Apr 232013

Have I mentioned yet that I live near a Wegmans?  It’s a grocery store that has some of the specialty items stocked at Whole Foods, some value items like you’d find at Trader Joe’s, and a full liquor store.  Plus a hot and cold food bar that makes a great lunch or dinner.

Wegmans has a seasonal magazine called “Menu”, with recipes that use ingredients you’ll find at the store.  They’re designed to be quick, convenient, and health oriented.  I decided to put their Sesame Chicken with Lo Mein recipe to the test.

List in hand, I walked into Wegmans.  To be fair, I am still not very familiar with the store layout.  It took a bit of time for me to find all the products I needed.  Eventually I was able to round up the following: cleaned and cut green beans, cleaned and cut Asian slaw, Teriyaki seasoned chicken thighs, lo mein noodles, and a bottle of Sesame Garlic Sauce.  I had oil and minced garlic at home.

wegmans sesame chicken ingredients


The recipe calls for just 20 minutes of “active time”.  Now, I am not a speed demon in the kitchen, but 20 minutes would be very tight.  You need to blanch the green beans and the noodles, stir fry the chicken, and then mix it all together with the sauce.  The steps were fairly simple though, and you don’t need a lot of cooking experience to execute the recipe.

I wasn’t sure that I’d like using a bottled sauce, but I really did like the taste of this dish!  I had a friend for lunch, and she enjoyed it as well.  There was a part of my brain screaming, “you could make this all from scratch and it would probably be so much better, and less expensive, and have less sodium…..”  But I was also grateful that I had time to do errands that morning, and the meal was still less expensive and healthier than typical take-out.  So I am calling it a win!


wegmans sesame chicken

Mar 182013

Every year around St. Patrick’s Day, the grocery store has a huge display of cabbage.  But you don’t actually have to eat cabbage with corned beef.  While I like a good boiled dinner once a year, cabbage is a versatile vegetable.  Remember these egg rolls?

This time, I used cabbage in a stir fry, inspired by this recipe from Eating Well.  I substituted chicken for the beef in the original recipe, and added sliced baby bella mushrooms which were on sale.  I turned up the heat in the peanut sauce with cayenne pepper, and the end result was a tasty (and vegetable-packed) meal.

I served the stir fry over rice, and there was plenty of sauce to soak up.  You could also serve this with noodles if you like.  So hurry up and grab a head of cabbage before the grocery store takes down the display!



Chicken and Cabbage Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce

1/4 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. Trop 50 orange juice
1/4 c. low sodium soy sauce
1 T rice vinegar
Dash cayenne
4 t canola oil, divided
1 T garlic ginger paste
1 lb. boneless, skinless, chicken breast, cut into 1″ pieces
1 bunch scallion, white and light green parts only, chopped
1 (8 oz.) package sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 medium head cabbage, chopped
1/4 c. water

In a small bowl, whisk peanut butter, orange juice, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and cayenne.  Set aside.

In a large pan, heat 2 t oil. Sauce garlic ginger paste for 2 minutes.  Add chicken, and saute until chicken is cooked through.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Heat remaining 2 t oil in pan.  Saute scallion for 2 minutes.  Add mushrooms, and saute for 5-10 minutes, until beginning to brown.  Add cabbage and water, and saute until tender.  (If all the cabbage doesn’t fit in the pan, add a portion and allow it cook down, and then add the rest.)  Add reserved chicken and peanut sauce.  Stir, and heat through.

-Adapted from Eating Well

Jan 232013

It seems there are a lot of people coughing and sneezing these days.  I certainly hope that all of you stay healthy, but if you are unlucky enough to get a bad cold, this is the soup that will clear your head.  And your slow cooker can make the soup while you lounge on the couch catching up on bad TV.

This is a very basic version of the traditional Asian hot and sour soup.  If I were serving this to company, I’d add some shiitake mushrooms and use baby bok choy instead of spinach.  This is also a very mild version; I added quite a bit of vinegar and cayenne to each bowl to really bring out the hot and the sour flavors.  If you think your crowd can handle it, go ahead and double the amounts of each below.

