Chicken and Vegetable Potstickers

My family and I love, love, love potstickers! Unfortunately in restaurants they are often made with pork, and I don’t eat pork, and they can be very greasy. I have been trying to make them periodically since we moved back from Hong Kong almost 10 years ago, often without much success. I have followed many recipes and they have all stuck to the pan and were always a disaster. Then a friend’s nanny gave me a cooking lesson on how to make them and that greatly improved my luck with them, so only about half the time they stuck to the pan and fell apart…some work still needed to be done. She also didn’t have a written recipe for me to follow, leading to mixed flavor results as well. A year or two later I had a breakthrough, I bought a non-stick Scan Pan (no they are not paying me…but can if they want to 🙂 ).  Finally the potstickers don’t stick to the pan and fall apart, but the flavor and texture of the filling was not great yet…

Recently I found a terrific recipe from The Woks of Life. I have seriously loved every recipe I have tried from that site! A big thing I learned from this recipe is to stir the chicken and vegetables together with chopsticks until it forms a paste. Bingo! That makes the texture of the filling perfect! I also really like their simple dough recipe. I add a little salt to it since that is the way my friend’s nanny taught me, but otherwise follow their dough recipe. I upped the veggies in the recipe, but otherwise it is pretty true to their recipe.

My finished potstickers. Hopefully someday I will learn to make them prettier, but at least they taste good and don’t fall apart anymore!

Chicken and Vegetable Potstickers

  • Servings: about 48 potstickers
  • Difficulty: difficult
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Amazing chicken and vegetable potstickers, great for an afternoon project with friends or your kids

Credit: The Woks of Life –  Chicken Dumplings with Shiitake Mushrooms 


  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil (I used safflower and olive oil) divided
  • 1 small onion, cut into a small dice
  • 2 large carrots, cut into a small dice
  • 6 large shiitake mushrooms, cut into a small dice
  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted and cut into a small dice
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar of choice (probably fine without if you want to avoid added sugar…but it is a small amount)
  • 2 Tablespoons Shaoxing wine or dry cooking sherry (or use 2 T of the dried mushroom liquid if you don’t want to use anything alcoholic)
  • Fresh ground pepper


  1. Mix 1 Tablespoon of salt with the 1 cup of hot water. Set aside.
  2. Put the flour in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the hot water while mixing it. Turn dough out onto a large cutting board and knead for about 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and not sticky. Add additional water or flour as needed. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and a damp towel. Set aside in a warm part of the kitchen to rest for an hour.
  3. In a large pan heat some oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes or until beginning to soften. Add the carrot and continue to sauté for another 3 minutes or so.  Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so and lastly add the spinach and cook until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and let cool a bit.
  4. Add the chicken to a medium bowl along with the sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, shaoxing wine, several turns of the pepper mill, and 2 more Tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add the slightly cooled vegetables and mix vigorously with two chopsticks until the mixture forms a paste. (A spoon really doesn’t do the trick) Cover the chicken mixture and refrigerate for a bit while you wait for the dough to finish resting.
  5. Divide the dough into three equal parts. Work with one part at a time, keeping the rest covered, and roll the dough into a log. Cut the log into equal pieces.
  6. Roll each piece of dough into a rough circle about 3 1/2 inches in diameter. We often have one person rolling the dough and one filling them with the chicken mixture so the dough doesn’t sit out too long and dry out.
  7. Drop about 2 Tablespoons of the chicken mixture in the middle of each dough circle, rub a little water around the perimeter of the dough, then fold dough in half and pleat the potsticker to ensure it is completely sealed. Dust bottom with a little flour and set on a parchment or silpat lined tray (something that will fit in your freezer if you plan on freezing some). Don’t let the potstickers touch each other. Here is a video on different ways to fold the wrapper.
  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 until all the dough and/or filling is used up. Now you can either cook them or freeze them raw to use at a later date. If you freeze them lay them single layer in the freezer for a few hours and when frozen transfer to a ziplock freezer bag. I usually freeze some and cook some.
  9. To cook the potstickers, whether fresh or frozen, it is really important to use a non-stick pan. Add a little oil to the pan and heat it on medium high heat. Add the potstickers to the pan so that they are not touching each other. Allow to fre for a few minutes, or until the bottoms become lightly golden brown.
  10. Add warm water to the pan, about a 1/4 inch up the side of the pan. Cover the pan until the water is nearly steamed off. Uncover and allow the potstickers to continue cooking and browning on the bottom. When all the water is gone and the bottoms are crispy remove from the pan.
  11. Serve with dipping sauce and Enjoy! Here is a really good dipping sauce from The Woks of Life.    August 2, 2019




