20 Minute Light Mongolian Beef

Mongolian Beef
Today marks the beginning of the new Chinese or Lunar year and I thought that I would celebrate by making this classic American-Chinese dish Mongolian Beef, which I know, has nothing to do with Mongolia but it is tasty none the less. Mongolian beef is a dish that is served at a lot of American-Chinese restaurants and it is super quick and easy to make at home and much better than takeout! Really, this dish is as easy to make as sauteing the beef and mixing in the tasty sauce and you have a meal ready in less than 20 minutes!

Crispy Baked Peanut Sweet Chili Chicken Wings

Crispy Baked Peanut Sweet Chili Chicken Wings
Ever since I discovered just how easy it is to make crispy chicken wings at home by baking them I have been much more willing to make them! I mean it is really as easy as tossing the chicken wings in a touch of oil, laying them out on a rack on a baking sheet before baking them on the top shelf of the oven and they come out nice and crispy and so good! After you are done baking them you just need to toss them in your favourite sauce and you are good to go in less than 10 minutes of minimal effort. Speaking of tasty sauces, I have a new one for you today a peanut sweet chili sauce this is irresistible and ridiculously easy to make! To the base of the sweet chili sauce you add some peanut butter, lime juice, fish or soy sauce and extra chili sauce to taste before heating it a bit to melt the peanut butter; the perfect blend of sweet, spicy, tart and salty! I think I have a new favourite chicken wing recipe and these babies will be making a showing at my party for the Big Game this weekend!

20 Minute Light Orange Chicken

Orange Chicken
The Chinese or lunar New Year is quickly approaching and I have been thinking about Chinese cuisine a lot. The word for oranges in Chinese is similar to the word for wealth and thus oranges are considered lucky for the New Year, which is great since orange chicken is one of my favourite dishes. Normally takeout orange chicken is battered and fried in a lot of oil but I prefer this lighter and healthier version where the chicken is simply sauteed and then tossed in a super tasty orange sauce! One of the best things about this recipe is that it takes less time to make than it takes to steam the rice, less than 20 minutes!

Pizza Poppers

Pizza Poppers
With the football playoffs here I have been trying out new recipes for the party for the Big Game! I have had these pizza poppers from Oh Bite It bookmarked to try for a while and now was the perfect time to make them! You really cannot go wrong taking something already great like pizza, making small bite sized balls and then frying until golden brown and crispy!

These pizza poppers a so easy to make! You pretty much just roll out the pizza dough, cut it into squares, top it with your favorite pizza ingredients, wrap the up and fry them. After they have been cooked you can sprinkle on some parmesan and seasonings and serve them with hot pizza sauce for dipping.

Football Snacking

Football Snacking

Who's ready for The Big Game? It's only a week away! While screaming at the coaches and players, I mean the tv, I mean watching the game, you are going to need to keep up your strength and that means snacking! Whether you are watching the game by yourself or having a few friends over, it is always a good idea to have some tasty food on hand as nothing is worse than watching the game on an empty stomach! With that in mind I collected some of my favourite recipes to make for watching the game! This list of munchies is quite varied with options for pretty much every situation and it includes plenty of dips, chicken wings, pizzas, quesadillas, burgers, sandwiches, poppers, potato skins, chilies, soups and even a few healthier options! No matter which recipes you go for, they are sure to hit the spot while screaming at the tv, I mean watching the game!

Shrimp Wonton Soup

Shrimp Wonton Soup
When I go out for Chinese one of my favourite things to get is shrimp dumplings whether steamed or in a tasty wonton soup and with the cold weather I was thinking that wonton soup would be perfect. A wonton soup is usually pretty basic consisting of only the wontons in a broth, though you can add other things like vegetables and even noodles. With the soup being this simple you really want to make sure that both the wontons and the broth are nice and tasty.

Lets start with the broth, and let me just say that there are probably about as many different ways of making wonton broth as there are people making it. At it's base it seems that the common ingredients are pork bones, ham and dried stock fish and from there you can make your own tweaks. I have seen recipes that replace the ham with a ham bone or bacon, recipes that replace the dried fish with dried shrimp or dried scallops and I have seen recipes that make additions like chicken bones, dried mushrooms, dried seaweed, etc. I like to keep things simple with the pork bones, a ham bone, chicken bones in addition to the dried seafood. Although this soups is probably best with this kind of broth a homemade or store bought chicken broth or chicken stock would also work.

