Simple Asian Peanut Noodles with Chicken

This dish is so. stinking. good. I’ve been making it for almost a year and am ashamed that it’s taken me this long to write about it. When we learned early last year that my middle son’s allergies would be keeping dairy, egg and gluten off the menu, I started trying more Asian recipes because they were typically conducive to our restrictive diet. This one was by far the best. The base of this recipe is the noodles (without the chicken). I’ve made it in the past topped with roasted shrimp and grilled chicken, but it would also be awesome as a vegetarian meal too. Tonight was my first attempt at this style of chicken and I loved it. Side note: I’m picky about chicken. I like grilled, I like roasted, I like boiled and shred… but I don’t like to cut up raw chicken and cook it because it typically gets too chewy. So I’ve long been perplexed about how the chicken at Asian restaurants is so tender. So I plopped some random phrase into Pinterest about how to get unchewy chicken for Asian recipes and wouldn’t you know there’s a technique: you “velvet” chicken. It’s really a thing. Well I tried it and it worked as advertised – delicious tender chicken pieces that went perfect with these noodles. So here you have it, my current favorite dinner for the fam (which, by the way, they all LOVE!) – hope you enjoy!

Simple Asian Peanut Noodles with Chicken

Simple Asian Peanut Noodles with Chicken

1 lb gluten free spaghetti noodles, cooked according to instructions
1/3 cup gluten free soy sauce
1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter – or more to taste (if you have creamy, just add chopped peanuts)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 scallions, sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp sesame seeds

1) While the pasta water is heating, add all ingredients (except pasta) in a small bowl (I used a 2 cup measuring cup). Stir well until ingredients are fully incorporated.
2) Pour over hot pasta. Add chicken (or other protein such as shrimp) – see below. Stir well until pasta is completely coated with the sauce.

“Velvet” Chicken
1 1/3 lbs chicken breast, cut into thin slices
2 tbsp canola oil (divided)
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 large egg white
1/4 tsp salt

1)  Whisk in 1 tbsp oil, cornstarch, vinegar, egg white and salt in a medium bowl. Add chicken and coat well. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes.
2) Place 1 to 2 inches of water in a sauté pan and heat on high to boil. Once rapidly boiling, place the chicken pieces one at a time. Once the pan returns to boil, boil the chicken for 1 more minute. Remove with a slotted spoon. Set aside and cover to keep warm.

This recipe makes enough for my family of 5 with a little leftover. We love edamame with this dish too!

Velvet chicken

Velvet Chicken

Soy Peanut Sauce

Soy Peanut Sauce

Simple Asian Peanut Noodles with Chicken

Adapted from The Comfort of Cooking’s SIMPLE ASIAN SOY-PEANUT NOODLES and How to Velvet Chicken

 

The Perfect One-Pot Pasta Side Dish

I’m always on the hunt for a good easy homemade substitution for the foods I used to love. And when I come across a really great alternative, I’m super excited to share. This recipe takes the place of the box pasta that I’d make once or twice a week (Pasta Roni, Lipton’s Noodles or Knorr’s Pasta Sides). While you can’t make this for less than $2, it is a one-pot side in less than 15 minutes, and I assure you the flavor will blow the others away. Plus, it’s free of all the preservatives and MSG that make the box options a no-go for me these days. I found this recipe on Pinterest and stayed pretty true to it. I’ve tried this with fresh basil, fresh parsley and dried dill… and dried dill is by far my favorite (although the other herbs were good too). This has turned into a top request in my house, and it has made it’s way on the weekly dinner menu for the last four weeks. Hope you enjoy!

Creamy Garlic Pasta with Dill

1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp minced garlic
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 lb angel hair pasta
3/4 cup half and half
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried dill

1.) In a large pot, heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
2.) Add pasta to the boiling stock, reduce heat to medium-low and cook according to package (prob 3-5 minutes). Once pasta is done, add half and half, parmesan cheese and dill and remove from heat. Stir well to combine and serve hot.

