Easy Chow Mein

Easy Chow Mein

Chow Mein seems to be a staple at Chinese Restaurants where it’s different versions of it are always on the menu.  It’s a dish of fried noodles and can be made with just about any meat and/or veggies that you want.

In Hawaii we simply call it fried noodles and expect to find char shiu, Chinese barbequed pork,  and Kamoboku, a Japanese fish cake.  Both ingredients are readily found in our local grocery stores as is the noodles which can be purchase dry or fresh.

Chow Mein ingredients are so easy to find just about everywhere specially if you have an Asian supermarket by you.  The first ingredients of course is the noodles and if you can’t find chow mein noodles you can actually use Ramen Noodles or even spaghetti!

As for the protein you can use beef, chicken, pork, seafood or the protein of you choice.  Then you toss in veggies which can be anything from carrots to spinach, just be sure you add fresh cilantro that’s what really pulls everything together!

In  my recipe for homemade Chow Mein, I use Char Shiu pork or chicken which I find at my local grocery store.  If you can’t find it omit it or substitute a different protein such as chicken, shrimp, or a plant based one.  I also use the Kamoboku fish cake mostly because I think it’s pretty, but again you can omit it.  As for my veggies I buy a Chop Suey mix that has bean sprouts, shredded cabbage and carrots, you can easily make your own mix.

To give it that Asian flavor I use Sesame Oil, soy sauce,  and Cilantro also called Chinese Parsley.  That’s really all you need!  Chow Mein can be served alone as a main dish or as a side dish.

So here’s my recipe, adjust it to fit your needs!

Easy Chow Mein

Ingredients:

1 Package Noodles (chow mein, ramen, or even spaghetti)

1/2 Lb. Char Shiu Pork or Chicken ( omit or substitute with your choice of protein)

1 Package Kamoboku or fish cake (omit if you want)

1 Package Chop Suey Mix (bean sprouts, shredded cabbage, shredded carrots) or veggies of your choice

1 Onion Diced

2-3 Cloves Garlic minced

1 – 2 cups chicken broth

3 Tbs. Soy Sauce

1 Tbs. Sesame Oil

1 bunch Cilantro chopped

2-3 stalks green onions chopped

Directions:

Heat Sesame oil in large wok or skillet

Add diced onions, stir until they start to turn translucent

Add garlic and cook until garlic starts to turn golden brown, do not burn

Add meats and veggies and stir until veggies start to soften

Stir in broth and noodles (use more broth if noodles are dry, less if noodles are fresh) cook until noodles are al dente and most of the broth has evaporated.  Keep stirring so you don’t burn it.

Stir in soy sauce.  Toss until everything is well combined.

Remove from heat and place in serving platter.

Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and green onions.

Serve right away.

Try not to have left overs as noodles do not keep well.  If you have to store leftovers place in sealed container in fridge for no more than a day.  To re-heat spread noodles out in a sheet pan and heat in the oven.

 

 

Easy Chow Mein
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Easy Chow Mein
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Instructions
  1. Heat Sesame oil in large wok or skillet
  2. Add diced onions, stir until they start to turn translucent
  3. Add garlic and cook until garlic starts to turn golden brown, do not burn
  4. Add meats and veggies and stir until veggies start to soften
  5. Stir in broth and noodles (use more broth if noodles are dry, less if noodles are fresh) cook until noodles are al dente and most of the broth has evaporated.  Keep stirring so you don't burn it.
  6. Stir in soy sauce.  Toss until everything is well combined.
  7. Remove from heat and place in serving platter.
  8. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and green onions. 
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Healthy & Yummy Zucchini Stir Fry

Healthy & Yummy Zucchini Stir Fry

Veggie Stir Fry

In my effort to change our eating habits to something a bit healthier than meat and potatoes I make a meatless meal at least once a week.  One of my favorites is this Zucchini Stir Fry.

It’s amazing how filling and tasty a simple meal of healthy veggies can be.  This week I made this dinner of zucchini, spinach, and tomatoes.  It was delicious, my husband loved it.  You can serve it with a piece of whole grain bread if you wish; the bread is great for dipping in the juices.

You can also serve this dish as an appetizer or side dish.  It’s so good!  It goes great with barbecued and roasted meats.