Chicken and Vegetable Japchae

The usual quandary of what to cook tonight was worse than normal…I felt really stuck today! I think this was because we came back a week ago from our trip to Japan, which was amazing, but we ate so many gourmet and LARGE Japanese meals, and then on top of that this past weekend we went to Sonoma and ate an incredible 11 course meal at Single Thread, I just feel stuffed and want something light but also teen son friendly. Uninspired, I took my daily trip to the grocery store and bought some boneless, skinless chicken breasts, since I have mostly been eating fish (a lot) and beef.  I really had only a vague idea of what I was going to do with them, maybe some generic asian marinade, leftover brussel sprouts and rice? Not exciting by any means. Then a delicious Korean recipe popped into my inbox from The Woks of Life.  I made a few changes, such as doubling the recipe, exchanging chicken for the beef, using the vegetables in my refrigerator, and using shirataki noodles instead of the traditional dangmyeon (sweet potato starch noodles).  We all really liked it and I hope you do too. Enjoy!

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Chicken and Vegetable Japchae

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: pretty easy
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Fairly quick and healthy Korean vegetable, chicken and noodle dish.

Credit: Japchae: Korean Glass Noodle Stir Fry from The Woks of Life


  • 2 – 7 ounce packages of shirataki konjac pasta (I used Miracle Noodle brand that I bought at Whole Foods)
  • About 3/4 pound of boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced very thin
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 teaspoons of coconut palm (or whatever kind you prefer) sugar, divided
  • ~1 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper, divided
  • 7 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sesame oil, divided
  • oil of choice for cooking (a neutral oil is best, like safflower oil)
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • 3 medium carrots, julienned
  • 3 stalks of celery, julienned
  • 4 shiitake mushrooms, sliced and cut into thin strips
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • handful of lacinato kale, de-stemmed and sliced into thin strips
  • 5 scallions, cut into 2-inch long pieces and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds


  1. Rinse the noodles in water and cook according to the package directions. Drain. Mix together 1 Tablespoon sesame oil, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon sugar. Pour onto the noodles and mix well. Set noodles aside.
  2. Mix 2 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 2 Tablespoons soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a medium bowl. Add the sliced chicken, stir well and set aside.
  3. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a bit of oil to pan and spread. When oil is hot add the carrot, celery and onion to the skillet and cook until tender but still a bit crunchy. Remove from pan and place in a large bowl.
  4. Add a little more oil and cook the mushrooms until browned. Remove from pan and place in bowl with carrot mixture.
  5. Add a little more oil and cook the bell peppers until tender but crunchy, add the remaining garlic, kale and scallions. Cook until kale is wilted, then remove from pan and add to the carrot mixture in the bowl.
  6. Turn the heat up to high, and add a little more oil if needed. Cook half the thinly sliced chicken until slightly browned, then add to the bowl of vegetables.  Cook the other half of the chicken and add to the bowl.
  7. Add the noodles and sesame seeds to the bowl.
  8.  In a small bowl whisk together 4 teaspoons sugar, 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, 4 Tablespoons soy sauce and 1 Tablespoon sesame oil. Pour into the vegetable, noodle and chicken mixture and stir well.
  9. Serve in bowls. Enjoy!


  • I made this with the vegetables in my refrigerator – carrots, celery, kale, cremini mushrooms and brussel sprouts, and it was delicious. I think the vegetables you use are pretty flexible, good dish to make to clean out the produce drawer.
  • This traditionally is made with dangmyeon – which are sweet potato starch noodles. I made this with Shirataki noodles, feel free to use what you like and experiment.
  • This also is traditionally made with a little thinly sliced beef, I really enjoyed it with chicken though. I think it would also be delicious vegetarian as well (maybe add tofu or egg strips).

