Noodles with Peanut Sauce & Chicken

Here’s my mom and me.

She’s the wonderful lady who has nurtured me through my 20+ years of life.  I stopped living with my mom once I went to college (I lived with my dad during vacations because my mom moved to PA with my stepdad) so even though I’m young, I’ve had time to reflect on our relationship.

Though our relationship had its rough patches, (what teenage girl doesn’t have rough patches with her mom) I have come to appreciate all she did, and still does for me.  I hope someday I can become as good a mother as she is.  I think I’m doing a pretty good job with Izzy so far….

Yes, I know mothering a rabbit doesn’t count.  But you have to start somewhere to hone those fine-tuned mom skills.  Like how to deal with your child (aka bunny) when they misbehave, though our current strategy will have to be tweaked since it involves locking the “child” in a cage.

So why am I posting about noodles on Mother’s Day?  Well, why not?  No, actually, I do have a legitimate reason.  It is a Chinese tradition to eat noodles on your birthday, as noodles symbolize long life.

I’m raising this bowl of noodles to my mom, and all the moms out there, to say thank you for all their hard work in raising us kids, I hope you all keep it up for a long while yet.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Noodles with Peanut Sauce & Chicken

Adapted from Barbara Bakes and Steamy Kitchen

Makes 3-4 servings

For the chicken:

1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast

1-2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp rice vinegar

1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp peanut butter
½ tsp sesame oil

For the noodles:

12 oz thin egg noodles, soba, or thin spaghetti

1/4 cup peanut butter, preferably chunky

2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp rice vinegar

chopped scallions & sesame seeds for garnish

Prepare the marinade for the chicken first.  In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, peanut butter, sesame oil and whisk to combine. Set the marinade aside.

Cut the chicken breast into bite sized chunks. Add the chicken strips to the marinade and mix well. Refrigerate 1 hour or for up to overnight.

Cook the noodles/pasta according to the package’s instructions.  Meanwhile, set a large skillet over medium high heat and add one Tbsp peanut oil (or any other veggie oil).  When the oil is hot, add the chicken and sauté until cooked through, about 5-10 mins depending on their size.  Transfer cooked chicken to a plate and set aside.  If you’d like to add veggies to this dish, I added mushrooms, saute them now until tender, then transfer them to the chicken plate.

When the noodles are done, strain them and run them under cold water.  Combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar in a small bowl and whisk to combine.  Put the noodles in the hot skillet and pour the sauce over them, tossing to coat evenly.  Add in the chicken and veggies if using and stir to warm through.  Serve with chopped scallions and sesame seeds.

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Fettuccine with Chive Sauce & Mushrooms

I thought it might be fun to get Izzy a spinning hay dispenser to keep her occupied, since she’s the sole house bunny.  It was not so fun vacuuming up this mess.  Izzy liked the dispenser though, and moved it around her pen.  I have since removed it because of the mess it makes.

Oh well.  Experimentation is part of life I suppose.  It’s how we find new things to enjoy.  Or, we use things we already enjoy and turn them into something new.

Which is how chives, mushrooms and pasta became a meal.  And quite a delicious meal at that.

The chive sauce is almost like a pesto, making this pasta very fresh and springy-tasting.  Even though it seems like we’ve skipped spring and moved right on into summer.

Whatever.  I made this while it was still cold out, and enjoyed it immensely.  Also, it’s incredibly quick to throw together if you need a dinner idea and have chives on hand.

Fettuccine with Chive Sauce and Mushrooms

Adapted from 20 Something Cupcakes

Makes 3-4 servings

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound cremini mushrooms, wiped clean

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup roughly snipped fresh chives

1 pound fettuccine (or any other pasta)

 Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Toss the mushrooms in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and generous pinches of salt and pepper. Spread the mushrooms in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, turning once, until tender and browned, about 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut the mushrooms into quarters.

In a food processor or blender, combine the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil, the chives, and generous pinches of salt and pepper. Process until pureéd.

Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of the cooking water if you plan to serve the pasta hot. In a large serving bowl, toss the pasta with the mushrooms and chive oil. If serving immediately, toss with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water. Otherwise, let the pasta cool to room temperature.  Don’t forget to top with grated parmesan or romano cheese!


Soba with Soy Honey Drizzle and Chicken

Some days all I want to do is stuff my face with noodles.  There are many reasons that provoke such a reaction in me.  Like yesterday, when I had a splitting headache and cramps ALL DAY LONG.

