simple

I love mu shu. It has been one of my favorite things since I was a kid. My parents used to take me out for Chinese food regularly just so that I could have it. Yum yum yum.

I have been searching for years for a great mu shu recipe. I never did find the perfect one, but as with almost everything I cook, I took a recipe and tweaked and changed and tasted and tinkered until it was just perfect and I am happy to say that the mu shu recipe is ready for sharing.

This recipe is fresh and crisp, but not crunchy. It is flavorful and traditional in taste but lighter in weight and calories.

There are some compromises that I have made due to the availability of ingredients, family likes and dislikes and ease of making. I use flour tortillas instead of mandarin pancakes because I have two kids and no time to make them and I haven’t found them in any of the stores I shop at yet. I also leave out the traditional black mushrooms because my husband doesn’t like them and again they are a little tricky to find. Both of these could be found in an Asian grocery store and we have plenty of those in Seattle, but the extra trip just doesn’t seem worth it when it is just as yummy and a ton simpler without those things. I apologize to the traditionalists out there.

The work in this recipe is in the preparation. There are quite a few parts that need to be prepared and ready to go before cooking, but each is very simple.

Let’s get started…

Marinade the Meat
2 T. Soy sauce
1 T. white wine
1 T. Hosin Sauce
1 t. Sesame oil
1/2 pound of boneless chicken or pork in small strips or shredded*

Mix the marinade, add the meat, stir and let sit at room temp for 15-20 min or in the fridge for at least 1hr.

*This is a great way to use left over roasted chicken or pork roasts. Whether the meat is cooked or not does not really effect the recipe at all.

While the meat is marinating…

Veggies
2 cups Napa Cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 cup bean sprouts

prepare and collect all the veggies on a dinner plate, cutting board or bowl to ease dumping into the wok later

Cooking Sauce
3 T chicken broth
2 T soy sauce
1 T white wine
1 T toasted sesame oil
1 t. sugar
1 t. corn starch

Mix cooking sauce ingredients together and set aside.

Prepare Eggs
2 eggs
pinch of salt
1 t olive oil

  • beat the eggs in a small bowl with salt.
  • Heat olive oil in wok on medium heat.
  • Add egg and cook, lifting the sides to allow the uncooked egg to run underneath. When just a little runny is left, flip the egg patty over and then slide out of pan onto a cutting board.
  • slice the egg into 1″ x 1/4″ strips

Set aside for later

Prepare garlic and ginger
3 large garlic cloves
1/2 in section of ginger

mince garlic and ginger and set aside

Prepare green onions for serving
4 green onions

Julienne the green onions into 1 inch thin strips and place in small serving bowl to place on the table.

Now, everything should be prepped. This can all be done in advance and held in the fridge until you are ready to cook. Cooking this takes only a couple of minutes so don’t start until you are ready to eat. You must be ready to move quickly and serve immediately.

This would be a good time to warm your tortillas. I recommend the fajita size flour tortillas and about 2-3 per person depending on appetites. A quick and easy way to warm your tortillas is to place them on a microwave safe plate, sprinkling each tortilla with water and microwaving on high for 30 seconds. Right before serving, flip the tortillas and microwave on high again for 30 seconds.

Ok, time to cook…

  • Heat 1 T of olive oil in your wok on medium high heat.
  • Add garlic and ginger and cook till aromatic, about 1 minute.
  • Add your meat that has been marinating and cook until heated through, stirring constantly – time will depend on whether your meat was previously cooked or not.
  • Add all the veggies at once and mix them in. Cook for about 1 minute until cabbage begins to wilt slightly.
  • Add cooking sauce and egg and cook until sauce is slightly thickened, about another minute.

Remove from heat and pour into serving dish.

To serve…

Take one tortilla, spread a little hoisin sauce on the tortilla, spoon meat and veggie mix into tortilla, top with green onions.
Roll into a little burrito and enjoy

This is one of those dishes that I just made up out of the sky one day. Hmmm, what to eat for lunch, combine a bunch of random stuff and poof, great dish. Well, some of the time it works out that way. As is also the way with these types of dishes, the ingredient list may seem a little eccentric, but it is a clean out the randoms in your kitchen kind of dish and boy is it good.

As with all my recipes, I recommend that you try it and customize it to your own liking. That is what cooking is all about. If there is an ingredient that you don’t like, or don’t have, omit it or substitute for it.

Since this is a kitchen cabinet meal, use what you have. No chicken? No problem, this would be good with any meat, no meat or tofu. Perfect use for leftover meat from last night’s dinner. Pretty much any vegetable would be great in this and any kind of rice will do just fine. The green olives and peperccinis are pretty integral to the flavor of the dish, but if you are strongly averted to one or the other, this dish will stand up just fine with just one of those. Don’t be afraid to get creative and make this dish your own.