Ingredients:

1 large organic zucchini, cut into 2″- 3″ strips

1 cup fresh organic spinach

1/2 cup organic cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tbls. organic coconut oil

1 tbls. minced garlic

1 tsp. cayenne red pepper

Sea Salt to taste

Directions:

1.  Heat oil over medium heat

2.  Add garlic, sauté until it turns golden, stir constantly

3.  Add zucchini, cook until it starts to soften about 5-6 minutes, stir constantly

4.  Add tomatoes, cook until juices start to come out, stir constantly

5.  Add spinach, cook until leaves wilt and turn bright green, stir contantly

6.  Add pepper and salt

Serve while warm.

Healthy & Yummy Veggie Stir Fry
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Servings Prep Time
4 Servings 15 Minutes
Cook Time
15 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 Servings 15 Minutes
Cook Time
15 Minutes
Healthy & Yummy Veggie Stir Fry
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 Servings 15 Minutes
Cook Time
15 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 Servings 15 Minutes
Cook Time
15 Minutes
Ingredients
Servings: Servings
Instructions
  1. Heat oil over medium heat
  2. Add garlic, sautee until it turns golden, stir constantly
  3. Add zucchini, cook until it starts to soften about 5-6 minutes, stir constantly
  4. Add tomatoes, cook until juices start to come out, stir constantly
  5. Add spinach, cook until leaves wilt and turn bright green, stir contantly
  6. Add pepper and salt
  7. Serve while warm.
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Maqluba an Upside Down Arabic Dish

Maqluba an Upside Down Arabic Dish

Macluba

Maqluba is a Levantine dish popular in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine.  The name literally means “upside down” because the meat, vegetables, and rice are stacked in a handleless pot to cook, then flipped over and placed on a large tray for serving.

These days Maqluba is described as a one pot dish, which I suppose it could be; assuming you don’t count the pot you stew the meat in, and the pan you fry the veggies in.  Not to mention the bowl you soak the rice in, and if you’re adding vermicelli and pine nuts the pan you brown the pasta and nuts in.

Maqluba is very similar to Paella which is also a one pot dish composed of meat or seafood, veggies, and rice.  Considering that many parts of Spain was under Moorish rule for a total of about 800 years it would be fair to say that Paella is the Spanish version of Maqluba or vice versa.

It is honestly the only Arabic dish I can claim to have mastered.  After years of making Maqluba I’ve finally gotten it right every single time.  It’s really not that difficult to make, it’s just tedious due to all the steps in the recipe and the time it takes to make it.  If you count the time it takes to soak the rice this dish takes all day to make, at the very least about 3  hours.  But it is truly worth the time and effort.

Maqluba is typically made with stewed meat, either lamb, beef, or chicken; fried vegetables such as potatoes, cauliflower, or eggplant; and rice.  All the ingredients are stacked in that order into a large deep pot preferably without handles.  Of course you can omit the meat and make a vegetarian dish.

There are “enhancements” you can add to make the dish fancier.  Some folks like to mix vermicelli and even garbanzo beans in the rice before cooking, then sprinkle it with pine nuts before serving.  And of course in our family I slip tomato wedges between the meat before cooking, and some of us like to top the cooked dish with corn kernels and plain yogurt.  In short I suppose each family has it’s own version on how to cook and eat Maqluba.  But one thing is certain, it’s delicious!

Here’s how we make it at our house, but first here’s a quick tip.  When making Maqluba use a deeper pot with no handles (a maqluba pot is the best, but hard to find in the US, you may find one at a middle eastern grocery store) and a lid, or a pot with removable handles or handles that aren’t too close to the pot lip.  This will make flipping it over easier as handles can block the tray you flip it on to from laying flat on top of the pot.  The pot has to be deep enough to layer the ingredients and still have enough space for the rice to expand as it cooks.

Maqcluba

Ingrdients:

4-5 Cups Long Grain Rice

1 Tbs. Turmeric Powder

1/8 Cup Olive Oil

8-10 pieces of meat (lamb, beef, or bone in chicken thighs)

1 Large Onion, cut in chunks

1 Tbs. Garlic, crushed

1 Tbs. + 1 Tsp. Ground Cumin

1 Tsp. + 1 Tsp. Ground Nutmeg

1 Tsp. Salt

1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 Box Stock (beef or chicken depending on the meat you use)

1 Large Cauliflower, cut into chunks

1 Large Eggplant, cut into rounds

3 Potatoes, peeled and cut into rounds

Oil for frying

Cooking spray

2 Tomatoes cut in wedges

6 Cloves of Garlic, peeled

Vermicelli (Optional)

1 Can Garbanzo Beans, drained (Optional)

1/2 Cup Pine Nuts (Optional)

Butter (Optional)

1 Can Corn Kernels (Optional)

1 Cup Fresh Plain Greek Yogurt (Optional)

Directions:

Place rice in a big bowl and cover with water.

