Brianne at Cupcakes & Kale Chips is a great source of food inspiration for me. When she posted a recipe for sesame noodles, I wanted them right away … it was a simple, quick recipe, so I went into the kitchen and made them straight away. I have veggies galore in my kitchen right now, so I had to throw some of those in. So I sliced up some cucumber in thin noodle-like strips and tossed in some shredded carrot and sweet onion.
I also replaced the peanut butter in the recipe with PB2 … it’s a powdered form of peanut butter that has most of the oil removed. And I left out some of the oil to cut down the amount of fat. It was still quite delicious. I looove this sauce!
You could add in cooked chicken or shrimp or scallops to dress this dish up, use other vegetables or even replace the noodles with zucchini noodles (have you seen that? zucchini cut up in long thin strips like noodles? I want to try that one of these days!) Anyway, I used brown rice Pad Thai noodles and that worked wonderfully. My cucumber strips weren’t quite straight or thin enough to really act like noodles, but they added a refreshing crunch to the dish.
Sesame Noodles with Cucumber
Adapted from Cupcakes & Kale Chips (who got the recipe from The Mom 100 Cookbook by Katie Workman)
There is enough sauce to cover about twice this much noodles/vegies, so go ahead and make more if you have more mouths to feed. I was just cooking for me … I’m lucky, though. Making this amount means I have some of that scrumptious sauce left for another day.
- 3 cloves of garlic
- A 2-inch hunk of ginger root, peeled
- 2 Tablespoons white or rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha or other hot pepper sauce (use more or less to taste)
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 – 2 Tablespoons dark sesame oil (I used 1 Tablespoon, but I think it could use a little more)
- 4 Tablespoons PB2
- 3 Tablespoons water
Noodles and vegies:
- 4 – oz. of noodles (I used brown rice pad thai noodles, but any long skinny noodle will work …)
- 1/2 cup of cucumber, cut in long thin strips like the noodles
- 1/4 cup of shredded carrots
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced bell pepper
- Garnish: fresh cilantro, chopped peanuts, sesame seeds (or chia seeds if you can’t find your sesame seeds … like me)
- Make the sesame sauce: whir all of the sauce ingredients in a handi chopper, food processor or a blender until smooth. Set the sauce aside.
- Prepare the noodles according to the package directions, reserving 1/2 cup of the noodle cooking water (or 1 cup if you are making a full batch), then drain the noodles.
- Add the reserved cooking water to half of the sesame sauce and blend. Place the warm drained noodles in a large bowl and toss them with the sauce and vegies until everything is coated.
- I skipped this step because I was starving but the recipe says to let the noodles cool to room temperature because they will absorb more sauce as they sit. This might be true … I have yet to try it.
- Garnish with cilantro leaves and peanuts or sesame seeds and serve. Try not to inhale them like I did.
This soup is one of the best things to make when you’re feeling sick. I haven’t made it in years, but it was one of those things that has always made me feel better, not just because it’s full of loads of good vitamins and herbs, but also because it tastes soothing and comforting and warm. It’s so tasty, you don’t really need to be sick to make it. But it will help you feel better if you are.
I have struggled with sinus problems for a good part of my adult life … there was a period in my life when I was getting a sinus infection every month. As soon as I would get done with one, I was getting another one. I was on a constant stream of antibiotics and always felt miserable. I’ve learned ways of coping with it now so I haven’t had one now in over a year, but this morning I woke up and I could feel one coming on … this is NOT a good time to be sick! My sister is coming to visit this weekend … I started thinking of all the things I used to do to make them go away and I remembered this soup I used to make.
The last time I made this soup was long before I had all the fresh herbs I have now and I don’t exactly recall what herbs I used to put in it back then. I remember the basic formula for it, though. And this is how it goes …
Magic “Feel Better” Soup
- 1 large potato, cut into hunks (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup of chopped carrots
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups of chicken (or vegetable) broth
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 3 cups of fresh swiss chard or spinach, washed and chopped
- A handful of fresh herbs: I used basil, thyme, rosemary, & parsley
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt or fat free half and half
- Sriracha or other hot sauce, to taste (to open up the sinuses)
- Freshly grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley (optional)
- Put the potato, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, onion and broth into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer (medium low) and cook for about 20 – 30 minutes or until the potato is fall-apart tender and the other vegies are soft.