Since this is a shrimp wonton soup I like to simmer the broth along with the shrimp shells for a few minutes to get even more shrimp flavour into the soup and throwing in some lemongrass and ginger really brighten things up. The broth is finished with touch of fish sauce.

There is just something about the shrimp in the dumplings at Chinese restaurants, they seem to be juicier, more succulent and crunchier than normal and it turns out that this is because they are soaked in an alkali water, water with a higher pH. Luckily it is easy to do this at home by mixing baking soda into water and letting the shrimp soak overnight before using them. Once you have the shrimp prepared the wonton filling is actually pretty easy consisting of the coarsely chopped shrimp and a few light seasonings to make sure that the shrimp shines through and is the star of the show. Assembling the wontons takes a bit of time but it is actually pretty easy once you get going and it is well worth the effort! Once the wontons are assembled you simply boil them in water until they float, assemble the soup and enjoy!

Although it takes a little bit of effort it is definitely easy to make restaurant quality, or better, shrimp wonton soup at home!

17 Chinese Recipes for the New Year

Chinese Recipes

The lunar new year is just a week away and I tend to think of Chinese cuisine for it which is the perfect excuse to make some Chinese food at home! Chinese cuisine is extremely varied with many tasty dishes with a lot of my favourites coming from the Sichuan province for their use of spicy hot chili peppers and mouth numbing Sichuan peppercorns! For the New Year some foods are considered lucky including long noodles, spring rolls, lettuce, oranges, whole fish, whole chickens, sticky rice cakes, etc. No matter what you choose to make to celebrate the New Year you really can't go wrong with some of these recipes!


35 Quinoa Recipes

35 Quinoa Recipes

I have been a fan of quinoa ever since I first came across it! Quinoa is a grain crop that is grown for it's seeds and in addition to having good nutritional properties it makes for a nice, lighter alternative to things like rice, pasta, potatoes and many other whole grains. One of the nice things about quinoa is how versatile it can be as can be seen by this collection of recipes. Of course the easiest way to enjoy it is to throw it into a salad along with some vegetables and maybe some beans but it can also be used in everything from soups to side dishes, pancakes, flatbreads, porridge, quiche crusts, a crispy coating for chicken, fritters, stir-fry, parfaits and even desserts!

What is your favourite way to enjoy quinoa?


Shakshuka

Shakshuka
Next up in the Taste of Israel tour of the old city of Yafo was a stop at Dr Shakshuka for some Shakshuka. Shakshouka is a dish where eggs are poached in a tomato and pepper sauce and served along with bread making for a pretty tasty meal. I had actually made shakshuka before but this was the perfect opportunity to update the photos for my recipe. Of course there are pretty much as many different recipes for shaksuka as there are people that make it and I like to keep mine nice and simple with tomatoes and peppers along with a touch of cumin and paprika.

Other than that all you really need is some crusty bread for scooping it up and you are all set! I like my eggs sunny side up with runny yolks so I only cook the eggs briefly after adding them, pulling the whites away so that they cook in the sauce, but you can cook them to your desired level of done-ness and you can place a lid on the pan so that the tops of the eggs cook.

Chicken Pad Thai Nachos

Chicken Pad Thai Nachos
After making the spaghetti squash shrimp pad thai last week I couldn't help but think of other new ways to serve pad thai and with the football playoffs here I guess it was inevitable that I would think of pad thai nachos! The basic idea here was to serve all of the flavours of pad thai on nachos covered with plenty of melted cheese for snacking on while watching the game. I started out with my pad thai sauce of tamarind, fish sauce, sugar and chili sauce for a perfect blend of sour, salty, sweet and spicy and I mixed some shredded chicken into it before sprinkling it onto the tortilla chips. Up next were some basic pad thai vegetables including bean sprouts, carrots and green onions and of course heaps of cheese that was then melted under the broiler. The finishing touches were some chopped peanuts and fresh cilantro. The pad thai flavours work fabulously well in nacho form all covered in ooey gooey melted cheese and these nachos are sure to please at your game day party. (They are even better if you hoard them all to yourself and eat them as a meal, but I wouldn't know anything about that...)

