Saturday, April 14, 2012

Spicy peanut butter noodles



Peanut butter noodles was a dish my mom used to make for me as a child all the time. It was one of my favorite meals on a hot day with cool, creamy noodles and crisp vegetables. I love the flavor pairing of the semi sweet peanut butter with the tangy soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Tastebud explosion.

I've been making peanut butter noodles forever, but this recipe on Pinterest inspired me to photograph and write out my version. 

Makes 2-3 servings

1/2 bag of cooked noodles - here I used soba noodles but angel hair or spaghetti works too
Peanut sauce - recipe below
Assorted chopped veggies, such as cabbage, shredded carrots, cucumbers, or broccoli 
Optional: Sriracha sauce, chopped peanuts

Sauce:

1/2 cup peanut butter
Soy sauce
Rice wine vinegar
Sesame oil

Measure out the peanut butter into a bowl. Add equal parts of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar, whisking until the peanut butter smooths into a sauce. Personally I like thicker sauce, but the beauty of this is it's totally customizable. If you want, you can add some warm water or chicken broth to soften the flavor. Add a few drops of sesame oil - a little goes a long way. 

You have options with the veggies too. Sometimes I just use raw vegetables but if you're not feeling that just give them a quick saute. 

Put the noodles and veggies in a serving bowl and add the peanut butter sauce. Toss until well combined. Top with sriracha and chopped peanuts, if using. 


Hope you give this a try!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ratatouille

Sorry for the uber pixelated photo, taken on my phone


Ratatouille is a French veggie stew. It's a perfect summer dish that can be served with a crusty loaf of bread, over pasta, rice, or stirred into a quiche or frittata. During my semester abroad in college, my Spanish se├▒ora made this for dinner sometimes - that was always a good dinner. Of course there were other times she was rushed, so I'd get soggy french fries and a fried egg. Those were the nights I'd finish dinner, put on a jacket, and walk to the neighborhood falafel shop for REAL meal. Man, I missed cooking for myself in those days....


Anyways on to the recipe!


Makes four robust or six regular servings


2 onions, thickly sliced
1 medium to large eggplant, cut into cubes
2 yellow, red, or orange bell peppers, sliced
2 squash, diced
3 tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt to taste
Optional: pinch of saffron


Heat up a deep saute pan or Dutch oven with the olive oil. Add onions and cook for 20 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently. You want the onions to be really carmelized to form the base. Once the onions are nice and golden, add the eggplant. Cook 10 minutes, again stirring frequently to prevent sticking. 


Add the bell peppers. Lower heat to low and cook 10 minutes. Once the bell peppers are soft, add the squash, cook 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, thyme, salt and saffron (if using) to taste. 



Cook at least another 10 minutes, until the veggies turn into a stew like substance. Dish up with your choice of accompanying side dish and sit down to enjoy a fresh, hearty, and healthy meal. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Strawberry yogurt cake


I've read a few books written by expats in Paris lately.

Bringing Up Bebe
Lunch in Paris

They both mention yogurt cake that French little girls bake - kind of a custom, using the yogurt container as a measuring cup. It seems like a traditional thing for mother and daughter to do together. I thought it was a really sweet concept.

It also sounds like a delicious cake! So when I saw a recipe for strawberry yogurt cake on Pinterest, I decided to go for it. It turned out to be a keeper.

Makes 1 cake
Adapted from this recipe


1 lemon, zested & juiced
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

2 sticks butter at room temp
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
8-10 oz plain yogurt (I used greek yogurt)
1 box strawberries - sliced

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Put your butter out to warm up.


Sift dry ingredients together: lemon zest, flour, baking soda, and salt. 


Using a mixer, cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and lemon juice. Mix some more. Add the dry ingredients in steps. Add the yogurt. Mix some more. 

Fold in the sliced strawberries and dump the mixture into a greased baking pan. Any size you want. 


Bake for 60-70 minutes, until an inserted fork comes out clean. Take out of oven and let cool for 20 minutes. 


Transfer cake to a wire rack and let cool for another 10 minutes. At this point the original recipe called a drizzle of powdered sugar mixed with lemon juice but I thought it was sweet enough without the frosting.

Slice and enjoy!


Friday, April 6, 2012

Happiness lately 4-6-12

A day full of cooking!

Strawberry Yogurt Cake
Spicy Peanut Butter Noodles
Pulled Pork Tacos

NOMS!

Best part of all? BF doing the dishes as I type :) :) :)

BTW: if you are into books like The Historian, Golden Compass, Twilight, I highly recommend A Discovery of Witches. The sequel comes out July 2012.

Avocado & green onion salad dressing



This is a wonderfully fresh, healthy, and delicious salad dressing that pairs well with arugula or butter lettuce. As I'm trying to eat less processed foods, salad dressing was a big pain. I don't love the taste of raw olive oil, so the typical balsamic and olive oil combination wasn't really cutting it for me. I like fatty dressings, i.e. blue cheese, ranch, and caesar. So for a while I just gave up on salad.

Then, one day Whole Foods tweeted out this recipe and I had to give it a whirl. Made a slight modification and overall very pleased.

Makes 1/2 cup dressing

1/2 avocado
3 green onions
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 tbsp vinegar (any kind you have)
Dab of salt and pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients in a blender and give it a good pulse. Leftover dressing will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days. What a perfect color for spring eh?