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Creamy Garlic Pasta with Dill

 

Adapted from Catz in the Kitchen’s Creamy Garlic Pasta

 

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

The last stop on my cooking marathon yesterday was this dish – Chicken Parmesan Casserole! I love the idea of deconstructing a traditional dish and turning it into a casserole (see also Chicken Cordon Bleu Mac and Cheese). So I thought I’d do something similar to this Italian classic. The fact that I love fried chicken helped to add this to my dinner rotation for the week too. I have to say that it turned out great and every bite was definitely reminiscent of the original dish. Some of the breading from the chicken gets mixed in with the pasta and sauce and continues the flavor throughout. Yum, yum! I made own Italian bread crumbs (because I have yet to find a store-bought brand that is all-natural) to bread the chicken. By the way, frying chicken with these breadcrumbs and buttermilk just as a normal fried chicken entree is awesome, and even if this dish doesn’t appeal to you, I suggest you try it! Hope you enjoy!

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Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Vegetable oil (enough to fill a frying pan 1-inch)
1 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs (see recipe below for homemade)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 lb chicken tenderloins
1 lb penne pasta, boiled to al dente
6 cups marinara sauce (see recipe below for homemade)
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella balls, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup shredded mozzarella (for topping)

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.) Heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Dip each chicken tenderloin in buttermilk, then dredge in the breadcrumbs, making sure to coat well on each side. Add to hot oil and fry until browned and cooked fully (actual time will depend on the thickness of the chicken – I cooked mine for about 5 minutes on each side). Remove from oil and place on a paper towel lined plate. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into chunks. Set aside.
3.) In a large bowl (or the pot you cooked the marinara sauce in), combine cooked pasta, marinara sauce, parmesan cheese and mozzarella balls. Stir well until everything is well combined. Gently stir chicken into the pasta (so you don’t lose all the breading). Top with shredded mozzarella. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cheese is browned and sides are bubbly.

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Chicken Parm Casserole

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Italian Bread Crumbs
1 1/2 cup plain panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp dried parsley

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined and consistency is thinner.

Italian Bread Crumbs

Marinara Sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 26-oz boxes finely diced tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/3 cup fresh basil, julienned
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil. Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for at least an hour.

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Sweet and Smokey Salmon with Lemon Pasta and Grilled Asparagus

Salmon – by far, my favorite fish.  It’s healthy, it’s delicious, and it’s hard to mess up. While I typically bake my salmon, last night I decided to throw it on the grill. This was a wild-caught Sockeye Salmon from Costco, which meant it was a perfectly cut filet, de-boned and great price. Win, win, win! I went for the sweet and smokey flavors of honey and Worcestershire along with some garlic and grilled the salmon on top of lemon slices. It turned out awesome! I paired it with grilled asparagus that I marinated in Worcestershire as well and a lemon angel hair pasta tossed with olive oil, butter and fresh basil. Yummy, yum, yum.

Sweet and smokey salmon

 

Sweet and Smokey Grilled Salmon

2 lb salmon filet, skin-on, de-boned
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried minced onion
1/2 tsp pepper
Salt
1 lemon, sliced thin

1.) Rinse salmon filet to ensure there are no scales on the fish. Place in the casserole dish.
2.) In a small bowl, combine Worcestershire sauce, honey, olive oil, garlic, minced onion and pepper. Stir well.
3.) Generously salt the salmon and then pour the marinade over top. Spoon the marinade that collects in the dish back over the salmon to ensure it well covered. Let it marinade for at least 15 minutes.
4.) On a preheated grill, place lemon slices in the shape of the salmon filet. Place the salmon on top and close the grill’s lid. Grill over high heat for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until cooked to desired temp. No need to flip the salmon.

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Lemon Pasta

8 ozs angel hair pasta
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1.) Boil pasta according to package. Set aside.
2.) In a small sauté pan over medium-high heat, add butter and olive oil. Once butter is melted, add garlic and sauté for about a minute. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pour sauce over pasta and toss.
3.) Add fresh basil and parmesan and toss some more.

