Friday, July 31, 2009

Peanut Soy Chicken, Cold Noodle, and Veggie Bowl

I swear that I could cover anything in spicy peanut sauce, and Joe would eat it. Not once did he comment on how many vegetables there were in this dish or how much green there was. My noodles were a little more lukewarm than cold, which is how I preferred them. This meal came together quickly and was plentiful. I added some Sriracha and reflected that below in the ingredient list. It's hard to go wrong with peanut sauce and noodles!

Peanut Soy Chicken, Cold Noodle, and Veggie Bowl
adapted source: A Year in the Kitchen

2 chicken breasts, pounded very thin
3 tbsp. creamy peanut butter, separated
1/2 c. lite soy sauce, separated
2 tsp Sriracha, separated
black pepper
6 oz spaghetti
1 can water chestnuts, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 bunch scallions, green parts only, sliced
1 6 oz. bag snap peas
1 bunch cilantro
Sesame seeds, sesame oil, grated ginger, or any other garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Preheat grill pan or skillet to medium-high heat.
In a shallow dish, whisk 2 tbsp. peanut butter with 1/4 c. soy sauce and 1 tsp Sriracha.
Microwave for 45 seconds if necessary, to loosen peanut butter.
Add black pepper, whisk.
Pound chicken thin between saran wrap.
Spray pan with nonstick spray.
Dip chicken in peanut sauce, then place on the grill pan. Cook for 4 minutes.
Drop the pasta in the water, cook for 6 minutes.
Chop the veggies.
In another large bowl, whisk together 1 tbsp. peanut butter, 1/4 c. soy sauce, 1 tsp Sriracha and pepper.
Again, microwave for 45 seconds if necessary.
Flip the chicken, cook for another 4 minutes, or until done.
If desired, during the last minute of cooking pasta, add the snap peas to take off the bite.
Drain and rinse with cold water, pour into the bowl with sauce. Toss to coat.
Add the veggies, toss again.
Take the chicken off the grill pan.
Plate the noodles, slice the chicken, place on top and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Spicy Garlic Lime Chicken with Linguine

Alert the presses! I'm blogging a new meal! I'm seriously trying to get back into cooking more at home. CPE is winding down, and I've noticed a few pounds creeping on, even though I've been exercising. Plus, we're beginning the house-purchasing process, and my budget-consciousness has been put on alert. I have made meals in the past week but did not find them particularly bloggable. This was a recipe I had bookmarked quite a while ago for it's simplicity. I added steamed broccoli as an accompanying vegetable.

The chicken was delightfully spicy, and I loved the tequila and lime flavor. Joe said that he wished there was more. I don't normally do the meat/starch/vegetable meal, so this was a nice change of pace, and the pan sauce definitely made it seem special.

Spicy Garlic Lime Chicken with Linguine
source: Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

  • 3-4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded out just a bit (I used one enormous breast cut in half)
  • Spices: Kosher salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, dried parsley, dried cilantro, paprika (Sprinkle to your liking.)
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 c tequila
  • 1 14.5 can low sodium chicken broth
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • Handful of chopped fresh parsley (I used cilantro, which also worked nicely.)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Olive oil
  • 2 oz of dry pasta per serving
  • Coat chicken in the dry spices - I simply shook the spices right onto the chicken from the spice jars and then rubbed them all in. I don't measure, but it was probably about 3 shakes from each bottle per side of chicken.
  • Heat about 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan.
  • Add chicken and cook on medium high heat for about 4-5 minutes per side. The chicken will turn a beautiful golden brown color. If the chicken is not cooked all the way through, lower your heat and continue to cook, or transfer it to the oven to finish (covered).
  • Remove chicken from the pan and add another tbsp of olive oil.
  • Add garlic, saute.
  • Deglaze pan with the tequila.
  • Add chicken broth and lime juice; bring to a boil.
  • Add parsley.
  • Whisk in butter to thicken the sauce up a bit.
  • Serve chicken over linguine; top with the sauce.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Our Kentuckiana Adventure

Last weekend, Joe and I made plans to travel up to the Louisville area to visit his good friend from med school, Angela, and her husband. When they matched at Louisville and we matched in Nashville, we were so excited that we were in the same region of the country and made plans to visit each other all the time. Well, reality set in, and a year passed without us visiting them, though they did make it down to Nashville once.

