Amuse Bouche This: Pork Wonton Soup Meets Japanese Braised Pork Belly and Kale

[I can't believe I still haven't blogged about this!... This post was sitting in my drafts folder for almost a year.  How did i miss this?! ]

My ultimate comfort food is pork wonton soup that my Mom used to make when I was growing up.  I could almost guarantee there would a big bowl of filling with two packets of wonton wrappers waiting for me to help her wrap wontons during the first day of winter.  We’d make a large batch to consume later that night, but she would also freeze baggies of wontons for Monday night dinners weeks ahead.

It’s raining and cold outside today.  I was craving something warm and soothing, but I realized that we had recently finished the wontons my Mom gave us.  What was my solution?  It was easy… make some more!

This is my kicked up version of the traditional pork wonton soup with slices of char shiu pork and bok choy…

Amuse Bouche This: Pork Wonton Soup Meets Japanese Braised Pork Belly and Kale

For the filling:

1 pound of ground pork
3 stalks of green onion, chopped
1 1/4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup of low-sodium chicken broth
Pinch of salt
Pinch of white pepper
1 packet of wonton wrappers

Combine all the ingredients thoroughly in a large mixing bowl.

Fill a small bowl with water and keep it next to you. Place one heaping teaspoonful of the filling in the center of a wonton wrapper. [Be sure not to put too much of the filling, otherwise it'll leak out during the folding process.] Moisten all the edges of the wonton wrapper with water using your finger. Fold one edge of the wrapper over the filling like a triangle. Press the edges firmly together to make a seal, which will help eliminate any air pockets. Bring the left and right corners together above the filling. Overlap the tips of these corners, moisten with water and press together. Continue until all the wrappers are used.

Note: Wontons can be made a month ahead. Freeze in a layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Carefully lift the wontons and place them in a sealable plastic bag and keep frozen.

For the soup:

1 quart of chicken stock
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Salt and white pepper, to taste
1/2 bunch of kale, strip out the center core or stalk, tear kale into small pieces

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a large pot. Add the kale and drop in the amount of wontons you want, and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes minutes.

Garnish serving spoon or miniature serving bowls with a little broth, kale, a wonton, and braised pork belly.

For the braised pork (adapted from No Recipes):

6 cloves of garlic crushed with a heavy object
1 cup water
1/4 cup mirin
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons sake
2 teaspoon soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 pounds pork belly cut into 2″ strips

In a small dutch oven or heavy bottom pan with a tight-fitting lid, combine all the ingredients in the pot, and cover. Cook over medium-low heat for 2 to 3 hours or until the meat falls apart and the fat is silky smooth.

Remove from heat and allow the pork to rest in the broth overnight by putting it in the refrigerator after it cools. This will accomplish two things: 1) it gives the pork belly a chance to absorb more flavor and 2) it will be easier to skim off the rendered fat.

[Gently reheat the left over with some braising liquid and serve over white rice. You won't regret it.]

Turkey Kielbasa, Potato, and Kale Soup

kale soup, turkey kielbasa soup, turkey kielbasa, kielbasa

I have a few shifts left before I change jobs.  It’s a bittersweet feeling… I’m sad to leave the people that I really enjoy working with, but I’m really excited and nervous about starting my new job.  I didn’t think I was ever going to leave this job.  Ever.  In.  A.  Million.  Years.  If you asked me a year ago where I was going to be with my career in five years, I would have immediately answered with “this job, of course!”

But something suddenly changed within the last six months.  I was feeling unsatisfied and unchallenged by my job.  I was bored.  I need to be stimulated, and my current job just wasn’t doing that for me anymore.  These new feelings about my job was difficult.  I was struggling because I thought that *this* was my dream job, and that it’s such a dynamic environment, so how could I be bored?  I thought it was something that would pass if I just gave it some time, and plus there was nothing out there for me when I did a quick job search.  But the more time I gave it, the more unhappy I was with my job.