Add Turmeric to water and stir until it is evenly distributed and water turns yellow.  Set aside for at least 2 hours. Check periodically as the rice will absorb the water.  If all the water is absorbed add more and stir.

Heat olive oil in a stock pot.

Saute onions in hot oil until it starts to turn translucent.

Add crushed garlic and cook another minute, stir to keep from burning.

Add meat, 1 Tbs. Cumin, 1 Tsp. Nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Cook until meat starts to brown.

Add stock and then add water to completely cover the meat.

Let simmer until meat is tender and fully cooked.  About 2 hours.  Set aside when done.

Meanwhile place about 1″ oil in frying pan.

Fry your veggies until cooked and drain on paper towels.  Set aside.

If using Vermicelli and/or Pine Nuts:  Melt about 1 tbs. butter in a small frying pan.  Add vermicelli and cook until it starts to turn brown, stir constantly to keep from burning.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Repeat this procedure with Pine Nuts.

When ready to stack meat in the pot:

Spray bottom and sides of pot with cooking spray.

Drain rice then stir in vermicelli noodles and/or garbanzo beans if using.

Starting with the meat, remove meat from pot it was cooked it, reserve the broth do not discard.

Arrange meat at the bottom of the pot.

Slip garlic cloves and tomato wedges between the meat.

Sprinkle meat with 1 tsp. cumin and 1 tsp. nutmeg.

Arrange veggies on top of meat.

Pour rice mixture over the veggies and smooth out to make the top flat.

Gently pour reserved broth over the rice.  Fill until the broth just covers the rice, if you don’t have enough broth add water.

Cover with lid and simmer over medium heat until rice is cooked.  Check every 10 minutes or so to make sure the liquid has not all evaporated before the rice is cooked.  If you need to add more liquid, either broth or water.  This takes about 30 minutes.

If the rice is cooked and you still have liquid remove lid and raise the heat for about 5 minutes so that the rest of the liquid evaporates.  Be careful not to burn the bottom.  Or you can carefully drain extra liquid before flipping.

When rice is cooked and there is no more liquid remove pot from lid.  Let rest about 5 minutes.

Flip over onto a large tray.

Garnish with cooked Pine Nuts on the meat if desired.

Serve with bowls of corn kernels and plain yogurt.

 

 

Maqluba an Upside Down Arabic Dish
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Homemade Falafels

Homemade Falafels

Falafels are traditional Middle Eastern deep fried patties or balls made from chickpeas, fava beans, or both.  They’re usually found stuffed in Pita bread or rolled in a flatbread along with fresh and pickled veggies and topped with a tahini sauce, that’s a Falafel Sandwich.  They are also eaten with fried eggs, hummus, babaganouj, and pickles for breakfast or served as mezzes and snacks.

My first encounter with falafels was at a kiosk in New York city where I grew up.  Buying a falafel sandwich from this kiosk was a treat when we spent the day at the near by park.  Then my family moved to Hawaii in the mid-70’s where there were no kiosks selling “ethnic” foods and so I didn’t have falafels again until I married my husband who is of Palestinian decent.  Imagine his surprise when I told him I actually knew what falafels were!

As newlyweds in Hawaii we had to figure out how to make falafels at home; as I new bride I had no clue!  Remember back in the 80’s there was no google, no pinterest, no instagram, or any kind of internet that would find a recipe in seconds.  I had to rely on cookbooks from the library, not really helpful.

Then we found a box of falafel mix at a local health food store.  Just add water and fry.  It wasn’t the best, but we made do.  I started experimenting with the boxed mix and found that adding finely chopped fresh parsley improved the taste.  Started adding more spices and pretty soon I figured I may as well by pass the mix and make it from scratch.   That didn’t go so well until I managed to buy a food processor, now I was in business!

As I was exploring the makings for falafel from scratch we started traveling all over the world.  Of course travel opens up your life to different places, foods, and cultures and our travels in the Middle East definitely helped my falafel making.  We loved the falafel sandwiches at Mr. Falfala in Cairo and the ones found on the streets of Diera in Dubai.  But nothing beats the fresh falafels served at Hashem’s and Abu Jbarra in Jordan!  On our last trip to Dubai this year we discovered that Abu Jbarra opened a place by the Dubai Mall, we ate brunch there almost everyday!

