Friday, February 24, 2012

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (and Eat Japanese food)

Ever since Zach joined the Fort Lee Fire Department, he goes to house duty every Thursday - which means I'm all on my lonesome Thursday nights. It also means our apartment is man-less during that time, which gives me a GREAT excuse to host a girls night out (or in actually). So I invited three of my girlfriends over for a Japanese inspired dinner party. It would have been awesome if I required everyone to dress like Harajuku Girls, but unfortunately that thought came to me too late. The girls looked super cute on their own anyways.


I love deciding what to create for dinner based on a specific ethnicity. Tonight I chose to create a Japanese inspired menu, although it's probably not what the Japanese traditionally eat in Japan. This is my interpretation of Japanese food from what I can make of it here in America. I'd imagine the food in Japan is far more beautifully plated, smaller portions and less saucy. I'll get a better idea of it once I get a chance to travel there, but until then, here's my version.

We started off with Edamame and Lemon (There won't be a recipe at the end for this because its literally just steamed edamame with fresh lemon wedges squeezed on top.)


Napa Cabbage Salad with Peanut Ginger Dressing



and Miso Glazed Eggplant.



For our main course I served Vegetable Soba Noodle Soup.



And finally, for dessert I made Green Tea Chia Seed Pudding.




This sounds like a lot of work to do after coming home from your day time job, but if you plan ahead, it's really not. What I usually do is choose a day of the week to do my produce shopping. On that day, I clean all my veggies, dry them, and pack them into zip lock bags so that they are ready to eat or cook. The most time consuming thing about cooking in my opinion is prepping... so getting that done with ahead of time makes things easier for you when your ready to cook. I planned this dinner pretty last minute, so I actually didn't have my veggies washed and cleaned already. I was lucky enough to have Zach do that for me on Thursday morning (he's the best).

One more thing about veggies before I get to my recipes! If you over shop in your produce section (which I tend to do often) and don't get to use all the veggies you brought home that week, just freeze them! Most veggies freeze just fine, although there are a few exception - ask me if your not sure about a particular one. Just chop or slice your veggies before freezing them so that they are ready to cook with. Frozen veggies are best cooked with while they are still frozen as opposed to letting them defrost. For example, I made a basic tomato sauce the other night using diced up frozen eggplant I had in the freezer - a quick and easy way to pack in more veggies into your meal.

Now, onto the recipes!

Napa Cabbage Salad with Peanut Ginger Dressing
by Sarah Farsh, February 23, 2012


Salad:
  • 1 head napa cabbage, cleaned and sliced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 cup snow peas, in pod, chopped thick
  • 1/2 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (keep out if your a baby)
Dressing:
  • 2 tbsp freshly ground peanut butter, ingredients should just say "peanuts".
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp green onion, thinly sliced
Toss salad ingredients together in a large bowl.  Whisk dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl. Drizzle a tablespoon of dressing per serving of salad.

Miso Glazed Eggplant
By Sarah Farsh, February 23, 2012
  • 3 Japanese eggplant (or eggplant of choice), sliced in half vertically
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp white miso paste
  • 1 tsp juice of lemon
  • 1 tbsp juice of orange
  • 1 tbsp green onion, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 350˚. Lay eggplant slices skin side down on cookie sheet. Whisk honey, miso, lemon juice and orange juice together in a bowl. Paint 1/2 of the glaze on top sides of eggplant, bake for 15min. Lower heat to 300˚, paint remainder of the glaze on top of eggplant and bake for an additional 20min. Garnish tops with sliced green onion. Serve with salad or enjoy all on its own.

For the soup, feel free to use any variety of vegetables that you'd like or already have on hand. I do not have a steamer.. it's on my list! So I just improvised and used my large pot, it worked just fine.


Vegetable Soba Noodle Soup
By Sarah Farsh, February 23, 2012
  • 1 head broccoli, cleaned and cut into bit sized pieces
  • 1 bunch enokitake Japanese mushroom, brown part cut off
  • 3 eryngii mushrooms (king oyster), sliced vertical
  • 1 cup shiitake mushroom, whole
  • 2 cups baby bock choy
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp white miso paste
  • 1 tbsp green onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp nori, chopped or broken into pieces 
  • 1 box soba (buckwheat) noodles
  • 6 cups water
In large steamer (or pot) steam broccoli, mushrooms and bock choy using the 2 cups vegetable stock. Steam for 7-10min. Cook soba noodles by following the directions on the box *be sure not to over cook. Drain noodles and set aside. In pot, boil 6 cups water and add in miso paste, nori and green onions. Serve in individual bowls, noodles first, mixture of vegetables second and poor the miso soup on top.

Chia seed pudding is definitely not for everyone.. it has a very gooey, tapioca, bubble-tea consistency that some people just cant stand. Luckily all three of my girls LOVED it - I was honestly nervous they would be grossed out. Chia seeds are one of those super foods that are full of nutrients, you can read about the top 10 benefits here. I have cut caffeine out from my diet along with refined sugars, salts and processed foods. I made a small exception for this recipe. I call for Matcah, which is a green tea that does have caffeine in it, there's only 1 tbsp for this big serving. If you are not including caffeine in your diet, you can flavor this pudding with your choice of flavors such as fruits and spices.

Green Tea Chia Seed Pudding
By Sarah Farsh, February 23, 2012
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 2 cups soy milk (or non dairy milk of choice)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp matcha tea powder (unsweetened)
This comes out best when made the nigh before serving. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together. Cover top of bowl and cool in fridge for 3 hours - overnight.

It was a perfect night with amazing company, I wouldn't have changed a thing. The girls enjoyed my healthy meal and even cleaned all my dishes after! (even though I begged them not to)


Whats a girls night without a mini photo shoot session?



The End.


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