Mellow Maple-Miso Salad Dressing

Posted by on August 10, 2009 | 16 Comments

This year, I have used summer’s abundant produce as an excuse to fit a jumbo salad into our daily diets and to experiment with homemade salad dressings and vinaigrettes. But, with busier days on the horizon, I realized that I must taper off my ritual of experimenation, where I whip up single servings regularly, and choose a few dressings to bottle in larger quantities for some time savings.

I am pretty sure that the Sweet Dijon Dressing will be one of the options, however, I had yet to successfully create a dressing that would satisfy my husband’s greatest craving. He could practically live off of a sesame-soy dressing. It sounds simple enough, but the at-home blends just weren’t working for me until I came up with this gem. The salty miso and soy sauce are tempered nicely with a bit of maple syrup. Plus, using just a touch of sesame oil adds a nice well rounded flavor, but keeps the overall dressing very low in fat.

My husband agreed that this one is really good, and though quite different from his usual oil-laden, store-bought version, he is happy to make the transition …

Dairy-Free Asian-Inspired Mellow Miso Salad Dressing

Mellow Maple-Miso Salad Dressing

This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Low-Fat, Free of Refined Sugars, and optionally Gluten-Free.

Every miso dressing recipe I try is either too bland, too salty, or just somehow off, but this blend hit my taste buds just right. See my notes that follow the recipe for some tips on the ingredients used.

  • 1/4 Cup Mellow Miso (such as a mild white soy miso or a barley miso)
  • 1/4 Cup + 2 Teaspoons Rice Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce or Wheat-Free Tamari (for gluten-free)
  • 2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
  • 2 Teaspoons Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger Powder

Place all ingredients in a bowl, and whisk until smooth. Alternately, you can place the ingredients in a blender and quickly puree until smooth.

Yields roughly 3/4 cup

 

Ingredient Notes:

Ginger and Garlic are two of my favorite ingredients, but you may have noticed that most of my salad dressing recipes call for the ground / powdered form rather than fresh varieties. There are several reasons for this. One is that my husband can’t take the pungency of fresh (raw) garlic and ginger. Another is that I tend to whip up salad dressings on the fly, and like recipes that require no chopping, just measure and mix. Finally, I don’t always have the fresh stuff on hand! If you prefer to use fresh, go for it. I think about 1 T of fresh minced or crushed ginger should work nicely.

Maple Syrup is such a precious commodity these days, so I rarely use more than a couple of tablespoons in a recipe, which is really all you need to get its full flavor benefit. Since you are using just a bit, don’t skimp, buy pure maple syrup, not imitation!

Miso is sold in the refrigerated section. It is readily available in natural food stores and Asian markets, but these days you can probably even locate it in the mega-marts. It will range in price, but I usually go for one of the less expensive versions for around $3 to $4 a tub. The one I used is soy-based, but for a similar taste, you can choose barley miso or chickpea miso, which is a bit sweeter.

Coconut Aminos from Coconut Secret is an amazing new substitute for soy sauce. It is completely soy-free, but mimics the traditional flavoring remarkably well. I have seen this product in natural food stores such as Whole Foods (along with a similar brand), but you can also purchase it online from shops like iHerb.  – I shop on this site a lot, if you haven’t shopped there before, you can use my coupon code ALI029 at checkout for $5 off your first purchase. It isn’t cheap, but I think worth it for a splurge and if used in small quantities since soy sauce is just so awesome!

Vegan, Dairy-Free, Mellow Miso Salad Dressing

Blog Events: I am submitting this recipe for Souper (or soup, salad, and sammies) Sundays.

 

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5 Good Things Since My Last Post

  1. I cleaned up and organized all of the photos on my computer, at last.
  2. We saw the new Harry Potter movie yesterday; those are always so much fun.
  3. We finally figured out how to get the cat from sleeping on my pillow above my head at night (since she frequently gets up, charges over my husband, and meows whenever she comes back!).
  4. I just finished a wonderfully delicious bowl of homemade chicken and barley soup. I guess we already have fall on the brain!
  5. We had a wonderful “cool” spell of weather, allowing us to go for a mid-summer hike in the southwest.

The World’s Easiest Healthy Chicken Recipe

Posted by on June 4, 2009 | 17 Comments

Quite the claim, I know. And while it may or may not be true, this meal is unbelievably simple … and the recipe is a cinch to customize to your own tastes. My husband quite literally threw this dish together one night when we were starving and uninspired. It has since become one of our go-to meals on those hurried nights.

