Dan Dan Noodles with Pickled Mustard Greens

Ice storm Dec 9
Back yard covered with ice

We had an ice storm to day so it was a good day for hot noodles.

I bought a large bunch of mustard greens and had to do something with them.  I started searching for recipes and found one for dan dan noodles,  but it called for pickled mustard greens that it said, helpfully, I could locate in the nearest Asian store.  I love my Asian grocery store but it was the greens I had to cook so I decided to pickle the greens myself.  Why not?  I changed up the dan dan noodle recipe a bit to make it quicker.  Here is the adaptation that I came up with.

ice storm#2 dec 9

Noodles with Pickled Mustard Greens                                         

Marsha’s Recipe Repair, Dec. 2013

 This recipe originally called for ground pork.  I use the leaner cut of pork tenderloin. I have made this more of a noodle dish with a lot of broth.  Not quite soup but not noodles tossed with a light sauce either.  It is kind of spicy, hot and slurpy.  If you cannot find sambal oelek, a possible substitution would be Italian ground chili peppers, like that used on hoagies, but it won’t be quite the same.


  •  1 lb linguini or Chinese egg noodles if available
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
  • ½ cup sliced onion
  • 1 lb pork tenderloin, sliced into ¼ inch thick pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. sambal oelek (Thai chili paste)
  • 1 garlic clove, mashed
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups pickled mustard greens (recipe below)

1.  Cook noodles according to package directions and drain.  Toss noodles in large bowl with sesame oil and set aside.

2.  Heat oil in a large deep skillet or sauce pan over medium high heat.  Add onions and pork slices and saute (stir fry) until the meat is no longer pink, about three to five minutes.  It will cook quickly.  Remove pork from skillet and set aside.

3.  In a separate bowl mix tahini, vinegar, chili paste, and garlic.  Pour into same skillet and let is sizzle for about 30 seconds.  Add broth stirring up brown bits. Bring to a boil and then simmer for five minutes.

4.  Divide among four large soup bowls ¼ of the noodles, ¼ of the pork slices, ½ cup pickled mustard greens, and a ladle about ½ cup sauce over all.  Toss and eat.   Serves 4.

Pickled mustard greens

These need to be made at least 48 hours ahead of time.

In a saucepan combine 2 Tbsp. sugar, 1 Tbsp salt, ¼ cup white vinegar, and 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil.  Stir until sugar melts.  Remove from heat and let cool.

After cutting off larger stems, cut 1 bunch of mustard greens (about four cups) into thin strips, and then coarsely chop.  Cut any remaining stems into small 1-inch pieces.  Pack the mustard greens into a large quart canning jar.  Pour pickling liquid over the greens, covering them completely.  Screw lid on tight and place in refrigerator for at least two days.  The greens will wilt and soften somewhat, which is fine.

Sour Cream and Onion Dip

onion dip #12

We love chips and dip and at this time of year appetizers are often on the menu.  But they can take a costly toll on the waistline.  There is a simple way to make the dip better. It requires some time cooking onions but it is well worth the effort.  As for chips, I recommend Kettle Brand Baked Potato chips.  These are not potato mush formed into chips liked Baked Lays.  They are real potatoes that are baked.  Quite good and a lot less fat.  Here is the recipe for the dip to go with them:

Sour Cream and Onion Dip

Makes about 1 1/2 cups


  • 1 large sweet onion (Vidalia if possible)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup low fat sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon beef broth flavoring mix, preferably low sodium packets
  • salt and pepper
  • paprika (optional)

1.  Slice onion into this strips.

onion dip #1

2. Pour oil into large non-stick or iron skillet and heat at medium high.

3.  As oil begins to glisten, add onions and stir to coat onions with oil.  Turn heat down to medium low or low depending on how your stove and skillet cook.  You want the onions to be cooking but not getting black.

onion dip #2

4.  The onions now have to cook for about 25 minutes over low heat, stirring periodically to make sure they do not stick and burn.  This will caramelize the onions, which means the sugars will start to brown.  Use this time for some meditation.  Contemplate life.  Smell the aromas.  Be patient.  The following pictures show the progression you should see:

onion dip #3
After about five minutes of cooking.
onion dip #5
About the ten minute mark
onion dip #7
stirring and meditating
onion dip #6
About 20 minutes. They are turning golden now.
onion dip #8
Done at 25 minutes

5.  Place cooked onions into a food processor and give it a whirr to coarsely chop them.  You will have about a 1/2 cup after cooking and chopping.

onion dip #9
chopped onions

6.  Mix onions, sour cream, and beef broth flavoring in a large bowl and stir.  Note that the beef broth mix will give it a smokier onion soup  flavor but it is not essential.   if you don’t have any on hand, you can use only salt, pepper and paprika.  You can also add herbs like oregano and thyme to liven it up.  Use your imagination.

onion dip #10

7.  Now comes the hardest part:  adding the salt and pepper.  Add the spices a little at a time, take a taste, and see where you are.   Add a smidge of paprika but not more than that.  You will be surprised to find out that you will not need a lot of salt.  Here is a hint.  Instead of just randomly adding it to a recipe when it is called for, add it to your food after it is cooked, unless there is some specific reason to use salt (like in baking or in a spice rub).  Salting your food at the finish will result in the use of a lot less salt because it is on top of your food for your taste buds to sense.  I rarely add salt when I am cooking.  I salt my food at the table.

onion dip #11
A little at a time.
onion dip #13
Taste testing is essential.
onion dip #14
Almost there.

