Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easy Roasted Chicken with Chinese 5 Spice Powder

Chicken is probably the easiest meat in the world to make. Put some spices on it and bake.


  • 2 chicken thighs, separated
  • 1 tbsp Chinese 5 Spice Powder
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce

Let's do it!

  1. Put everything into a big bowl and coat the chicken well. Let marinate for as long as you can. Me, I marinated for about 20 minutes.
  2. Set the toaster oven for 350ºF. Put the chicken in a toaster oven-safe container (careful, some things are only good for the oven, but not the toaster oven) and put in the oven.
  3. Set for 20 minutes.
  4. After 20 minutes, turn it over, check to see if it's done (probably not). Ovens vary. Maybe cook it for another 10, or another 20 minutes. Pierce it with a knife and if the juices run clear, it's ready.

Lunch it up!

This is great with any starch and loads of veggies, like brussel sprouts cooked with bacon!

Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

As I say in my bio, my husband is a picky eater. But together (my cooking skills and his inability to cook) we've expanded his palate to eat all sorts of things. One of the things that seemed really challenging at first, but was made pretty simple was dark green veggies. Loaded with nutrients and hated by everyone who doesn't love veggies. How did I get him to like/tolerate them? Cooking them with bacon, of course!

Here is a dead-easy recipe that you can toss in a pan while preparing other aspects of your meal.

  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 5 cups or so brussel sprouts
  • A bit of water

Let's do it!
  1. Heat a pan to medium and put the bacon in there. You're going to let it crisp up and let all the fat render (turn into liquid).
  2. Cut the bottoms off the brussel sprouts and slice each one lengthwise, then horizontally. So you have four pieces. The leaves will fall apart. That's kind of the point. Put them all in a big bowl and shake them around to separate them.
  3. Pour off the bacon grease into a heat-safe container, like a mason jar. Or, if you're me, pour it into a mason jar that you keep in the fridge so you can use bacon grease in lieu of oil. It's basically FREE INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS OIL.
  4. Throw in the brussel sprouts and stir until well mixed, and every piece has had a chance to hit the grease on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Put about 1/4 cup of water into the pan and cover for 5 minutes.
  6. Take off cover and stir fry some more. I like them to be browned a bit, so I fried them until they were browned in spots.

Lunch it up!
This is a great side dish for anything. I'm having it with chicken and rice!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Easy Somewhat Homemade Meatballs (with spaghetti!)

I'm sorry about the terrible photo. I left my camera at home and I took this on my phone.
If you can't eat dairy, you probably don't eat meatballs (or you do, and feel the pain later). This recipe is easy and dairy-free, and totally delicious. I got the idea for using sausages from some cooking show. It works great because the sausage is already pre-spiced and full of fat, so you don't get the golf-ball like dense meatballs that sometimes happens when you use really lean meat. I tend not to measure anything, so this is all approximate. If you like your meatballs softer and less dense, add more breadcrumbs.


  • 2 cups uncooked sausage (I used mild Italian pork sausage. DO NOT get sausage that is smoked, or otherwise pre-cooked)
  • 2 cups ground beef (I got extra lean. Don't worry, the sausage will provide the fat you need to keep it juicy)
  • 1 cup part bread crumbs
  • 1 egg

Let's do it!

  1. First of all, know that this is going to get messy. Take off any rings you're wearing and maybe put on an apron. And wash your hands, for goodness sake!
  2. Squeeze the sausage meat out of its casing into a large mixing bowl. You should have a whole bunch of raw meat with fat and spices. Yay!
  3. Add ground beef, bread crumbs and raw egg.
  4. Mush it all together with your hands until it's all mixed up.
  5. Form balls and put onto baking tray. You can put them close together, but don't let them touch. They will get slightly smaller. Use a baking tray that has a somewhat high lip on it, because these will put out a LOT of grease.
  6. Put in the oven and turn on to 350ºF. I rarely preheat my oven, as I feel like it's a waste of energy. Particularly for something like this, where you're not worried about a crisp skin.
  7. If the meatballs were small (golf ball or less), 30 minutes should do it, but make sure you test by cutting them with a fork. If the inside is cooked, they're done!
Tip: Let the grease cool down and put it in a small bag and throw it in the garbage or municipal compost (if your city does that). DO NOT put it down the drain, as it will destroy your plumbing. Yes, even if you put it down the toilet. Seriously. You want to hear some horror stories, talk to a plumber. Don't flush dental floss either. Just... don't.

