Fresh Chicken Summer Rolls

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Summer rolls are my go-to quick meals in the summertime and occasionally in the Winter when I want a light but filling meal. They can be packed full of your favourite veggies, proteins, herbs, and always be delicious. Though a lot of people know what summer rolls are – it seems a lot of people also don’t seem to realize how easy (and cheap!) they are to make!

In most restaurants, two of these wraps can go for $5-6. It’s a lot more cost saving (and fun) to be making these at home! Try to go through this recipe and see if it becomes a staple for your own hot summer days.


INGREDIENTS & COSTS FOR 6 WRAPS
TAKES 30 MINUTES, SERVES 2

1/4 of a package of thin vermicelli noodles ($0.49)
6 Rice Paper Wraps ($0.39)
1 Carrot ($0.16)
1/3 Cucumber ($0.66)
6 Romaine Lettuce Leaves ($0.30)
1/2 cup of fresh Basil (Thai Basil if you can find it!) ($0.49)

FOR THE PROTEIN: (You can use any protein you’d like, ex: substitute chicken with 1/2 block of Tofu)

1 Chicken breast ($2.33)
1 Tsp Corn Starch ($0.01)
2 Tsp Soya Sauce – 1 for marinade, 1 for sautéing ($0.02)
1 Tsp Ginger ($0.01)
1 garlic clove ($0.02)
1 scallion ($0.09)
1 Tbs Canola Oil ($0.05)
1 Thai Chili Pepper (Optional)

Total Cost = $5.02* – $0.83 each!

Compared to the $5-6 for 2 at restaurants! For the amount you make – its comparing $5.00 to $15.00-$18.00! That’s a great trade off.

*Depending the cost of the ingredients in your area, the cost may be more or less. I live in a fairly inflated part of town, so chances are your cost will be less.

Need the proof? Head down to the bottom of this page!


DIRECTIONS

The very first thing you should do is boil a small pot of water for your vermicelli noodles. I personally think the texture of the noodles is the most important part of these wraps, they should never be wet and soggy! While the water boils, gather all your ingredients!

ingredients-summer-rolls-fresh-healthy

Preparing your protein should be the next step. Chop the green onions then mince the garlic, ginger, and Thai chili if you opted for it to be spicy! Next slice your protein (I used chicken), then add in the cornstarch and soy sauce. Mix it all together!

By now your water should be boiled. Add in the 1/4 package of vermicelli noodles. Lower the heat to medium and cook the noodles for about 2 minutes. Once the noodles look cooked, drain and rinse using a sift. Try to squeeze are much water out as possible and cool the noodles in the fridge. Putting the noodles in the fridge allows it dry out a bit more and allows it to have a great texture!

chicken-ingredients-rolls

Once your protein ingredients are ready, set a pan on the stove at medium-high heat. Pour in the oil and wait for it to heat. Once heated, add in the ginger. As soon as it gets aromatic, add in the protein. Stir for about 2 minutes and wait for the chicken (or your choice of protein) to cook through. Once it does, add in the green onions, garlic, soy sauce, and chili. Now stir quickly for another 30 seconds and take it off the heat. Set it aside.

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Now that your protein is set, start cutting up your veggies! I chose the julienne most of the vegetables so it’s easy to fit into the wraps.

chopped-vegetables

Once your veggies are ready, you can now start making your wraps! Take the noodles out of the fridge and shake them up a bit so they pull apart.

Take a large flat bottom pan or bowl (wide enough to fit the rice paper) and fill it with warm tap water. Grab a couple paper towels and put them next to the pan, you’ll be using these to dry the rice wraps! Put a rice paper wrap in the warm water and wait for it to get soft – it shouldn’t take more than 1 minute. Once it does, take it out and try to shake off as much water as possible, then dry it on the paper towels. This allows it to stick and hold better as your make your roll! Place the wrap on a cutting board or a flat surface and start filling!

summer-rolls-healthy-instructions-copyThe easiest way to wrap is to pull up the bottom half, then the side of the wrap, and then roll it up. And there you have it! In less than 30 minutes and 5 dollars, you have a wonderfully light but filling, healthy lunch for two!

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These wraps can be further enjoyed with sriracha, hoisin sauce, and especially my All Purpose Thai Peanut Sauce! I can’t recommend that enough, it’s just wonderful.

This recipe can be gluten free if you substitute the soy sauce used in the protein to a GF soy sauce!

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Enjoy! And any feedback is 100% appreciated.