April 17, 2019


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Update July 2019:  I made this with beef and vegetables and it was quite good.  Here is a picture of the vegetables I had that day and the finished dish.


Dijon Chicken Stew with Kale and Butternut Squash

This is based on an old Cooking Light recipe haven’t made in years but tried it recently when we were in the mountains skiing and thought it was worthy to post. It is wonderful cold weather comfort food that is also healthy and nutritious. I made it in a dutch oven but it also works well to throw it in a crock pot and leave it to cook while you go about your day.

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Dijon Chicken Stew with Kale and Butternut Squash

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
  • Print

Healthy and hearty winter vegetable and chicken stew


  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups of sliced leeks
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour, plus one tablespoon
  • 1 lb skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • 4 cups fat-free, low sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 can low-sodium garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 2 cups)
  • 5 large cremini mushrooms, sliced in large chunks
  • 8 cups of loosely packed torn kale (one large bunch)
  • crushed red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. Heat a little oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Sauté the leek for about 6 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. Add garlic and sauté for a minute. Spoon leek mixture into a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Place 1/3 cup of flour in a shallow bowl and dredge chicken in the flour, shaking off the excess flour.
  5. Heat a little oil in the dutch oven and add half of the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken with a little salt and pepper and cook for about 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Add browned chicken to leek mixture and repeat with rest of chicken.
  6. Add the wine to the pan, scraping pan to loosen the browned bits.
  7. Combine 1 cup of broth and 1 tablespoon of flour. Stir with a whisk until smooth.
  8. Add the broth mixture, remaining broth, and mustard to the pot and bring to a boil.
  9. Stir in the chicken mixture, garbanzo beans, butternut squash, and mushrooms and cover, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
  10. Add the kale and simmer for 10 more minutes or until the butternut squash is tender and the kale is wilted. Garnish with crushed red pepper flakes and add additional salt and pepper if needed.
  11. Serve in bowls and Enjoy!    February 24, 2018


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Asian Chicken Salad

I rarely buy Trader Joes bagged salad mixes, but for some reason the Cruciferous Crunch Collection with shredded kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, green and red cabbage looked really good today. Then there was the problem of what on earth am I going to make out of this? I had an “ah ha moment” when I realized that the real reason I was going to Trader Joes was to pick up some chicken to make homemade chicken soup for my sick child. Then the perfect idea came to me, Asian chicken salad with the extra chicken from the soup, perfect! This only serves 2-3, so double the recipe if you are feeding 4 adults, or use it this way if it is just a side dish for 4-6 people. I hope you enjoy this very crunchy light meal!

Asian Chicken Salad

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Healthy and quick take on Asian Chicken Salad


  • 3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh minced or bottled minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 cup shredded cooked chicken breast
  • 10 oz package of shredded vegetables such as a mixture of kale, brussels sprouts, red and green cabbage, broccoli, etc.
  • 1 large shredded carrot
  • 1 chopped bell pepper (I used orange for color)
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds, lightly toasted


  1. Whisk the vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, orange juice, ginger, and honey in a small bowl.
  2. Lightly roast the almonds in the oven.
  3. Pour the chicken and salad ingredients into a large bowl and mix.
  4. Add the dressing and toss the salad with the dressing.  Add the almonds and toss again.
  5. Serve into bowls and Enjoy!    February 7, 2018


Braised Santa Fe Chicken Bowl

I braised the chicken and vegetables in a ceramic dutch oven, but the inspiration recipe cooks it in a crock pot. Either way, this is a pretty easy and healthy recipe that you can throw together the night before or in the morning and cook all day in a crock pot or for a couple of hours in a dutch oven. I made this very mild so the spice phobe will eat it and the rest of us can add chopped chili peppers at the table, but if you don’t have any spice phobes it would certainly be better with spicy peppers cooked in it!

Braised Santa Fe Chicken Bowl

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Healthy chicken breast braised with onions, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, and corn for an easy make-ahead meal .