Thanks for nothing Advil.  While noodles may not be scientifically proven to lessen bodily aches and pains, they’re still a mighty wonderful distraction.

Noodles are a great food.  Slurpable, slightly chewy and soft, and they come in so many varieties.  I do love soba and udon.  I also adore rice noodles and egg noodles.  Have you ever had sweet potato starch noodles?  Delicious.

My favorite chopsticks.

Broth, no broth; sauce, no sauce (well let’s be honest, I’ll always put a little soy sauce and sesame oil on my noodles.)

This is a great weeknight dinner that comes together super fast, and with the addition of pre-cooked shredded chicken, is a very filling meal, especially for the noodles lovers out there.

Soba with Soy Honey Drizzle and Chicken

Adapted from T and T Cake

Makes 2-3 servings

8 oz soba noodles, cooked

3 Tbsps water

5 Tbsps soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar or mirin

1 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsps honey

1 cup chicken, cooked and shredded

sesame seeds for garnish

Cook the noodles according to their packaging’s instructions.  While the noodles are cooking, mix together water through honey in a small bowl and stir until honey and sugar have dissolved.

When the noodles are done, strain them and apportion them.  Drizzle the soy sauce mixture evenly over the noodles.  Toss noodles and add chicken if using.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds, chopped scallion or chives, and enjoy!

 


Saffron Chicken Pasta

This post will conclude my one shot series.  Huzzah, right?!  After this, I will return to tantalizing you with stunning arrays of photographic skill.  Or something like that.  My only hope is that my photos convey as much deliciousness as possible, because I feel badly that I can’t actually share my goodies with you.  Believe me, sharing my baking/cooking is pretty high up there on my things-I-love-to-do list, just below cooing/squealing like a little girl at every movement Izzy makes, but safely above watching reruns of How I Met Your Mother.

 This is by far my favorite shot of Izzy.  Every once in a while we let her do some couch surfing.  It’s a mutually beneficial activity: she gets to roam and explore new territories, and I get to follow her with the camera lens, uninhibited by cage/pen bars.  The only downside is that she might nibble on nearby items.  Like Luke’s book.  At least it wasn’t my computer.

 

Saffron is amazing.  If it weren’t the most expensive spice on the planet, I’d probably use it a lot more/make paella every week.  Thankfully, I ordered some with my extra meal dollars before leaving Wesleyan, so I didn’t have to feel guilty dropping like $15 for half an ounce in the grocery store.  Well, if you do happen to have some saffron around, (it makes a great gift for cooks and Christmas isn’t too far away….) I would definitely recommend this easy dish.  More braising (yay) though, for the record, I am perfectly comfortable cooking chicken in many ways.  This simple meal throws together easily, with chunks of tender chicken and slivered onions simmered in saffron infused broth served over pasta.  I garnished mine with parsley, since I always have it on hand now that Izzy’s around.

 

Saffron Chicken Pasta

Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Makes about 4 medium sizes servings

 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 large or 2 small onions, cut in lengthwise slivers

1 T olive oil
1 tsp. butter (optional, but it adds a lot of flavor)
pinch saffron (about 1/4 tsp. or less)
3/4 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken breasts and cut in 1/2 strips on the diagonal to make small cutlets.  Peel the onions and cut into lengthwise slivers and chop parsley.

Use a heavy frying pan that has a tight-fitting lid.  Heat the olive oil and butter, then brown the chicken quickly over medium-high heat.  (Don’t let it cook long enough that the outside starts to get hard.  The chicken does not need to be cooked through.)

Remove chicken to a plate, add onion, and brown over very low heat until edges of onion pieces are turning golden, about 12-15 minutes.  Remove browned onions to another plate. Add chicken back to pan, and cover with onions.  Heat chicken stock, add saffron and stir to dissolve, then pour over chicken and onions. Simmer on very low heat with pan covered 30-45 minutes.

Add chopped parsley and a tiny bit of additional water if needed, and simmer 15 minutes more. Serve hot, over pasta or rice.


Simple Fried Rice

My next few posts are going to be a little shorter than usual.  They’ll also be occurring a lot closer together.

This is because, for some reason, my laziness….insufficient lighting….rapid consumption….I’ve only got one photograph saved of the dish I want to post about.  Which I apologize for.  I know posts are much better with ogle-able photos that make you drool.  Or maybe that’s just how I like my posts.

