Category Archives: Fusion

Vegetarian Healthy Choice Frozen Meals

It has been a while since frozen meals had knocked my socks off, but while surrendering to impulsive snacking last night at 10 because I did not make enough food for dinner, I reluctantly pulled out a frozen box of Healthy Choice’s Mediterranean Pasta. I know, it’s not really snacking when one reaches over for a full serving of pasta but hey, it was only 360 calories, all-natural (according to the label) and it had lots of whole grains, beans and fruits in it. Plus, I did share some of it with Andy, so I felt less guilty about it.

Upon removing the plastic film from the microwaved tray of pasta, the sweet aroma from apple and elderberry juice and spices used to make this meal hit my olfactory receptors, thus activating my salivary glands. This dish not only looked appetizing with pops of red from dried cranberries, it also has a lot of beans. Now, Andy never liked beans but even he could not resist this dish after dunking a whole bowl of Maggi Mee Kari by himself. The saltiness from Fontina cheese gave it the right amount of kick and balance to this meal.

I’m ecstatic to find out that Healthy Choice finally made something good and substantial for vegetarians. Perhaps if you are not cheapskates like Andy and I who would think twice before spending more than $2 for a box of frozen meal, you could find something decent. I remember poring my frozen ass over aisles and aisles of frozen food at the grocery store and wished that Healthy Choice actually made something for vegetarians aside from plain old linguine alfredo and mac ‘n cheese. I know that I shouldn’t buy all these frozen stuff, since I highly advocate eating homemade and fresh food as much as we can, but when one has to get up for work at 6 a.m. and only gets home at 8 p.m. at night, aside from cutting an apple and packing it up for lunch, I really don’t want to make anything else for lunch the next day. So, that’s my lame reason for bukling under. Ha-ha. I have given them up since I was laid off anyway, and this box of frozen meal was bought prior to that unfortunate incident.

Anyway, someone at Healthy Choice must have telepathically heard me because their all-new all natural line of products consists of very exciting and mouth-watering vegetarian entrees. YIPPEE!! On their website, I found out that they now offer the following vegetarian all natural choices:

  • Mediterranean Pasta (360 calories, 45 calories from fat, 500 mg sodium, 13g protein)
  • Portabella Marsala Pasta (270 calories, 70 calories from fat, 550mg sodium, 12g protein)
  • Portabella Spinach Parmesan ( 270 calories, 70 calories from fat, 600mg sodium, 11g protein)
  • Pumpkin Squash Ravioli (300 calories, 60 calories from fat, 600mg sodium, 9g protein) – Lean Cuisine also makes a version of squash ravioli that is very good
  • Sweet Asian Potstickers (380 calories, 45 calories from fat, 600mg sodium, 8g protein)
  • Tomato Basil Penne (260 calories, 60 calories from fat, 600mg sodium, 8g protein)

The Mediterranean Pasta that I had left me feeling thoroughly satisfied and actually kinda stuffed. The sweet, sour and salty flavours tantalized my tastebuds and despite being a little salty, I thought it was worth it.

For only $2.00 from on sale at Target, I think this is a very good buy. I say give it a try ūüôā Lean Cuisine, watch out!

Cooking Club Challenge – LCBO Recipes

Here’s another apology for a long hiatus. Work¬†has completely consumed me lately and with spring around the corner, Andy and I had been out biking by the river quite a bit. So here’s a long post to make up for the absence ūüėõ¬†

I had enthusiastically waited for our group to meet again since we got together in February. After a long chain of e-mail to decide on a date, we met last Monday on March 31. Everyone made really good dishes and I enjoyed them thoroughly. As usual, the host gets to pick the theme, and Lisa told us to pick anything out of LCBO’s website/magazine. Liquor¬†Control¬†Board of¬†Ontario (LCBO) is a big (think – monopoly) liquor and wine store in Ontario, Canada and they have a food website and magazine that encourages people to pair wine/liquor with their food.