We arrived at their house (just across the bridge in Southern Indiana) by about 10:30 pm with a time change. We had to make a stop in Bowling Green, KY at Culver's for some Butterburgers and custard. Then we headed down to Bardstown to meet up with some of Angela's friends at a bar. The bar was loud and crowded, and I was a little tired and grumpy, but it was fun.

The next morning, we awoke to unseasonably cool weather around mid-morning. After breakfasting on blueberry muffins and sausage, we just sat around and sipped coffee on their lovely deck. We made plans to go to the Huber winery/orchard/petting farm/pick-your-own farm/restaurant in Starlight, Indiana. Before trying the wine, we thought picking peaches sounded like fun. I think we may have been the oldest people without children on the tractor that pulled us out to the orchard.

If you picked two boxes of peaches to the brim, they were $.79 a pound, so we decided it was a good idea for each couple to pick a box. We ate a few ripe ones in the orchard and marveled at the beauty and amount of peaches.

Joe may have gotten a little carried away. Our box weighed in at 27 pounds. We gave some to my parents, but mostly we've just been eating them! I have plans for some peach muffins this weekend. The peaches are really tasty. In their country store, we bought some wasabi soynuts, recommended by Angela, and some jalapeno cheese bread to have later and moved on to the wine tasting.

One of the things I enjoyed about the Huber property was that all of the vines were labeled so you could tell which grapes were the cabernet franc, etc. They also have a variety of tasting "packages". We decided to do the comparative package, where we would select either dry of sweet/semi-sweet and taste two wines side-by-side comparing for different qualities like minerality, skin contact, etc. It ended up being 12 pretty significant pours. The tasting occurred in the upstairs of a beautifully restored barn. It was busy but not crowded, and we met a few other transplanted Texans.

Without much food in my stomach, I was tipsy pretty quickly. We enjoyed several of the wines and came home with a bottle of their Chardonel and some Blueberry Port. Our server was a lot of fun and was very friendly and helpful. We needed a bit of food, and the jalapeno cheese bread coupled with some summer sausage and cheeses available for purchase did the trick as a complement to the bottle of Vignoles that we all shared.

There was live music out on the patio, and this was the absolute perfect day to enjoy it. The Huber property would make a great trip for a family as well since there are plenty of things for kids to enjoy. We saw many children enjoying picking blueberries and blackberries, as well as feeding llamas and other animals in the petting zoo.

That night we went back to Bardstown in Louisville and ate at Ramsi's Cafe On the World. The menu was so creative and different that I could hardly decide what to eat. I settled on the roasted vegetable masala. Joe got the East Meets South fajitas, fajita meat that you wrapped in Indiana paranatha bread. Cory ordered the Egyptian Kitchen, and then ate it so fast that none of us got to try it. Ramsi's offers many vegetarian and vegan friendly dishes. We returned to Cory and Angela's house and drank port and smoked cigars on their deck.

The next morning, we slept in again and ate some delicious strawberry breakfast bread from Huber's. After relaxing out on the deck, we took Cory and Angela's dog, Gracie, to a nearby monastery that had beautiful trails. Joe and I decided that we wanted to stop at the Maker's Mark distillery on our way home, so we said good-bye to Cory and Angela and hit the road. Joe has liked whisky for a while, but I have only recently began to enjoy it, thanks in large part to The Patterson House.

The Maker's Mark distillery is one of the more difficult distilleries on the Bourbon Trail to get to, as it is located quite a ways outside of Bardstown and about 2 hours from Louisville. But it is a beautiful setting and very quiet. Just outside of Loretto, KY, we began to see big black barrel houses where all of the whisky is aged. We made the last tour of the day at 3:30 pm, and the tour took longer than anticipated because it was a fairly large group that seemingly kept growing. The tours are free, and you get a ticket for the tasting if you are 21 and up.

My favorite part of the tour was the fermenting vats. There were about 9 9600 gallon vats where the yeast was eating up all of the sugars. The mash ferments for 3 days, and our tourguide encouraged us to try the difference in taste between Day 2 and Day 3 (there were no Day 1 vats at the time). So now, if you ever buy Maker's Mark, just imagine all the people dipping their hands into the fermenting vats!

