This salad is exciting. Using cabbage as the base I loaded it up with colorfully fun healthy veggies. That’s right, I called vegetables fun. I had a bunch of veggies in the fridge pleading with me to be used before they went bad, including mushrooms which I always always have in the fridge. A wasted mushroom is a sad day, and I had a whole cupful of mushrooms just days shy of the slime stage so something had to be done STAT.
Have I mentioned my addiction to mushrooms?! Its bad, I put them in and on everything. I have never ever ordered a mushroom-less pizza. I don’t know why I love them so, but I do. It is an irrational love. I can’t quite put my finger on it why they taste so good, and I am compelled to add them to almost every savory dish that comes out of my kitchen, but hey, many a people have been caught up in all kinds of irrational love way wilder than my mushroom love.
Back to this delicious roasted salad.
To make it more filling, I added potatoes to the mix. I found an assortment of red, white, and purple fingerling potatoes at a local store that sells cheap local produce called the Vegetable Bin. They have been in business for a century, and for good reason. I mean, who can resist buying purple potatoes?! I also can’t resist buying their locally made sourdough bread.
One of my favorite stores is World Market. When Scott and I are bored and looking to get out of the house, World Market , is a place we both agree to go look around in. It has some fun neat stuff such as soap that smells really really good, cool decorations, and of course my favorite- unique interesting foods from different parts of the world. I found some delicious looking basil pesto this week-end and so I put it to the test.
Of course, I started with a lovely line up of fresh veggies. How could anything go wrong. It makes me happy to coat vegetables with the deliciousness of pesto so that my hubby will eat it.
After taking our pup to the dog park, Kindo spent the afternoon snoozing on the couch, Scott spent the afternoon gaming, and I happily spent the afternoon dreaming and cooking up a couple pesto recipes. I love pesto; it is rich and creamy from the olive oil and bursting with the flavor of green ground spices. It is not spicy, just flavorful, so I added it to some biscuits made moist by ricotta cheese and some easy to make vegetable pasta.
MANDU is the Korean word for dumpling. And they are one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. Ever.
I went to South Korea thinking I liked spicy food. Yeah right! A couple bites of anything red over there would put my whole GI track in over drive, would keep my system cleaned out for weeks, and burn my tongue for dayssss. Apparently every child grows up eating super super spicy food so that their tolerance for spicy food is off the charts by the time adulthood rolls around. I am not exaggerating. I quickly learned to avoid anything that was red, aka coated in the spiciest spicy red chili pepper sauce in the world. Ok, I may be exaggerating, but just a little.
Dumplings however were zero spicy.
My time in South Korea, for an exchange program during college, was a simply amazing once in a lifetime experience. I was able to meet some beautiful people (inside & out) whom I miss dearly, learn about an ancient fascinating culture, see the landscape of a most beautiful country, and try some really good food (that wasn’t red). My favorites were pumpkin soup, doughnuts filled with sweet bean paste, bulgogi, pajeon,and of course my #1 favorite was mandu-Korean dumplings! Whenever I had the chance to eat dumplings, I was all over it. So of course, when I came home, I wanted to reproduce and share that amazing tasting food with my family. I searched high and low for a good Mandu recipe, but none were exactly what I was looking for. Combining ideas from several recipes and remembering some specific ingredients from the little dumplings I loved, I made the Mandu of my dreams.
I’ve always held this belief when it comes to cooking; if I love the ingredients, then I will almost definitely love the results. So it follows that I am in love with these dumplings.
The first time I made dumplings, I used equal parts ground pork, ground beef, and tofu for the base and that was oh-so-delicious, but this time I wanted wanted to make a vegetable dumpling. It is partly because I want to be healthier, partly because my husband doesn’t like pork, and mostly because I despise touching raw ground meat. The nurse-germaphobe in me does not want to touch anything gross without some nice latex gloves on. I will touch any and absolutely anything with gloves on, but I am fresh out of those on the home front.
I also consulted my dear friend Seo Yeon for some extra Mandu making tips to make the perfect Korean Dumplings.
These dumplings were pretty easy to make, but take a good bit of time to individually fold each dumpling. The dumpling skin packs in the store come with 60 so that does indeed make for quite a bit of folding, but the good news is they can be frozen for later and are just as delicious!
Just mix up all the prepared ingredients and start folding. Put a heaping teaspoon in the center of the skin then rub some water with a finger along the two top edges. Then, fold in half and press the edges together. When sealed, turn the dumpling upright and wrinkle the edges towards the center, making them look wavy.
