Kung Pao Chicken with Zoodles

BLOG_August 19, 2014-3

I recently stumbled across this recipe on Skinnytaste and had to make it – like right away. Not only did it look amazing, but this was my call to finally make zucchini noodles.  I’ve seen “zoodles” a zillion times, but never got around to preparing them. This was the perfect recipe for my first taste; they soak up the delicious sauce perfectly and were light, but filling. The original recipe was for two, so I’ve adjusted to make this a 4-person serving, or for 2 very hungry people! Enjoy.

I used a mandolin with a julienne blade, but you can also use a spiralizer if you have one. I played around with the cut and found I liked the slightly thicker 4.5 mm julienne cut the best. The thickness is totally a personal preference, so use whatever cut you prefer.

Vegetarians could totally swap the chicken for tofu, and in fact, I think next time I make this I will do the same. Tofu or tempeh would go great with this refreshing, light dish.


BLOG_August 19, 2014

If you like this, you may also like Kung Pao Chicken Tacos – one of my favorite recipes!

Kung Pao Chicken with Zoodles
Author: Adapted from Skinnytaste.com
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 4
  • 2 lbs. zucchini (med/lrg zucchini work best), washed & ends trimmed
  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 1 lb. chicken breast or chicken tenderloins, cut into bite-size pieces
  • S/P
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. fresh ground ginger (feel free to add more if you really like ginger – I do!)
  • Crushed dry roasted peanuts to top
  • Sliced scallions to top
  • Sauce —
  • 4 tbsp. reduced sodium soy or tamari sauce
  • 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp. hoisin sauce
  • 3 and 1/2 tbsp. water
  • 1 tbsp. roasted red chili paste
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 3 tsp. cornstarch
  1. Using a spiralizer or mandolin with julienne blade, cut the zucchini into long, spaghetti-like strips. If using a spiralizer, cut the strands into pieces that are about 8 inches long so they are easier to eat.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
  3. Season chicken with S/P. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. If you prefer, you can cook the chicken whole and then chop after they are cooked. Either way, cook the chicken until browned and cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside on a separate plate. If you haven’t chopped yet, chop or shred into bite-size pieces before adding to final step.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and add the sesame oil, garlic, and ginger to the skillet and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the bell pepper and stir in the sauce, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook another minute or so until thickened. Stir in zucchini noodles and cook for about two minutes at most until tender and covered with sauce. The zucchini releases water and should thin the sauce out a bit. Remove from heat and stir in chicken. Top with peanuts and scallions.
When I cook chicken for recipes like this I prefer to cook tenderloins because they cook faster. I also prefer to chop/shred the chicken after cooking it. Chicken breast or tenderloins will work perfectly here and you can decide to cook the chicken whole and then chop, or chop prior to cooking.



Loaded Miso Soup

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I’ve been craving miso soup like crazy, but really wanted something that would provide a full meal. So why not make miso soup loaded with goodies to make a complete meal?

Done and delicious.

This makes a large pot with 4-6 bowl-sized servings. Great for lunch or dinner, and perfect for packing for work lunches. Enjoy!

Loaded Miso Soup
Author: Q&DK
Serves: 4-6
  • 8 oz. Somen, rice vermicelli, Soba, Udon or any other type of noodle
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced bok choy, stems and leaves
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced (whites and greens)
  • 5 slices peeled fresh ginger
  • 8 oz. diced tofu, drained
  • 6 cups water
  • About 5 tbsp. miso, to taste
  • Salt, optional
  • 2 cups baby spinach, or chopped spinach
  • Soy sauce
  1. Cook the noodles according to package instructions and reserve a tbsp. of pasta water. Drain and set noodles aside; toss with the pasta water to prevent sticking.
  2. In a large pot set over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and then add the bok choy, scallions, ginger, and tofu. Cook until fragrant and tender, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add 5 cups of water to the pot – reserve the last cup and add the miso to that cup and whisk until smooth (this just makes it easier to dissolve the miso). Add the miso water to the pot, stir to combine.
  4. Bring the soup to a simmer and let cook about 10 minutes. Do not boil, just simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning by adding more miso, and/or salt if needed. Once the seasoning is adjusted, stir in the spinach and a splash of soy sauce. Remove from heat.
  5. Add noodles to each bowl and then ladle soup onto the noodles. Serve immediately. Store leftover noodles separately – if you store them in the soup they can soak up the broth and become soggy.
Miso comes in three types: red, yellow, or white. Any variety works in soup. I use a type called Mellow White Miso. I have to buy it at Wholefoods or Asian markets in a refrigerated area. Do not just get a miso soup mix – you want actual miso. Different types vary in the strength and sodium which is why I can’t put an exact tbsp. amount in the recipe. Start with a few and then taste. The Mellow White is mild and low in sodium so I use a good amount and add a bit of salt to taste.


Mushroom Mapo Tofu

We try to have meatless mains at least a few times per week so I am always on the lookout for new vegetarian recipes. This is something I really love to order from a local Chinese restaurant and decided to try making it at home once I found a good recipe. The tofu and vegetables give it some great texture, while the flavors are bright and spicy.  Enjoy!

