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Chicken and Noodles with Peanut Sauce

8 Apr

This recipe is a 100% Allison original, created one night a few years ago from ingredients I had in my refrigerator. It has been refined since then, and has entered our regular rotation of favorite dinners. We eat these noodles once or twice a month. I was inspired by one of my favorite dishes from Noodles & Company, the Indonesian Peanut Sauté. The recipe makes enough to serve two people for dinner with enough for two lunches the next day. Leftover, it is delicious hot or cold.

You might add some sautéed vegetables to this if you are feeling adventurous–pea pods, red peppers and carrots would be nice. Possibly even broccoli or bean sprouts, but I am not a big fan of either of those veggies.

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1.5 lbs. boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut in one-inch cubes
  • 1 to 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (13.66 oz) lite coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce (I use low sodium)
  • 1 tbsp. Sriracha (or more if you like spicy food!)
  • 2 tsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 16 oz package rice noodles (or spaghetti/angel hair/linguine)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Chopped cilantro, lime wedges and crushed peanuts

Directions

  1. Boil water and cook noodles according to package directions. Drain.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet with sides and add diced chicken. Cook until heated through and lightly brown.
  3. Add minced garlic to chicken and cook for about a minute.
  4. Add coconut milk (make sure to shake the can!), peanut butter, soy sauce, Sriracha, lime juice and sugar to cooked chicken. Stir and cook until heated through.
  5. Toss chicken and sauce mixture with cooked pasta, adding small amounts of broth so pasta does not stick and sauce remains a nice consistency.
  6. Serve chicken and pasta with garnish of diced cilantro, crushed peanuts, and lime wedges (if you have them… I did not this time!)
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My new favorite breakfast

12 Mar

While doing my weekly grocery shopping last week I ran across these cute little boxes of oatmeal by a brand I had never seen–Better Oats. This oatmeal has changed my life. I mean, I have always been a big fan of a little Maple and Brown Sugar Quaker Oatmeal (especially if you put a Dove chocolate on top), but this stuff blows Quaker out of the water. My favorite flavor is called “mmm… Muffins: Blueberry Muffin.” The oats are large and there are real blueberries in it! After trying and loving this flavor–which tastes just like a blueberry muffin, with none of the big blueberry muffin calories–I bought three more flavors at Jewel because they were on sale for 80 cents a box. Each box has 5 packets inside, so I thought that was a pretty good deal! I am kicking myself now that I didn’t buy more, especially since the mmm… Muffins are now gone. Dave and I have tried and enjoyed the Maple and Brown Sugar and the Strawberries and Cream flavors. Still in the cabinet–dark chocolate. I may go open a packet of that as I just ran 8 miles (!!) and I am starving. If you are a big oatmeal fan, go out and get some of this oatmeal! It only takes 2 minutes to cook in the microwave, and the oatmeal comes in packages that you can use to measure the water. Very convenient and tasty!

The Great Lasagna-Off Throwdown 2010

5 Feb

Hi internet friends! It has been a while, I know. My last post was in September? I am a bad blogger. What can I say. I’ve been pretty busy. It seems like I have exchanged blog time for run time, which isn’t such a bad deal for regaining my girlish figure, and allowing me to eat yummy things, but it does cut into the time in which I have to blog. Anyhoo, I have continued to do magic in the kitchen, I just haven’t had time to catch all of you up on it. No longer! I have some delicious things to share. I’ll start with the Great Lasagna-Off Throwdown 2010.

A couple of months ago I discovered the most amazing lasagna recipe of all time. Like most edible things that I love, it comes to us via the Pioneer Woman, with some slight tweaks by yours truly. Usually on Christmas Eve my Dad makes a prime rib and twice-baked potatoes (yum!), but this year we decided to do something a little different. “I’m making lasagna,” he said. And I said, “I’ll make you some lasagna. I make the best lasagna ever.” Because I do. And he was all, “I make my sauce by slow cooking it with beef neck bones and fresh herbs. And I was all, “I use Hot Jimmy Dean Sausage, and shaky cheese.”  So I challenged him to a duel. For those of you not in the know, shaky cheese is parmesan from a can. On Christmas Eve morning we both made our respective lasagna and served up portions of both for dinner. Unfortunately, my noisy family is too polite to choose a winner. I will say that Herb had the advantage of hot sauce to put on top of his lasagna, as the wait for dinner rendered the temperature of mine a little lukewarm. Still, I stand with my lasagna as the best lasagna ever. Herb even conceded that while he was skeptical of the Jimmy Dean sausage, it really kicked the sauce up to the next level. And I will share the recipe with you now.