After making the dumplings, you can boil, steam, pan sear, or add them to soup. They are versatile and make a quick easy meal when frozen. To freeze, just put dumplings on a floured pan in the freezer, making sure each dumpling is not touching another. Once completely frozen, an hour or two, throw them all in a freezer bag and removed desired amount when ready to eat. Just add a couple minutes to cooking time, about 3-5 minutes for all methods.
The dipping sauce is almost as important as the dumplings. Just mix equal parts water, soy sauce, and rice vinegar then sprinkle top with sesame seeds and ginger.
I doubled this recipe and mixed the other half of the filling in chicken stock and water to make an Asian soup to go with the dumplings for dinner.
Microwave tofu 1 minute and squeeze out liquid in paper towels. Add tofu to bowl and mash with fork.
Add garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame seeds, sesame oil, finely chopped cabbage, shredded carrots, cooked & finely chopped vermicelli rice, diced mushrooms, and finely diced green onions and then mix well.
Place heaping teaspoon full of mixture in center of dumpling skin and rub wet finger over two adjacent sides a couple times. Fold dry edges over on top of wet edges and pinch closed. For looks, press the two opposite corners ups towards the center, which makes the edges look wavy.
Boil desired amount of finished dumplings for 2 minutes and serve with dipping sauce (sauce recipe in notes).
For extra dumplings, place on floured pan (not touching each other) in freezer for 1-2 hours. Once frozen completely, transfer to freezer bag. Good for 4 months.
The dip: mix equal parts water, soy sauce, and rice vinegar then sprinkle top with sesame seeds and ginger.
This meal is perfect to make on a weeknight. It is super easy to make and requires just a few flavorful ingredients. The most time consuming part is boiling the potatoes. Using box mix potatoes would make it ready in a flash, though I used some good old fashioned potatoes. The potatoes in this dish were like the icing on the cake. These mashed potatoes were mixed with butter and cheese, scooped on top with an ice-cream scoop and then broiled to create a nice brown look and flavor. Yes, potatoes, please, get in my belly.
I did use smart balance butter (less saturated than regular butter), sharp cheddar cheese, and unsweetened almond milk in the potatoes to make me feel better about eating this hearty comfort food.
A few months ago, my husband went out to eat with a friend and reported enjoying this dish called shepherd's pie at a restaurant downtown. I tucked that little knowledge nugget away in my mind and decided to make it for our Valentine's Day celebration dinner, along with some gooey dark chocolate brownies. I know, it's a little early to be celebrating, but I have to work Valentine's Day and the rest of the weekend. With 12 hour long night shifts, that means I will be MIA. No cooking those days.
Our little early celebration was a smashing success. Between bites of pie, he told me this was so much better than the shepherd's pie he previously thought was so good. He ate so much, his stomach bulged. Haha, mine did too, especially with a dark chocolate brownie for dessert! I just love being able to make the man I love, love coming home to a lovely dinner. That's a lot of love, but hey, its Valentine's!
Makes two large portions of a savory beef, vegetable, and gravy mixture that is topped with cheesy mashed potatoes. The ultimate comfort food.
2 large russet potatoes
⅓ cup milk
½ cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 tbsp butter
1 can, 14.5 oz, peas & carrots
1 can, 6.5 oz, mushrooms
½ pound ground beef
½ cup water
2 tbsp flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp Mrs. Dash seasoning
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
pepper to taste
Boil halved potatoes and start browning meat
Preheat oven to 375 F
When meat is no longer pink, add salt, Mrs. Dash seasoning, garlic powder, and onion powder. Stir well.
Turn beef burner down to low and add flour, stir, then add water. Then add cans: drained mushrooms and drained peas & carrots.
When potatoes done, or easily able to be pierced with fork, removed from water and take skins off. Mash and mix in milk, cheese, butter, and pepper to taste.
Add meat and veggie mixture to casserole dish(es) then top with mashed potatoes
Bake at 375 F for 15 minutes. Serve. Will need more oven time if dish prepared ahead of time and refrigerated.
(optional) Broil for 2-3 minutes to brown top
I used two large individual serving sized casserole dishes and then used an ice-cream scoop to top meat with mashed potatoes. After baking, I broiled for a couple minutes to make the potatoes brown on top. Be careful broiling because it will burn in a skinny minute.