So to supplement my one photo dishes, I’ll be putting up some extra cute photos of Izzy I took recently.  Because obviously there isn’t enough fuzzy rabbit in your life.

 

D’awwwwwww.  Admit it.  Your heart just melted.  And no, I don’t know why she decided to fold down one of her ears.

 And now on to the food.  Fried rice is an incredibly simple and satisfying meal that can be created easily at home.  Plus, it’s an easily customizable dish that can be changed readily depending on what ingredients you have on hand.  I hadn’t taken any meat out of the freezer when I made this, so I only used eggs, but feel free to use whatever meat/add-ins you want.

 

Yes, my stovetop utensil of choice is my pair of long, cooking chopsticks.

Simple Fried Rice

Adapted From What’s Cooking Chicago

Makes 4 servings

Sauce:
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/4 teaspoon salt

Eggs:

4 eggs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Fried Rice:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
12-14 extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled, de-veined
2 cups leftover rice, cold
1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed (Luke’s not a fan, so I omitted these)
4 scallions, sliced thin

For the Sauce:
In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, and 1¼ teaspoons salt; set aside.

For the Eggs:
In another small bowl, whisk eggs and ¼ teaspoon salt together in medium bowl, set aside.

Heat 1 teaspoon of oil over medium high heat. Once hot, pour the whisked eggs into the pan and allow to set. Pull the cooked edges towards the middle and tilt the pan to allow the runny eggs to coat the bottom of the pan. Continue to do this as needed until no runny egg remain.

With a spatula, carefully flip the egg to cook the top side. Once cooked, take off heat and break up the egg into pieces which will be tossed into the fried rice later. Set aside until the egg is called for in the fried rice recipe.

For the Fried Rice:

Place onion and garlic in 12-inch nonstick skillet with oil. Sauté over medium heat, stirring constantly, until translucent.

Crumble the cold, leftover rice into the middle of the skillet. Cook the rice along with the shrimp until the rice is warmed through and slightly toasted, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the sauce mixture and toss with whatever add-ins you desire.

Add the scallions, remove from heat, and transfer to serving platter. Garnish with lime wedges if desired; serve immediately.


Bean Thread Noodles with Meat Sauce

I want to be a Chinese teacher.  Obviously, this means I speak Chinese.  I learned Chinese in college and spent a semester abroad in Taipei, Taiwan.  I had an amazing time, and my language skills benefitted immensely.  When people ask me what the best part of my trip was, I often say the food.  Authentic Chinese and Taiwanese food is incredible.  It’s quite different from what we serve here in the States.

This is called a bian dang 便當 and is the Taiwanese equivalent of the bento box.  It’s composed of a slice of pork, sausage, tofu, half a hard boiled egg, and some pickled veggies over white rice.

Going to a large restaurant in Taiwan means ordering a number of dishes for your table, while rice is always available.  It’s also very common to have a take-out meal in Taiwan.  My favorite take-out meals were dumplings and different kinds of noodles.

Dumplings in spicy sauce.

Another great place to get food in Taiwan is at night markets.  Every night these markets appear in the streets of Taiwan, and sell clothing, jewelry, and other small items.  They also sell 小吃 which means “small eats.”  Here are a couple examples.

 

See something you like?  At this vendor, you pick your food-on-a-stick of choice, and it’s cooked right in front of you.

 These are little pieces of fried octopus.  Not my favorite.

These guys are hand held omelettes with pork filling.

I thing I miss most about Taiwan though, was the abundance of bubble tea.  Bubble tea is black tea (though you can make it with other teas) mixed with milk and sugar with large sweetened tapioca pearls.  It was invented in Taiwan in the 1980s, and is somewhat popular in the US now, but in Taiwan, you can buy it on practically every street corner.  When I was in Taiwan, I think I drank one every day.  I need to start making it at home.  And now on to my dish.

 

This dish is somewhat inspired by one of my favorite take-out meals while in Taiwan.  Plus I had some ground pork, and didn’t want to make dumplings, and this was a great alternative.  The sauce is slightly tangy and goes great over the bean thread noodles, which are great for slurping by the way.  This dish comes together quickly and serves as a great weeknight meal.

 

my favorite chopsticks!!