INGREDIENT COSTS

I’m referring to a Loblaws (a generic grocery chain in Canada) receipt, weekly flyer, and their website, as well as my Farmboy receipt.

Pack of 4 Chicken Breasts – $9.33
500 g No Name 100% Pure Corn Starch ($2.29) – $0.46/100g
500 ml Rootster Superior Dark Soy Sauce ($1.99) – $0.40/100ml
1 bunch of green onions ($0.79)
Garlic – $0.88/100g
Ginger – $0.43/100g
Romaine Lettuce – $1.50
3 Lbs Carrots – $2.00
1 Cucumber – $1.50
Basil – $1.99
400 g package of Thin Vermicelli Noodles – $1.99
Six Fortune Rice Paper Wraps – $2.99(comes with 45-50 papers)

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Ginger Scallion Noodles

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If I could eat every meal at David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar I would. Unfortunately that’s not the reality so I decided to do my best to recreate one of his simple noodle bowls at his restaurant! I adapted the recipe from his Momofuku cookbook to contain ingredients that you won’t have to travel far for, and all can be done within 10 minutes!

Once you master this noodle bowl, it’ll become a staple easy lunch I promise!


Ginger Scallion Noodles

Ingredients & Costs

  • 1/4 of a package of wheat noodles ($0.42)
  • 1 tbs Ginger ($0.03)
  • 1 garlic clove ($0.02)
  • 2 scallions ($0.18)
  • 1½ tbs Canola Oil ($0.075)
  • ½ tbs Rice Vinegar ($0.09)
  • 1½ tsp Soy Sauce ($0.03)
  • ½ tsp Salt ($0.01)
  • 1 Thai Chili Pepper (Optional)
  • Total Cost = $0.85*

    Compared to the $8-10 at noodle bars!

    *Depending the cost of the ingredients in your area, the cost may be more or less. I live in a fairly inflated part of town, so chances are your cost will be less.

    Need the proof? Head down to the bottom of this page!


    DIRECTIONS

    First you should note that the noodles in the recipe are everything! The cookbook highly recommends you use fresh ramen noodles, I just ended up using fresh wheat noodles that you can get at any Chinese grocery store in Chinatown! They’re always my go-to noodle for small bowls and soups.

    Wheat-noodles-thin.jpg

    One package can definitely be enough for 3-4 people, so I only use a quarter of the package for a small bowl for my lunch!

    First things first, mince your ginger and garlic as small as you can! Ideally, if you have a food processor, you can toss them in there. Cut your scallions so they are about 1 1/2 inches long and slice vertically. Adding the Thai chili pepper is completely optional, I just love to have heat to any noodles I eat! While doing this, put a pot of water on the stove.

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    Once everything is chopped up, grab a small bowl and pour in the oil, vinegar, soy sauce, salt, all the veggies, and mix!

    ginger-scallion-noogles-mix

    By now your water should be boiling, toss in your noodles and they should be ready within 1 minute! While waiting, use a small pan and pour your ginger mixture in. As soon as it gets aromatic, wait 15 seconds and take it off the heat. Once your noodles are ready, drain, rinse, and toss it into the pan with the heated mixture.

    Mix the noodles in with the sauce and your noodles are ready within seconds!

    Feel free to add in extra sides at the end (ex. Kimchi, pickled cucumbers, pickled cabbage, etc) it’ll all taste yummy!

    ginger-scallion-noodles1

    And that is one of the easiest lunches you can make! And all for under $1!

    Hope you enjoy it, any feedback & comments are definitely appreciated 🙂


    INGREDIENT COSTS

    I’m referring to a Loblaws (a generic grocery chain in Canada) weekly flyer and their website, and a local Chinese grocery store

    1 Lb of Shanghai Fresh Wheat Noodles ($1.69)
    355 ml Seasoned Rice Vinegar ($4.59) – $1.29/100ml
    500 ml Rooster Superior Dark Soy Sauce ($1.99) – $0.40/100ml
    Garlic – $0.88/100g
    Ginger – $0.43/100g
    946 ml No Name Brand Canola Oil ($4.19) – $0.44/100ml
    1kg Windsor Table Salt ($1.69) – $0.17/100g
    1 bunch of green onions ($0.79)

    Veggie-Packed Noodle Bowl with Tofu Steaks and Peanut Sauce

    I’m an omnivore in every sense, but I aim to have vegetarian meal days twice a week as a preference. Doing this not only allows me to eat a larger variety of vegetables, but also is cheaper than eating meat, is more sustainable, and forces me to learn how to make meals that don’t use meat as a crutch. This veggie noodle bowl does just that.