Thai Peanut Chicken Noodle Soup

Thai Peanut Chicken Noodle Soup
I am a huge fan of Thai cuisine especially of the spicy peanut sauce which I am guilty of eating by the spoonful. With soup season here I was thinking why not eat it by the spoonful in the form of a soup with all of the flavours of the spicy peanut sauce? I started the soup off with the elements of the peanut sauce including peanut butter, red curry paste, tamarind, sugar and fish sauce for a perfect blend of spicy, sour, sweet and salty. I decided to go with a chicken noodle soup theme so chicken and rice noodles were the next ingredients and since I always enjoy Thai curried pumpkin and sweet potato soups I added a sweet potato to the mix which I pureed to thicken the soup. Up next were some vegetables and a touch of turmeric and finally a garnish of chopped peanuts, cilantro and green onions. I have to say that this is one tasty chicken noodel soup and if you are a fan of peanut sauces then this is the soup for you!

Apple BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches with Apple Slaw

Apple BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
After making the roasted apple bbq sauce I couldn't help but use it on something other than simple grilled pork tenderloin medallions and these tasty bbq pulled chicken sandwiches were up next! The idea for these bbq pulled chicken sandwiches came from one of my favourite slow cooker recipes the slow cooker bacon wrapped apple bbq chicken, I mean you really can't go wrong with tender chicken in a sweet and tangy bbq sauce along with apples and bacon and placing it all in a sandwich with a tasty apple slaw only makes it better! Although I used my roasted apple bbq sauce, any bbq sauce will work since additional apples go into the slow cooker along with the chicken and they melt into the sauce infusing it with apple-y goodness. The bbq pulled chicken filling is as easy to make as throwing everything into the slow cooker so the only real effort required for these sandwiches comes in making the apple slaw, but it is so worth it!

Whenever you have a bbq pulled meat sandwich it is always nice to throw something into the mix to help cut through all of the flavours and a crisp, fresh apple slaw is the perfect way to do it for these pulled apple/bacon bbq pulled chicken sandwiches! I kept the apple slaw really simple with apples and cabbage and instead of placing it in the more typical mayo based dressing I used a lighter maple dijon dressing which I made creamy with the addition of some Greek yogurt. This slaw is sure to please, and disappear quickly, no matter how you use it but the apple and maple dijon combo perfectly complements these apple bacon pulled chicken sandwiches!

Quinoa White Chicken Chili

Quinoa White Chicken Chili
It is definitely the season for soups and stews and you really can't go wrong with a tasty, warming bowl of chili! In it's more typical form chili con carne is made with beef and plenty of red chili peppers but it is always fun to make a white chili where the meat is chicken and no red chili peppers are used. This is my go to quick, easy and tasty white chicken chili recipe and it has a base of chicken and white beans with jalapeno chili peppers for the heat along with a few seasoning like garlic, cumin and oregano. I like to kick the flavour up a bit by replacing some of the broth with a salsa verde and the addition of quinoa makes this soup a bit heartier. As a finishing touch I like to hit the soup with fresh lime juice along with some cilantro. One of the best things about this tasty white chicken chili is that it only takes about 30 minutes to make and if you know that you aren't even going to have that much time for dinner then you can throw everything into the slow cooker in the morning and come home to a fully cooked meal!

50 Soups to Warm the Soul

Soups to Warm the Soul

With the cooler weather here it is definitely time for a nice, hot, comforting bowl of soup! Soups can be pretty amazing; they are pure comfort food and they are able to pick you up when you are down, warm you up when you are cold and of course help you feel better when you are sick. There are so many different kinds of soups that you will never get bored whether you like to stick with your favourites or if you like to try new ones all the time. I am always looking for a tasty new bowl of soup and these are a few of my favourite; I hope that you will enjoy them as much as I do and that they will help you get through these cold winter days!

Healthy Game Day Snacking

Healthy Game Day Snacking

January is here and we are smack dab in the middle of the football playoffs and that means that there is going to be plenty of snacking going on! Whether you are watching the games at home by yourself or with friends or if you are heading out tailgating, you are going to need plenty of tasty snacks! If you are looking to satisfy your cravings but want something a little lighter, I've got you covered, and without sacrificing anything in the way of flavour! With this in mind I have gathered together this list of recipes that has everything from healthy buffalo roasted cauliflower to dips, grilled meats, crispy vegetable fries, chilis and even some burgers and pizzas. It's easy to be healthier and still be tasty and this list of recipes is sure to please while watching the game!

Hummus

Hummus

With the arrival of the holidays I got distracted from sharing my adventures on the Taste of Israel tour (see part 1: Kanafeh/K√ľnefe)! After an evening out on the town Tel Aviv there was an early morning tour of the old port in Yaffo, along with sampling some of Yaffo's tasty treats. One of the first things that we stopped for was hummus!

