Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Things I Am Loving This Week--Back Again w/ Giada's Asian Chicken Salad, Homemade Herbal Cough Syrup & New Chocolate

If you have been reading or following my blog for a while, you'll know that Tuesdays were usually reserved for the Things I Am Loving This Week--those (mostly) food-related things that I am enjoying and want to share. Unfortunately, time has been scarce the last few weeks and I have not been good about doing my TIALTW posts regularly--so I am happy to bring it back this week.

First up--when I feel like I have been indulging a bit too much in heavier foods, I love a big tasty, colorful, full-of-good-stuff salad to lighten things up. This week it is Giada's colorful Asian Chicken Salad filling my salad plate as our theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs is "Out of Italy"--featuring recipes from cuisines other than Italian. Since I think it is a requirement for any Food Network star to have at least one Asian Chicken Salad recipe in their collection, I decided to give Giada's a whirl.

I wouldn't be me if I didn't make just a few changes of course. The recipe calls for a topper of chow mein noodles and I am not really a fan so I used some leftover wonton wrappers and a few spices to make some baked wonton strips instead. Spiced with a blend of sea salt, pepper, Chinese Five Spice and sesame seeds they make a much tastier and healthier topping in my opinion. I also doubled the Thai basil and mint and added a couple touches to the dressing with a bit of sesame oil, some lime juice and replacing the sugar with a little honey.

You can find Giada's recipe at the Food Network here.

Asian Chicken Salad
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
(Makes 4-6 Servings)

1 large carrot, peeled
3 cups shredded napa cabbage, from 1 small cabbage
3 cups shredded romaine lettuce, from 1 small lettuce
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and deveined, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh Thai basil leaves or fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 cups thinly sliced store-bought rotisserie chicken (about 2 small chicken breasts)
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted* see Cook's note
1 tablespoon toasted white or black sesame seeds

1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, optional
1/2 cup chow mein noodles, for garnish

For the salad: Using a vegetable peeler, shave the carrot and add to a large salad bowl. Stir in the cabbage, lettuce, pepper, Thai basil, chicken, almonds, and sesame seeds.

For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, if using.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well. Garnish with the chow mein noodles and serve.

*Cook's Note: To toast the slivered almonds, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly golden. Cool completely before using.

Crispy Spiced Baked Wonton Strips
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups or so)

8 (or more) wonton wrappers
1/2 tsp Chinese Five Spice powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sesame seeds
olive oil or canola spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Stack won ton wrappers and cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips. (A pizza cutter works perfectly for this). Mix seasoning powder In a small bowl. Arrange the strips in a single layer on the prepared pan. Spray strips very lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle evenly with the seasoning mix. Bake strips until golden brown and slightly crisp, about 6-7 minutes total.

Transfer strips to a plate to cool completely (strips will continue to crisp as they cool). Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Notes/Results: Loved this salad--refreshing, light but filling and great flavors and good crunch. I liked the changes I made, especially the wonton strips which are pretty addicting and add another layer of tastes with the spices. They would also be a great chip with the squares cut into triangles and served with a Asian-inspired dip. I would make this again with the changes.

You can check out what the other IHCC participants made for their "Out of Italy" choices by going to the post here and following the links.

Speaking of salad love, you will find the majority of the large "meal-sized" salads that I make on this blog are served on my beloved salad/bowl plate. About the size of a dinner plate but with raised sides, it is one of my favorite dishes. Love it!

While I don't love having yucky coughing, wheezing bronchitis flare-ups, I do love a good herbal home remedy like this Thyme Syrup, a homemade cough syrup from a favorite book "Drink to Your Health: Delicious Juices, Teas, Soups, and Smoothies" by Anne McIntyre. I started making this cough syrup last fall and it tastes much better than nasty bottled cough syrup. Although there is a lot of sugar in it, I feel good knowing it is local honey and pure organic, unbleached sugar providing the sweetness instead of chemicals and preservatives.

Does it work? Well, I have been using it all weekend for my latest bit of lung nastiness and I find it very soothing to both my throat and chest and it does calm down my coughing. Between the syrup and a little medication help to open up my airways, I am feeling MUCH better. I have taken to making it in double batches and used lemon thyme from my herb garden in my last run, which added another layer of flavor. In a cute bottle this would be a fun little gift for an under-the-weather friend, along with a little chocolate and a stack of trashy magazines of course! ;-)

McIntyre says, "This sweet fragrant syrup from Greece makes an excellent remedy for all kinds of coughs. Thyme is highly antiseptic and, with its expectorant action, chases away infection and cleans congestion from the chest. A perfect syrup for children with it's smooth velvety texture and delicious taste."