Anyway those trips to Egypt, Dubai, and Jordan whetted my desire to make falafels at home that would be close to the ones served in the places we loved.  I say close because I doubt I’ll ever figure out the exact match to Hashem’s falafels served in this little alley in downtown Amman.

I make large batches of falafels so that I have enough to freeze for future use.  Raw falafel paste freezes beautifully!  This way I don’t have to haul out the food processor every time I want to fry falafels and I always have some handy when  I have a yen for a falafel sandwich.

I’ve found that using fresh ingredients makes the difference between decent falafels and amazing ones!  So I use fresh cilantro, parsley, and dill as my primary seasonings; they will turn your mixture green, but the greener the falafel is the better it tastes in my opinion.  I also use dry chickpeas never canned.

It takes a bit of planning to make really great falafels, but believe me it’s so worth the effort!

Fresh Falafel

Ingredients:

8 oz. Dried Chickpeas (1/2 a bag)

1 Tsp. Baking Soda

1 Large bunch of Fresh Cilantro, rinsed and dried on paper towel

1 Large Bunch of Fresh American Parsley, rinsed and dried on paper towel

1 Small Bunch of Fresh Dill, rinsed and dried on paper towel

2 Tbs. Fresh Garlic, minced

1 Tbs. Cumin Powder

1 Tbs. Ground Coriander

1 Tbs. Sea Salt

1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 Tsp. Baking Soda

Oil for frying

Pita or Flat Bread

Optional Condiments: Fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, pickled beets, tahini sauce, thousand island dressing, or what ever you want to add in the sandwich

Directions:

Pour dried chickpeas into a bowl and mix in baking soda.

Cover with water and soak overnight.

Rinse chickpeas in cool water and drain in a colander.

In a food processor load in this order:

Cilantro leaves and stems (you don’t have to use all the stems but do use the leaves), Parsley, Dill (prepare and use Parsley and Dill the same way as Cilantro).

Drained chickpeas and garlic

Dried spices (cumin, coriander, salt, pepper)

Turn on processor and grind until it is a paste

If freezing place paste into freezer safe containers and freeze.  Thaw before cooking.

If using immediately:

Heat about 2″ of oil in a small pot.

Add baking soda to falafel paste and combine well.

Test that oil is hot enough by dropping a small amount of falafel paste in; if oil starts bubbling around the paste your oil is ready for frying.

Form paste into small 1″ balls or patties and drop into hot oil.

Fry until all sides are brown, cooked falafel will float.

Drain on paper towels and serve as a sandwich filling or by itself for breakfast or as mezzes.


Homemade Falafels
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Stuffed pumpkin

Stuffed pumpkin

Serves 4

Easy

Throwing a vegan dinner party in the autumn or winter months? Bake a pumpkin with a gorgeous stuffing of rice, fennel, apple, pomegranate seeds and pecans

Ingredients

 

  • 1 medium-sized pumpkin or round squash (about 1kg)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g wild rice
  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 1 Bramley apple
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

 

 

  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 30g pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1 large pack parsley, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • pomegranate seeds, to serve

Method

1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cut the top off the pumpkin or squash and use a metal spoon to scoop out the seeds. Get rid of any pithy bits but keep the seeds for another time (see our pumpkin seed recipe ideas). Put the pumpkin on a baking tray, rub with 2 tbsp of the oil inside and out, and season well. Roast in the centre of the oven for 45 mins or until tender, with the ‘lid’ on the side.

2. Meanwhile, rinse the wild rice well and cook following pack instructions, then spread out on a baking tray to cool. Thinly slice the fennel bulb and apple, then squeeze over ½ the lemon juice to stop them discolouring.

3. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan. Fry the fennel seeds and chilli flakes, then, once the seeds begin to pop, stir in ½ the garlic and the fennel. Cook for 5 mins until softened, then mix through the apple, pecans and lemon zest. Remove from the heat. Add the mixture to the the cooked rice, then stir in the chopped parsley and taste for seasoning.

4. Pack the mixture into the cooked pumpkin and return to the oven for 10-15 mins until everything is piping hot. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining lemon juice with the tahini, the rest of the garlic and enough water to make a dressing. Serve the pumpkin in the middle of the table, topped with pomegranate seeds and the dressing.

 

 


Stuffed pumpkin
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Stuffed pumpkin
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CARROT RICE BALL JACK O’ LANTERN BITES

CARROT RICE BALL JACK O’ LANTERN BITES

  

   

 






 

 

 

 

CARROT RICE BALL JACK O’ LANTERN BITES
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CARROT RICE BALL JACK O’ LANTERN BITES
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