Oodles of Peanut Noodles

I’ve mentioned that most weeknights are pretty crazy these days. Well, here’s an easy weeknight recipe for those nights where there’s no need to rush out the door for an activity. It can be prepared in just under 30 minutes and it’s always a hit with the girls. I’ve made this for several of my oldest ponytail’s friends who’ve had dinner at our place, and they’ve all eaten several plates.

This makes oodles of noodles, as I’ve mentioned in the headline. Some nights there’s very little leftover, while other nights there’s enough for another meal–so it fits well with my curent “cooking in bulk” strategy. This also freezes well.

I have to give credit to the idea of making noodles with broccoli slaw to Ann over at Cooking Healthy for Me–although Ann closed down her blog several months ago.  Ann’s recipe was quite different, as it used carrot juice and pre-made peanut sauce. I tried Ann’s recipe but made quite a few modifications and ended up with this version of peanut noodles. (Thanks Ann!) It’s now part of our regular weeknight rotation.

Peanut Noodles

(6 to 8 servings)

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 340 g package broccoli slaw
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ginger, minced
  • Juice of one lime
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp mirin sweet cooking seasoning
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup sodium-reduced soy sauce
  • 375 g spaghetti (I often use Catelli Smart or whole wheat)

 Optional toppings:

  • Cooked shrimp
  • Green onion, chopped
  • Sesame seeds
  • Crushed peanuts, unsalted
  • Wedges of lime (on the side)

 Directions:

  1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
  2. Saute shrimp until cooked (optional) and set aside.
  3. Add sesame oil to pan and add garlic and ginger over medium heat. Cook for one minute. Add broccoli slaw and grated carrots and cook for about 8 minutes until softened.
  4. Add peanut butter, lime juice, red pepper flakes, brown sugar, mirin, water and soy sauce. Simmer two to three minutes until sauce thickens. At this point you can add additional water by the tablespoon until desired consistency is reached. (I like to add an additional 2 to 3 tbsp of water to thin out the sauce a bit more.) Stir in cooked spaghetti until mixed thoroughly.
  5. Serve with toppings (if using).

NOTES:

  • Broccoli slaw is a mixture of shredded carrots, cabbage and broccoli that is available in North America. You could add shredded broccoli to your regular cole slaw as a substitute.
  • I also use this peanut sauce (without the slaw and grated carrots) for my own version of broccoli and beef stir-fry. It’s quite versatile and could be used for satays etc.
  • If using regular peanut butter, just reduce the brown sugar to approx. 1 tbsp.
  • Catelli Smart pasta is available in North America and it is 2-1/2 times the fibre of regular white pasta, but it looks and tastes like regular pasta. For this reason, I use it a lot! The Catelli Smart spaghetti box that I buy is in fact 375 g, so I use the whole box for this recipe (which makes things very easy!). After looking on the website, I realize that the sizes must be different in the U.S., as the box size profiled is 454 g. In this case, you would use 3/4 of the box.
  • If cooking for only two or three people (and you don’t like leftovers), this recipe can easily be cut in half. The broccoli slaw cooks down, so you could still use the whole package and omit adding the grated carrot. Or, depending on your preference, you could reduce the amount of slaw down to 1/2 or 3/4 of the package. All remaining items just need to be reduced to half the amount specified in the recipe.
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Lemon and Herbes de Provence Spatchcocked Chicken + Leftover Soup

How do you put together a meal, sign school forms and change the channel all at the same time? The answer is simple: heat up leftovers + get someone else to manage the TV remote (what are the odds I’d get control of it anyway?).

With three crazy nights of the week where we need to arrive home from school/work, eat and be out the door in less than 30 minutes, leftovers have become my best friend.