Thyme Syrup
"Drink to Your Health" by Anne McIntyre
(Makes About 2 Cups)

2 oz fresh thyme leaves or 1 oz dried
2 1/2 cups boiling water
3/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cups sugar

Place the thyme in a teapot. Pour boiling water over, cover, and leave to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. Heat the infusion with the honey and sugar in a stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Stir the mixture as it starts to thicken and skim any scum from the surface. Leave to cool.

Pour into a cork-stoppered bottle and store in the refrigerator. Drink 2 teaspoons, 3 times daily for chronic problems, and every 2 hours for acute conditions in children.

Of course you know I loves me some good chocolate and I finally got to try one of the new Vosges bars, the Black Salt Caramel Bar. With black Hawaiian sea salt, burnt sugar caramel and dark chocolate (70% cacao) it sounded pretty perfect.

The box says, "Black Hawaiian salt or Hiwa Kai is a blend of sea salt and volcanic charcoal. The salt is harvested naturally in ocean pools that have formed from past volcanic eruptions. The salt's striking hue is matched only by its flavor on your palate--slightly nutty and smoky--the perfect combination with caramel and dark chocolate."

The verdict: The 70% cacao is creamy and firm, the caramel inside is soft and gooey and there is just the right amount of smokiness and salt. This is a very rich bar with a somewhat sophisticated taste--it would be great paired with a cappuccino.

I think the simpler Barcelona Bar with it's deep milk chocolate, sea salt and smoked almonds is still my first true Vosges love but this bar is delicious and comes very close--so definitely feeling the love for this one. ;-)

So there you have it--the Things I Am Loving This Week. What are you enjoying right now?

BTW--This post and the Asian Chicken Salad and homemade Thyme Syrup are heading to the Hearth 'n Soul Tuesday Blog Hop hosted by my friend girlichef and other fabulous bloggers (A Moderate Life, Hunger and Thirst, and Frugality and Crunchiness wth Christy) and featuring good food cooked from the heart that feeds the body and the soul.



  1. everything sounds good. I hope you feel better soon!

  2. It is definitely true that every FN star has at least one asian chicken salad up their sleeves. I wonder how different they would taste if someone did a side-by-side comparison...

    Looks delicious and I love your baked wonton idea!

    I"m sorry to hear you're feeling sick! I'm going to bookmark this thyme syrup...just in case.

  3. That salad looks great, but the cough syrup is appreciated! Thanks.

  4. What a lovely post. I am a fairly new follower so I haven't seen these posts from you yet. I liked it ans am looking forward to more. The photo of the salad is gorgeous! The chocolate sounds right up my ally I will have to look for that. I'm not a big fan of thyme so I'm not so sure of the syrup, but I'd love to try!

  5. What that cough syrup needs is vodka! I hope you feel better soon.

  6. Absolutely beautiful salad. And I'm also in the market for homemade cough syrup right now.

  7. Deb - what a delicious looking salad. Giada is surprising me - all the dishes I have seen have turned out great. But I think it is your touch of the wonton strips that makes this a standout dish! Thanks for sharing this at the Hearth and Soul Hop this week.

  8. Wow! The salad looks beautiful and delicious!

  9. Kat--thanks! I am much better already. ;-)

    Joanne--Kim needs to do a Asian Chciken Salad throwdown I think! ;-) The syrup is a good and easy thing to have on hand.

    Kurinji--thank you! ;-)

    Melynda--thanks for stopping by. Hope you don't have to use the cough syrup. ;-)

    Lyndsey--thank you--both the salad and chocolate are good. With the syrup the thyme is there but the honey stands out more. ;-)

    Foodycat--so true! ;-)

    MM--I hope you give this one a try--it is simple and seems to work. ;-) Feel better!

    Nico--thanks! It is a great way to use up leftover wonton skins and they taste great. ;-)

    Christy--thank you! The wontons add a delicious touch i think. Thanks for hosting HnS! ;-)

    Cooking Gallery--thank you! ;-)

  10. Deb, you have been busy! I sure hope that you are feeling better. I love the syrup in the cute little bottles. Just adorable. Yep, that would be a perfect gift for someone under the weather. Goodness, those chocolates sound amazing. I'm headed to your little part of the world in about 4 weeks (I can't wait!!) and will have to see if I can find them. We are still enjoying the salt that you sent us from your giveaway. Thanks again Deb!

