Asian Turkey Meatballs

Asian Turkey Meatballs

You guys are all seeing the Internet hoopla about “The Dress” aren’t you?

For those that aren’t, you should so you can join in on the conversation. Here ya go: check it out.

See? Now, let’s say it all together. What colors is the dress?

BLUE AND BLACK.

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Wait, what?! I know some of you guys aren’t like Jas and ACTUALLY see white and gold? What’s the matter with you? The Dress is blue and black; blue and black, I tell you!

This actually sparked a debate in my house last night; me and Ashley stand by the assertion that the dress is blue and black. Jas and my mom are convinced it’s white and gold. We were split right down the middle. I just couldn’t see it. I didn’t understand. It was a mystery.

But apparently the whole thing boils down to the ability of the cones in our eye retinas to mix and process colors through out brains. The people that see blue and black have cones that are better able to do this; people that see white and gold have cones that are…different.

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(Ha ha Jas.)

But in all fairness, since last night I have taken another couple looks at the picture (this is all  over social media by now so it’s kind of impossible not to) and I will admit: if I try really, really, REALLY hard…then I can see the dress as white and gold. It’s like mentally flicking a light switch on in my brain and literally ‘forcing’ myself to see white and gold. It only lasts for a few seconds, but it does work. Honestly it reminds me of one of those optical illusion pictures where there are actually two drawings within one and depending on whether or not you’re left brained or right brained, you see one or the other.

My first instinct with this dress will always make me see blue and black, but if I try to, then I can see white and gold.

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I know what you’re thinking: “Jess. What does The Dress have to do with this post?”

I was getting to that. See, this post has been in my Posts folder on the WordPress dashboard for nearly a month. I’ve been purposely passing it over in favor of other recipes and at one point, considered deleting it altogether. It’s not that this is a bad recipe; it’s actually delicious.

The problem was I just didn’t like the way the pictures turned out. Or at least most times, I didn’t.

Photographing brown food is really hard, guys. If you have crap lighting, then forget about; it’s not gonna work. But even under the best lighting circumstances imaginable, there’s still the risk that the dish you’re shooting will turn out looking…not appetizing.

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I did what I could to prevent this from happening; including other colors,making sure my sauce was fresh and shiny and sticky, and creating texture with sesame seeds…but when it was all said and done I still wasn’t sure.

At one point, I would look at these pictures and think that the meatballs looked good. Then the next day I’d look at them and think they looked like….

Well, you get it.

But today I feel like they don’t look too shabby. And considering I DID put in the work in cooking and photographing them, I figure I’d make it worthwhile and just put the friggin post up regardless. You guys be the judge.

Just think of it like The Dress photo; give it a few tries and see if you can see things differently than my more negative/self-depreciating side. Let me know if it works. And if it doesn’t, then do me a favor: don’t feel obligated to point it out. Just don’t tell me. Deal?

Oh yeah and Happy Fiesta Friday #57 at The Novice Gardener.

fiesta-friday-badge-button-i-party

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Asian Turkey Meatballs

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

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Ingredients

For the Meatballs:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (about 1/4 head)
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 ounces shitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly sliced
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 egg white
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 4 scallions, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 2 -inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha chile sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 head Boston lettuce, leaves separated

Directions

1. Make the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer the cabbage to a plate to cool.

2. Wipe out the pan, then add the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and the mushrooms. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to the plate with the cabbage to cool.

3. Lightly beat the eggs and egg white in a large bowl. Add the pork, scallions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and cornstarch. Add the cabbage, mushrooms and a few grinds of pepper and mix with your hands until just combined (do not overmix). Dampen your hands and shape the meat mixture into 18 balls (about 2 inches each); arrange on the prepared baking sheet.

4. Make the sauce: Mix the hoisin sauce, Sriracha, vinegar, sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a bowl; set aside 1/2 cup for serving. Brush the meatballs with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake until cooked through, 18 to 22 minutes. Serve in lettuce leaves with the reserved sauce.

Chicken Stir-Fry

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Any Game of Thrones Fans out there?

