Kale and Mushroom Soba Noodle Bowl

Kale and Mushroom Soba Noodle Bowl

Noodle bowls are really popular right now. Do a search on Pinterest and a gabillion entries pop up. Even Panera Bread has jumped on the noodle bowl bandwagon.  Soba noodles are made with buckwheat and are a nice change from rice or wheat noodles. Feel free to experiment with the veggies you use in your soba noodle bowls. I think shredded cabbage would be a nice addition to this particular recipe. A soft boiled egg would be good too.

Have all your ingredients prepped before you start cooking. Once you start, this dish comes together quickly.

Kale and Mushroom Soba Noodle Bowl

8 ounces soba noodles
2 tablespoons oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
4 cups kale, washed, stems removed, and chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sriracha (optional)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
sesame seeds

Cook the soba noodles according to the directions on the package or until done to the preferred tenderness. Drain.

Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, sriracha, and sesame oil. Set the sauce aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wok (or large skillet) over high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for a few seconds. Add the kale, mushrooms, carrot, and zucchini and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add the drained noodles and the sauce and mix well. Cook until heated through and the noodles have had time to soak up the sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

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Roasted Pork Loin in the Crockpot (With a Vietnamese-Inspired Variation)

Crockpot Roast Pork

Happy New Year! I wish each and every one of you peace, happiness, love, and good health in 2015.

I am extremely happy to see 2014 go. It was the worst year. Ever. My oldest son said I say that about every year, but 2014 was truly a shit year. Good riddance! I am looking forward to better days in 2015.

What are your New Year’s Day food traditions? I have eaten black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for as long as I can remember. Greens (either spinach, collards, or cabbage) have become a tradition as well. Hey, I need all the luck and prosperity I can get. Pork is a commonly eaten food on New Year’s Day. I’m not a huge fan of pork, so I don’t typically include it in our New Year’s food tradition. Pork loin was on sale at Publix for $1.99 a pound this week, so we are having roasted pork loin today.

The crockpot is the easiest way to cook large chunks of meat and ensure they come out tender, like fall apart tender.  I almost never cook meats in the oven anymore. Plus, the crockpot is so easy. Did I already mention that? : )

Crockpot Roast Pork (640x480)

Roasted Pork Loin in the Crockpot

Pork loin
salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Place in the crockpot. Add the garlic, balsamic vinegar and water. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. Remove the pork from the crockpot and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting.

Meanwhile, you can make a gravy with the juices in crockpot. Whisk in a slurry of cornstarch and water (about 1 to 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and enough water to make it pourable) into the leftover liquid in the crockpot. Let cook and thicken while the pork is resting. It won’t get very thick. Alternatively, you can make a gravy on the stovetop using the liquid from the crockpot.

Variation: Roasted Pork Loin in the Crockpot with Vietnamese-Inspired Flavors

Roasted Pork Loin in the Crockpot with Vietnamese-Inspired Flavors (640x507)

One of my very favorite Vietnamese dishes is Bún thịt nướng. Bún thịt nướng consists of rice noodles topped with grilled pork and served with a fish sauce and a variety of veggies, peppers, herbs, etc… When I make Bún thịt nướng at home, I marinate the pork in brown sugar, garlic, and fish sauce. The marinade not only makes it taste good, but helps the pork to caramelize when it’s cooked. It’s delicious! Bún thịt nướng was my inspiration for this wonderful way to prepare pork loin in the crockpot.

I don’t usually make a gravy for the pork when I do this version. I strain the leftover liquid from the crockpot and serve it alongside the pork.

Crockpot Roasted Pork Loin with Vietnamese-Inspired Flavors (640x444)

Roasted Pork Loin in the Crockpot with Vietnamese-Inspired Flavors

Pork loin
salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup water

Season the pork loin with salt and pepper. Place in the crockpot and cover in brown sugar. Add the garlic, fish sauce and pepper flakes. Pour the water around the pork loin. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.


Hot Cheesesteak Dip

Hot Cheesesteak Dip

I made this hot dip to take to a New Year’s Eve party. It’s super rich and loaded with beef and cheese. Paired with toasted baguette slices, it tastes just like a cheesesteak sandwich, although not exactly like the cheesesteaks we had in Philadelphia. Cheez Whiz, not provolone, was the “cheese” on the cheesesteaks we had in Philly.  I’m glad I took this to a party and shared it with other people. I could easily see myself eating the whole thing.

Hot Cheesesteak Dip 2

Hot Cheesesteak Dip

1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded, quartered, and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 cups provolone or a mix of provolone and mozzarella, shredded (I found a shredded provolone and mozzarella mix at Target)
8 ounces roast beef (from the grocery store’s deli), sliced thin (not shaved, but not too thick)
salt and pepper, to taste

Baguettes, sliced (and toasted if you like)

Heat the 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the sliced onion and bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until veggies are tender and starting to caramelize. There will be browned spots on the vegetables and that’s fine. Add the minced garlic and cook one minute more. Turn off the heat and let the mixture sit while you prepare the rest of the dip.

In a large bowl, mix the softened cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, provolone cheese together. Season with salt and pepper (I added about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper). Mix in the cooked onion and pepper mixture. Coarsely chop the roast beef and add to the dip. Mix well to combine. Pour the mixture into a small baking dish that has been lightly coasted with cooking spray.

Bake at 375° F. for 20 minutes, or until heated through and slightly browned around the edges. Serve with toasted sliced baguette.

You can prepare this dip up to a day in advance. Cover the dish with foil and place in the refrigerator until ready to bake.