Sliced Tomato Salad with Cucumber Onion Marinade

Side Dish | April 17, 2017 | By

Sliced tomatoes topped with a chopped cucumbers and onion in a tangy marinade. This sliced tomato salad is so fresh and comes together in a snap. Perfect for a warm summer day!

Sliced Tomato Salad with Cucumber Onion Marinade- Sliced tomatoes topped with a chopped cucumbers and onion in a tangy marinade. This sliced tomato salad is so fresh and comes together in a snap.

Sliced Tomato Salad with Cucumber Onion Marinade- Sliced tomatoes topped with a chopped cucumbers and onion in a tangy marinade. This sliced tomato salad is so fresh and comes together in a snap.

Summer is coming. Yesterday I was outside and it was already HOT! When I was living in Utah, the summer was hot hot hot but at least it was dry. Here in Kansas it’s hot and humid which means it’s 10x worse. Can you tell I hate the heat?

One redeeming quality of summer is the fresh produce. Farmers markets are in full swing and you can get all sorts of local food, grown just down the road. It seems like the shorter the distance a veggie travels, the yummier it is.

Today I want to share with you one of my favorite salads. A sliced tomato salad! And it’s absolutely perfect for summer.

If you get the tomatoes and cucumber from your garden, then you get double, no… TRIPLE the points! I am a lazy homemaker, and I don’t have a garden. I want one, really bad. But when I think about the initial time investment to set it up and actually learn how to garden… I keep putting it off. Actually, I might be coming up on “too late”, for this season.

Sliced Tomato Salad with Cucumber Onion Marinade- Sliced tomatoes topped with a chopped cucumbers and onion in a tangy marinade. This sliced tomato salad is so fresh and comes together in a snap.

My mom always has a garden, and up until we moved a couple states over, I got to eat fresh backyard cherry tomatoes. Probably my favorite vegetable. It’s so sweet, it could almost be called a fruit. Wait… wait, tomatoes are technically a fruit. Hmm…

Anyways, the cucumber onion marinade on top is so simple, yet so perfect. It’s a combination of just a few ingredients, and you can easily adjust it to fit your tastes.

Sliced Tomato Salad with Cucumber Onion Marinade- Sliced tomatoes topped with a chopped cucumbers and onion in a tangy marinade. This sliced tomato salad is so fresh and comes together in a snap.

This recipe calls for rice vinegar, which is often used in Japanese cooking. I use Marukan brand(affiliate link). Just make sure you get UNSEASONED. If you get seasoned, well, you would just need to change the amounts of seasonings listed in the recipe, and adjust it to suit your tastes.

Japanese rice vinegar is less acidic and “sweeter” than white vinegars and other Western vinegars, so keep that in mind if you are switching up the recipe.

 

Sliced Tomato Salad with Cucumber Onion Marinade- Sliced tomatoes topped with a chopped cucumbers and onion in a tangy marinade. This sliced tomato salad is so fresh and comes together in a snap.
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Sliced Tomato Salad with Cucumber Onion Marinade

Sliced tomatoes topped with a chopped cucumbers and onion in a tangy marinade. This sliced tomato salad is so fresh and comes together in a snap. Perfect for a warm summer day!

Course Salad, Side Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 194 kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1/2 English/hothouse cucumber
  • 1/4 sweet onion
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 T sugar
  • 2 t salt or more, to taste

Instructions

  1. Slice tomatoes to 1/2 inch thickness, and place in a single layer on a large plate with raised edges (to hold in the marinade). Dice the cucumber and sweet onion. Combine the olive oil, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt, and stir to fully combine. Put the cucumber and onion in the marinade and stir to coat. Optional: set aside for a few minutes to marinate. 

    Spoon marinade, cucumber, and onions onto the tomatoes and serve.

Recipe Notes

This recipe is very adaptable. Your can adjust the amount of cucumbers vs. onions, the size you cut them, and the amount of sugar and salt to suit your tastes.

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Baked Soy Sauce Sticky Wings

Main, Side Dish | January 2, 2017 | By

These soy sauce sticky wings are baked, but SO crispy, with a sweet and salty glaze. 

Baked soy sauce sticky wings

Baked soy sauce sticky wings

I didn’t eat my first wings until college. I’m not even kidding! I grew up in America and I never ever had wings! My mom is anti having bones in chicken, so I just never had the opportunity to eat it. My husband introduced me to wings when we were dating, and I haven’t looked back since.