I  certainly hope so. It’s an AWESOME show. If you haven’t seen it, then you’re just really missing out. Whenever I’m asked by non GoT fans what it’s about, I’d say that it’s basically a medieval series with dragons and a whole lot of drama. A bunch of people are trying to sit on a throne of a kingdom and the schemes and plans by which they all attempt to do so really resembles a dark kind of game. That’s a really watered down version of a summary of course, but I would’t want to give anything away to any of you out there that still may be on the fence of checking it out or not.

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Just in case you needed that extra push to getting around to it, then here it is, direct from me to you: watch the show. The hype is not just a hype. It’s real. It’s justified. Jess from Cooking is My Sport said so.

So what does GoT have to do with this post? Well, not much to be honest. The truth is that last night when I was watching the long-awaited season 4 premiere, it suddenly occurred to me that I had wanted to do a GoT themed recipe series for the blog, ideally the week before the return of the show. Obviously, that’s not gonna happen anymore. I lost track of time. I forgot about that goal. Whatever. However, that’s not necessarily going to completely kill the idea. I think I still want to try to do a GoT-week on CIMS. Maybe I’ll make it so that I post a recipe dedicated to the show every Sunday until the season finale. Ambitious, maybe, but I think still pretty cool The next step will just be to get together a recipe collection. You guys can feel free to give me suggestions as to what foods you’d like to see that remind you of the show, I’m feeling pretty open to anything.

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Anyway, back to today’s post. I was at the store grocery shopping with my mom and she said she wanted stir-fry for dinner.  It’s not too difficult a request, so I gave it a go. Stir-fry’s really one of those easy dishes that don’t take a huge amount of effort, but yield results that are out of this world, provided you can get your seasonings right. (Of course,) I went with chicken as the protein and threw in some other stuff as well.  paired it with these DELICIOUS Sesame Glazed Sweet Potatoes, and it made an awesome meal.

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I’ve noticed that I keep posting a lot of Asian-themed cuisine on the blog. That’s kinda interesting to me, as Asian isn’t even my favorite ethnic cuisine- (it’s Lebanese/Middle-Eastern just in case you were curious). However, I’ll run with it. I think the results are coming out okay, don’t you?

Don’t forget to leave me your GoT menu suggestions: the more I think about it, the more determined I am to do this. I think it’ll be really fun 😉

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Chicken Stir-Fry

Recipe Adapted from Pat and Gina Neely

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION 

Ingredients

  •  2 tablespoons soy sauce
  •  1 tablespoon orange juice
  •  1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  •  1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  •  1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  •  1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  •  1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more if desired
  •  1 tablespoon peanut oil, plus more as needed
  •  1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  •  2 tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger
  •  4 cloves garlic, minced
  •  4 green onions, sliced
  • 4 cups broccoli florets, pre-cooked

Directions

  1.  In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, orange juice, light brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, cornstarch, sesame oil and red pepper flakes. Reserve.
  2.  Set a wok over medium-high heat and coat with 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil. When the oil shimmers, add about half of the chicken thigh pieces. Stir-fry until the chicken is fully cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat the process with the remaining chicken thighs.
  3.  Add enough peanut oil to the hot wok to coat the bottom. Add the ginger, garlic and green onions and stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4.  Add the chicken back to the wok along with the broccoli florets and stir to warm through.
  5. Pour in the reserved sauce and stir until the sauce is thickened and bubbly, about 45 seconds. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with rice.

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Sesame Glazed Sweet Potatoes

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I’ve mentioned to you guys before that when I find a new habit or trend, or something  in general that I like, I will wear it out TO DEATH until I’m either sick of it, or until I find a new something to wear out to death.

Me and my twin sister Jas are really alike in that (among other things: our DNA  also happens to be exactly the same.) Take movies for instance; when we were growing up, we went through a phase where when we found a movie we liked, we watched it every chance we got. I find a new favorite song and it gets put on constant repeat on my iPod . I find a new interesting tv show and will faithfully watch it ever week, or if its old, I will have entire marathons of it on Netflix until I get through it all.

