15 Healthy Dinners to Start 2015: Thai Noodle Bowl

IMG_2003Listen up, people.  I made the best dinner tonight. Like, fo realz. I know it doesn’t look like much; it wasn’t a dinner I was expecting to be out-of-this-world good, either.  But it was SO DELICIOUS.

I’m still using up the leftovers from the crock pot roast.  I madeon Monday. Yesterday, I used the beef to make bahn mis.  But today – today – I made Thai noodle bowls.

The whole process only took about 15 minutes.  First, I took 2 cups of beef broth (I had this leftover from making the roast), and started heating it over a high heat.  Then, I chopped up one whole scallion and finely chopped two cloves of garlic and added it to the broth. Next, I added in about 1/3 a cup of fish sauce, 2 tbsp of soy sauce, and 2 tbsp of lime juice.  Up next was 2 tbsp of brown sugar, and 1 tbsp of vinegar.  Already, the soup was starting to taste pretty darn good.

As it started to simmer, I added sriracha sauce to my spice preferences (probably a little less than a teaspoon – it goes a long way), 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/2 tsp of garam masala, and 5-6 fresh mint leaves.  By now, this broth was FANTASTIC – it was sweet, salty, sour, spicy, and tangy – everything a Thai broth should be.

With the broth bubbling away, it was time to add the rice noodles, the rest of the shredded pork (I had about a 1/2 lb left, probably), and any vegetables you have lying around – I had shredded carrots, again leftover from the bahn mis, so I threw those in as well.  Then, you just let it simmer for about 4-5 minutes until the noodles are soft, and you’re ready to serve.

I would have happily paid $15 for a bowl of this in any Thai restaurant, and the fact that this meal was all just composed of leftovers and pantry items?  Pretty damn amazing.  And since it was mainly broth, rice noodles, and vegetables – I estimate it around only 450 calories.

Tonight, I am an awesome Chef. That is all. Rock on.

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15 Healthy Dinners to Start Off 2015: Modified Bahn Mi

IMG_2001For the 14th recipe in our 15 Healthy Dinners, we combine ol’ fashioned American crock-pot wisdom with traditional Vietnamese Bahn Mi for a match made in spicy heaven.

But Whitney, you say – white bread!  Pork instead of fish or poultry!  Mayonnaise!  How can you include a bahn mi in your list of “healthy” dinners?!  Well, when you layer on the spice and stack it high with vegetables, you’re able to get away with using very little meat and still come in at under 450 calories.

To start, I made my universal crock pot pork recipe yesterday.  (We had it with beans and veggies and salsa to make a burrito bowl–also healthy–but I’m pretty sure my readers are capable of making a burrito bowl on their own.) Today, using the 1/2 lb or so of leftover pulled pork, I tossed it in 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce, and 2 tbsp lime juice, then reheated it in the microwave.  It came out moist and delicious, and infused with just the right flavor.

Meanwhile, lightly toast then slice two small baguettes or french rolls length-wise, and add a layer of light mayonnaise.  On top ofthis, add a few drops of Sriracha, to your own preferred spiciness level.  Then, add thinly sliced raw jalapeno, again to your own preferences.

Next goes the meat.  Finally top with shredded carrots and daikon, and fresh mint or cilantro.  (The hubby hates cilantro, so we went with mint.)

These were absolutely delicious. And best of all, because they were also quite spicy, they may even help you feel full sooner and have more energy.  Win-win.

Sprucing up boring furniture on the cheap

tablesOne of the hubbies favorite things about Christmas is that we move “his” recliner and side table next to the couch (thereby allowing him to watch tv from it) in order to make room for our tree.  Yet this year, when we put the room back in its normal arrangement, what he missed most wasn’t even the recliner next to the couch, it was the side table.

So, we started the hunt for an inexpensive circular side table, no bigger than 20″ wide.  After visiting a few different websites, we stumbled on this tablefrom Wayfair, that was on sale for $49 as part of a deal of the day.  We liked the Art Deco look of it, and the “Antique Copper” finish looked like it would work with our other living room furniture.

Well, fast forward a week, and the table arrives…only it’s not “Antique Copper”.  What we had really ordered was a cheap steel table that’s been spray painted gold.  Womp-womp.

Still, undeterred, I liked the original shape, and felt fairly confident that I could fix it up a bit.  A quick trip to the craft store and I was armed with a tube of dark sienna colored acrylic paint, a bag of glass rocks (like the type you put in the bottom of a fish tank or in a jar of flowers…) and some super glue.  Total cost of supplies? Under $15.

Using a dry natural-bristle paint brush, I very lightly brushed on the acrylic paint.  The goal for this sort of treatment isn’t to get full coverage, but rather to let the underlying paint color show through.  Concentrating on the top edge and the corners throughout, I soon had a piece that looked more like oil-rubbed bronze than cheap spray-painted metal.

But I wasn’t finished.  Up next, I glued the glass rocks smooth side down in a random pattern to give the top of the table a little more character. I chose fairly neutral colored pieces, including clear, again to let the natural color shine through.  Within an hour, I was gluing the last piece on, and had a completed table in time for the Super Bowl this afternoon.

So that’s it.  An hour’s work and $15 worth of elbow grease and we now have a custom end table.  Not too shabby.