    Inspired by a local vegetarian restaurant, this noodle bowl packs in so much flavour, incorporates a large variety of vegetables, and is my go-to meal since it’s one of the easiest and fastest meals anyone can make. This recipe can also be vegan and/or gluten free if you substitute a few ingredients with others (I’ll be highlighting those substitutes). This is an incredibly dynamic dish as you can pick and choose what vegetables you want to add depending on your preference, almost any leafy green works!

    The protein of the recipe is the sweet soy sauce marinated tofu, with an addition of the All Purpose Peanut Sauce recipe I posted earlier this week! If you wish to add meat to the bowl, you absolutely can by just substituting the tofu and keeping the marinade the same!


    INGREDIENTS & COSTS FOR 1 LARGE BOWL
    Takes approx. 15 minutes to make

    Marinated Tofu:
    1/4 block of Firm Tofu ($0.62)
    1/2 Tsp of Corn Starch ($0.006)
    1 Tsp of Dark Soy Sauce (regular works fine if you don’t have dark, this just has a richer flavour) ($0.01) – Can be substituted to be GF
    1/2 Tsp of Cumin ($0.02)
    1/4 Tsp of ground Szechuan Peppercorn (you can use regular pepper, but I highly recommend a trip to Chinatown to get this peppercorn!)
    1 Tsp Sesame Oil ($0.07)
    1 Tsp Honey (or Maple Syrup if you want a vegan recipe) ($0.05)

    The Bowl:
    1/3 – 1/2 of a sheet of Thai Vermicelli (rice) noodles depending on appetite! Each package usually comes with 3 sheets ($0.20)
    1/3 cup Broccoli (or Chinese Broccoli) ($0.19)
    2 heads of Baby Bok Choy (and/or Nappa Cabbage, Kale, Spinach, the list goes on!) ($0.50)
    1/4 cup Zucchini ($0.19)
    1/3 a Bell Pepper (Green, Orange, Red, Yellow – pick your preference!) ($0.70)
    1/3 cup of Thai Peanut Sauce ($0.46)
    1 Green Onion to garnish ($0.09)
    Cilantro to garnish ($0.08)

    Total Cost: $3.18

    Compared to the restaurant cost of $19 per bowl!

    *Depending the cost of the ingredients in your area, the cost may be more or less. I live in a fairly inflated part of town, so chances are your cost will be less.

    Need the proof? Head down to the bottom of this page!


    DIRECTIONS

    First the tofu. This is the main marinade I use for the majority of meals I make with tofu, mainly because it gives it a great crunchy crust but still keeps the salty and sweet taste of the soy sauce and honey. First cut 1/4 of the block for 1 bowl (I got greedy and cut 1/3rd and had left over tofu!).

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    Take the left over tofu, fill a container with water, and store it away for other meals! Next, slice the tofu to be about 1cm thick, and then cut again diagonally.

    tofu_3

    Use 2 pieces of paper towels and squeeze excess water out of the tofu by pressing down on it on both sides. This allows the tofu to soak up more of the marinade. After drying, take a small bowl and combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, honey (or maple syrup), cornstarch,  Szechuan pepper, and cumin. Stir it all together, put the tofu in a different container, and pour the mix on top of the tofu. Now mix! Or shake! Whatever floats. While doing this, put a pot of water on boil.

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    Let the tofu marinate for a bit. You can chop up your veggies now! The great thing about this bowl is that you can really add in anything you want! Any leafy green works perfectly, or anything you would put in a salad. I decided to cut up bok choy, Chinese broccoli, orange peppers, and zucchini. Chop up the scallions and cilantro as well to act as your garnish. I don’t recommend you skip on this step, the two herbs really tie the dish together.

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    By this time your tofu should be marinated enough, put a tablespoon of canola oil in a pan and put it on the stove on medium-high heat. Once the oil is heated, use a pair of tongs and fry the tofu on each side for about 30 seconds to make sure its nice and crispy. Once the tofu’s skin is well cooked, take another paper towel and transfer the tofu from the pan onto the towel to let it collect excess oil. Keep the leftover oil in the pan for our next step!

    marinated_tofu

    Time to boil the noodles! By now the water should be boiling. Break off a piece of the rice noodles, I’ve made the mistake of cooking 1/2 a package for 2 people too many times – trust me it’s definitively going to be MORE than what you expect!