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So far as good goes, I’m on a root vegetable kick right now.  For a long time, I’ve just always wanted to eat a side of root vegetables with my dinner. Mostly it’s been a mix between rutabagas and sweet potatoes. I can decide which I like more honestly. Although it may not seem like it, rutabagas too have a unmistakable sweetness to them that’s so clearly highlighted when they’re roasted. If you guys don’t believe me, then you should try this recipe for Herb Roasted Rutabaga that I posted a few weeks ago- if you’re not typically a fan of them, I promise you: I’m going to make you a ‘believer’ with 2 rutabagas, and a handful of dried herbs. Because I’m a miracle worker….okay not really, but I am a pretty good cook 😉

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 I’m experimenting with different recipes to mix things up so that I don’t get too bored. After all, variety’s the spice of life. Right now, this is my new sweet potato recipe that I’m really fond of.  Trust me, it tastes every bit as good as it looks.

I never would have thought initially to apply Asian style flavors to sweet potatoes. But let me tell you guys, it REALLY works. The saltiness of the soy sauce is perfect with the sweetness of the honey as well as the natural sweetness of the potatoes. The sesame seeds give it a subtle earthy and almost nutty aftertaste. I served them with a chicken stir-fry that I made my family for dinner ( the recipe and pics are very soon to follow).

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Random/Embarrassing Fact: About a year ago, I was on another carrot/sweet potato kick and I ate so many of them that I LITERALLY started turning orange. Seriously. I’m not joking. I went into my doctor for a general check up and she literally gasped and asked what happened to me. I didn’t notice until I stood under a fluorescent light in her office and held out my hands: my palms were the color of a carrot. My skin is naturally kind of yellow, so…suffice to say it just wasn’t a good look. I had no idea that consuming too much Vitamin A (which is dominant  in carrots and sweet potatoes) can do that. Now I do. So as delicious as these sweet potatoes are, I do try to be a little more careful to not make them take up the most space on my plate.

I try. I may not always succeed. Try this recipe and you’ll definitely understand why.

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Sesame Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Recipe Courtesy of Cookstr.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  •  5 orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (yams), peeled
  •  2 tbsp olive oil
  •  Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  •  2 tbsp sesame seeds
  •  1 tbsp honey
  •  1 tbsp soy sauce

 Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

2. Cut the potatoes into large chunks and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper.

3. Roast the potatoes for 30 minutes, turning halfway through, until almost tender.

4. Mix together the sesame seeds, honey, and soy sauce. Pour  over the sweet potatoes, and toss.

5. Roast 20 minutes more, or until well glazed and tender.

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Low Carb Lo Mein

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I’m gonna start this off by saying I am very, very, VERY proud of this recipe. I’m blowing/blasting my own horn here, and I don’t mind admitting it. This dish is one of the reasons why I love to experiment so much in the kitchen, why I love buying kitchen gadgets (or borrowing them from my mom) and why I firmly believe that cooking IS a sport that the more you practice at, the better you’ll get. When I first started learning how to cook, making something like this wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. I probably would’ve been afraid of using the ingredients (more on that later), or at the very least, messing the whole thing up. But that’s the beauty of practice and progress, because here we are, and now I get to share this awesome recipe with you guys (and it IS awesome).

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I know of very few people who don’t like Asian takeout style lo mein. For those who have never tried it, or don’t know what it even is (?!!!), lo mein is basically just noodles and vegetables that have been stir fried in a zesty, Asian style sauce. If that sounds delicious to you, it’s really just because well, it is.  What’s not to like about it? It’s typically served as a side dish at most major chain Asian restaurants, but I actually like eating it as a main course with egg rolls on the side. I even use it as a kind of litmus test of whether or not I’m going to like the rest of the menu at the place- if they make a good plate of lo mein, then I’ve found 9 times out of 10 that the rest of their food is pretty good too.

Pic 4So what’s the catch? It’s probably pretty obvious to anyone who’s ever had it before. Lo Mein, (along with the majority of the other dishes at Asian restaurants) tends to leave that heavy, bloated, ‘food-baby’ feeling in your stomach that none of us like too much. It’s pasta based, so it’s carb-heavy, but there’s also the likely chance that it’s marinated in high sodium soy sauce then pan fried in peanut oil. And then (because I just have to say it), there are probably some other ‘questionable’ ingredients in the noodles that may have familiar names of normal animal proteins but don’t taste very….normal. You know what I mean.

So what’s the solution to the negatives of lo mein? No, you don’t just have to ‘suffer’ from the food-baby stomach when you eat it. (Although if you do end up getting Chinese take-out, taking 2 activated charcoal pills will ease the discomfort it brings. Don’t ask how I know that.) Don’t worry, you’re not going to give it up completely either.  That would be all kinds of stupid and just wouldn’t make any sense.

