Monday, August 27, 2012

Singapore Street Noodles

This is one of those "kitchen sink" recipes; there is a ton of ingredients but I'm sure that some substitution wouldn't turn out badly. I thought the sauce in this recipe would work well with just about any combination of stir-fry vegetables.

I taste-tested this recipe with just my 10-year-old. I thought he might back away from the spice in it, but he never complained about it. He loved, loved, loved the rice noodles and asked me to make it again. I served mine on top of the noodles, but he wanted his noodles separate from the meat and vegetables.


1 TBL rice wine vinegar
2 TBL curry powder
1 pinch turmeric
2 TBL soy sauce or Ponzu
1/2 cup oyster sauce
2 TBL sriracha (sweet chili) sauce
2 TBL ketchup

1/2 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and tails removed
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in thin strips
2 TBL vegetable or peanut oil for the pan
1 cup cole slaw mix
1/2 small onion, chopped fine
2 cups baby carrots, julienned
1 TBL minced garlic
1 medium tomato, cut in chunks

1 pound Asian rice noodles, uncooked
1 tsp sesame oil
handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lime, cut in quarters

1.  Mix vinegar, curry powder and turmeric until well blended. Add remaining sauce ingredients and stir. Set aside.

2.  Boil water in large pot for noodles.

3.  Stir-fry shrimp and chicken in oil until cooked through. Push to edges of pan and add all vegetables except tomato. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, then stir in tomato and sauce. Cook until everything is heated through.

4.  Cook noodles 2 to 3 minutes (according to package directions), stirring occasionally. Drain and toss with cilantro and sesame oil.

5.  Serve noodles with meat and vegetables and 1/4 lime to squeeze over the dish just before eating.

I plan to make a big batch of this (just the meat, vegetables and sauce), then divide and freeze it. The rice noodles take no time at all to cook, so this would be an amazingly quick meal for those really busy days. But I'm probably going to leave out the tomatoes next time and use some other vegetables instead. Also, some chopped dry-roasted peanuts or cashews would add to this dish.

Source for original recipe: (I changed some ingredients and re-worked the directions so the steps were actually in order. In the original recipe, also, there were some ingredients in the list that never were accounted for in the steps of the recipe.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Big Send-Off

Four more days until Big Brother goes back to school! This time he won't be living in the dorms, but in an on-campus apartment complete with (tiny) kitchen. He's excited about his upcoming Freedom From Dining-Hall Food.

It occurred to him the other day that if he's going to be cooking his food, he'll need to buy the groceries and have time to cook the food. I took it as a huge compliment that he asked me to help him make a grocery list.

And here's where it got interesting, and I realized something. Most of the groceries I buy are ingredients. Since he plans to use my recipes (he AND his girlfriend have both bookmarked this blog) he is going to have to keep ingredients in the house.

So I asked him to list 8 to 10 meals as a starting point, figuring that we'd stock him up on the nonperishable ingredients (and frozen meat and pasta sauce) for those. From that list, I made him a shopping list. I've already been collecting spices like assorted pepper grinders, bay leaves and a few staples such as chicken soup base.

I hope his mini-kitchen is big enough to hold his stash of ingredients as well as his roommates' food.

And I'm happy to say that my son is heading off to college with grocery bags containing Old Bay, ginger, and sesame seeds--and he knows how to use them.

Sure beats dining-hall food.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Original Recipe: Pasta with Beef and Fennel Sauce

Much as I may claim that "laziness is the mother of invention," there are times when I agree that necessity deserves that title. It's certainly true in cooking. This recipe was born out of a moment of panic when I realized that somehow I had run out of spaghetti sauce with meatballs without realizing it--and I'd planned that very thing for dinner (and had no time to start up a big batch).

I did have some sauce without meatballs, though, and some ground beef. So I thought I'd make a baked ziti with meat and cheese...but that's not really what I wanted for dinner. That's when I got busy inventing. The result was a big hit; it has the flavor of Italian sausage without all the grease.

The whole thing cooks in the time it takes to boil a big pot of water and cook pasta, so it's a quick and easy meal.

Serves 6

3 to 4 cups spaghetti sauce without meat
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
1 TBL olive oil
1 TBL fennel seed
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

Brown ground beef and onion in the olive oil.  Drain, add fennel and pepper, and cook 2 minutes more until spices are fragrant.  Stir into spaghetti sauce. Heat until warmed through and serve over your choice of pasta.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Skillet Chicken Parm

My husband's favorite dinner is Chicken Parmesan. But while I am a big fan of pasta with red sauce, Chicken Parmesan is not high on my list of best-loved dishes--either to make or to eat. Breading, frying, then baking the chicken is a mess and a chore. Today I bought a new cookbook: The Cook's Country Cookbook (from the America's Test Kitchen editors) and found a Skillet Chicken Parmesan recipe in there.

I know that the America's Test Kitchen people are all kinds of scientific and they think they have found the One Best Way to make anything. Honestly, though, I didn't buy this cookbook for the recipes but for the information on technique (like shaping rolls and boning chicken) that had lots of useful photographs. So while the recipe below was "inspired by" the ATK one in the cookbook, there were a lot of changes that I made to accommodate the ingredients I had on hand.

This version of Skillet Chicken Parm cooks in about the same time as a big pot of linguine, so it's great when you want to have dinner on the table in under 30 minutes!

This was way easier to make than conventional Chicken Parm, and there was plenty of sauce to go around (that's my favorite part!) I used my own homemade pizza sauce, but you can use your favorite thick spaghetti sauce.


Get the full recipe plus nutrition information at Cook and Count!

My Kitchen Bucket List

Every cook has one:  the things she would like to learn to make someday.
In no particular order, here are some of mine:
apple-cider donuts
sandwich bread
shaped round rolls
corn muffins
Irish brown bread like the kind we had in Ireland when I was 15, and which is probably so mythologized in my mind that NOTHING will come close to it
General Tso's Chicken

And I'd like to start a sourdough starter and NOT kill it off after only a couple of weeks! (I'm a little lacking in the follow-through in the sourdough department).

In view of the kitchen goals I have, I requested a couple of baking pans for my birthday (hey, the kids asked...and these are not things I'd go out and buy for myself.)

My baking-pan cabinet is going to get out of control if I add anything more to it, but I have had these on my wish list for so long--and as soon as it gets a little cooler I'm going to be baking!  I asked for (and received) a donut pan and a Pullman loaf pan. This heavy-duty covered bread pan makes those square "sandwich" loaves. I've got 4 weeks to get that right before school starts.


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