Monday, September 28, 2009

Sesame Peanut (long life) Soba Noodles

Though my mother has been doing it for years, I've just now jumped on the bandwagon of using peanut butter in sauces and especially Asian dishes. In my younger, more health conscious days I scoffed at her peanut sauces fearing the fat and calories. Um, these days I just can't get enough! To hell with the diet! :)

Paired with a heartier buckwheat noodle, peanut butter shines but does not overpower this dish. Mixed with a little red pepper, rice vinegar, sweet chili sauce and soy sauce, these noodles epitomize my love of sweet & savory dishes. And while it may be Fall for many of you around the country, good ol' SD continues to surprise me with record high temperatures and an absurdly hot, un-air conditioned kitchen. Luckily you can serve these noodles cool, warm or hot depending on the temps in your area.

If you need to reheat, a touch of water and soy sauce helps to bring these noodles back to life. Speaking of life, its hubby's birthday & following my mother's tradition, noodles bring long life to the birthday boy or girl consuming them. Just don't cut the noodles lest you lead a broken or shortened life. Ahh, mama always knows best!

Sesame Peanut Soba Noodles
adapted from Crabby Cook

4 Tablespoons Peanut Butter
3 Tablespoons Honey
4 Tablespoons Water
1 Tablespoon sweet chili sauce
2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, to taste

9 oz. cooked soba noodles
3/4 cup julienned carrots
Sesame Seeds for garnish

Cook the soba noodles according to package directions. Run soba noodles under cold water and then allow to drain fully.

While soba are cooking, combine all sauce ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. Gently stir until peanut butter fully combines into sauce. Pour sauce into large bowl.

Heat saucepan over medium heat and saute carrots until crisp-tender. Remove from heat.

Toss soba and vegetables with sauce and carrots, mix well, ensuring the noodles are evenly covered in sauce.

Cover and allow to rest for about 20-30 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Black Bean Mushroom Burgers

First off, congrats to the winners of the Macy's shopping giveaway! Amber (lucky #3) would host a black and white themed party while Kerstin (lucky # 15) wants to host a Mexican themed party with guac and margs. Yum! Thanks for entering the giveaway and let us know what you buy!

On to other good stuff...Do you ever find yourself making something that tastes so delicious but looks utterly unattractive? Well, file me under "ugly but yummy" because I truly struggled whether I should post these or not. In the end, I couldn't resist because we loved these Black Bean Mushroom burgers so much.

Black Bean Mushroom BurgerAmong good things in life, black beans and mushrooms hang out at the top of my list. Unlike other things that hang out up there (cake & ice cream), these ingredients are actually good for me and you. Even better, my carnivore hubby gave these a big thumbs up so rest assured, you too can subject a vegetarian meal upon your favorite meat eater.

Grab your handy dandy food processor and get to work. Black beans are whirled with sauteed baby bellas, a little bread crumb action and cilantro. Add goat cheese and form into yummy patties. Though we fired these up on the grill, things got a little messy and next time I will just saute them in a pan with a lot of cooking spray and/or olive oil. They're a little too fragile for the grill in my opinion. Serve on toasty English Muffins and you have yourself a veg treat!

I found these tasty burgers on Culinary in the Country and stayed pretty true to the recipe so head on over there to check it out. My only recommendations would be to use a full tub of goat cheese, consider using more bread crumbs, and to saute these babies!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Macy's Shopping Giveaway...for a good cause!

As a die-hard food lover, its hard to imagine a day going by without eating delicious food, perusing food photos on the internet, while sometimes reading through cooking magazines on the side. Did I mention I'm a multi-tasker?

The sad reality is that at least one in six young children live on the brink of hunger in the United States. According to Feeding America, an estimated 12.4 million children lived in food insecure (low food security and very low food security) households in 2007. Given the current state of the economy, I can only imagine that this number may have increased.

Along with Feeding America, Macy's is launching "COME TOGETHER, an innovative awareness and fundraising campaign that aims to feed 10 million people suffering from hunger. Come Together invites the public to rally around the cause by hosting special dinners in their homes and asking their guests to pledge a donation to Feeding America. In return, Macy’s will match these donations dollar-for-dollar until the total goal of 10 million meals is reached."

How can you help raise 10 Million meals for families in need? All you have to do is host a dinner for your friends - something I know we all do on a regular basis.

