Thai-Inspired Shrimp Noodle Bowl

When asked where I get ideas for recipes, I usually say Foodgawker. It is probably the most-used app on my cell phone (sorry, Facebook) and it makes me want to cook all the time. Which is understandable because all of the chefs featured on the website are crazy-talented and super creative. Hence, the perfect inspiration.

Though there is another website I frequent often, one that is not necessarily known for its food recipes but IS known for chomping up ample amounts of free time worldwide: I’m talking about Buzzfeed.

I did not realize Buzzfeed has a Food section until a couple of weeks ago, but now that I know it exists my internet surfing has gravitated towards it, clicking on articles such as “How You Eat On Instagram Vs. How You Eat In Real Life” and “23 Easy and Inexpensive Meals You Can Make With Pita Bread” until I forget what time it is and that I should have been in bed hours before.

The article that I received this inspiration from happened to be “25 Dinners That Are Basically Impossible to Mess Up“, and the dish that made it to the dinner table was the Asian Noodle Bowl from Minimalist Baker. The recipe really is extremely simple, and completely versatile. For example, the original recipe calls for tofu but we decided to grill some shrimp. We also added some sliced red and yellow bell peppers for the extra kick of color, and cucumber just because.

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When we dug into our Asian Noodle Bowls for dinner, my fiancé and I went silent. We quietly devoured our bowls, not speaking until we went in for seconds. And when we did speak we both said something along the lines of “Wow this stuff is unbelievably good“. It’s the combination of crunchy vegetables, warm noodles, and that peanut ginger dressing! Ah, so yummy, and such a quick and healthy homemade meal.

Don’t wait another day. Make the Asian Noodle Bowl tonight!

To get the recipe, click here.

 

 

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Chopped Salad

Oh my. I am becoming a New Yorker.

So picture this: my fridge is essentially empty.

Empty, you say? Like, missing real, fresh food? Sadly, yes.

This predicament is both amusing and saddening. Amusing in that I still cannot believe I find myself taking up behaviors I used to think as exclusively for the native “New Yorker” (I could have never guessed a suburbia-raised girl like me could become a successful city dweller). Despite my new-found urban identity, I am bummed by my fridge because I like to believe that I always prepare and eat home-cooked meals using fresh ingredients. After all, that is how it started when I first came to New York City. Then, slowly I might add, I started buying more “snack-like” foods. Apples and peanut butter, mixed nuts, cans of beans, hummus…you get the idea. Next, I started eating out or traveling every single weekend. Couple that with the night a week I might eat out and suddenly buying a ton of produce and racing to eat it before it went bad became too much. Living alone is stressful on your diet, people!

Anyways, my meals have depended on gauging that “just right” amount of fresh food to buy every week. A couple of apples here, some spinach and baby carrots there…just enough to get me through 4.5 days of meals. And lately most of my protein has come from non-meat sources during the week. Thank goodness I have eggs, beans, and peanut butter (but not together because that would be gross). My love for these items–and their long shelf life–help me from avoiding a nutrient deficiency and keep my energy up.

Another dependable protein item: sliced lunch meat. Although it isn’t as wholesome as cooking chicken in the oven or broiling a steak, for someone with only a couple of meals to prep at home, it’s a great go-to for something filling. Slicing lunch meat further (a.k.a. chopping the lunch meat into coarse pieces) allows it to be tossed into an omelet, thrown into soup, or-as in this instance-sprinkled on salad.

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This recipe was all too simple and the ingredients are solid, nutritional standbys. I buy the ingredients for this salad on a Monday and it will get me through exactly four days worth of lunches. Is it all I have for lunch? No. Is it a better option for lunch that ordering Chinese takeout? Yes. Just pack this salad along with some snackie-snacks (yes I got all cute and called them snackie-snacks). Suddenly, weekday eating for the single-living city-dweller became easy, delicious, and healthy. And now I am craving a bagel…oh, New York.

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Salami & Spinach Salad (makes 4 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups spinach (1 bag)
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 package salami
  • Olive oil and Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Rinse spinach and remove stems. Chop tomato, salami, and avocado. Toss together with 1 tablespoon each olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.

Home Sweet (Thai-food filled) Home

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The past two days have been extremely relaxing and comforting for me. Nothing beats being home. As much as I enjoy my city life, I was ready to get a break from the craziness of it all. Going back to Cali for a few days is just what I needed. I have spent a lot of time lying around the house, catching up with old friends, and running in the fresh mountain air.