Credit: adapted from Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken on 


  • 1 quart of no-salt or low-sodium chicken stock (or broth)
  • 1 small sweet onion chopped (or half a large onion)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large bell peppers (whatever color you like) chopped
  • 2 jalapeños chopped (seeded if you want less heat)
  • 2 ears of fresh corn, shucked and cut off the cob
  • 1 – 14.4 oz. can of no salt added roasted tomatoes with the liquid
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or fresh, use a few sprigs and pull the stems out before serving)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken breast meat, sliced in quarters (can leave whole if you are willing to cook a longer time or are putting in a crock pot all day)
  • 1 – 14.4 oz can of no salt added black beans, drained and rinsed
  • chopped romaine lettuce (about 1 cup/person)
  • *Mexican brown rice (or whatever you prefer)
  • approx. 1 cup of shredded mixed Mexican cheese blend (or cheddar) –  Optional
  • guacamole, diced tomatoes and a few pieced of chopped cilantro as a topping — optional

*Mexican Brown Rice:  Cook rice with 1/2 water and 1/2 chicken broth, 1 tsp of chili powder, 1/2 tsp cumin and a shake of oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste and cook according to rice package directions (I like to use a rice cooker).


  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a large dutch oven combine chicken stock, onions, garlic, bell pepper, jalapeños, corn, tomatoes with their liquid, and spices. Mix well and then add chicken.
  3. With the lid on the dutch oven, put the chicken mixture into the the oven for an hour and stir it occasionally.
  4. After the first hour check that it has not become too dry, there still should be plenty of liquid in there. Add the black beans and cook another 30 minutes without the lid, or until the chicken is falling apart and the liquid has mostly evaporated and the dish looks more like a stew and less like a soup.
  5. Remove pot from oven and let cool for a few minutes.
  6. Serve by first layering a cup of chopped lettuce, a 1/4 – 1/2 cup rice, 1/4 to 1/2 cup  of the chicken mixture, a sprinkling of cheese, a dollop of guacamole, a sprinkling of diced tomatoes and a few sprigs of cilantro.
  7. Enjoy!

Note:  This can also be put into a tortilla and eaten like a taco; or put into corn tortillas with a spicy red Mexican sauce and melted cheese to make it enchiladas; or spread chicken mixture over tortilla chips and melt cheese over it for nachos. It would also be very nice as a vegetarian dish with extra vegetables and sub the chicken stock for vegetable stock and leave the chicken out. The possibilities are endless!

October 24, 2017

The vegetables and broth
The chicken mixture after cooking.
Ready to serve!

Braised Chicken with Oven Roasted Vegetables

Braised Chicken with Oven Roasted Vegetables

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Extremely flavorful chicken and vegetable dish that can be fancy enough for company or simple enough for a weeknight meal



  • safflower seed oil or other high smoke point oil
  • 3-4 pieces of bone-in, skin-on chicken
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock or broth
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • handful of fresh sage leaves
  • few sprigs of fresh oregano
  • 2 Tablespoons of fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 5 spring onions (or scallions if you can’t find spring onions), bulbs only sliced thinly, green parts left long
  • 6 large carrots, 2 peeled and cut into thirds, and the others peeled and left whole
  • 2 cups mixed color baby potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower (or more if you are serving more people), washed and cut into large chunks
  • 2 Tablespoons capers
  • olive oil


  1. Heat a large dutch oven on the stove over medium high heat. Add a little oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan and when sizzling add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides. Remove browned chicken from pan and set aside.
  2. Wipe off any extra oil in dutch oven and then place chicken back into it along with broth, wine, herbs, carrots that have been cut into thirds, sliced onion bulbs and capers. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer.Braise the chicken for 40 minutes or until fully cooked. Remove chicken and vegetables from the liquid.
  3. Reduce the liquid until about 1 cup or so. Set pot aside.
  4. While chicken is braising, heat oven to 500 degrees. Spray cooking spray on a baking sheet and place potatoes on the sheet. Sprinkle olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and some rosemary on the potatoes and roast in the oven until partially cooked, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees F and add cauliflower, whole carrots and sprinkle with more olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs and roast 10 more minutes, then add cooked chicken, skin side up and cook 8 more minutes or until all vegetables are tender and slightly browned and the chicken is crisped.
  5. Remove chicken and vegetables from oven and arrange on a platter. Serve with the reduced liquid on the side. Enjoy!

March 5, 2017




Browning the chicken.
I saw these spring onions in the store and just had to buy them. They are so beautiful!
Braising the chicken.
Chicken and vegetables ready to serve.
Purple potato. So crazy how bright purple these are!

