Chinese Restaurant Green Beans

Brohgan Dieker

Brohgan Dieker

Brohgan Dieker is dedicated to answering the "what's for dinner" question with healthy, quick recipes that can accommodate busy schedules. She is a devout Christian, a wife and mother, and a lover of words and books. She lives in the beautiful Flint Hills of Kansas and holds a degree in English from Kansas State University.
Brohgan Dieker

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These green beans with a sweet garlic ginger Chinese restaurant glaze are always a crowd pleaser, but they’re also great to eat at home, because they’re also terrific reheated!

We have an ongoing debate in my house: what cut of green beans is best?

French style? The skinny whole bean? The squat cut version?

Each member of the family has their own preference. (Skinny whole is mine!)

But no matter who wins the green bean cut debate, we always ALWAYS want green beans to taste like the magical green beans at a Chinese restaurant.

Do you want to know what the secret is to the magical Chinese restaurant beans?

No, really, do you want to know?

SUGAR.

So. much. sugar. (It’s like the owners of these restaurants know the way to our hearts, or something!)

So, I use honey. I try to lighten up my version of the beans at home a little, although it still is pretty sweet. We really don’t need more sugar in our lives!

I try to keep this recipe fairly casual. I taste and taste again until I like the flavor. I find that the flavor can vary greatly depending on the quality of ingredients you buy, especially the soy sauce, the fish sauce and the ginger.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil (or more, depending on if beans begin to stick to the skillet)
  • 1 lb bag of frozen green beans, any cut
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic (approx 4-5 cloves fresh)
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • a dash of fish sauce (This is a magical ingredient! Can be purchased at any Asian grocery store.)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp dried ground ginger (Fresh ginger would also be great! I just usually don’t take time to mess with it.)

Instructions:

  1. Pour about a tbsp of olive oil into a large skillet or wok. Warm over a medium heat.
  2. Dump green beans into skillet, and stir occasionally. (If the skillet is hot, this may spit!)
  3. Cover with cookie sheet or lid utnil beans are warmed. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking and encourage even cooking.
  4. When beans are no longer frozen, turn the burner down to medium-low and add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine ingredients evenly, and then stir occasionally so that the sauce doesn’t burn.
  5. Remove from heat and serve warm.

Pesto Ricotta Pita Pizzas

Brohgan Dieker

Brohgan Dieker

Brohgan Dieker is dedicated to answering the "what's for dinner" question with healthy, quick recipes that can accommodate busy schedules. She is a devout Christian, a wife and mother, and a lover of words and books. She lives in the beautiful Flint Hills of Kansas and holds a degree in English from Kansas State University.
Brohgan Dieker

Latest posts by Brohgan Dieker (see all)

Personal pita pizzas smothered in a garlic three cheese mixture (ricotta, mozarella, parmesan) and topped with a thin decadent layer of pesto. Such a simple recipe. This personal pizza only takes minutes to assemble and bake. Perfect for a quick meal or even as a snack!

There are days when you just need to partake in something distinctly adult.

(Especially when you are a stay-at-home parent.)

Some people turn to wine. Some people turn to coffee. Some people turn to chocolate.

On this particular day, I chose to make myself a personal pita pizza. (Just look at those pretty little colorful tomatoes from my produce co-op! LOVE!)

These pizzas never fail to amaze me with their simplicity and their elegant flavor.

Plus, pizza = fun. I need more fun in my life, always!

Smothered in pesto and a ricotta-mozzerella-garlic mashup, this pizza is a recipe passed down from my mother to me. On busy days, these are a must make for me.

After my last final of college, I remember coming home to an empty house and quickly making myself one of these. It’s really the ultimate comfort food! Especially when things are feeling rushed or stressful.

It only takes minutes to assemble and uses ingredients that are often already stocked in my fridge. And, if you use foil like me, making this only dirties one bowl.

ONE BOWL. How often are you able to quickly make yourself a warm, cheesy comfort food without leaving a trail of dishes behind??! ALMOST NEVER.

Pop it in the oven until the garlic-y cheese ooze and the pesto glistens. Then enjoy as slowly as life allows!

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c Mozzerella
  • 1 tbsp fresh Parmesan (plus additional for topping)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (jarred)
  • 1/2 c fresh Ricotta
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 pitas
  • 2 tsp jarred pesto
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit
  2. Combine first four ingredients in a medium sized bowl with a fork until combined.
  3. Line a baking sheet with foil, and set pitas out on pan.
  4. Using fork, place half of the cheese mixture onto each pita and gently smooth evenly across surface.
  5. Spoon a tsp of pesto onto the middle of each pita. Gently smooth across cheese until there is an even coating.
  6. Bake in oven for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  7. Allow a few minutes to cool, add salt/pepper/parmesan as desired, then enjoy!