Please excuse the less than stellar photo. It was night (no light), but I still wanted to give you an idea of the end result …

salsachicken

Tony’s Two-Ingredient Salsa Chicken
This recipe is Low-Fat, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, and Sugar-Free

  • 1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Cup Salsa (your favorite will do, see below)
  • Chopped or Sliced Olives (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350ºF, and lightly grease a baking dish large enough to fit the chicken.

If your chicken breasts are particularly thick, you may want to butterfly them for a faster cooking time and to ensure that they evenly cook through. Lay the chicken breasts in a single later in the baking dish, douse with salsa, sprinkle with olives (if using), and put it in the oven, uncovered. Bake for about 30 minutes. The baking time will depend on the thickness of your chicken. You don’t want to cook it for too long, lest the meat become tough, but do make sure it is cooked through, with no pink left in the middle.

Choosing your salsa – One of the great things about this dish is that you can easily customize the flavor. Go mild (for timid taste buds) or extra-spicy (for fire lovers), use green salsa, a fresh homemade salsa, or stick with the cheapest all-natural salsa in a jar that you located on sale at your local grocer for $1.34 (that would be our pick!).

Make it a meal – I throw in some veggies to roast for an easy one dish meal. You can either add some extra salsa to flavor the veggies, or toss the veggies with just a wee bit of oil, some salt and pepper, and place them in the baking dish around the chicken just before you put it in the oven. I like cauliflower florets best, which seem to roast to perfection along with the chicken. 

To serve – We usually have a grain-free dinner, with just the chicken and a plate full of veggies, but this meal also goes well with rice.

Yields 2 to 3 servings

Taste & Create: Balsamic Chicken with Vegetables

Posted by on May 20, 2009 | 13 Comments

Last week our favorite “farmers” market (a grocery store, but focused on produce, bulk foods, fresh items, etc.) had boneless, skinless chicken breasts on for $1.67 per lb. Since we are using more lean protein, we stocked up. Okay, that is an understatement. We packed our tiny little freezer right to the ice maker!

So, when my Taste & Create partner was announced, I ♥ Food 4 Thought, I went straight to the categories on her site and selected chicken. One dish immediately caught my eye, the Balsamic Chicken and Mushrooms. Let me tell you, it is delcious! In fact, I have already made it a few times. The first time I followed the recipe exactly, and then I added in some of her suggestions and a few of my own tweeks.

Thank you Clara – this is a great light and easy dish! So light in fact, that you should be able to justify some dessert from her other blog, I ♥ Cuppycakes.

balsamic chicken

Balsamic Chicken with Vegetables
Recipe adapted from I ♥ Food 4 Thought
This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, and Soy-Free

This dish can be made on the fly, but it is best if you plan ahead, and let the chicken marinade for at least 4 to 24 hours.

  • 1 lb Chicken Breasts
  • 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1-1/2 Teaspoons Crushed Garlic or 4 Garlic Cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 8 Ounces Mushrooms, halved or quartered (depending on size)
  • 1 Small Onion, cut into wedges
  • 2 Medium Zucchini, sliced

Spread the chicken out in a dish. Combine the vinegar, mustard, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Pour 3 Tablespoons of this mixture over the chicken, flipping it to coat, and cover. Cover the leftover marinade. Place the chicken and leftover marinade in the fridge for at least 4 hours if you have the time.

When ready to cook, heat the teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat, moving it around to cover (can use cooking spray instead). Add the chicken along with all of its marinade (not the reserved marinade) and cook until it is cooked through (no pink left in the middle) – I cover it to retain moisture – flipping only once. Remove the chicken and divide it among your serving plates.

Add the onions to your skillet, and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add the zucchini and reserved marinade, and cook for 2 more minutes, followed by the mushrooms, cooking until all the vegetables reach your desired doneness. Serve the vegetables alongside the chicken. If desired, this dish goes nicely with a grain, such as brown rice or quinoa.

Want some Broccoli?: Instead of the zucchini use 6 to 8 ounces of broccoli florets. Add the florets after just one minute of cooking the onion, along with 1 tablespoon of broth, wine, or water. Cover, and allow the broccoli to cook for a few minutes, before removing the lid and adding the reserved marinade and mushrooms.  Proceed cooking until the vegetables are done to your liking. Since the mushrooms will release some additional liquid, you may want to sprinkle on a little flour to thicken the sauce.

Note: If there is any leftover sauce that looks a bit runny, I like to thicken it for a minute or two after I plate the vegetables, by sprinkling in just a little bit of flour (your choice) and whisking over the heat then drizzling it over the chicken and veggies.