Chicken Stir-Fry with Asparagus and Cashews

After yesterday’s risotto, I decided today should be an easy and simple dinner. I found this recipe on Food and Wine. For once I think I actually followed the recipe without adding or deleting anything. My creativity was lagging I guess or maybe it was that the recipe just looked perfect that way it was for a Thursday dinner. I think I start to burn out a little as the week goes on…

Anyway, the dish in all its simplicity was just right. The hubby and kiddo both seemed to like it and one of them even had seconds, so I think it went over well. Happily tomorrow is Friday, dinner out night. As much as I enjoy cooking and creating new dishes, I need a creative break sometimes.

Chicken Stir-Fry with Asparagus and Cashews

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Simple and easy Thai chicken stir-fry. Great for a weeknight.


  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons of Asian fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil of choice (today I used Safflower oil because it has a high smoke point, low saturated fat and is high in healthy fats.
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1 pound asparagus, sliced on the diagonal, 1 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chives, chopped
  • freshly ground pepper


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spread the cashews on a pan and toast in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until they are slightly browned and fragrant. Set aside and let cool.
  3. In a medium bowl toss the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce. In a wok or large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken in an even layer (I made two batches so I didn’t overcrowd the pan) and cook over high heat, turning once, until browned and just cooked throughout, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked chicken to a clean bowl.
  4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of fish sauce to the pan along with the stock, oyster sauce, lime juice and cayenne pepper. Simmer until the sauce is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 2 minutes. Return the chicken pieces and sliced asparagus to the pan and toss to heat through. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cashews, basil and chives. Season with freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately over fresh brown steamed rice.
  5. Food and Wine suggests serving with a spicy, full-bodied Syrah. We drank a full-bodied white Burgundy with this dish and it was delicious.

February 23, 2017

Mise en place. This was emphasized excessively at the Culinary Institute of Arts (CIA) program that I recently undertook. They are so right! Get everything prepped ahead of time.
Browning the chicken


Reducing the sauce
Finished product. Yum!


Same basic recipe with shrimp, broccoli, mixed mushrooms and bell peppers.
Shrimp version – Yum!

Chicken and Vegetable Curry

Well it is nearing the end of the hectic holidays and I have not had much time to post recipes. My daughter and I made this over a week ago in the mountains, and it was very delicious and warming so I am posting it today as I finally have a few free minutes! The recipe is pretty much following the original except that I have reduced the amount of chicken and added a lot more vegetables.

Chicken and Vegetable Curry

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Very good and fairly simple chicken and vegetable curry based on a recipe by Craig Claiborne in the New York Times Cooking.


  • 2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut in serving-sized pieces
  • 1/3 cup shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 teaspoons garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 5 tablespoons curry powder (NOTE: If using Indian-style curry powder you may want to reduce the quantity as it is generally stronger in flavor than Malaysian curry powder.)
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • vegetable oil
  • 1/2 small sweet onion, sliced in large chunks
  • 3 cardamom pods with husks
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 broken piece of star anise
  • 1  2 inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of light coconut milk
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced in bite-sized chunks
  • 1/2 pound mixed baby potatoes sliced in half


  1. Cut the chicken and vegetables.
  2. Put the chopped shallots, half of the garlic, ginger, curry powder and 1/3 cup of water in a blender and blend thoroughly. Set the curry paste aside.
  3. Heat a little oil in a large and deep skillet or sauté pan. Add the sliced onions, remaining garlic, cardamom, cloves, star anise, cinnamon stick, salt and pepper. Sauté for a few minutes until shallots and garlic become soft. Add the reserved curry paste and cook for about one minute, stirring constantly. Add the coconut milk and 1/2 cup of water and stir.
  4. Bring the mixture to a vigorous boil and cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken pieces and stir until well coated. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2/3 cup of water, cauliflower, carrots and potatoes. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, about 25 to 30 minutes or until the chicken and vegetables are cooked and tender.
  6.  Serve over rice (I made a simple wild rice blend in the rice cooker). Enjoy!