Another thing I have been doing a lot of is eating. Whenever I come home, my parents spoil me with a smorgasbord of food. My dad cooks every Persian meal I could ever imagine, and some I did not even know existed. My mom is currently into make meals using the fresh produce in her vegetable garden. We are talking lots of fresh tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and eggplant. Every meal in this household is a feast. And you thought Thanksgiving was only one day in November.

Anyways, with leftovers from dinner comes creative food options for lunch. And my brother Marco and I were craving Thai.

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I never could have anticipated my infatuation with Thai food. I was first introduced to this lovely cuisine on a family trip to Thailand. I was in the eighth grade at the time, and my initial fear of the spicy, sweet, and unique dishes gave way to an adoration of all things Thai. My love for Thai cuisine has led to regular visits at Thai restaurants and frequent cooking experiments with Thai ingredients.

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That’s where this sandwich comes in. I took the usual suspects found in Thai cuisine (sweet chili sauce, peanuts, scallions) and incorporated them into the cheesiest, gooiest, most delectable sandwich that has even come out of the family panini press. Let’s put it this way, my chatterbox of the brother said not a word as he devoured his Thai panini. Yep, this panini is that good. It comes highly recommended, from my household to yours!

Thai Chicken Panini (serves 2)

Ingredients for Panini

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 mozzarella ball
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 4 Tbsp Thai Peanut Sauce (see below)
  • 4 large slices Sourdough bread
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 medium tomato (optional)

Thai Peanut Sauce

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2-3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2-3 Tbsp ground fresh chili paste
  • 2 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Grill and slice the chicken breasts. Set aside. 
  2. Heat panini press to medium heat. Butter one side of each sourdough slice.
  3. For the Thai Peanut Sauce (which I will warn you is irresistibly good), combine all the ingredients for the sauce and mix well. 
  4. Place one sourdough slice butter side down on panini press. Spread 1 tablespoon of the Thai Peanut Sauce on sourdough. Next, layer the mozzarella and chicken on top. drizzle another tablespoon of Thai Peanut Sauce over the chicken. Top with shredded carrot, scallions, and tomatoes (optional ingredient). Place another layer of mozzarella and the other slice of sourdough on top. 
  5. Close panini press and warm the sandwich on medium heat until the cheese is nice and melty (the trick is to go low and slow…be patient!)
  6. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients for the other sandwich. Serve with fresh cilantro and extra peanut sauce. 

Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi

I have to say I feel quite accomplished for this one.

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So, I spent this whole weekend doing last-minute studying for the GRE (it is tomorrow, after all). And when I say I studied this whole weekend, I mean I looked at the books between cleaning my apartment, enjoying the beautiful weather, and making pasta from scratch.

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That’s right. Pasta. From scratch.

These ricotta gnocchi are bites of goodness. Dense and delicious, perfect for some pesto sauce. They were so good that I literally just ate this dish an hour ago and knew I had to give you all this recipe.

Ricotta Gnocchi (as seen on Hip Foodie Mom)
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • about 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix well using a rubber spatula or your hands. Knead/mix the dough for about 2-3 minutes. Expect the dough to be somewhat sticky. The dough should come together after a few minutes.
  2. Transfer the dough onto a well-floured work surface then using your hands, bring it together and shape into a mound. Wrap your dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour.
  3. After the dough has chilled, unwrap (sprinkle on a little flour to help you work with the dough if needed) and cut the dough into 3-4 pieces and then roll each piece into 12-inch long ropes or as long as you can get it (about ¾-inch thick). While rolling, if needed, add a little extra flour to your hands or the work surface (My dough was pretty sticky so it took a lot of extra flour).
  4. Using a knife, cut the ropes into little squares (about 1 inch wide).
  5. When finished, lightly coat each little morsel of gnocchi with a dusting of flour. At this point, you can either cook the gnocchi or freeze it. If freezing, place the baking sheet with gnocchi into freezer and freeze for about 2 hours until the gnocchi are hardened. (If your freezer is tiny like mine is, use a plate or smaller flat surface to balance the gnocchi on). After 2 hours, transfer the frozen gnocchi to a plastic container or resealable bag. When you are ready to cook the gnocchi, simply remove from the freezer and follow step 6.
  6. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the ricotta gnocchi and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the gnocchi begin to float. Using a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi and set aside.

Shrimp and Parmesan Polenta

Where did the fall season go in NYC?

One minute it’s humid and summery, then Hurricane Sandy comes barreling through, and then it’s freezing! My poor Californian body is having trouble adjusting. But hey, I guess that’s what heavy coats are for.