8.  Once you get the salt and pepper to where you want them, enjoy!

onion dip #15

Fish with Bananas [Recipe Revision]


We were in Bermuda many years ago and we ate fish with bananas. I know it sounds funny, but it really is quite good.  Bananas go very well with different meats and seafoods.  I later discovered a recipe for it in Burt Wolf’s Eating Well cookbook.  He in turn got the recipe from Commander’s Palace in New Orleans.

Today, I had some ripe bananas so we had fish and bananas for dinner.  I have revised this recipe over the years largely because it requires the fish to be breaded and fried.  Here is my revised and more healthful version:

Roasted Fish and Bananas

Serves 2 can be scaled up

For Fish:

  • 2 4-ounce halibut steaks
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • dash of salt and pepper

For Bananas:

  • 2 bananas peeled and sliced

For lime sauce:

  • Juice of 3 limes
  • Juice of two lemons
  • 1 clove garlic mashed
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil based butter substitute

To finish:

  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Brush the halibut steaks with olive oil and place on oven safe skillet.  (I like cast iron.)  Mix herbs and spices in a small bowl and spread evenly over fish.  Place skillet into oven and cook for about 15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.  The fish is done when it   flakes easily and is a rich white color.


2.  While the fish is cooking, place the sliced bananas in a roasting pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Place into the oven with the fish for five minutes.  Don’t cook for too long or they will turn into mush.

3.  In a small saucepan, mix the juices, garlic and peppercorns.  Allow to come to a boil and then turn on low for about 15 minutes.  The juices should get somewhat syrupy and the water cooks off.  Add the butter substitute, stirring until a soft sauce forms.  Note:  I like things tart.  If you do not want it as tart, remove the juice of one lime, add a bit of water instead,  and a dash of sugar, and keep stirring.

4.  With all the pieces, build the dish.  Plate the halibut.  Top with half of the bananas.  Then spoon over some of the sauce.  Sprinkle with almonds and enjoy.

Cabbage Day

We got all of our vegetables today since it  seems to have been cabbage day.

I bought some kimchi and we had what I call Kimchi Reubens for lunch.

Kimchi Reuben – Serves one

Two slices rye bread

2-3 ounces roast beef or roast turkey

1/2 cup kimchi (we like medium spicy)

1 slice reduced fat cheddar cheese

Top one slice of rye bread with the meat, then kimchi, then cheese.  Broil or toast both the stack and the other slice of bread.  Eat it up, yum.

There is a food writer in the Washington Post, Joe Yonan, who claims his friends accuse him of putting kimchi in everything.  We are not quite there but it is true that sometimes we get on a kimchi binge and then look out.  I will hunt the internet for recipes and sometimes I make my own.

For dinner we had a risotto with shredded cabbage and sweet Italian sausage.

Parade Magazine Should be Ashamed

We still get the Sunday paper and it carries the Parade Magazine insert.  They have a recipe page, which at one time was written by Sheila Lukins.  Now they have recipes offered by celebrity chefs or just celebrities.  But sometimes, the recipes are anonymous and it is a good thing that no one took credit for the abomination that appeared in the November 3, 2013 recipe page.

With the helpful suggestion “Get the kids’ week off to a fun start with this special breakfast,” the recipe for Maple-Glazed Waffle Sandwich, was more likely to get the kid off to a life of being overweight.  The recipe, described as kid friendly, consists of two “prepared” waffles that are dipped in confectioners sugar and maple syrup to create a maple sugar glaze.  While those are drying, the cook is instructed to cook up some mini turkey sausage patties.  I guess they figured that turkey sausage, rather than pork, would somehow make this a tad better for kids.  But never mind because then we fry up some eggs.  Here they helpfully suggest that they be cooked in a nonstick skillet, as if that will make much of a difference.  Last time I checked fried means cooked in oil or butter, nonstick skillet or not.

Then the creative part begins.  Place a glazed waffle on a plate.  Top with sausage, egg and the other waffle for a waffle egg and sausage sandwich.  This is something that sounds like it came right out of a fast food breakfast restaurant.  The calories are listed at 560 per serving with 21 grams of fat.