Cookbook Review: Southern Pantry Cookbook

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This review of The Southern Pantry Cookbook: 105 Recipes Already Hiding in Your Kitchen by Jennifer Chandler includes a FREEBIE RECIPE for Weeknight Red Beans and Rice! Don’t miss out!

I didn’t intend to buy this book. I was bored and flipping through cookbooks looking at the food photography was a way to pass the time while my husband shopped.

Now, I don’t impulse buy things.  I’m a thrifty person, and I normally think long and hard before I make a cookbook purchase. I read amazon reviews. I check my local library.  My cookbook shelf is reserved for a very select few permanent figures.

I bought this book upon first glance, and I’ve had ZERO regrets.

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This book has nestled in comfortably among its peers on the shelf, but it hasn’t stayed on the shelf for very long! It’s extremely useful.

For instance, this delicious Weeknight Red Beans and Rice dish only took 20 minutes in its entirety. So easy and yummy!

For instance, this delicious Weeknight Red Beans and Rice dish only took 20 minutes in its entirety. So easy and yummy!

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I have fallen in love with the idea of using existing pantry ingredients creatively.  I was already compiling the Non-Chef FOREVER Grocery List before this book–which will be ready early next week! Yay!

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Weeknight Red Beans and Rice

(Or, like this photo, black beans and rice, because that’s what I had on hand.)

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lb Andouille smoked sausage, sliced thinly
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cans red kidney beans, rinced and drained
  • 1 1/2 c chicken stock
  • 4 cups brown rice

Instructions

0. If you would rather use dried beans, put beans in water to the brim in a crockpot on low in the morning and allow beans to soak in water for 8 hours. While preparing dinner, rinse with water before adding .

1. Start cooking the rice per package instructions.

2. In a large stockpot or dutch oven, warm oil. Add the sausage, onion, green pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes or until onion is tender.

3. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in oregano, thyme, and bay leaf (or, if you were out of oregano and thyme like I was, substituting a tsp of Italian Seasoning mix was still absolutely yummy). Salt and pepper to taste, and add beans and stock.

4. Bring pot to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Allow flavors to meld for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Discard the bay leaf, and serve beans over rice.

TIP: If you are watching your carb intake, I have read that you can substitute black soy beans, which have a lower carb and higher protein trade-off.  Also, give cauliflower rice a try! 🙂

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Fajita Tacos

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A combination of fajita’d veggies and ground beef, this fun, single pan recipe is perfect for a weeknight dinner. Quick to make and quick to clean up!  The lightly seasoned meat allows the flavor of grassfed beef to shine through.  Top with any of your favorite taco or fajita ingredients!

Call this Kansas girl naive, but I still can’t believe that I bought this ground beef from an actual bow-legged cowboy.

I have been attempting to use local meats and produce, and the grass-fed beef tent at my local farmer’s market caught my eye.

I have been aware of the benefits of grassfed beef for a while. First off, it’s leaner. So lean, I ended up with a burned layer stuck to the bottom of the pan. Secondly, it’s nutritious! Who knew grass was the key to antioxidants and nutritious omega 3’s? Lastly, our family doesn’t eat much meat. In the end, we felt that it was worth the $6/lb price, since we only needed that one pound for the week.  That’s right, we typically only buy about a pound of meat or less a week, and we’re completely fine with that.

So we gave grassfed a try. I’m actually pleased with my $2 investment. This ground beef was an entirely different product!  I can’t wait to pat this stuff down into a burger patty someday. But for now, I settled on some simple one pot fajita tacos. Perfect solution to our Tuesday hunger pains.

Ok, honesty time, because I have a big confession. I don’t like grocery store taco seasoning. AT ALL. I find it a little overpowering in all the wrong ways and unnecessarily high in sodium.  I just sprinkled a bit of cumin and chili powder on the meat.  And I seasoned the heck out of the peppers while they sautéed. Even added a bit of this. Love this stuff!

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The Chipotle Chile Pepper seasoning is an impulse buy gone right.  I picked it up when the store was completely out of cayenne once, and it has served me well for years (and is the secret ingredient in many a spicy dish).

When the peppers were almost cooked, I added a fresh clove if garlic, crushed. There is nothing sadder than burning the garlic, in my opinion. So wait until you think the peppers are about done.