This time, I was assigned to make dessert. I found something on the¬†Internet that I thought would definitely be a challenge for me but¬†perhaps I should have¬†tested the recipe beforehand. I picked Lemon Grass Panna Cotta with Orange Chilli Caramel because it was¬†a “fusion” type of dessert, and¬†it had called for gelatine. This meant that I had to look for gelatine substitute and I have a stash of konnyaku powder left that¬†is used to make vegetarian jello. I have to say that I was very disappointed with my result because the konyakku powder solidified too fast and does not behave like gelatine, which was described in the recipe.¬†Also, the recipe had called for making the cream mixture and melting the gelatine separately. I think it would have been better for me to cook the konnyaku right in the cream itself in my case. I will definitely try to make this again because¬†apart from the tough texture,¬†it actually tasted pretty good.¬†I would probably¬†use agar-agar powder instead. Also, the¬†orange chilli caramel sauce did not turn out as described in the recipe. It did not thicken like caramel, and the chili did not turn out looking like the picture posted on the website. I had to cut slices of chili¬†to garnish mine¬†instead.

Danielle made lamb for¬†everyone, but she was very thoughtful to have made Suzanne and I a vegetarian version of her dish using wild mushrooms. Jillian also used wild mushrooms in her¬†dish and it was delish! It’s amazing to¬†see that both dishes turned out so differently and yet so yummy using the same main ingredient. Jillian, who¬†is a self-proclaimed health¬†nut (I think the whole group is … oh, despite the fact that she doesn’t like vegetables –> CORRECTION: JILL LOVES HER VEGES! LOL), used fresh wholewheat lasagna sheets to¬†wrap the cannellonis.

While Lisa played host (who also has to supply drinks), I helped her¬†with her¬†ricotta fritters. I had fun making them and¬†the recipe actually worked. I used 2¬†metal spoons to shape the batter into egg-shaped balls and wet the fork to flatten them a tiny bit prior¬†to¬†frying. I really do think that I’m more of a savoury food type of cook than a dessert maker…

Another highlight of that night was Ted Whipp. He had graced us with his presence so that he could write about our cooking club. We’re really looking forward to the article in the local papers¬†in the near future¬†ūüôā

Here’s who made what:

    

Spinach and Tofu Salad with Sesame Miso Dressing

Spring is around the corner and just like the original author of this recipe, I’ve been feeling kinda chubby lately. I’ll be eating a lot of salads and grapefruit until I am able to shake of the feeling of lethargy left over from the long, cold winter. While I use tofu in my salad, Andy’s version has slices of roast turkey leftover that his mom packed for him from Easter dinner over the weekend.

Ingredients

Organic baby spinach
Sesame seeds (for garnishing)
Organic Firm tofu, cubed
Alfalfa sprouts
Grape tomatoes, halved

Low Fat Japanese Sesame Miso Dressing

1 tablespoon white miso
1 tablespoon ponzu sauce
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, coarsely ground
1/4 cup water

Method

  1. Mix the sesame miso dressing ingredients until well blended. (You can heat up the dressing in a small sauce pan and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before use.)
  2. Rinse baby spinach and drain excess water.
  3. Pan fry cubed tofu with a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil.
  4. In a salad bowl, toss the baby spinach with tofu and sesame miso dressing. Dish out and serve cold.

Source

Steaming Fish in Parchment Paper


I had just remembered a very convenient way of steaming food, i.e. wrapping in foil or parchment paper and cooking it in the oven.

I tried this technique with my Steamed Vegetarian Tuna recipe yesterday and it worked amazing, without the excess water that dripped from the wok cover. Another reason why this worked great for me is because I do not own a big wok that allows me to place a large place in for steaming, nor do I own a pair of the special tongs that you use to remove a steaming plate of food from the wok.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F degree.
  2. Drizzle some white wine and soy sauce over and around fish. You could use fresh lemon juice or apple juice if you like. The liquid seasonings will create the steam inside the parchment pouch when the dish is baked.
  3. Starting with the “point” of the paper heart, roll and crimp the edges until the fillets are totally encased and sealed in the “half-heart” shape.
  4. Place the pouches on a cookie sheet and bake in the middle of the oven for about 20 minutes or until the pouches are puffy or had turned light brown in colour.
  5. Remove from oven and place the pouches on a plate.
  6. Using a pair of scissors, carefully cut an “X” in the center of the pouch, or cut an outline of the half-heart shape on the inside of the folded edges. Use extreme caution because the steam is very hot.