- Fish out the bay leaf and stir in the chard. Cover the pot and cook for just a couple minutes or until the chard is cooked. Add the herbs.
- Pour the soup into a blender (or use an immersion blender), add the yogurt or half and half and blend until smooth. Add more broth if you want a thinner soup. I like my soup pretty thick. Serve hot, topped with Sriracha and shredded cheese and garnish with fresh parsley. That red swirl you see there … that’s the Sriracha.
Your Child’s Food made a Thai-inspired version of this soup that is dairy free. I really love her twist on it! Her recipe is here.
Of all the things I made for my first blog-iversary party, I think these meatballs were the biggest hit. My friends were asking me if the recipe is up on the blog. Now it is!
I was really excited that my daughter tried them … she said they were good, but a little too spicy for her taste. (My girl does NOT like spicy food at all.) She was wishing her friend who loves Asian food had been able to make it to the party because she thought she would have LOVED them.
These little meatballs really aren’t very spicy, in my opinion, but if you or your party guests are sensitive to “heat”, you could use less of the hot chili sauce and more hoison in the meatball sauce. I was worried the meatballs wouldn’t be salty enough because there is no salt in the balls, but slow-cooking them in the sauce made them just perfect. I have to thank SouthernCookingLight for the awesome recipe. I had intended to make feta-stuffed greek meatballs (which would have been awesome too), but when I saw these beauties with all that yummy ginger in there, I just HAD to make them.
Asian Ginger Party Meatballs
Adapted from SouthernCookingLight
For the meatballs:
- 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 small onion, peeled
- 1 – 8 oz. can of water chestnuts, drained
- 1 lb. lean ground beef or venison (I used venison)
- 1 lb. lean ground pork
- 2 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger
- 1 cup finely shredded carrots
Preheat oven to 400° F. In a handi chopper or food processor, process the garlic, water chestnuts and onion into fine bits. Mix with the remaining ingredients till well blended. Form 1” balls and place on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for about 15-20 minutes, until done.
For the sauce:
- 2/3 cup hoisin sauce (you can use bottled hoisin or make your own … recipe below)
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tblsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. fresh ground ginger
- 1/3 cup Thai Chili Sauce
Combine ingredients for sauce and pour over the meatballs in a crock pot, then cook at low heat for 6 hours. (Or you could heat up the sauce and meatballs in a saucepan on medium heat till heated, about 20 minutes.)
Recipe from CDKitchen
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons peanut butter or black bean paste
1 tablespoon honey or molasses or brown sugar
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons sesame oil
20 drops chinese hot sauce, habenero or jalepeno
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl till well blended. At first it might not seem like the peanut butter is going to mix with the rest of the liquids, but keep whisking, it will.
That’s it! Store in a covered container in the fridge. It keeps pretty much indefinitely and is a great sauce to have on hand.
I came home from yoga last night wanting noodles. Badly. It was a power yoga class and she worked us hard … I could tell because my legs were sore already. So it was clearly time to make the Pad Thai I’ve been wanting to make. A while ago I had found these beautiful brown rice noodles with a Pad Thai recipe on the back. I THOUGHT I had also picked up some bean sprouts, but discovered rather quickly that I hadn’t. I had already shredded a bunch of carrots and chopped up the greens, though, so I thought to just add in some onion.
I do not claim this to be truly authentic Pad Thai (the Pad Thai police would surely come and get me!), but oh it was delicious. This Pad Thai soothed my craving for noodles and Thai food all in one fell swoop.
Shrimp Pad Thai
This recipe serves 2 – 3 people. If you have bean sprouts, just cut down the amount of other veggies to add in some sprouts. Pad Thai does usually have bean sprouts in it … I was just out of them!
For the sauce:
- 2 Tablespoons lime juice
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 1/2 – 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon Hoison sauce
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon Sriracha
- 4 oz. brown rice noodles (1/2 the package)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 Tablespoon canola oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
- 1 cup thinly sliced onion
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 cup chopped fresh spinach leaves
- 1 cup medium shrimp
- a splash of white wine
For the top:
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Chopped peanuts
- Chopped green onions
- Mix up the sauce ingredients in a bowl, adjusting the amount of sugar and Sriracha to your liking. The spicy heat will get soaked up by the noodles, so I would recommend making it a tad hotter than you think it should be. Set the sauce aside.
