#LoveYourLunch – Mandarin Cabbage Salad

{the crispy salad}

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Hi there!  Welcome to another week of Love Your Lunch.  I really love this series because not only does it give me ideas and inspiration for my lunches, but it allows me to blog about my simpler culinary adventures.  Sometimes, I feel like I need to blog ingredient-rich, 100% homemade recipes.  I need to shake that thought because really the simplest recipes are the most delicious, right?

The Love Your Lunch series is really just that – simple ingredients providing a tasty meal.  A lot of our lunch ideas can easily be altered to be a bit heartier for dinner as well.  Be sure to check out what Marisa and Becca are dishing up for lunch this week:

Cooking Like Lou
Two Places at Once

Now on to my menu…

I hate soggy salads.  It is almost as bad as soggy Cheerios.  Both must be crisp and crunchy.  It is pretty impossible to prepare a salad for your lunch, dressed and expect it to be fresh by lunchtime.  My friend the cabbage allows for a dressed, yet crispy salad and it is loaded with healthy benefits.

This salad is a bit similar to my Spicy Asian Slaw, but not really… It is made with prepared Sesame Ginger dressing and some added Asian pieces.  I love how the mandarin oranges give it a subtle sweetness and the crispy rice noodles the must-have crunch.  The best part is this salad can be made the night before and stored in tupperware to quickly grab in the morning.  However, the rice noodles should remain separately, but their container is light and easy to toss into your lunch bag.

Mandarin Cabbage Salad

Recipe by: Sara
Servings:  1   ///   Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:
about 2 cups of  thinly sliced green cabbage
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup mandarin orange slices
Sesame Ginger salad dressing [I used Maple Groves Farms of Vermont]
2 Tbsp crispy fried rice noodles
1 chicken breast, poached and cut into pieces[optional]

Directions:
1. In a bowl, combine the cabbage, cilantro, dressing and chicken if using.
2.  Stir to combine.
3.  Top with mandarin oranges and rice noodles.

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Enjoy.

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Thai Chicken Skillet Pizza

{Thai meets Pizza}

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I was still hanging out on the organic band wagon with this delicious double spin on pizza.  Not only did I make it into an Asian dish, but I used my new cast iron skillet (thanks, Chuck Meyer) that I got for Christmas.  I used mostly organic ingredients.

The organic chicken I used was delicious.  It was so tender and moist even after cooking it on the stove and then again in the oven.  I was a little skeptical on how this recipe would turn out due to the odd combination.  However, it was so unique and tasty.

Cooked & sliced chicken

Cooked & sliced chicken

For the pizza dough, I opted to use bread flour instead of all purpose.  The bread flour gives the crust a chewier, a bit more airy texture.  Think deep dish pizza.  I don’t know the science behind it, but there was that moistness when bitten.  I definitely liked this version of the dough for this unique pizza.  If you want more of a classic crust, stick with all purpose flour and it will be a bit more dense.

The little bit of curry powder on the chicken gives it a wonderful aroma and delicious Thai flavor.  For the sauce, I used a combination of red curry paste, which has a very mild curry flavor, and soy sauce.  The sauce will sink in the crust while baking amplifying the tastes of Thai cooking.

Curry Sauce

Curry Sauce

This recipe requires a bit of work so if you are looking for a unique, but fast pizza recipe this isn’t the one.  If you are in the mood to experiment in the kitchen to ease some stress, then now we are talking.  There are a few steps in order to get to the end result.  The list of ingredients are all easily found in any basic grocery store so don’t be intimidated either – and try to buy organic when possible.

Crust Close up

So if you’re feeling adventurous and in the mood for a spicy twist on the classic ‘za give this one a whirl.