Mushroom Mapo Tofu
Recipe Type: Entree
Cuisine: Chinese
Author: Adapted, Fast Vegetarian by Jane Baxter & Henry Dimbleby
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp. ground Szechuan pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried chili flakes
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 1 large red bell pepper, sliced (or several mini peppers, sliced)
  • 2 cups mixed mushrooms, rinsed and dried
  • 2 tbsp. chili bean paste or sauce
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 (14 oz.) packages of extra firm tofu, cubed
  • S/P
  • Spring onions and cilantro to garnish, optional
  • Cooked rice to serve, optional
  1. Heat the oil in a large wok or skillet set over high heat. Add the Szechuan pepper, chili flakes, garlic, and ginger, stirring constantly. Turn the heat to medium and add the bell pepper, mushrooms, chili bean sauce, soy sauce, and vinegar. Stir constantly to mix all ingredients and then let simmer for a few minutes.
  2. Now add the tofu, mix well, and cook over a low heat for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and add S/P as needed or adjust seasoning by adding more soy sauce or chili sauce.
  3. Serve hot over rice, or alone, and top with spring onions and cilantro.
*Szechuan pepper is available at Asian food stores, or you can substitute regular black pepper. Szechuan pepper is very spicy and leaves a tingle on your tongue so it’s not an exact substitute, but will work if you can’t find it or if you want a mild option.[br]*For something different, you can make this recipe with eggplant instead of mushrooms (use 1 large eggplant).


Kale, Brussels Sprouts, and Steak Stir-Fry

steak stirfry

I’ve heard some really funny jokes about kale – in particular, how horrible kale tastes. (Seriously, click the video link, laugh really hard, and then come back). BUT, I love kale. Really and truly I think kale is great.

Discard the really thick, hard stems and only use baby kale in smoothies and you’ve got a really versatile and healthy vegetable. If you don’t share my love of kale, you can substitute spinach or cabbage in this recipe. Due to pesticide use I always buy organic kale and spinach. I love to steam kale and I L-O-V-E, love kale chips. Search “kale” and you’ll find several other recipes here.

This is my latest kale recipe and you could easily substitute the steak for chicken, pork, or tofu/tempeh if steak isn’t your thing. Stir-fry is such a great meal for busy weeknights and for company because it is quick and easily customizable. Enjoy!

Kale, Brussels Sprouts, and Steak Stir-Fry
Recipe Type: Entree
Cuisine: Asian
Author: Heavily adapted, Bon Appetit March 2013
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 25 mins
Serves: 4
  • 3 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce, low sodium
  • 2 tbsp. ponzu sauce
  • 2 tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp. canola oil, divided
  • 1 lb. brussels sprouts, cleaned and halved
  • 6 scallions, sliced with whites/greens divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 8 oz. flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain
  • S/P
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed/discarded and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
  • Cooked rice for serving
  • Chopped fresh tomatoes to top, optional
  1. Whisk together all ingredients from oyster sauce to the 1/4 cup water and set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a wok set over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the brussels sprouts and cook, tossing frequently, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Cover and cook until crisp-tender about 2 more minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp. oil to the wok and add the scallion whites, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  4. Now add the thinly sliced steak. Sprinkle with S/P and toss. Add the brussels sprouts back into the wok and add the kale along with the reserved sauce. Stir all ingredients together and cook until kale is wilted and the steak is browned to your desired temp, about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Serve over cooked rice and top with fresh tomatoes.


How to make Vietnamese Summer Rolls

summer rolls

Well winter is approaching so it’s completely appropriate to be in the mood for something that reminds you of hot summer days. Right?

Perhaps I’m the only nutty one around here but I’ve totally made peace with that 🙂

In any event, no matter the time of year you choose to make these they will be refreshing, unique, and tasty. You can literally fill these suckers with anything. The picture above contains shrimp, mango, and avocado … but the options are endless. Some of my favorites include:

* Mint, cucumber, avocado and sauteed tofu

* Chicken, crushed peanuts, and snow peas

and ground pork, cilantro, lettuce, and lime. Yum. Yum. Yum.

These can be a little daunting at first, if you have never worked with the wrappers before, but once you get the hang of it these become a simple and satisfying dish. When shopping make sure you purchase “spring roll skins” also sometimes called “wrappers” or “banh trang.” You may need to visit an Asian market or go online to find them. If you’ve ever had fried spring rolls, these are the same wrappers, but they are not fried and thus become summer rolls.

These can be a lot of fun with a group – set up an assortment of ingredients and let everyone create their own rolls. Oh, and don’t forget the dipping sauces!

Okay, so you will need the following basics (will vary based on the filling you choose):

  1. Spring roll wrappers/skins
  2. Vermicelli rice noodles (a 4 oz. pkg. makes about 8 rolls)
  3. Thinly or matchstick sliced vegetables
  4. Fresh herbs
  5. Protein (tofu, tempeh, shrimp, chicken, etc.)


Prepare your fillings – cook (and cool) your protein and prepare your vegetables and herbs.

Cook the vermicelli rice noodles – pour boiling water over each 4 oz. package and soak for 15 minutes until tender. Drain and rinse.


Prepare a flat surface, such as a cutting board, to work on while filling each roll.

Fill a wide, shallow dish with cool water. Working with one wrapper at a time, soak until pliable, about 20 seconds. Transfer to your flat surface and smooth out the wrapper with your hands (it helps to dip your fingers in water as you work).

Place a layer of ingredients on the bottom third of the wrapper, leaving a border around the wrapper of at least an inch. Top with a bit of the noodles and then another layer of ingredients (so … ingredients, noodles, ingredients).

Fold bottom of wrapper lightly over fillings. Roll over once, tuck in sides (like a burrito) and continue rolling to close. Transfer rolls to a plate and cover with a slightly damp paper towel until ready to serve. They will last a few hours in the refrigerator if you want to make prior to company. Longer than that and I’m not sure how the wrappers hold up.

Serve with dipping sauces such as sweet chile sauce, soy sauce, or Sriacha.