Yields 2 to 4 servings (depending on your appetite, and if you serve it with a grain)

Balsamic Chicken

Easy Veggie Udon for Ramen Lovers

Posted by on April 19, 2009 | 24 Comments

Earlier this week, I needed something to go with two salmon filets I was baking. Since I was craving some carbs, and it was a little too late to whip up a batch of bread … and I wasn’t patient enough to wait for brown rice to cook, I decided pasta was the way to go. The salmon was marinated in a sesame-soy concoction, generally Asian inspired, so I was excited when I spotted some udon noodles in the cupboard (to keep with the theme of course!).

I literally threw the noodles together with a simple veggie saute I created, and it turned out to be the star of the meal. We both agreed that the noodles had a Ramen-esque flavor, taking us back to the MSG-rich days of our childhoods. Obviously, I used a fair dose of sodium, between the wee bit of soy sauce and those few dashes of salt, but I dare say the dish was pretty healthy overall.

Easy Veggie Udon

After the success of that throw together dish, my cravings lingered on … so much so that I had to attempt a re-creation just two nights later.  Don’t misunderstand, this is a very basic dish, not earth-shattering in creativity by any means. But as mentioned before, it is often the simple flavors that get me most!

I ate this as a meal, it was rather filling, but yes, no “protein.” Sometimes I just crave veggies and carbs. If you want to add some protein, be my guest … meat, eggs, tofu, sliced almonds, chopped peanuts, whatever works for you! Hmm, I didn’t think to sprinkle on some toasted sesame seeds, that might be nice too.

Easy Veggie Udon

This recipe is Vegetarian, Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Protein-Free, and Optional Gluten-Free

  • 8 Ounces Udon Noodles (may substitute other noodles in a pinch; for gluten-free I recommend Eden’s all buckwheat soba noodles or rice noodles)
  • 3 Tablespoons Sesame Oil, divided
  • 3 Carrots, peeled into large shreds using a vegetable peeler
  • 3 Large Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 12 Ounces Mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 1 5-Ounce Bag Baby Spinach Leaves
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce or Wheat-Free Tamari, divided
  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • Salt to taste (I used around 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon, but I would start with a dash or two and work your way up)
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste or a Few Pinches of Crushed Red Pepper

Cook the noodles according to the package directions.

While those are boiling, heat 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil over medium-low heat (I do a lower heat to protect the flavor of the oil, but you can up it to medium if you are really hungry).

Add the carrots and saute for a few minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms and saute just until the mushrooms begin to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the spinach and 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce, and saute for just a couple of minutes, until those leavese start to wilt.

Turn off the heat, and stir in the noodles, garlic powder, remaining 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, and any add-ins (see below), tossing well to ensure everything is coated with those flavors. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in big bowls.

Add-ins: I steamed 12 oz of broccoli florets (about 7 minutes; until crisp tender) and tossed them in along with the noodles. The second time I made it, I also added about 1/2 lb of steamed baby carrots, merely because I didn’t have any whole carrots to shred. I recommend the peeled or shredded carrots (in the recipe) over the steamed chunks, but personal preference.

Yields 3 meal-sized servings

veggieudon4

Blog Events: I am submitting this recipe for Presto Pasta Nights # 110 being held at Chew on That. It is my first contribution to that blogging event; hopefully more to come!

Taste & Create: Sautéed Lemon-Garlic Broccoli(ni)

Posted by on April 13, 2009 | 17 Comments

Is there such a thing as too much broccoli? No seriously. The fact that I ate half a pound of broccoli in one sitting doesn’t indicate that I have a problem does it?  Perhaps I have a slight love for those little green trees, or perhaps this recipe was just too darn good.

Let me start from the beginning to work this out …

tasteandcreatelogoSo I signed up for Taste & Create. I have been hesitant on joining any of the blogger cooking/baking events, as I kind of panic when it comes to having to cook a specific recipe. But, I liked the idea of picking a recipe from an assigned blog (with some options) to try out. You see, when it comes to trying new recipes, I tend to be a commitment-phobe. I bookmark and clip a bazillion recipes, but my execution rate, well, it’s pretty dismal. This blogging event would force me out of my little box.

For my first Taste & Create event, I was assigned to LET THEM EAT CAKE … and all things baked! She is a relatively new blogger, launching her inaugural post in January of this year, but already a veteran in the blogger event world. I hope I don’t disappoint, but contrary to the blog name, I, for once, did not choose a baking recipe. Nope. I went for a humble, yet insanely delicious, broccoli side dish. This recipe is from her participation in the Barefoot Bloggers events, tributes to all recipes Ina Garten. It was my first recipe from Ms. Ina, and she definitely did not let me down.

lemongarlicbroccoli

While broccoli may not seem adventurous to some, I really hadn’t ventured beyond steamed and sprinkled with salt, so a new flavor or two was in order. The original recipe called for Broccolini. I realize this baby vegetable has become quite hot on the internet, but I could only find it at Whole Foods … at $2.49 for a pitiful little bunch! But… beautiful broccoli crowns were on sale at my local grocer for just $.78 per pound! Come on, which would you choose? On my behalf, I cut the broccoli into strips using more of the stem, so they looked kind of like broccolini … well, sort of.