· HOST - Friends and families across the country can host dinner parties from casual to formal, send invitations and manage party details including themes and recipes on the . In lieu of bringing traditional host gifts, guests are suggested to make a donation to Feeding America.
· GIVE - Donate $1 directly at any Macy's register, one dollar provides dinner for seven.
· SHOP- Macy's customers can shop for the cause and get special savings in-store on October 17, when Macy's hosts a national Shop For A Cause day. A portion of the $5 in-store ticket sales will benefit Feeding America.

In honor of this great cause and to spread awareness of the reality many families in America face, I'm hosting a Macy's giveaway for a $25 gift card. To enter, please take the time to:

  • Visit the Feeding America and Come Together websites,
  • consider donating to the cause, and
  • leave a comment on what you'd serve at your "Come Together" dinner party.
I will randomly select two lucky winners from the entries received by Sunday, September 20th, 11:59 pacific. Good luck!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sweet Chili Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Chicken Lettuce WrapsI tend to be quite a busy body so I continually struggle with sitting around doing nothing. On the plus side, I tend to be fairly productive, spending my weekend days running around from one errand to the next, but it's certainly a negative when I can't just relax and the weekend leaves me exhausted! Well, lucky for me, college football season is in gear so that means lots of Saturday lazy days couch time is in store.

Sweet Chili Chicken Lettuce Wraps
While I truly love college football, it's quite possible I love the snacks & munchies we make for football couch time even more. On Saturday, I decided to make something refreshing and an old-standby for Amer-asian food fans everywhere - Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps. Google Chicken lettuce wrap recipes, and you'll find quite a plethora of PF Chang's Copy Cat recipes. I decided to mix a few ingredients from several recipes, add a few touches of my own and see how things turned out.

These were delicious, but its hard to mimic the absolutely perfectly round lettuce cups served at restaurants. Do they hire someone just to pick out perfect heads of lettuce?! If you know the secret, please share.

Have a great week and stay tuned for a**shopping** giveaway this week!

Sweet Chili Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Adapted from various internet sources

1 pound ground chicken or turkey
Montreal Grill Seasoning (by McCormick) & salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoons lite soy sauce
1 -2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
dash of black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 cups Cole Slaw (cabbage & carrot) mix
3 scallions, chopped on an angle
1 can sliced water chestnuts, diced into small pieces
1 head of romaine or iceberg lettuce

In a medium bowl, sprinkle chicken with grill seasoning, salt and peper. Stir to combine.

In a separate smaller bowl, combine sesame oil,hoisin, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, sweet chili sauce, pepper, and garlic in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

Heat a large skillet to hot. Add olive oil, then chicken. Cook chicken 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the red peppers, cabbage and carrot mix, scallions and water chestnuts and stir-fry another 2 minutes. Add sauce mixture and saute until all is warm, about another 2 minutes.

Spoon about 1/3 cup chicken salad in the center of each lettuce leaf

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Feta and Caramelized Onions

As summer comes to a close, I find myself wondering "how'd it get so freakin' hot here?!" San Diego, land of mild climes has become a perpetual hot box. Needless to say I haven't embraced any reunions with the kitchen. I dared to turn on the oven a few days ago and we paid the price after two consecutively sticky days.

While I will always be someone who just loves steamin hot food, salads have never seemed more appetizing. This is one of my favorites with you guessed it, feta cheese! (sorry Brittwilk!) Toss a few summer ripe strawberries with chopped spinach, feta, grilled asparagus and caramelized onions and you have yourself a cool meal that won't leave you sweating! We tried this with a little bit of Annie's Natural Shiitake & Sesame Vinaigrette.

Hope you all have a great weekend and a happy Labor(less) day! I'll leave you with a recent picture of our big puppy, Sadie, taken on a hike this morning. She looks happy, huh? That's because we're in the shade! :)

Strawberry Salad
recipe by hubby

1 small red onion, sliced
1 bunch of asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces
1 bag of baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1 pint of strawberries, sliced
1 small package of reduced fat crumbled feta (about 3oz)

1. Coat large nonstick skillet with cooking spray over medium heat. Slowly saute red onion slices until caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add asparagus and saute lightly. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

2. In a large bowl, toss chopped spinach, feta cheese, and strawberries. Add cooled veggies and toss with your favorite dressing.