- Put some water on to boil for cooking up the noodles.
- While the water is cooking for the noodles, whisk the egg in a bowl and add a teaspoon of water. Scramble it in a frying pan or wok sprayed with cooking spray very briefly … take it out of the pan while it’s still wet. It will finish cooking when you add it back into the hot noodles. Speaking of noodles: are they done? Drain and set them aside.
- Clean out the egg from the frying pan (unless you are a neat scrambler … I always have some egg residue when I scramble), heat the pan to medium heat, and add the oil. Add the garlic, onion, carrots and spinach and sautee for a minute or two, then add the shrimp and sautee until the onion is limp and the shrimp turns pink. If the pan gets a little dry, add a splash of white wine and cook till the wine evaporates. Add the noodles and the sauce and stir to mix everything up. The noodles might not want to mix in too well, but that’s okay. You can put the “extras” on top of the noodles when you serve it.
- Serve hot, garnished with fresh cilantro, chopped peanuts, and chopped green onion.
This recipe was inspired by ChinDeep’s grilled Thai Chicken Pizza, except I used the Super Simple Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce (recipe here) and a Beer Pizza Crust (recipe below).
For the chicken: I marinaded chicken breasts in a mixture of half yogurt/half buttermilk seasoned with a little garlic powder and Red Robin seasoning. I rinsed the marinade off of one of them and brushed it with barbecue sauce for my daughter. Then I grilled them. The yogurt/buttermilk marinade was awesome! It made the chicken so nice and tender and moist.
While the chicken breasts were cooking, I assembled all my pizza ingredients and rolled out the dough, covering it with a towel. Melissa tells me the trick to grilled pizza is to have all the toppings ready to go, so I assembled them all and arranged them right next to the grill.
Once the chicken was partly done, I removed them so I could rearrange the coals and make a hot spot for the pizza crusts to cook. I piled the coals up on one side of the grill, leaving the other side empty to make a cooler spot for the toppings to melt.
Then I put the grate back on, along with the chicken, leaving a spot right over the hot hot coals to make the pizza. I placed a crust on the grill over the hot coals, covered and let it cook for 5-10 minutes, checking it periodically.
It started to bubble up a little and get brown on the bottom, then I flipped it over onto the cool side of the grill, added the toppings and covered the grill again till the cheese was melted.
The first one was my daughter’s pizza: simple cheese pizza, with barbecue chicken.
The second pizza was my Thai pizza. For this one, once I flipped the crust over onto the cool side of the grill, I slathered it with the spicy thai peanut sauce, then topped with thin slices of the grilled chicken, green onions, carrots, red onions, sunflower seeds and cheese. Then I covered the grill and let the pizza cook till the cheese was melted.
I pulled it off the grill and sprinkled with cilantro and sat down with my sweet daughter and had dinner on the patio.
Beer Pizza Crust
- 1 cup beer (I used Leinenkugel Fireside Nut Brown Ale)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 cup unbleached white whole wheat flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
- 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Put all ingredients into the bread machine and put it on the dough setting. When the dough is done, divide it into four balls. Shape each ball into a disc shape, cover with a towel and let rest about 5 – 10 minutes. On a clean, flat surface sprinkled with cornmeal, roll out the dough for your crust with a rolling pin. Wrap any extra balls of dough you aren’t going to use with plastic wrap (or put them in a ziploc) and stick them in the freezer. When you’re ready to use them, let the balls of dough thaw out on the counter for about an hour. I’m told they will keep for up to a month.
It has been wet and gray and chilly here the past couple days. We actually had a thunderstorm last night! In February! But still it feels like winter out there, the dark, wet chilly kind of winter day that just chills you to the bone. Weather like this just calls for a good, hearty stew. This time for my stew I decided to do a wine reduction, add a hint of cinnamon, and fresh rosemary.
