I’ve been really into miso lately. Until about a month ago, I had never had it in anything other than miso soup, which I’ve always found to be kind of plain and boring. Miso paste, on the other hand, is a different beast altogether. It’s flavor is difficult to describe, but if you’re familiar with the term “umami” this is it. It’s very rich and complex, a little salty, and almost nutty. It might sound silly, but the flavor feels very full and round in your mouth. If you haven’t tried it, you really should! It’s a great way to elevate a few simple ingredients and transform them into a spectacular dish.
Happy (Chinese) New Year!
For some reason, we always celebrated Chinese New Year when I was a kid. I don’t know why, but I always looked forward to it. It was so fun, and we didn’t eat Chinese nearly as often back then as we do now. Mom would take out the electric wok and cook dinner right on the table – usually a chicken stir fry. The next night, we’d wrap the leftovers in tortillas and eat them as fajitas. Yum.
I made this clementine-soy glazed chicken a few weeks ago and thought it would be the perfect Chinese New Year post. But then I started researching and apparently I had it all wrong. The holiday has all sorts of food traditions, like eating noodles to bring long life and dumplings to bring wealth. And apparently serving a chicken or duck whole represents health, but serving it cut – like these thighs – is the opposite. Oops.
Oh well. This dish is delicious any time of the year, and you should definitely make it (if you’re superstitious or prefer to celebrate the New Year more traditionally, just wait until tomorrow.)
As soon as I started doing research on the Marzetti Simply Dressed product line, I knew that I wanted to create a recipe with the ginger-sesame dressing. As I read the ingredient list and saw that it included ginger puree, my mouth immediately started watering. (Yes, I’ve clearly been a little obsessed with ginger lately.)
When I opened the bottle and took a sniff, I knew that I had made the right choice – this stuff sounds, looks, smells, and tastes amazing! It was so good that I actually went back and tweaked my recipe to include more of the dressing than I had originally planned for. Even after that, I was tempted to dunk my wrap in even more dressing. (I didn’t though. The dressing is good, but I didn’t want to put on so much that it would overpower the fresh and delicate flavor of the vegetables.) This one is definitely a keeper!
I love having a bog. Really, I do. I love cooking, thinking up ideas and perfecting recipes, and taking photographs. I even enjoy typing my recipes up, despite all of the annoying code that Google likes. But once all that is done, I’m left staring at a big, blank space that needs to be filled with words.
And I kind of hate it.
Having to come up with those words is the single biggest reason that I don’t post more often. Sometimes it’s not too bad – I can share a story about how I was inspired to make the recipe or about how I tried a new ingredient or technique – but a lot of times there’s just nothing. to. say. I mean, there are only so many ways you can say “This is delicious, make it!”
This recipe for ground chicken and eggplant lettuce wraps was inspired by the menu at P.F. Changs. They have a similar chicken and eggplant dish that’s one of the best things I’ve ever ordered at a Chinese restaurant. My recipe is pretty different from theirs, but it captures my favorite components of the original — especially the contrast of sweet, spicy, and salty flavors and the way the tender eggplant practically melts in your mouth. Adjust the amount of chili paste to suit your desired level of spiciness, or leave it out and allow each diner to add it directly to their own portion to accommodate a variety of tastes.
Shawn got a new job earlier this year. Its great, but his schedule kind of stinks and I’m on my own for dinner a few nights each week. At first it was kind of nice. Those nights give me the chance to make all of my favorites that he doesn’t really like. But it can also get kind of old. Cooking just isn’t as much fun when there’s no one to share the completed meal with, and a lot of nights I end up eating something fast and simple like pasta or eggs.
In an effort to motivate myself to cook real meals even on nights where I’m alone, I’m going to try something new: a “Cooking for One” series here on Healthy. Delicious. featuring the meals that I cook for myself. These pared-down recipes will be super simple, quick to make, and full of the bold flavors that you expect to find in my recipes. Some of the recipes might make enough for leftovers, but none will be more than a single person can eat in a 24 hour period. (Of course, you can always double or triple these recipes if you want to feed a larger group with minimal effort!) For now, I’m planning on dedicating the first Sunday of each month to this series. We’ll see how it goes!