You can check any health website for specifics.  But a “kid” should have no more than about 1500 to 1800 calories per day.  It depends on age, activity level and sex.  But it is pretty close to what most adults might eat in a day.  If by “kid” they meant growing and active teenage boys then there is some room for this kind of “fun” breakfast because they can consume up to 3000 calories a day.  (Yes, we are all jealous.)  But on average, at 560 calories, that breakfast sandwich would take up over a third of the day’s calories.  Don’t forget, the kid is not going to just eat this “sandwich.”  Chance are he or she is going to have juice which, at minimum, will add about a 100 calories.  Then the kid is going to down lunch, dinner, snacks and who knows what else.  As for the 21 grams of fat, a kid should have no more than 58 grams of fat per day so we are approaching half of a day’s average amount.  A teenage boy might stand 90 grams a day.

Folks, we can do better.

Here are two options for breakfast.  One is an egg on a muffin just like a certain fast food restaurant makes.  The other is a waffle with fruit and nut butter, which has all the right ingredients for a healthy breakfast.

Marsha’s Egg Muffin Sandwich

Serves two.

2 whole wheat English muffins

2 large eggs

2 slices reduced fat cheddar cheese slices

2 slices Canadian bacon

1.  Poach eggs.  In a deep skillet or sauce pan, fill with about 3 inches of water and bring to a gentle boil.  Break egg into a small bowl and then slowly drop the egg into the gently boiling water.  Don’t let the water boil too hard or the whites will foam up.  The egg should be covered with water.   If the egg is not covered with water, get a spoon and gently spoon the hot water over the top of the egg.  It will not be perfect but nothing is and what does it matter anyway.  Once the yolk is set to your liking, turn off the burner and, using a slotted spoon if you have one, carefully lift the egg out of the water and place on a paper towel to soak up any excess water.

2.  Toast muffins.

3.  Build the sandwich.  Place bottom of muffin on microwave safe dish.  Top with bacon, egg and slice of cheese, then muffin top.  Nuke the sandwich for about 30 seconds (depending on your microwave) to melt the cheese.  The sandwich will likely be steaming.

4.  Eat.  Add as a side a bowl of fruit, or a banana or apple, and a small glass of juice.

Note:  These sandwiches can be made the night before and stored in the fridge.  Simply microwave in the morning.   Sometimes I pack one in foil and take it with me in the car if I need to go.

Nutrition info:  Calories = 330. Total fat 12 g. With sides add about 150 calories.


Marsha’s Fruity Nutty Whole Wheat Waffle Breakfast “Pizza”


Serves 1

1 whole wheat or whole grain frozen waffle

1 tablespoon almond butter, natural, no fillers

¼ cup fresh blueberries, or any berries that are available

1. Toast the waffle

2.  Spread almond butter on waffle

3.  Top with fruit

4.  Eat. I like to combine this with a fruit smoothie.

This is a fantastic breakfast–little carbs, some protein, good fats and fruit.

Nutrition info:  Calories = 200. Total fat = 11 g.


Okay.  If you really, really must have that breakfast from Parade, here is how to make it better.

egg waffle sandwich

Parade Magazine Recipe Revised

Serves 2


2 whole grain frozen waffles (if you are feeling ambitious, go ahead and make them fresh)

2 large eggs

4 ounces sliced roasted turkey breast

4 teaspoons maple syrup

1.  Toast the waffles.  By using one whole grain waffle and making it an open face sandwich, you have already cut out about 100 calories by getting rid of one waffle.  You also get rid of 85 calories worth of sugar glaze.

2.  Drizzle the syrup over the waffle and then top  with a slice or two of roasted turkey breast from the deli (say two ounces).  Some meats go really well with certain sweets.  Poultry works with maple.  Instead of a glaze made with sugar and syrup, you will get a nice shot of sweet without all the calories.

3.  Poach the egg and place in on top the turkey for an open face sandwich. (If you need directions on how to poach an egg, there are dozens of directions on the internet.  Just do a search.)

4.  Eat.

How does this recipe revision compare?

My rough calculation is that each waffle would be about 100 calories.  Add the glaze for another 85 calories, adding up to 185 calories per waffle.  Cut one waffle and the calories decrease by 185 calories.  But we are going to use two teaspoons of maple syrup, which would have about 35 calories.  We cut a total of 150 calories simply by cutting out one waffle, getting rid of the glaze and using the syrup.  (Do you really need two waffles?  I am guessing, no.)

Since I don’t know what turkey sausage they used, I can only guess on the turkey calculation.  One option I checked has 100 calories in two pieces another had 160 calories in two pieces.  The Parade recipe called for three mini turkey sausages per serving.  Going with the lower number, that would be at minimum around 150 calories in the sausage.  But there are about 25 calories in a slice of deli roasted turkey so the meat in my version would be about 50 calories.  That means I cut out 100 meat calories.

One waffle = 100 calories

Roasted Turkey breast = 50 cal

One large egg = 70 cal

2 tsp maple syrup = 35 cal.

Total calories on Marsha’s version = 255 calories

Final note:  While I enjoyed it, my husband did not like the combination of sweet with eggs so he was not impressed.

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