Now that September is in full swing, you’ll find me cooking in bulk on the weekends and freezing the leftovers for one of these crazy nights, or making a Sunday night dinner that will provide the key ingredients for a second meal. I’ve been doing this for ages, but I recently discovered a great blog written by Saskia called 1=2. Saskia’s site is brilliant, with every post delivering on this life-saving concept of making a meal and planning for leftovers to prepare a second meal. (Be sure to check out Saskia’s site for some great 1=2 ideas.)

A roasted chicken is the perfect start to a two-for-one meal, as there are just so many meals that you can make with leftover chicken. One of my favourite ways to roast or grill a chicken is to spatchcock it. Before you get any ideas, you should know that this simply means to butterfly a chicken, or to take out the backbone and flatten it. The key benefit is that the chicken cooks faster and more evenly than when it is left in tact. Apparently, spatchcock is the traditional word for the French term “poussin”, which means a young chicken. Years ago, these little chickens were frequently  butterflied for faster cooking, and eventually flattened chickens were called spatchcocks.

Often I’ll make a simple chicken pot pie with leftover chicken, or a chicken and brocolli quiche. Sometimes I just add barbeque sauce and serve the tangy leftover chicken with mashed potatoes (preferably leftovers also) and vegetables. I recently used my leftover chicken and corn (from a Sunday night dinner) to make Avocado-Corn Chowder with Grilled Chicken, which comes together in about 10 minutes using leftovers.

If you have some good recipes on how to use leftover chicken, please be sure to share as I see many more crazy nights in my future! How about you?

Lemon and Herbes de Provence Spatchcocked Chicken

  • 4 lb chicken, spatchcocked
  • 2 lemons: zest one and slice the other
  • 2 to 3 tsp herbs de provence
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For instructions on how to spatchcock a chicken, you can watch this video (stop before cutting the flattened chicken in half) or follow the step-by-step photos here.

Rinse and thoroughly dry the chicken.

Breast side up, carefully separate the skin from the bird, taking care not to rip the skin. Insert two slices of lemon between the skin and the flesh on each half of the bird.

Using a pastry brush, coat the outside skin of the bird with the olive oil. Sprinkle the coated chicken with herbes de provence, lemon zest and salt & pepper to taste.

To Grill: Cook on a preheated barbeque for 45 to 50 minutes until internal termperature reads 180°.

To Roast in the Oven: Preheat oven to 425°. Place prepared chicken (spatchcocked, seasoned and stuffed with lemon as above) breast side up in a greased baking dish. Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, until internal temperature reads 180°. NOTE: When roasting, I like to use butter rather than oil to coat the chicken. I also like to mix a couple of teaspoons of butter with some fresh chopped parsley, thyme and rosemary and slip this between the skin and the flesh of the bird. This doesn’t work well when barbequing, as the butter drips on to the grill and catches fire.

Avocado-Corn Chowder with Grilled Chicken

For the orignial recipe, click here.

My modifications:

  • I reduced the water to 1 cup, as I find 1½ cups too watery and I reduced the orange juice to 1/3 cup rather than ½ cup.
  • Using left-over grilled chicken eliminates the need to follow the directions for cooking the chicken.
  • I used a couple pinches of crushed red pepper rather than ¼ tsp of ground red pepper.
  • I also omitted the chopped red pepper.

Healthy Apple and Dried Cherry Mini Muffins

The wonderful thing about kids is the fact that they are unpredictable. The challenging thing about kids is the fact that they are unpredictable.

There are times when I expect a negative reaction to a situation, and my girls will completely surprize me by showing a level of maturity that is beyond their years. Yes (smile), they are unpredictable.

One week something is an all-time favourite. The next week it is the worst thing ever. This is particularly the case when it comes to food. Yes (sigh), they are unpredictable.

But, I find that if you hold your ground, they eventually eat the dish or snack that you made for them. And I think they like it too . . . they just won’t admit it. (They get their stubborn streak from their father.) Otherwise they’d have a very unhealthy and boring food repetoire (think mac & cheese, pizza and grilled cheese). Somedays it wears you down, but it keeps me on my toes as I live in search of recipes that my ponytails will like.