I made a few little changes to the recipe to make it my own and to keep it dairy-free. I also found, that if you wanted to go lower in fat, you should be able to get away with just a wee bit less oil … perhaps 1-1/2 tablespoons or 4 teaspoons. Though I wouldn’t go lighter than that, and I did like it with the full amount (I used coconut oil … just love the rich flavor).

Sautéed Lemon-Garlic Broccoli(ni)
Taste & Create recipe idea from: LET THEM EAT CAKE … and all things baked!
Recipe adapted from: The Food Network / Ina Garten
This Recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, and Vegan

  • 1 lb (16oz / 454g) Broccolini, Broccoli Florets, or Broccoli cut into Broccolini-like Strips
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt, plus a dash for the boiling water
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
  • 1 Heaping Teaspoon Grated Lemon Zest + 1 Tablespoon Juice from that Lemon
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil with a dash of salt. Add the broccoli and allow it to cook for 2 minutes. Drain the broccoli immediately, and submerge it in a bowl of ice water to quickly stop the cooking process.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the lemon zest and garlic and give it a quick stir.  Drain the broccoli well, and add it to the sauté pan. Sauté the broccoli for just 2 minutes or until it is heated through. Add the lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper, and toss well before serving.

Yields 4 Servings (or 2 if you eat as much broccoli as I do)

lemongarlicbroccoli2

“Gold Coins” for Good Fortune and Health

Posted by on December 30, 2008 | 12 Comments

If I were to guess the one thing most people are wishing for in 2009, I would have to go with good fortune.  Tough economic times have taken hold, and while hard work perseveres, a little good luck and some well wishes never hurt!  Having read quite a bit about traditional foods of good fortune consumed during the Chinese New Year, I was curious if we Westerners had any traditions of our own. Too my pleasant surprise, I discovered quite a few. Leafy greens signify, you guessed it, the almighty (or not so might, depending on the day) dollar, and black-eyed peas arose as a symbol of prosperity from a Civil War legend. Pork symbolizes progress and pushing forward; something that we could use a little of too. You will find many delicious New Year’s day recipes using these foods (see some of my suggestions below), but something seemed to be missing in my mind … the coins! …

Brilliant in color and packed with nutrients, these carrot and parsnip coins could not only be considered a symbol of good fortune and prosperity, but also of health and well being for the New Year.  Really, what more could we wish for?

Glazed Carrot and Parsnip “Coins”
Adapted from Recipezaar
These coins are lightly sweetened to help enhance their natural flavors.  Feel free to increase or decrease the amount of honey used, depending on your desired taste, and how sweet your carrots and parsnips are to start with. Though I haven’t tested it, you could always substitute maple syrup or agave nectar in place of the honey if you wish to make the dish vegan.

  • 2 cups vegetable broth (or more as needed; can sub water)
  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 lb parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 tablespoon oil or margarine (I used coconut oil – goes beautifully with root veggies!)
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 small onion, sliced into thin wedges
  • salt and pepper, to taste (I used about 1/8 teaspoon salt, no pepper)

In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the broth to a boil.  Add the carrots and parsnips and allow them to cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until just tender.  Drain the vegetables and set them aside, but make sure to keep the liquid for another use;  You have just created double strength broth!

Heat the oil or margarine in a large skillet over medium-low heat, add the onions and suate until tender and translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the honey and the carrots and parsnips. Saute for just a minute or two, until the vegetables are glazed and heated through.  If desired, season with salt and/or pepper.

Yields 4 Servings

More Prosperous New Year’s Recipes

Foodie Words of New Year Warning

All good symbols can be counteracted by an evil one.  Try to hold out on those cravings for luxurious lobster (if not simply for the ridiculous price tag!) – since they travel backward this symbolizes setbacks when consumed for New Year’s – we certainly don’t need more of those!  Also, for you frugal foodies, take a day break from chicken; they scratch backwards, which can cause dwelling in the past.  In fact, all “winged” fowl could cause good luck to “fly away.” Not that I am superstitious or anything : )

Happy New Year!!!

Best Wishes from the Dairy-Free and Frugal Foodie (aka Alisa)

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