  11. That really is a beautiful salad.

  12. Oh, I love everything this week, too! That syrup is one I'll be saving...just in case...it actually sounds like a decent remedy, I'm glad you're at least starting to feel better. The Asian salad sounds delicious...love the wonton strips, that's fun! And the chocolate...ahhhh, the chocolate...need I say more? Thanks for sharing it with the hearth and soul hop, too :D

  13. I'm glad to see that TIALTW is back!! Hooray! I love a good asian chicken salad too and I like how you adapted it with the crispy baked wontons. Sounds exactly like the kind of thing I need to eat. (I've been indulging a little too much lately). I'm glad to see you included the recipe for your homemade cough syrup. Everyone in my house is coughing these days and my husband and I have been drinking way too much Nyquil.
    I've never had Vosges chocolate before, but it sounds very tempting!

  14. That Vosges cohoclate is wonderful, isn;t it? I really like the chocolate bacon bar.

    I love your salad - that will make you feel better (I hope) and your photography is really great. Very nice dish, very nice post :-)

  15. Oh deb, I do hope you feel better! My dad is Greek and for years told us to use thyme for lung issues. I usually put some essential oil in a hot bath and soak in it,but I am totally going to make this syrup! Very cool. As for the caramel bar-meanie~!~~~ the chicken salad is as all lovely dinner salads are-simply a lovely light and delicious meal! Thanks so much for sharing on the hearth and soul hop and feel better! Alex@amoderatelife

  16. Great salad! I love that you made your own spiced wonton strips! And homemade cough syrup - cool!
    My father used to mix cayenne pepper with honey and eat it off the spoon. Said he learned it in India. Worth a try!

  17. That salad looks beautiful, but it's the caramel chocolate bar that is calling my name!

  18. I am loving your homemade cough syrup! And your chicken salad. I have been craving salads all week - too many sweets make me do that. I really love your new look!

  19. Kim--thank you! Vosges are great chocolates--I hope you get a chance to try them. ;-)

    Danielle--thank you!

    girlichef--it is a good recipe to have on had in cold and flu season just in case, but easy enough to whip up quickly when you need it. ;-)

    Kim--You need to try the Vosges--they have some great, exotic flavors. ;-)

    Pierce--Thank you, and yes the chocolate bacon bars are yummy!

    Alex--thank you! I use the hot bath / essential oil trick too. ;-)

    Natashya--Thanks! I think I'll stick with this one though, cayenne makes me cough and sneeze. ;-)

    Joanna--it is tempting isn't it?! ;-)

    Reeni--thank you! I an still working on the look but it was nice to change it up a bit. ;-)

  20. I like you're salad à lot especcially the adition of The wonton wrappers to Ad Some crunch. I work in à pharmacie end we sell à lot of thyme sirup, but i would never thought of it to make it myself.

  21. Oh, Deb, what's not to love here this week. I really like the sound (and look) of the Asian Chicken Salad and I especially love the idea of your wonton crisps instead of noodles - must try that - I often do an Asian style salad with crispy belly pork and crispy noodles (amongst other things), but these wonton crisps would make a great alternative.

    I adore your blue plate, and love the new look to your blog as well.

    Am super impressed by your homemade cough syrup too, and what beautiful bottles.

    As for the chocolate - I'm saying nothing!!

    Sue :-)

  22. I love Asian inspired salads! Crunchy wonton strips are a sure winner. I would have to add some spice to the dressing, just a bit, for a nice, stealthy kick:)
    I have a lot of homemade remedies in the house, but no cough syrup. This sounds like an after dinner drink, and I second the addition of vodka (or rum:)

  23. Yvette--thank you! Hope you try the syrup. ;-)

    Sue--thanks for all the positive feedback. ;-) The wonton strips are fun. ;-)

    Lana--thank you! A little spice would be delicious in the salad too. ;-)

  24. I hope you are feeling better! I love the idea of the homemade cough syrup. Going to have to try that the next time my hubby gets one of those coughs that just won't quit. Thank you for a lovely post. :)

  25. Allison--thank you! I am feeling much better. Hope you try and like the cough syrup. ;-)


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