These mini apple muffins went over well last week, which made me very happy since they are made with lots of healthy bits, such as apples, oats, dried cherries and sesame seeds. They were perfect to send to school for snacks, since they are nut-free, but still have some crunch to them from the sesame seeds. I guiltlessly ate quite a few myself because they are made with very little fat–only 2 tablespoons of canola oil for the entire batch. They ranked right up there with the Blueberry and Banana Muffins that I wrote about in my very first post.

I keep wondering how many more years until the girls become more adventurous about their food–the way they were when they were really little and weren’t influenced by the kids menu at restaurants? Is there cause for optimism?

Healthy Apple Breakfast Muffins

Slightly adapted from Style at Home Magazine

  • 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt (I used 1%)
  • 2 cups grated peeled apple
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup fat-free milk (I used 1%)
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375°
  • Combine the oats and yogurt in a medium bowl and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Whisk together the apple, eggs, milk, oil and vanilla in a separate bowl.
  • Add the apple mixture to the yogurt mixture and stir to blend.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  • Pour the yogurt mixture over the dry ingredients and sprinkle with the dried cherries and sesame seeds.
  • Stir until just combined.
  • Spoon the mixture into a mini muffn tin and bake for 15-18 minutes, until the tops are brown. If using regular sized muffin tin, bake for 35 minutes.

Notes:

  • For tips on making mini muffins, see my original post.

Back-to-school Breakfast Fruit Sundaes

 

Back-to-school Breakfast Fruit Sundaes

Tomorrow is the first day of school for my ponytails. But, for my youngest ponytail, it’s her very first day ever at her K-8 school.

Can you imagine the excitement in my house? I know you are guessing that it is my little ponytail who is excited. And yes, you would be right.

However, my husband and I are beyond excited because it means that we only have to drop the girls off at one school each morning, rather than two. Happy days! The mornings are going to get a tad bit easier. (And the afternoons too, I might add.)

But the first day of school isn’t just a date on the calendar—it’s a state of mind. It’s about new beginnings, a fresh start, a clean slate. You get the idea.

There’s something about this feeling of a fresh start. It must be the crisp haircut, the new pencil case and the spanking new Jordash jeans (okay, that was another era) that signal change is in the air. Even I’ve been swept up by this energizing atmosphere, and I’m the one paying for all the new back-to-school must-haves!

Despite all this change, one thing that won’t change is the fact that the girls don’t like to get up in the morning. Boy some mornings are ugly.

So, I’ve come up with a way to start tomorrow off on the right foot. I’m going to announce that there are sundaes waiting for them on the kitchen table—but only if they hop right out of bed. I’ll just be skipping over a couple of words…since it will be breakfast fruit sundaes that will be waiting there. Do you think they’ll be disappointed?

Breakfast Fruit Sundaes

  • Mixed fruit (any combination of sliced strawberries, bananas, plums, peaches pineapple and blueberries)
  • Vanilla yogurt (see notes)
  • Granola (see my Maple Pistachio Granola recipe below)
  • Honey or maple syrup (optional)

Place a ½ cup or so of mixed fruit in the bottom of a bowl or ice cream serving dish. Add a good-sized dollop of vanilla yogurt, followed by a sprinkling of two or three t heaping spoonfuls of granola. Drizzle with honey or maple syrup (optional).

Maple Pistachio Granola

  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, chopped roughly (or chopped almonds)
  • ½ cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°. In medium-sized bowl, mix oats, pistachios, coconut, sesame seeds and cinnamon. Add maple syrup, oil and vanilla. Mix well. Spread out on a large baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes (until your granola is a lovely caramel brown colour). Be sure to start checking on it at the 10 minute mark, as it burns quickly.

NOTES:

  • You can add a couple of teaspoons of pure vanilla to a container of plain yogurt to make your own vanilla yogurt. I like to add vanilla to 1% yogurt.