Sweet Potato and Cucumber Salad with Lemon Yogurt Sauce

First course I made for my Andy’s birthday dinner… and I sliced a big chunk of my finger and couldn’t cook the rest sad.gif. All big chefs are bound to have kitchen accidents right? I chopped off half of my nail this time, gonna take at least 2 months to grow back .. *sob*sob* Anyway, this is the salad… the sauce is really good for almost evertyhing I think ūüėõ

This is an adapted recipe from this site.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sweet potato, washed and finely sliced into rounds
  • 1/2 lebanese cucumber, finely sliced into rounds
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds, toasted
  • 1 large handful parsley (or mint) leaves, washed and chopped
  • 300ml natural yogurt
  • Small lemon, juiced

Method

  1. Toast black mustard seeds in oven @ 350 degree Fahrenheit, or dry-fry in frypan, until fragrant.
  2. Season sweet potato rounds with olive oil, salt & pepper. Roast in 400 deg F oven for 30 mins or until the edges start to brown. Allow to cool and toss gently with cucumber, half of the toasted mustard, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Finely chop mint / parsley and add to yogurt and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add in the rest of the toasted mustard seed. Season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Place salad on plates and drizzle with yogurt dressing to serve or serve dressing in a bowl as an Indian-style accompaniment.

Thai Mango Salsa

I made this up on the go, and brought it to Andy’s coworker’s pool party. Needless to say, it was a great HIT!!¬†ūüôā I forgot to take a picture of the equally good Guacamole though ūüė¶

Ingredients 
Cubed ripe sweet/semi sweet mangoes
Chopped hot peppers (I use serrano, jalapeno, cili padi)
Chopped red bell pepper (for colour)
Chopped red onions (can be omitted)
Chopped green onions (can be omitted)
Chopped cilantro
Lots of lime juice
Brown sugar
Roasted coconut flakes (roast on stove top in a pan or in the oven)

Directions 
Marinate the chopped hot peppers, red bell pepper and onions in lime juice and brown sugar overnight.
Mix the marinated mixture with the cubed mangoes, chopped cilantro.
Sprinkle roasted coconut flakes on the salsa prior to serving.

Voila!!! You’re ready to PAR-TAYHHH!! ūüėÄ

You can eat this with tortilla (corn) chips or serve the salsa with seafood or chicken. In fact my hb tells me that it’s good with everything!! It’s like the ultimate summer food cuz it’s refreshing and exciting at the same time. Make sure you have a few ice cold beer or coronas when you do this. ūüėõ

Ginger Cilantro Lime Dressing for Fresh Noodle Salad

Cilantro Lime Dressing

I love Oyama’s/Simmering Soup’s Fresh Noodle Salad from Trader Joe’s so much and I want to eat it more often, but there isn’t a Trader Joe’s near me. Hence, I want to try to make it myself.¬†

The noodle is very basic, cooked and drenched thin udon noodles, but I think regular rice vermicelli is suitable for this dressing as well.

The noodles are tossed with the dressing (which I will include the ingredients in this post, direct from the packaging) and also chopped peanuts and roasted grated coconuts. There are a few strands of shredded carrots in the box as well, but I thinnk we can stretch our creativity and include taugeh (beansprouts) as well.

Dressing
Rice vinegar (rice, vinegar, sugar, salt) — can be found readily bottled in Asian markets or the International aisle in supermarkets
Soy oil — would it make a difference if it wasn’t soy oil, but regular canola oil?
Cilantro
Peanuts
Garlic
Ginger
Lime juice
Salt

I think all the ingredients would be pureed/blended until smooth while the oil is slowly being dripped into the blended; probably the same method of making mayonnaise.

Peanut Topping
Roasted chopped peanuts — I think we can roast the peanuts and then grind them as well
Toasted coconut flakes
Garlic — I can’t taste it in the¬†topping that was provided in the box
Salt

The dressing can also be good with seafood BBQ and fire-roasted fried tofu/tofu cubes. It can almost pass as a kind of salsa and you can dress up your tacos with twang from the dressing :P.