Anyways, enough ranting about the weather–that’s just boring. Let’s discuss more interesting, delicious things. Like this shrimp and parmesan polenta.

Polenta is something that initially may seem intimidating (I mean with a fancy name like polenta I was already sensing a challenge); however, it is actually very easy to make, and can be a unique grains option for any meal. Polenta is hearty, simple, and flavorful. The perfect winter dish!

Shrimp and Parmesan Polenta (makes 1 serving)

Ingredients for Polenta

  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup water

Ingredients for Shrimp

  • 5-6 shrimp, deveined
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup pasta sauce
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • scallions, chopped (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp chili paste (optional, but completely recommended)

Directions:

First, pour olive oil into a warm pan. Add in onion, bell pepper and garlic. Stir for 3-5 minutes.  Pour in pasta sauce, chili paste, and scallions. Add shrimp and stir until warm.

In a separate saucepan, boil the 1 cup of water. Pour in cornmeal and whisk, turning the heat down to a simmer. Whisk together until polenta thickens. Remove from heat and transfer into a bowl, stirring in the butter and parmesan cheese until incorporated. Pour shrimp over polenta and enjoy!

Refreshing Garden Salad

Yesterday was a busy day. I was lucky enough to spend the weekend with Nick (the boyfriend) and his family in Boston. It was a weekend filled with food (between a South End food tour with my bud Magda and apple picking with Nick’s family, you could say my stomach was satisfied) and relaxation.

But of course Monday was a reawakening into reality; and reality is quite busy. So when I came home last night, I was spent. Like, can of soup sort of spent. But, I decided to partner my soup with some homemade quick biscuits (recipe coming soon!), a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and this simple garden salad.

Easy to make, light in flavor, and a great accompaniment to any dinner!

Refreshing Garden Salad

2 handfuls spinach

1/4 cup chopped cucumber

1/4 cup sliced red bell peppers

1 sliced small-medium tomato

Balsamic Vinegar, to taste

Salt & Pepper, to taste

Parmesan, to taste (I am quite liberal with my parmesan-like almost a handful of parmesan)

Toss together and enjoy!

 

Super Awesome Quinoa Shrimp Stir Fry

You could say I am quite pleased with myself and the outcome of this dish.

I made this delicious, fresh concoction on Thursday night for dinner. I was leaving Friday to ship up to Boston (I had to go “see about a guy”). And I knew I should not leave any fresh produce in my fridge. I found myself working with mushrooms, snow peas, onion, baby carrots, and cilantro. What to do what to do…then it hit me: my med school buddy and fellow foodie Magda was telling me the other day all about a chicken stir fry she created. It was the perfect solution for this hodgepodge occupying my fridge.

Stir fry is the best way to eat the maximum amount of whatever you want to get rid of. I decided on shrimp because I love seafood, and I was apprehensive about mixing in quinoa but it turned out to be perfect as the slight crunch from the quinoa created the perfect texture. Easy to make, and flexibility in ingredients: I cannot wait to experiment and make a more “Thai” inspired stir fry with peanuts; or a bona fide sweet and sour sauce. Oh the possibilities!

Quinoa Shrimp Stir Fry

Ingredients:

12 precooked frozen shrimp; defrosted (optional: butterflied)

1 handful baby carrots; cut in half or thirds

1 small onion; cut thick

1 cup mushrooms; sliced

1 cup snow peas

3-4 Tablespoons cilantro

2 Tablespoons marinated ginger; minced

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp olive oil

Salt and Pepper

Red Pepper Flakes; to taste

1/2 cup water

3 Tbsp rice vinegar

1 clove garlic; minced

1 cup cooked quinoa.

Directions:

Premix stir fry sauce in a small bowl by mixing soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Set aside. In a medium saucepan; heat olive oil and garlic until aromatic. Throw in onions, mushrooms, and carrots; turn heat up to medium-high and stir constantly. After about a minute throw in snow peas. Pour water into saucepan (it might steam-this is normal!) and let water evaporate while the steam helps cook the vegetables lightly. Stir mixture while adding in shrimp. Immediately pour stir fry sauce in after and coat all the ingredients. Allow the sauce to warm and heat the stir fry. When the vegetables in the stir fry are of the consistency desired (I personally prefer my veggies on the firmer side so I heat the sauce/stor fry mix for about a minute, maybe 2) turn heat down. Add in cilantro and quinoa. Eat on top of rice, more quinoa, or by itself.