Well, no, that’s not completely true. My first few times eating it I was apprehensive, because… there are BONES in this chicken and I am picking meat off the BONES, whaaaat?! But then I got over it, because it’s so delicious.

Baked soy sauce sticky wings

Anyways, I don’t really like to fry food when I don’t have to because, while delicious, it’s kind of a lot of work! I’ve fried wings before and they turn out… okay. Not as crispy as I would like. So, whoda thought that BAKING wings can make super super crispy yummy wings?! I discovered the recipe on The Cookful and now it’s my go to method for making wings!

The glaze is a simple but delicious combo of soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil. Soy sauce and sugar is seriously one of my favorite combinations (remember these gnocchi mochi?), and you basically can’t go wrong with it. Unless you burn the glaze. That would be very wrong.

Baked soy sauce sticky wings

So, one thing to note… baking wings takes time! BUT let’s not forget that it’s hands off time. You just pop it in the oven, and there’s one temperature change. That’s it! No slaving over hot oil! If you haven’t tried baking wings yet, you HAVE to give it a try!

Baked soy sauce sticky wings
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Baked Soy Sauce Sticky Wings

These wings are baked, but SUPER crispy, and tossed in an irresistible soy sauce-sugar glaze.  

Course dinner
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 20 wings

Ingredients

  • 2 lb chicken wings
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 4 T soy sauce
  • 3 T sugar
  • drizzle sesame oil to taste
  • sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Place a cooking rack in a sheet pan. In a large bowl, toss the chicken with 1 T baking powder (not soda!!!) to evenly coat. Place the wings on the cooking rack, and bake for 30 minutes. Then, without opening the oven, turn the heat up to 425 degrees F. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until they are crispy and golden. 

  2. When wings are done, or just about done, start making the glaze. In a small saucepan, heat the soy sauce and sugar over medium heat and stir until sugar is completely melted. Allow the mixture to simmer and thicken, about 5 minutes, and add a drizzle of sesame oil, to taste. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with the wings. Serve topped with sesame seeds!

Recipe Notes

Baking wings recipe from: The Cookful.

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Perfect Umami Puffs

Side Dish | December 12, 2016 | By

Perfect Umami Puffs

Perfect Umami Puffs

Umami- different from savory… not exactly “salty”, but a flavor profile that brings a depth and deliciousness to foods. You’ll find it in soy sauce, anchovies, tomatoes, parmesan, and these umami puffs. These puffs are topped with umami filled crimini mushrooms, bacon, caramelized onions, and parmesan cheese. Each ingredient is delicious on it’s own, and with their combined powers… oh boy.

Sure, caramelizing onions can take a while, but they are well worth the effort. I always find myself picking at pieces to see “if they are done yet”… like every few seconds. As a matter of fact, I can single handedly eat an entire onions worth in one sitting. Yeah, a whole onion.

Perfect Umami Puffs

To make up for the caramelizing onions taking forever, I used puff pastry to make things quick once you have your ingredients assembled. Just spoon the mixture on the dough and throw it in the oven!

There is just so much umami flavor in these little puffs, I dare you to stop at one! They are perfect for party appetizers, or as a side with your dinner. Or… well, you could even eat these as a light dinner on their own!

Ok, and for those of you who don’t like mushrooms… ugh, come on, they are SO good! But, I guess you can leave them out. I think you should try it though, just chop it up smaller and you will forget they are there (maybe)!

Perfect Umami Puffs

You can make the filling earlier in the day and just pop it on the puff pastry and throw it into the oven right before your guests arrive! Try this at your holiday party!

 

Perfect Umami Puffs
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Perfect Umami Puffs

Full of umami packed ingredients, these puffs are perfect for a party appetizer or side dish.

Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Prep Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 12 pieces

Ingredients

  • 2 large onions
  • 1 T butter
  • balsamic vinegar, white wine, or chicken stock for deglazing pan
  • 10 crimini mushrooms
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • 1 t balsamic vinegar
  • 5 slices thick cut bacon
  • parmesan cheese for topping
  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. Caramelize the onions: Thinly slice the onions and heat a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Melt the butter and add the sliced onions. Stir occasionally, and cook until onions are soft, caramelized, and a nice brown color. If frond is sticking to the bottom of the pan and won't come up with stirring, add a small splash of balsamic vinegar (or chicken stock or white wine), and deglaze the pan. Onions are done when they are very soft and sweet, about 40 minutes to an hour.