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    Read the instructions on the package, but they should be ready within 3-5 minutes. Feel free to check after 3 to see if it’s soft to your own liking.

    Once the noodles start to cook, toss all your vegetables in the pan you cooked the tofu in (except the garnish!) on medium heat. Cover the pan with a lid and wait for it to get hot. When the vegetables start to steam, take the lid off and splash a teaspoon of soy sauce on and stir for about 15 seconds. Take the pan off the heat.

    By this time your noodles should be cooked! Drain the noodles, quickly rinse them in cold water, and place them in a bowl. Now you can assemble your veggie bowl! Add in the tofu and the veggies.

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    Now pour on peanut sauce and you have a delicious healthy, vegetable-packed, gluten free noodle bowl even a carnivore would enjoy. And all for under $3.25 compared to the restaurant cost of $19!

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    I’d love to hear feedback (good or bad) or any tips! Don’t hesitate to comment! Enjoy! 🙂


    INGREDIENT COSTS

    I’m referring to a Loblaws (a generic grocery chain in Canada) receipt, weekly flyer, and their website.

    1 block (420 g) of Rooster Tofu ($2.49)
    500 g No Name 100% Pure Corn Starch ($2.29) – $0.46/100g
    500 ml Rootster Superior Dark Soy Sauce ($1.99) – $0.40/100ml
    400 g Suraj Cumin ($3.49) – $0.87/100g
    443 ml LKK Pure Sesame Oil ($6.99) – $1.59/100ml
    500 g Farm Boy™ Pure Ontario Honey ($4.99) – $0.99/100g
    454 Rice Stick Vermicelli Noodles, small ($2.29) – $0.50/100g
    1 Broccoli crown ($0.99)
    1 bag of Baby Bok Choy ($1.99)
    1 Zucchini ($0.79)
    1 Orange Bell Pepper ($2.10)
    1 cup of homemade peanut sauce ($1.39)
    1 bunch of green onions ($0.79)
    1 bunch of Cilantro ($2.49)

    Ugh, another food blog? What else is new?

    Hello world!

    I figure my first blog post should contain a few main things. Try to skim through and see if the value proposition I’m proposing is worth sticking around for!

    So, what’s your story?

    I recently graduated from university in Ottawa, Ontario with a commerce degree and immediately went into a full time marketing position in the finance industry. I was the type of student who would have a full time course load, work part time (and sometimes full time) in a marketing office, and be a teaching assistant for marketing courses at university. It was 75% because I needed to put myself through school and pay rent from the age of 19, and 25% because I’m a workaholic. Having said that, because I was so busy with being busy, I never really had time to slow down. Now that I only have one thing on my day-to-day agenda, it was only a matter of time before I went into a full on identity crisis!

    Trying to find my passion wasn’t as difficult as I thought it’d be. My passion is simple and it’s primitive. It’s food. It’s cooking. It’s providing nourishment for the ones you care for. I don’t want to get too Michael Pollan on everyone here, but I was raised in a family where food meant love. This may not be an overly healthy relationship you want with food, but finding the right balance is also a journey I hope to share with you guys.

    Ugh, another food blog? What else is new?

    Well, I can’t argue with you there. However, I can tell you that my food and cooking blog has a goal. And no, it’s not to monetize traffic and focus on my SEO metrics. Even though I am an extremely analytical person with a resume focused on data and marketing metrics, I’m going to focus on something else here. Not too long ago I read an article that stated that Millennials are the generation that spend the most on dining out. A whole 44% of food dollars to be exact.

    I’m not hating on eating out here, I love going to restaurants, being served, and eating meals I could never prepare at home. It’s almost one of my favourite pastimes. However, I think a part of this 44% has to do with the fact that some of my fellow millennials aren’t confident enough to cook the meals they see in restaurants, at home. I’m trying to tell you different. You can eat incredibly delicious, high quality, delicate food right in your home.

    Okay.. Where’s that value proposition you promised?

    The value this food blog is trying to bring to you is cost evaluation. With every recipe I post, I’ll be including the costs involved for each ingredient to the cent and provide the full cost to prepare the meals. And you can never forget about the opportunity costs here either. With the numbers involved, I hope to show you guys that making delicious food isn’t hard, and it’s actually really cheap. Compare these costs to those 15$ cocktails and 18$ minuscule plates of ceviche at restaurants, and who knows, maybe you’ll say the words “Lets dine in” a little more often. Stay tuned!