Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad Dressing

Z. and I occasionally receive gift cards to various restaurants. One of these restaurants is Applebee's. I always get their Oriental Chicken Salad. A base of lettuce is topped with cabbage, crispy noodles, sliced almonds, chicken, and their Oriental Vinaigrette.

The vinaigrette is sweet and sour with a hint of toasted sesame. I did a little research and found a blog dedicated to copying popular restaurant recipes: CopyKat. Here is their recipe for Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad Dressing.

The ingredients (from top moving clockwise): mayonnaise, rice vinegar, arrowroot powder, salt, toasted sesame oil, Dijon mustard, sugar, and canola oil.

I made a couple of changes to suit my taste and pantry. I used arrowroot powder in my second batch of this dressing to try to make it slightly thicker. I would suggest leaving it out. I substituted canola oil for the refined sesame oil. I love the flavor of toasted sesame oil. I started with 1/8 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil then would taste the dressing and keep adding a drizzle at a time until I had the flavor I was looking for. The last change I made was to add a pinch of salt. Always season your food and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ensalada de Remolacha: Cuban Beet Salad

 Here is my attempt at creating one of my favorite dishes from one of the best restaurants on the planet: Pambiche in Portland. Z. and I always get primera vuelta, which is a great way to try many several different dishes without a huge commitment. You have a choice of an empanada, croquetas, or frituras which is served with tostones, fried green plantains. The third dish, and for me, the pièce de résistance is the salad. Like Z., you can order their organic cabbage salad, or a chayote salad, or you can have good taste, and try Pambiche's organic beet salad, ensalada de remolacha. 

I have no idea what Pambiche uses in their ensalada de remolacha but I do know there are beets, watercress, extra-virgin olive oil, and a sour orange vinaigrette. Simple, light and fresh are the keys to the success of this salad. I created a dish that emulated Pambiche's salad. I think I came pretty darn close. Enjoy!

*The key to the sour orange flavor is one part tart/sour to two parts orange juice. I used white balsamic because I love the flavor of orange and the balsamic but lemon juice or lime juice would be great alternatives.

Ensalada de Remolacha or Cuban Beet Salad

by Ace Nation
  • 2-3 large beets or 5-6 small beets
  • 1/2 bunch parsley
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt, to taste
To prepare the beets
Clean and wash beets. Bring a pot of water to a simmer. Add beets. Cook until a knife can be inserted easily, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and allow to cool. Trim the shoots and root end off. The skin should peel off easily. Carefully, with a small knife, trim off any remaining skin.
For the salad
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Season to taste with kosher salt. Allow to rest for at least 30 minutes before serving.
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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dipping Sauce

In a recent post, I shared a simple recipe for oven-baked zucchini fries. In the picture, you might be able to see a small bowl.

This sauce is a favorite dipping sauce of mine. I think it's great with zucchini fries, as well as with roasted root vegetables. The only ingredients are mayonnaise and mustard. I love Trader Joe's Dijon mustard. It's spicy, flavorful, and not very expensive. My favorite ratio, for a zippy sauce, is two parts mayonnaise to one part mustard. If you are looking for something a little more creamy without being overpowering, I would try three parts mayo to one part mustard. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Zucchini Fries: Baked and Fried

When you are cheap and it's summer, you eat a LOT of zucchini. If you grow zucchini yourself, you just might have a gluttony of home-grown zucchini. Or in my case, I buy the largest zucchini I can at the Corvallis Farmer's Market for $0.50 each.

I have a few different recipes that use zucchini:
I have a new recipe, Zucchini Fries. The other day I shared my first attempt at zucchini fries. I thought the crunchy outside was just too much for the simple zucchini. I made a small adjustment, omitting the flour coating and adding a splash of water to the egg to make it less goopy.

 Z. and I then cooked the zucchini fries, baked and fried. The breading didn't entirely stay on the fried version but that batch had a nice, almost smoky flavor the baked fries lacked. I do have to say, baking the zucchini was super simple and required minimal attention. Feel free to add your favorite seasonings to the breading. I kept it simple with Italian season, salt, and pepper. Enjoy this easy and tasty side dish!

Baked Zucchini Fries

by Ace Nation
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • About 2 cups zucchini sticks
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup dry fine bread crumbs, or more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
In a bowl, combine egg and water. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
Pour bread crumbs into a second bowl and season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Set aside.
Dip zucchini sticks into egg wash and coat. Shake excess egg off before placing in the bread crumbs. Coat the sticks with the bread crumbs, carefully shaking off excess. Place in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Spray the top of the zucchini with a thin layer of nonstick cooking spray.
Cook until brown and tender, about 10-12 minutes. Serve warm with dipping sauce of your choice.
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Friday, July 12, 2013

Recipe Testing Failures

Creating new recipes is full of surprises. Sometimes my meals are better than I could have imagined. Such as, Coconut Curry, Pappa al Pomodoro, and Pasta with Béchamel Sauce and Spring Vegetables. Other times, it takes me a couple of tries to get things right. That's why I do not have a new recipe today.

Let's see, I've tried warm pineapple compote several times.

I enjoy pineapple compote over French toast but it's not quite good enough to share on here.

Yesterday, I tried breading zucchini with an old-school recipe and bake them. I first dredged the zucchini in flour, then dipped into an egg wash, then covered the zucchini sticks with fine dried bread crumbs that I had seasoned. It was overkill. And...I overcooked them. I have an idea of how I need to change the recipe to make it work. Zucchini is in abundance and cheap at the farmer's market. I'll be trying this again.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Tabbouleh "Salad"

This is a meal we had recently, created in an improvisatory moment.

Basically, it's tabbouleh deconstructed. Tabbouleh is a salad of bulgur wheat, cucumber, tomato, occasionally onion, with lots of parsley and mint, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.
I took the components of tabbouleh but rather than combining them, I layered the ingredients on a bed of crisp lettuce and topped it with my own light, bright vinaigrette. I have become quite smitten with parsley and mint in my green salads. Then, the still slightly warm bulgur added substance and its own nutty deliciousness. If you would like a complete meal, add a few chickpeas. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

CNFE on Instagram

I just wanted to let you all know that you can find Cheap Not Frugal Eats on Instagram. Just search: cheapnotfrugaleats. My project is to post at least one meal or dish Z. or I create every day. Enjoy!