  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Take puff pastry out of freezer and set aside to thaw. Chop the bacon and cook over medium heat until crispy. Quarter (or cut into sixth for larger pieces) the mushrooms and saute in 1 T of left over bacon grease (or regular oil such as canola) over medium heat. When softened, add balsamic vinegar and dried thyme and stir, cooking for a minute or two longer. 

  3. When puff pastry is sufficiently defrosted, unfold and lay out on a cutting board. Cut each sheet into 6 squares. Taking a paring knife, cut another square inside each square, about 1/2 inch in from each side. We want to set the filling on the smaller square and have the sides puff up around it. Beat the egg with a splash of water and using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash onto the puff pastry (you can just do the outer portion since the middle will be covered with the onion mixture). Combine caramelized onions, bacon, and mushrooms in a bowl, and spoon onto the centers of each puff. 

  4. Bake in oven until lightly browned and puffed, about ten minutes. Remove from oven and grate parmesan cheese over each piece. 

Recipe Notes

Feel free to change the amounts of each ingredient according to taste. 

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Simmered Kabocha Squash (Kabocha no Nimono)

Side Dish | November 10, 2016 | By

Simmered Kabocha Squash aka kabocha no nimono

Simmered Kabocha Squash (kabocha no nimono)

So I’ve been on a bit of a kabocha kick lately, and I think a part of the reason is because I keep seeing pumpkin recipes all over, and every time I see a pumpkin recipe I think to myself… Oh man, kabocha is so much better than pumpkin (sorrynotsorry). This time I’m sharing a savory dish with you! Kabocha is naturally quite sweet, so the savory applications are extra delicious. What’s better than sweet, and what’s better than savory? Sweet AND savory. Okay, maybe all three of those things are good, and it just depends on your mood. BUT I promise you that you’ll be in the mood for this simmered kabocha, aka kabocha no nimono.

kabocha squash

Nimono basically means simmered dish (which is why I called this simmered kabocha! Bam!) , and it is a very common food genre in Japan. There are allll types of nimono, with the basic recipe being stock, and things being simmered, whether it’s one thing or a combination of several. Pretty straight forward. What makes nimono SO good and comforting is that with the simmering, your food really soaks in the delicious stock flavor. I like it even better when I make it ahead and let it sit for a while for ultimate. flavor.

Simmered Kabocha Squash (kabocha no nimono)

The extra special thing about this dish is the ratio we use. It’s so easy I could tell you once and you’ll remember. Okay here it is: 100 to 1. As in, 100ml of water to one tablespoon each of the flavoring. The ingredients might be a little harder to remember, if you don’t use them often in the kitchen, but even then it’s very straight forward. Sugar, sake, mirin, soy sauce, and that’s it. Just mix with water and bring to a simmer. Add your chopped kabocha and simmer away until you can easily pierce it through. And then, if you planned ahead and have some time, you can let it sit for a bit to soak in the flavor. Just reheat and eat!

Here’s a little picture to show you how I had my lid on, but slightly propped open. Isn’t this little guy cute? My husband brought it home from a business trip in Hong Kong. You can either just slightly offset your lid so there’s a little steam escaping, or you can use one of those lids that has a little steam escapey hole on it. Traditionally you should use an otoshibuta but I don’t have one and usually can’t be bothered to make one, so I don’t. I dunno, maybe it will turn out better for you if you do! But don’t stress, this recipe is easy and forgiving to make, and delicious and comforting to eat.

Simmered Kabocha Squash (kabocha no nimono)

Simmered Kabocha Squash (kabocha no nimono)
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Simmered Kabocha Squash (Kabocha no Nimono)

Kabocha squash is simmered in a delicious Japanese flavored stock until soft. A easy and healthy side dish that is savory with the perfect amount of sweet.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 Kabocha about 2 lb
  • 300 ml water
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 3 T sugar
  • 3 T sake
  • 3 T mirin

Instructions

  1. Wash the kabocha and cut into approximately 1.5 inch chunks. Keeping the sizes regular will help with even cooking. Combine the remainder of the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar melts and add the kabocha pieces. Place lid on (slightly ajar to let out some steam), and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and allow kabocha to simmer until softened and easily pierced. Serve, or allow to sit and soak in flavor, and reheat before serving. 