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Lemon pasta

Grilled Asparagus

1 lb of asparagus, ends cut off
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried minced onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1.) Place all ingredients in a gallon Ziploc bag. Toss well and let sit for about 15 minutes.
2.) On a preheated grill, place asparagus perpendicular to the grill grates.
3.) Grill for about 5 minutes, turn asparagus over, then grill for 5 more minutes.

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Grilled asparagus

Caprese Chicken Bake with Balsamic Reduction

This Italian dish is a fresh take on traditional pasta and tomato sauce. Simple to make and full of flavor. This is another Pinterest inspired recipe, but this time I took a few things from two different dishes. The end product was great! But to be fair, soaking just about anything in a balsamic reduction would be pretty awesome…

Caprese Chicken Bake

Caprese Chicken Bake 

2 pints of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 red onion, julienned
1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned (plus a little more for garnish)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 chicken breasts
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
8 oz angel hair pasta, cooked according to box in salted water
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar

1.) Place first 8 ingredients in a casserole dish and stir until well combined. Add chicken breasts and try to rub the chicken in the tomatoes to transfer some of the olive oil and seasoning, then place chicken breasts on top of tomatoes. Salt and pepper liberally.
2.) Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place 1/3 of the mozzarella on each breast. Place chicken back in oven for about 10 more minutes. Exact time will vary based on the size of the breasts, so check to make sure they are done.
3.) While chicken is baking, place vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until vinegar has thickened and sticks to a spoon. Watch that this doesn’t burn.
4.) When pasta is done cooking, toss in about a tablespoon of olive oil.
5.) Serve chicken and tomatoes on top of the angel hair pasta and drizzle the balsamic reduction over top.

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Adapted from Our Story’s Italian Chicken and The Novice Chef’s Caprese Chicken

Meatballs and Marinara

So I actually made this a while ago… I even typed out the recipe, uploaded the pictures and everything, but apparently I forgot to post it! Well, it’s too good to not share, so here it is!

My boys love, love, love meatballs, so this goes over really well in my house. I’ve played around with this recipe a lot over the years – sometimes with pork and/or veal – but I really just like it best with a high quality ground beef. The parmesan cheese and fresh herbs add a lot of flavor, and overall, they’re pretty easy to throw together. I made these along with marinara, so the instructions below are how I did both in about 45 minutes. Hope you enjoy!

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Meatballs

1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup plain panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)
2 tsp dried oregano
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Marinara

3 14-oz cans diced tomatoes (undrained)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red wine
8 oz mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp sugar

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in large dutch oven over medium-high heat.
2.) Add onions and garlic and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. While onions are sautéing, in a large bowl,  combine all ingredients for the meatballs.
3.) Add tomatoes to onions in the dutch oven and reduce heat to medium; simmer while you form meatballs into 1 1/2″ – 2″ balls.
4.) Place meatballs on a baking sheet about an inch apart and bake for 35 to 40 minutes (depending on how big you make the meatballs).
5.) To the sauce, add red wine, mushrooms, herbs, salt, pepper and sugar. Sauté for 30 minutes.
6.) With an emersion blender (or by using a normal blender to blend in batches), puree sauce to desired consistency (I like mine a little chunky, so I didn’t totally puree).
7.) When meatballs are done, add them to pot and coat with sauce. Serve over pasta.

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I was able to make 15 meatballs at this size.

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The sauce after simmering, before blending.

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The finished sauce – yum!

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Simple Sausage Marinara

This dish is a simple 30-minute homemade marinara that is a go-to for a weeknight meal.  Both of my boys love Italian sausage, so I’ve been using it in place of beef in a lot of my Italian dishes.  I used Publix’s Greenwise Italian Chicken Sausage and it was really good.  This dinner was a success –  I didn’t have to spend the whole evening in the kitchen and the boys cleaned their plates. The leftovers were great too.

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Simple Sausage Marinara

1 lb Italian sausage (I used chicken sausage)
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomato
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1.) Brown the sausage in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic and mushrooms. Sauté until onions and mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes.
2.) Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add parsley and simmer for 5 minutes longer.  Serve over pasta and top with parmesan cheese.

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