I really enjoyed this soup, especially after I adjusted it to taste.  It’s filling, but not quite hearty enough for a main dish.  It would be perfect though with a side of homemade fried rice or maybe a cold noodle salad.




Crockpot Hot and Sour Soup

1 (16 oz.) package sliced mushrooms
1 (16 oz.) package frozen leaf spinach
1 (8 oz.) can bamboo shoots, drained
1 T minced garlic
1 (14 oz.) package lite firm tofu, cut into 1″ cubes
1 T fresh minced ginger
2 c. vegetable broth
4 c. water
2 T soy sauce
1 t sesame oil
2 dashes cayenne pepper, plus more for serving
2 T rice vinegar, plus more for serving

Add all ingredients to crockpot.  Cook on Low for 6-8 hours.  Add more pepper and/or vinegar to each bowl just prior to serving, depending on your tastes.

-Inspired by Fat Free Vegan’s Slow-Cooker Hot and Sour Soup


Dec 042012

This was a spur of the moment recipe inspired by the last bit of leftover turkey in my refrigerator.  I also had a containter of leftover brown rice from the Thai food we ordered the night before Thanksgiving.  Rest assured, I made this several days ago, and am just getting around to posting it now!

This isn’t exactly a fool proof recipe, because a lot of the rice stuck to the bottom of the pan.  I was trying not to use too much oil, but that also meant I should have been watching the rice a bit more carefully.  The end result was still pretty good, considering I pulled this together within a half hour using just what was in the house.  The sesame oil added at the end contributes a lot of flavor, so try not to skip this ingredient.  Good things happen when you force yourself to use those leftovers in the refrigerator!



Turkey Fried Rice

1 T canola oil
1 t minced garlic
1 c. chopped turkey
1 1/2 c. cooked brown rice
1 c. frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, green beans, and peas)
1 egg, beaten
1 T low sodium soy sauce
1/2 t sesame oil

Heat oil in a large frying pan.  Add garlic, and saute for 1 minute.  Add turkey, and cook for 3-5 minuntes.  Add brown rice and mixed vegetables, and cook on medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The goal is for the rice to brown, without burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Make a well in the center of the pan.  Coat well with cooking spray.  Add egg, and stir to scramble.  Incorporate cooked egg into mixture.  Add soy sauce and sesame oil, and stir well.  Cook for 3-5 minutes, until heated through.

Oct 152012

This recipe started out as Sesame Crusted Tofu with Spicy Pineapple Noodles, but the tofu portion of the recipe was a hassle and left  a burnt mess on the bottom of my pan.  The noodles, on the other hand, were quite easy and so delicious.  You could serve these noodles with some stir fried tofu or steamed edamame to keep the dish vegetarian.  If that’s not your thing, you could serve them with chicken, pork, or beef.  But make the noodles.

I was lucky and found the sugar snap peas on sale at my grocery store, but you could use another green vegetable like broccoli instead.  What makes this dish unique is the sauce.  The pineapple makes it sweet, and the ginger and cayenne make it spicy.  It’s the kind of sauce you want to slurp from the bowl at the end.  Don’t worry, I won’t tell if you do!



Spicy Pineapple Noodles

2 t canola oil
1 T minced fresh ginger
1 t minced garlic
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
8 oz. fresh sugar snap peas
1 (20 oz.) can pineapple chunks in juice
1 t cornstarch
2 T reduced sodium soy sauce
4 oz. whole wheat spaghetti, cooked and drained
1 t sesame oil

Heat oil in a large frying pan.  Add ginger , garlic, and cayenne and stir fry for 1-2 minutes.  Add sugar snap peas and stir fry for 5 minutes, until beginning to brown.  Add juice from can of pineapple, reserving the chunks.  Simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Whisk cornstarch into soy sauce in a small bowl, and add to pan.  Stir well and simmer  for 1 minute, until thickened.  Add reserved pineapple and noodles and toss to coat.  Remove from heat and stir in sesame oil.

-Adapted from Eating Well