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Looking like food truck food this week: Sandwiches, Dumplings, Noodles & Soup

So, here is the deal…I thought this week’s blog would be about Bringing Back Dinner going healthy, umm well maybe not so much, we ended up looking like we ate off a food truck all week.  Next week?  There are just so many yummy things to make! In reality the meals this week could be much worse and the Picture of the broccoli Rabe is to show that we at least ate something green this week.  That is a start, yea?  Maybe?  I tried, but at least I get another chance each week!

Don’t let someone like Anthony Bourdain know this (he is pretty vocal about wanting meat & fat, though if you let him know it wouldn’t matter since we’ve never met and he couldn’t care less what I say), but I really like the challenge of making fatty, rich foods healthier and have no one realize the difference when they eat it, that said I’m all for a little sausage, cream, butter, and bacon too.  Balance and moderation are key!

I encourage you to make any adaptations you would like to recipes to try to find a way to have the best flavorful mouthful of food while meeting your dietary needs.  It can be done, so if you think you have to watch your fat, sugar, salt etc. and therefore will never have a decent meal again, never fear your taste buds are safe.  In the next few weeks I will add a note to reviews where I’ve at least made an attempt to secretly make it healthier, I’ll let you know if it worked in regards to flavor and texture and if it made it more difficult.  I will even let you know if anyone said “hey! is this heaaallthy??”  So, set the table and play with your food! Enjoy.

1. Sit down, relax and plan 4-5 meals (or pick some meals from here, that’s what this is here for.  I’ll pick so you don’t have to)

2. Make a grocery list and stick to it!!!! This saves time and money

3. Do the shopping-aim for one trip (My British friends will need to make several trips)

4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy.  Remember that there is such an opportunity to build friendships and family when gathered around a meal.  Even if you mess it all up.  So, just relax, experiment, and have fun.  Don’t forget to include your friends.

The Meals: Note, this week there are many adaptations.  Read the reviews for ingredient lists and changes.

Empanadas – Adapted from Patrick and Gina Neely


Time: 40 Minutes to 1 Hour

Ease: Simple

Review: I would like to try this recipe “as is”, but admit I didn’t.  I like the general idea of this recipe and used ground beef instead.  I used Creme Fraiche in place of cream cheese just because I had it on hand and I have an interesting item called Tomato Powder, it is dehydrated tomatoes and you can use it to make tomato paste or sauce, but i like to just sprinkle it in or on dishes for a little tomatoey zest.  I added about a heaping teaspoon to the mixture.  The results were very nice.

Gyoza  – Adapted from Yo Sushi Cookbook


Time:  30 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review:  When we were in London we discovered this fun restaurant called Yo Sushi.  It has conveyor belts that bring colored bowls around for you to choose from.  Each bowl is a different price.  It was fun and we truly enjoyed the food.  The one item we liked the most was the gyoza (dumplings).  I tried to find an online recipe, but no luck.  In the end I found a cookbook from Yo Sushi and bought the book and I highly recommend it.  It asks you to use authentic Japanese ingredients and is really worth it to find them and think of the entertainment you may provide to the shopkeeper  as you try to locate the ingredients-we sure did!  Keeping it fun!

 I couldn’t locate an online recipe here are the ingredients I used: 2 dried shitake mushrooms soaked in warm water for 10 minutes (reserve liquid to moisten wrappers with), 7 oz of minced chicken, 1/2 leek trimmed and finely chopped, 1 clove garlic crushed, 1 tsp grated fresh ginger root, 1 tsp sesame oil, and 1 tbsp cornflour.  Mix the ingredients together in a bowl.  For instructions on cooking the gyoza visit this link for a recipe from Sandra Lee, it was similar in method.

Note: this is actually a pretty healthy dish the main thing is to watch the salt if adding dipping sauces.  I like to use 2 Tbsp rice vinegar mixed with 3 Tbsp soy sauce and 2-3 drops sesame oil.  Mix well and serve with gyoza.

Meatball Subs


Time: 45 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review:  This dish is a great dish when you are looking for something easy and filling.  For an extra easy meal I’m not above using pre-made spaghetti sauce and there are some really good ones out there, but I am comptlely against frozen meatballs.  They are awful and take as long to bake as the real thing-so make the meatballs.  As for the meatballs I used 1/2 pound of sweet Italian sausage and 1/2 pound of ground beef combined with 1/2 cup bread crumbs, an egg, a dash of milk, 1 tbsp oregano, 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.  Mix well and roll in to balls that will comfortably fit the bun you will use.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Heat the spaghetti sauce in a medium sized pot and add the finished meatballs, mix well.  Fill sub with 3-4 meatballs, top with a little additional sauce.  Top with provolone or your favorite cheese and broil until cheese is melted.  Serve immediately to avoid soggy bread.

Broccoli Rabe, garlic & Pasta


Meatless Monday

Time: 20 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: Well, speaking of Anthony Bourdain, he made something like this on the ABC show “The Taste”.  I looked for a recipe online, but didn’t find exactly what I wanted.  He made it look like a simple dish you through just throw together and many of the recipes made it a lot more complex.  In the end I just did what he said to do.  I sauteed garlic in oil (about 5 cloves), added in about a scant tsp of red pepper flakes and sauteed until colorful and fragrant, then add the chopped broccoli rabe, they usually come in bunches, one bunch served 4.  Remove any leaves if still attached when you purchase it.   Cook until just tender, but still has a little bite to it – about 3-5 minutes.  Meanwhile cook pasta.   Once the the Broccoli Rabe and pasta are done toss together and add salt and pepper to taste and top with a nice cheese.  I chose grana padano.

I will say everyone in my family was surprised by this dish.  They looked at it and said “is that it?” took a bite and said “mmmm, hey this is good!”  So to redeem myself in my earlier omissions of fatty food I admit I served this with sweet Italian sausage that I crumbled and browned.  I put in a bowl on the side to let people choose to go whole hog or not! Pun intended.

Mushroom Soup (Chanterelle Soup)


Time: 20 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: I made this soup a few weeks ago, but didn’t feature it strongly.  I love this soup and could eat it every day!  It is quick, easy and tasty.  Do try it!

A few weeks ago when I made this I shopped for exotic mushrooms since we were having company.  For us-nah, good ole button mushrooms on sale 2 for $4.00 and they worked great!  Either way the soups is good.  My husband said he thought he liked it better!  This is great sitting on the couch or at the table with a nice salad and glass of wine.

Tip: try adding a splash of brandy before serving  you could cut back on the fat by trying milk instead of cream.  Good vegetarian dish.

Photos by lwburbach. Feel free to use photos, but please link back to this blog.- Thank you.

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