December 30, 2016

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Tamale Cooking Project

We were in the mountains and were looking for something to do instead of skiing so we decided to make tamales and gingerbread cookies. Oh my, this was a bit too much to take on in one day, but we did it and dirtied every dish in the house in the process! My daughter made the gingerbread cookies, so I will try to get the recipe from her and share that later. Together we made the tamales. We decided we would try to please everyone, so we made four different fillings: Vegetables and black beans, Braised chicken with cheese, Braised chicken without cheese, and Beef and cheese (we had leftover beef from tacos the night before). This is only the second time that we have made tamales, the first being some years ago, so we are not very experienced at this but I decided to post it so I can share it with others and give people the courage to try this, and so I can re-visit the recipe in the future in order to make it again and improve the recipe over time. The recipe may be a little vague as I winged a lot of it. I think I would not braise the chicken if I made this again, instead I would bake it or sauté it in a fry pan with the vegetables. I think that would add a lot of flavor. The ground beef I used for a few Aidan-friendly tamales was leftover from last night’s ground beef taco dinner, so that was the easy part.


Some of the tamales before cooking them

Chicken and Vegetable Tamales

  • Servings: made about 20 tamales
  • Difficulty: difficult
  • Print

Healthy Chicken and Vegetable Tamales and Vegetarian Tamales for a fun afternoon cooking project.

Tamale dough recipe from  Mexico in My Kitchen


Tamale Dough (makes 16-20 tamales)

  • 2 1/2 cups of masa harina (corn flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup of canola oil
  • 1 3/4 cup of warm low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

Vegetable Filling (for about 6 tamales)

  • 1 cup of sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 2 large mushrooms, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, diced
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of refried black beans

Chicken and vegetable Filling (for about 12 tamales)

  • 1 pound of boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 4 large mushrooms, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Poblano peppers
  • 2 Anaheim peppers
  • 4 cups of fresh spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (may be better with jack cheese?)
    • Note: may need more cheese if you are putting it in all of your tamales, we just put it in half of them.

Corn Husks – have at least 24 on hand as some may be small or torn

Tomatillo Sauce – this is very approximate

  • 1 pound of tomatillos, quartered
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, diced
  • 1 serrano pepper, diced
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Soak the corn husks in hot water for at least 30 minutes and then drain.
  2. Chicken and vegetable filling:
    1. In a medium sized pot add the chicken breast meat and the next 11 ingredients (through bay leaves). Bring to a boil and then partially cover and simmer 30 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
    2. While the chicken and vegetables are cooking, broil the Anaheim and Poblano peppers until the skin is blackened. Turn so all sides are blackened then let cool in a paper bag or foil. When cool peel off the skin and remove the seeds. Chop roughly.
    3. Let the chicken cool slightly in the liquid.
    4. Remove the chicken and vegetables, shred the chicken and mix with the vegetables in a large bowl. Add the broiled peppers and shredded cheese if using. Set aside.
    5. Drain the remaining broth through cheese cloth and reserve the broth for another use or use it in your dough recipe.
    6. NOTE:  I think this was pretty good, but next time for more flavor I would try sautéing all the vegetables together and then separating out 3/4 of the vegetables for the vegetarian filling and using 1/4 of them with the chicken. I would probably just bake the chicken and then dice it up.
  3. Vegetable filling:
    1. Heat a large pan on medium-high heat. Add a small amount of olive oil and coat the bottom of the pot. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, mushroom, zucchini, jalapeño, spices and salt and pepper and sauté for 8 minutes or until softened. Add spinach and cook for 2 more minutes.
    2. Put the cooked vegetables in a bowl and stir in the black beans (and cheese if using) and then set aside.
  4. Tomatillo Sauce:
    1. Put all ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
    2. Pour cooked ingredients into a blender and blend until sauce is slightly chunky but thoroughly mixed. Pour into a serving bowl and set aside.
  5. Dough:
    1. In a large bowl mix the masa harina, baking powder and salt with a whisk.
    2. Add the canola oil and mix with a spoon or spatula.
    3. Add the warm chicken broth and continue to mix. You may need to add a few tablespoons more of the broth to get the right consistency. You want the dough to be creamy like soft ice cream. Set aside.
  6. Assembling the tamales and cooking them:
    1. Using your pre-soaked but dry corn husks, lay one husk out with the pointy end pointing at you. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the dough in the top middle of the husk forming a large oval.
    2. Add about 2 tablespoons of your filling on top of the dough, leaving some margin of plain dough on the perimeter.
    3. Fold one side of the husk to the center, fold the other side to the center overlapping the husk, then fold the bottom pointy end towards the center. Place on a plate while you assemble the rest.
    4. NOTE:  We kept the different types of tamales on different plates and then put different food coloring dots on them to color code them so after steaming we knew what each one had in it.
    5. After filling all of the tamales, prepare your steamer. Fill your pot to just under the steamer insert and heat to boiling. Put all of your tamales in the steamer standing up, with the closed side pointing down and the open side pointing up. Put a layer of extra corn husks on top and cover tightly with a lid. Cook on medium heat for 75 minutes, checking periodically to add water if needed (you don’t want the pot to run dry).
    6. To make sure your tamales are finished cooking you should be able to easily remove the husk from the dough and the dough should feel firm.
    7. Serve with the tomatillo sauce. Peel open the husk and enjoy!