Top with your favorite taco toppings. We went with romaine lettuce and salsa.  We’re experimenting with a dairy-free diet for now (oh the joys of breastfeeding). Otherwise, we may have added a few more toppings. Do not use the “C” word around us! We’re still going through withdrawal.

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Honestly, the texture was perfect, and I didn’t miss those toppings.

Enjoy! Let me know what you think!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb hamburger
  • 3-4 small bell peppers
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp Chipotle spice

Instructions:

  1. Brown the hamburger. Slice the green peppers into strips.
  2. Set hamburger aside and dust with cumin.
  3. Add oil and peppers to the skillet. Cook over a medium to medium high heat. If you are using corn fed beef, you probably want to cook this in a separate pan. Or embrace the choleaterol-y goodness of cooking peppers in the ground beef grease. I would be tempted to.
  4. When the peppers are softer but not quite done, add garlic to the pan. Toss tortillas into the microwave to warm per package instructions.
  5. Fill tortillas with beef and peppers, top with your favorite things, and serve immediately. Recipe serves 3-4.

Best,

Brohgan

Garlic Salsa

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This recipe for red salsa leaves out one key traditional ingredient: onions. What’s left is a sweet, tangy blend and a spicy kick that can be adjusted to taste. Fresh ingredients–summer tomatoes, fresh cilantro, lime, fresh garlic–are the key to transforming this recipe from similar-to-jarred into “restaurant quality.” (As my cousin put it. Thanks again, lady!).  Best of all, it only takes a few minutes to make and requires almost no chopping!

This recipe for red salsa leaves out one key traditional ingredient: onions. What’s left is a sweet, tangy blend and a spicy kick that can be adjusted to taste. Fresh ingredients–summer tomatoes, fresh cilantro, lime, fresh garlic–are the key to transforming this recipe from similar-to-jarred into “restaurant quality.” (As my cousin put it. Thanks again, lady!). Best of all, it only takes a few minutes to make and requires almost no chopping!

My grandmother has been known for her gigantic tomato collection for decades.  Ceramic tomatoes, Campbell’s tomato soup signs, tomato shaped mugs, tomato salt and pepper shakers of all sizes, tomato cutting boards, tomato magnets, and so much more decorate every surface her sunny country kitchen.  Now that she’s preparing to sell the farm, my sister, my mother, and I have been photographing and cataloging a lifetime of tomatoes piece by piece.

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My grandpa was known in the family for his love of eating tomatoes.  Maybe that inspired her collection?  I have never asked.

Confession: despite the family history, honestly, I don’t really like tomatoes.  Years of training keeps me from not picking them off burgers and sandwiches.  Let me tell you, I am really the black sheep of tomato enjoyment in my mom’s side of the family.  I like looking at them.  I love the juxtaposition of grandma’s red tomatoes in front of her country green plaid wall paper.  I just don’t feel like eating them.

So when I received a pile of Roma tomatoes in my weekly produce co-op basket, I was less than thrilled…

…until the clouds above opened and the idea for this salsa floated down. Hallelujah salsa!

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I brought this salsa to my grandma’s house for Sunday dinner with the family, and they gobbled it up! (On Sundays only, dinner equals lunch, supper equals dinner. Local Kansas country colloquialism lesson for the day!)

This salsa is a hit!  I’ve had people asking for more!

Ingredients:

-3 garlic cloves

approximately 1/4 c fresh cilantro

-3 Roma tomatoes

-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded (leave seeds in for spicy salsa!! Ay-yay-yay!)

-1 tsp cumin

-1/2 tsp salt

-juice from half a lime (or the whole lime, because it’s yummy that way too)

 

Directions:

  1. Blend cilantro and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and pulse food processor until uniform texture is achieved.  Easy!
  3. Chill and serve cold as dip for chips or a topping on any Mexican flavored dish.  Be prepared for it to disappear quickly!

Creative option:

Adjust to your taste.  If it’s too spicy, add more tomato.  If it’s too bland, add the jalapeno seeds.  If you don’t like cilantro, well, I don’t understand people who don’t like cilantro. But, we can overcome our differences and still be friends, ok?

Side note! For me, I’ve learned that my dislike of tomatoes is limited to heirloom tomatoes.  Even though it seems like the opposite should be true, heirloom tomatoes are the type of tomato that embraces that watery, bland flavor that you find placed on a fast food burger.  The newer strands of tomatoes that have been developed in recent years highlight the acidity and provide actual flavor.  But, I know this is a controversial opinion… you heirloom tomato people are crazy about your watery tomatoes.  Look at it this way: I’m just leaving more available for you to eat!