Directions:

1. Cook the following until brown, and then drain the fat:

  • 1.5 lbs lean ground beef (I use 93% lean)
  • 1 lb Hot Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage (pig)
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic

2. Return meat/garlic mixture to pan and add:

  • 28 oz can whole tomatoes (use italian tomatoes if you are feeling fancy. I also like Red Gold. And make sure you squish ’em up. A whisk works well for this task.)
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 16 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp. dried parsley
  • 2 tbsp. dried basil
  • 2 tbsp. hot pepper flakes (don’t be stingy.)
  • 1 tsp. salt

3. Simmer the sauce for 30-45 minutes (stir occasionally) while you cook the lasagna noodles to al dente. Don’t over do it, you want them to have a little bit of a bite. No one likes soggy, waterlogged pasta. Gross.

4. Mix up the following in a bowl:

  • 24 oz container of low-fat cottage cheese
  • 2 beaten eggs (beat them first in a smaller bowl)
  • 1/2 cup shaky cheese (grated parmesan from a can)
  • 2 tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. salt

5. Once your noodles are drained, you are ready to assemble. You are also going to need:

  • 1 lb. mozzarella cheese slices (2 packs. You could also get it sliced at a deli)

6. In a 9 x 13 pyrex or similar lasagna pan, drizzle a little bit of the sauce on the bottom. Not too much. This lasagna gets pretty thick, pretty fast. You are also going to want to use a noodle or two to mop up the sauce from the pan, it is that good. The layers go as follows:

  • 4 lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 cottage cheese mixture
  • 1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese slices
  • 1/2 of the sauce
  • 4 lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 cottage cheese mixture
  • 1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese slices
  • 1/2 of the sauce
  • shaky cheese all over the top

7. At this point, you can stick your lasagna in the fridge until you are ready to bake it. When you are ready, bake the lasagna for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, or until bubbly. Also, stick it on a cookie sheet so it doesn’t bubble over and cause a mess on the bottom of your oven.

8. Now, when you take the lasagna out you want to let it set for a little bit before you cut it. It is super cheesy so it is kind of a mess to take it out of the pan. However, you will have leftovers. And, honestly, I think it tastes even better leftover. Plus, after it is refrigerated for a while you can cut out perfect restaurant-style slices. Stick them in the microwave for 2 minutes, and you have lunch/dinner for a couple of days if there are only two of you to eat it. Sooooo good!

Best. Lasagna. Ever.

 

Strawberry Salad

18 Sep

Dave and I recently had our 1st anniversary (August 29), and we went to Raffi’s in Naperville to celebrate, which is the same restaurant where we had our rehearsal dinner. Raffi’s specializes in Mediterranean food and is quite tasty. If you are ever in Naperville, Illinois, go check it out. One of the specials they had on our anniversary was a strawberry salad featuring fresh mozzerella, basil, and mint–kind of like a caprese salad with strawberries instead of tomatoes. We enjoyed this so much that I decided to recreate it last weekend at our house. I think it turned out pretty comparable to the original, and maybe even a little better.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. On a small plate, assemble equal parts quartered strawberries and sliced fresh mozzarella cheese. I used about 6 strawberries and 4-6 small balls of fresh mozzarella.
  2. Slice some fresh mint and basil leaves horizontally so the result is thin strips. Sprinkle herbs over the top of the strawberries and mozzarella.
  3. Spoon balsamic vinaigrette over the top of the salad. That’s it! Super easy, fresh, and delicious.