Now if you thought that hummus was just a dip that you bought at the grocery store or made at home with canned chickpeas every once in a while, it could not be further from the truth! In fact there is quite a large hummus 'culture' out there with secret recipes, shops dedicated to making hummus and only hummus, that have been been in business for generations, and even great debates on who makes the best hummus, over dinner, which is just hummus and pitas for dipping. Our first food stop was at Abu Hassan which is apparently one of the fore runners for making the best hummus in Israel. I have to admit that the hummus that I had at Abu Hassan's was the best hummus that I had ever had and that of course meant that I would have to work on my hummus recipe when I returned home!

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
The Greek style salad, a salad with juicy tomatoes and cucumbers, tangy red onions, and salty kalamata olives and feta in a lemon and oregano vinaigrette, has to be one of my favourites and it is so easy to turn it into a light and yet satisfying meal with the addition of quinoa (or a whole grain) along with some chickpeas! I always enjoy using quinoa in salads like this since it is such a nice source of protein, especially when combined with a bean, and it really makes for a salad that eats like a meal. I particularly enjoy this quinoa and chickpea salad because of all of the wonderful Mediterranean flavours where the juicy tomatoes and cucumbers play brilliantly with the salty olives and feta. Another wonderful thing about this salad is how versatile it is, I always have fun changing up the ingredients and some more that work well are roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and even cool and creamy avocados!

Spaghetti Squash Shrimp Pad Thai

Spaghetti Squash Shrimp Pad Thai
I have really been enjoying spaghetti squash recently! It is so versatile and I like the way that you can use it as a lighter replacement for noodles is a lot of dishes. Usually I see this being done with more Italian style dishes but I thought that it would be great to replace the rice noodles in one of my favourite noodle dishes, Pad Thai, with some spaghetti squash. Pad Thai is a Thai style stir-fried noodle dish with a base of thick rice noodles, some eggs and a tasty sauce that is the perfect blend of sweet, sour, salty and spicy. From there you can add pretty much anything that you want to and I usually go with some shrimp and plenty of vegetables and herbs.

For the recipe I went with my usual Pad Thai recipe making only a few slight modifications to take into account the delicate nature of the spaghetti squash 'noodles'. After roasting the spaghetti squash, you extract the 'noodles', letting them drain off any excess liquid in a colander before adding them to the stir-fry. In order to make sure that the spaghetti squash noodles retain their shape you add them at the very end and only gently mix the other ingredients of the stir-fry into them.

50 Healthy Recipes to Start the New Year

50 Healthy Recipes to Start the New Year

With all of the eating over the Holidays I was looking for some lighter fare to start off the New Year right! With this in mind I thought that I would take the opportunity to gather some of my favourtite healthier dishes to share with you. As this collection of recipes demonstrates, it is not difficult to eat healthier without have to sacrifice anything in the way of flavour and you are certainly not stuck eating boring salads all the time. This roundup of recipes includes some dishes for every occasion from breakfasts, to soups, salads, mains, sides and even a few snacks for munching on while watching the game!

Apple and Pomegranate Quinoa and Kale Salad with Feta in a Curried Maple Dijon Dressing

Apple and Pomegranate Quinoa and Kale Salad with Feta in a Curried Maple Dijon Dressing
Just because it's winter doesn't mean that you can't have some tasty salads! This has to be one of my favourite winter salads using apples, pomegranate and kale, all of which are still readily available in the colder months. Kale makes a surprisingly good base for salads and when you pile on quality ingredients like apples, pomegranate, walnuts and feta things just keep getting better. I like to bulk this salad out with the addition of quinoa making it a nice light meal that is just packed with healthy ingredients. For the dressing I like to go with a simple maple dijon vinaigrette spiked with a touch of curry far a hint of the exotic that goes perfectly with apples.

The Best of Closet Cooking 2014

The Best of Closet Cooking 2014 Cookbook

Happy New Year!


With the New Year here it is time for me to assemble The Best of Closet Cooking the 2014 edition with all of the tastiest recipes published on Closet Cooking in the year 2013! As is the tradition, I will be giving this eCookbook away for free to everyone that is subscribed to the Closet Cooking email newsletter! If you are already a subscriber, check your email for the download link and if you are not already subscribed you can subscribe now and get it! The Best of Closet Cooking 2014 eCookbook will of course also be made available on all your favourite readers including the Kindle, iBooks and Nook for your viewing pleasure! For those of you that prefer a physical copy you can order a softcover version from Lulu.com.



Enjoy!