Sesame Green Beans

Lately, I've really been into the recipes from the blog For the Love of Cooking. They're for the most part simple, straight forward, healthy and satisfying meals. I try a lot of recipes off of blogs, and from home cooks in general, because that's what I enjoy supporting. We made these sesame green beans the week before last, and then again last week. I love green beans--roasted, steamed, sauteed, you name it. These are addictive!

A few notes: The recipe calls for 1 lb of green beans for the amount of sauce. I had so much sauce left over. I mean, enough to coat two servings of rice and vegetables a few days later. So, if I were you, I'd make all the sauce, but reserve half of it for another meal. Or, if you're not into that, just cut the sauce recipe in half. Also, I choose to use haricot verts. Not just because they're French (ha... ha). They're thinner which means less cook time, longer which means more fun to eat, and they have a more complex flavor that I love. If you can't find haricot verts, any variety of green bean will do--look for ones that are as young and thin as possible, or just increase your cook time. I would not use canned green beans for this... The original recipe also calls for boiling them. I choose not to boil my vegetables. Also, sesame oil is expensive, but I think it's vital to this recipe - every ingredient usually is with an ingredient list this short. It's only expensive in American supermarkets--turn to your local Asian supermarket. I can buy about 8 ounces of sesame oil at QFC for $7-$12, or I can buy 56 ounces of sesame oil at H Mart for $19.99 :)

Sesame Green Beans

1 lb of green beans
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 1/2 tsp soy sauce (or to your liking)
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1-2 cloves freshly minced garlic (or to your liking)
Sea salt
Sesame seeds to garnish

Trim your green beans. Line up the tough ends and just snip them off, leaving the long and pretty tails on the other end.

Fill a pot with 1-2 inches of water, place a steaming basket filled with green beans inside, and steam for about 4-5 minutes. Be very careful not to overcook them--not only does this result in a loss of flavor, but also a loss of important vitamins and nutrients.

Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, soy sauce, oil, and garlic. When your green beans are done (with a crunch, but not too raw, and definitely not even close to being soggy!), toss them in the bowl with the dressing. Season with sea salt (at first I wrote seal salt) and pepper to taste, and garnish with sesame seeds.

Serves 2 in my veggie-fanatic-green-bean-obsessed household, but probably 4 in any normal household.

Use that leftover sauce! Cook up some rice in chicken broth, and steam some carrots, green beans, and broccoli. Toss the veggies in the leftover sauce, serve over the rice, and pour any extra sauce over the rice. Top with sesame seeds. It's delicious for lunch.


Amazing and Simple Lasagna

Today, Washington being Washington, we had a "snow day" with 2 inches of snow. We decided (instead of following our meal plan, tsk tsk to me) we felt like a warm, comforting meal to push away the frigid temperatures tonight (in the teens!) Lasagna sounded amazing, so we ran out to the store for ingredients; it was lightly snowing but not sticking. We got home and it began to stick. We then realized we didn't have ground turkey in the freezer, and had to run back to the store. By this time, we had another 1-1/2 inches of snow. It took us 15 minutes to get the one mile to our local QFC. Obviously it was a huge tiny mistake to leave the house. Everyone was freaking out, driving 5 mph, and pulling over haphazardly. Our quick run to the store turned into an hour in the car (less than a mile from home, mind you!) watching panicky business men jump from their BMW's and slip on the snow/ice, inexperienced drivers slide into oncoming traffic, and ambulances unable to get through traffic. We are lucky we could turn into our private drive--there were at least 12 cars parked in the one block vicinity of the entry to our drive, most of them completely crooked. Sigh... and now we have 5 inches of snow. And it's nearly March. But, at least dinner was great.


1 tablespoon oil
1.25 lbs extra lean ground turkey breast
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried italian spice blend
1 tablespoon garlic, minced (or more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
32 ounces of tomato sauce, homemade or store bought
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta
1 egg
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2-3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a pan over medium-high heat, add the oil and heat until rippling. Add the meat and break it up while cooking it until done. Season with oregano, italian spices, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the sauce, taste, and season again.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to package directions.

Blend the ricotta and egg together in a small bowl.

In a 9x13-inch pan, start by spreading 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce down. Follow with half the ricotta mixture. Next add 1/3 of the mozzarella. Then another 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce followed by 1/4 cup of parmesan. Repeat with another layer (meat sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, meat sauce, parmesan).

Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese and parmesan on the top.

Spray a length of foil with non-stick cooking spray and cover tightly.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil, and return to the oven for another 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, then let cool for 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

**We also love to make it without meat or noodles, and instead use just super thinly sliced (I love you, Mr. Mandolin) squash, zucchini, eggplant, and carrot. YUM. Increase the cooking time under foil by about 10 minutes or so.**


Meal Planning Example #2

This past week's menu:

L: L @ work
D: Valentine's Day. First we went to Unexpected Production's the Comedy of Love (great). Then we went to Issian (highly recommended). Started with Edamame and "Oh! Tempura". Edamame was a little too salty for my tastes, otherwise great. The tempura was also yummy--super light and crunchy. We also had their vegetarian roll--sooo yummy. Tempura asparagus, daikon pickles, cucumber, and alfalfa=great combination. We had some filet mignon with issian sauce (sauce was amazing) served on a bed of mixed greens with mushrooms. So tender and juicy! The asparagus au gratin was not my favorite. But the yakitori was amaaaazing. Ishiyaki is my new favorite way of having my food cooked--all the meat retains so much flavor and moisture meaning it's also super tender. We were so full. But, of course we had to grab a pint of Molly Moon's theo chocolate ice cream to at least take home:)

L: L @ work
D: Southwest turkey burgers with baked onion rings

L: Out
D: Orange ginger chicken with sesame green beans (OH MY GOD AMAZING) and rice.

L: Leftover SW turkey burgers with roasted broccoli
D: Spaghetti bolognese (Tried a recipe from a blog I follow...and....yuck. Wow. Needed some serious doctoring just to be "okay". So sad.)

L: Stir fry with orange ginger chicken
D: Mikey @ work, Leanna out to Le Faux at Julia's with Candace