Well, low and behold, I started doing some searching and came across a job posting, which I thought I could totally love, or totally hate and regret leaving my job.  I applied, interviewed, and got the job after a two month process.  So here I am, about to finish this job and move on to the next…. wish me luck!

Turkey Kielbasa, Potato, and Kale Soup

1 large yellow onion, cut into small dices
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 fresh bay leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 small-medium sized potatoes, cut into small cubes
14 ounces (1 package) turkey kielbasa, sliced
8 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
6 cups fresh kale, chopped
2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans
Grated parmesan cheese

In a large dutch oven, heat extra virgin olive oil. When oil is hot, saute the onions and garlic until the onion is translucent. Add the bay leaves and sliced turkey kielbasa and saute for two minutes. Pour the chicken broth into the dutch oven and add the diced potatoes, and bring to a boil.

Reduce to medium-high heat. Add the kale, and cook for about 5 minutes or until the kale is tender. Stir in the cannellini beans, and adjust seasoning to your likings with salt and pepper.

Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.

Baked Lemony Kale Chips… A Guilt-Free Pleasure.

baked kale chips, lemon kale chips, kale, healthy, healthy chips, low calorie, salted kale chips, vegan, roasted kale chips, crispy kale chips

Chips are my one vice in life.  I love chips of all forms… tortilla chips,  potato chips, pita chips, corn chips, banana chips.  It can be fried, baked, or air-popped.  Whatever it is, just gimme!  It’s almost a requirement to have a bag of chips with a side of sandwich.  Yes, you read that correctly.  It’s almost a Pavlovian response to want chips with a sandwich.  In my very honest opinion, sandwiches just don’t taste as good without the crunchy texture from the chips.

My most absolute favorite type of chips are the Flamin’ Hot Limon-Flavored Cheetos.  Mmmmmmm.  Those really are the tastiest.  I had a small bag of these each day at work with my sandwich.  However, an hour or two after consuming the Cheetos, I was parched.  And to remedy this, I would drink a few glasses of water, and then I would balloon up from all the sodium!  Check this, one small snack bag of Flamin Hot Cheetos not only contains 330 calories, but it also has 380 mg of sodium.  I knew this.  I would remind myself of how bloated I was, and that I was no longer going to consume it thereafter.  But alas, I found myself the very next day at the cafeteria, purchasing a small snack bag of Flamin’ Hot Limon-Flavored Cheetos.  Such a vicious, addicting cycle.

When I started my diet, I cut out the Cheetos.  For good.  It was difficult, but I succeeded!  Unfortunately, I soon found myself wanting something crunchy with my sandwiches.  Someone at work showed me the way to barbecue-flavored Pop Chips.  I was hooked immediately.  This was my new addiction.  And they were “healthier” than the Cheetos… 120 calories for a small snack bag of Pop Chips with 250 mg of sodium.  It wasn’t the most ideal for my diet, but it was a great substitute that satiated my chips craving.

Well, I recently made a decision to wean myself from the Pop Chips.  I seem to wean myself from a lot of things, but I digress.  I’ve decided to stop consuming Pop Chips because I just don’t need to spend $1.50 per bag each day at work.  I just need to stop eating chips all together if I want to continue succeeding on my diet.  However, I knew I would fail myself, because I’ll always long for something crunchy with my sandwich or wrap.  Fortunately, I knew what was going to be a guilt-free, healthier and cheaper alternative… baked kale chips!

Baked Kale Chips

1 bunch kale, strip out the center core or stalk, tear kale into small pieces, washed and dried
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
Sea Salt

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Whisk together the olive oil, and lemon lemon juice.

Toss in the dry kale and coat them evenly. Arrange the kale in a single layer of the baking tray. Season with sea salt.

Roast the kale for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until they are crispy. Turn the kale once or twice for even crisping.

Calories per 1 cup of baked kale chips: 60

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,489 other followers