Recipe Notes

If you are using less, or more kabocha, adjust the amount of stock. Just keep the 100 to 1, 1, 1, 1 ratio. 

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Japanese Egg Roll- Tamagoyaki

Side Dish | September 29, 2016 | By

Japanese Egg Roll- Tamagoyaki

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To go along with yesterday’s karaage chicken, here is another bento classic. It’s a simple egg roll, called the tamagoyaki. Loose translation: cooked egg. Basically. BUT before you read any further, I have you tell you… you need a special pan to make this. I have this one. Is it worth it to buy a pan specifically to make tamagoyaki? I guess it goes to show how popular of an egg dish this is in Japan, because basically every household has one of these. But back to the question. Is it worth it for YOU? Eh, probably not. But before you quit this dish, let me give you an alternative. This recipe- scrambled. Or omelette style. Whatever you want. I mean, the flavor is the same, so if you want to eat Japanese tasting egg (really yummy, obviously), you can just scramble it! Secret: I sometimes do that, because rolling the egg up is a pain and I’m actually pretty bad at it. I just don’t have that stereotypical Asian dexterity. I’m good at math though! 

Right, so now that we have the pan problem out of the way, this recipe does require dashi stock. Dashi stock is a basic Japanese stock made from kelp, bonito, or both. You can buy it in granule form and mix it with water. It’s really easy- just follow the instructions on the container. You can get dashi granules at any Asian store. Actually, you might even be able to buy it at a regular grocery store in the Asian section. No promises though. Here where I live, the Asian section of grocery stores are laughably small. 

Finally, how do you like that pretty cloth I used in the pictures? Isn’t it cool? It’s called a furoshiki, which is a cloth that is used to wrap things (like bento!). In this case, I guess I’m implying that I’m just gonna wrap those dishes up and take them to lunch or something. But the reason I bring up the furoshiki is, this is a special furoshiki. It’s designed by some guy and it’s really pretty and my husband made me trek across Tokyo and buy it for him when I visited Japan (and left him behind because he had to work). Basically what I’m saying is that after all that, I dug it out of a box it’s been sitting in for over two years, and finally used it for something! Isn’t that funny that the things we just HAVE to have end up not being thrown into a box and forgotten about? I’m glad I could put it to use because, really, it’s a beautiful piece of cloth. 

Anyways, make these eggs! They are super good! 

NOTE: Just to let you know, this egg has some sugar in it. The sweetness might throw you off a bit, but don’t let it weird you out. Instead, realize how it just… works. 

Note 2: I’m going to assume that if you have a tamagoyaki pan you know how to make tamagoyaki. Therefore you don’t need step by step instructions. Can I also assume that if you don’t have the pan and you are going to scramble it… you know how to scramble eggs?

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Japanese Egg Roll- Tamagoyaki

A classic Japanese bento dish with traditional flavors.
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 t soy sauce
  • 2 t sugar
  • 4 T dashi stock

Instructions

  1. Add all of the ingredients into a bowl and beat together. Either make traditional tamagoyaki in the rectangular pan, or scramble, or make an omelette.

Recipe Notes

Need a Tamagoyaki Pan ? (affiliate link)

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Bonito Flakes on Rice

Side Dish | September 18, 2016 | By

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Okay, so this isn’t really a recipe. It’s just a really yummy way to eat rice that you need to try! I’ve eaten bonito flakes with soy sauce on rice since I was a little kid and it’s one of my favorite rice toppings. All you need are shaved bonito flakes. Never heard of it? If you go to any Asian market you will be able to find some. Here’s what they look like:

katsuobushi

I also added in an 8 grain mix to my rice to add a little nutty bite to it. That’s what the little colorful pieces in the rice is. Specifically: this.

Just mix 1-2 tsp of soy sauce with one pack of bonito flakes (3g) and put it on your rice and eat.

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Bonito Flakes on Rice

An easy yummy way to elevate your rice.
Servings 2

Ingredients

  • 1 pack dried shaved bonito flakes
  • 1-2 tsp soy sauce
  • rice

Instructions

  1. Mix the bonito flakes with the soy sauce. Top rice with mixture.
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