Thai chicken skillet pizza

Recipe by: Sara
Hands on Time:  45 minutes   ///   Cook Time:  1 hour   ///   Servings:  4   ///   Oven Temp:  500 degrees

Ingredients:

For the dough **makes 2 crusts
2 3/4 cup bread flour
1 packet of yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (105 degrees)
1 tsp garlic powder
pinch of white sugar
1/2 tsp salt

For the sauce:
1 Tbsp red curry paste
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp cilantro, chopped
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp minced carrots
1/4 tsp sesame oil

For the pizza:
1 Tbsp peanut oil
1 chicken breast
1 tsp curry powder
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 green onions, sliced
1 carrot, shaved
1 lime
sesame oil

Directions [see below for step-by-step pictures]
1.  Combine the yeast with the warm water in a measuring cup and gently stir.
2.  Add a small pinch of white sugar and let sit for about 10 minutes.
3.  In a kitchen mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the flour, garlic powder, and salt.
4.  Slowly add in the water & yeast mixture.
5.  Mix on medium speed until a ball forms then mix an additional 2 minutes.
6.  Place dough ball into a greased bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.
7.  Let sit in a warm spot for at least 30 minutes.  Make sure the dough has risen.

While the dough rises:
8.  In a bowl, combine all ingredients for the sauce and stir until smooth.
9.  Mix together the soy sauce and curry powder [listed in pizza ingredient section] and pour over the chicken breast.
10.  Grill the chicken on the stove for about 5 minutes each side.
11.  Remove from heat and then slice.  The chicken may not be thoroughly cooked through and that’s OK!

After the dough has risen:
12.  Punch down the dough and remove from the bowl.
13.  Divide into 2 equal pieces.  Place one in fridge or freezer for another time.
14.  Heat the cast iron skillet over medium heat with the peanut oil.
15.   Gently push the dough into the skillet, making sure to push a bit up the edges.
16.  Use a fork to poke the dough which will allow steam to escape.
17.  Cook on medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes or until bubbles start to form.
18.  Smear sauce over the dough.
19.  Top with chicken and green onions.
20.  Bake in oven at 500 degrees for about 12 minutes.
21.  Top with cheddar cheddar and broil for 30 seconds.
22.  Remove from oven and top with shaved carrots and cilantro.
23.  Dip a piece of paper towel into the sesame oil and coat the crust as soon as it comes out of the oven.
24.  Squeeze with a bit of lime.
25.  Serve drizzled with a bit more soy sauce and Sriracha sauce, if desired.

Thai Chicken Pizza

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Wonton Soup

{takeout at home part II}

What was supposed to be a “whatever” night turned into an amazing dinner.  I will toot my horn on this one, guys.  It turned out way better than I anticipated.  I had some ground pork in the fridge that needed to be used ASAP and I also had randomly bought some wonton wrappers.  I was thinking about making some type of dessert with the wrappers, but I wanted to keep on the Asian food train.  I have researched wonton soups for a while and decided to finally take the plunge.  I mentioned the idea to Bryan and he was instantly interested.

When I got home from work, we watched a few videos on how to fold the wonton.  We both tried and failed deeming this adventure a bust.  However, I fiddled around with one and decided I liked the way it turned out – authentic or not, it worked.  The wonton did not take long at all to make.  I thought this would be a cumbersome dinner, but it was actually quite easy and quick.  It’s a great recipe to make with someone and even gets kids involved.  Chase wasn’t here tonight, but I think he would enjoy making them.

Growing up I hated Chinese food so I am surprised by my intense interest in the Asian cuisine.  My palate obviously has changed and I now really enjoy Chinese food.  It is also very fun to make – I enjoyed making the fried rice like I mentioned in my earlier post.  And making the wonton was fun too.  They also can be very healthy, but full of flavor.

The soup was a perfect dish for tonight.  It was freezing outside so the piping hot broth warmed me up.  Bryan and I were able to make the soup together which is always fun :)  Don’t be scared and think this looks too complicated or is too time consuming.  It isn’t!  Try it out and you will be pleasantly surprised.  In my opinion, I thought it was better than take out.  I hope you try out my soup!  Let me know how it goes!

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{Click here for the recipe}

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