Bean Thread Vermicelli with Pork Sauce

Adapted from Martin Yan Quick & Easy

Makes 4 servings

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 pound ground meat (I used ground pork, but beef, chicken or turkey would work too)

¾ cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (I used Sriracha)

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 scallions, chopped

2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

4 cups cooked bean thread

Combine the first three ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.  Add the ground meat and stir to coat evenly.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  To make your sauce, combine ingredients from chicken broth to pepper together in a small bowl and mix well.

Place a large frying pan or wok over high heat until hot.  Add oil, swirling to coat the edges.  Add the garlic and scallions and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the ground meat and stir fry until browned and crumbly, about 3 minutes.  Add the sauce and bring to a boil.  Add the cornstarch solution and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens, about a minute.  Remove from heat and ladle over warm noodles.

To cook bean thread noodles, soak in hot water for 5-8 minutes, then strain.

Note: all of these ingredients can be found at an Asian supermarket.  Better regular supermarkets will also carry most of the sauces, but not the noodles.  If there are no Asian markets in your area, asianfoodgrocer.com is a good site for buying Asian foods.


Mashed Potato Gnocchi

Earlier this week, I received some promising news about my future career.  I had a meeting at a day school in Worcester that wants to start a Chinese program next year for their middle/upper school.  I am so excited for this prospect!  Like blissfully giddy excited.  After the meeting, I met my mom for lunch and dropped by Holy Cross to visit/drop off some extra baked goods.  This is one of my constant concerns.  Finding outlets for my excess baked goods so they will be consumed in a reasonable timeframe, allowing me to then go on and make the next thing.  Because I plan out everything.  Seriously, I do.  I have a post it on my Mac dashboard dedicated to listing out things I want to bake in the near future.

Anyway, I love giving my baked goods away to others, mostly because I love sharing what I make with others, especially if it’s something good.  Unless it’s something really, really good.  Then I might not share….but I probably will.  Just ask the boys at Holy Cross, I think what I dropped off was in the later category.  (I’ll be posting about it later, so don’t worry.) Also, I wanted to share (just pictures) of these amazing cheeses I got at Trader Joe’s last weekend.  I could live in that store.

 

This cheese is sooo good.  It’s got those little bits of salty grit that good aged cheese have.  Delicious.

No, this is not cheese.  But I couldn’t resist putting up another Izzy pic.  Every photo I take in the living room comes out like this…

But enough about the future,  let’s focus on the present, like this post about gnocchi.  I think the first time gnocchi entered my consciousness was during high school.  I vaguely remember the name being mentioned at an Italian restaurant once or twice, but I didn’t actually realize what it was until my foodie transformation.  Now, I love gnocchi.  Pillow-soft potato dumplings?  Yes, please.  You can also make gnocchi with ricotta, a method I’ll be trying very soon.  These are a snap to throw together and use up extra mashed potatoes!  My mound of leftover mashed potatoes was starting to worry me, as I hate throwing out food, but thankfully this recipe saved the day.  I thoroughly enjoyed them, and I hope you do too.

Leftover Mashed Potato Gnocchi

Adapted from this site

Makes 3-4 servings

2 ½ cups leftover mashed potatoes

2 eggs

approximately 2 cups all-purpose flour (I think I used more like 3)

pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper as necessary

Force the mashed potatoes through a fine mesh sieve or a potato ricer and remove skins.  Put them in a medium bowl, make a well in the center, add the eggs and beat lightly.  Add one cup of flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper (you can decide how much to ad, if your mashed potatoes are already seasoned, you can probably omit more seasoning) and mix.  Continue adding flour one cup at a time to make a moist, but firm dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, shape into a ball, and divide into 6 smaller balls.

Put a large pot of water on to boil.  Make sure to salt the water, about a tablespoon’s worth.

Roll each ball into a log and cut it into ¾ inch pieces.  Pick up each piece, press into a fork with your thumb and roll off.  Mine didn’t really want to keep their indentation, so if yours don’t either, it’s ok.

Drop the formed gnocchi into the water.  When they float to the top they’re done, about 3 minutes.  I also put some of the formed gnocchi on a wax paper lined plate and put them in the freezer to save for later.  After about an hour, I transferred them to a Ziploc bag.  They cook the same way, but will take a few minutes longer.

Drain your cooked gnocchi and serve.  I used regular tomato sauce and grated cheese, but gnocchi are versatile, so any sauce used on pasta would work well.