The tour ended with a tasting. One of the glasses contains White Dog, the pre-aging mixture. It's essentially moonshine, and I could feel the burn all the way into my chest. The actual Maker's Mark is on the right and is aged in charred oak barrels for 5-7 years. They bottle by taste rather than aging time. The sweetness in Maker's Mark is due to their use of soft red winter wheat. There are 7 other distilleries on the Bourbon Trail, and Joe and I hope to continue to fill out our "passports"!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Shrimp Caesar Salad

Today is my first blogiversary - my one year anniversary of food blogging. I had initially planned for some celebration. Perhaps a giveaway or a round-up of some of my personal favorites that I have made and blogged over the last year. But that was not to be. This summer has sucked me dry, and I'm lucky if I can think straight enough to fix something for dinner. Don't get me wrong; I absolutely love what I'm doing. But it just so happens that the self-care that is necessary after dealing with death, dying, and sickness all day trumps catching up on my Google Reader or making new recipes.

So I come bearing this humble Caesar salad with shrimp. The way I made it (with pre-cooked frozen shrimp and with store-bought croutons), it's a no-cook meal. This was my first time making Caesar dressing from scratch, and I found this recipe a bit fishy but with a good strong flavor. Joe has also given his approval for salads as dinners, as long as it includes protein and bread. I served this with a small loaf of French bread and a crisp vinho verde.

Shrimp Caesar Salad
adapted source: Cooking Light, July 2009

6 cups torn Romaine hearts
1 lb shrimp, pre-cooked and thawed
1 (2 oz) can anchovy fillets, drained
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 large pasteurized egg yolks
1 garlic clove
4 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 cup croutons, as desired

Pat anchovy fillets dry with a paper towel. Combine fillets, cheese, and next 3 ingredients (through garlic) in a blender; process until smooth. With blender on, add remaining 1/4 cup oil, 1 tablespoon at a time; process until smooth. Combine croutons, shrimp, and lettuce in a large bowl. Drizzle salad evenly with dressing to your liking; toss to coat. Sprinkle salad mixture evenly with salt; toss to combine. Serve immediately. You may have some leftover dressing, as I did.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Slow-Cooker Greek Stuffed Peppers

I was so proud of myself last Thursday for planning to actually cook, but then Joe called and asked if I wanted to go out for dinner. It WAS Nashville Restaurant Week AND F. Scott's had half-off their delicious burger, but I told him that I already had dinner in the Crockpot. However, I quickly folded, and we decided to go to ChaChah instead. It was totally worth it, and I've been using the leftovers for lunches all week. But that's also why this picture doesn't look that attractive. While I love eating them, leftovers just never quite look as appetizing as the original product.

One of the complaints on the Martha Stewart website for this recipe was that they weren't really "GREEK" stuffed peppers. Blah blah blah, "real Greek stuffed peppers are made like so." Well, these are Greek-flavored or Greek-inspired stuffed peppers. The lemon really brightens up the flavors, and I enjoyed the way the beans make it heartier.

The other reason to make this recipe is because slow-cookers are magic. No added liquid or anything, but the couscous cooks up perfectly. The peppers barely even scalded on the bottom like I thought they would.

Slow-Cooker Greek Stuffed Peppers
source: Everyday Food via Erin's Food Files

4 large bell peppers
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup crumbled feta (4 ounces)
1/2 cup couscous
4 scallions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Lemon wedges, for serving


Slice a very thin layer from the base of each bell pepper so they sit flat (if you need to). Slice off tops just below stem. Discard stems; chop tops, and place in a medium bowl. Remove ribs and seeds from peppers.

To bowl, add beans, feta, couscous, scallion whites, garlic, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Stuff peppers with bean mixture; place upright in slow cooker. Cover; cook on high, 4 hours.

Sprinkle peppers with scallion greens; serve with lemon wedges.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

I've been a terrible blogger and cook lately. Between my mother-in-law coming to town, Nashville Restaurant Week, and going to Milwaukee for the 4th of July, I haven't been eating much at home for the last few weeks. So, naturally, one of the first things I make is ice cream.

Having seen a lot of ice cream recipes that call for all kinds of egg yolks and heavy cream, I was a little nervous how this might turn out. But it came out beautifully. The peanut butter flavor is strong and rich, and the texture is creamy. On a whim, I threw in some chocolate chips. Joe said it tasted like an ice cream version of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. This is super-easy to make. It would go great next to some chocolate cake!

Peanut Butter Ice Cream
source: Smells Like Home (originally David Lebovitz)

3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2 2/3 cup half-and-half
pinch of salt
1/8 tsp vanilla
1/2-3/4 cup chocolate chips

  1. Purée the peanut butter, sugar, half and half, salt, and vanilla in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  2. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add chocolate chips 5 minutes before ice cream maker is done churning.