…and just for fun, a picture of Dave and I from our rehearsal dinner at Raffi’s.

Stir-Fried Turkey in Lettuce Wraps

18 Sep

I’ve been trying to start eating a little healthier in an effort to lose some weight. I found this recipe in an issue of Everyday Food and tweaked it just a bit. Dave and I loved these and they are SO healthy for you.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons of sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons stir-fry sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 heads of Boston lettuce, leaves separated.

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, stir-fry sauce, and sugar. Set sauce aside
  2. Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat until hot.
  3. Add a bit of olive oil to the hot pan and swirl it around.
  4. Saute garlic, jalapeno, and carrot for about 30 seconds
  5. Add ground turkey to pan and cook for about 5 minutes, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon.
  6. Add sauce to pan and stir-fry until turkey is completely cooked.
  7. Serve turkey in lettuce wraps. Three of these makes a pretty substantial meal.

Buffalo Chicken Calzone

18 Sep

Calzones had been on my ‘to cook’ list for quite a while, and they turned out great! I will say that these things are pretty big and I probably ate only half of mine. But Dave chowed down the entire thing and then had the rest of mine for lunch at work the next day. To start with, I used my new favorite pizza dough recipe that only requires a few minutes of rising time unlike the whole hour required with the dough recipe I posted previously. This recipe has effectively replaced the one from the Joy of Cooking in our house for pizza nights. But it is also a great base for calzones! I found it on the internets.

Ingredients:

  • .25 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup 110 degree water
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Dissolve yeast and sugar into water. Let rest for 8 minutes
  2. Add flour and salt. Mix well.
  3. Need dough for two minutes. Add a little extra flour if it is too sticky.

For Calzones:

  1. Prepare pizza dough in a bowl and set to the side.
  2. Cook about a half a pound of diced chicken in a bit of olive oil.
  3. After chicken is cooked through, throw it into a bowl with equal parts Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce and Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce. Basically, you want enough sauce to coat your chicken.
  4. Divide the dough into two balls. If you want to make smaller calzones, you could divide it in thirds. Roll out each ball of dough into a circle.
  5. On one half of the dough, spoon on some of the chicken mixture and top with mozzarella and cheddar cheese.
  6. Fold the other half of the dough over the half containing the chicken. Pinch the dough closed with your fingers so none of the good stuff seeps out while the calzones are baking.
  7. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Bake the calzones 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Gooey, Cheesey, Yummy

Animal Crackers

2 Sep

Dave and I are leaving bright and early in the morning to drive down to Kentucky Lake for a little min-vacation with some friends of Dave’s from high school. I thought I would be domestic today (being temporarily unemployed and all) and make some of my FAVORITE cookies to share on our trip.  I think I am also going to drop some off at my parents house as a welcome home surprise for them and my brother and sister, who have been vacationing in Glen Arbor, Michigan for the past week. I couldn’t go this year, so I am pretty jealous of all the beach-y fun they are having “Up North.” I am looking forward to our trip down South, though, and these cookies should make the seven hour drive go a little faster! For Christmas I picked out some super cute animal cracker cookie cutters from Williams-Sonoma–the recipe is theirs. After baking the cookies I put them in some cellophane bags I had leftover from my Valentine’s cookies and tied them with a little green yarn (…pretty sure I won’t be learning to knit anytime soon).

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. mace
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsps.) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Over a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and mace. Set to the side.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on high-speed for 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add sugar and beat for two minutes
  3. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for one minute, stopping the mixer once to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Stop the mixer and add half of the flour mixture. Beat on low-speed until most of the flour is absorbed. Add the remaining flour and beat until all of it has been absorbed and the dough starts to pull away from the sides.
  5. Turn the dough onto a work surface and divide into two balls. Shape each ball into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap or parchment paper. Refrigerate dough for 2 hours or overnight.
  6. Roll out the dough to 1/8 of an inch thick on a floured work surface. Cut the dough with your cookie cutters and place them on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  8. Bake cookies for 12-13 minutes until the edges are slightly golden brown.