I have a lot of venison at my house because everyone in my family hunts (besides me) and they fill my freezer with meat. (They are so good to me. I’m very blessed!) If you don’t happen to have venison, you can use beef. If you use a different red wine or if you add more or less of some of the vegies, the stew won’t care.
Winter Venison Malbec Stew
- About 1 1/2 pounds of venison meat (or lean beef), cut into 1-inch cubes (I had about 3 cups of meat before cooking)
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped in large pieces (about 1 3/4 cups)
- 5 – 7 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
- 1/2 cup of Malbec (or other dry red wine)
- 1/4 cup of chopped bell pepper
- 3 potatoes, peeled and chopped into small cubes (about 2 3/4 cup)
- 3/4 cup peeled, chopped carrots
- 1/2 cup celery, chopped (save the leaves!)
- 3 cups of beef broth
- 1 1/2 cups of crushed canned tomatoes with juices (if you have whole tomatoes, just crush them with your hand as you add them to the stew … it’s a great messy bit of fun)
- 1 sprig of rosemary, chopped fine (about 1/2 Tablespoon)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
- Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
- For garnish: Celery leaves and/or fresh parsley leaves
- Heat the oil in your soup pot till it’s hot. Sear the venison cubes in the hot oil until browned on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan, but leave the juices in there.
- Add the onion and garlic to the pot and sautee over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the onion is soft and starting to brown.
- Add the wine to the pot and continue to cook and stir until the wine is absorbed.
- Add the remaining vegetables, broth, and seasonings and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium low (or low) and simmer gently for 2 – 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat and potatoes are both tender. The potatoes should begin to break down and thicken the broth.
- Season with pepper and salt (if needed … I didn’t think it needed any) and garnish with the fresh celery leaves and/or fresh parsley. Serve with a hunk of hot, fresh bread or some cheesy garlic toast.
A long time I found this cookbook on a clearance table and looking through it, I just couldn’t believe my luck. There are so many recipe treasures hidden in this book … I snatched it up and took it home and it’s one of those cookbooks that I pick up and browse through every once in a while and find even more recipes I want to try. I don’t even read cookbooks like I used to, now that I have thousands of creative foodie friends and so many recipes marked online that I want to try … but still, I cherish my cookbook collection. And this one is one of the best on the shelf.
What’s the cookbook, you ask? It’s Betty Crocker’s New International Cookbook.
Okay, I know that’s kind of an odd combination … Betty Crocker … and International food? Really? … I mean we are talking food from ALL over the WORLD here … Africa, Sweden, Greece, Haiti, Japan, India, Turkey, France … you could travel completely around the world in just a couple pages of this book.
There are a bunch of bookmarks in this cookbook, recipes I marked years ago to make someday in the future … some of them I have never made. But this one I’ve made several times. Because it’s really, really good, not to mention it’s warm and hearty, colorful and nourishing and healthy. There’s no meat, but it’s got so much flavor that you wouldn’t even remember to care.
Heart African Vegetable Stew
Adapted only slightly from Betty Crocker’s New International Cookbook.
Makes 6 to 8 servings, maybe more, if you’re a small eater like me … this will be enough to feed me all week!
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup snipped fresh parsley
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
- 5 cups of water
- 1 cup sliced carrots
- 1/2 cup dried red lentils (brown or yellow lentils will do, too … I just love the color of the red ones)
- 1 cup uncooked basmati rice
- 2 cups canned tomatoes with juices (or 1 15-oz. can)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
- 1 10-oz. package frozen green peas
- 1 9-oz. package frozen green beans
- 3 sprigs fresh mint (or 2 teaspoons dried mint)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
- Plain yogurt for topping
- In a stockpot, dutch oven or very large saucepan, melt the butter, then cook and stir the onion, parsley, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, pepper, and ginger until the onion is tender.
- Stir in the water, carrots, and lentils. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat, cover, and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Ad the rice, tomatoes, and salt. Heat to boiling, reduce heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender. Stir in the green beans, peas, mint and cayenne. Cover and cook until the peas and beans are tender, about 5 minutes. (You may need to add more water at this stage if the stew gets too thick. I think I added 2 cups more of water.)
- Serve each bowl with a dollop of yogurt and a sprig of fresh parsley.