Lunch it up!
I packed the meatballs in a container with some pasta sauce and packed the pasta separately. You can also make meatball sandwiches or cover them in BBQ sauce and serve them as hors d'oeuvres at a party. Or whatever it is people do with meatballs.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Vegan cheesy chili

Yeah, let's totally pretend that I'm going to eat 7 chips with this, and not  that entire bag behind it.

The first rule of chili is that it needs to be bad for you. This is junk food, so despite all the veggies and lack of fat in this dish, it still has to taste like a heavy, hearty treat and not a healthy tomato stew that your saint of a mother made for you on a cold winter's afternoon. That's where Daiya comes in.


  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 minced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (or more, if you like spicy)
  • 2 tbsp chili powder (bought or made)
  • 1 can red kidney (or any other) beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (roughly 3 cups) spaghetti sauce
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup corn 
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup or more Daiya vegan mozzarella cheese shreds

Let's do it!

  1. Add a bit of oil to a medium sized soup pot. Set stove to medium.
  2. When warm, add onions and stir until translucent. 
  3. Add garlic, chipotle and chili powder. Stir for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add a can of spaghetti sauce and maybe 1/3 can of water. This is where the unhealthiness begins. These things are loaded with salt! If you actually want this to be healthy, I suppose you can make your own tomato sauce.
  5. Add kidney beans and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer on low for about half an hour. I like to simmer beans for a while because I heard it keeps you from getting gassy. I don't know if this is true, but I always do this and manage not to be unbearable after eating beans.
  6. Add red peppers and corn (I used frozen corn and didn't bother defrosting). Simmer for another 15 minutes. Don't worry too much about the timing, I was doing this while cleaning the house and watching TV. Chili is incredibly forgiving.
  7. Add quinoa and simmer for at least another 15 minutes. This adds a nice texture which would ordinarily come from meat. It's also healthy. Sorry.
  8. Add Daiya cheese and stir until blended. If you know Daiya, you know that it tastes a lot like processed cheese and will transform your chili into a rich, gooey, delicious mess. Take that, mom! (Kidding, my mom is awesome.)
  9. Add water if you think it's too thick, more chili powder if you think it's missing that flavour, salt, pepper, whatever. It's your's, make it the way you want!

Lunch it up!

I'm really committing to this being unhealthy so I brought this to work, heated it up and ate it with tortilla chips.

If you can't imagine a world without meat, check out my meat-filled chili here.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Korean Seafood Pancake

All my pics at work sucked, so here is a pic of four pancakes I took at home.

I tried one of these at a fantastic Korean restaurant in Toronto and immediately fell in love. This recipe is a mangling of two recipes, one from Maangchi (my usual go-to for all Korean recipes and quite possibly the most comprehensive recipe/how-to site in the universe) and the Kitchn, but I basically just used their sauce recipe. I'm not going to pretend that this is at all authentic. I'm Chinese and struggle to make authentic Chinese food as it is. This is just my version of the dish with what I had in my house.


  • 1 cup flour (I use whole wheat flour because it's healthy. I think.)
  • 1 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 green onions, chopped (you should probably use more, but I only had 2 left)
  • 1 cup mixed seafood, chopped roughly
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds discarded and chopped. Make sure you wash your hands RIGHT after handling these or else your hands will buuuuurrrnnn!!!
  • cooking oil

Sauce (in ratio)

  • Mostly soy sauce
  • Almost the same amount of rice wine vinegar, to taste
  • A bit of sesame oil
  • 1 smashed and minced garlic clove

Let's do it!

  1. Put the flour, water, salt and egg in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until it forms a thin batter. Mix as little as possible.
  2. Add green onions, seafood (I used the ready-mixed frozen kind and defrosted it in the fridge overnight), and jalapeno. Mix until combined.
  3. Coat the bottom of a non-stick pan with cooking oil and heat it to medium low. Put in two ladles of the mixture and spread so that the veggies and seafood are evenly distributed. Mine came up to about 8 inches in diameter. Any bigger and I'm pretty positive I wouldn't be able to flip them.
  4. Cook until  the sides are cooked and the bottom is golden. At this point, the pancake should move around on it's own if you shove the pan around. 
  5. If you can do that awesome pancake flip thing, do so. If you're like me, use a spatula to help you along.
  6. Cook for another couple of minutes, until the bottom is golden.
  7. Repeat until the batter is gone. Mine made about 4 servings, good for two lunches and two dinners. Or two big lunches, more likely.
  8. To make the dipping sauce, just mix all that stuff together.
Lunch it up!
I put this on some rice and had kale as a side. I put the dipping sauce in a small screw-top jar. Here's the pic I took at work. You don't even know what's going on. I'm just happy to have found my nice lens, so here it is.