Funky Chicken and Mediterranean Rice Salad

1 c. cooked cubed or shredded chicken
2 c. cooked brown rice
1/2 c. chopped red pepper
1/2 c. roughly chopped mushrooms (I like cremini, but any kind will do)
1/2 c. finely chopped or shredded carrots
1/4 c. finely chopped red onion
1/4 c. chopped green olives (my favorite are the garlic stuffed ones, but any will do)
1/4 c. chopped peppercini peppers (you can find these by the olives)
1/4 c. Italian Salad Dressing (this is My FavoriteNewman's own parmesan and roasted garlic salad dressing, use yours)

Putting this together is pretty simple.  Mix it all together and serve. The chicken and rice should be pretty warm when added.

mmmmm, tasty!

Recently, I went to get my hair done. I am pretty bad about doing this and maybe get in twice a year if I am lucky. Usually I wait on pins and needles for my stylist to tell me how damaged my hair is and how I should really be using this product or that, for sale at the salon of course.

But, I waited and waited and this comment never came. Instead, while she was cutting away, she exclaimed, seemingly out of nowhere… “Your hair is gorgeous! It is thick and soft and healthy, what in the world have you been doing?”

Well, I have never felt like my hair was anything close to gorgeous. When I was a small child, i had a severe case of cradle cap and would itch and pick at my scalp. This has left me with permanent bald spots on the top of my head, on either side of center. I have always had to compensate for this when styling my hair and it really bothers me.

My mother has thinning hair and I became really worried that as I aged, my hair would start to disappear. That being a huge nightmare to me, I started to do research about hair thinning and health as well as restorative growth of hair. I am not a big fan of pharmaceuticals or chemical treatments and so decided to try to avoid those types of products. Rogain and the like are also targeted at a specific kind of genetic pattern baldness and this is not really my issue, so skip that.

I tried several types of hair products and nothing really came of it and after wading through research and article after article of crap, I was almost ready to resign to the fact that there wasn’t much I could do. Then I came across a good piece of advice and some pieces of information that just seemed to make sense.

What do I have to lose? I thought. And so I changed two simple parts of my hair care routine and a little less than a year later, my hairdresser is giving my hair accolades and asking me, rather than telling me, what I am doing to take such good care of my hair.

So, are your squirming to know yet? Well, don’t get too excited. It is so simple. Here it is…

1. Stop washing your hair so much.

and

2. Stop using hair products with parabens in them.

That’s it!

NOTE: I am not a physician and this certainly won’t work for everyone, but I have noticeably thicker, healthier hair and even have new growth in the thin areas that have persisted since my youth. Please don’t hold me responsible for your results.

Here is a little more detail and some tips for those of you who may be interested in this.

About Washing Your Hair

It is recommended that you only wash your hair once a week, but that was impossible for me. I actually started with every other day and then lengthened the time by a day or so until my hair was so bad I couldn’t stand it and made that my schedule. I wash my hair on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Twice a weak. By the last day (especially Tuesday), my hair is starting to get on the greasy side, but hey that’s what pony tails are for.

Now, this does not mean that you can’t or shouldn’t get your hair wet in between washings. Washing your hair, in this context, means putting shampoo on your hair. In between washings, I rinse my hair thoroughly and rub down my scalp (no fingernails). I also use a small amount of conditioner (also paraben free) to help with manageability.

When you do wash your hair, you may need to use a little more shampoo than you usually do, but do not wash your hair more than once.

Paraben Free Products

Parabens are preservatives that are used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. They can cause allergic reactions and skin irritation. Toxins pass easily through the skin and hair follicles are active pathways. Buildup of these toxins can prevent your hair growing and regrowing to it fullest potential.

There are many paraben free products available. I use Avalon Organics Nourishing Lavender Shampoo and Conditioner., but there are many available and they can usually be found at your local health food store or easily online.

These products can often be a little more expensive, although if you shop around and look online you should be able to find a good deal on a great product. Also, if you have a Trader Joes near you, check there. I pay $4.99 for the products I use. The retail price is about $8.95. That’s a significant savings.

The only other thing I can think of to note is that you may need to use a little more shampoo on days that you wash your hair. More natural hair care products are not as foamy as those hair care products that are full of chemicals, and then on top of that, your hair is dirtier than usual and that keeps the soap from foaming as well, so just use a little more. No need to go overboard, just a little extra. Don’t however wash your hair twice. This is very damaging.

I hope that this simple two step system to healthier, fuller hair benefits you. Of course there are no guarantees and it won’t happen over night, but I can say that I have noticeably more hair where my thinning spot are and my stylist thinks my hair is gorgeous. What’s better than that?