, you don’t need to order from your favorite Chinese restaurant in order to get your takeout fix! This recipe is courtesy of Ching-He Huang from the Cooking Channel, and her recipe is spot on. Deliciously crispy beef is courtesy of the two step cornstarch dredge, shallow fried, and then coated in a sticky, spicy-sweet sauce. The original recipe has it served over lettuce, but I served it with steamed green beans and cucumbers in order to up the veggie intake and make the beef stretch a bit further. In truth, this could be served with any steamed or lightly sautéed veggie (I’m looking at you, baby bok choy!).

I hope you’ll try this the next time a Chinese food craving hits, and that you like it as much as I do!

yang-yang crispy beef
Inspired and adapted from Ching-He Huang. 

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ingredients

Peanut oil, for frying
1 lb sirloin steak, pounded to ¼ inch thick and very thinly sliced
3 tablespoons cornstarch
sea salt
½ cucumber, seeds scooped out and thinly sliced into half-moons
1 bunch green beans, trimmed and steamed
1-2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar

Sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ cup sweet chili sauce
1 small orange, juiced and zested (for garnish)

directions

For the beef: Heat a wok over high heat and fill with 1 ½ – 2 cups peanut oil. Heat the oil to 350 degrees, or until a cube of bread turns golden brown in 15 seconds and floats to the surface.

Place the beef strips in a large bowl and add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Toss until beef has absorbed the cornstarch. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch right before frying and toss to coat. Fry the beef in 2-3 batches until golden, 3-4 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with sea salt.

For the sauce: Set another wok or sauté pan over high heat and add the soy sauce, chili sauce and orange juice. Bring to a simmer and cook until sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon, 1-2 minutes. Toss the beef in the sauce and coat thoroughly. (Note: I actually drain off the oil from the first wok and reuse it for the sauce).

Arrange sliced cucumbers and green beans on serving dish and sprinkle with rice vinegar. If desired, garnish beef with scallions and orange zest.