December 22, 2016


Chopping the vegetarian tamale ingredients
The onions and garlic in the pot for the chicken and vegetable tamales. I should have diced the onions and minced the garlic, so that is now how the recipe reads.
The finished chicken and vegetable mixture. 
Roasted peppers
Tamale dough. Not quite creamy enough yet.
Tomatillo Sauce cooking. We blended it first and then cooked, but I think that was a mistake so I am now recommending cooking first and blending second.
Spreading the dough on the corn husk. A larger disk of dough would be better. There was a learning curve!
We found that spreading the dough with a spatula worked the best. 
Our cooked and color-coded tamales. The food coloring was a bit messy.  The pumpkin-gingerbread cookies are also on display. Yum!
Chicken, vegetable and cheese tamale out of the corn husk.
Chicken, vegetable and cheese tamale with some tomatillo sauce. 


Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)

Cold days call for warm soup, at least in my house. This is the second time I have made this soup, adapted from a Food and Wine recipe, and it is really a lovely warming soup to eat when the temperature drops. I made the recipe with a few modifications. The recipe called for chicken thighs, but I really don’t care for dark meat chicken so I used organic skinless, boneless chicken breasts; I also couldn’t find the specific type of thai chili paste, so I used the one I had in my fridge (Thai Kitchen brand roasted red chili paste); I didn’t have kaffir lime leaves so I substituted a tablespoon of grated lime zest; and lastly Whole Foods didn’t have thai chilies, so I substituted serrano peppers. If I had been more motivated I could have found these items at another grocery store, but I wanted to keep things quick and simple. Despite the substitutions the soup turned out very well, I got a thumbs up from 2/3 of us (I left the serranos out of the spice-phobe’s soup, he found the soup just “okay”). I have no idea why my soup came out whiter than the Food and Wine picture, maybe it was the different chili paste I used? I served the soup with some plain brown jasmine rice and broccoli roasted in the oven with olive oil, squeeze of lime, garlic, salt and pepper.
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Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Sweet and spicy coconut chicken soup to warm you on a cold day.

Adapted from Food and Wine magazine, May 2016.


  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, trimmed and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
  • 3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons Thai chili paste (The original recipe calls for Nam Prik Pao — which is a sweet and spicy Thai condiment. I couldn’t find this at my local store so I used Thai Kitchen brand roasted red chili paste)
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of finely grated lime zest (original recipe calls for 2 kaffir lime leaves, but these are not easy to find, so I use grated lime zest).
  • 1 stalk fresh lemongrass, tender inner white part only, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Two 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk (I used the lite type)
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 Serrano peppers, seeded and very thinly sliced on the diagonal, plus more for garnish if desired (original recipe calls for Thai chiles, but they are hard to find).
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Limes wedges, for serving


  1. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the fish sauce.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the chicken broth or stock with the chili paste, sugar, lime leaves and lemongrass and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Stir in the coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken and fish sauce to the saucepan along with the shiitakes and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the lime leaves (if using lime leaves). Stir in the lime juice and chiles and season with salt. Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle the soup with the cilantro and serve with lime wedges and sliced chiles.

December 5, 2016

Lemongrass. Just use the tender white part you see here.
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