What you ARE going to do, though, is make this recipe. Why? Because it’s easy, quick, delicious, and best of all….NO belly bloat. That’s right. You won’t look like you’re 9 months pregnant  or feel like you just ate a stone after eating this. This right here is low-carb lo mein, meaning there’s no actual pasta in it. Now I can just hear some of your thoughts right about now:

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“Sorry Jess. I call bs on that one. I can see noodles in that dish. They’re right there, so how CAN there be no pasta in it?” 

Relax, guys. It’s not a joke. There really is NO pasta in this dish. It really IS low carb. The ‘pasta’ in this lo mein dish comes from two ingredients: zucchini squash, and Shiritaki noodles. How did I do it? I’m glad you asked.

The zucchini, I shredded into what are called ‘ribbons’ with the help of a standard hand-held vegetable peeler that you can probably get at any major department store or multi-purpose grocery store where they sell kitchen gadgets. It’s pretty inexpensive and gets the job done just fine.

Now for the Shiritaki noodles. I’m gonna be honest with you guys upfront about these, but I don’t want you to panic or get freaked out. Deal? Okay. Shiritaki noodles are actually mainly made of… tofu. You ca buy them at major grocery stores or health food stores like Whole Foods in the gluten-free sections. They come in a variety of different shapes and varieties; the type that I usually use is Spaghetti, but they also make Angel Hair, Fettuccini, or even Macaroni. I’ve included a picture below so you can see what they look like:

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Now guys, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: please, PLEASE do not let the tofu scare you away from this recipe. I know that when most of us hear the word ‘tofu’ we instantly think of ultra-bland, ultra-nasty food that only health-nuts and fitness fanatics eat. (Or maybe you think of that Doug episode on Nickelodeon, I don’t know). But coming from a girl who has a genuine appreciation for her carbohydrates (that includes bread, pasta, etc), I promise you: these do taste JUST like the real thing when cooked properly. I’m serious. Don’t worry, the recipe will have all the details you need to prepare them the right way. It’s not complicated at all, and the result is just SO worth it. Think about it; you’re not really eating anything but vegetables, tofu, and meat (which I’ve even gone without sometimes). You make this for your family without telling them the ingredients, and they’re not going to know the difference between this lo mein, and the original. That’s how good this is.

The only real difference they may notice, is that they don’t have a bloated food-baby after eating it…and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

FEED(ME) BACK: Name one ingredient that you’re slightly (or even very) nervous to cook with for the first time.

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Low Carb Lo Mein

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE RECIPE

YIELD: 1 Serving

Ingredients

  • 1 package Shiritaki Tofu noodles
  • 1 medium size zucchini squash (either green or yellow work fine)
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped into small chunks
  • 1/3 cup shredded carrot matchsticks
  • 1/3 cup protein of your choice (ground beef, chicken, turkey, pork, shrimp)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons green onions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Szechuan sauce (like San-J)

Directions

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the Hoisin, soy sauce, lemon juice and Szechuan sauce and set aside.

2. Prepare the Shiritaki noodles. Place a colander in the sink. Open the package and drain noodles in colander. (Don’t get freaked out by the smell of the noodles. It’s the liquid they’re soaked in to stay fresh- we’re gonna get rid of it). Run cold water over the noodles, drain again, then place them in a microwaveable safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 75 seconds. The smell should be gone from the noodles now. If it’s not, microwave for another 60 seconds. Drain one more time. Use a knife to roughly chop noodles, just a little bit. Set aside.

3. Cut the stem off the zucchini squash and discard. Use your vegetable peeler to shred the entire zucchini into long ribbony strands. (Yes, the whole thing).

4. Heat a skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Add the zucchini ribbons to the skillet, and sprinkle with the ground ginger. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes. They should be somewhat limp, but still maintain their shape.

5. Add the Shiritaki noodles, meat, tomato and carrots to the skillet. Pour the sauce evenly over all of the ingredients and toss thoroughly.

6. Raise the heat to high, letting the sauce begin to bubble and continuing to stir until the sauce is completely absorbed, and the bottom of the pan is no longer slippery. Remove from heat and into a bowl. Sprinkle green onions on top of noodles and vegetables, and serve.